Motherhood: I’m doing it ALL WRONG

Last fall, I came across this article (10 Things Your Mom Never Told You) on Facebook, and it really rubbed me the wrong way. It’s that treacly stereotypical garbage that obviously means I’m an absolutely terrible mother. In fact, I’m such a bad, lazy mom that it’s taken me four months to actually get around to sharing my response.

1. You made her cry… a lot. She cried when she found out she was pregnant. She cried as she gave birth to you. She cried when she first held you. She cried with happiness. She cried with fear. She cried with worry. She cried because she feels so deeply for you. She felt your pain and your happiness and she shared it with you, whether you realized it or not.

Okay, yes, totally. Completely. There have been a lot of tears on my end. Anxious ones, happy ones, inexplicable ones. Even now, if I look long enough at them, they’re so sweet that I tear up.

2. She wanted that last piece of pie. But when she saw you look at it with those big eyes and lick your mouth with that tiny tongue, she couldn’t eat it. She knew it would make her much happier to see your little tummy be filled than hers.

What?! No way, man. I’ll give you a bite, sure, but that pie is mine!

3. It hurt. When you pulled her hair, it hurt; when you grabbed her with those sharp fingernails that were impossible to cut, it hurt; when you bit her while drinking milk, that hurt, too. You bruised her ribs when you kicked her from her belly; you stretched her stomach out for nine months; you made her body contract in agonizing pain as you entered this world.

Obviously. (Though I had a c-section [bad mother!], so that last pain was from the major surgery, not labor, in my case.)

4. She was always afraid. From the moment you were conceived, she did all in her power to protect you. She became your mama bear. She was that lady who wanted to say no when the little girl next door asked to hold you, and who cringed when she did, because in her mind no one could keep you as safe as she herself could. Her heart skipped two beats with your first steps. She stayed up late to make sure you got home safe, and woke up early to see you off to school. With every stubbed toe and little stumble, she was close by; she was ready to snatch you up with every bad dream or late night fever. She was there to make sure you were OK.

Oh, yes, I’ve had fears in the back of my mind since we found out about them. So many, too many sometimes, and they’re not even in school yet.

5. She knows she’s not perfect. She is her own worst critic. She knows all her flaws and sometimes hates herself for them. She is hardest on herself when it comes to you, though. She wanted to be the perfect mom, to do nothing wrong — but because she is human, she made mistakes. She is probably still trying to forgive herself for them. She wishes with her whole heart that she could go back in time and do things differently, but she can’t, so be kind to her, and know she did the best she knew how to do.

Eh. We have two babies. We’re doing it all wrong, probably. Ain’t nobody with two babies got time to worry about being perfect.

6. She watched you as you slept. There were nights when she was up ’til 3:00 a.m. praying that you would finally fall asleep. She could hardly keep her eyes open as she sang to you, and she would beg you to “please, please fall asleep.” Then, when you finally fell asleep, she would lay you down and all her tiredness would disappear for a short second as she sat by your bedside looking down at your perfect cherub face, experiencing more love than she knew was possible, despite her worn-out arms and aching eyes.

DUDE. I am not spending even more time NOT SLEEPING than I need to. I will hold and comfort and soothe (and I still check to make sure they’re breathing, more than two years in), but then I go BACK TO BED. Like a normal human person.

7. She carried you a lot longer than nine months. You needed her to. So she did. She would learn to hold you while she cleaned; she would learn to hold you while she ate; she would even hold you while she slept, because it was the only way she could sometimes. Her arms would get tired, her back would hurt, but she held you still because you wanted to be close to her. She snuggled you, loved you, kissed you and played with you. You felt safe in her arms; you were happy in her arms; you knew you were loved in her arms, so she held you, as often and as long as you needed.

Maybe this is a twin thing, because once they’re older than a few weeks, it’s nearly impossible to hold two babies at the same time. And now, when there are two thirty-pound toddlers demanding to be held (“up! UP! UP!!”), there is no physical way for me to do that. I have to put one down, or sit on the floor/couch, or put one in an Ergo. And I can’t carry even one for very long anymore, either. I guess I haven’t earned my mama stripes if I am unable to carry a baby more than a certain amount of time. Am I not allowed to be a mother if I give in to an aching back?

