November 30, 2023

Christmas film countdown: Christmas with the Coopers

Today’s review is Christmas at the Coopers. 

Diane Keaton is great. The whole cast is great.  I’m not sure I get the genre of “families that break down over Christmas” as a Christmas film.  This movie had a good amount of people from The Office and I like The Office.  I didn’t end the film feeling particularly festive or Christmassy.

Maybe that’s because my nights currently involve around 2-4 hours of sleep broken into 2-3 chunks?

I’m still sort of embracing “reflection season” and whenever I think of something I wish we could do this year but can’t I write it on next years Christmas list.

The one thing I haven’t figured out how to do with twins yet is leave the house in the car. My world has become very small. I have walked our neighbourhood every day it hasn’t rained… but now I’m getting flashbacks of Covid lockdown rules and I don’t want to relive that either.

But back to this film. It was fine if you want a good ensemble cast experiencing a series of relationship break ups around Christmas, some of which are resolved with kissing.

I give this film three Christmas trees - entirely due to the cast: 🎄🎄🎄

November 27, 2023

Babies and Time.

I realized I started this blog wanting to talk about women and technology and time and I'm currently talking a lot about babies.  Mostly because I cannot really string a coherent thought together.  However... I will try!

One topic that emerges repeatedly in discussions of women's labour is the notion that women's work is the mental load and the all encompassing bits of keeping a household running. Men block their work into chunks... women consider the million tiny and unrecognized pieces of daily life.  The common trope is that men mow the lawn - a project that may take a good hour but can be done anytime.  Women pick kids up from school, or pickup a sick kid, or remember to get bin bags, or remember to pack the right lunch or to get teacher gifts... projects that take a similar amount of time to mowing the lawn but do so via tiny fragments of time.

Babies are this.  My entire day (24 hours) is now reduced to 2-3 hour intervals between feeds.  I know when the babies need to go to sleep.  I try and fit a task or two into the potential naps.. naps which last 30 minutes to 2 hours randomly.  At night they will be awake 1 to 10 times for 1 to 10 hours. 

Babies (and children) shatter time into thousands of pieces.

Andy's time is definitely shattered too. He's not doing much fun stuff now either.  We are both in full on newborn triage mode, while also watching the big two and trying to keep them fed and moderately happy. But while his time has been fractured it's not quite as fractured as mine, because I am around these babies 24/7 and he has the opportunity to... do things.  Take the big kids to the bike park.  Go to work for the day.  

I am not trying to complain about this split - it's just different.  It's different because I'm the one at home.  Maybe it's different because I'm the mom?  It's different because of our feeding choices.  But it's still different.

I think the trouble comes when the split doesn't right itself later.  It's very easy to take this new small world of hours and minutes and make this my reality long term. It's hard to realize when life has changed and when the mechanisms needed for survival are not as needed anymore.  

I am acutely aware of my time now - but I wasn't aware of it five years ago.  If I hadn't stumbled upon the gender split thinkers and time management thinkers in 2021 I may still be living life in 2 hour increments from Isaac baby times.

Also, as I think about goals. just because something is hard doesn't mean it needs changing.  The current situation is hard.  It will eventually be less hard.  I am looking forward to using November 2024 to reflect on where my time is going and what I want for 2025.  

4 Weeks old today:

November 26, 2023

Christmas Film Countdown: Best.Christmas.Ever

Andy and I have a routine for night feeds and twins that was working well for a few days. I go to bed around 8:30pm and Andy gives twins a bottle, then wakes me up when they get hungry for their first feed. A few nights ago this was 3am! I had 6 hours of sleep!

Unfortunately tonight one twin did not settle from bottle to midnight. Andy got me at 12 and so my sleep was from 9-12. Now it’s 4am. I’ve read every NaBloPoMo blog. My Feedly is empty. I checked the news (why? Sad!). And I decided to get out of the Netflix romance algorithm so found Best. Christmas. Ever.

This film was fine. It wasn’t a romance. I like that Christmas films include STEM women and diverse casts now. This wasn’t particularly funny or memorable but if your stuck holding a Newborn that won’t seep in a bedside cot and will only sleep on you at night and you need to pass 7 hours until morning then I would definitely recommend this film as a way to pass 1 hour 40 minutes.

