Taking a break from “on the go”

Is it fair to say that time is relative? Because I know that technically I missed my Friday deadline yesterday. But I also know that it kind of feels like we are still in Friday, simply because we have been so busy the last two days. I knew I needed to blog yesterday, I hadn’t forgotten, I simply never sat down at the computer for more than five minutes at a time… all…. day…. long.

You will have to forgive me, but I was too busy having fun with my boys. It was the start of a four-day weekend for Connor, who has been such a champ about heading off to school every morning without complaint, behaving wonderfully each and every day, and just adjusting magnificently to life as a big school-kid. So yesterday kind of felt like the first day of summer vacation to me, and I wanted to make sure we enjoyed it. And we did. We spent a couple of hours at the zoo, had lunch out with friends, dinner at our place with friends, a nap and some play time in between, and the day literally flew by. So I didn’t check phone messages, and I don’t think I answered any emails (though I may have skimmed a few), and I certainly didn’t concoct any blogs in my head. Instead I just enjoyed playing and laughing with my three beautiful boys.

I know how hard it can be to soak up the moment sometimes. As parents, and myself especially, we become so busy and so distracted by all the things that have to happen day to day, that we forget to enjoy ourselves and enjoy the life we are living. I know I have been feeling that lately, pretty much ever since school started. It feels like there are never enough hours in the day, and we are always rushing. Rush to drop Connor off, rush to do our preschool homework so we can go do something fun and engaging, rush to get Ben and Alex lunch and down for naps on time, so they can wake up on time, so we can rush to pick up Connor. Then we rush home to rush through homework, so I can rush to make dinner, and rush the kids off to bed. And then we do it all over again the next day. Is it any wonder I’ve had a hard time just enjoying the moments???

So that’s what I did yesterday, as I sat back and watched the boys play together, work together, fight together. And I savored the closeness of having all of my babies near me, just… being. Because I know now, more than ever, that days like yesterday will come fewer and farther in between. Okay maybe not literally, since Connor has a two-week break coming up and we will have plenty of together time. I just mean, as they grow older, they will go off in their separate ways more and more, and it may never be again as it is now. So I want to enjoy now as much as I possibly can. And if that means unplugging from the world for a day, I will gladly do it.

Netflix, the greatest distraction since sliced bread

I’m here, checking in because it’s Friday. But I’m not staying long because I’m treating myself to a little Netflix before bed. Sure, I could be doing more productive things. But I have learned that when your days are long and chaotic, and you spend them endlessly serving others, who may be cute but are also quite exhausting, you deserve a break at the end of the day. A little “me time” if you will.

I am currently binge watching all seven seasons of Mad Men. It’s a show I had heard a great deal about, yet never had any desire to watch. And now I can’t stop watching it. Which is strange because so much of it infuriates me: gender inequality, racial discrimination, homosexual discrimination…. Say what you will about today’s society, at least we have come quite a ways since the 1960’s.

And with that, I’m going back to my show for a little bit longer before passing out into bed. Because we all need a break and to do something for ourselves from time to time. And Netflix is a pretty entertaining way to take that much-needed break, especially when scheduling your crazy life around the fall broadcast line-up is next to impossible…..

Breaking the radio silence

I’m disappointed in myself. I’m disappointed in how much I have neglected this blog this year. This is supposed to be a place where I can share, I can vent, I can just get all of my thoughts out on proverbial paper. Instead I have been keeping much of it in for too long.

Why? I’m not sure. It’s not like my brain isn’t constantly rambling through a million thoughts a day; it is, the hamster wheel literally never stops turning. I guess lately it’s been turning so quickly I can’t seem to focus in on just one thought. But I would really like to change that.

How’s this for an idea? To begin immediately, I will push myself to post on here every Friday. Some weeks I might have something amazing and insightful to say (ha), other weeks it might just be a recap of the in’s and out’s of the past seven days. But regardless, it will force me to commit to getting back into blogging. I am putting it in my calendar right now, so I can’t forget.

Now I understand that I didn’t sell myself well in that previous paragraph. Truthfully, some weeks might be rather uninteresting, but I promise to try to include the very best nuggets, so as not to completely bore everyone.

Until Friday…..

