Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thoroughly Thankful Thursday

This week, I'm thankful for many things. First and foremost, I'm thankful for the wakeup call that gave me a new outlook on life, and helped me to find a new joy in being a wife and mama. I'm thankful for jobs that allow us to go a little beyond just paying the bills and save up for a house of our own. I'm thankful for my family and our cozy life together. I'm thankful for my blog and all you lovely readers. I'm thankful for God and my faith. I'm thankful for my friends and family who help me keep my perspective. I'm thankful for a work schedule that allows me to raise my baby girls, and for the time that Emily and Erin get to spend with their grandmas and their daddy while I'm working. I'm thankful for finally getting to sleep this past week when Emily and Erin started sleeping more at night.

I'm thankful to get to be their mama :)

I can't wait to read what you're thankful for! Link up your post below or share in the comments!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I'm back!

Yep, I'm back! I took a break, a bit abruptly, after a particularly rough week. Everything's okay here - just a lot to get done. In the spirit of my last post, I've been trying to focus on my primary job - being a mama and a wife. I don't need to fit into any particular mold to do that. I've been enjoying a little bit of extra time with my family (I'll take as much of that as I can!), but I'm ready to be back sharing about our life as a family. I can't promise I won't need a little break again, but next time I'll try to announce it instead of just disappearing!

One of the best parts of focusing on being a mom has been developing a routine without questioning myself constantly. If something works the way I want it to, that's how it gets done. For us, this means cloth diapers don't work, and cleaning is much easier with traditional cleaning products. If I have to eat fast food once or twice a week because of my work schedule, that's okay. In the end, I've been much happier, and our house is much cleaner! The key to this is not the particular choices that we've made - it's not questioning myself. Living in a constant state of doubt is somewhat of a given for a new mama, so if there's anything that can be a sure thing, it makes sense to make it so.

Now that I have a little bit more sanity on my side, I'm excited to start decorating Emily and Erin's room! When the girls were born, we lived in an apartment. We knew we'd be moving soon, so we didn't do too much to decorate, but I did paint wooden letters in green and pink to spell each girl's name and we hung them on the wall. I've gotten some ideas in the meantime to make their room a little more girly, like making a bow hanger for their wall and adding some hooks for hanging up their little hoodies. We went shopping with Dan's mom yesterday, and found some very cute pink toy baskets and a pink closet organizer. I've also seen cute wall stick-ons that we could use to brighten up their walls. I want to get on Pinterest for ideas, but I'm a little nervous! Have any of you decorated a little girl's room recently? What was your favorite aspect of the decor?

Emily and Erin just turned 7 months last week. I looked back at some pictures from their first weeks of life, and I really have a hard time believing how far we've come. Both girls are very vocal and very mobile, especially on our hardwood floors. We have some toys that play music and make sounds at the push of the button, and those are the favorites right now. We also have an assortment of small rubber duckies, since their bathroom in the apartment was decorated in rubber duckies. One duck in particular has a sailor hat and necktie, and he is the toy worth fighting over. Other duckies are sometimes coveted, but this one always gets both girls' attention immediately. Their first crush - Sailor Duck. Awwwwww...

For some reason, they are both fascinated with our dustpan. In the apartment, I got the brilliant idea to 1) buy a red polka-dot dustpan and 2) hang it on the side of our garbage can with one of those stick-on hooks. I can't count the number of times I've had to redirect their attention from the dustpan in the past week alone. I don't quite know what it is or what they think they would do with it, but they sure love it. They also love our shoes, so we've had to get a lot better about keeping shoes out of their reach.

Erin loves books, which really means that she loves to chew books. She takes all of the books we have stacked up and pulls them out and samples the corners. Emily loves the bouncy chair and the swing, meaning she loves to nibble on the edge of them. It seems a little strange, but I guess there's really no harm in it. The world from a baby's perspective certainly is fascinating!

As far as size goes, both girls are in 9 month clothes, though that's mostly for length. They still fit into some of their 6 month pants, and when it comes to pajamas, they are almost in 12 month sizes. I don't know how much they weigh, but they are so tall that we've been looking at bigger carseats, so around 28-29 inches. Weight-wise, I'd guess Erin is around 17-18 pounds and Emily is around 16-17 pounds. When we were at the store yesterday, I saw some little preemie clothes, and I had such a hard time believing that we were scrambling to find those for our girls when they were born! Of course, they quickly outgrew them, but still. They grow up so fast. *Sniff*.

I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday!

Monday, January 21, 2013

A new state of mind

These days, it's easy to find testimony about going against the flow when it comes to parenting. All around the internet, moms are only too happy to share their stories of doing things the natural way. They breastfeed exclusively, skip pureed baby food in favor of soft whole foods, wear their babes instead of using the carseat as a carrier, cloth diaper, skip vaccinations, and only use the most natural baby toiletries. Their tales differ in detail, but share the same overlying theme: we did our research, found out "they" were wrong, started doing things the right way, and our life is so much better now. The disdain for those who simply do as they're told is obvious. Especially, of course, because once you know, you have to change your ways.

I'm not sure if I unknowingly sought out reading material in this vein while I was pregnant, or if this is just the prevailing theme online these days. Either way, I ran across the same story time and time again, and I was convinced. I wanted to do the best for my babies. What mom doesn't?

The idealism of pregnancy turned into the reality of motherhood, and I found myself simply existing for the first few months. I struggled mightily to make breastfeeding work, telling myself I'd pump until Emily and Erin were six weeks, then two months, then three months. In reality, I nursed one baby while Dan bottle-fed the other, and then pumped for 30-45 minutes. By the time I was done and all the parts were washed, the girls would be ready to eat again in 20 minutes. We supplemented with formula to make sure they got enough to eat, but I was determined that they would have my milk for as long as possible. Suddenly, magically (with the invaluable support of the lactation consultant and the help of clipped tongue ties) breastfeeding worked. I was immensely relieved. Nursing was much less of a burden than pumping, and gave me cuddle time with my babies that we all three desperately needed. I couldn't shake the guilt, though. No matter how much I tried to tell myself differently, I knew I just wasn't trying as hard as I could to get my supply up and breastfeed exclusively.

To add to my guilt, we pretty much did as we were told in every other aspect of parenting. It began before the girls were born, when I was induced at just over 38 weeks. I was determined to have the girls naturally, but after I asked for an epidural 5 hours into the induction, my labor stalled and I ended up having an urgent (not quite emergency) C-section because I was vomiting and Emily's head was jammed in my pelvis. It was a very scary experience, and I really don't remember much of the next two days. I'm not sure what I'd thought our hospital stay would be like, but I'm fairly sure I didn't imagine a blur of nausea, pain, and being bedridden, trying to figure out how to eat and walk - not to mention everything associated with caring for our beautiful new babies. I felt the first twinges of failure after less than a week as a mom. Dan did everything in the hospital - changed diapers, helped with their bath, washed their bottles and the SNS system, and brought them over for me to help soothe. Even in my drugged state, I knew I should have been doing more, but even standing up to get to the bathroom was a monumental undertaking.