8. It broke her heart every time you cried. There was no sound as sad as your cries, or sight as horrible as the tears streaming down your perfect face. She did all in her power to stop you from crying, and when she couldn’t stop your tears, her heart would shatter into a million little pieces.

Every time? Every time? Really? You sure about that? When one of them falls and bumps his head–absolutely! Poor sweet baby, come here and let me make it all better. But when it’s 4.30am and it’s the fourth wake-up of the night and you just want to sleep, for the love of all that is holy? Nope, nothing shattering over here. Let me give you a hug and then PLEASE GO TO SLEEP.

9. She put you first. She went without food, without showers and without sleep. She always put your needs before her own. She would spend all day meeting your needs, and by the end of the day, she would have no energy left for herself. But the next day, she would wake up and do it all over again, because you meant that much to her.

I hate this idea that mothers are “supposed to” sacrifice everything for their babies, and love it. That mothers’ lives aren’t meaningful on their own, that somehow being hungry is a badge of honor of maternal pride and accomplishment. I *do* shower, and sleep, and eat. I don’t think that should be special or unique, either. (I also wear pajamas most of the day. Nothing wrong with that!) All mothers need and deserve to do basic biological things like eat, for god’s sake. I’ve said before–and I think it’s RIDICULOUS that it even needs to be mentioned–mamas are people too, and mama, YOU MATTER. Go wash your hair, go take a nap, go finish that pie–you deserve it!!

10. She would do it all again. Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs anyone can do, and it will take you to your very limits sometimes. You cry, you hurt, you try, you fail, you work and you learn. But, you also experience more joy that you thought was possible and feel more love than your heart can contain. Despite all the pain, grief, late nights and early mornings you put your mom through, she would do it all again for you because you are worth it to her. So, next time you see her, tell your mom thank you; let her know that you love her. She can never hear it too many times.

My little toddlers run grinning into my arms when I pick them up from daycare, and they have also just recently started to say, “I lub you, mama,” and dammit, there goes my heart shattering every time.

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So maybe I’m doing something right after all?

Life and Schedule update, v10

I realized that a few things have changed a lot since I last did one of these–over a year ago!–and I wanted to make note before I forget and before even more changes happen.

First and most obvious, they walk and run and talk now, ALL THE TIME. :) Their little voices are really cute, especially when they’re singing the ABCs or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. :)

Last summer, when they were 20 months old, we finally made the switch to sippy cups. It took a few tries to find the best one–that didn’t leak, and that didn’t frustrate them. (We settled on these: Munchkin Sippy Cups, 9 ounce) Soon afterward we cut out the post-nap milk (but kept the snack), as well as made the morning milk much less (maybe an ounce or two?). The evening milk is still a few ounces (approximately half of the sippy cup) and about half the time they ask for more.

By the time of the time change in the fall, before they turned two, their bedtime had been pushed back a little bit, from strictly 730 to 745/8pm. (We successfully moved them back a little bit for three nights so that on the last night, they went to bed at 9pm. Then the next night after the time change it was 8pm. Phew!)

Later in the fall/winter, it’s been pushed back more. Now we start getting them ready around 8 and go upstairs between 820 and 830 (which means that some nights, we don’t get out of their room until 9!). Sometimes bedtime is quick and easy, but more often it feels pretty drawn out. They have to each close all the doors in the hallway, we have to say goodnight to the animals on the projector, we sing our two regular songs and then a bonus song or two, and then there are hugs. Lately they’ve been demanding a lot more Daddy hugs and rejecting Mama. :/

The timeshift is a reaction to them suddenly waking up much earlier. We are not morning people, so when they started being up for the day around or before 7am, we were like, NO THANK YOU. Moving bedtime back meant that wakeup also moved back a little, back to the 730 range. AND even better, sometimes it’s 8am!

