One good thing about me

If I am out with other people at a restaurant and the server asks about dessert, I will always immediately say, “Yes.” Many women hesitate and waver and make excuses and apologies and justifications. Not me–I raise my hand as a proud dessert-haver. No excuses, no guilt. JUST DELICIOUS DESSERT.

So if you’re out with me, you never have to worry about the dessert question, you never have to worry about having a reason. We will have dessert, we will enjoy it, the end.

Life is short, people. Cake does a body good.

Note that this post is tagged with “advice” and “health.” On purpose. :D

PS: After I drafted this, I found this link snippet on Joy the Baker: “Eating: A Manifesto: Hey ladies, we can stop torturing ourselves about the brownie and just eat the brownie.  My goodness the way we torture ourselves.” AMEN.

Before and After Baby Tips

What I’m glad I did before babies were born:

Joined the local twins’ club (the classified section was a huge help; we got to shop early at the club consignment sale; we got to meet other new and expectant twin families in town)

Took photos every week to document my belly growth (see them here!)

Shopped at the big consignment sales (got tons of stuff for a fraction of the price!)

Got a new car (originally we thought we’d wait til about a month after they were born. Thankfully we came to our senses!)

Prenatal chiropractor (I could hardly walk for weeks, with this weird back/hip thing causing me to limp like an elderly person. My OB referred me to a prenatal chiropractor–I had no idea that was a thing! But thank god it is! My chiro was so friendly and she FIXED me!)

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What I wish I had done before babies were born:

Taken more time off (I only ended up with one real day off. There wasn’t much to do even when I was working, so I should have just let myself relax more.)

Gone swimming like everyone told me to (I didn’t have a swimsuit and I couldn’t shave anything. Dumb excuses that I should have worked through and figured out.)

Bought and worn more/better clothes (I had one nice pair of maternity jeans, plus maternity leggings, and a handful of maternity tops. But especially toward the end, I was in a maternity tshirt and sweats, and looking back, I looked so sloppy. I wish I’d enjoyed some more ‘real’ clothes a little more often.)

Prenatal massage (because duh.)

Did less stuff (I should have slept in more often.)

Done professional maternity photos (I couldn’t afford to do both maternity and newborn…but maybe I could have gotten a package deal. Above is one of my DIY maternity photos.)

Journaled more (Because I have the world’s worst memory, and blog posts don’t tell the whole story.)

Taken more regular photos of me and us, out and about with the belly (I wish I’d done more of my whole self, of the both of us. I did make sure to take a bunch on our cross-country road trip!)

 

What I’m glad I did after babies were born:

Had our first few days be just us (I didn’t want anyone else around while we got to know our new babies. I wanted us to be a family and focus on the four of us. No extra noise, no extra personalities, just us. Later on we had visitors and that was wonderful–made even better because of our just-family time at the beginning.)

Did professional studio photos of babies (They were so very tiny. We had no idea. I knew in theory they would change and grow a lot, but man, it happened so fast! We have a storyboard (three 8×10 images on one print) up in our room and we just treasure it. The babies themselves even like looking at it.)

Bought a new bra, undies, and jeans (This was probably my favorite thing I did. Two months post-partum, I went to Target and got some new, non-maternity jeans that actually fit properly. Same with a new bra and underwear. I knew that none of these would fit for very long, but I had been haaaaating wearing all the ill-fitting, loose and baggy everything. I seriously felt like a new person with clothes that fit my current body! Truly, it was amazing, and the cost wasn’t very prohibitive.)

Bought new socks (Just because all my socks are years old and I decided to just treat myself to brand new ones. Plain white ankle cut, 6 in a pack, nothing fancy at all. But soft new socks are such an inexpensive delight!)

Went out for groceries and Target by myself (I started doing this after the first month or so–I would go late at night, like 10 or 11pm. It was so nice to get in the car by myself, and be invisible, with nothing/nobody else to carry. It was a little melancholy, but it was such a relief too.)

