The Pursuit of Peace

In hopes of helping simplify and bring you a moment of peace, I have compiled a list of special discounts at the bottom of this post that I have procured to share with you, my dear readers!

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Pic Credit: @renegadedrifterphotography (Click to find on Instagram)

As I sit here, my babies sleeping quietly on my lap, drinking a cup of coffee and watching the deer wander slowly through the early morning snow outside my Christmas light wrapped window, a rare moment of beautiful, peaceful calm washes over me. My mind typically feels like a loud blend of several race car tracks, loud music and airplanes roaring overhead, all set to the soundtrack of babies yelling and people trying to talk to me through this insane commotion in my head. I feel like I am always in full speed ahead mode, wash this, move that, always trying to focus enough on the task at hand that I am able to move on to task number two (or two thousand) as efficiently as possible.

But in this moment, the silence strikes me. fullsizerender-3For a moment, the race car tracks are empty, the metal band in my head is still and the sky is clear of airplanes. No children are crying, and no one is trying to ask me anything. The loud static in my head has been at least temporarily replaced by the soft shhhh of the house heat and the gentle purring of the cat. For a moment, everything has stopped, everything is still.

And it feels incredible. I want to freeze this moment, to make it last. I find myself almost nervous to breathe because I am not ready to let it go. But reality is, it will go. The race car tracks will roar to life, the metal band will wake up, (as will most certainly my children) and the sky will populate itself once again with those ridiculously loud airplanes. And that is life. And I love my big, joyous, loud life. But big ships come in over quiet seas, and minds that never stop burn out. I mean, if I was a computer, I would have overheated and blown up quite a while back. As parents, I think one of our biggest challenges is trying to find these quiet moments. It’s so, SO hard to just STOP. To stop our physical, mental and emotional activity and just BE for a moment. There is always something to do, to think about, figure out, or complete.

fullsizerender-2And I think we need to stop, to let the machine cool off, the water to be still, to RECHARGE and reset, to rest. And I think that takes focus, takes effort. And it’s hard to add one more thing to accomplish when you feel like your to do list is already out of control. I mean, yeah, great, let’s add ONE MORE THING to worry about, right? But I think if we can work on these moments, everything else will eventually seem a little less overwhelming, maybe if we find these quiet moments we can enjoy the loud ones a bit more. And while I don’t do New Years resolutions, (hello PRESSURE) I do believe I will add this pursuit of peaceful moments to the top of my goal list. Even if it means getting up fifteen minutes earlier.img_1714

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ten Tips For Keeping Joy (and sanity!) During the Holidays

fullsizerenderOn the heels of my Ten Reasons I’m Dreading the Holidays post, I thought it only fitting that I also write a positive list of ten things I try and do to not only survive the holidays but actually take pause and ENJOY them. It’s SOOO easy to get caught up rushing from one thing to the next and before you know it the lights and tree are coming down and you never got your snowy walk with hot chocolate or sitting for five minutes by the tree.  I find the end of the holidays sad enough without having to feel like I missed out on the few little things I really wanted to do. I hope some of these help you, and please comment and share tips you find helpful to not only surviving but enjoying the holidays!

