Thursday, February 26, 2015

Snow Day!

You get two posts in a month! I'm on a roll! ;) 

Here we are at the end of February and we've gotten two back to back snow storms. The first one shut down school for the entire week last week. This one, I would imagine, will keep schools closed today and tomorrow. Since Brad was home today, we decided to take the girls outside this morning and build a snowman. The snow was perfect snowman snow! Brad made the snowman while the girls wandered around taking it all in. This picture just cracks me up. I don't know why, it just does!

Eleanor seemed to love the snow! She didn't really want to touch it but she kept making happy sounds and laughing, so something about it sure was amusing. She's really building her vocabulary and every couple of days she has a new word to say. We are working on it! I think she said "Mama" a few times. Her absolute favorite word is "Uh-oh!". Every time she sneezes, falls, or drops something she says it. It's super cute.

Some days Amelia and Eleanor have dropped the morning nap too. Other days they still want two naps. It makes it a bit of a challenge to plan the day sometimes because I never know if I'm going to get one long nap or two shorter naps. Usually, though, I aim for one nap and if two happens great! One nap days mean I have more time to do all those "fun toddler activities" Pinterest is all about.

Unfortunately, we are all (still) sick. It's been a source of major discontentment for me. It started with Eleanor and pink eye/cold that I talked about in my last post. Amelia eventually got both the pink eye and the cold. Then I got the cold. It's a bizarre respiratory virus, that's for sure. The girls had runny noses, but I never got that part. I felt a little stuffy and had some post nasal drip, but ultimately we all ended up with ear infections. Who gets an ear infection as an adult? I never felt that sick, but I also got a nasty dry cough. I was excited when it went away for like three days and then it came back the other night! Same with the girls. GO AWAY SICKNESS. It's just lingering and lingering and driving me crazy. Between the weather and this stupid cold, my race training is not going super well. Last weekend I wasn't able to do my 10 mile long run because everything was frozen solid. This weekend doesn't look too promising either. Guess I'm just going to have to suck it up and do 10 miles on the treadmill (gross).

Amelia was a little more apprehensive about the snow, but she did crawl around in it for awhile!  She's still not saying words much, but she's signing a lot more. I found out the other day that she's been holding out on us and totally knows the sign for "please". I didn't even ask her to do it and she just did it! We've only been able to go to speech therapy twice because of all the snow and illnesses (today's appointments were canceled) but I'm really happy with the direction things are going there. I think it will be good for Amelia and I think once we can be more consistent we will see a lot of success. Other than working on signs, Amelia is also working on climbing everything. She also started crawling around really fast with her forehead on the floor. She thinks it's hilarious but the rug burn she gets from it looks pretty bad. Oh well, it doesn't seem to bother her!

I thought I would do a quick update on my New Year's Goals to close out this post:
- I've lost 6 lbs since January, bringing my total weight loss to 40lbs. I'm proud of my progress but it's been discouraging not being able to workout and train as much as I would like due to illness and weather.
- I've read 4 books since January. Including "Cuckoo's Calling". Which was an awesome book.
- Some weeks it's a challenge to spend much time on the New City Catechism. I need to do better at this, but I've at least looked at each week's question and answer.
- I've been trying to read to the girls a couple times a week and I think I'm doing it at least 3 times a week. I don't keep track of this much though. I probably should.
- Brad and I have had a couple date nights already! We've also instituted "No Tech Tuesday"-- which means on Tuesday evenings we don't pick up our phones or get on the internet in the evenings so we have more meaningful conversations and play with the girls more. It's been pretty fun. :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What We've Been Up To

I keep sitting down to write a blog post but I always either get distracted or start but never finish. I've been thinking about the direction I want to take the blog in. This started off as a way to keep people updated while I was in college. Then it focused on style files. And then pregnancy and the girls.  I want to focus on a few different topics, not just on the girls, but on our family life as a whole. I don't know what that's going to look like just yet.

I took these pictures on Sunday when we went to the park! It was 65 degrees out and absolutely beautiful. We've basically been sick with various things since Christmas, so it was nice to get out and do something. All of us, except Amelia, got a stomach bug a couple of weeks ago. Brad and I were sick at the same time and it was overall an unpleasant experience and not one I want to repeat any time soon. Then this last weekend Eleanor came down with pink eye (which is alive and kicking in these pictures if you look closely) and now both girls are sick with a cold. I guess this is what happens when you have small kids! Ha!

