Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Happy Birthday Eleanor and Amelia!

Their 12 month post will be forthcoming. I wanted to take this post and reflect on the last year.  It's been a wild ride! I keep thinking that the days but this year is short. Truly, it felt like just yesterday I was walking around our bedroom in denial that I was in labor while Brad was rushing around and finishing packing the hospital bag. Now, here we are celebrating their first birthday. We've celebrated many milestones, fought through difficult feeding issues, survived on zero sleep, and somehow avoided many major illnesses (knock on wood).

For me, as their mother, in the middle of everything I just felt like I was totally winging it (I was and still am) but I've learned how to comfort them, how to put them to sleep, how to do things that make them laugh. I've enjoyed seeing their different personalities begin to develop and I've loved watching their friendship start. Eleanor and Amelia have totally rocked my world in the absolute best possible way.

This past year has been one of the most difficult years of my life, but it's also been the most rewarding year. I am thankful for our two little miracles and always blown away that we've been entrusted with them. I hope the second year with them is just as amazing as the first!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Fit Mama: Clean Eating

I thought I would share a little more about what I eat. Essentially, I follow Tosca Reno's Eat Clean Diet. She outlines ten principles that I have tweaked to fit my lifestyle.

Eating Clean for us means no refined or processed foods. No white flour, no boxed food, no pre packaged food, nothing that has ingredients in it I can't pronounce. Exceptions to this are things in the frozen aisle that do not contain preservatives or other chemicals.

Eating Clean also means minimizing sugar, even less processed varieties. In baking I use sugar in the raw or honey. Lately I've been using sugar in the raw because I want to share my baked goods with the babies, who aren't old enough to eat honey yet. I don't use stevia because I don't like the taste. Things that are off limits are splenda, white sugar, and agave all of which are overly processed.

A key aspect for me is to pair protein with carbs. I am trying to limit my simple carbs like bread, but honestly that's the hardest part for me. I have specific health concerns (PCOS) which are better controlled by eating a low carb diet. I don't do anything too crazy, but basically I should be concentrating on complex carbs (read: veggies over fruits). I don't like vegetables and don't like a wide variety of them, but I am trying. I get HUGE sugar and carb cravings. It's really really difficult to not eat toast eight times a day. Theoretically, pairing a protein with a carb keeps your blood sugar from spiking too much which should help curb sugar cravings.

Eating clean means consuming healthy fats. "Low fat" anything is generally filled with sugar to make it taste better. Instead of getting low fat cheese, I get the full fat cheese but stick to a smaller serving. Tosca Reno says to limit dairy anyway, but honestly I have a difficult time doing that. I do buy skim milk and the greek yogurt I buy is generally made from 0% milk, but I focus on brands that do not add extra sugar. I'm loving the Chobani simply 100 lately, but I also really enjoy Siggi's Skyr. I cook almost exclusively with olive oil or coconut oil. I use real butter instead of butter substitute. Other sources of healthy fats are flax seed, nuts, avocado, whole eggs, fish (which I don't eat because I don't like it), and seeds (like pumpkin seeds). I know that dairy is kind of controversial these days. If I had the money I would likely buy organic dairy, but my budget doesn't allow for that. I also get freaked out by raw milk so that's a no go for me.

All this to say, I also allow some cheats here and there. I do believe eating clean has lots and lots of benefits, but drinking a pumpkin spice latte is not going to ruin all of my efforts. I just can't have treats all of the time. Treats should be just that-- occasional things I eat in small portions to enjoy.

I'll definitely be sharing some of my favorite recipes with you. I've read a couple of other eating clean blogs and I was struck by one who said that we need to get over eating for pleasure. I disagree. I should enjoy eating. Food shouldn't be boring or bland because it's healthy. There is nothing wrong with enjoying eating-- it's all about making healthy, cleaner choices. As always, feel free to ask questions because I like talking about this stuff!