There was no room in our tiny bedroom in our apartment for cribs, so the girls slept in their own room from the first night we were home from the hospital. ("Slept" was a relative term for the first couple of weeks, but that was where we put them to bed!) In the end, I think this was a good thing, and knowing that they had each other did really ease my mind about having them in their own room. I still felt as though I had to justify this every time the topic came up.

When it came time to consider introducing solid foods, I was intrigued by the idea of offering whole foods rather than purees, but mainly because I felt as though "a good mom" would do so. Our pediatrician expressed concern over this, and Emily and Erin showed little interest in actually eating the steamed squash we offered, so we offered rice cereal mixed with various pureed fruits and vegetables. This proved popular, so it's the method we've stuck with. Every time I opened a jar or pouch of baby food, though, I felt a surge of guilt over not making my own baby food. Just as with breastfeeding, I knew I just wasn't trying hard enough.

As the months went on, the guilt became overwhelming. Everywhere I went, some aspect of natural parenting would pop up to remind me what a failure I was. I began to doubt every detail of our days, from the brand of soap we used to whether or not we used cloth diapers. I even bought some cloth diapers to try, convinced that I could make them work for us. (I couldn't.) Switching brands of soap didn't seem to clear up the patch of eczema on Erin's ankle, and I worried that I'd damaged my beautiful girl for life. Each fun-filled bubble bath came with a side of angst over whether or not I used the bubbles too often. If Emily gnawed on her rubber duck, I fretted over whether or not it was safe to chew. I became paralyzed with guilt and fear. Everyone else was researching their options and making the best choice for their family's health and safety - I was taking the easy, lazy way out. I knew I was a terrible mother. It was just a matter of time before the world found me out.

I considered unsubscribing from websites that talked about natural living, and hiding the books I owned on the subject. Every phrase suggesting the better way to do things struck at my very core, reminding me of my imperfection and insufficiency as a mother. I was vocally supportive of natural parenting (how could all these people doing it right be wrong?) and I even wrote some blog posts about changes we were considering, but my "support" came mainly from guilt and fear. I wanted to do the best for my baby girls, but what often happened was nothing. Many days, I avoided giving them baby food in favor of milk and formula because I was sure we weren't doing it right. I read lists of things we should be avoiding and tried to imagine actually avoiding all those things. Meanwhile, life slipped by as I tried to protect my babies from its dangers.

This past weekend, things came to a head. After nearly a week of fractured sleep, with nights reminiscent of our first weeks home from the hospital, I was exhausted. The smallest things brought me to tears. After yet another tearful breakdown, I realized what was going on. The refrain that had been playing over and over in my head since mid-June - you aren't a good mom, you aren't doing this the right way, you aren't trying hard enough - had taken over. I actually believed it. In the world of sports, this is commonly known as "paralysis by analysis". You think so hard about how to do something that you can't do it at all. I was so overwhelmed by my perceived inadequacy, I was barely able to function. And I was miserable. I wasn't giving myself any credit for what I was doing, just focusing on what I wasn't doing.

It wasn't easy, but I took a deep breath and a few steps back, to the way things were when we came home from the hospital. I cared for the girls as we'd been shown and as I knew how, and did my best to banish the guilt. I took pride in changing their diapers, soothing their tears, and filling their bellies. We played and laughed together. I allowed myself to feel a sense of accomplishment in simply meeting their needs. Most of all, I enjoyed them, and I enjoyed being a mom.

It helped that I read a post on Friday morning (originally posted on my birthday - coincidence? I think not!) that talked about how as moms, we need to give ourselves credit for what we are doing right. Every thing you do right is a drop in your Bucket of Awesome, according to the author. You don't take drops out for doing things wrong - you just fill it up as you go along. I'd had the picture all wrong - in my mind, there were holes punched in the bottom every time I could have done something differently, more naturally, better.  The way I saw it, my bucket had been dry for so long, the Sahara Desert looked damp in comparison. I started filling it up on Sunday, and every time I started to berate myself for something I'd done, I tried to see the positive. It's only been two days, and already I can see the difference. I feel more relaxed and less frantic. I feel the freedom to act on my knowledge and instinct, instead of painstakingly researching the best course of action so I can do it perfectly. I've loved being a mom for the past 16 months, ever since I saw the + on the pregnancy test, but I've never loved it as much as I do today. Things are far from perfect, and it will probably take a while before I feel like my old self again, but this is an important step in conquering the fear.

I want to note that I'm not sharing this story to try and discredit or shame those who have shared their natural living journey, nor those who blog about parenting choices. I'm sharing this in hopes of helping someone like me, paralyzed with fear of doing it all wrong, berating themselves for being an inadequate mom. I want you to know that you're not alone. Being a good mom simply means loving your children and caring for them. If you're doing that, you're doing it right.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

What I Wore Sunday: Enter the Ponytail!

My hair must have been listening when I posted about wanting to be able to tie it up earlier this week! It's suddenly long enough for a ponytail - that is to say, the vast majority is long enough. I can corral the rest with bobby pins and a little hairspray, so it works for me. The best part is that I can put it up damp, so I only have to blowdry my bangs! Five minutes down to about thirty seconds. Coincidence that we were five minutes earlier to church this morning? Maybe not!

Outfit details:
Sweater: Ann Taylor LOFT (hand-me-down from my friend)
Tank: Motherhood 
Jeans: Hudson (thrifted)
Ballet flats: Mossimo (Target)
Cross pendant necklace: gift (Target, I believe)
Earrings: gift from my husband :)

I'm not exactly close to breaking out of my jean rut, but it is still freezing here (literally - it hasn't gotten above 37 degrees in about 10 days!) and I like being able to walk from the car to church without turning into an ice cube. I also like being able to pace outside to calm a fussy little one if necessary without becoming a popsicle. I don't have any more cute metaphors about being underdressed in freezing weather, so I'll stop there. I am wearing dressy shoes, though! 

Mass went pretty well today - we made it all the way through with just a little fussing. Erin fell asleep on my shoulder, so I just held her. She's getting so big that I can't stand up without waking her. My beautiful baby girls turned 7 months old yesterday, and they are growing up fast! I need to get some 9 (and 12!) month clothes for them, but I discovered that Walmart has some nice, inexpensive baby clothes (I'd gotten some there before they were born - I just forgot that's where they were from!) and we'll make a special trip out there to pick out some cute outfits this week. Stay tuned for a post on what our 7 month old girls are up to, coming later this week! Here's some pictures to hold you over:

A better picture of the ponytail, deterring my darling daughter Erin's fingers.