At their 15 month appointment, the Pediatrician referred us to speech therapy because both girls still had zero words, not even Mama or Dada. Speech delays are quite common with twins. After the evaluations it was evident that both of them had quite a few emerging skills but were still somewhat behind where they should be in regard to expressive communication. The evaluation happened in mid January and we just got in for actual speech therapy for the first time last week. Between the evaluation and the actual therapy appointment, Eleanor started saying "ball", "uh-oh", "baby", and "Hi". She also started using signs for "more" (which really means that she wants food), "eat", "milk" (which she had been using for quite some time), and "all done". Amelia picked up signs in the last couple of weeks. She does her own version of "eat", "more", "all done", and will make the sign for milk if I ask her if she wants a cup of milk. Both girls are showing progress and for right now, no one is concerned that there is anything more to their delay other than just not talking.

Other than the speech issue, they are right on target for where they should be. Both girls are running around, climbing on things, and in general being full-fledged toddlers. We are entering the picky eating phase. Since Eleanor was sick with the tummy bug she pretty much refuses to eat anything other than toast, crackers, granola bar thingies from the baby food aisle, and apple sauce. I'm trying not to make food a battle and just offer her lots of options and let her eat what she wants to eat. I don't ever want food to be a battle because I don't want food to ever be an issue of any kind. Honestly, the parents always lose battles about food anyway, so I refuse to make it a battle. As an adult, I simply don't eat what I don't like and I find something else to eat that I do like. So the same goes for my kids. If she doesn't eat the dinner I offer, I try to offer her something she will eat even if that means she eats cheddar bunnies and a cheese stick for dinner.

As a family we are enjoying the fact that Brad is not studying anymore. We have time to do a lot more things as a family and as a couple. We've instituted weekly dates that happen after the girls go to bed. Most of the time it's no big deal; we just watch a show or play a board game. Once a month we try to do a more special evening where we cook a special meal and eat after the girls are sleeping. There is wine usually involved. For February, we are doing our night in on Valentine's day. I'm not entirely sure what I'm making for dinner, but we are definitely having from-scratch brownies as a special treat.

I've been training for my half! I've had to skip a few runs here and there due to illness (on my part or because I have sick kids). Overall though it's going well! This weekend I'm slated to run 9 miles. I'm down 40 lbs and thanks to that weight loss I can wear my wedding set again! I was so excited that I was able to comfortably wear it again. I missed it a lot! I haven't been able to wear it since half-way through my pregnancy.

I think that's all I have to update on. Between being sick a lot and the weather being bad we just haven't really gone out to do much. I'm looking forward to sick season to be done!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 Goals

I mentioned yesterday that I have several goals for overall health for the new year. I know it's super cliche to make some of these "resolutions" but I don't have a problem with that. I'm not making any big, lofty goals that aren't attainable. I went with these five goals that are S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, results focused, and time bound). I know, I know, I went with a cheesy acronym. It helped me focus and think about my goals for the new year. My "time bound" is very flexible: all of these will be accomplished throughout the year with the deadline being December 31st, 2015. My goals encompass all the areas which I perceive as being essential to health in all senses of the word: physical health, emotional health, spiritual health,  and my family's health. Just because this is the way my mind works, I made a list with bullet points on it. :)

1.) Physical Health

  • Lose 30 pounds. I have lost 30 pounds this year, which I am super proud of, but I still have 30 more to go to return to my pre-twins weight. During pregnancy and the first couple months postpartum I put on over 80lbs and I don't want to carry that extra weight any more. 
  • Run the Shamrock Half Marathon in March. I want to run the whole darn thing at a 10 minute per mile pace making my finish time around 2 hours and 10 minutes. Training starts next week!
2.) Emotional health
  • Read 20 books. 2014 felt like a year where I didn't do much for myself. I used to read all of the time before I had babies. I want to get back into the habit of reading for fun and doing something just for me. It's a small thing, but I feel it's very important. 
3.) Spiritual Health
  • Complete the New City Catechism with my Church. I'm really excited to go through this program with my church. I'll have an opportunity to study theology and to make discipline in this area a habit. I struggle with nebulous "do a quiet time" because it feels so unfocused. This catechism at least gives me specific things to memorize and to focus my energy on. 
4.) Family Health
  • Read to the girls during the day 3 times per week. We already read to them before bed as part of our bed time routine, but I also want to incorporate more reading in our daily lives. I easily sit on my phone during down times and don't engage with Eleanor and Amelia. Reading is a way for us all to spend time together with out Facebook being invited to the party.
  • Have defined date nights with Brad once a month. We already watch a show or a movie together on Friday evenings, but I want to have a non-movie date night (in or out depending on the budget) that doesn't involve media. 