The naps have shifted a bit too. They used to go down around 12 or 1230, but for the last few months, it’s been 1pm. And as of January or so (so after they turned two), they have gotten shorter, generally 2-2.5 hours. This sucks a bit (I really liked taking my own naps during their naptime, or doing some work), but it also means we have more time to play before and after nap. Especially as the days are finally starting to get longer, that means that they can go outside after nap! We are eagerly awaiting those long summer days when we can go on walks after dinner again…

In general, there’s been a wonderful change in that they are never desperate for food or milk anymore. They used to get all desperate and hysterical and whiny about wanting to eat RIGHT NOW, but as they’ve gotten older, they don’t do that as much anymore. What they do do is beg for snacks. (We give them a mid-morning snack and a post-nap snack, but Emmett especially will ask for and eat crackers all day long. Of course we don’t let him, but it does get annoying to deal with saying no and dealing with his unhappy reaction.) Dinner is often around 6pm nowadays, which again gives us more flexibility with the afternoon and evening hours.

So here’s an actual timeline of a typical day:

745-8am: wake up and milk
830ish: breakfast (oatmeal with fruit puree)
10ish: snack
1130/12pm: lunch
1-3pm: nap
330/4pm: snack (usually a homemade fruit pouch)
545/6pm: dinner
730pm: milk
830ish: bedtime

Our Favorite Toys for Toddlers, 18-24 month edition

When I went to the big twins club re-sale in 2013, I had a very specific list of items that I knew our 5 month old babies would need in the short term. When I saw the huge area of big toys, I froze. I tried to think about the next 5-6 months and what the babies would do or learn or want or play with. And I had utterly no idea what, say, a 9 month old could use.

So I figure that as I go along, I’ll keep track of the toys we use in age-ranges of our babies, in hope that someday, another parent will find it useful! This isn’t an official review or sponsored post, it’s just what our babies have liked and used a lot. Amazon links are affiliate.

(Previous gear lists: Pregnancy, New Babies part 1, New Babies part 2, New Babies part 3 Toys for 3-6 months, Toys for 6-12 months, Toys for 12-18 months)

Also, FYI: Baby Cheapskate does an annual roundup of “Toys that get played with” for all age ranges, based on reader polls/surveys. Here’s the 2013 list for 13-24 months. You should follow them on Facebook--they find and post tons of deals on baby gear every day!

Things they’re still loving from last time: Water Table; Learning Towers, baby broom

Haba Blocks: We got some of these from a friend, and the dudes love them! The duplos still got good use too. The wooden Haba blocks don’t stick together, but that means that they can build tall towers and then knock them over. And what’s more fun than that? :)

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Play Kitchen: We received one when they were about a year old, and kept putting off putting it together until they were a little older. We finally did it when they were 23 months, and oh my goodness, THEY LOVE IT. I’d meant to move it upstairs to their room, but they play with it just about every day here in the living room. They LOVE it. And they probably would have loved it just as much a few months earlier! It is so much fun to watch them play pretend, and it’s so freaking adorable I can’t even stand it.
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Spoons, empty containers, dried pasta or beans: Part playing pretend, part sorting and pouring, and part percussion practice. We have a bunch of empty oatmeal canisters that they can play with, and we give them real spoons and Pyrex bowls, and they “stir stir stir” and scoop and stir. If they have some they can pour and scoop and move between one place and another–water, dried beans, dried pasta–they will play with it for a loooong time, very happily.

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Push toys: When we go out on walks, they still love their push toys! We have the musical one musical one (we call it the “jingly walker”), the wooden one (“clacker”), and until recently we had this Fisher-Price Mower. (It finally broke and they got a newer, more realistic looking one for Christmas.)

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The umbrella strollers work very well too!
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Basketball hoop and other athletic stuff: The basketball hoop is a lot of fun, but even when that’s not out, they’ve enjoyed played with the mini basketball and a couple other balls we have. They figured out kicking and dribbling balls, so the soccer ball was a good addition. I also had two cheap frisbee-type things, which they love to play with and throw.

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Buckets/containers:

Good for headwear, beach trips, and generally collecting things. Gathering and unpacking is a big thing for them.

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Baby Guitar/ukelele/banjo: Our nanny (who is in a band) sometimes brings her ukelele and sings to them, and lets them play with it. They will happily sit on their baby couch together, strumming and swaying back and forth. They never ever want to stop playing, and anytime it’s been here, they ask, “More le-le?” over and over again.
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Mama’s wallet:

This is my secret weapon toy. If I need them to chill out/I’m out of ideas/they’re stir-crazy, they get to play with Mama’s wallet! They methodically take all the cards out and then play with putting them back in and handing them back and forth to each other. I don’t get it, but I’ll take it!