Miss Emily, hanging out with her favorite musical toy. Check out those two TEETH!

Miss Erin, playing happily with Daddy yesterday. Her hair is getting so long!

I'm linking up with Fine Linen and Purple for What I Wore Sunday! Head on over, check out Kendra and Emily's posts, and then visit some of the other blogs to see what everyone else wore! Happy Sunday!

Friday, January 18, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 30: Days of the week

For something fun and a little different, I thought I'd write about the days of the week. Seven days, seven quick takes. Coincidence? I think not. Here we go!

--- 1 ---

Sunday. Sunday is my favorite day of the week. I have the day off after working for the last three days, and I get up early with the girls and let Dan sleep in. We snuggle up on the couch, watch Food Network (they do Saturday reruns early on Sunday morning), drink lots of coffee (Mommy and Daddy) and milk (babies) and then get ready for church. It always takes at least half an hour longer than it seems like it should. One of these days we'll get it figured out. For now, we're content with just making it there by 11 every week. Once we're there, I try to put aside the rush of the morning and focus. After church, we usually go get lunch, just for something fun to do as a family, and then Emily and Erin and I go do something outside the house to give Dan some time to hang out by himself. With all of us being home almost all the time, an hour or two of relaxing is hard to come by! When we get home, I usually catch up on some chores while Dan plays with the girls. Then I fix dinner and we all eat. After dinner, it's bathtime, bedtime, and then a few more chores before we sit down to watch TV. Food Network usually has a serial-type show on at 9 (Next Iron Chef or something like that) and we have fun watching and seeing who wins.

--- 2 ---

Monday. Dan works Monday through Friday, so we're all up earlier. Dan tends to be up between 6 and 7, while I have a harder time getting up. Emily and Erin are pretty good sleepers, but it's a rare night that one of them isn't up at some point to eat. As a result, it's been a long time since I've slept through the night with any consistency. Dan is really good about getting up and helping if needed, but I try to let him sleep if possible, other than the occasional diaper change. Once we do get up, the girls and I eat, play, and do chores. I'm sure you can guess who does which. I don't really have a good routine for household chores, because the amount to do varies a lot from week to week, but I try to do something towards every room every day. I have a long way to go, I'll just admit that up front! We usually try to get out of the house every day, even if it means we load up in the car and go walk around Target for a little while. This makes it a little less noisy for Dan while he's trying to work, and gets rid of any excuses I have for not being at least a little active every day. As soon as Dan gets done with work, he plays with Emily and Erin and helps feed them while I get dinner ready. Then it's bathtime, bedtime, time for more chores, and another day is over. I try to get something up on the blog before I'm too tired, but the best opportunity is usually earlier in the day while Emily and Erin are playing together. If I don't get anything done on Mondays, that's fine too. I try to savor every moment that the three of us get to spend together while I'm home.

--- 3 ---

Tuesday. Tuesdays are really pretty similar to Mondays, except we always try to get our grocery shopping done on Tuesdays. I work Thursday-Saturday, so if things don't go as planned on Tuesday, there's always Wednesday to catch up. Sometimes we go grocery shopping on Mondays, but not often. I really need to get better about making lists, because it always seems like I forget something essential. I'm sure you can relate! Between checking out the coupons, getting everyone ready, the actual time in the store, and putting the food away, that's pretty much the bulk of Tuesday. I try to get a little bit of blogging done either before or after the store, but it doesn't always happen.

--- 4 ---

Wednesday. Wednesday is my last opportunity to get everything caught up before my workweek starts. I typically spend all day trying to do chores, in between feedings and playing with Emily and Erin. Usually it's laundry, which always has a way of piling up. I try to use cloth diapers as much as I can while I'm home, and by Wednesday, they all need washing. A load of diapers and inserts takes about 2 hours to wash, with a presoak in borax, and then about half an hour to dry. The covers take about an hour to wash and dry, assuming I transfer them quickly. If they've been sitting for a few days, I wash them twice after the presoak cycle. Then I start the workweek with a clean (nonsmelly!) diaper pail and plenty of clean cloth diapers! Dan has volleyball on Wednesday evenings. Sometimes the girls and I go to watch, but most of the games are late enough that we stay home and get ready for bed. This gives me some time to wrap everything up in time for my "Monday".

--- 5 ---

Thursday. Thursday is a work day. That means that after a few hours of our normal routine, I try to get the girls down for a nap so I can get ready. Dan and I have to coordinate this so I'm not disturbing his work time but still get everything together before I need to leave. My mom comes over on Thursdays to watch Emily and Erin until Dan is done working, so I usually ask her to come over about half an hour before I have to leave. This is a great arrangement - I'm so grateful that she is willing to do this! Sometimes I start work late enough in the afternoon to get chores done before work, sometimes I don't. I always try to get some blogging done on Thursdays, and this usually happens after work. Some nights, I'll stop at Starbucks on the way home to get it done in peace and quiet. This gives Dan and I both a much-needed break. I make it home in time for some downtime before bed.

--- 6 ---

Friday. Friday may not be my actual Friday, but knowing it's the end of Dan's workweek makes it feel like the weekend for me too. I love getting to spend time with Emily and Erin before starting work, and then knowing that when I come home the weekend has begun. Even though I start work fairly early on Saturday, Dan and I get to spend a little time together after work before I have to go to bed. Emily and Erin get to go to Grandma's in the afternoon while I work, and they love to get to see Grandma, Grandpa, and their aunt and uncle while they're there. I don't like being away from them, but knowing that they're having fun and spending time with family makes it easier.

--- 7 ---

Saturday. Emily and Erin get to spend all day Saturday with their daddy while I work. I love that they get to have this time every week, even though I wish I could be there too. When I get home, we all have dinner together and get to have some fun time before the girls have to go to bed. A lot of weeks, I'm so tired that I end up falling asleep pretty early - but that's okay, because Sunday is right around the corner!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thoroughly Thankful Thursday: Modern Medicine

It's the middle of flu season, and by all accounts, this is a bad one. The CDC recently declared a pandemic based on the number of deaths from the flu so far this winter. All around, people are coughing, sniffling, and aching. Our family has been sick twice already, with another round coming on as I write this - I had a sore throat yesterday, Erin was sneezing yesterday afternoon, and this morning Emily was running a fever after a very restless night. I've been drinking orange juice and taking my vitamins, in hopes that I can stay well myself and pass some immunity on to my babies in my milk.

