Saturday, January 17, 2015

Gotta play!



It is funny. Having multiple children can be a blessing and a curse when it comes to my balancing act of my priorities. Of course one of my biggest priorities (and desires) is pending quality time with them – getting down on the ground and really playing with them. Yet my other priority of…pretty much accomplishing anything (be it work, make a call to set up an appointment, a trip to the market, COOKING MEALS, general pick-up of the house, laundry, working out, whatever) has to fit into the day somewhere too.

I know, I know, I know…the old adage of children don’t keep and you can leave your dishes and laundry and all that, but that only works to a degree. At some point, all that stuff really does have to get done. And it isn’t realistic (at least in my world) to save it all for during nap/quiet time or after bedtime. So unfortunately too often our play time ends up unfocused on my part. I will play a little, fold a little (all in the same room), play a little, pick up toys a little, play a little, make a call, and so on.

When it was just Nolan, this would have never worked. I was the only one around and we played for hours. It also took me FOREVER to get anything done, but with only one it didn’t matter as much…it is more of a balancing act now. With three, they so frequently entertain each other (the blessing part) that I can convince myself without much work that they are playing together, that it is important for their relationships and development and all that, and I busy myself elsewhere (the curse). I really do think that this is good for them. I really do think that I don’t need to be “entertaining” them 24/7. BUT…I too really do understand that MY relationship with them also needs nourishing.

All of this has really been at the forefront of my mind lately as I’m working through Chalene Johnson’s 30 Day Push. I have been looking at my day, my time management, my goals and how I’m going to reach them, focusing on attracting what I want, being positive, being the mom, friend, wife, person that I want to be and more. More times in the past couple weeks than I can remember in months, we have chosen to stay home and play vs. get ready, load up, and go on an outing. Sometimes our outings are all about them – the zoo, the library, N’s school, whatever - and those are awesome, but those are the times when I want them to discover and play independently of me. Sometimes our outings are not all about them – going to the market, running an errand to the bank or the post office, etc - and sometimes these are unavoidable. And honestly, I’m ok with that too. I think it is important for them to understand how things work, what goes into making our lives happen, picking our healthy foods together, and yadda yadda. But again…not times for me to really get into play with them…obviously.

So…enter conscious change.  Last week for the first time, I pulled out the dried kidney/pinto/black beans for the girls to play with and they played for over an hour and a half. Two other days this week, we have had lengthy, delicious (and of course nutritious) play-feasts. Nolan has LOVED me “cooking” for him and serving him multiple course meals and calling him “Sir”. The girls have really started to get a hang of the play kitchen thing too. I have had to actively avoid getting too involved in the picking up as we go along, but the kids have actually been pretty amazing about helping me clean it all up when we are done! More time has been spent cuddled under blankets on the couch or in beds reading books, and more. It has been awesome.

Honestly, it has so much fun. But I know how easy it could be to slip back into our old habits. I guess that is part of why I’m sharing this. Perhaps putting it out into the world will help hold me accountable to my goal of sticking with it, playing more and being more focused in our play. Maybe you are a momma (or a dad) who struggles with the exact same thing…or something similar…and reading this will bring it to your attention and can help you too. I know for me, until I was really thinking about my days and my goals, I didn’t even realize how out of balance I felt.

Here’s to playing more in 2015! (with a few seconds set aside for photos. Hehe)

This is what an hour and half in looks like.
Nolan saw the beans sitting out and has since asked to play with them about four more times. :)
My little Chefs.
One of the many feasts they prepared.




Friday, November 21, 2014

This is life with kids. Crazy, beautiful, drive-you-nuts, fill-your-heart-with-joy-until-it-nearly-explodes LIFE.

We seem to be on a rhythm of one super awesome, smooth, nothing but fun week, followed by two REAAAALLY rough, pull-your-hair-out, count-down-the-minutes-to-bedtime weeks, then back to smooth, and then...well...you get it. We were in the heart of loooooong stretch of ugly late last week and I was nearing my breaking point when a few things crossed my path of awareness.

First, we went to our preschool's Harvest Festival and Lantern Walk - 24ish preschoolers, plus older and younger siblings, plus parents, one medium-ish sized room, a potluck dinner (that my baby girls ate zero of), freezing (literally) temps for a short walk in the woods lit by lanterns (preschoolers and fire) and then clean up. It was after this somewhat beautiful (and rather overstimulating) event that I realized something...something very simple, but so important. This is just what 4.5-years-old looks like. That's it. It isn't that my world is upside down and all out of sorts. I'm not doing it all wrong and ruining my kid. It is that 4.5 is crazy. Fast running, rough playing, loud voices, big emotions, crazy. My heart settled slightly.