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Rocks:

Every toddler’s favorite!

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I’d love to hear what your young toddlers love to play with–leave a note in the comments!

Scenes from Tonight

So the other day Emmett was playing with the empty laundry basket, and I randomly decided to lay him down in the basket and carry him as if he were laundry. And then I gave Malcolm a turn. They thought it was hilarious, I thought it was both hilarious and adorable.

Tonight we did more ‘laundry baby’. Except the cuteness factor went up by about a million. I died of cuteness overload about six times in the space of ten minutes.

Consider this as a hopeful future for everyone in the little-baby trenches, and a reminder of the good times of the toddler years (it’s not all tantrums all the time!). Most of all–for my fellow twin mamas, there is hope!

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The helping each other up thing was completely started by them! They actually refused our help–only wanting brother.

What a random, fun time. I love these guys. :) :)

My Productivity Essentials

Kabbage.com wrote a great list about ways to be more productive.  It made me think about the ways I try to focus my attention and be more productive. These are all things I will need to use intelligently this year to be successful at home and at work.

I’m a lifelong procrastinator, and the Internet is a constant distraction. However, overall I’d say I do a fairly good job of accomplishing tasks, though naturally some take longer than they might need to. Here are a few things that I do to help keep me on track. Technically they’re sort of related to the same concept: Writing stuff down.

1. PAPER LIST

I make lists. Lists everywhere. I have the worst memory in the world, so if I don’t write it down, it disappears into the mist of my fogged-up brain. Over the last couple years, one of my mottos has become, “If it’s not on a list, it doesn’t exist.”

The main ‘tool’ I use lately is just a legal pad. I tend to make lists in two columns: a column on the left for personal to do items, and a column on the right for business tasks. Often these lists get very long and out of hand, for two reasons. One is that once I start writing things down, I think of other things that need to be done. Two is that I keep using the same list until I’ve crossed most of the things off. I love seeing the sea of cross-outs: a visual reminder of some good task-doing! Then I re-write the list on a fresh, clean page (and inevitably add to it. Lists never ever stop growing!).

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A subset of this is the whiteboard in our kitchen. It’s the household to-do list, sort of. There’s a spot for grocery lists (with columns for different stores), and there’s an area with that week’s happenings. Each day has a little space for any household events (recurring or unique), so that we always know what’s coming. Again, if things aren’t on those two lists/spaces, they don’t exist in my brain.

And check out this new book I just read about: Listful Thinking: Using Lists to Be More Productive, Successful and Less StressedRight up my alley! Hurray for lists! She has a blog that looks great too.

2. PAPER PLANNER

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For my day job, I use this Staples planner. A colleague of mine introduced me to this planner years ago; it was her favorite and she swore by it. We actually went together to a local Staples so I could pick one up myself, and I now swear by it too. It’s a Staples brand planner that has a monthly calendar page, and then for every one-week spread, the page on the left has a space for each day to jot down tasks and things, and then the page on the right is just empty lines for notes. This is AWESOME. I love it because all the notes for each week get taken right there. I don’t need to put notes other places, and I don’t need to worry about running out of space on a daily square. For example, during a team call, if there is a new project starting and I have some tasks, I take notes about all of that on that right-side page. Then later I can distill smaller tasks and write those on the daily spaces to the left.

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The only bad news is that A) I haven’t seen any other planner that does this, and B) it’s not the cheapest planner, and C) it’s getting harder to find. This past year I could only find it in hardback, but this fall I found an academic-year version that was in softcover. I like the softcover because you can fold it and sit with it on your lap comfortably. You can order it online but you may need to hunt in your local Staples stores to see if it’s there.

3. NICE PENS

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I also have certain pens I like to use. I love these purple gel ballpoints (Pentel EnerGel 0.7mm) and I use them (and sometimes a blue version) exclusively for my to-do lists. They write smoothly and the lines are thick and pretty. Plus writing with pens like this feels a little more fancy and intentional than with a regular blue Bic, you know?