  1. img_5944Prioritize prioritize prioritize! It helps me to actually write down a list of things that are important to me, even the silly things. I love to sit with a glass of wine by the tree, and it’s shocking how easily it is for that to not happen. So take a minute to think about what is important to YOU and write it down. Then make a point to let some of the other things go so that you can make the important things happen. It doesn’t matter what it is, taking a walk, getting coffee, going to see holiday lights, petting the cat, what matters is it’s what YOU and your family want to do.
  2. Let go of the perfection expectation. I know it sounds like a cliche but this one is a biggie and ties into prioritizing. It’s also sooooo hard for me! I want the house to be perfect, the meals made, to be on time to every event. I hate being late, and when it matters I’ll make being on time happen. But, having baby twins taught me a lesson in humility. I cannot control everything, try as I might. I’m admittedly a control freak, so being a mom has really taught me that I have to let go sometimes. Sometimes we can’t leave the house until I’ve changed diapers AGAIN, or maybe they’re sleeping in today, or despite pinning every single easy cinnamon roll recipe known to mankind and buying ingredients far in advance, we eat leftovers for breakfast. But it’s ok, because while I might not have succeeded in making a holiday breakfast, my husband and I did sit and play with the babies while having coffee together, and we chose that as our priority.img_1356
  3. Say. No. This one is without fail my Achilles heel, and has always been a battle for me, even before babies. I so want to be able to do everything, see everyone, make everyone happy and just be Superwoman in general. But again, lessons I’ve learned through motherhood also include the realization that I cannot be everywhere and do everything, and now when I try I’m not the only one who pays the price. My babies pay the price as well, they get worn out and stressed and when I’m worn out and stressed too, it’s a recipe for anything but happy holiday memories. And saying no can be especially hard if you have people who might not understand why you can’t do it all. Even those who have children can forget what it’s like to have super little ones. It’s just harder with kiddos! Trust me you’re not doing anything wrong, it’s just HARDER. So remember you’re not letting anyone down by saying no to things. You don’t have to say no to everything, but don’t feel bad when you choose to decline.img_1357
  4. Take breaks at events! This is easy for me right now since I’m breastfeeding my babies, it’s an excellent excuse to go hide in the guest room and let all three of us reset for a few minutes. No matter how much you love your group, that many people can be exhausting especially on little ones. (If you watched my last video post I talk a little bit about frazzled kids, click here if you haven’t watched it yet). Oh and lock the door when you do, just trust me on that one. If you’re not nursing, and don’t need to do a diaper change but still need to step away for a moment, don’t be afraid to do so. And honestly you don’t owe anyone an explanation, but feel free to say whatever it is that helps you feel ok to walk away a moment and no you don’t need to take Auntie Nosy with you unless you really want to. It’s ok to take a moment! Hide in the bathroom if necessary!
  5. Remember you and your spouse are a team. I think this one is SUPER important. I don’t know about you all, but holidays always seem to turn into a competition among family members of who spent more time with who. First of all, my husband and I decided that especially since we have kids now, we have to put our little family first. No more running around to seven different houses in one day. That stunk before kids! We also realized how easy it is to take out frustration on each other. Vehement accusations of ‘Your mom said’ and ‘your sister did’ help NO ONE. We decided on a ‘safe word’, (no not something bondage related!) but something we can say to each other to pour water on the fire and lighten the mood when things get heated. Sometimes in marriage you do have to remind yourselves that yes, you do still like each other and are both on the same team. Not every moment will be glamorous and full of happy feels, but it’s really important to remember you’re not mortal sworn enemies and that the person who currently seems to be infuriating you is still the one you fell in love with. Honey does go further than vinegar, especially for resolving spousal disputes. img_0972
  6. Remember it really is about the memories not the gifts. I know it sounds cheesy, but this is especially true for us right now. My husband is headed to medical school, we have one year old twins, we are currently living with my parents, suffice to say we aren’t packing the cash right now. I’d love to shower our families with gifts but it’s just not feasible at this time. And while I’d also love to make everyone cute jars of cookie mix or soup, I also quite literally don’t have the time. It doesn’t mean I don’t care. When my husband and I first started dating in college, we decided we wouldn’t do gifts, we would do something together instead. It works GREAT for us. That might not be the solution for you, and that’s of course ok, but for us it’s been huge. We go on a coffee date together or take a walk instead of frantically trying to find a Christmas or birthday gift. Since family members don’t always get that, we’ve had to (lovingly!) explain we do not want to participate in gift exchanges. Just because they can and we can’t doesn’t mean they’d understand that, or understand that while we want to, we just can’t right now. So we make memories for gifts. Now I’m not saying you cannot ever do gifts! Just try to remember that’s really not what it’s all about and take the pressure off yourself.
  7. Breathe. Seriously though. Try to pause and literally tell yourself to take a breath. For me sometimes that five seconds of stopping and purposefully breathing while possibly staring at the snow can make or break my survival of an afternoon.img_1358
  8. Don’t eat what you don’t want to. I love food. My husband loves food. We are hardcore foodies in every sense of the word. But we also are pretty diligent about what we eat and what our children eat. Now I’m not suggesting you put yourself under a strict law of never eating something you don’t normally, but don’t eat that gluten filled cake even though you know you’ll be sick later because you’re afraid of hurting Grandma’s feelings. I’m glutenfree, and every year without fail people ask me in shock, ‘you’re STILL gluten free?!’ Yes, indeed I am, and still stomach ache free too. It took me forever to not feel bad about not eating things people thought I should because I was afraid of causing offense. But put bluntly, if someone is making you feel bad because you don’t want to get sick, THEY are the ones causing offense! I’m not suggesting you ask everyone to accommodate your dietary choices, but don’t expect yourself to accommodate theirs either.
  9. Leave the event when you need to. Go home! Just because the party is five hours long and your kids are done after two doesn’t make you a bad person.
  10. This is pretty much a reiteration of the above suggestions. Basically, decide what is best for you and your family and stick to that decision. Don’t feel bad about it, or let anyone else make you feel bad. For example, if you decide that staying home and watching Pooh Bears Christmas is better for your family than going caroling tonight, that’s ok. Again, it doesn’t make you a heartless Cretan. It makes you wise, and prevents you from resenting whoever it is that wanted you to go. Alternatively, if you decide to go caroling make sure you’re doing it because you really want to, not out of guilt, and know that while it might be cold your kids will be ok. Bundle them up and sing loud!fullsizerender-2