Now it’s 3 hours till morning… although sleepless daytime is not any different than sleepless night really, and sometimes harder due to energetic kids. Luckily babies are so random that when we do the same thing tomorrow they might sleep longer. Or less long. There is no cause and effect. 

I give this film 2 Christmas trees 🎄 🎄

November 25, 2023

Christmas Film Countdown: A Christmas Miracle for Daisy

Babies are not sleeping well. Actually, one baby is sleeping well and one baby is not and it’s not the same one each night. On the plus side I am really churning through the Netflix Christmas spread.

This is a classic cliche Christmas movie. Every house has so much decoration! So many wreaths! Everyone has massive kitchens. Also, how does a guy who just moved to a new town know enough people to throw a Christmas party?  Because that’s what happens in this film. 

I am wondering if al Netflix Christmas films will soon be written by ChatGBT? Or are they already written by AI? 

I give this film 2 Christmas trees 🎄 🎄

(because it was better than Angel Falls Christmas, which has been demoted to 1 Christmas tree rating): 


November 24, 2023

Christmas Film Countdown: Angel Falls Christmas

 For my second Christmas film I watched Angel Falls Christmas.

This was a straight up Christmas cliche movie, including weird ad breaks where people would stare meaningfully at each other or at the sky. The pros add that chad Michael Murray is nice on the eyes. The cons are the acting and the story line. And the premise. “Female doctor works to hard”? Hmm. But there was a lot of Christmas… all the Christmas… so if your looking for Christmas movie that literally has every Christmas movie thing in it (cookies! Santa! Trees! Giant houses with Christmas stuff everywhere!) then this is the perfect film for you.

I give this film one Christmas tree. 🎄
(And I upgrade Office Christmas Party to 4. I am aware this rating scale makes no sense at all) 

November 23, 2023

Thanks for thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is not really a big deal in the uk (it’s not a national day of mourning either) but this year we did manage a thanksgiving dinner on thanksgiving! Normally we celebrate in the weekend as everyone is in work in Thursday.  Since my mom is here and I’m on maternity leave we had our meal today. 

Thansgiving is my favourite holiday. Just food, family, and presents and no/minimal decorations. Lots of being thankful and lots of positive reflections. And I have a lot to be thankful for but it’s all rather cliche.

We picked Isaac up after school (instead of going to wraparound care) and lilah came home early from nursery. For kid snack I managed to make this charcuterie board which the kids (and I) loved:

Kids love well presented food.  I often forget this.  Also, one of my goals for 2024 is to make more charcuterie boards.

And then we had thanksgiving! An American friend of ours joined us and we made the following:

  • Turkey
  • Gravy
  • Cornbread
  • Potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Devilled eggs
  • Sausage and chestnut stuffing
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Pecan pie
I used the pumpkin pie recipe from trader Joes website and it was so good! It called for butter as well as evaporated milk. Yum.

I definitely went more out for last years thanksgiving, but I didn’t have newborn twins then.  And I have years of tasty thanksgivings ahead of me. For a thanksgiving with newborn twins this was pretty good.

November 22, 2023

Christmas Film Countdown: Office Christmas Party

These twins are by 3rd & 4th autumn babies, which means I’ve spent nights shushing and feeding babies for 2 of the last 5 holiday seasons. In 2018 I decided to start watching Christmas movies on Netflix during night feeds, and with lilah in 2020 I watched even more. Normally I wait until December to start, but the Netflix recommendations are already here and I don’t sleep between 2am and 7am so I just finished my first Christmas movie of 2023:

Office Christmas Party. This was surprisingly enjoyable! I was going to comment that Netflix had scored a pretty epic cast for this one but I think this may have actually been a real movie (from 2016) not a Netflix original, which probably explains the cast. 

It also had a number of different female characters in it, not all of whom thought about men all the time. It just barely passed the Bechdel test.  Jennifer Aniston is great. I thought it was somewhat funny and somewhat entertaining but the cast pulled it all together for me.

I give this film three Christmas trees. 🎄🎄🎄🎄

November 21, 2023

Not rocking it.

Today had some fails. I managed to stay cool for about 90% of the day, but the post dinner pre bedtime tired kids did me in at the end and if I was in nursery I’m sure I would have gotten a yellow card for unkind words.

Today I haven’t managed to get babies to sleep anywhere but on me. There is a chance this couch cushion is now permanently moulded to me. I did try to put babies down multiple times… but Audrey was not keen on the pram. Nora was happy to sleep though, but with twins, one sleeping baby is no sleeping babies.