Took a shower regularly (it felt great to be clean (and be off the couch), plus it was a good place to cry in private)

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What I wish I had done after babies were born:

Eaten more (It probably would have helped take the edge off a bit–physically and emotionally. I wasn’t actively hungry until about a month post-partum. I knew that I should be eating, but with our ridiculous schedule, I just couldn’t work up the energy enough to care, let alone the energy to find something to eat and the time to eat it. I should have done it, or I should have prepared my husband to make me do it.)

Rested more (after the first week or so, I started moving/lifting more because I felt bad about my husband doing everything. I shouldn’t have, and should have stayed more sedentary when it mattered.)

Had a post-partum doula (It was expensive, my husband had paid paternity leave, my mom visited a few times, and my husband’s parents visited for a week. So I/we had help. But it might have been a little different/better to have a third-party helper come in and help us out too.)

Made a list of chores for visitors to help with (Although really, who cared. I certainly didn’t. I thought that I *should* care if the house was a mess. I’m a terrible grown-up that way.)

Called/emailed people who reached out (I didn’t know how; I didn’t know how to articulate what I was feeling. I couldn’t articulate much. I really appreciated the reaching out and I wish that I had just picked up the phone and done something.)

Had my husband take more photos of me and the babies (I have ONE good photo of me with the babies, when they’re about a week old. [Which I had to ask him to take for me.] None from the hospital. I have lots of phone shots, mostly selfies of low-quality shot in the horrible lighting in our living room. I hate asking people to take pictures of me, because it’s annoying. But I always love to have real-camera shots, and I should have just asked more. I would treasure them. There is no such thing as enough good quality photos of a mama and her baby/babies!)

What about you? What are the best things you did or wished you did before and after you had a baby/babies? Please share in the comments!

Things I Love Thursday: Our New Car!

On some Thursdays, I’ll share something random that I’m really liking, enjoying, or appreciating. Just a little post to share a little snippet of life right now. I’d love to know if you also like these things, and what you’re randomly into these days!

At the end of July, I sold my 1998 Saturn sedan.

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I bought it in 2001, when I got out of college. That car served me well for fourteen years–it got me to work and back, it took two trips across the country, it circled the same Brooklyn blocks forever looking for a parking spot. I listened to countless hours of mix tapes through its tape deck, and when I finally joined the 21st century, I hooked my iPod up through the cassette converter.

When we were expecting twins and moving 3,000 miles, we knew that we needed to get a new car–something more reliable and easier to transport twin babies and all their accompanying stuff. We found a great deal on a 2009 Honda CR-V, and the Saturn became our little ‘extra’ car.

It needed work, so we figured that we would make it last as long as we could, and instead of putting more money into it, get a new second car sometime.

So this summer, it was finally time. I found a family who would be able to make the repairs and get some good life out of it.

Our search for a new used car accidentally led us to this little 2010 Nissan Versa.

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It’s a really stripped-down model–no power doors or windows, no cruise control, not even a key entry on the passenger door. But it gets good mileage, the backseat is surprisingly roomy, it has an auxiliary cable plug-in, and it even has that new-car smell! We hope it will last us at least ten years or so–maybe the twins will learn to drive in this car.

It’s our get-around-town car: I drive it to weekend photo shoots so that Andy can still drive the babies in the CR-V, and we drive it for errands during weekdays if we need to.

We bought it on August 1, so it’s been just over a month. We’re really enjoying it; it’s a nice little car–it feels zippy and modern.

21 Months Old

Dear sweet babies,

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You are 21 months old! You are getting more independent and opinionated–learning and growing and figuring out.        DSC_1611_WEB

There are definitely more tantrums lately…mornings can be tough sometimes. Actually so can evenings. You have so many things you want to do and when you can’t do them, you get very upset.

DSC_1617_WEBBut there are other times when you are just peachy. You give hugs to each other, and this month you started really giving kisses {VIDEO}. Mainly it consists of you moving your face up and closer and making a sound–but you do it on purpose, sometimes on demand and sometimes spontaneously. It’s pretty awesome!

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Huge milestone this month–you moved to using sippy cups only! No more bottles!!!!! You probably could have done this sooner, but we have been lazy. It wasn’t a hard transition at all–other than finding the right kind of cup that won’t leak. This was our third kind and thank goodness, it works, it doesn’t frustrate you, and doesn’t leak.