Second, I came across an article on Scary Mommy (if you are unfamiliar with this blog, immediately familiarize yourself). It is entitled "Wound Up Parent Syndrome (WUPS)". As always on this site, the author uses humor to make you think...and feel, to bring you down from your cliff and make you understand that you are not alone. If you have small children, it is really a must read. Parenting is hard. Motherhood is hard, even alienating at times. It is amazing and I'm eternally grateful for my job as Momma, but holy moly, sometimes you need to know YOU ARE NOT ALONE and YES, THIS STUFF IS NUTS!

Finally, way back when the girls were born, I was told about a podcast called One Bad Mother (they also have an FB page) . I listened to it in the weeeeee (I mean wee) morning hours to try and keep myself from falling asleep sitting up on the couch, strapped into a giant pillow with my babies hooked on to my boobs. ;) After a while, with packing and an out-of-state move and starting Beachbody Coaching and wanting to listen to trainings and the rest of crazy life, I sort of lost track of it. I'm so happy that last week, I discovered it once more! This episode is about mommy ruts. What they are, how to break them and a whole lot of laughter. Ruts, y'all. Ruts. This is a great episode. Check them out! Though be warned: lots of swearing. If that isn't your bag, you may wanna hold off. ;)



I'm pretty sure these three occurrences were aligned by the Universe especially for me to talk me down and bring me back to my heart and my life. This is it. This is life. Three beautiful (albeit crazy) babes running laps around my house (literally...we have a floor plan that is equal to having a race track in our home), screaming and laughing. Three babes who do not always want to play together or sometimes all want the same toy. Three babes who are learning how to negotiate social expectations. Hours spent in the kitchen cooking and cleaning up. Hours spent trying to get out of the house...and then trying to get home in time for the next meal or sleep time. Too few showers. So much laundry. Tears. Laughter. Joy. Frustration. LOVE. This is it. It is hard as hell, but I'm not alone...I can do this and I am so grateful that THIS is my life. <3




5 Alternatives to Throwing Out Thanksgiving Extras


Late last night while I was working on sewing my girls' stocking (yes, they are going to share one this year...hey...it's an improvement on the "no stockings" of last year. They take a while), I was watching Conan O'Brien. During part of his opening bit, he mentioned that every Thanksgiving, Americans THROW AWAY $282 MILLION in uneaten turkey! That is nuts! Apparently that works out to be over 250 million lbs. This doesn't even include extra stuffing, cranberry, potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, etc that are tossed out. My brain nearly exploded when I heard that; it got me to thinking...and thus:

5 Alternatives to Throwing Out Thanksgiving Extras

1. The simplest of them all...BUY LESS! If you are just going to throw it out, don't buy it! And with the extra money that you aren't spending on excess, think about upgrading to an Organic or even a Pastured turkey! It is a little more expensive, but it is healthier for you and healthier for the planet! And you're buying fewer pounds anyway, right?!

2. Send your guests home with leftovers! No need to hoard it all yourself. ;) Ask your guests to bring a "to go" container with them and send them home with a bit of turkey love.

3. Be creative with leftovers. Don't just reheat the same ol' Thanksgiving meal over and again. Sure, that is bound to get boring. Re-invent it. Of course, there is the obvious turkey sammy for lunch. Make it into soup. Add the meat to a casserole. Make a breakfast bake. A salad. A pot pie. A quick "Thanksgiving leftover recipes" google search will yield tons of ideas!

4. Donate it. Contact a local shelter and see if they are accepting donations. After Nolan's first birthday, we had a ludicrous amount of sub sandwiches left, so we called up a shelter and they took them off our hands happily!

5. This is probably my favorite - package up some leftovers and truck them into town (or down the street...or wherever) and offer them to the homeless. Take your kids with you and teach them about generosity, taking care of others who are less fortunate and how important it is to treat everyone with kindness and dignity. :)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Nolan's 4th Birthday!!

