Hello, old friend

It is hard to believe it’s been more than 6 months since I last touched this blog. Logging in, WordPress doesn’t even look the same! Of course, life keeps moving forward, as do all things tech, even when you wish it would just stand still for a minute.

It is not that I did not want to post over the past half year, in fact I must have written more than a dozen posts in my mind. But somehow I never got around to putting them down on (virtual) paper. Truthfully, I didn’t really want to. I find that as of late I have developed a very strong love-hate relationship with social media. And more times than not, I have been far too comfortable to take my quiet spot, hanging back in the metaphorical woodwork, staying out of the fray.

I also honestly just needed to focus on me for a while. It’s something that no mother of three really has the luxury of doing, and yet, I got to a point where my stress was making me physically ill. I was overwhelmed by everything, even writing a damn blog. I needed to just take.a.break. A long break, from a lot of things.

But I think I’m ready to get moving again, even if it may happen at a snail’s pace for a while yet. Which brings me to the real reason I decided to finally jump back on here tonight and post. So without further ado, I’d better get to it….

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The power of fruits and vegetables

Everywhere I look, I see illness. It is all over my Facebook page, both kids and adults. It is at the preschool, at the play dates, at my husband’s work. It is the time of year for illness, cold and flu are running rampant and leaving few survivors in the wake.

It even hit our house last week. No surprise there, when you have small kids who don’t always practice the best hygiene (get your finger out of your nose!), the spreading of germs is unavoidable. So I was not surprised at all when Connor came down with a cold this past Thursday. He spent most of the day sleeping or lying around lethargically, not even remotely interested in playing with his brothers. And I braced for the inevitable onslaught: who would be sick next and how bad?

But then the big surprise came Friday morning, when Connor was almost completely back to normal! Sure, he still has a lingering cough if he runs too hard, but other than that, you would have never known he had been sick in the first place. And the second surprise, five days later and nobody else in our house has come down with it, including the two who are most notorious for that nose picking I mentioned earlier.

While I feel very lucky that our family is fighting the good fight in the name of staying healthy, I know that much more played a role than just luck. It also has something to do with the changes we have made in our nutrition and the incredible impact that is having on our immune systems. The five of us flood our bodies with 30 different fruits, vegetables and berries EVERY SINGLE DAY, thanks to the Juice Plus+ we take. It is our insurance policy, and it is certainly paying off. Sickness is happening less frequently, and when it does, is not nearly as severe. We are actually surviving this winter, and we are able to continue to venture out into the real world without fearing germs that, in the past, would have meant certain doom (aka cabin fever as I tend to non-stop sick kids for weeks at a time).fruit veggie photo

Never underestimate the power of whole-food nutrition from fruits and vegetables. I never will again.

(Full disclosure here: I am a distributor for the Juice Plus+ Company, but I would take it and give it to my family with or without financial compensation. Because I know it is helping us live healthier lives.)

Making healthy changes…

I have had to face a hard reality. My babies are no longer babies. Therefore, I can no longer justify carrying around baby weight. It is long past time that I start investing in myself, my body and my health. It’s not just that I want to lose weight, I want to feel better too. And I want to set a good example for my boys; I want to teach them the importance of good health by leading by example; no more “do as I say, not as I do.”

The key for me has been to start small. I’m not going to go out and train for a marathon tomorrow, I’m not going to stop eating chocolate (God forbid), I am going to make small changes and commit to those changes. One small step can lead to another, and so on. And I am going to share those steps here, in part to help me be accountable, but also to hopefully help others who find themselves in the same situation as me, finding it hard to get out of the rut I have created to lead a healthier life.

Drink more water
I hate to admit it, but I honestly think I’m better at drinking water now than I was when I was breastfeeding, which only goes to show how bad I have been about making sure I take care of myself. Up until recently, my go-to beverages were coffee and Gatorade, with a little water mixed in because I knew it was good for me. Ugh. Now I have cut back on coffee (more on that in a moment), and my go-to drink is always water, at any time of day or night. I am doing my very best to avoid Gatorade, juices, sodas, anything other than plain old H2O. Not only do I feel much more hydrated, but I think about all the extra calories and sugar that I am no longer consuming, a definite plus.

Drink less coffee
Not only does caffeine hinder all that good hydration I’m working on with the water, but it is also a huge calorie addition to my day. Or at least it was because I would always put cream and sugar in it. At two-to-three cups a day (after the boys’ weaned), I shudder to think about all that sugar. So now, I am down to one cup of coffee a day, and I am using monk fruit as an alternative sweetener. Honestly, I don’t enjoy my coffee like I used to, but maybe that’s the point. I would much rather coffee serve a function as a pick-me-up, and get my high-calorie treats somewhere else… like, from chocolate.

