September 28, 2023

September improvements big and small

Maybe this is nesting, or maybe this just the transition to fall and the desire for a cozy at-home life, but recently we managed to check off a number of improvement projects.  

First up is our lounge corner, which Andy and I never really liked but which fulfilled our standard "functionality" goal (Lilah never saw a camera she didn't want to pose for)
We've always dreamed of built ins for either side of the fireplace but that is all the £££.  So instead we purchased a sideboard which matches the one in our dining room and fits impressively well:
Kids toys out of sight - yay!  We need to get some different shaped toy storage for the cabinets but so far things *Almost* fit.  I also told the kids they cannot use those drawers and we now have three empty drawers to use!  I am never in a rush to fill things like that so I plan to leave the drawers empty until they have a really good use.

I decided that we had too many puzzles spread around the house now as well, so I brought all puzzles downstairs and decided to have a clear out.  It turns out we did have far too many puzzles but I never realized as they were stored in many places:
During my lunch break I took the stack on the right to the charity shop, along with 3 other bags of kids toys and clothes, and a set of bedsheets I never liked very much.  Now all the puzzles fit in the new sideboard:
I have been meaning to drop off the charity pile for a while now so happy to tick that off my list!  We now have two empty shelves in the kids closet where puzzles once lived... I'm in no rush to fill these up either.

We've also started a new food planning system.  We normally plan our meals as part of our Family Logistics and Operational Meeting on Fridays. However it seemed to be a pain point in the meeting... I did not have the mental energy on a Friday night to think of meals.  I could thinks of scheduled, play dates, to dos... but the meal bit was just dragging. 

Last week I wrote down a list of meals which we then just allocated to specific days during the FLOM.  This week we decided to use a sticky note on the shopping list to write down meal ideas for next week - we have more than enough to cover the week already:
Hopefully this will make our Friday FLOM much easier.  We don't have a great system for when we do our actual shopping yet, sometimes Andy does it on Fridays or we can order delivery on Friday for Sunday.  However at least we aren't trying to solve the "what should we eat" problem during FLOM.

I've also got some loose rules to try and make meal planning easier:
1 pasta dish a week
1 potato dish a week
1 slow cooker meal a week

Yesterday I made tortilla soup in the slow cooker - slow cookers come into their own in the fall!  I only wish my kids ate slow cooker food. Their dream meals include individual food groups not touching at all.  Slow cookers are all the food groups touching all the time.

Also, I bought this ridiculous lunch box for the kids.    It was far more expensive than is reasonable and I think it's pregnancy hormones that made me do it, but I am very excited.  
I am somewhat aware that I have about 15 years of packing lunches ahead of me so I may as well spend money on something to make it more fun for me (and hopefully more fun for kids too)

September 27, 2023

Tablets and Tables - Toddlers to Teens

Tablet/Tech thought for today:

One of the things I've noticed with tablets/phones and kids is that the opportunity cost of giving screens to small children can sometimes be low to start, but it seems to increase with age.  For example, I often see kids at restaurants watching screens while their parents/family enjoy a meal.  I can see the decision making process here - eating at a restaurant with a three year old is hard work, you don't really get to enjoy adult conversation, and it's probably a more pleasant adult experience if the child is entertained.

However - it seems that there would never be an end point to this.  I remember going out to dinner as a family when I was older.... teen or preteen age.  From what I remember, we talked and shared stories and enjoyed each others company.  I never had the option of screens at meals, but I can't imagine the toddler on a tablet will grow into a teen contributing to conversation.  

Basically, it seems very hard to undo habits you get into with kids.  Sometimes a screen may seem to have little downside now, but what if giving a toddler a tablet now means you don't get to chat with your preteen later?  At what age will the tablets be taken away from the children at the restaurant?   I can't imagine an 8 year old giving up the screen they've enjoyed for their entire living memory.

I know this sort of decision applies to more than just tech - but I don't know many people who have managed to reduce kids use of tech.  I am acutely aware that any tech we do introduce tends to increase, not decrease.  

I also think there is an unwillingness to tackle tech in a different way than other habits - many people give babies pacifiers.  Then they have to take the pacifiers off the toddlers.  It's hard work.  At the other side you have a child independent of a pacifier.  Almost no one would say "ahh well they are so much happier with their pacifier" or leave it until the child is ten.   The process of removing the pacifier is difficult but societally acceptable.  The process of decreasing kids use of technology is the reverse - it's difficult and societally acceptable not to.  