Don't forget to follow me on Instagram! I'll be sharing about this journey using #fitmama and #mamaeatsclean. Tag me in your posts so I can keep up with your journey too!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fit Mama: Health and Goals

As you have heard me talk about a little bit before one of the hardest things for me post partum has been dealing with my weight gain. I've struggled with my weight off and on my whole life-- only in the last couple of years (pre pregnancy) would I say I really got a handle on it.

During my pregnancy I gained over 80(!) pounds. I don't even know exact numbers because I stopped having the nurses tell me. I didn't really lose much at all coming home from the hospital-- in fact I gained 20lbs over the course of first 9 months with the girls. In April I started cleaning up my diet again and have lost 15 lbs...and have camped out there since the end of July.

I am a HUGE stress/emotional eater. Give me chocolate and ice cream if I'm feeling crappy. Unfortunately those "treats" became the norm as I was dealing adjusting to twin life, dealing with sleep deprivation, and just the feelings of being isolated and alone.

I don't like the way I feel at this weight. More importantly, I don't like how I feel out of breath carrying the girls up the stairs and how I have weird aches and pains due to inactivity and extra weight. My goal isn't to be the same weight I was before the girls. I honestly don't think that's even feasible because I do not have the time to invest in running like I did before. My goal is to take off 50 lbs and to run a half marathon in March. I'll be blogging here and there about it over the course of the next several months. It's going to take hard work and dedication, as my favorite tv trainer says. More than the number on the scale, I want to be healthy again.

So as of last Monday,  I'm starting to eat clean foods again-- limited sugar, no processed foods, and basically nothing artificial. No expensive shakes or weird supplements. Just lean and clean. I've started working out again too! I'm doing a mash up of Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred and Ripped in 30. Last week I did level 1 of 30 Day Shred and this week I'm working on level 1 of Ripped in 30. Next week I'll jump to level two 30 Day Shred and then of Ripped in 30. I'm hoping it'll give me a baseline of fitness before I start running again.

Follow me on instagram (ZilYdal!) I'm sharing about this journey using #fitmama and #mamaeatsclean. Please join me! If you tag me I'll be sure to see it!

Monday, August 25, 2014

11 Months

 Whew! Another month down! I feel like time is going so fast at this point. Since this post is a little late, it's really only three weeks until their first birthday. Wow! Everyone says it gets easier after the first year, we will see!

Still not really sleeping over here. In fact, I'd say sleep is getting worse by simple fact that Amelia has taken to not sleeping well either. I basically haven't slept well in over a year. I'm not even hoping for babies to sleep all night-- I'm just hoping they start only waking once during the night. I will love that when that happens! Naps are total busts. We tried the one nap thing and that was not working at all so we went back to two naps.

Eleanor still only has two teeth. The top ones aren't making any appearances yet. They do make it easier for her to bite off chunks of her food, and that's always entertaining to watch. Her favorite foods are peanut butter toast, squash cubes, melon cubes, banana slices, and zucchini bread. Least favorite foods that get fed to the dog are: peas, green beans, cheese, and avocado. Oh and nursing.

Eleanor is also starting to walk if you hold her hands or she's pushing one of her push toys. She still hasn't made any attempts to step away with out holding on to something, but she does stand unassisted for 10-20 seconds at a time. She'll be walking soon, I just know it!

Overall, Eleanor has just kind of exploded over the last month developmentally. I'm sure I'm forgetting things too. I showed her how to clap and she just did it and hasn't stopped since. Before she would sign milk if I signed it to her, but now she will crawl to me and sign it when she wants to nurse. It's really cute.

Watching Eleanor play is always fun too. She's started stacking smaller toys in big toys, uses toys to make noises, is very interested in standing and cruising furniture. She likes to play with Amelia, but often finds that Amelia wants to wrestle which is not Eleanor's favorite activity.  My favorite thing is when they start cracking each other up. It is the BEST.