It's scary to think about what illness was like in years past, when routine infections could quickly turn deadly. Before antibiotics were discovered, a secondary bacterial infection could emerge with little hope of a cure. Today, we not only have antibiotics to cure these, we have vaccines for most of the major childhood illnesses of the past. It's important to use antibiotics wisely - new resistant strains of bacteria have emerged because of overuse - but the ability to combat strep throat, bacterial pneumonia, and bacterial meningitis with antibiotics is a true blessing. While I occasionally find myself thinking how wonderful it would have been to live in another era, I don't have to think too hard about illness in days gone by to realize that I'm pretty happy here.

Today, I'm thankful for modern medicine. There's a lot that doctors and scientists haven't figured out yet, but all that has been figured out is nothing short of miraculous. We know about foods and vitamins that will keep us healthy, and treatments for illnesses that can't be avoided. We have vaccines to keep us from getting dangerous illnesses, and hospital treatment for the seriously ill. We can save women in danger during childbirth (I was born via emergency C-section, and my C-section with Emily and Erin saved all three of us) and offer medicine to ease the associated discomforts. I can only imagine how miserable my labor, C-section, and hospital stay afterwards would have been without Zofran, the epidural, and pain medicine. When nursing wasn't sufficient for Emily and Erin's newborn appetites, the hospital had some donor milk available, and we have been able to supplement with formula and know that it's safe and nutritious. Not every aspect of modern medicine is perfect, but we are blessed to live in an era where many lives are saved thanks to the advances of science.

It's Thoroughly Thankful Thursday again!  What are you thankful for? Share in the comments or link up your post below!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Avoiding mom hair (and some fake updos for short hair!)

I really, really love my A-line bob. In fact, this post was almost called "Why I love short hair." But I have to be honest: I'm growing my short hair out. This started in part because making time to go get a haircut is a little more difficult these days, and was perpetuated by the fact that Emily loves to grab my hair when I'm holding her. She doesn't have a whole lot of her own yet: 

My adorable, fuzzy-haired daughter

I keep telling her she can't grab mine and borrow it for her own use. It doesn't seem to make any impression - or maybe she just likes to pull hair, since she pulls Erin's too? At any rate, I decided it was time for a change. The problem is, growing out your hair is kind of a slow change. When I decide I want to change something, I have a hard time curbing my tendency to act immediately. The only immediate action you can take to have longer hair is not getting a haircut. 

So I haven't done that. I've been good to my growing out hair - using conditioner, trying to remember to apply the protective spray before blow drying and flat ironing (on the days I have time for that) and I've eagerly awaited the day when I'll be able to tie my hair out of the way. This is coming more slowly than I anticipated, mostly because my haircut was so much shorter in the back than in the front. My hair is almost two inches past my chin in the front, but just an inch (maybe less) below my hairline on the back of my neck. I can only make a ponytail with the help of hairspray and bobby pins, and even then only about half of my hair takes part (pun unintentional, but still funny).

Last night, I got frustrated. No, I didn't take scissors to my hair. I can hear the collective sigh from all you readers who were waiting to see my butchered DIY haircut. I did get on Pinterest, though, looking for a picture to take in to the hairstylist once my hair has gotten a bit past tieback length. I searched "shoulder length hair easy" and ran across quite a few hairstyles worth pinning, from an elegant shoulder-skimming bob to over-the-shoulder side-parted waves.  To my surprise, I also found an updo. The description said it was for chin-length to shoulder-length hair, and so I decided to give it a try. The picture showed finger-width strands of hair, pin curled randomly on the back of the head. Simple, pretty, and "finished" - a hard trio to pull off with in-between length hair!

I don't have a great picture of how it turned out, because it was late and I was being my own photographer, but: 

A fun, playful "updo" for short hair! Oh, yes, and a lovely towel. Ignore the towel :)
For only having short hair to work with, it was pretty exciting! I took it down and decided to try something else - if I could hold all my hair back with bobby pins, maybe I could make it look more polished. I brushed my hair down towards the back, as if I was going to put it in a low bun. Then I took bobby pins and pinned it down, starting at the sides and then securing the top pieces. Picture the pins in an arch shape going up and over your neck, holding your hair in place. The end result looks something like this: 

The top bobby pin is holding my bangs back -  the arch of pins starts behind my ears.

Voila! From the front, you can't tell that there's really no hair of substantial length in the back. You can wear statement earrings, get dressed up for a party, or just keep your hair out of the way in a slightly more sophisticated way. Best of all, you can do this with damp hair in the morning when you're in a rush, add those pretty earrings, and you look polished! I love it. Hmm. Now I'm not so sure about growing my hair out.  Kidding, kidding.

I polled some of my mom friends on Twitter the other day, and they all agreed that having hair at least long enough for a ponytail makes life much easier. I am hesitant at times, because when I had longer hair it seemed like I always ended up wearing it in a messy bun or ponytail, but I think that as long as I keep it around shoulder length and make sure I have layers to make it easy to style I can avoid that trap. I'd like to avoid the stereotypical "mom" haircut too, although part of me thinks that maybe young mamas should just come up with a more stylish "mom" haircut!

What kind of hairstyles do you associate with moms? Any tips for growing out your hair? 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Twin Tip Tuesday: Taking Your Twin Babies Shopping

Since finding out we were going to be blessed with twins, I've done a lot of reading. I found books about twin pregnancy, surviving the first few weeks and months with twins, and even sleep training for twins. What I didn't find much of was how to perform day-to day tasks with twins: going grocery shopping, starting solid foods, playing on the floor, tummy time. While I'm by no means an experienced twin mommy, I thought I would share some of what's worked for us in the past months! Look for these posts on Tuesdays - some upcoming topics will include dressing your twins, holiday celebrations with your twins, taking walks with your twins, and bathtime with your twins.

Shopping trips with your twins

Taking a baby to any type of store presents a logistical challenge. Will they ride in their car seat, or in a carrier? Is it better to take them while they're napping or wait until they're awake? What will your course of action be if they get fussy? Taking two babies can triple the challenges, because most shopping carts aren't nearly big enough to fit two infant carriers and still leave room for anything else. You also have to consider two different babies, with their own personalities and temperaments - and appetites! Here's what's worked for us:
1. Make a plan. A list is great, although I don't always have one. Sometimes you have to just seize your opportunity - happy babies, a break in the rain, you get the idea! Even if you don't have a list, make sure you have a plan. Having an idea of where you'll park, where you can find a cart, and how you'll carry your babies will greatly simplify your trip. If you can at least jot down the essential items you need to purchase, you'll be more likely to get out of the store with those - no coming home with three bags of groceries and no milk or wipes. I suggest parking near the carts, to make loading and unloading easier. To carry both girls, since they still don't sit up well, I use our Ergo carrier and one of their carseats in the cart (see below for details). I avoid going to stores that don't offer carts big enough for this setup - or that don't offer carts at all!