And I always come back to our own use of technology - as parents and role models.  I walk Isaac to primary school now past rows of cars with parents and kids waiting inside.  The parents are almost always on their phones.  The kids stare out the window or watch their own tablets.  I didn't grow up in an era of smoking, but I imagine that as a kid, if you sat next to your parents smoking every day, you would eventually want to smoke.  I wonder what these kids think while their parents scroll away.  I don't like it.

September 21, 2023

Thursday Thoughts

I always find it funny when people say "Thank God It's Friday" At work because I don't usually feel that way.  On Friday I usually feel like I wish I had gotten a little more done or was a little more focused.  Or I feel thankful for having some down time to get a little more done and be a little more focused.  But I definitely feel a "Thank God It's Thursday" vibe right now.  I have one more day of work before the weekend.  

I have fun plans this weekend, mostly play dates and being as social as possible.  On Saturday we have THREE social engagements.  On Sunday we have just one social engagement, which is good because the kids are both fairly shattered from the new school/nursery schedule.  

This morning I saw my breath for the first time this season - Autumn is here.  Maybe this weekend I can get the candles out and put up the autumn tea towels and work on the cosying of the house.  Fall is my favourite season.  

This week the meal plan was far too aspirational and I spent too much time cooking during work hours.  In order to pick up Isaac by 5 and have dinner ready by 5:30 I had to leave work every day at 4:30... which is fine but not ideal.  Andy has been going back into the office which is great for him but I think we need to get better at weekend food prep.  We also need to get better at not running out of food on a Thursday.  I'm starting to worry that we will need to shop for groceries more than once a week soon... the fridge was STUFFED on Saturday after delivery and now it's mostly empty again.  We're down to 6 eggs after ordering a tray of 30 on Saturday.  

The aspirational meal plan was:
Saturday: Thai Green Curry
Sunday: Afternoon Tea (too full for dinner)
Monday: Veg burgers & chips & Kale
Tuesday: Pad Thai (from a kit)
Wednesday: Meatballs & Spagetti and Salad
Thursday: Eggs and Waffles
Friday: Tacos

The only thing I really had to make was meatballs... but I still feel like I spent way too much time this week prepping and cooking food.  None of these meals took more than 30 minutes to prepare, but that's still 2 hours of my week (Mon-Thurs) which is a lot of food time.

I think we need to get better at cooking things that can be doubled and then putting cooked meals in the freezer... but also isn't that basically just for lasagnes and enchiladas?  And also... we don't have a huge amount of freezer space.  

Maybe this meal planning rut is because of the change of season and it's time for a change of menu. I think I need to make a list of winter foods... time for roast dinners!

September 18, 2023

Monday dispatches

Somehow it is Monday again.  It's difficult for me to not quantify my life stuff as related to being pregnant, but I imagine no one came here to read a pregnancy blog either.  The main numbers running through my head are:

5 weeks to go until the babies are evicted

3.5 weeks left of work

3 weeks to Isaac's birthday party (my last planned social engagement)

My maternity cover at work is doing amazing, which is exciting, helpful, and makes me feel a bit left out and sad.  It's the first time I've ever worried that a cover will be better than me... because I strategically didn't have covers for my last two mat leaves.  I just gave work to already busy people who I didn't have to train, and everyone was very happy when I came back.

In really random news, the other morning this grew from one of my house plants:

Umm, what are those mushrooms?  How did they get there?  How did they grow overnight?  I didn't realize how creepy mushrooms are but they are, in fact, very creepy.

Today I did 2 hours of walking, which is the most movement I've done for a while. I'm supposed to have a walking lunch date with a friend tomorrow but the weather is looking particularly dire: 
None of my rain jackets currently close and I am so close to never being pregnant again that I'm fully resisting trying to get a jacket.  Sadly my husbands jackets don't fit me either.  I considered wearing a bin bag but decided that's a step too far.

Yesterday I finished Happy Place by Emily Henry.  I'm not 100% on it... I did enjoy it but also maybe I wasn't so much into the lovey-dovey "I can't live without you" narrative.  But I can't really blame Henry for that since that is what she writes.  Also, there were 6 characters and I couldn't always tell them apart until the end.  This may be because I mostly read the book at night when I couldn't sleep, which meant a lot of stop and start 2-4am reading slots.