Amelia also has two teeth! Her second tooth took awhile to come in but it finally made an appearance last week. I think her top teeth are on their way too because her gums seem a little swollen. She is a very good eater-- basically will eat anything I put in front of her if she's hungry. Her favorites are cheese, melon, peanut butter toast, yogurt, and banana slices.

We also discovered that Amelia loves the pool. We finally took the girls swimming two weeks ago and Amelia just went crazy in the water. Splashing and laughing and kicking. Seriously, I have never seen her so happy before! Eleanor liked it too, but seemed less enthusiastic about the whole experience. The second time we went she had more fun, I think.

 Amelia is almost walking! One night she stepped away from the coffee table and took three steps. She was upset when she did it and she hasn't repeated it since...but I know she will soon! I'm guessing she'll be walking by her birthday.

 Amelia LOVES to play with Eleanor, specifically, she likes to climb all over her. She generally laughs hysterically when they're playing together. It's so funny to watch them interact. Usually Eleanor does something and Amelia just finds it positively HILARIOUS. Those are the moments that are the best. Even if there isn't a lot of sleep there sure is a lot of laughter.

Until today, I was still pumping three times a day for Amelia to get enough milk to give her two bottles per day (so half of her day time feedings). I decided to stop pumping because it was just becoming too much. The girls are more demanding in the sense that I need to feed them three meals a day of solids, I'm nursing Eleanor, I have more messes to clean up because they are into EVERYTHING... but probably the most important reason is because I needed more time to just to take care of me. Pumping for 20-30 minutes at a time was a major reason I felt trapped. I couldn't go anywhere because I needed to pump. I never had time to work out because I needed to pump. I couldn't keep the house clean because I was spending my free time pumping. I pretty much agonized over the decision for a couple weeks before I just stopped today. It's really the best decision to make me a better mommy. I was able to work out today-- I did something just for ME. It was a MAJOR pick me up and just what I needed after a very very difficult weekend.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

10 Months

 This round of photographs was HARD. They're fully mobile and do not like to sit still. Especially Amelia, you would have thought I was torturing her. I didn't get many any good photos of sorry about that. She just was not having it! I got some chuckles out of this set of pics though.

The biggest update is that both girls are fully mobile. They crawl, go from crawling to sitting, pull up to standing, and basically just get into everything. I've had to do about fifty rounds of baby proofing but they still find things to get. They've started pulling stuff off the dining room table. Guess it's time to actually put away the mountain of diapers.... ;)

We're also transitioning to one nap a day. I was fighting epic battles to get naps, most of the time the second nap was a complete bust. I decided everyone would be much happier if we just stopped trying for two naps. Yesterday and today we've only had one nap and it's gone pretty well. Eleanor slept for only an hour, but fell back asleep in my arms for another 45 minutes. Amelia slept for two hours straight through. I'm liking one nap a day. It makes me feel like I can get out and do stuff more. Today we went and picked blue berries and blackberries.

Food wise we're moving away from purees to just regular old table food, which the girls love. They really like feeding themselves whatever we're eating. Current favorites are blackberries, chicken, black beans, apples (that have been boiled), steamed broccoli, peas, and steamed carrots. We've also just now started to add a (small) lunch on most days. So we're up to three meals a day!

Eleanor, as I mentioned before, crawls and pulls up to standing. She even (unfortunately) can climb stairs! As always, Eleanor is the sleepless wonder and this is still one of the primary challenges with her. She usually will go down for a nap for 45 minutes to an hour. I wish it were longer but hey, I can at least get a shower in. Night time is a total crap shoot. Sometimes she's up every 2.5 hours sometimes she sleeps longer but is still usually up at least twice. I do feel a little crazy from the sleep deprivation but I'm confident she will eventually sleep. I just hope it's sooner rather than later.

 As you can kind of see, Eleanor has two teeth! They came in about a week ago within a day of each other. She doesn't let me look in her mouth too much, but I think the top teeth are coming down pretty soon too.
 Oh, Amelia. She just didn't want to sit still! She's fully mobile too. Crawling, pulling up to standing, walking along furniture and will walk if you hold her hands! She's very go go go  until she drops to sleep. Constantly in motion exploring everything!

