Panera Bread and Holiday Gift Guides (5 on Friday)

This year is almost over?! Say what?!

So that explains why I am in clean-the-house-get-organized-finish-everything-christmas-is-almost-here-keep-moving-hurry-up mode!

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So much to do, so little time. I want to send Christmas cards out already, finish decorating the tree, wrap up the gifts (pun intended), and get the house cleaned and ready for visitors!

BUT!

I am also reminding myself that so long as we have our health and each other (family and friends), we truly have all we need. In reality, the best thing I can do for myself and my family is to do less stuff(Although I really really really want to put away the Christmas décor boxes and not have to address another holiday card!!!)

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Five things I’ve learned about having twins

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A quick sneak peek at my new obsession… Can’t wait to really get into chalkboards and calligraphy and all things fonts/pens/writing!

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Jer takes a selfie

After doing this twin-raisin’ thing for a year now, I think that qualifies me to finally share some important lessons learned. If you’ve read some of my posts throughout the past year (plus my pregnancy), you know that I’ve not only dealt with my fair share of challenges, I’ve learned a lot about becoming a first-time parent and mother. Not only in figuring out how to care for two infants, but how to keep my sanity, stay strong, and do things for me.

Yes, he's a lot louder than he appears

Yes, he’s a lot louder than he appears

While this list could go on for much longer, here are the top five things that I’ve been thinking about lately. These five things pretty much summarize life with twins at my house. I think it’s safe to assume other first-time moms and especially moms of multiples can agree with me here. If you are not yet a parent, you would probably find this list intriguing, especially if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to raise a baby, let alone two! 🙂

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1. Lots of crying

The nature of having twins is that you cannot always tend to them when they need you. If I had a DIME for every time a baby cried while I tended to his brother, there would be no need for a college savings account. It breaks my heart and every bone in my body hearing them cry, but not only do I know that I will eventually get to them, I also know they won’t remember these days!

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2. It’s not double the trouble

It’s triple, sometimes quadruple, the trouble! Yes, it’s twice the diapers, twice the bottles, twice the soothing, twice the care. But the effort required to care for infant twins is compounded by the fact that you cannot always immediately tend to a baby’s needs, causing him to cry and fuss even more, and so you scramble around trying to finish tending to the first crying baby, and after you finally get to the second crying baby, you feel like you’ve run a mini marathon and can barely catch your breath. Then, you finally catch your breath, but it’s time to do it all over again!

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3. If it’s not one, it’s the other

Even when you think you’ve got the hang of this twin-parent thing, it’s such a challenge figuring out what they need. You finally get one baby happy, then the other is not having it. Or one baby finally gets through a week or two of fussiness ALL THE TIME, and then now the other baby is fussy all the time. It’s almost like they know how to tag team it. On a less difficult note, the same goes for other things as well. Taking a picture of the babies together is quite a feat. one baby will be cheesing and laughing while the other is mean-mugging. Then they’ll switch. Not gonna lie, it can take up to 5-10 pictures just to get one DECENT one.

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4. You have a built-in excuse for quite a while

I have no shame (maybe a drop) using the boys as an excuse to be too tired to work out or do anything productive, an excuse for a messy home (don’t all new parents get to pull that card?), and an excuse to do be grumpy and irritated. Yes, they’re a joy, but the happiness is not without the struggle. If I have to go through all this work for the babies, don’t expect me to do much else! I used to tell myself that I get double the clearance time to workout (typically new mothers have to wait 6 weeks until cleared by the doctor to work out). That doubled clearance time tripled and quadrupled and now it’s one year later and I’m still not trying to lift a single dumbell. I can barely trot down the block without dry heaving, so I am just not ready to work out yet.

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5. You’re heart wants to explode

Ok, I’ll stop complaining. How is there even anything to whine about when I get the blessed opportunity, privilege, and honor of being the parent to two beautiful, healthy baby boys? Every day they amaze us. It sounds cheesy and cliche, but they truly do fill my heart beyond capacity. Just this morning when they were being difficult at breakfast – they weren’t eating, refusing and whining and pushing the spoon away – I was very frustrated because I put so much time and energy and MONEY into preparing them good ol’ homemade baby food. I didn’t expect the rejection to be so heartbreaking and irritating. After I put the boys in their playyard alone and walked away, I overheard them laughing with each other. These boys were seriously cracking up. I go and peek at what is going on and find Adrian playing peek-a-boo with Jer and they were both hysterically laughing. It is those breakthrough moments that bring me back to the ground and realize that we are doing just fine.