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Another milestone this month was moving up to the toddler 2’s room! Once again, the teachers were surprised at how easily you transitioned. Though for awhile they were saying that Emmett, you were so quiet and serious. We thought that was pretty funny because you’re actually so funny and playful.

We think you’ve picked up a few things there, namely saying “mine” but also sitting criss-cross applesauce. (Which is SO cute!)

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This month you both have developed an Elmo obsession. You say, “Elmo? Elmo?” whenever you see the television (whether it’s on or off, whatever is playing–normally we play Pandora through the TV, but that doesn’t stop you from asking about Elmo). We let you watch it on the weekend–and you love it so much.

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Speaking of obsession: TRASH. You both are still super obsessed with it. Both of you (but especially Emmett) will point out LITERALLY every trash can that you see. You like pointing out when you see trash on the ground, and putting things in our trash can, though sometimes you find non-trash items. (Like the time that Malcolm, you put a pot and two lids in there!)

This month you started singing. Oh my goodness, it’s so freaking adorable. Your little baby voices! This month you’ve been singing the Elmo song of course {VIDEO}, plus a garbled version of the beginning of the ABCs, and a popcorn song our nanny sings to you, row-row-your-boat, and you request to hear the Rainbow Connection.

Other new words this month include baby, bowl, rock, shoe, water, beach, teeth (as brush teeth, and there’s a brushing-type motion that goes with it!).

Cup stacking was a huge deal this month. You both, but especially Emmett, really got the concept of the stacking and nesting. Emmett, you will sit for 10-20 minutes meditatively stacking and unstacking the cups. Sometimes you request to sit in your booster seat so you can use the tray as a stacking table.

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You randomly started this game where you say “Boo” to us. We act scared and you laugh and do it again. It evolved to where you throw one or both arms when you say it, like you’re throwing a curse. It makes us laugh every time. {VIDEO}

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Other things you’ve learned: A fake cry! When one of you is crying for real, sometimes the other one will go WAAAAH loudly too. We are not fooled. :)

And–you’re now tall enough to climb up on the couch! And smart enough to use a baby chair or couch as a stepstool! Oh dear. So far no one’s taken a header off the couch…but I figure it’s just a matter of time. :/

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We finally let you start going on the big slide at one of the nearby playgrounds. It’s like fifteen feet tall, and the steps are really steep, so even though you want to go by yourselves, we won’t let you. You are always so happy to slide down, which means there’s often a tantrum when we have to leave to go home.

You learned to jump! Whee!

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You’ve liked looking at pictures of yourselves for awhile now, but now you’ve figured out that my computer is full of them! So you come up to my desk and say, “Baby? Baby?”, wanting to get up on my lap to look through them.

You definitely like the pictures from our short trip to Seattle this month:

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We also went back for our second summer trip to the Oregon coast! Once again you loved the beach. IMG_6401_WEB (2)

I mentioned that you have lots of opinions, right? This month you started telling us where to go. Sometimes you’ll grab our hand and pull, to move us somewhere you want to go, and sometimes you walk over to a particular spot, and touch the ground emphatically, as if to say, “SIT HERE NOW.” Haha, like we’re your pets. :)

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Though you play with lots of toys around the house, books are always still welcome. Even better that now we bring them in the car and put them in your crib, so that a book is always nearby. <3

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We are still having so much fun keeping up with you and helping you learn about everything around you. It is so amazing to get hugs and kisses from you, after so many months of millions of hugs and kisses we’ve gotten to give you. We love you so much!

love, mama

 

My best tips for Packing and Moving

First of all–no, we aren’t moving anytime soon. This is completely out of the blue. I was listening to an old Joy the Baker podcast and they were talking about moving and packing. Yet I think I do have some helpful things to share about the packing/moving process. And today marks two years ago that we landed in Portland after our cross-country move from Brooklyn. It seems way longer than two years!

Now–all of my moving experience has been without pets or small children. That is a whole other beast, one that I have no ideas about.

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1. My best tip about packing and moving is to remember that it sucks. There’s no way to make it easy and beautiful and stress-less. Unless you are very rich and have an extra house you can live in while you pack up another one.