2. Be flexible. While this seems to contradict #1, you have to embrace both if you're going to get out of the house often with your baby twins. Have a plan for what you want to accomplish, but be willing to pack it up and leave when your kiddos have had enough. I like to have a regrouping routine that can get us back on track without having to go all the way home - I bring one of our Boppy pillows and a well-stocked diaper bag so we can recharge in between stores. I also bring water and snacks for myself, and treat myself to a coffee at the beginning of errands.

3. Multitask. As a twin mommy, this is an essential survival skill, and it can mean different things at different times. As I mentioned above, most shopping carts don't allow for two infant carriers and still leave room for anything else. When you're taking your twins shopping, take their personalities into account when you decide where they'll ride. For example, one of my girls, Erin, loves to be snuggled, so I carry her in the Ergo, where she often takes a nap. Emily likes to watch people and see my face, so I let her ride in the infant seat, sitting up on the top of the cart. She sometimes will fall asleep in the car on the way to the store, and often naps after riding on the cart for a little while. Being able to simultaneously snuggle and make faces to entertain both girls is a lifesaver, let me tell you! Don't forget why you're there, either - it's easy to get caught up in entertaining your babies and forget to fill your cart. I've done this more than once with less than fantastic results. Think double meltdown at the checkout. If you're not sure how long to allow in the store, try taking your babies on a walk and see how long they last. That will give you an idea of how much time you have.

4. Be ready for attention. People will approach you and want to see your twins, coo over them, and ask you questions. I really don't mind the attention - Emily and Erin seem to love it, and they pretty much always smile. I try to answer people's questions as honestly as I can, and I am always polite and cheerful. I want my girls to know I'm proud of them! If you are not comfortable with the attention, work with your comfort level. Smile, nod, thank them, and keep moving. I find that people often offer me help - bagging groceries, lifting something into the cart, or even adjusting the baby carrier! One polite gentleman even waited for me while I unloaded the girls from the cart and happily took the cart back for me. Again, work with your comfort level, but I try to accept help wherever possible. It always feels as though God sends it when I need it most!

5. Talk to your babies. Both of my girls like interacting, so I talk to them like they understand what's going on. I ask them what we should get and tell them why we need certain foods to be healthy. I sometimes get looks like I'm crazy, but most people don't really seem fazed. I've read that this helps their language development as well, so maybe they understand more than we think!

6. Use distraction. If all else fails and it's clear your kiddos just want to be somewhere else, switch it up. I trade toys back and forth, point out interesting things, talk in an excited voice, make silly faces. I use this tactic as I hastily wrap up my shopping and unload my cart at the checkout. Changes in motion can also help here, since some babies particularly enjoy being pushed in the cart or jiggled in a carrier. I've gotten so used to this that I actually have trouble standing still now! I find myself swaying slightly every time I try.

7. Remember you're learning - and they are too. Don't get too frustrated if your first outing is short and cranky. When you look back on it, you'll undoubtably have learned something for next time. Shopping might take a little longer when your twins join you at the store, but you're letting them learn about the world around them, and teaching them about how they can interact with that world. So take a deep breath and enjoy!

Do you take your kiddos shopping, twins or otherwise? What are your favorite stores for shopping with little ones? 

Monday, January 14, 2013

7 Months: Creating a routine for our twin girls

Emily and Erin will be 7 months on Saturday, and I think I'm finally ready for a routine. Yep, you read that right - we've never really operated on a schedule around here. I've tried a few times, but always given up after a couple of days. Part of that is due to our work schedules (ironically enough - things would probably be easier if we DID have a routine) but partly it's because when meeting the needs of two tiny people, it can be hard to pin something down that works for everyone involved for more than a week at a time.

I've noticed over the past few weeks that both girls seem to be much more interested in stopping their play to have a bottle than in stopping to nurse. I still nurse them fairly frequently, 5-6 times a day, but they usually have 3-4 bottles (of varying sizes) a day in addition to nursing. They are both able to hold their own bottles now, so this actually makes things much easier for all of us - they can eat at the same time! Nursing tends to make them sleepy and cozy, so I try to coordinate their nursing sessions with nap time, bed time, and any nighttime wakeups. Don't worry, they know how to fall asleep without nursing, but it's nice to have that comfort measure at 12:30 am - or 3 am - or 4 am - or anytime before 6:30! 

Now that I have an idea of how often they like to eat and how often they like to nap (and that list fits in one column) I'm going to start mapping out a schedule. I'm not sure if this is more of a routine than a schedule, because things don't always have to happen at the same time for our days to work smoothly, but times help me keep things straight. So here's what we'll be trying this week:

6:30 - Wake up. Change diapers, nurse, snuggle with Mommy.
7:00 - Play on mat while Mommy has a cup of coffee. 
7:15 -  Mommy showers and gets dressed
7:30 - Daddy starts work, babies get dressed.
7:45 - Play time. More coffee and breakfast for Mommy.
9:00 - Nurse, 2-4 oz bottle for both.
9:30 - Nap. Mommy catches up on housework, blogging, or gets ready for work (Thurs-Fri)
10:30-11:30 - Wake up. Change diapers. 2-4 oz bottle (depending on length of nap). Errands, outing, or appointments as needed.
1:00 - 1 oz of "solid food" in baby self-feeder. Nurse.
1:30 - Play. Lunch for Mommy.
2:30 - Nurse, 2-4 oz bottle for both.
3:00 - Nap.
4:30 - Daddy finishes work. Wake up, change diapers, 4-6 oz bottle for both. Family walk or playtime depending on weather.
5:00 - Mommy fixes dinner. Babies play with Daddy. Change diapers just before dinner (5:50)
6:00-6:15 - Dinnertime. 1 oz of "solid food" in baby self-feeder.
6:30 - Playtime while Daddy loads dishwasher.
7:00 - Bathtime. Turn on space heater in babies' bedroom.
7:30 - Nurse, offer bottle.
8:00 - Bedtime.
10:30 - Bedtime for Mommy. Nurse if babies refused bottle at bedtime.

As you can see, we have pretty packed days around here! There are definitely variations, depending on family activities and such, but I think we can probably stick to this for the most part. It will probably be helpful to have this in writing to refer to, especially when we're trying to plan activities! The naps are the most variable part of the day, but playtime is pretty flexible, so as long as they actually take two naps and go to bed within a 30 minute window, I think we'll be all right. I'll post next Monday about how this actually worked out for us this week!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

What I Wore Sunday & Weekend Recap

I couldn't bring myself to break out of my jeans-wearing rut this Sunday. I had all these plans, but it's just been so cold! It was only 23 degrees when we headed out the door for 9 am Mass. We've had highs in the mid-thirties, which is way below normal for this part of Oregon. Sure, it's winter, but chilly days like this take some getting used to. Any tips for dressing up in super chilly weather?