Motherhood: Feeling good about yourself again

A fellow first-time mama expressed how she felt unattractive and such a Plain Jane.”

She was worried about losing weight, looking good for her husband, and finding confidence in herself again. She asked if any other mamas had similar feelings.

Here’s how I responded:

Can relate completely. When your hair is falling out, you’re sporting eye bags and milk stains, and you would rather sleep than take a shower, how are u ever supposed to feel good again?

Then I tell myself, all that soft flab turned mush bc of the 3 mos strict bed rest I endured to give my babies a fighting chance to survive. Those sleepy eyes have passed on precious sleep to tend to, care for, and soothe your darling babies. And those showers dont matter because your one and only mission is to pump, take care of babies, and nourish yourself so you can go on another day.

Don’t worry, mama. The time will come when you can do ur hair, take a nice,
long hot shower, go shopping, and sleep long enough for a restful face. But until then, trust me when I say, “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!'” If you dont feel it or no one else tells you, just know ur little one has known that from the start. Ok, my novel is over! 🙂

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Believe me when I say that in those beginning weeks and months, I did not know when I could feel like ME again. It was a treat to get out of my PJs and brush my teeth. I barely had time to brush my hair, let alone wash it, so I threw it up in a messy bun ALL. THE. TIME. My “uniform” became capris, loose tops, and the hair bun. When I left the house, I contemplated whether the spit up stains and dirt on my clothes could be seen from 5 feet away; if the answer was no, I did not need to change.

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***TMI WARNING!!!***

It is pretty gross being a first-time mom in the beginning.

You’re recovering from pregnancy: MONTHS of your body being stretched and a growing baby.

You’re recovering from labor and delivery: Some women go hours and days of the ultimate, grueling effort one’s body could ever endure.

And you try (sometimes unsuccessfully) to recover from the lack of sleep and rest, but you never seem to catch up (and I am afraid I’ve heard long-time parents who say you NEVER catch up).

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I may never again feel 100% like my “old self.” But already I feel stronger, happier, and more beautiful, simply because I brought two lives into this world and their happiness and health fuel me every single day.

You’ve heard me say it before and I’ll continue to say it. From surviving to thriving, there IS light at the end of that long, dark tunnel, and I’m ecstatic to finally say I am literally prancing around in that sunshine. (Gosh, I am such a SAP!!!:)

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I was afraid to post so many pictures of ME, because I truly believe life is no longer about me and it is about the boys. But that would be a mistake to forget about myself and putting myself first.

To all my fellow mamas out there, celebrate yourselves! Look in the mirror and realize what an amazing, strong, confident, gorgeous person you are. Yes there are trials and times you want to give up. But try your best to be happy more than sad, and always choose joy.

After all, happy mama = happy babies!!!

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Cheers!

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The boys recently turned ONE! Check out their one-year update here!

Gaining confidence as a new mom

Being a parent is hard. Being a mom feels harder. There’s something about the bond with your little ones and the love you have for them that cannot be matched, and it is this extreme longing to do your best for them that can sometimes lead to feelings of failure and disappointment. All day long, thoughts run through my head about the boys. I’m wondering what my next move is, what each boy will need next… I love them to the moon and back, but it is hard. While things have been really hard, there are every day accomplishments and small steps forward that make me forget (at least temporarily) all of the sweat and tears. For instance, the boys are super social now and love to “talk” and smile at us. They are really engaged and interactive, compared to the days that they just stared blankly past us. Could you resist these beautiful faces?