I chopped chicken and peppers for fajitas while rocking the pram with my foot.  I spent a lot of time sitting down today and wishing I could do something… anything. And now, at almost 8pm, I am still sitting down.  Soon I will get at up and go to bed.

Our baby announcements arrived today. And I spelled one of the babies names wrong. So I have re-ordered them at a cost of another £30.  

Baby names correct: Audrey Yael and Nora Bronwyn

Baby name in card: Audrey Yael and Nora Brownyn 


It wasn’t all bad. Other things:
  •  I went for a walk (although mistimed and Nora got hungry and started crying and I tried to run home to feed but I am very out of shape and also had two babies three weeks ago so running is hard).
  •  I picked up Isaac from school (although Audrey was crying the whole walk while Nora slept).
  •  I got freezer burned fish cakes from the freezer to defrost for tomorrow dinner (someone left the freezer door slightly open and it’s now filled with ice and I have no idea when I’ll get a chance to defrost it)
  • The cleaner came and the house is clean and I remembered to pay her. 
  • Andy registered the kids births and got their birth certificates (he spelled their names right)

November 20, 2023

Things that are good.

Babies We are getting into a feeding/sleeping routine with the twins.  Andy does the start of the night (including their one bottle) and I do the second half.  This works well for me because I love a 7:30 bedtime.  Last night I slept from 9pm to 2am.  I was up for much of the rest of the night but 5 hours is about as much sleep as anyone with a three week old can expect to get so I am very happy with this.  And, someday, I will sleep 8 hours a night again.

Shoes My life is massively improved with the addition of... CROCS.

I know, welcome to 2010 (??).  I spend so much time walking from my house to the garage to get laundry and each time I had to either put on shoes or put on welly boots and neither was super easy.  I didn't like storing welly boots by the back door (right next to the dining table, and always in the way) and now I can just slip on crocs to get outside quickly.  Also, these are knock-off crocs in a childs size 7, which means they were £12 instead of the adult pair which were £40.  I forget I can buy childs sized shoes and need to do this more (I'm a US size 7, but I think childs sizes go to US adult size 7.5 here? )

Food We are finally finishing the last of the food we were given after babies. I love the US meal trains but it's not a thing over here, thankfully we have very generous friends! I enjoyed the last of our friends lasagna for my 10am lunch and a peanut butter chocolate cookie for snack... now we can start raiding the freezer next if needed.  We did manage to make a roast chicken dinner yesterday so have stocked the fridge with leftovers from that.  All it takes to make a homecooked roast chicken dinner with newborn twins is two parents at home all day and help from grandma.  Easy peasy.

Reading I finished a book!  It was a 4 hour audiobook of short stories which probably intertwined more than my sleepy brain realized, but I enjoyed it anyways.  

I've checked out Yuval Noah Harari's Homo Deus which is 15 hours long and will see how far I get with it.  I also have a paperback copy of American Royals 4: Reign which I am excited to read but haven't figured out how to read a book and hold or feed twins so not sure if I'll actually be able to read it... but I was very excited that my library had it already!

November 17, 2023

5 on a Friday - one handed typing edition

1 - The twins are back at birth weight, which is good news and means they are finally getting bigger.  So far they have one 4oz bottle of formula every evening but otherwise it’s just me feeding them…  I am a big fan of breastfeeding (for my own babies - you do you for yours!) and I’m pretty happy with how it’s going so far. 

2 - Isaac was off school today due to tummy troubles. He and lilah were really fun to hang out with. We did “glueing” in the morning which is their favourite arts and crafts activity… just gluing stuff onto other stuff.  

3 - we interviewed a nanny today and I really liked her. I can’t decide if we need to interview more people or if I should just say “you seem great let’s do it” I’ve never had or hired a nanny before so I’ve got no real idea what I’m looking for, she has all the experience and qualifications and registrations. And she’s a hobbyist cyclist. And she is screen free. 

4 - I have gone for a walk almost every day this week. Today we even managed a walk with the baby shade down and both twins got some sun! Nora is vaguely jaundiced so trying to get her in sunlight during Welsh winter is tricky at best. Another storm is coming this weekend so conscious that I need to get out while I can.

5 - kids costume box is a source of perpetual joy

November 16, 2023

Lowered expectations

 Does anyone remember the show Mad TV where they had a fake dating ad for “Lowered Expectations”?