So there you go, my goals for 2015. What are your goals?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Recap

I decided to make a list of the top five things I'm walking away from 2014 with. I won't lie, 2014 was hard in terms of my emotional health but lately things have been looking up. As a naturally cynical person, it's easy for me to only look at the things I remember as being hard in 2014, but there are lots of good things too. Here are just 5 of those things for you:

1.) I watched the girls grow from babies to toddlers. Last January they were 4 months old. In just a year they have covered so many milestones and grown into such capable and awesome toddlers. Their personalties have begun to emerge. They're mobile. They're so fun to interact with. Some days are still hard, but there are a lot lot lot of very good very fun days.

2.) I started sleeping again. This deserves it's own spot on the list. My life changed when Mandy Hose helped give me the confidence to help my babies to sleep. And I gained my sanity back.

3.) I lost some weight but more importantly started running again. I'm slowly losing the weight I gained in pregnancy. That's not really my primary focus though. I started running again and began to feel like myself again. I'm signed up for the Shamrock half marathon too. Training officially starts next week!

4.) Brad finished his Master's degree. Just a couple weeks ago, Brad finished his Master's degree and participated in his graduation ceremony. No more school for him! I'm so proud of him!

5.) My family spent Christmas with us and it was amazing. I was sad when they had to leave but very very happy they were able to come down and see the girls and celebrate with us. My brother met the girls for the first time. Of course we all did get sick and Amelia was basically out of sorts the whole visit from being sick and then 1 year molars made an appearance. But overall, the visit was awesome! I wish I could post a million pictures, but I didn't actually take that many. I wish I had taken more, especially of the girls hanging out with my mom and dad... Between clingy sick babies and just enjoying being in the moment I don't have many pics. oops!

If you'll notice, a lot of these things just happened basically from September to now. It's not that I have a short memory, it's that the rest of the year was spent just trying to survive. I am so glad I'm out of total survival mode. Let there be no illusions here. 2014 was one of the hardest years of my life. Not because lots of bad things happened, but because having two babies with feeding and sleeping issues consumed me a little bit. I have so many cherished memories of snuggling and rocking, but I am also very much looking to make 2015 a better year in terms of my overall health. I have another post about my 2015 goals for you to read tomorrow. :)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Happy Advent!

Since my last post, I have to say... sleep is still going very well. Hallelujah. I feel like I've joined humanity again. ;) I don't have any 14 or 15 month updates or pictures of this girls. So here are some random snap shots I've taken recently and here's what we've been up to lately.

For Halloween, we did take the girls to a couple of houses to go Trick Or Treating. We had a lot of fun. I dressed Amelia as a Dinosaur and Eleanor was a Monkey. They both seemed to like getting dressed up. And Brad and I enjoyed the candy. ;)

Thanksgiving was great. We went to our friend's house and ate lots of food and hung out. I greatly enjoyed my dinner, especially since I ran a 10k Turkey Trot that morning. That was so exhilarating and I loved doing it. I have a whole other post about that coming up this weekend, so you have that to look forward to!

I thought I would talk a little about Advent in our house. Brad and I want to be intentional about focusing on Christ around Christmastime. We don't have any particular Advent traditions here yet, but we want to start them. This year, while the girls are still young, we are using this plan to read from the Jesus Storybook Bible. It's definitely NOT really a Bible so if you're looking for that, this is probably not the thing for you. It's more of a collection of stories inspired by scripture that "whispers His name" in each story (that's the tag line of the book).