Adrian & Jeremiah - my sweet boys

Adrian & Jeremiah – my sweet boys

What has also helped me get through these rough few months are some really great articles I’ve found online. Starting with the days I was on bed rest, these reads have helped put things in perspective for me, which has saved my sanity plenty of times. I know I’m supposed to just get over the tiredness of being a parent, especially a TWIN parent, and accept it. I can understand why it’s better to just be tired rather than grumpy/bitter and tired. I’m supposed to just stay positive and patient, keep on swimming. But really, the work takes such a toll on my body that I need constant reminders that there really is light at the end of the tunnel. That I’m only momentarily in the hardest part of things (even though I hear there will simply be new challenges ahead) and to enjoy every minute of the boys because they will not be this small forever. Here are some of my favorites:

#1) Surviving Bed Rest | Parents.com

I was on strict bed rest for three whole months during my pregnancy. It was unexpected, heartbreaking, and a serious drag. But, I would do it all over again just to know that I carried the boys that extra three months, kept them cooking until an amazing 34 weeks and 5 days! The article above was something I often looked back at for a good laugh. It is one woman’s description of her bed rest by week and I must say that about 95% of the material is totally what I went through!

#2) The things they really don’t tell you when you have a baby | The Huffington Post

First off, this article is hilarious!!! Not only did I laugh at every single one, but they are all true! Thanks to K for sharing. But all jokes aside, there are a ton of unexpected things you go through once a baby is in your life, but every single ounce of yourself that it takes to get by is totally worth it.

#3) To My Post-Partum Self: Things I Wish I’d Known | elephant journal

After reading this article, I realize how true everything was in it. There is so much focus around the pregnancy and delivery, which is understandable, especially for your first time. But oh how I wish I knew how relatively small some of those issues were compared to the life of being a parent. Not to downplay the birthing process or the complications I went through during pregnancy. But in the grand scheme of things, nothing can prepare you enough for being a parent and so I wish I had spent more of my pregnancy reading up on how to take baby home and get settled into things. I’m grateful for the classes we took from our hospital because a lot of the things I learned then really came in handy at home with the boys. Basically, it’s like how sometimes couples focus so much on their wedding day, but really they need to equally, or even more so, prepare for the MARRIAGE!!!

#4) The Unnatural Mom | CNN iReport

This article made me feel soooo much better on a ton of aspects of motherhood. It is very true that women (first time moms mostly) go into pregnancy with bunnies and rainbows thinking everything will be beautiful, the sun will shine down on them as they breastfeed for the first time, they will happily skip to the mall with their baby in tow as everyone ooo’s and ahh’s at the new bundle of joy. Ok, well there definitely are a lot of sunshine-y moments, don’t get me wrong. But a LOT of what I expected turned out differently or even went a whole 180 on me! Starting with the bed rest. I looked forward to working out and running (especially since I had just gotten into running) my entire pregnancy, feeling fantastic and “glowing,” and overall enjoying the experience. I did enjoy a LOT of the experience. I LOVED being pregnant. But never did I expect to go on bed rest so early on and not be able to enjoy baby showers or basically be on my feet just to go to the movies or mall. On top of my own selfish needs and issues, what was more important was that we learned of complications with the babies:( It was such a trying time for us. Tons of visits to the doctor, two hospital stays for me (one was 11 days, the other was 2 days), and a lot of scary news and being told that we can only “wait and see” what will happen. Luckily we pulled through! The motto that seriously just kept me going was, “go with the flow.” I also learned a lot of things during my pregnancy.

#5) “You’re a stay-at-home mom? What do you DO all day?” | The Matt Walsh Blog

This article was fabulous! Although I am not going to permanently be a stay at home mom (SAHM), I am certainly getting my share of experiencing what it would be like during my time at home. It is NOT easy. I take back every thought or word I ever said about SAHMs having an awesome job because of how fun and easy it must be. Yes, it is rewarding and fulfilling like no other job in this universe. But it is nothing close to easy!!! There are days I can barely wash my face or change outta my PJs until well after lunchtime (sorry, TMI). I take a look around me and just laugh at our messy home. It’s insane! I can barely find time to eat, let alone wash bottles, sweep the floors, put things in their proper places, or any other household chores. It’s all about SURVIVAL and maintenance at this point. I used to scramble around cleaning every nook and cranny before guests come over. That’s all gone now! People understand that we’re in this point in our lives and thank goodness I let the clean house mentality go early on. Otherwise I would just be sick! Seriously though, PROPS to SAHMs everywhere. It’s not easy and it is a 24/7 job. At least with a regular job, there are set hours, you can leave the workplace, you get paid for how well you do your work… as a SAHM, you are constantly “working,” every dish you wash and diaper you change is not necessarily responded to with a “payment,” and sometimes you have no clue how well you’re doing and just need to keep going.

