Mother’s Day Giveaway!

Hi friends, I try not to ‘cross the streams’ here, but I am really excited about the giveaway I’m running through my photography website. It’s a message that I feel strongly about, as you know.

(Plus I collaborated with someone who is also a former NYC teacher/blogger who moved to Portland the same time we did!)

Check out this short video here and then go enter (via Rafflecopter, on my photo blog)!

Learn more & Enter here: http://travelingjulie.com/?p=3805

(Ends Sunday, May 10, 2015 at 11.59pm PDT)

No matter what, I wish you a beautiful and happy Mother’s Day. Remember that you are loved and worthy!

Spring 2015: Easter and Tulips

Early April was a busy time! First Andy went on a short work trip, and my mom came down to visit and help out.

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That weekend was Easter, and we took a trip to see the Easter bunny on Saturday. (Since it was the day before, there was no line! We also hit up the mall carousel, plus had a food court snack, and played with the trains at the bookstore, so it was a nice, full outing.) E was really excited to see the Easter bunny and waved and smiled and was cool sitting on his lap. M refused, so we did a family shot, and of course they looked their normal stoic.

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On Easter Sunday, we met my dad at Edgefield for the Easter brunch buffet. (I heart buffets for dining out with toddlers!) They enjoyed the food–mainly eating bread, bacon, some fruit, and orange juice, and wanted some of the chocolate dessert too (only one bite). Then we had some time to run around:

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They got some Easter presents from Grandpa! DSC_9720-1_WEB DSC_9723-5_WEB

After their nap, I ‘made’ their ‘Easter baskets’. They each got a random Easter-y book I found in a bin, a thing of bubbles, and a homemade snack baggie (almonds, a few chocolate cats, and cheesy crackers). They were very excited about the snacks, of course! I guess next year they’ll understand the whole Easter basket of goodies concept and I’ll have to do something not lame. DSC_9728_WEB

We also hid some eggs for them to find…but they were totally not into it! We did some practice egg hunting the previous weekend, and I guess they got over the idea. Emmett pointed at a few eggs but didn’t pick any up, and Malcolm didn’t even come all the way outside. Silly toddlers!

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The following week we made it to see the tulips at Wooden Shoe! I of course wanted to wander and take pictures…but twin toddlers don’t equal peaceful meandering. They investigated the various tractors and the tiny windmill and ran around, and I grabbed a few photos as I ran after them. Mainly I wanted a family photo and we did manage to get that. Third one in a row!

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Phew! Thankfully May is looking a little quieter.

The nightly torture

Toothbrushing. It is the bane of my existence. Or at least the bane of our evenings with toddlers. I *hate* it.

We only started brushing their teeth regularly a little over a year ago. They screamed and writhed and had to be held down by a second person. I found a toothbrushing song to sing, in hopes that they would start to recognize it and be a little happier, or at least less terrified. It hasn’t worked.

This went on for probably five or six months, and then suddenly they would just sit there and open up. Without crying! Without squirming away! What a miracle! I was all, woohoo, we just had to wait a little while and they finally got used to it!

Hahaha.

The protests began again in the fall or winter. They were older now and more verbal, so they just say No and run away. They once again squirm away from the toothbrush. They also figured out that they can clamp those little chompers down on the toothbrush and lock it in place (and suck out the toothpaste). It’s a less violent event now, but it’s still a huge, giant pain in the ass. Many nights one of them will be mostly okay with it but one will not. I hate it hate it hate it.

Tonight, after M chomping down on the toothbrush every.single.damn.time I put it in his mouth, he said something about pizza. And randomly I decided to give the toothbrush a Cookie Monster voice and say, “I want pizza! Mmmm, pizza snacks! Give me pizza! Yummy, I see baby cookies! Gimme gimme! More baby cookies!” while brushing his teeth. He giggled and laughed and let me brush his teeth.

Then I did the same for Emmett. (He likes to do it ‘by self’ which of course is terribly ineffective, so I’ve been trying to negotiate that I do it first then he gets a turn.) He laughed and giggled, and then when I was done, he handed me the toothbrush again and said, “More?” {cue angels singing}

Oh my god. I have no idea if this tactic will ever work again, but it will live on as a bright spot that maybe, someday, there may be hope?!

Also, we’re taking them to the dentist for the first time this week (they’re almost 2.5). I’m crossing my fingers that it won’t be a complete and utter disaster, and that we won’t get ‘in trouble’ for having waited so long. Wish all of us much luck and patience.

Things I Love Thursday: Voice Memos

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!

Not long ago, we were in the car, on the way home from Friday night indoor gym, and the boys were singing EIEIO. It was super cute, but it was dark, and I was facing the wrong way. For some reason, I thought about the voice memo function. So I opened that, pressed record, and pointed it in the backseat toward Emmett.