In the future we will incorporate other Advent-y things when they are more age-appropriate. I've been very humbled this advent season to realize that these two little hearts have been entrusted to me. It makes it feel much more urgent to start these traditions and even just every day making it a point to show them who Christ is.

We also have some less heavy traditions going-- one of which is Elf on the Shelf. I know I named him last year but I couldn't for the life of me remember what it was. So we re-named him Elfie (hopefully I won't forget...). I have a few shenanigans planned for Elfie but for the most part he just does simple things like hangs out in a stocking or jumps on the tree for a day. I think he will be a lot of fun every year. I don't plan to emphasize the fact that he's a scout elf sent to spy on you to report to Santa. That's just weird (and we've "lost" the book that goes with him). Our Elfie just comes out to help us celebrate Christmas time.

My family is in town for Christmas. Brad went up to Indiana to walk in his graduation ceremony at Perdue University. The girls and I were unable to go with him, but we will be watching him walk across the stage via web streaming. I'm so proud of Brad for finishing his Master's degree. It seems like more of an accomplishment after having two babies! :)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Mandy Hose, She Knows

The alternate title of this post should be "Sleep Training-- It's Not The Devil. It Saved My Life". Buckle up because this one is going to be LONG.

I've mentioned a few times that "sleep training" i.e. cry it out was not my style. It still really isn't. The sleep issue, however, has really taken a toll on me the last couple of months. My day consisted of literally feeding and rocking babies to sleep. Once I did get them down for a nap they slept for maybe a half hour. Night sleep was a total joke. Getting either girl down for the night was an hours long process. Eleanor was up every 1.5-2 hours.

In short: I was ready for a change because what we were doing was not working for anyone anymore.

That's when Mandy Hose entered my life. I am not kidding-- she walked in right in the nick of time. I was on the platform ready to board the train to CrazyTown. Or rather, she FaceTimed into my life in the nick of time. Mandy is an Early Parenting Consultant. I like to think of her as a Magic Sleep Lady. She specializes in sleep and settling support to help teach parents how to have their babies sleep better. She's based in Melbourne, Australia, but that works out to be a huge advantage that I'll get to in a bit. In Australia they have these things called Sleep Schools where parents can go to the hospital, check in for a week, and the staff there helps you learn how to settle your baby so you can all sleep better. And this is offered by the Australian government. There's no resource like that in America. There are private sleep consultants that tend to be extremely expensive, believe me I looked at them. Mandy worked in one of those sleep schools for a long time before opening her own business as an Early Parenting Consultant. She's a twin mum too, so she knows what the logistics of getting two babies to sleep is like.

Mandy FaceTimed with me last Monday evening for over an hour. We went over my pregnancy, how the girls eat/nurse, what our current sleep issues are, what my goals for sleep are, what is reasonable to expect for babies at 13 months old, and how we were going to accomplish this. We discussed how I was not on board with cruel cry it out methods where you stick the baby in the bed and just let them scream for a long time. We formulated a game plan, which she typed up and emailed to me afterwards, and Brad and I picked a day to start our sleep-learning (which was Friday).

You guys. I was DREADING sleep training because I didn't want to listen to the crying.  I was prepared for crying because babies get mad when you switch up their routing because they don't know what's going on. I was ok with some crying because to be honest I had tried the no cry sleep solution which was really the no sleep, no solution method. The first nap was rough-- they cried a lot and didn't sleep. Second nap was better; there was some fussing for about 45 minutes. By bed time that night they basically went right to sleep. Eleanor woke up twice that night but re-settled. Surprisingly, Amelia had a harder time with it. But through all of this, since it was the middle of the day in Australia, Mandy was giving me support and encouragement via Facebook messages. She told me exactly what to do and encouraged me to stay the course. Talk about a HUGE advantage! I had support during the hardest part of sleep teaching! By Saturday, they were acting like old pros. I put them in their cribs and they....just...went to sleep. This method did involve crying but it was NOT uncomforted crying, so that made me feel better. I actively reassured the girls when they needed it.