Alright mamas, I want to hear from you. What do you do to help yourselves enjoy the holidays and stay sane?

One of “Those Days”…

imageWe all have them, those days that make us want to pull our hair out or hide under the bed and cry while guzzling wine and stuffing chocolate in our mouths. It doesn’t mean we’re bad moms, or that we have bad kids. Life as a human isn’t perfect every moment. And, we are all human, and various things in life happen as a human. Imperfect, hair pulling, loud, messy life things.

imageIt’s one of those imperfect days in my house. My children slept in, and, silly me, I foolishly thought that this predicted cheery moods and smiling faces. No, no, not so much, not today anyway. It began with my son not even wanting to be put down while I went to the bathroom, sobbing in a crumpled heap as if I had abandoned him on a remote island, while in reality he was squeezed on the floor between my legs for barely 30 seconds while I attempted to pee with the force of Niagara Falls in order to get the job done as quickly as possible.

imageMy poor miserably teething daughter fell asleep again moments after she had awakened, and as the day would tell, nothing soothed her gums but boob, boob, and more boob. Don’t get me wrong, I love nursing, and I’m very thankful to be able to shove boobs in babies mouths when the going gets tough, but I’ve spent today in a confusing state of constant dehydration while my eyeballs simultaneously float out of my head from needing to pee while being stuck under constantly nursing babies, and I’m also quite sure my nipples are no longer nipples for they’ve been sucked into sore raw straws, or possibly they may even be gone altogether. Frankly, I’m afraid to look.

Moments ago my son was enthusiastically waving a baby wipe around (it’s better than the dirty diaper I discovered he was swashing around prior, thankfully not a poopy one), and my daughter was yodeling her best imitation of “I’m a banshee being hung by my toenails” while I changed her diaper with the urgency of an Indy 500 pit stop. Currently they are in blissfully quiet repose, on my boobs of course. imageThe playroom is a wreck, there’s dirty laundry hiding in more crannies than I’m willing to admit, and my sustenance today has been a weird mix of peanut butter and chugged water, but, as my family likes to say, it’s 5:00 somewhere and if wine is dehydrating I guess I’ll just have to drink some extra to compensate. Here’s to you, mamas, and those days that do eventually end. Cheers!