Get more sleep
Hahaha, that’s funny, right? I have three boys who still do not always sleep through the night, who still sometimes come into our bed in the middle of the night, or else we lay down in their rooms… I have not known quality sleep since sometime before October of 2009. But knowing that my nights will often be interrupted is no excuse to further compound the problem, if anything it should be a stern reminder of why I need to make sleep a priority. And lately I have been failing miserably at that, laying in bed for five, maybe six, hours a night. And I say laying in bed because there’s a good chance I spent the first 30 to 45 minutes awake, allowing the wheels in my mind to spin. So my new goal is to make sure I am in bed, lights out, for a solid eight hours every night. That means I have to be better about shutting it down in the evening, pushing work aside until tomorrow, for the sake of getting rest. But I know my body needs it, so I will make it a priority.

Whole-food nutrition
I am quickly learning just how amazing fruits and vegetables really are. Of course I always knew they were good for me, but I never really looked into the science behind it. Well, I’ve been doing just that lately, and I am making a much more concerted effort to get our whole family eating better. This is no simple task with the picky eaters I serve three meals a day to, but I am refusing to back down. I am now reworking menu plans to incorporate more vegetables, and I am making sure we have more fresh fruit on hand each week, so that produce can be incorporated into every meal and snack, something that wasn’t happening before. Do the boys still refuse to eat some of the vegetables I offer? Oh yes. But I won’t give up, I will keep offering, or else I will just hide them in their food somewhere. I am not above doing that, no way, no how. And in the meantime, the boys are also getting a wonderful nutritional supplement that is packed with fruits and vegetables, but look and taste like gummy snacks. So I know that even on the worst day, at least some good stuff is getting into them!

Become a more conscious eater
Part of my problem is that I don’t put enough thought into what I eat. Even thought we sit down to family meals, I don’t eat much while the boys are eating, I’m too busy trying to correct table manners, help them if they need help, clean up messes, etc. So my biggest food times have been right after I put them down for their nap, scarfing down whatever is closest and most convenient, and late at night, when it is all too easy to reach for junk food. So now that is changing. I have begun doing protein shakes for breakfast, and I sit at the table with the boys and drink my shake while they eat. I try to sit down and eat lunch and dinner with them too now, though my meal is still often interrupted, at least it is there in front of me and I will eat it eventually. And if I get the late-night munchies, I am now trying to reach for healthier snacks and control my portions better.

There are many more things I need to and want to be doing (I need to figure out how to work an exercise routine into my schedule, so far that isn’t happening), but the items I listed above are a good start. And honestly, the results are already beginning to pay off, both in my energy level increasing, and the number on the scale beginning to decrease. Like I said, small steps to begin with, starting slow will eventually pay off big.

Sleep Training: Night 8

Last night was another great night! We had one wake-up around 3:45, and I can’t even remember who it was. Their cry was a little bit different, which worried me, so I made Alan go check it out. Other than that, no issues! And yes, I have the best husband in the world because I can make him go check on the babies for me in the middle of the night, and he will do it without so much as a complaint!

Now if I could just get it in my head to take care of myself for a change, and try to get caught up on sleep. I stayed up until 11 last night, not smart. I’m so burnt out from the months of not sleeping well, I should be taking advantage of the possibility of getting good sleep. But it seems like there is so much work to get caught up on, I get busy after the kids go to bed, and I completely lose track of time until my eyes are swimming. I guess it’s time to give myself a bed time again.

Sleep Training: Night 7

This will be a quick post, partly because I just have too much to do today, partly because I (fortunately) don’t have much to report. Last night was a great night too, yay!!!! My log was extremely small, barely even worth mentioning.

We had one wake-up from Ben around 3:45 and one wake-up from Alex around 5:00. I don’t know how long either one was awake for because I fell back asleep. I consider that, in and of itself, to be a good sign, since I wouldn’t have gone back to sleep if the crying escalated or persisted. They both were up for the day around 6:30, hungry but happy.

I hope and pray that we have turned a corner here. I know Alan and I both still feel very run down, but we have hope that our bodies will finally be able to turn back around soon. It seems like this past week has been the absolute worst of the 10 months of no sleep since our angels came along, and I guess that is to be expected. I mean, if sleep training was a walk in the park, wouldn’t everyone do it from the get go? I will keep the sleep log going for another week, I think, just to make sure we don’t go backwards or anything. But I’d also like to start writing about other topics again, too, maybe now that I will soon find myself with a little more energy.

Speaking of the chance for regression, though, I had a minor panic attack this morning when I realized that we lose an hour of sleep this weekend. Really, daylight saving, really?!?!?!?? This timing could not be worse! I’ve never known a child to adjust to the time change well…. but we shall see.

Sleep Training: Night 6

Okay, I’m in shock, absolute, ecstatic, did this really happen, shock. Last night was awesome!!!! I don’t know if it was a fluke, or the start of our new nightly routine, but even just one night of good sleep has given me renewed hope that this is working and we will all be feeling, and sleeping, much better very soon!