Since saturday, which I realize is only three days, the girls have put themselves to sleep for every sleep. They actually nap. Eleanor has slept entirely through the night, in her own bed, two nights in a row. This is a game changer. I have gained hours of my day back. They girls are more rested. I know it sounds so dramatic but my life has changed. It's like a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I am more rested, I have energy to engage more, the girls are well rested and in better moods, I can get things done during nap instead of having to cram everything in between the hours of 11am-1:30 pm. It's awesome. I think we had a very easy transition because everyone was ready for it. I can't get over how much life feels just better.

 I cannot sing the praises of Mandy Hose enough. If you are desperate for help, for an extremely reasonable price, Mandy will help you. Just shoot her a message on her Facebook page and you'll never regret that you did. I promise.

If this was too long and you didn't read here's a summary:
I sleep trained the girls and life is now awesome. If you need help with sleep and your baby/ies get in contact with Mandy Hose and maybe you can get some sleep too.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

13 Months- Pumpkin Patch

I was uploading these photos and realized that after Christmas of last year I don't have any pictures of  "events" we've done. And then I realized that's because we didn't really do a lot of big things. I was kind of sad about that because I felt like I *should* have been able to get out more and do stuff. Twinfancy is no joke. I was probably weaker than some out there, but I just did not have the energy or wherewithal to go do many big things, especially since sleep and feeding were so challenging. Only recently do I feel like I can go out and do more things, but we still battle nap schedule and limited time out. Anyway, all that to say I'm excited that the babies are getting big enough to enjoy an outing between naps. Watching them at the pumpkin patch was so fun. They're not used to walking around outside so they were very confused and unsure of everything. I sat them down for pictures and they just sat there unsure of everything, it was cute. They did warm up to it the longer we were there and they seemed to have fun! 

Eleanor is walking more and more. She's still a little wobbly on her feet, but is walking a lot more every day. She's really taking off with her motor skills too: she stacks two blocks on each other, she plays the toy drum we have correctly (i.e. using the stick to bang on the drum), puts rings on the stacking blocks, and will put toys in and out of the toy basket. Sleep is still a big battle. Lately she's been getting up at 9pm and if Brad goes in there to settle her she screams and screams until I go in there. Usually by the time I get in there I just nurse her because it's been a long time of screaming, but tonight I'm going to try going in there first and seeing if I can get her to go back down. It's been a frustrating couple of days, especially today because she was up from 9-12 last night. Boo! But until the past couple of nights sleep was going a bit better. Always about the time I get comfortable and say "Oh, sleep is getting a bit better, I might survive this!" it all falls apart, haha. Basically, never celebrate parenting wins. ;)
Amelia is practically running now. She loves to climb up the stairs (heavily supervised) when we go upstairs for a nap. She actually gets mad if I try to carry her. She's been sleeping a lot better lately-- usually sleeps all night! She might wake up at 5 or 5:30 but in general isn't waking at night except maybe once or twice a week. Brad has been able to actually get up early and do school work in the morning instead of fighting with her to go back down. She's also fully on whole milk. That transition was much easier than I thought it would be! She's started clapping (correctly), playing peek-a-boo, stacks items, and empties the laundry basket of diapers and then puts them all back.

As for me, I'm getting over a cold this week which was pretty brutal. The cold went through everyone starting with Brad and ending with me. The girls have been too snotty to go to church two weeks in a row, so we're all staying home tonight. Brad and I both managed a nap today so that improved my outlook on life a lot. Lately I've been trying to be more active with the girls. Too often I'm too focused on everything I "have to" get done or just messing around on Facebook and I just let them entertain themselves in our living room. I don't think there's anything wrong with free play, but too often I don't play *with* them. I just occupy the same room as them. That's not really engaging with them. If I want to foster a good relationship, I need to get into the habit of engaging them-- even if that means just throwing bibs around and playing peek-a-boo. It's just something I need to cultivate as a habit instead of automatically reaching my phone and messing around on FB.

I'm taking this opportunity to brag on my husband: Brad has been awesome. Brad is great with the girls. He's the primary bed time rocker,  he has picked up housework where I haven't been able to, and he gives me a break every single night when he gets home from work. He deals with my unfortunate attitudes and grumpiness. He is my sounding board, rant listener, and he gently reminds me of truth. He's up a lot at night and very early in the morning to work on school work. And he does it with way less complaining than I do. Actually, I don't think I've heard him complain about it. He does it all with a smile. A tired smile, but a smile nonetheless. :)