On Mom Shaming

imageI’ll readily admit, before I had kids I didn’t really buy into the whole “mom shaming” concept. Of course I was, and still am, fully aware of the judgement that exists, both from other moms and myself. However I somehow had it in my mind that I would be immune to the judgment, that somehow it wouldn’t bother me, that perhaps I just “wouldn’t let myself” be exposed to situations which could leave me feeling judged. And don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of judging, I mean, this entire post is me judging others for judging for goodness sake.

But anyway, as I said before, if parenting does one thing for you it will teach you to never say never. It wasn’t until I had my own munchkins that I realized my idyllic sense of no judgement was not only unrealistic but naive. It started before I even gave birth to the twins. “Oh, you’re not scheduling a- c section? Oh, you don’t want that toy/blanket/clothing it will absolutely maim/harm/kill your child. You’re eating what? You’re walking where?!” Still I clung to my foolish belief that it would dissipate after the twins arrived and everyone saw what a capable mother I was (ha ha).

It did not. It increased, exponentially. Strangers feel no shame in approaching me to berate me on my mothering choices. “You’re not sleep training?! You haven’t gotten them on a schedule yet?! You don’t have a set bedtime?!” “Oh…you’re letting them have screen time already?” (Yes, I needed to pee. And it’s really hard to pee when every muscle in my body is tense because my children are screaming like they’re being torn asunder. Don’t worry, I’m only letting them watch The Exorcist so it’s cool). image
And then, “you’re BREASTFEEDING?! TWINS?! YOU HAVEN’T FED THEM SOLIDS YET?! You know you can now right…” (Really I had NO idea, I’ve been a mom for nine months now but have been living under a rock so had no idea of common practices and approaches to raising babies). “Oh wow, they’re not crawling yet? You do know it’s important they crawl right …” Actually I hang them from their ankles at night to prohibit crawling, but thanks for your concern.

Clearly, I have not only lost my marbles but probably had none to begin with. And my poor children, well obviously they’re hopelessly screwed, at least according to the general populace.

Moms are vulnerable, especially new moms. I am no exception to that, and despite my wonderful support team of husband, family and friends I will admit that the judgement has shaken me more than a time or two and caused me to retreat home viciously questioning my own abilities as a parent. Why weren’t they crawling?! Was it tummy time?! Maybe I didn’t do it enough/well/right?! They are stressed today, is it my lack of scheduling?! Why do they hate car rides so much?! It’s easy to have your “mama knows best” resolve shaken when well meaning friends and relatives have no hesitation in criticizing you or sharing their opinion.

What I truly abhor the most is the brag shaming. “My child is Superman, he crawled at 2 months!” “My pediatrician said my baby is basically the next improved version of Einstein, he’s speaking 7 languages at 7 months old!” While I am proud of my children and of course personally think they are the brightest most beautiful creatures to ever grace the planet, I do not make post after post about this. I know how it feels to see that and immediately wonder why your child hasn’t reached that milestone. Every child is different, and while everyone says to celebrate that and that every child learns at their own pace (which IS true) many frequently make that statement and then immediately post as to how advanced their child is compared to every other single child in the universe. And they should see their kiddo as amazing, beautiful, unequaled. They’re the parent. That’s their job. (Now don’t get me wrong, I do not believe in teaching your children that that they poop gold, sneeze rainbow dust and in general do no wrong, thereby giving them not only a false sense of reality but also turning them into insufferable jerks, but that’s another post for another day).

imageJudging is part of human nature, we can’t help it. But we can shut our mouths about it. So judge away, mamas, I’m right there with you, but let’s keep it to ourselves. We never know when we might be at the  receiving end.