The potty training chronicles

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job as Mommy! It is an amazing gift to spend my time caring for these beautiful boys, and shaping them into small citizens of the world. That being said, there are some aspects of parenting I do not particularly care for. Potty training is near the top of the list, especially potty training two children at once.

It is my own fault for putting it off so long. Every time we tried in the past, I gave up after a day or two. I said it was too hard, it was too stressful, I had too many other things to worry about and couldn’t be rushing a child to the bathroom every five minutes….. I wasn’t ready. So of course the boys weren’t ready either.

But two weeks ago, we bit the bullet. And we did something we had never tried in the past: we threw the diapers away. Okay, not really, my frugal heart would never stand for such waste. I returned unopened boxes, and gave the rest to a friend. Bottom line, all diapers were removed from the house. That eliminated the boys’ crutch of falling back on diapers, but more importantly, it removed my own crutch of falling back on them. There could be no turning back this time.

In an ideal world, I would have trained the boys one at a time. I would have loved to just focus on one child at a time, especially because my identical twins tend to have identical body clocks when it comes to bathroom needs. But by getting rid of all diapers in the house, we were forced to take on double-duty, like it or not. And somehow, it has not been too terribly bad. It hasn’t been that great either, but not that bad.

So here’s what we did. We spent the first three days chained to the house, wearing only underpants. We focused on keeping our underpants dry, and I did my best to catch any accidents as they were happening (not easy with two, but I did the best I could). We had some successes and some failures, but that was the point. They almost have to have accidents as they learn to start listening to what their bodies are trying to tell them. After the first three days, we tried to relax a bit, but then the boys slipped. Instead of trying to make things happen on the potty, they were trying to hold everything in, and they were making themselves sick. Both boys have a history of GI problems and chronic constipation, so alarm bells started going off in my head that we needed to change things, and fast.

I reached out to some other twin moms, and they recommended a reward system. So I created sticker charts, and instead of focusing on keeping their underpants clean, we started focusing on successful trips to the potty. The stickers got them excited, the prizes (dollar store) they earned when they filled a row of stickers got them even more excited, and things FINALLY started to click!sticker chart2

After two weeks, are we fully potty trained? No. We still have accidents, of both kinds, and I don’t leave the house without extra underpants and shorts for them. But the accidents are becoming fewer, the successes are becoming greater, and overall I think we are doing pretty good! I am hopeful that in a few more weeks, I won’t have to ask them every 10 minutes if they need to use the potty, and I won’t have to be on such high alert when we are out in public. It will happen. I know it will. Eventually.

A quick note, we do still wear pull-ups for naps and at night. I firmly believe that nighttime potty training is an entirely different skill set, and they are not ready for that yet. I don’t mind doing the pull-ups right now, especially since I don’t want to change sheets five times a day. But to think that after five years and two months of constantly changing diapers, and 15 months of that was three kids in diapers at once, I have not changed a single diaper in 15 days. Wow! That feels really good! I am proud of my boys for taking this step to grow a little more, and grateful to be done with the diaper phase of life.

Just keep swimming

swim lessonsLast week, we wrapped up another summer of swim lessons. It has been a crazy busy summer, to say the least, and I am honestly relieved to be done with swimming for now. But I must first take a moment to brag on my little fishies, and how wonderful they did this year!!

The boys all made incredible strides with swimming this summer! I think back to last year, and I remember three very timid boys. They would have nothing to do with the instructor and didn’t want to leave my side. As the season went on, Connor warmed up and grew more confident, but Ben and Alex never really did. This year, however, was a whole different story.

Connor began the season with amazing independence. He immediately joined his class, eager to swim with the instructors, eager to put his head under water and jump off the side. He even developed a cute habit of yelling out something silly every time he jumped into the water, which of course led me to encourage him to shout “cannonball” with every leap. He happily obliged. The boy who once refused to put his head under water would now let me playfully dunk him, and come back up laughing hysterically. But the most incredible progress for Connor: he began swimming without arm floaties on! He was still a bit timid about jumping into the pool without his floaties, I think he was secretly afraid nobody would catch him. But as the days went on, he would begin swimming from one instructor to another, or from me to the wall and back, a little farther each time. By the end of lessons, Connor was kicking off from the steps and swimming to me, almost at the other end of the width of the pool, without any assistance from floaties. What a rock star!!! No he is not ready to completely swim on his own yet, but he has made amazing progress, and has the confidence in himself to get there very soon. I am so proud of his courage to get out there and swim!