I was honestly nervous about last night, and already starting to feel really guilty about things, before I went to bed. The book experts say if you are going to do cry it out, you can’t set a minimum lower than 45 minutes. Could we possibly let one or both babies cry for 45 minutes? Would they hate us for it? So many awful thoughts were running through my head. Alan and I finally decided before we turned in, that we would just be flexible. There would be absolutely no nursing before 5 am, but as far as crying, we would keep a close eye on the clock and adjust as need be. And it turns out, I didn’t have any reason to be worried.

2:08. Benjamin wakes up and starts crying. That’s right, we didn’t hear from either boy until after 2am!!!! By 2:21, Ben had stopped crying and fallen back asleep, I never got out of bed, just watched him on the video monitor.

3:26. Ben wakes up crying again, but literally just for a minute or two. I got up to use the bathroom while he was fussing and was able to hear him settle back down. It was at that point, though, that I realized it was after 3am and I hadn’t heard a peep from Alexander. You know, my twin who has always slept worse, fights naps and bed time, doesn’t like to go to sleep without nursing…. hadn’t made a sound since we put him to bed at 7pm. So I freaked out a little bit. I knew at this point that even though Ben was quiet, he was either still awake or in a very light sleep. I knew going into their room would be disastrous, but I HAD to go check on Alex, just to make sure he was okay. Of course he was fine, fast asleep. And of course I woke Ben back up and he got very upset with me. I comforted him for a moment or two, then turned their music back on and left. I knew my staying in there would just make things worse. I felt terrible about waking him up, but I wouldn’t have done anything differently. I needed to know that Alex was okay.

4:45. Alexander wakes up and fusses. I’m not even sure how long he cried for because I fell back asleep, so it couldn’t have been very long or very extensive.

6:00. Both boys are up for the day with Alan. I sleep in until Connor gets up at 6:45. Yes, I do consider that sleeping in, hahaha.

So that was our night! Other than my freak-out Mommy moment, there was absolutely no reason to go to their room at all…. wow!!!! Now will this happen again tonight? I have no idea. But what I do know is that it is possible at this age and stage in their lives for them to do this, and that’s exactly what I needed to boost my confidence that we are doing the right thing. And other than being incredibly hungry this morning, both boys were in great moods, as am I. I feel almost human again, which I am very thankful for. There is hope.

Sleep Training: Setting the Ground Rules

Well, sleep training officially begins tonight. My beautiful little boys are 10 months old now, and in addition to all the wonderfullness that comes with them being 10 months, it’s also been 10 months since Alan or I have had a decent night’s sleep. Actually, about a year for me. As anyone who has ever been pregnant knows, you don’t exactly sleep well those last few uncomfortable weeks. And when it’s twins, change weeks to months. Sigh.

Alan and I have gone back and forth on how best to approach this. There really is no simple answer, if there was, there would be no need for sleep training! We never did any actual sleep training with Connor, he slept in our bed from the time he was about 3 months old, until I got too pregnant and then he moved to his crib. He was 18 months old and sleeping through the night on his own by then.

I would love to let Ben and Alex reach that milestone on their own, but the complexities of having twins just doesn’t make it feasible. Not only are Alan and I exhausted, but I can see the fatigue in my boys, the fussiness and such, and I know that not getting a good night’s sleep is taking its toll on them. So we have to do something, and the sooner the better. It’s just not going to be easy, of course.

So step one is to set the ground rules. I’ve done my research, I’ve talked to friends and fellow MoMs (mothers of multiples). Most suggest some form of CIO (cry it out). It’s something I once said I would never ever do to my children, but I have received a great deal of positive feedback on it, particularly from MoMs. Because let me be honest for a moment, if you successfully sleep trained just one baby at a time, I say, good for you, you have absolutely no idea what I’m dealing with over here. No offense of course. But you can’t even begin to imagine the complexities of dealing with two babies at once, unless you’ve been in the trenches yourself. Okay, I’m climbing back down off my sleep-deprivation soap box now…

I think our best bet is to go the comfort and console route, utilizing a modified CIO as need be. Babies can be soothed but cannot be picked up out of their cribs. They absolutely cannot sleep in our bed with us anymore. And I’m going to stop offering nursing unless 5 hours have passed since the last meal. We will have to be consistent but flexible too. And let me tell you how hard that is going to be when I am such a zombie at night from sleep deprivation. I’m seriously thinking about keeping a journal upstairs, so I can write down what’s happening as it happens. I also plan to document each night right here on this blog, in hopes of maybe helping other MoMs who are going through this, so a journal should help.

Here is the bottom line. Alan and I are exhausted, we are not able to function to the best of our abilities as parents, as spouses, as human beings. Ben and Alex are not getting quality sleep and they are suffering from it. Connor is caught somewhere in the middle, dealing with fussy babies and parents who lose their patience way too quickly. I love my men, both big and little, so very much, and I just want to do whatever it takes to make our collective family life as good as it possibly can be. So sleep training, here we come. I pray for patience and understanding from my two little loves, and that they will still offer me a smile and open arms come morning time. Because I’m pretty sure my heart is going to break a million times over before this is done…

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