Waaaaaaayyyy back on the 22nd of February, our little man turned a whopping four years old. Sadly, this blog has taken me nearly three months to get done. Boo, me. BUT! Here it is. :)

Four! Four! Can you even believe it?! In the past year, he has changed so very much. This time last year, he was just a toddler (or at least it seemed like it). He had soft curls in his hair and had very little to say. He was as he now says, "a Santa Monica boy" who loved going to Joslyn Park down the street from our house, walking down to the ocean, was just barely figuring out how to ride his scooter and lived for Angel's baseball (unless you drove him 2+ hours in traffic to a game all to have it begin with fireworks...then he immediately wanted to come home...ha!). He had little understanding of what being a big brother meant and had only jumped in puddles a handful of times. He wasn't in school. He was in diapers. He watched way more TV than I would have ever wanted him to as I figured out how to tend to his sissies, including Rudolph and the Toy Taker at least 3 times a week and Toy Story 2 about the same.

Now, one year later, he is a little man. He has short hair ("like Mike Trout") without soft curls, he has been in undies since last fall and he has almost a full year of preschool under his belt. He is obsessed with wearing belts as well (hehe). He is a scootin' daredevil, lives in the Oregon 'burbs and hasn't seen the ocean since last July (oy...gotta work on that). He is an incredible big brother who is very well versed in the ways of both big brother tenderness and big brother tormenting. He has jumped in puddles more times than I could ever count...and has laid in them too. His TV watching is at a much more ideal level (ha), but Frozen is magical. He still loves Rudolph, but only watched it a few times around Christmas. He loves music and is way more aware of current "hits" than I am (thank you, Daddy, for your musical ear), sings them pitch perfect and talks pretty much non-stop. He is still an avid Angel's fan, struggles to understand why they don't show the games up here as often and yet still knows the entire starting line up. He loves all things fire department related and can entertain himself for hours with matchbox cars and a four foot long orange track...well, hours is maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but it is pretty sweet. He loves to have conversations with his stuffed animals and "marches" like a Jungle Book elephant numerous times a day. He is an adventurer, a scientist, a love bug and a tester. He keeps us on our toes and fills us with love.

To my little monkey man: I love you, Bug. You are absolutely incredible and I cannot wait (alright...lie...I can...take your time) to see the man you become. You are my biggest teacher and I'm sorry that sometimes I'm a crappy student. Thank you for trying anyway. Thank you for choosing me as your momma. I'm so honored and so very grateful. You are my Sun forever. xoxox

Happy 3rd birthday! Crepes with nutella. Yum. Santa Monica. Home. February 2013.
Birthday adventure to the Griffith Park pony and train rides. Los Angeles. February 2013.
Playing with birthday T at Joslyn Park. Santa Monica. February 2013.
March 2013. Bug and friends.
Sicky boy. Tired, really pregnant momma. Cuddling and watching TV...probably Rudolph. ;) March 2013.
Alice, Lilah, new Big Brother! April 2013.
Mother's Day painting. May 2013.
Santa Monica's version of a puddle. ;) May 2013.
May 2013.
What a big bro. May 2013.
Coming into his own and upping his daredevilness. Clover Park. Santa Monica. May 2013.

Ha. Love him. June 2013.
My little baker. June 2013.
Lilah, Bug, Alice. June 2013.
Bug and Lilah (I think). Sibling love. June 2013.
Me and my sick, sick Buggy less than 12 hours before our flight to our new Oregon home. July 2013.
Oregonians Day 2. Bug being silly and wanting a ride in the ergo. July 2013.
July 2013. Imitating sisters. ;)

Yup. August 2013.
Alice, Bug, Lilah. August 2013.
August 2013.
Now THAT is a puddle! September 2013.
Town builder. September 2013.
September 2013. 
First "real" fall. October 2013.
Pumpkin patch. Cold temps, mud and all! October 2013.
October 2013.
Arrrgggh!
Big splash! November 2013.
Fall downtown. Novermber 2013.
   
Momma and babes. November 2013.
Bug and Alice. December 2013.
Lilah, (giant) Bug, Alice. December 2013.
Getting a tree...from a farm. December 2013.
Lilah, Bug, Alice. Merry Christmas Eve. December 2013.
Bug reading to Alice. January 2014.
Bug's first real snow and first snowman! February 2014.
Bday trip to the zoo with the Grandmas. Here with Abuelita and the hippos. February 2014.
Happy 4th Birthday!!
Bug and his grain-free, refined sugar-free, cocoa/coconut cake! February 22, 2014.
Make a wish! Not sure why the hands...Hehe. February 22, 2014.
Daddy, Bug, Me. Yes we are wearing nearly matching flannels. Ha. February 22, 2014.
And then we learned just how powerful cocoa powder is. Bug and I both had crazy caffeine highs. His was funny. Mine sucked. February 22, 2014.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Identical. No, fraternal. No identical...No...wait...