Two and a half weeks into this twin thing and here are my current lowered expectations:

Baths. Kids don’t really need baths. We used to do daily or every other day. Now… it’s when they’re really mucky. The twins have each had one bath since they were born.

Kid dinner. Kids have had pasta or jacket potatoes for 90% of the dinners since twins were born.

Reading. I don’t read anymore. I started an audiobook yesterday. I’ll be surprised if I get through one book this month

Cooking. Wonderful friends and family have made us every meal except one slow cooker chilli which I made with Andy on a weekend.

To dos. My to do list is all necessary things and all aspirational. I’ve never managed to put away clean laundry the same day it was washed. I do one load of laundry a day. I run the dishwasher. And everything else… doesn’t get done. Andy or I do a 20 minute sweep of the house every evening to put things away, but I’ve hoovered once. 

Diet. I’m hungry and I’m eating everything. Often I eat a cliff bar at night. Sometimes a kind bar too. Today I ate two doughnuts. I also eat cheese and crackers and hummus and basically whatever I’m craving. I had spaghetti with marinara sauce at 10am.

Two  weeks old.

November 14, 2023

Up all night

 I think I’m giving a rather distorted positive view of twin baby life here.  Mostly because I have been writing posts on my computer, which means in order to write posts the babies need to be asleep, which means I have some me time and reflection time and then I feel genuinely positive about the whole situation.  Who can argue with this:

For some perspective shift, it is currently 7:45am. The 3 year old came into our room crying at 7am. Nora and Audrey fed at 5 am but were very grumpy the whole time.  One of them was awake from 1am to 3:30am and I’m not sure which one. Nora was not feeding well. We did lots of nappies all night. Babies had their bottles at 10pm but didn’t finish till 11:30 so I was awake then too. They went straight into bottles from last feed as one of them didn’t fall asleep after the 8pm feed. 

Now this is probably complicated to read because it’s gone backwards in time, but from what I can tell I sept at most from 11:30pm to 1:00am and 5:30am to 7:00am

Andy was up the same, because with two babies there are two sets of feeding and burping and wailing and nappies and even when they are on the same schedule it’s not possible to change two nappies at once. Or they need different burps. Or different lengths of feed.

Now the 3 and 5 year old are 60% playing with Lego and 40% fighting and it’s already 7:50am and it’s going to be a push to get the 5 year old to school on time (8:55).  Luckily the 3 year old goes to nursery and doesn’t have to go arrive at any specific time so we can drop her off whenever.

The problem with nights like this is that there’s no reason it happened and no reason it won’t happen again. This is something planner me really doesn’t like. Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the definition of  insanity and also the defining feature of newborn life. 

November 13, 2023

Timing and Schedules

One of the weirdest parts of newborn life / maternity leave is being suddenly so disjointed from the schedules and rhythms that formerly tied everything together.  The obvious lack is the work day - no more 9-5, no more colleagues, no more teams messages.  But it's also so easy to forget what day it is when most days are roughly the same.  

At 3pm every day I am ready for a nap.  

I want to make plans with people, but one thing I haven't figured out how to do is leave the house at any specified time.  Today I finally sent some "hey, do you want to come hang out?" messages to friends who I am close enough to that I know they won't mind sitting in my house and making me food while babies feed.  

When I was on maternity leave last time I was desperate to see people and have play dates on weekends and didn’t understand why everyone else was so much more content than me. As soon as I started work my desire for play dates at 9am on Saturday was gone - I was getting my social fill from work. I suddenly realised why other people were less keen on the 9am play date.

I am two weeks into this adventure though, and very aware that kids change all the time and babies even more so. So I am trying to take it easy, while also very aware that I currently exist in a slightly off kilter temporality.

Life is odd when monitored in time between feeds and naps. It’s 4:30pm and my “to do” list still includes “brush teeth” and “take vitamin”.  I’m aware than very soon I won’t remember if I took my vitamin, but I’ll definitely remember holding these babies who are currently as small as they will ever be 

November 10, 2023

Screens, Books, Food, Books

 I am typing this one handed while Audrey sleeps on my left arm.  Nora is in the downstairs cot. I could try and put them together, but for the sake of one hand why bother?

