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. :)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Fit Mama: Progress Report

I totally had intentions of doing a weekly progress report...but..uh... that didn't happen. #twinlife.

BUT. Here is a progress report as I finished my 8 weeks of Jillian Michaels.

  • I have only missed ONE workout and that was due to being sick.
  • I have progressed through all of the levels, but I can't do the advanced moves on all of them. 
  • I have lost almost 10lbs since I started, bringing my total weight loss to date to 21lbs. 
  • Since June I have lost 3 inches from my waist and 2 from my hips. The stubborn muffin top/baby tummy is not budging as much as I would like...but there's progress there too!
  • Eating is going well. The only sugar I've been eating is honey or maple syrup and both are used very sparingly. Oh, I also occasionally eat something with turbinado sugar in it.
  • I've been able to go running on Saturdays (or Sundays depending on the weather). I'm up to 2.5 miles. I've noticed it's easier to push this time around than it was when I first started running.
What's next? Well, the girl's routine is naturally changing a little so I think I'm going to start hitting Mt. Trashmore with the double BOB running stroller. We shall see! I'm hoping to do some sort of strengthing workout two times a week and to run three times a week. I need to get going on the running because the half I want to do is in March.

 I'm also investigating gym membership options that fit my (small) budget for when it gets too cold to run outside with the babies. I have a while until that's truly an issue, but I'm keeping it on the forefront of my mind. Ideally, I would like to get a Y membership because they have childcare. A less expensive option is Planet Fitness but then I have to figure out what to do with the girls. Anyone local willing to watch them a couple times a week so I can hit the treadmill?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mama Eats Clean: Super Easy White Chicken Chili

On Sundays our church meets at 5pm so we don't get home until well after 6. Since the girls need to go to bed pretty early, I try to do a crockpot meal for us so there's no cooking when we get home. I like to throw together hearty soups so we also have lunches for a couple days. This one is super simple and came straight from my brain (and inspired by several white chicken chili recipes I've collected over the years).

Super EasyWhite Chicken Chili:

1 16oz jar of green salsa (pick a clean brand. I really like the Whole Foods one).
2 Chicken Breasts (cooked or raw, your choice. I'm paranoid and always pre cook).
2 Cans Cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
1 quart Chicken Broth
1/2 medium onion, diced
shredded cheese for topping

Throw everything in the crockpot and cook on high for 5-6 hours (longer if using raw chicken). I throw the chicken breasts in whole and then break them up after cooking. You could pre shred or cube before cooking if you wanted. When you're ready to eat, serve it up with a smidge of shredded cheese on top. Yum.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

12 Months!

My little photo shoots are increasingly more complicated these days. It's so hard to get good pictures of babies who just do not want to sit still! So this time I divided and conquered and did Amelia's on one day and then did Eleanor's the next day. Well I tired to do hers at the same time but I only got one good picture. Warning: this post got really long. Not sorry about that. ;)

Amelia Claire transformed into a toddler on her first birthday. She hardly ever crawls, she's great at throwing fits, she learned how to chuck toys across the room, and she is in constant motion. She's doing so many fun things and is so interactive with us and with Eleanor. The way she interacts with her toys is very toddler like. We've moved beyond just banging stuff around (though that does happen) to putting things inside other things, stacking things, and knocking things over.

We are in the thick of teething. Amelia has two bottom teeth and one top tooth, but basically all of her top teeth are RIGHT there almost through. We had a rough week of not sleeping while the teeth were ridging up a lot. I hope they pop through with no big deal because we do not want more weeks of bad sleep. After her bad week or two she's been sleeping through the night for the most part. She occasionally gets up once. Unfortunately, she also wants to be up for the day at 5 and sometimes 4:30. It's unfortunate because Brad wants to get up to do school work at 4:30 am before work (ick) but he's been thwarted more often than not. So that sucks a lot for him, but I'm glad he takes that one for the team and at least lets me sleep until 6 when he has to leave. Edited: this post literally took me a week to put together. I typed this part about sleep on Tuesday night. Ever since then we have had really bad sleep. Rule 1: never celebrate any sleep victories. ;)

We had our 12 month check up and all is well. Amelia's growth chart is amazing. She's in the sixty something percentile for weight and is basically the same height as Eleanor now. I can't remember the exact percentiles right this second, but the Ped is very pleased with where she's at. She is also not anemic nor has she been exposed to lead, according to the blood work we did. (Side note: People have told me this is weird, but I thought at the 12 month appointment all Peds send kids to the lab to do a CBC and lead test? Did everyone else do this?).  Probably the biggest thing is that we got the OK to switch to whole milk and get off of formula. Yay! Milk is much cheaper than formula. ;) We are slowly switching over, but I'm almost out of formula so it will be soon that we put the cans of formula behind us for good! 

Eleanor Jane is taking steps independently, but isn't walking full time quite yet. Her favorite game to play is peek-a-boo followed by knock down the block tower. She spends a lot of time putting rings on the stacking toy, throwing things, and putting other things inside bigger things.

Eleanor has developed a ton of expressions. She scrunches up her face and makes a little piggy noise sometimes and it's so cute. She smiles a lot and she laughs a lot (usually at Amelia). I give Eleanor a cup of water with meals and sometimes in between but I don't worry about giving her whole milk. She still nurses a lot so I don't think it's necessary at this point. Eleanor wasn't feeling well last week so she didn't eat a whole lot, but since her appetite has returned she eats a lot of things I didn't expect her too. I made some cheesy quinoa last night and she tore into hers like it was the most awesome thing. I don't mind. Quinoa isn't a bad thing for her to like!

The Ped was also pleased with Eleanor's growth at her 12 month check. She's in the fifty something percentile for weight and her growth curve is trucking right along where it should be. We did have to go back last week because Eleanor was having some tummy troubles, but after some probiotics everything is back to normal again.
I just liked this picture. It makes me laugh.

It's been so fun watching them over the last couple weeks go from babies to toddlers. Just the way they play is so different from what they were doing a month ago. Everyone said they would start going in opposite directions, but I haven't found that to be the case. They go everywhere together. They make each other crack up in ways no one else can. They reach out to hold each other's hands at lunch time. They get into things together. It's a very special bond I get to see them form.

Since this is getting very long, here's just a quick blurb about their birthday. We didn't do much, but we did give them cupcakes at community group to celebrate. Amelia ate some of the cake part but wasn't a big fan of the frosting. Eleanor just was not a big fan in general. I'm actually ok with that though. Cake isn't something they need to love. ;) One of the traditions we have started at gift giving occasions (Christmas and Birthdays) is to follow this rule in selecting presents: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. As they get older we probably will do less and less combined gifts but this year we got them a baby einstein music table (what they want) as their big gift. Amelia got "Iggy Peck Architect" as her book and Eleanor got "Rosie Revere, Engineer" as hers. Instead of a card Brad and I both wrote a note in the cover of their books. Each girl got a pair of shoes and a sippy cup (what they wear and what they need). Unfortunately, the style of the sippy cup isn't one they drink from but hey. Whatevs. haha.

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. :)