We found out we were having twins when I was sick as a dog and about to be admitted to the hospital at 9 weeks pregnant. At the time, we knew they had separate placentas (diachorionic) and separate amniotic sacs (diamniotic) so it was assumed that they were most likely fraternal. But when we later found out they were both girls, we discovered that identical still wasn't totally ruled out. Apparently a relatively small portion of di/di twins are actual monozygotic (identical).

When they were born, Alice was head first and had the typical head shape of a babe that had just been squeezed through the birth canal head first. Lilah, on the other hand, was breech and her head shape was completely different. It led to them looking totally different from one another, thus seemingly confirming the fraternal guess. By about two-months-old, I started to question it. It was like over night the girls started morphing into the same face. I distinctly remember having a conversation with my friend Maura about how different they looked one week and then the very next being like, "Uh...do you see what I see?" It was about that time that I made us buy matching (but different colored) amber necklaces for quick reference. ;)
Lilah left, Alice right. Day 1 of life. :)
Five days old. Alice left, Lilah right. See the head shape difference?
hmmm...
I took these pictures the exact same day I was chatting with my friend about how different they looked.
And then this happened the next week (just shy of 2 months)...This SERIOUSLY got me thinking... Lilah left (I mostly know this now as I almost always put her in the yellow and Alice in the pink jammies).

Throughout the better portion of the next 10 months, I waffled. Identical. Totally identical. Same eye color, which is blue with a little ring of golden brown around the pupil - how random considering Anthony's dark, dark dominate genes, right? Same widow's peak hair line despite the fact that neither A or I have one. Their measurements at well visits were always very similar and actually EXACTLY the same (head, weight and length) at their 1 year visit. Same tooth alignment. Same this. Same that. You get it. But...then I would look at them and say to myself, "No, no, no. Totally different. Totally fraternal". Lilah's eyes are a little farther a part and a little deeper set in her face. Alice's face is a little longer and her head more oval while Lilah's is a little squarer. Rather different personalities. Totally different (yet equally sweet) voices. Different this. Different that. Identical. No, fraternal. No identical.

The day we moved to Oregon - July 7th, 2013 - just shy of 3 months...thinking even more...haha. Alice left, Lilah right. You can see the slight difference in eyes.
Just over 4 months. Alice left, Lilah right.

This probably should have been the convincer, but I still waffled. Ha. Alice left, Lilah right. Just shy of 6 months.
Just about 7 months. I actually think they look quite different here. Lilah left, Alice right. See? Confusing, right!?
8 months and change. Lilah left, Alice right...again, pretty different, no?
9 months. Lilah left, Alice right.
10 months and a few days. Subtle, but I can see the eye difference. I've always thought they looked more alike with hats on though. Lilah left, Alice right.
First bday. I can really see the differences here.

I CANNOT BELIEVE that I have analyzed this over and over again for as long as I have. Haha. It is really silly when you think about it. Why should it matter? Either way, I love them the same amazingly huge amount. But for some reason, I needed to know. When I really search through my heart, here is why. There is apparently no scientific explanation for why identical twins happen. Fraternal twins, I could totally chalk up to the fact that I was still nursing my (then) 2.5-year-old and my cycle was wacky and just released multiple eggs. But identical...no random cycle, just the Universe's awesome power. Identical? That just had to be my Sofia. So...I kept going back to it and convincing myself that they were ID. Call me crazy, if you'd like...but in my heart, I kinda hoped they were ID.

Finally, I convinced Anthony that we should order the test. It was only $100, but there are a lot of things in our world right now that are more important to spend a hundred dollars on, you know? So, it was my Mother's Day gift. ;) We ordered the test online through a company called Proactive Genetics that had been recommended to me from some other mommas of multiples. They sent us the kit, we did the cheek swabbing, sent it back in and they tested it. Today we got those results...

Well, there you have it!
And this was taken mere moments after reading the results email. Very appropriately, looking exactly alike. ;) Alice left, Lilah right.
Congratulations, all of FB and pretty much every other friend we have, you were right on! :) And for the record, it was a very well spent $100 in my opinion. And yes, I'm super excited. :)