2. Are you over the age of 25? That means that you are a grown-up and it’s time to hire movers. The time and effort it will save you is SO WORTH THE COST. I hired the same company the three times that I moved while we lived in New York (Manor Movers). They were so fast and efficient. Plus they wrap/protect big items that you can’t fit in boxes. It made moving day so EASY. (Relatively speaking. Remember, moving sucks.)

The extra-grown-up option is to hire movers to actually *pack* for you. I hear that this is an excellent option for those with small children or babies. Leave the house for a few hours and come back to boxes all done up? Yes please!

3. I don’t know about you, but the idea of scavenging around town dumpsters looking for assorted grungy boxes makes me all anxious and shuddery. How long will it take to find them? How many stores do you have to go to? What if it’s the wrong day and the boxes are all gone? What if you don’t find enough boxes? What if they’re all too small for your stuff? What if you run out of boxes? NO THANK YOU. Buy yourself a pack of actual, new moving boxes from a site like this. They arrive at your door super fast, they’re new and sturdy, and you don’t have to go DO anything to find them. They have sets that include different, coordinating sizes, depending on how big a space you’re packing. Again, SO completely worth the cost. You can then flatten them on the other end of your move and store them for the next move. (I do this. While in Brooklyn, I kept flattened moving boxes under the bed, under the futon, and behind our dresser. And probably some in one of the closets too.)

4. Buy more boxes than you think you’ll need. If you’re anything like me, you are way underestimating how much crap you have. Even though I saved the boxes from the previous sets, I always needed another set of them! I just accumulate stuff over the years!

5. During the packing process, cull as much crap as you can. We stuffed my car completely full and actually stopped at Goodwill on the way out of the city, with another three big bags of clothes plus a few random things like my old printer and maybe a lamp. Books are a really easy thing to start with–you can always pick out 3-5 books each time to see the bookshelf, and put them aside for the donate pile. (Our Brooklyn apartment building had a little library shelf in the basement laundry room–so we could just drop our pile there.) Be ruthless with your clothes–as you’re taking them off hangers and out of drawers, ask yourself if you have worn it recently and if you reeeaaallly need it.

6. Organization…I remember reading someone’s smart idea about numbering each box and then keeping a master list of what was in each box. I was totally on board with that and did that….for about a day. Then I got lazy and/or forgot.

My strategy is generally just using a big marker (those box sets include a marker) and noting not just the room, but the contents. So instead of just writing “kitchen” on three boxes, for example, label one “plates and dishes”, another one “coffee maker and blender”, another one “mugs,” etc etc. Being specific is your friend on the other end.

Then there is this smart idea: tape that is labeled with room names! 4 Bedroom Labeling Tape I saw another tip recently about using these labels on the boxes, *and* labeling the appropriate doorways and entrances, so that it’s kind of a matching game as the moving truck is being unloaded. Easy peasy for you and for any movers who are working with you.

It’s helpful to put the boxes in the rooms they belong in; that way you’re not overwhelmed with unpacking your entire house worth of sixty boxes in one place! And if there’s an unpacked room that’s stressing you out–just shut the door. The boxes will wait. :)

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7. The Important Box. This is my favorite packing strategy. You probably already know to keep your suitcase/backpack ready with your toiletries and changes of clothes. But what about small things that you really don’t want to lose in a sea of boxes? Put them all together in one Important Box. That box stays with you, it doesn’t go in the moving truck. I put things like my assorted charger cables, my passport, my main notebooks/planner, a book I’m reading, that kind of thing. So that box is a mess, sure, but I can rest easy knowing that the real stuff I need every day (or that I just need to know where it is), is with me all the time, nice and safe.

8. Take pictures. I learned this the hard way: take pictures of your new place before you unpack or unload your stuff, and take pictures of your old place when you’ve packed it all up. This is evidence of the state of your place before and after, in case you need proof of what you did or didn’t damage.

It’s also a nice idea to take a picture of your street, and your house/building from your street. Just to have as a record, just a picture of where you lived, where you built up lots of experiences and memories. Then of course, take a picture of your new street and the front of your new house. It’s kind of exciting to think about what kinds of experiences and memories you’ll have there.