He just kept singing those two lines over and over. That and his emphatic pronunciation just kill me ded with cuteness.

Ever since then, I’ve been working on capturing cute things they say, or their accent/inflections, or their little singing voices.

Voice memos take up hardly any space on my phone, unlike videos. Videos get the whole picture, but for some things it’s worth it to only have the sound.

Here are just a few of my favorite clips:

It’s crazy how much their language and physical talking skills have changed in such a short time–only a few weeks later and they now sing a lot more of EIEIO, for example. :)

So in conclusion, I’m finding voice memos to be a great complement to saving some sweet moments that are happening all the time! I will probably do more of these posts in the future because I love sharing the cuteness. :) (I did record one morning at breakfast when they took turns screaming, just for fun…I’m sparing you that one.)

Now I’d love to hear from you in the comments–Do you use voice memos? Do you record your kiddos in any particular way?

Things I Love Thursday: Toddler Tricycle

 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!

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Last summer, when they were about 20 months old, the babies always were super intrigued when the neighbors’ bike and tricycle were in their yard…and would try to climb on whenever they saw one (and have a super tantrum when we removed them).

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So we figured they were ready to start trying to use their own tricycles. At the fall resale, we got two random trikes. They were super psyched and demanded to ride them immediately (though they needed help, because their feet didn’t quite reach properly).

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However, they both only liked one of them: the Radio Flyer Fold 2 Go Trike (the one above with streamers). They fought over it, and would refuse to ride the other one. We realized that the other trike’s pedals were farther away from the seat and therefore harder to push. The Radio Flyer pedals sit closer, so their knees are at more of a right angle.

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(Here’s the day that they both actually started riding by themselves–this was early December, so they had just turned two. They both screamed and cried whenever brother had the ‘good’ trike. And rode happily when it was their turn.)

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This went on and on and we just kept trying to convince them to try the other bike too! Occasionally they would, sort of, but it never lasted. Andy kept saying, Oh let’s just buy a new one so they don’t fight so much. And finally, one afternoon in late February, I had had enough of the tantrums, and looked at craigslist on my phone while we were at the playground. I found that trike for sale nearby and I picked it up that night. And ever since–happiness and peace reign! They love riding their ‘bikes’ and there is no more fighting, screaming, or crying over them. Hallelujah!

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Here’s the trike all by itself. It seems to be specifically designed for younger toddlers (the description says 1-3 years). The main ‘feature’ of this trike is that it folds up. It doesn’t get exactly small, but it does make it easier to put into the back of the car, or even in the wagon. It’s easy to carry, too–the seat has a little ‘handle’ space.

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So, if you have a young toddler who seems ready for a tricycle, this one might be a great option!

I’d love to hear what your toddlers and preschoolers are riding — please share links and/or your experiences in the comments!

Why I don’t have any good pictures of both twins at the same time

 

2015-03 (Mar)_WEBI wasn’t actively trying to get them to look at me or anything, I just wanted to get them both sitting in their baby adirondacks. These are all the photos I took, just so you can get a feel for what I deal with any time I bring out the camera. :) And/or to explain why I never get any good shots of them together! (PS: here’s a big secret–a lot of the cute holiday photos from their first year were head swaps!)

Bad Jeans

I hate jeans shopping. I would say I hate it with the fire of a thousand suns, but I don’t even have that energy for that; jeans shopping just saps my energy and my will. It’s just so defeating and seemingly pointless, because nothing ever feels right or fits right.

This helpful and hilarious post/series made me think that maaaaaybe it is possible to find well-fitting, flattering jeans. But then I remember that jeans are basically impossible. I suppose more effort would make a difference, but that would take so long and be so very frustrating. Not to mention the cost. Sigh.

And then throwing in a post-partum body to the already-maddening mix….ugh.

Here are the past four years of jeans, in illustrated vignettes:

September 2011:

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Check out these jeans. I got them at Costco, without even trying them on. Calvin Klein. Twenty-five bucks. Why not, right? They fit PERFECTLY. No gappy-gap above the butt, not too tight, pretty flattering if I do say so myself. MAGIC. I hadn’t been able to find new jeans in several *years*! I love you, Calvin!

The following week, we went to Costco again and of course I figured I should strike while the jeans iron is hot, so to speak, and get another pair of nice jeans that fit and flatter. I picked out a slightly different color and design, with flaps on the back pocket. Got home–and they fit totally differently. Gappy-gap up top, too tight in the thighs, didn’t flatter my bum. Bad job.

I went back to Costco and see if they still had the good style there for an exchange–nope. I went online and ordered what seemed to be the same style…nope, I couldn’t even get them up to my hips. I tried again from a different online store, and again no luck.

I can only come to the conclusion that these are my very own Magic Jeans, never to be replicated.