I have plenty of pictures like this. Sitting was an unhappy time, haha. No teeth for Amelia, but I think she might get them soon. She eats basically anything we put in front of her. Just today she learned how to drop food to the dog. Wonderful life skill to have ;) She sleeps pretty well at night- usually just up once around midnight. This morning she slept from 12:30-8:15! Technically that's sleeping through the night. Her naps are usually an hour and a half long but sometimes as long as 2.5 hours.

As for me, the past couple of weeks have been difficult. Since having the babies, I've struggled off and on with anxiety and probably some depression. A lot of it is related directly to lack of sleep, but I wanted to share a little bit about some of the emotional stuff because I was NOT expecting it and felt alone. I'm not sure if I officially have post partum anxiety or post partum depression, though it would not surprise me if I did, but my struggles caught me off guard because they weren't the classic anxious or depressive thoughts. For me, I just have moments of pure anger, usually set off by something very inconsequential. On more than one occasion I've had to remove myself from baby care for a few minutes to calm down. As I've done a little research, I realize this can be a symptom of PPD instead of classic depressed feelings. I've set up coping mechanisms-- talking to Brad, removing myself from the situation, learning to let go of things... but it usually comes down to something I'm trying to exert control over that cannot be controlled. My anxious thoughts are generally pretty morbid anxious thoughts-- what if I fall down the stairs with the babies? what if they don't wake up from sleeping? what if what if what if! Thankfully these are not all consuming thoughts and generally go hand in hand with days that I've felt pretty angry. I think the two go hand in hand. Usually, my struggles are not all consuming and are completely tied to not sleeping. On nights I get a manageable amount of sleep, no angry or anxious thoughts.

Anyway, I just wanted to put this out there because 1.) it feels good to be honest. Its been HARD these last 10 months and I don't want anyone to think I have my crap together. I don't. haha. 2.) I don't want anyone else to feel like they're the only angry mom out there. It does not make you a bad mother. It makes you normal. I very much encourage anyone who is struggling with these things so much that they're interfering with your everyday life to please not keep it to yourself. Discuss it with your doctor and talk about what your options are. You do not have to feel this way indefinitely.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

9 Months

9 months. I feel a little sad this time around just because my girls are getting so big so fast! In just the last month their development has absolutely EXPLODED. Really in the last two weeks it's exploded. Both girls are crawling, pulling up to knees and sometimes straight legged on low surfaces (like our fireplace), babbling, banging toys together, and beginning to have opinions on things. We've done three rounds of baby proofing, including relocating our TV so that we can hide cords better. This post is going to have a TON of pics because I just can't help myself.


Amelia is actually a half pound heavier than Eleanor now. How funny is that? She's all caught up! Our 9 month check up is tomorrow and I'm sure our doctor is going to be really shocked at the ground she's covered since her last appointment. I still pump for Amelia about half of what she gets during the day. I imagine I'll keep pumping for her until she's a year old when we switch to cow's milk and solids full time. But I won't lie-- it's becoming very tiresome to keep up with the pumping. Mostly because we're in the middle of their 8/9 month sleep regression and wonder week so they're up a lot at night on top of having to get up to pump at night. This too shall pass and I have only three more months until making it to my goal of 1 year. 

Amelia started crawling at the end of May and has been practicing ever since! She's getting pretty fast too! She loves to crawl around and see what Eleanor is up to. I've noticed that Amelia tends to follow Eleanor while Eleanor is off exploring. Amelia pulls up to her knees and goes from crawling to almost all the way sitting. I suspect her fluffy butt is preventing her from sitting all the way. Amelia likes to play and be busy! Very seldom does she just want me to hold her in my lap; too many things to see and do! She does like it when I help her stand and jump though. Amelia smiles and laughs very easily, especially when she gets her belly tickled. 