Not the best picture ever, sorry!

Sweater: Old Navy
Cami: Aeropostale
Scarf: Old Navy
Jeans: Citizens (thrifted)
Clogs: Dansko 

Close up of scarf print. The pattern is actually little green and yellow owls!

Dan, with the help of some of his family, spent Saturday cleaning and organizing our garage while I was at work. I knew they were going to work on it, but I didn't expect to come home to a spotless garage! I think the car might actually even fit in there now. We have repurposed, recycled kitchen cabinets mounted on the walls and tons of storage space along the other wall. Best of all, they didn't actually have to get rid of much, so that means we're doing well on the not-accumulating-clutter front! Coming home to a clean garage and a clean house, with happy baby girls - what can I say? We have an awesome family!

We solved an ongoing dilemma last night, much to everyone's relief (I'll just go ahead and speak for Emily and Erin here too!). Both girls had been on a sleep strike since last weekend, when it first started to get chilly. They went from sleeping most of the night with only one or two wakeups at most to only sleeping about 6 hours, waking up constantly for comfort. They also stopped napping, probably because they weren't sleeping at night. After several days, we were all exhausted and very cranky!

The solution? Well, there is heat in our house, but only in the main living area. I think this is pretty common in older houses. Anyway, when it started to get down into the teens at night, we weren't sure what to do. While their room stays above 60 for sure, it's hard to put them to bed and leave the door open enough to let heat in without also letting in way too much noise and light. So Dan picked up a space heater yesterday. It was almost like magic - 9 hours of sleep for both girls, along with nice long naps in the car today. They seem much happier!

Our Sunday afternoon was spent driving to IKEA, which was a real treat! We live about 2 hours away, so we only go a few times a year. Emily and Erin had only been that far away from home twice, so it was a big deal trip for them - the biggest city they'd ever visited. Of course, since it was so chilly, we only got them out of the car for IKEA and for lunch at Red Robin. (Yes, I know IKEA has fabulous food, but we'll call it a compromise. There are few things Dan enjoys less than a trip to this favorite store of mine. Shh!)

I thought our last trip to IKEA was the most exhausting ever (I was 4 or 5 months pregnant) but this was much more so. Their carts are not designed to hold infant carriers, so we used the Ergo carriers. Walking that much and pushing a cart while wearing a baby is a good workout! I think we'll be heading back soon, because there were a lot of things we wanted to see but didn't get a chance to check out. It was really crowded and hard to walk over and look at things without being in someone's way!

We did get a new coffee table (ours had an unfortunate accident and really needed to be replaced) and a new work table for Dan's office. Together, they were only $45! They are still in boxes, but I will post pics when they are assembled. We also got a new can opener and some fun ice cube trays, shaped like fish and stars. I could spend hours in that store. I hope you all had a great weekend - I know we did!

Do you like IKEA? What's your favorite IKEA find?

I'm linking up with Fine Linen and Purple for What I Wore Sunday!

Friday, January 11, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 29: Thoughts on Style

Thanks to Jen for hosting! Jen, we're glad to hear you're doing better, and we're still praying for your recovery and a safe delivery for you and your baby boy! We're also praying for a little boy named Fulton, who is only 4 and was badly burned this week. He is being treated far away from his family, so prayers for all of them, for good health and for peace as their family is separated at this difficult time.

--- 1 ---
Dear Friday, I'm so glad you're here. Never mind that you're only Wednesday in my world - you'll always be Friday to me. There's just something about knowing tomorrow's Saturday. And Saturday's my Friday. Hey, it's the truth. Please don't be upset. It's just how these things work out. If that doesn't make sense, I apologize. I'm tired. But that's okay. You're here, Friday. Thanks for coming back every week and putting up with me.
--- 2 ---
I'm sure it's just an early rebellion against all my New Year's resolutions, but I've been thinking this week about style. A few months ago, I cleaned out my closet, big-time. I got rid of the things that didn't fit my body or my life. I bought some new things that fit better in both regards, and I tried to make sure I wore what I had. I knew I was doing better when I started to see the bottom of my drawer if I went a few days without doing laundry. I started to realize, though, that I was pretty much wearing the same thing every day. That's okay, sometimes. Honestly, there are days I'm lucky just to be wearing something clean that's not pajamas. But there are lots of fun ways to make the same clothes look a little more creative.
Newly organized shirt drawer. Note that the drawer has room to close!

My half of our closet, remaining shirts organized by type and color
--- 3 ---
Here's my dilemma. Is it even worth trying? What's wrong with just wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and dressing up when the occasion calls for it? Why accessorize? Why layer? Honestly, I can't think of a great argument either way. I've always liked clothes (though I don't particularly enjoy trying things on) and I have fun trying to find pieces that go together well. I usually play it pretty straightforward - top and bottom, that's an outfit. I haven't bought a pair of skinny (or even straight) jeans yet, and I don't often experiment with different shoes.
--- 4 ---
I keep hearing this little voice say, "Because it's fun." I guess that's true. Dressing up is fun, even if it's somewhere in between putting on a clean top and clean jeans and getting all glammed up for a party. Is it necessary? No, not really. Is it easy? Not always. But it's fun - fun to wear a cute outfit, and fun to feel creative.
--- 5 ---
Contrary to appearances (since I'm still usually in jeans) and thanks to the lovely ladies at Fine Linen and Purple, I've been putting more thought into what I wear on Sundays to church. The biggest change I've noticed so far is that I'm much more intentional when shopping. I'll notice something that's missing from an outfit, and the next time I'm perusing the sale rack at Target or looking at clothes online (which isn't very often, really!) I'll be looking for something specific. If I find it and buy it, it gets worn often. Gone are the days of casually perusing the sale rack and picking up random items that look a lot like something I already own. I'll never be mistaken for a trendsetter, but my closet does shrink noticeably leading up to laundry day, and that makes me happy.
--- 6 ---
Am I doing this because I want to, or because God wants me to? I ran across this excellent question earlier in the week, and it really seems to apply to my style dilemma. Does God want us to dress well? Is this a way we can glorify Him? I'm not even going to pretend that I know the answer. In the short amount of time I've had to pray on the matter, my calling as a wife and mother came to the surface. Do I glorify this, His plan for me, by dressing sloppily? Can I glorify Him by trying a little harder?
--- 7 ---
Dan, standing outside the Idaho State Capitol on our 2011 Boise trip

Emily and Erin on their 5 month birthday (hard to believe it was 2 months ago next week!)
Those three make every day worth it....I guess they're worth a little extra style.