#6) New Mamas Get Nothing Done (and other untruths) | Mama Seeds

I started BAWLING when I read this article! I was seriously sobbing! This was a beautifully written piece that helped me take a deep breath from all the pressure I was (and still am) putting on myself. It was such a great perspective on our jobs as mamas. Basically, each weekend I have this to-do list for the week that I feel is pretty reasonable (4-5 tasks). I figure I can do one a day, right? WRONG!!! Sometimes the entire week goes by and I don’t do a single thing until freakin’ Friday. It’s amazing. I was warned by a nurse in the NICU that every time I write a to-do list, cut it in HALF. Now I understand why. But reading this article reminded me that it’s OK. Things will not get done that I hope to, but what will get done are the most invaluable things every. Raising your children. Teaching them about the world. Giving them love. Nurturing them and laughing with them and caring for them. Being able to talk and sing to my babies, hold them tight, teach them about the world, kiss their foreheads and cheeks, and simply breathe them all in is a productive day!!! Yes there are dishes and emails and laundry and messiness to be attended to. But these moments in their infancy are fleeting and I am so glad for the reminders to enjoy these times because they do not last.

#7) ​13 ways to get thing done as a new mama​ | Mama Seeds

While it’s great to know that I have to redefine the word “productive” per the previous article, this article was a helpful, practical guide for still trying to get things done. A big thing I learned to remind myself is: “Happy Mama, happy babies.” I absolutely need to take care of myself. When I first started out taking care of the boys alone because the hubs returned to work, I sometimes didn’t eat breakfast until 11 am. This is very not like me. I usually eat by 6/7 am and snack until lunch at noon. I just couldn’t find a moment to sit down and eat. I was lucky if I could drink some water. I was just go, go, go, constantly caring for the boys. I think what was different then from now is that I ran to the boys at their every call. Any noise, fuss, or discomfort of theirs sent me running. Of course I need to tend to them, but if they’re fed, they have clean diapers, they were burped, and I spent some time soothing them, then it’s OK to let them fuss or cry for a few minutes. It is imperative that I take a moment to breathe and to nourish myself because otherwise I risk falling apart or losing it with them. The article above taught me to accept that I no longer will have huge blocks of time with which I can have “me” time. Instead, I have 15-minute increments (30 minutes if I’m lucky) and therefore I just have to do things in short bursts of time. For example, once I do a morning feed around 6/7 am, the boys usually nap for another half hour. What do I do? I used to nap right along with them. How could I resist my warm pillow and blanket? However, I learned it was more beneficial to get breakfast, fill up on water, and pump in that time. I never knew how much I could get done in such a short amount of time! Oh, how I take back every time I ever said that I didn’t have enough time pre-baby. I multi-task like no other. If I’m doing dishes, I might as well pump at the same time. If I’m entertaining the boys, I might as well fold laundry or eat a snack. If I’m eating a meal, I might as well respond to some emails and make some important phone calls and set-up doctor appointments. It’s all about being efficient and taking advantage of every moment of free time because once the boys need me, I want to be there 101%. I want to be fully functioning and present for them so I can not only give them the attention they deserve, but I can truly enjoy every moment with them and not be overburdened and stressed out.

#8) The Passion of Parenting | The New York Times

*Recent find!* Haven’t read yet…

#9) A New Perspective For Moms | Elevation Church

I want to leave you (if you’re still with me) one last amazing find. It’s a really short video that is a sweet reminder to moms everywhere that no matter what we think of ourselves, we need to have confidence that we are doing an amazing job.

Adrian Boy & Jer Bear

Adrian Boy & Jer Bear

These boys are my world. Of course, my hubs is my number one love. But now we have this beautiful family and I am just so happy!!!

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See additional articles and good reads on motherhood/parenthood HERE!

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Check out the updated stats for the boys’ three month update HERE! They are chunksters!

Surviving as a first time mom

WE’RE ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It has been exactly five weeks since our boys were born. They are a month old

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This Saturday is actually my original due date & I have bittersweet feelings about it.

I’m sad because the babies should have been in the womb a little longer, but I’ll always be so grateful for how long they did last (34 weeks and 5 days).

It was a long and trying pregnancy, but they made it not just OK. They are grrrreat!

Our boys. Our sweet, sweet boys. Can’t get enough of them!

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