Amelia LOVES to jump in the jumparoo. She gets that thing going so fast and shrieks and babbles the whole time. It's really amusing to watch and listen to. Amelia also cracks up at Eleanor's antics and spends a lot of time interacting with her sister. Her other favorite toys are cloth wipes to wave around and chew on, bongos similar to these, and the Melissa and Doug caterpillar grasping toy.

Amelia also loves to eat solid foods!  She eats a pretty wide variety of purees, but we're moving more toward chunky purees and table foods. She hasn't quite mastered the pincer grip, and mostly mashes table foods around but I think she eats some of them. She seems to like scrambled eggs a lot as well as watermelon.


While I'm not always able to capture it, Eleanor is very expressive. She makes all sorts of faces and makes sounds in order to get your attention. She likes to talk and have conversations with everyone. While Amelia is a bit more independent, Eleanor likes to have me close by and will sit in my lap for awhile. She's also my little explorer. She climbs up on the fireplace, crawls under every table just to see what's up, chases the dog around...

...which brings me to this picture. Eleanor LOVES the dog. She gets so excited and happy when she sees her. Unfortunately, Louisianna is not what I would call a particularly affectionate dog. She's actually pretty aloof and mostly just runs away when Eleanor comes after her.

 Eleanor started proper crawling a couple of days ago. She still mostly does what I call the snake crawl. She army crawls so smoothly she looks a little like a snake slithering a long. She's FAST at it too. Eleanor also pulls up to her knees on low surfaces and just started attempting to stand. She would be pulling up on other furniture but isn't quite tall enough yet. If I stand her up and put her next to the coffee table she will hold on and try to grab stuff off the table.

Eleanor is a bit more of a picky eater. She likes most smooth purees but is iffy on anything with chunks in it. In just the past couple of days she's started doing better. Her favorite is using her pincer grasp to pick up table foods. She doesn't really care for scrambled eggs, but she ate a lot of baked oatmeal, some sausage pieces, watermelon, and even strawberries. She does really well with table foods so I've been trying to increase the amount of them we give her.

My Favorite Thing

 My favorite thing about twins is watching them play together. It's been very sweet watching a little relationship develop between both girls. Eleanor makes noises at Amelia who cracks up and makes a noise back. Eleanor leads the way (into trouble, usually) and Amelia is happy to go with her on whatever adventure it is. They go back and forth with babbles and coos. It's very cute. Probably one of my favorite things to see.

I've really enjoyed them the past several weeks. I think I can safely say I much prefer this age to newborn stage. Don't get me wrong, I have a lot that I treasured about their newborn-ness but this age is awesome. They're so much more interactive and inquisitive. They are always learning, exploring, trying new things. You can SEE their development in more tangible ways. I just have a lot of fun with them these days.

One of the downers, though, is that we've hit another wonder week. That means hardly anyone is getting any sleep. Have you read about the wonder weeks? We've found these to be very very accurate with our girls. When we hit fussy periods and times of sleeplessness it always aligns with a wonder week and the mastery of new skills. Both girls right now are very awake at night-- last night Eleanor was up FOUR times and refuses to be put down in her crib. It will pass eventually but it always makes me feel better to know I'm not crazy-- my babies are really just developing normally and doing what they should be doing. It's super frustrating in the moment when neither of them will go back down for an hour and a half in the middle of the night, but it's oddly comforting knowing that it will pass and that this is a phase. It's nothing I'm doing or not doing-- it's just time for their little brains to be making new connections with their world. I highly recommend the wonder weeks app. We have it on the iPad and it's been great to have! 