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I am also a little obsessed with pens from MUJI. They come in lots of happy colors, and in different tip sizes. I use these pens for writing in my paper calendar.

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There’s a store in the Jetblue Terminal at JFK, and I’ve totally had my husband buy me some pens when he’s traveling through there. When I went to NYC last summer, I made a point of going to the Sixth Avenue MUJI to buy a few more pens for myself. And next time I go I’m going to buy a whole bunch more. :)

4. CALENDAR

Of course I do use Google Calendar to keep track of everything electronically, but again, if it’s not right in front of my face, I won’t remember it. So I print out a paper calendar
to keep on my desk. (I don’t have the space for one of those huge desk calendars; otherwise I’d use one of those. I also don’t want to lug around a regular dayplanner, since I’ve got enough binders and crap on my desk as it is.) It’s actually a page from photographer planner that I have, but it’s just a general set of empty boxes. [A few years ago I made one like this myself in Word; it would be super easy to make one yourself.]

In this calendar, I write down all my photography-related events (meetings & sessions), days when my husband or I will be out of town, and any other scheduled event that either I will go to, like my book club, or that the whole family will attend, like a twins club party. I keep them in a plastic page protector so they stay clean, and then I can move it around with me if I need to. I have a month on each side of the protector, because there’s always things scheduled in the future! I also keep the previous months in there too, behind the current ones, just in case I want to go back and check something.

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PS, did you notice the title of that calendar page? HELLO WHAT? Two thousand twelve?!! Sigh.

5. TIMER

The Pomodoro Technique is something I’ve heard about around the internets and kept meaning to check out…but only did recently. It’s basically a time management tool to focus on specific tasks and improve disciple to get shit done. There’s an online Tomato Timer that you can use if you don’t have a kitchen timer or don’t want to involve your smart phone.

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I always have a zillion things on my to-do lists…sometimes I power through them all Bam! Bam! Bam! Check! Check! Check! and other times those items languish. Even if it’s not a tough thing to do, sometimes I just drag my feet for whatever reason. So last week I decided to finally tackle a couple of those tasks already. I started the Tomato Timer and got one item COMPLETED! I also intentionally focused on that one task instead of getting distracted by the two dozen open tabs in my browser, or checking on Facebook, or refreshing my email. I set the “short break” timer, and then when it buzzed, I started the task timer again and completed ANOTHER task! That one I finished with about 40 seconds to spare, and since I felt like I was on a roll, I went and did at least one other thing I’d been meaning to do. And I was still focused on each task as I worked on it. It really helped me see that things *don’t* take that long, and buckling down to just freaking DO THEM already feels a million times better than seeing them on my list, waiting and waiting for me. So I hope to take advantage of this concept a lot more this year, to help me be more efficient and disciplined with my time.

6. PRIORITIES

The last thing I try to keep in mind is that it’s important to use judgment about priorities. Of all the things on my list, some of them are related to hobbies or fun stuff, and when I get into a time crunch, I know that I can ignore that stuff. When work gets busy, I know that it’s perfectly fine to let personal/hobby stuff fall by the wayside. I *want* to do All the Things, and I’m usually more excited about the Want-To-Do’s, but I know that the Need-To-Do’s come first. (I got behind on this blog and Project Life and some other stuff because I was working on actual work stuff most of the time. And I don’t like having those other tasks sitting on the list, but I know that it’s also not a big deal.)  Sometimes I go through my list and put a star or circle around the priority tasks for that day, as an additional prompt and visual reminder that it’s GO TIME.

What are your best productivity tips and tools? Have you used one of the timers or other time-management apps?

Our Favorite Toys for Babies, 12-18 month edition

When I went to the big twins club re-sale in 2013, I had a very specific list of items that I knew our 5 month old babies would need in the short term. When I saw the huge area of big toys, I froze. I tried to think about the next 5-6 months and what the babies would do or learn or want or play with. And I had utterly no idea what, say, a 9 month old could use.

So I figure that as I go along, I’ll keep track of the toys we use in age-ranges of our babies, in hope that someday, another parent will find it useful! This isn’t an official review or sponsored post, it’s just what our babies have liked and used a lot. Amazon links are affiliate.