Today has not been a focused day in work after a very poor night of sleep.  Hoping for a better night of sleep tonight.  Although I am close to the end in work I am not done yet and I have things I want to do (and want to do well) before I log off.  

The end of work may be nigh but I would like to feel good about the work I do until then

September 14, 2023

Health and other misc random things.

Being pregnant is super weird because lots of the symptoms of pregnancy are also the symptoms of other things.  For instance, I was always convinced I had Covid during my Lilah pregnancy because I couldn't breathe deep. Turns out having a baby take up all your lung space makes breathing hard.  I knew twin pregnancy would be hard and so for the last few weeks, when I had zero energy and was out of breath walking up stairs, I just assumed this was how twin pregnancy goes.  After all, I only have 6 more weeks, and at last check I have two 3.5 pound babies growing in there.

Luckily I had a somewhat random blood test and it turns out I had very low B12 in additional to low iron levels and low iron stores.  Last week I started getting B12 shots - six over the course of two weeks - and I am already feeling better.  I'm hoping that I continue to get more energy and less winded, and I'm thankful that the NHS was able to both pick up the problem and treat me so quickly.  

On Tuesday it was my last day in the office before maternity leave.  My leave doesn't start until 11th October, but I cannot really make the 2 hour journey to the office right now, so I'll be 100% working from home until then.  A number of big projects are wrapping up and my maternity cover is learning quickly so I do feel like I'm floating towards the finish line.  Well... not floating... maybe surviving.

My planning is still blah - I haven't made any goals for September at all.  And it's half way done! How did this happen.  

Isaac has started school now and I've realized there is a whole world of people on schedules that I never knew about.  The school schedule is everywhere.  We are adjusting - Isaac is doing great - but the simplicity of dropping two kids off at nursery is gone and now we have two kids going two separate places.  Hopefully only for a year, but it's definitely a change.

I have managed to see more friends recently as I feel like this is my last chance to get out for a while.  I've had lunch dates (yay working from home!) and next week I have a lunch time walk scheduled.  It's started to get dark earlier (8pm) so evening walks may have ended for the season.  I'm trying to get excited for halloween - my favourite holiday - but it's a bit hard to consider with the twins looming.  I can't focus on the scary holiday because of the scary twins... oh shame

Also, a blog I like seems to have disappeared off the internet.  Weird!

September 9, 2023

September Saturday

We are currently having a heat wave in Wales, which is crazy since it rained basically all of July and August (or at least felt like it was raining all of July and August).  It's currently 26c/79f.  This is very hot for Wales, and especially hot for a person in their third trimester twin pregnancy.  I blame the heat for my last of blogging, and also for everything else.  Thankfully it's meant to cool off tomorrow, which I am really looking forward to.

Being late-stage pregnant is an interesting experiment for me in lowered expectations.  I know I recently read and didn't particularly rate How to Keep House While Drowning but I have been recently lowering my standards a lot for the house.  For instance, if I had more energy right now I would be washing and changing my bedsheets.  I would be wiping the very dusty window sills in the kids room and sweeping our kitchen floor.  I would be sorting the baby room out, which the kids have turned into chaos by filling it with every teddy and baby doll in the house.

I did rather foolishly try to get a rug outside to get some sun and try to beat clean.  It turns out rugs are heavy. Now this is my lounge:

However there are many good things about today/life:

  • My dad is visiting us this week and it's been fun having him around
  • The kids are playing really nicely together. 
  • We are going to fill up the paddling pool and have a garden-picnic when Andy gets home from the shop.
  • I slept from 8:30pm through to 3:30am yesterday and then intermittently onwards to 6am. 
  • Our new dishwasher works and has this super cool feature where the door opens when it's done washing so the dishes can dry
  • I started getting B12 shots from the doctor as they caught another form of anemia and I'm hoping this brings my energy levels up a bit
  • My maternity cover at work is picking things up so quickly and I really enjoy working with her
  • Our food plan is going well, and even though my limited energy and desire to eat better has caused an increase in the cost of groceries we can absorb that cost
  • Isaac's first week of school went well
  • I own enough fans to make the heat tolerable
  • Even though it's hot I can still tumble dry a load of tiny person clothes rather than pegging out 100 things on the line
What is good in your life right now?