And really quickly... I realize this blog has gotten WAY LONG... I wanted to share this baked oatmeal recipe. A friend of mine baked it for me while Brad was traveling for work. It was so good I had to get the recipe! I could eat it all day. When I made it I left out most of the sugar. I think I used less than 1/4 cup of sugar. I bet you could leave it out entirely and it would still be delicious. Go make it, you won't be disappointed!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

8 Months

If I've learned anything at all the past 8 months it's this: whenever you think you have a routine down it stops working and you need a new routine. That's how I feel about our nap routines and sleep routines. Haha. In the last month or so Eleanor and Amelia have mastered so many different things. Neither one is crawling just yet, but they are well on their way. Neither one of them have teeth yet either. I don't even think we have many signs that the teeth are anywhere near being ready to poke through. I'm ok with that though. Both girls are doing much better at solids. I'm giving them more and more finger foods. They really like toast sticks, sweet potato sticks, and Eleanor liked (steamed) carrot sticks. Amelia just shoved them in her mouth and choked on them so we had to take them away, haha. They also like puffs. Lots and lots of puffs. In the past couple of days they've basically doubled the amount of food they'll eat in one sitting. Usually I'd give them half of a container of three different types of food. Now they'll go through a whole container of all three between the two of them. As a note: baby food is expensive. ;)

Oh! They're also sitting unassisted! Well, I have to put them in the sitting position, but they will stay there by themselves for a long time.

Eleanor still isn't sleeping wonderfully, but she's getting better about giving us some good stretches. She still wakes up at around 2 and 5 am, sometimes midnight too. She may or may not go straight down too. Usually not. She still requires that we rock her to sleep and seems light years off from putting herself to sleep. I'm not really sure how to proceed with teaching her how to put herself to sleep. Hopefully she'll just do it someday, haha.

Eleanor is also doing a zombie/army crawl. She just started getting up on her knees and rocking, but doesn't seem like she'll start crawling just yet. She still rolls everywhere and is getting fast at getting into stuff. Definitely testing my baby proofing skills! :)

 Probably my favorite thing she has started doing is the baby babbling. She's been making all sorts of shrieks and sounds but recently started making defined "Ba ba ba ba ba"s. It's so cute! She also vies for my attention now and notices if I leave the room. She will make a noise to get my attention and then smile at me. If I leave the room she starts whining until I return. It's also kind of cute.

I apologize for Amelia's pictures. I wasn't happy with how these turned out because she was tired and just wanted to go for a nap. So I tried to take another batch the next day. All seemed well, they were super cute, I was looking at them as I took them. When I put the memory card in my computer they weren't there! I was so sad. :( But I haven't had time to re-do them a third time, so I'm just putting these up. Sorry about that.
 Amelia hasn't crawled yet, but is still getting up on her hands and knees to rock. She also legit army crawls now and is getting very fast at it! She'll be cruising before too long! She's gotten MUCH better with solids and is eating MUCH better. As a result, in one week she gained 12ozs. She's all but caught up to Eleanor-- there is only about four ounces difference between them. How crazy is that?!
 Amelia is also putting herself to sleep about 90% of the time and usually only gets up at night once. There was one week she slept through the night three times in a row! Her naps are usually around two hours long!  I wish I could enjoy that time, but usually I'm dealing with Eleanor. haha.

We are borrowing a jumperoo from some good friends of ours and Amelia LOVES it. She goes crazy in it! Eleanor likes it ok, but Amelia just loves to jump jump jump. She gets that thing going like crazy.

I just liked this picture. They kept trying to take each other's hair bow and eat it. I'm really enjoying this stage they're at. They play with toys, they entertain themselves, but they're also very interactive. They're becoming quite sweet with each other and beginning to interact with each other. Usually Eleanor makes a sound and then Amelia laughs at her. It makes me giggle so much. See this video.

As for me, I was able to go out for a girls night and left the Brad with the babies. It was awesome getting out by myself for a bit. Very refreshing. The hardest part about staying home for me is the lack of social interaction. I'm a social person by nature, so it's hard not having anyone to talk to all day long. It's also hard because i'm kind of tied to the house while they're still napping twice a day. I've also lost 6 lbs since I cut junk food and started being more careful with my calories. I'm happy about that development. :)