(Previous gear lists: Pregnancy, New Babies part 1, New Babies part 2, New Babies part 3 Toys for 3-6 months, Toys for 6-12 months)

Also, FYI: Baby Cheapskate does an annual roundup of “Toys that get played with” for all age ranges, based on reader polls/surveys. Here’s the 2013 list for 13-24 months. You should follow them on Facebook--they find and post tons of deals on baby gear every day!

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Activity Table (until 15 months or so) and Exersaucer: Yes, they just kept playing with these! I was really surprised. I suppose because they make noise, and have things that can be moved/pressed/manipulated.

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Books: Obviously. Lift-the-flap books have been especially fun.

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Broom and Mop: It was only after they started playing with the full-size broom and swiffer in the kitchen that we realized we should get them some kid-sized ones. They still prefer the big ones, but will happily play with the little ones most of the time. Of course they fight over who gets the broom.

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Balls: They love watching people play soccer and basketball, and they love trying to throw and catch. Or just holding them.

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Mega Bloks: Our twins received a set for Christmas, when they were 13 months old. I figured they wouldn’t be able to use them or interested in using them until they were at least 18 months old. But I was totally wrong–they started playing with them right away and quickly seemed to understand what to do! And they’ve only gotten better since, so it’s great they started kind of early. It’s got to be great for motor skills and spatial reasoning!

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Toy Shopping Cart, wagon, horsey, stroller: These are HUGE hits in our house. Our twins would probably be psyched if they could push the shopping cart around for most of a whole day. When we go outside for a walk they fight over which ones they get, and they always want something to push.

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Charley Harper Flash Cards, Clif Bars, anything with smaller parts inside a box: Take them out of the box, put them back in the box, throw them around. Good times!

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Water Table: Apparently we got this for them in April and they loved it immediately. They played all spring and summer.

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Train table (at the bookstore): I think we discovered this by accident, but what an amazing accident. They are OBSESSED. Sometimes I wish we had a big basement play area so we could have one of our own, but then I think it’s nice that it’s out of the house, so that it’s a rarer experience and therefore more special.

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Learning Towers/Kitchen Helpers: I would see people posting about these on Facebook, that they were super awesome for little kids. I also noticed that they are WAY EXPENSIVE. Especially the idea of two of them.Then someone in a group posted that her husband was making DIY versions. I waffled for a bit and then decided we should go for it, and get two. It was totally worth it and I’m so glad we did. There are posts all over the internet about how to make the DIY versions (here’s one), so ask around for someone who might be handy. Even paying them to do it will be worth it. (And PS, since I’m finishing this so late, I can tell you that we’re still using these after they turned two!)

What do your littles this age love to play with? Share in the comments!

Looking back at 2014

Early last year I made another set of goals for 2014…And I didn’t really think much about them after that. Have I mentioned that 2014 got really busy? Looking at the list, I’m a little disheartened, but I have to remind myself that the point of my goals was/is to help me focus on the good stuff in life, and in that regard, it was a successful year. I think at this point in my life, goals like this may not be the best for me and my scatterbrain. Hopefully in future years I’ll get back to it. I have a slightly different idea/plan for next year, but I’m going to put that in a separate post.

So here’s the analysis of 2014:

  • I continued to work my butt off in my business and the year was pretty amazing. Woohoo!
  • Due to the aforementioned busyness, my blogging here often fell by the wayside. I now have almost 40 incomplete blog post drafts! I think at the beginning of 2014 it was closer to two dozen.
  • Not only did I not complete MuTu, I did not a single day or week of it. However, I was pretty good at taking walks regularly, and I even actually lost a couple pounds! (One of the post drafts is all about that kind of thing.)
  • I completed my reading goal and read 63 books. A few of my favorites were: The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp, Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald, At Home by Bill Bryson, Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane, Happier At Home by Gretchen Rubin, and of course Yes Please by Amy Poehler.
  • Due to reading at night before bed, I would therefore stay up too late. I had days/weeks here and there where I got to bed by 1230 (which is early for me), but just as many days/weeks when it was 1am or later. :(
  • We did take family photos and couch photos of the twins each month this year (though I’m stopping the monthly couch ones, and will do every six months from here on). I continued Project Life as well as the 365 project (a photo a day, on flickr).
  • We did go on a two-night overnight trip to the coast, and to OMSI, though we did not go to the Zoo (other than for Zoo Lights, which was ridiculous) or the Children’s Museum. We did go on all the now-yearly-I-hope local adventures, like Mt Hood, apple picking, a pumpkin patch, that kind of thing, plus did two daytrips to the coast. So overall I’d say the local adventuring goal was a success!
  • We did not Get Our Shit Together, but we did go away for an overnight without the babies!