Let’s Run Errands, or Not

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As a mother of five month old twins I find getting out the door to do errands a sometimes mountain sized challenge. Let’s just say I order everything possible via the internet for a reason. Efficiency is key once at the store, baby nerves wear thin fast when being snatched in and out of car seats and dashed through stores. I am certain their nerves reflect mine as we weave our way through curious fellow shoppers and attempt to more or less politely fend off the never ending barrage of questions from persistent folks. I set out to do my errands the other day, whisked my children away from their toys with which they were playing peacefully and prepared to stuff everyone into car seats.

imageEfficiency being foremost in my mind, I made certain I was set up for success. The car was loaded with reusable bags, car seats loaded with baby toys, diaper bag packed and at the ready. I was clad appropriately in mom shorts and nursing scarf and already wearing my baby carrier to avoid parking lot delays. Babies were fed and diapered with stuffed toys in hand and I began my first attempt at loading us all into the car. This was cut abruptly short as my little boy valiantly filled his diaper. Back to the changing table we went for a fast change. Not to be outdone, my little girl promptly filled her diaper. imageChanges complete, the hungry fussing began and I realized it was either take the time for a quick feeding or listen to screams all the way to the store. Feedings done, one more diaper change, and we were finally in the car and on our way with my poor sister in tow. By this point, the wind was screeching and getting from car to store was a challenge in and of itself. I hastily tucked my wee ones into the carrier and stroller and imagedashed into the grocery store.

In my rush, I dropped my bank card into the unzipped carrier pocket after checking out and then promptly forgot about it. We dashed to our next location, with one frantic stop at a light to give my hysterical little boy our trusty singing giraffe. I leapt back in the car still sporting my baby carrier and realized to my horror I had never taken my bank card out of the still open, and now empty, carrier pocket. I jumped back out of the car and frantically scoured the ground for my card, it was nowhere to be seen.

Back in the car and on our way to our next destination, I began to furiously berate myself that my brand new (very recently replaced due to having lost it twice recently before) shiny card was no doubt in repose at the last parking lot we had just left. I shot off a terse text to my husband, ‘LOST BANK CARD’, and as by now the babies were crying and hungry we all sat in the parking lot while I fed them and alternated singing quietly to the babies and vehemently scourging myself. So much for buying baby toys! I cried hysterically. Now we had to trek ALL the way across town AGAIN! My groceries were going to spoil, not to mention my card was lying around in a parking lot. Back to the grocery store we raced, and miraculously, my card was still there. My sister graciously allowed me to drop her and the groceries at home, and the babies and I were at last able to get the coveted toys. Next time, I’m just ordering them from Amazon.image

Road Trippin’

img_2478Recently my husband and I set out on a little road trip with our then four month old twins. As sometimes even short drives to the store result in backseat wailing, we knew there would be some interesting moments en route to our destination. But, as we were going to visit dear family members, we deemed it absolutely worthwhile to embark on this adventure. Our plan was to leave early in the morning while our little ones were sleepy and make tracks before the wakefulness of the day set upon them. Best laid plans…lets just say getting out the door with twins never fails to offer new and surprising twists and inevitable delays.

But, finally we were on our way and headed mountain-ward, armed with a zillion rattles and a beautiful treat basket my sister had made us. An hour in, treat basket devoured, we had already made several emergent roadside stops in response to vehement shrieks of protest and it seemed our tiny defiant members had figured out if they wanted to eat it would delay their being replaced in the car seats. Wee ones fed, (again), diapered, and abundantly toy’ed, we set out to continue our slow journey towards our destination.image

Things were going pretty smoothly until we entered a long tunnel through a mountain. Now, you can’t pull over inside a tunnel, and you sure as anything cannot stop mid-traffic. It’s dark, loud, and completely without escape. Almost the moment we entered the tunnel, our tiny son abruptly burst into panicked screams. Not the ‘hey I’m kind of upset’ kind, the ‘OH MY GOSH IM GOING TO SCREAM UNTIL I CANT BREATHE’ kind. My husband valiantly tried singing, (his singing is the ONLY thing the babies respond to immediately, it’s amazing), we tried soothing, shhh’ing. The little guy was NOT having it and was escalating at a terrifyingly rapid pace. Over the seat I went, remarking to my husband that of course I’ve always dreamed of going through a mountain tunnel butt first so really this was great. He responded via song, and I began to stroke and soothe and attempt to calm my hysterical child. Thankfully his sister was peacefully looking on in wonder as we madly careened around tunnel corners, me soothing, baby shrieking, husband singing.