I hope you all have a great weekend! Many prayers for Jen and her family, and also for little Fulton!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thoroughly Thankful Thursday, Week 11

Happy Thursday! Things I'm thankful for this week: 

1. Blogging and the community it provides. Even if we've never met in person - reading about your life, seeing your sweet comments on my posts, and just generally knowing there's always someone else going through the same thing is a wonderful blessing! You all are a true inspiration. 
2. My loving husband and our two beautiful daughters. I've said it before and I'll say it again - these three are my world! They make every day worth it, the perfect ones and the not-so-perfect ones.
3. God's love for us and all of His blessings. I pray that we can continue to grow in our faith to be even somewhat worthy of His love.
4. The abundance of healthy food choices here. We are so lucky to live in a region that really values healthy eating, where there are several healthy grocery stores and lots of local options. We are also lucky that the amount of competition keeps prices relatively low, so we can choose to make the healthier choices, knowing that it'll pay dividends down the road in better health.
5. All the experiences that Dan and I have shared and the ones we will continue to share. Even when (or maybe especially when) the day hasn't gone so well - to be able to look back and say that we went on a wonderful trip to San Francisco together, or how we used to go on a little date every Friday evening before we were married,
6. The cozy clothes we get to wear this time of year. It's so much more fun to make outfits when you can add lots of layers!
7. Precious moments shared with my baby girls. I love seeing them grow up, day after day, and getting to share their discoveries and experiences. As I'm writing this, Miss Emily is fascinated with the edge of the rug under our coffee table. Miss Erin has been exploring the edge of our giant IKEA TV cabinet/bookshelf this morning. It's all punctuated by happy shrieks and dolphin squeals - I love it!
Now it's your turn. What are you thankful for? You can link your own Thoroughly Thankful Thursday post below or just share in the comments. I can't wait to read! Grab the linkup button too, if you like!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Make It Count Monday: Back to It

When I first found out I would be activity-restricted for the majority of my twin pregnancy, I was disappointed. I had always pictured myself as one of those women who would work out during the first 8 months or so of pregnancy, maintaining a healthy me while growing one (or two!) new people. I quickly redirected my hopes to postpartum workouts, diligently researching new-mama workouts and reading other twin mamas' stories of getting fit after babies. I knew it would be the best thing for all three of us for me to quickly get back in shape - I'd be a more energetic, positive, effective mommy, and my girls would know that exercise was an important part of life. Win-win, right? I fixated on that six-week postpartum mark, planning to start my workouts the day the doctor cleared me.

Motivation: It's now the second week of January. Emily and Erin are 6.5 months old, just 12 days from being 7 months. I've created a board on Pinterest called "Back to it" and filled it with workouts and healthy food. Oh...and did I mention that I looked through some old pictures of myself yesterday?

I've been searching for motivation to get back in the exercise/health groove for a few months now. If I'd known it would be as simple as seeing a picture of myself in the same shirt twice - the first time a few weeks before I found out I was pregnant, the second about two months after Emily and Erin were born. Needless to say, there was a huge difference. When I was pregnant, I gained about 50 pounds. Within two weeks of the girls' birth, I had lost 35 pounds. I knew I was supposed to try and maintain some extra weight to help with nursing, so I didn't try too hard to lose more - I was actually somewhat alarmed that I'd lost so much so quickly, as was my doctor. So I made a concerted effort to eat more, and ate just what sounded good, not what necessarily was the most nutritious. I exercised occasionally, but I never got in a routine.

Direction: So this week, my goal is to start working out again and generally live a healthier lifestyle. We're far enough along in the nursing game to add solids as a supplement, and according to our lactation consultant, it's also less dangerous to lose weight after 6 months because your body apparently gets used to your babies' needs.

I decided to try skipping my morning shower and just putting on workout clothes right away. If I shower in the morning, it feels like a little bit of a waste to go running or do a workout video and then need to shower again. Putting on workout clothes also takes away one more obstacle - I don't have to change my clothes to exercise!

I've also been making more of an effort to skip my regular grocery store and hit up Trader Joe's for as many healthy foods as I can. Some things are a little more expensive, but most are very reasonably priced. I love that for the packaged things we do buy, Trader Joe's commits to no GMOs. A lot of things are organic as well. Best of all, the store is tiny, so I can't get off-track as easily - unlike the regular grocery store, there aren't aisles upon aisles of pop, chips, and cookies. The regular store is still best for bulk items, but I only need to buy those about once a month. Overall, I feel like I end up going home with just what we'll realistically eat in a week, no extra, and spending roughly the same amount. You can't really put a price on good health, so I think this is a winner!

Accountability: I downloaded an exercise and foodtracking app for my phone, one that I'd had for a previous phone but hadn't used in a while. It has pretty much every food I've looked for already loaded, with calories, and it lets you add your own exercises, so I just added one called "breastfeed twins" with the appropriate caloric deduction. I will probably need to set an alarm on my phone at first to remind me to track the food and exercise, but I hope to make a habit of it quickly. Twenty-one days, right?

I'm linking up with Megan for Make It Count Mondays!

Positively Imperfect

Sunday, January 6, 2013

What I Wore Sunday, Vol. 7

Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope you're having a very blessed Feast of the Epiphany. Here's what I wore:

Scarf, cardigan, tee, earrings: Old Navy
Tank: American Eagle
Jeans: Citizens of Humanity 
Clogs: Dansko

Close-up of the print on the scarf. I love the colors - and the fact that it doubles as a nursing cover when needed!

My favorite earrings. I found them on the clearance rack at Old Navy a few years ago, and they've been in regular rotation ever since. They are really lightweight, but have enough body to hang straight so the pattern always shows. 

Today was a milestone Mass for us. We sat in the FRONT ROW! Yep, you read that right. We were a minute late today, and the only seats were right up in front. We actually made it all the way through Mass, with no leaving, and no napping either. Both Emily and Erin were awake the whole time, sitting in our laps and acting like they were having a great time. Emily sang along to "We Three Kings" at the end, too!

We were treated to a great homily, too. The priest teaches at the local Catholic high school; and after talking about how the Catholics will need to play their best to overcome Alabama tomorrow, he chose the carol "Twelve Days of Christmas" as the subject. I remembered learning in a comparative Values and Beliefs class in high school that the song originated as a covert way for Catholics in England to teach their children the Catechism. The priest proceeded to take each verse and explain what it stood for in regards to the Church. I found it fascinating! (It was also kind of funny that neither Dan nor his best friend, who both attended the school where this particular priest teaches, had ever heard the annotated version of the carol - but both his friend's girlfriend and I had heard it in public school.)

He finished by talking about a man who had grown up learning the piano at the request of his mother, who was the music director at a church. No matter how hard the man tried, he had no talent for the piano. In exasperation, his mother asked that he just learn the C scale. Not a song, just the scale. The priest asked the music director to play the scale for us this morning; first ascending and then descending. Then he said that when the man's mother died, he found a note in her belongings that simply said: "C scale, in reverse, pause after 1, 2, 4, and 6." The music director played the scale this way, and it formed this line: "Joy to the world, the Lord has come!" The priest concluded there was a second homily here: life is pretty much blah, blah, blah - it's the pauses that make it count!