And once again, from January 2013:

I feel such pressure to have some perfect beginnings for things like plans and photos ready on the first day of the year. Honestly, I’m always so scatterbrained that it just never happens. I’m a mess and I never know what day it is, so often I have to scramble to think of anything. A lifelong procrastinator, that’s me. This year is no exception–as you can tell by getting this up on January 3rd. (I wanted an extra day or two to come up with any more goal ideas.)

I was just reading through the January issue of O Magazine and there’s a section in there about goals and resolutions, and a couple things really stood out to me.

Rule #1 is “You Must Stay True to You.” Don’t make goals that don’t make actual real sense for your actual real life. For example, I could make a goal that I will train for a marathon this year! Except that I hate running, I have zero interest in doing it, and while running a marathon is an impressive feat, I have absolutely no desire to do it. (Also, I am lazy.) So even though it might be good for my health and my bragging rights, I’m never going to do it. And I’m perfectly okay with that!

So in the past, when I’ve thought about making goals, I tend to think about the things I’ve been wanting to do, and things that I’ve gotten close to doing already, and things that are just enough outside my comfort zone that it’s not crazy to imagine doing them. A few years ago, I’d been dabbling in knitting and crocheting, and so I made a goal to knit or crochet a garment (something bigger than a scarf or hat). A logical goal that I already had the skills for, if not necessarily the confidence for. (I think I ended up crocheting a vest, which sort of felt like cheating because it was too simple. A different year I did knit a baby sweater, and that felt like a bigger deal!) I do wish I was better and more creative at coming up with interesting lists of things to try and do, though. I love reading other people’s goals and resolutions, as motivation and inspiration for my own. :)

Rule #2 is “There’s nothing magical about January 1.” This article in Smithsonian about how time is just an illusion made me feel a little better about being so unprepared for the new year. :) The start of a new calendar year seems so fresh and clean and full of potential! And what better way to make yourself fresh and clean and ready to fulfill your potential than carefully crafting thoughtful resolutions, along with beautiful images representing them, well ahead of time? The fact that I’m never ready for anything on January 1 makes me feel sloppy and a little pathetic and a little panic-flail-y (thanks Elizabeth for that excellent and apt term!). So I try to console myself that it’s okay not to have some amazing plan already written out or in the works. And that I can’t magically change myself either, no matter how many goals I keep or track. I’ll still be the same old me at the end of the year, regardless of how much I weigh or how much sleep I’ve gotten or how many vegetables I’ve eaten.

Rule #4 says, “Your slip-ups are only detours.” Have you heard that Jerry Seinfeld motivational advice about don’t break the chain? This is where Rule #1 comes back: I know myself and I know that I will always break the chain. Like most days I’ll break it. Just in the last few days (er, weeks, months), I tell myself I’m going to bed early! And then I just don’t. For whatever reason (ok, it’s usually the internet and/or a book), I stay up too late. I’m a night owl, I like reading before bed, and it’s hard to put down a book, even when I know I’m going to be tired later. So if I were to make a specific, actionable, responsible goal for 2015 like go to bed by 1230 every night, I would have failed three or four times already! No chain at all to even break! So much failure in just the first week of the year, and that would be a terrible way to begin that fresh new 2015. So I don’t make goals like that for myself. I make goals like “be better about XYZ” to try to keep it in mind, without that fear of failure, in fact, sort of building some failure into the process. Goals in that vein aren’t SMART goals, but for the way I am, they’re more realistic and achievable. I want to push myself to do and try to do more and be better, while also accepting who I am (and who I am not).

Anyway, more to come very soon on ideas for 2015…