imageFinally the tunnel ended and we stopped roadside for the umpteenth time. We did eventually make it to our destination which was indeed beyond worth the trip, (stand by for my next post on that!). We only made one official pit stop/restroom break (when babies are sleeping you hold that pee). My husband had practically lost his voice from singing by the time we had arrived, and I had become a pro at front seat roadside diaper changes in my lap, not to mention we had both achieved a stellar tricep workout from reaching over our heads to jiggle baby seats while driving.image

It did make arriving at our destination that much sweeter, hugs and wine have never felt and tasted better, and it’s definitely been our biggest adventure yet as a family of four. What’s been your craziest experience to date traveling with little ones?

I Woke Up Like This?

imageMorning has been an adventure in my house this morning. I would love to paint you a blissful picture of me waking up, romantically tousled hair and smelling like the clean linen sheets I arose from. Perhaps I am peacefully having a lovely cup of steaming coffee, one baby nursing while the other plays. But realty is that my hair looks like a nest the birds abandoned, I have milk crusted in unmentionable places, and even my four month old son is afraid of my armpits. The coffee is cold, my daughter vomited on the bathroom floor, my son pooped in his bath, the cats are screaming because I forgot to buy their food yesterday and you don’t even want to know how long it is taking to make this post.

I will (hopefully) eventually shower soon, I’ll skip the mascara because who knows where that went, and I might even get to warm up that coffee.

A little chaotic? Sure, but that’s ok. I woke up like this.

Errands, well planned chaos?

imageGetting out of the house and in and out of stores has become a bit more challenging these days. I will readily admit that if it were both possible and economically reasonable I would probably order everything online and have it delivered to my door step. And by everything, I mean, everything. Is it possible to have a smooth trip running around town doing errands wth babies in tow? Of course! But, mildly put, today was not that day.

The fact is, most of the time my errands consist of speedy, sometimes loud and often chaotic, dashes in and out of stores. No longer do I walk the aisles, I bounce up and down them in an effort to soothe fussy babes, all while trying to remember why I went down that aisle in the first place. When the cashier asks the typical, “did you find everything ok?” I survey the pile of groceries that multiplied in a seemingly miraculous manner, “oh yes…” I reply, wondering why exactly I thought I needed 7 bags of cheese. Then the dreaded, “did you bring your own bags?” I respond with an embarrassed “well yes but no because I left them right inside the door as I was dashing my twins one by one to the car in a desperate effort to finally get out the door but don’t worry I will recycle these”. The cashier nods in a condescending manner, as if they’ve heard this story many times before. I want to say, look lady, YOU try remembering bags on your way out the door with two babies but instead I just smile and know that one day if they have children, they too will forget their bags at times.

Today my husband came with me for errands, and having two people wrangling two babies undeniably makes it infinitely easier. But even that cannot prevent the chaos that insists on presenting itself at times. Knowing well the baby hunger game, I fed and diaper changed both babies in the car immediately before attempting the quick shopping we had to do. This entailed popping into one store for some bandana baby bibs I been coveting, (ha, like I “pop” in and out of anywhere these days),  grabbing a few groceries and some food for the cats. Despite having been fed less than five minutes previously, my little girl decided to wail her heart out incessantly the minute I put her in the carrier, and no, I am not one of those blissfully talented souls who can feed in the baby carrier. My baby boy, who was being carried by my husband, was on one of his infamous ‘nap strikes’ and had also begun crying inconsolably.

We briefly considered throwing in the towel and going home, but decided since we were already there, to brave it and just go for it. And let me tell you, if you think people don’t look at you enough with twins, try walking around with WAILING twins. One bonus, folks do tend to let you cut in line at the cashier, probably out of a desire to have the screaming go away. You know what’s fun? Bouncing, shushing, and trying to check out all at once. It’s great fun, really. You can imagine the looks on the cashiers faces.

We did all make it home in one piece, the babies resumed their more cheerful demeanors, and all was far more calm than just an hour before. We had survived the outing and the nosy fellow shoppers who all forget the concept of personal space the minute they see a baby, but that is another story for another day.