9. The hardest part of packing up is the last 10%. You’ve got all the books, all your clothes, all the furniture, all the towels. But then…there’s this random assortment of other crap. It doesn’t really have a category, and I never know what to do with it. Half of it ends up tossed in on top of unrelated boxes (the top half of book boxes always end up stuffed with random stuff), and the other half has to get thrown into new boxes and labeled “misc”. The dreaded “misc”! Where does it go? Where do you unpack it? Why do you even have it?!

I don’t have any answers or tips or advice for that. (Other than that I know that if I culled better/more and collected less stuff, I’d have less of these leftovers!) If you do, I’d love to hear it.

10. Other moving options: renting plastic bins instead of buying boxes, driving your own stuff in a rented truck, or using a service like PODS. I think the bins idea is really neat, but you’d have to be moving in or to/from locations that have them. We thought about driving a rental truck for awhile. I looked around online and heard about some U-Haul horror stories and saw lots of recommendations for Penske. So I called Penske and made a reservation just in case, and found their service to be fantastic, and the rates very reasonable. We did decide to use PODS instead and drive my car, though, and it was very simple to cancel the reservation. (I was kind of sad to do it, though!)

PODS was overall a good experience for us. However, apparently there is a special city division that I talked to at one point who gave me a clear window for when to have the POD delivered and picked up the same morning–and then on subsequent calls they had no idea what I was talking about. I was like, DUDE, you can’t drop off a 16 foot storage container on a Brooklyn street for a month! Thankfully it all ended up working out, but just be aware of that if you want to use them in a big city.

We waffled on whether to drive a truck, or drive ourselves (since I had a car) and use the POD. Like I said, we went with the POD. The rental truck was way cheaper, but there were additional costs to consider: would have taken a lot of gas money (moving trucks get TERRIBLE gas mileage, versus my little car that got 30mpg on the highway), it would have been harder to drive/park, and maybe harder to take random side trips on the way. Not to mention: we would have either had to ship the car (which was $1000-1500), or tow the car behind the truck…which would have been possible, but a huge pain in the ass for sure. The total cost difference between the two ended up being only about $1000. Which yes, it’s a lot of money, but reducing the hassle and increasing the adventure was worth it.

11. If you can, make it an adventure!

We got to drive across the country! We visited my husband’s family and some of my cousins, saw a number of beautiful national parks, dipped our toes in the Mississippi, and almost broke down on the side of the road under a blazing western Nebraska sun. Adventuring all over the place. :) It was extra special knowing that our babies were ‘with us’ on the inside, and that it would be a long time before we could do an adventure of this level again, so we tried to soak it up as best we could.

However, as exciting and fun as road trips are….they can be REALLY boring at times. Especially on the Midwest, when the entirety of the directions were “Continue West on I-80.” :)DSC_5626_WEB

At some point we’re going to have to move again, so I’d love to know your best moving tips to add to this list, so please leave a comment below!

Things I Love Thursday: My Babies

On some Thursdays, I’ll share something random that I’m really liking, enjoying, or appreciating. Just a little post to share a little snippet of life right now. I’d love to know if you also like these things, and what you’re randomly into these days!

 

IMG_6495Last night as I was putting the twins to bed, I started singing “You are my sunshine.” In the middle of the song, I started crying and couldn’t finish the song. (The song also made me cry in those commercials last year, so it’s not a huge surprise.)

Really, I am so blessed. I am pretty sure I’m a mostly-mediocre mama (ooh, that would’ve been a great blog name!), but these two little creatures are pretty wonderful. They’ve recently started to give kisses, on demand but also sometimes on their own. Their little faces light up when I come get them, they touch me and say, “mama” in those adorable little voices. They love getting tickles and playing games and singing songs and being silly–and getting cuddled. They still back up and sit down in my lap to read a book, and sometimes their little hands rest on my arm, and I snuggle in to their thick hair and give them kisses and hugs.

They are amazing. And a handful, and overdramatic. And the cutest, most incredible things. They really do make me happy when skies are gray. Or blue, or any other color. I love them so much.