Ben and Alex made incredible strides this year too! I never did let them try to take their floaties off (mama paranoia over here, I can keep track of one drowning hazard at a time… three….. too much). But they still made amazing progress. Remember these are the boys who spent much of last year clinging to me for dear life. This year, they quickly gained the confidence to move away from me and be on their own in the water. They happily got out and jumped to the instructor (as long as I gave them a countdown first, “3, 2, 1, go!”…. hahaha). Alex even got brave enough to swim completely with the instructors across the length of the pool, whether I was nearby or not. Ben didn’t do this yet, but he found the courage to float on his back all on his own. They both got out of their comfort zone in different ways, which I am so very proud of them for. And by the end of lessons, I had them chasing me across the length of the pool, which they thought was the greatest thing ever. “Get Mommy!” Okay, go for it… by the way, you are swimming on your own!

So needless to say, it was a good round of swim lessons this year. The boys all pushed themselves to learn something new, even when they were scared at first. I could not be more proud of my little fishies! And they are already excited to go back next year, which is always a sign of success in my book.

Now to focus on the next big thing….. Kindergarten! T-Minus 22 days… let the panic begin.

I used to be fearless

I used to be fearless. I used to be confident. I used to be bold. I wasn’t afraid to take risks, no matter the consequences.

Then I became a mother.

And I became filled with self doubt. And I became filled with fear. And I lost my confidence.

Why? Because for the first time in my life, I was no longer whole. My heart, my body, my soul… no longer mine and mine alone. I never knew my heart could beat outside of my chest until it found a home in three small bodies.

They hold my heart. They are my world. Can I do right by them? Am I doing right by them? That is, and will always be, my biggest fear.

Coffee, take it or leave it….

For those of you who know me well, I have always been a big fan of coffee. Okay, that is putting it mildly. Coffee addict might be more appropriate. After years of being up half the night with children for one reason or another, I got to a point where I needed to drink coffee all day long just to survive. Not exactly healthy.

Lately I have been working hard to cut back on my coffee consumption. Sure there are some studies that say a cup a day is actually good for you, and that is okay. But since I couldn’t drink my coffee without adding cream and sugar (read tons of empty calories), maybe what I was doing wasn’t so good for me after all. I didn’t want all that extra sugar in my diet. And I tried all the different artificial sweeteners, at least the ones I trusted to not be completely dangerous, and they weren’t cutting it. I needed to do something totally different.

One day I decided to cut the sugar out completely and just use creamer. And I found it wasn’t so bad! I worked on that a little bit, and then a little while later I did something totally crazy, I tried to drink my coffee black. And it wasn’t bad!!!! This was an incredible first for me, I never thought I could tolerate black coffee. But it turns out I can. So what changed? My taste buds. I have had many people tell me that by taking Juice Plus+ over time, my cravings and taste buds would change, in favor of healthier options. And I am now a firm believer because a once-sugar-sweetness-laden beverage no longer appeals to me like it used to.

Once I realized I wasn’t so dependent on my typical go-to beverage, I started making one other change. Instead of grabbing a cup of coffee (black or otherwise) first thing in the morning, I reached for a glass of plain old water. I now drink water first thing in the morning. And at some point during the morning I might pour myself about a half cup of black coffee to sip, but I typically don’t even finish it. I am almost completely off of coffee, and it is amazing!!!! I found that I feel more awake and refreshed after that glass of water than I ever did on coffee, which is surprising considering what caffeine is supposed to do for you. But my body’s needs are changing, and water truly is the best thing for me now. I always knew it, but maybe I am finally practicing what I preached to myself.

coffeeNow this all being said, I decided to have an experimental “treat” today. I poured myself a full cup of coffee and added my old cream and sugar to it. I thought it might be a nice treat, and I honestly wanted to see what would happen. The verdict? Eh, I could take it or leave it. Seriously! It didn’t taste bad, but it also didn’t taste as good as I remembered. And it certainly didn’t taste worth all the extra calories. So maybe I will finish this cup slowly throughout the day, maybe I won’t. But it feels amazing to know that I won’t need to.

I thought I would be addicted to coffee for the rest of my life, and that was a scary feeling. Now I know that I do have the power to make healthier options, and I will continue to do so, one simple change at a time.

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