October 2012, 7 months pregnant:

After months of hiking up the Old Navy maternity jeans that kept drooping and falling down, I bit the bullet and spent a little more on Motherhood Maternity panel jeans. They fit really well and most importantly, stayed up. (Apparently this is the only photo where you can actually see them.)

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February 2013, three months post-partum:

I had a pair of jeans I got at Target sometime in early January, which are a size 12. I wasn’t jazzed about that number, but I was glad to have real (non-maternity) jeans that fit. Two weeks later they were loose. By now they’d gotten so big I could pull them off without unbuttoning them. So I was all excited to see what size I could be now.

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I’ve never had Gap jeans, but don’t people say they love them? So while I was at the mall I decided to stop in and check them out. First of all, most of their stuff was some kind of skinny jean. STOP THE SKINNY JEAN MADNESS ALREADY. Ahem. Anyway, I tried to find some ‘normal’ish styles. I picked up some 8s and they didn’t even fit over my thighs. The 10s were too tight and the 12s were a little too big. There was the gappy thing in back, but the hips were still kind of snug, and my butt didn’t look good, and the front was weird.

GAH.

I also checked out Marshalls and that was even worse.

March 2013:

Went back to Target finally, and got a new pair of jeans THAT FIT!! It felt amazing to put on pants that aren’t loose, baggy and falling down! These were a size 10.

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May 2013:

I got another new, size 8 pair in May, from Target. Felt great!

Summer 2013:

I gathered up and washed batches of my pre-pregnancy clothes to see if I’d be able to fit in any of them. My old magic jeans were in there. Our not-awesome babysitter put them in the dryer. They shrunk–got tighter and shorter, and though I could technically I could zip them, they cut right across the squishiest part of my abdomen. Obviously that’s not my ideal look. Goodbye forever, magic jeans. Nice knowing you.

March 2014:

My one pair of jeans ripped!

April 2014:

I went to Target, figuring that since my last few pairs from there have fit nicely and didn’t cost a bundle, I would easily find a new pair. Well, wouldn’t you know it, their sizing changed sometime between last spring and this spring, so no dice. I tried on a few and nothing fit right at all.

So for two weeks I was without any jeans at all. I finally went to Ross and found some that seemed to fit. They were almost loose, but when I tried the next size down, I couldn’t get them past my thighs.

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I also bought some fun new dresses in hopes of jazzing up my wardrobe and occasionally looking like a grown-up.

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The jeans did get a little looser and start to be annoying. So a few weeks later, another mama friend and I went jeans shopping, to have some fun and support. We went to a few places in the mall–Gap, Express, a short walk into Nordstrom. Nobody had just JEANS. Plain, regular jeans. Everything was skinny jeans, leggings, cropped jeans, and then more skinny jeans. It was maddening.

We also stopped by Nordstrom Rack and they had a very small selection of jeans, too. It was disappointing because I’d heard they were a good place to find good jeans. I did try on–DUN DUN DUN–skinny jeans. Against my better judgment and principles. And I…didn’t hate them. My friend said they looked good and encouraged me to get them.

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They stayed in their bag for more than a week. My little sister came to visit and she said that I should keep and wear them. :) So I did. I do like that they’re stretchy. But I don’t love the tight lower legs–I don’t like fabric clinging to my upper ankles. It just seems unnatural or something.

June 2014:

I was visiting New York and stopped in at the Gap Outlet on Fulton Street. (I know, right? Gentrification is for real.) I found a pair of jeans that mostly fit–they cut into my squishy tummy, but they were non-skinny jeans, and they were mid-rise too!–for only $17. Later that summer I dropped like two pounds and these jeans fit pretty nicely. (And when they cut into my tummy, I can keep a shirt or sweater over the muffin top. :D)

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July 2014

I went on a mission to find shorts. Like, shorts for grown-up ladies–not teeny tiny teenagers, and not wise old dowagers, just, like, regular freaking shorts that you don’t need a Brazilian to wear. These apparently do not exist.

I went to the local Ross and tried on all the shorts-related things I could find in my size (which has gone back up to 10).

These were shorter than I wanted but at least they weren’t super tight, so they seemed okay.

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I was surprised but I thought these skinny jean capris were really cute! I wore them all summer and fall, and they actually got a bit baggy. I felt cute whenever I wore them, though.

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October 2014, nearly TWO YEARS post-partum:

I visited the Ann Taylor Loft at the local outlets and TA-DA found jeans that FIT! They were the Curvy style, size 8 (hello vanity sizing), but I was really excited. Jeans that fit!!!

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So for the last few months, I’ve finally had three different pairs of jeans that fit! It only took months and months, multiple stores, and endless irritation. Lessons learned: I still hate clothes shopping; boot-cut jeans are still the best kind; next time I need jeans I’ll start at Ann Taylor/Loft. (Someday I want to try on Lucky or Seven jeans!) Also, NEVER TAKE GOOD JEANS FOR GRANTED.