Christmas has been great this year, but I'm relieved to be getting back to normal. We took down our tree this afternoon, since it was getting dry enough to be a fire hazard. I'm really excited to have been well enough to both decorate and undecorate the tree this year - that's a first since we've been married! Emily and Erin are thrilled to have an additional nine square feet of floor to test their crawling skills. Best of all, I stumbled upon some great tips over at IHeart Organizing for packing up holiday d├ęcor, so I'll be able to get everything neatly put away for next year. I hope all of you had a wonderful weekend!  

I'm linking up with Fine Linen and Purple for What I Wore Sunday!

Friday, January 4, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 28

Thanks so much to Hallie for hosting! As some of you may have heard, Jen was hospitalized with blood clots in both lungs yesterday. Please pray for her recovery and the safety of her baby!

--- 1 ---

There were times while I was pregnant that I felt as though nothing else could go wrong. Jen's case is a sobering reminder that I was really very lucky. I can't imagine how scary it would be to face a pulmonary embolism, let alone while pregnant, let alone two of them. Please, please lift Jen and her baby in prayer. Storm heaven for them! St. Gianna and St. Michael, pray for them!

--- 2 ---

Last week, I listed my New Year's resolutions. Over the weekend, I got to thinking about why resolutions so often fail. I decided that it's worth looking into the reasons that I wasn't doing something in the first place, and trying to focus on overcoming those obstacles instead of just trying to change my habits outright.

--- 3 ---

Emily and Erin are really starting to crawl! This has taken me somewhat by surprise - I have seen them trying to scoot around the floor for a while now, but when Emily first moved five feet in a minute, I was really shocked. She apparently really likes my shoes, because every time she crawls, it's to a pair of my shoes! I guess I might need to put them in the closet where they belong...

--- 4 ---

Erin, on the other hand, went after something completely different. I had to wash their playmat last night, after wiping up several spitups, and so for once all of their toys were in the toy basket. Erin was on her tummy, swiping at the basket like she wanted one of the toys. I started pulling toys out in front of her, and she kept swiping at the basket. Finally, I just poured out the rest of the toys, and Erin went after a board book. She laid happily on her back and gummed the book, waving it around for effect. I definitely want to encourage a love of books - but that wasn't quite what I had in mind1

--- 5 ---

I'm a bit late to the party this time, but I just decided to try Spotify. I liked Pandora just fine, but I find Spotify's interface easier to use. I wish I had tried it before Christmas - I had a really hard time feeling in the mood with Christmas music this year, and I think this would have helped! I love that you can run the app on your computer, and when the song changes, it flashes on the screen for just long enough that you see what's playing.

--- 6 ---

Yet another party to which I'm arriving late - podcasts. When I started raving about bloggers publishing podcasts, Dan rolled his eyes. "Don't you remember talking about those in j-school?" (j-school=journalism school, for the unindoctrinated) The truth is, I have been a podcast person for years. I love NPR podcasts, particularly for feature-type shows that take some concentration. I play them in the car on the way to and from work. The podcasts I'd never actually downloaded were the ones put out by bloggers like Simple Mom. When I'm in the mood for something a little less serious, or I'm feeling a little blah, it's great to just tune into someone else's conversation. I am very much an extrovert, so I get energized by this type of thing. It's fabulous for when I'm cooking dinner and can't really talk to Dan or watch TV. I love cooking, but I'm too social to just do it by myself for very long! So yes, Dr. Stavitsky - you were right. Podcasts did take off. They did go hand in hand with streaming media on smartphones, which I don't think had really become mainstream until the end of our time in college, but podcasts are free of data limits and lack of wireless service.

--- 7 ---

I have to dedicate this last take to my DUCKS! Way to show Kansas State who's boss. It would have been awesome to be in the national title game, but in 2010-11 (the year the Ducks lost to Auburn for the national championship), their record was 12-1. This season, the Ducks finished the season with the same 12-1 record, but ended the season with a win. I don't know about all Duck fans, but I'd rather have the win at the end! And while we're talking Ducks - Chip Kelly, please stay! Please!

Thanks again to Hallie for hosting, and please keep Jen and her baby in your prayers!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thoroughly Thankful Thursday, Week 10

This past weekend, our little family traveled to the coast for New Year's. I'm so thankful that we live in this beautiful valley, nestled in between the Oregon Coast and the Cascade Mountains. Even though I doubt they'll have any significant memories of this trip or the two others we've taken this past year, it's still nice to know that we can drive to the ocean in about an hour. We won't have to wait years for the girls to have their first trip to the beach.

The trip was not without its challenges (more on traveling with baby twins in an upcoming post!) but overall, it was a nice, relaxing weekend. We spent the first night in a chain hotel, using up some rewards club points we'd accumulated during our trip to San Francisco a couple of years ago. It was a little crowded once we got everyone and all of our stuff into the room - especially the playpen we'd brought for the girls to sleep in - but we had a nice view of the ocean. Plus, a free room is a free room, right?!

The biggest challenge related to traveling with kids, in my opinion, is trying to keep their routine constant without packing up your entire house. For example, bathing is still a necessity. However, Emily and Erin don't sit up well enough for a regular tub bath. Bringing their bathtub was out of the question, so we improvised by handing them in and out of the shower with me. They got clean and it was quick and easy, although both of them hate the sound of the shower on a good day. Changing diapers can also be a bit challenging - we stuck with disposables for the trip, though we brought along a few of the cloth diaper covers to minimize leaking in the car. While it wasn't nearly as cold at the coast as it gets at home, standing with your back in the wind and rain while trying to change a diaper on the seat of the car is no fun for anyone involved.

The blessings of this trip, therefore, were twofold - we got to spend a lot of quality time as a family; walking on the beach, wandering through the little coastal towns, and riding in the car along the breathtakingly beautiful coastline - but it also made me appreciate anew the ease with which things are done at home. I jumped into my chores with renewed fervor when we got home, doing laundry and getting the babies fed and cleaned up. Everything that normally feels so tedious suddenly felt easy, just because we were doing it at home and not in a hotel room or in the car.

So this week, I'm thankful to be home with my family after our trip. I'm thankful that we have the opportunity to drive just an hour or two and be by the ocean or up in the mountains. I'm thankful that we are able to travel away from home, even if it's not as often as we used to. And most of all, I'm thankful for beginning this year as a family of four, and for how much my life has changed since this time last year! What are you thankful for as we begin 2013? Share in the comments or link your post below - I can't wait to read!