Screens: I switched back to smart phone and my screen time is already over 3 hours a day on average.  However I'm not sure what the right amount of screen time is - I'm getting through the Netflix show Glamorous during night feeds.  I finished Dynasty - the closest I've ever come to watching a soap opera. I started  That 80's show but it's not very good... however I love the cameos.  Makes me miss Fuller House. Remember when Wilmer Valderrama dated Lindsey Lohan?

I'm also on feedly a lot but on BBC news more than I should be.  I'm giving myself phone grace for now... but it's amazing to see how quickly those numbers can increase.

Books: I enjoyed the audiobook for ultra processed people. I'm sure the same info was relayed in podcast and in the BBC documentary but the book definitely encouraged me to think about food more.  The premise of the book is that ultra processed food is designed to make people eat more and that we are basically turning "food" into "not food" by the amount of additives and processing we do.  I do feel like this might be the missing link between the fuck it diet book and general health books. 

Food: My mom recently brought us bagel crackers from trader Joes and I forgot how insane ingredients lists can be:
I think the UK is either generally better about big weird ingredients lists, or maybe I just don't go down certain isles, but one of the privileges of my current situation is that I can afford to buy real food.  We received a box of Malteasers as a baby present and we decided to give it to the food bank - if I want chocolate (which I do!) I will just eat normal chocolate.  Not this:
I do love a Tonys Chocolony bar:
Although it does have emulsifier, which makes it processed, it definitely has fewer weird things than the Malteasers.

Books Anyways, I need to get a new audio book soon.  I have a copy of "Wild" from the library but it's 13 hours long and I'm worried I won't finish it by the time it's due - which means I haven't started it - which means it's due sooner.  I find myself in a weird reading space where I can't have anything too thoughtful, or too floofy.  I need a break from the Emily Henry books... I enjoyed Beach Read but I'm can't do too many Emily Henry in a row.  I'm not sure what book I *want* to read right now - maybe sci-fi?  Ideally about 6-7 hours long on audio?  

I'm at 55 books for the year, but I get a sense my reading will be slowing down a lot now.  I struggle not to fall asleep to audiobooks right now, which also makes reading harder.  And my eyes don't focus well enough at night for actual reading... because I am very tired.

Summary: that's my life now.  Babies, feeding, sleeping, nappies, being tired, eating food.  It's not too bad (but could use more sleep).

November 5, 2023

What a difference a week makes - gratitude thoughts.

Since the twins were born on Monday it appears that today is the last day of our first week as a family of 6.  It's definitely not been the easiest or most restful week, but it's still exciting and I am being careful to remind myself that I will never have this moment again.  I will never have a 6 day old baby again.  When they stayed up ALL NIGHT on day 2 I reminded myself that I would never stay up all night with a 2 day old baby again.  

After both Isaac and Lilah were born I knew we wanted one more, so I don't remember this feeling of appreciating the moments.  Also, they were 22 months apart and Isaac was a fairly needy non-verbal 2 year old at the time, which is wholly different than the incredibly self sufficient 5 year old he is now.  Lilah is a highly verbal 3 year old who is too clever for me in my sleep deprived state, but can also be very sweet and helpful when so inclined.  I can see why 3 years may be a better age gap for ones sanity (twins aside). 

I am also glad I am not in so much pain anymore - I didn't realize the constant low level pain of carrying twins to 38 weeks combined with the acute pains of trying to roll over or stand up or sit down.  Chronic pain would be really hard to cope with and stay normal/nice.  I will need to do some physical therapy/rehab to sort out whatever my core/pelvis/back situation is... carrying around 16lbs of baby & baby stuff (plus all the other pregnancy weight) has definitely misaligned some things. 

Other gratitude:
I am glad I can wear my normal pajamas again.  I love soft pajamas bottoms.

I am glad I can get rid of my maternity clothes - I have piles to sort through when I can but right now I'm happy it's out of my drawers.  Goodbye maternity clothes!

I am glad that we have friends who have dropped food presents to us. We don't need anything for the babies but oh my do I love food.

And I am glad it's NaBloPoMo!  

There is so much good blogging around the internet and it's awesome for me to have reading material for all hours of night and day.  I am using feedly to follow all your blogs so apologies I cannot comment, but I am already loving so many of the posts.  It's nice to follow the wider world of blogging from the startlingly condensed world of newborns.  

November 2, 2023

How to have a Baby - an update from a not pregnant person

When very pregnant, there is a feeling that each pregnant thing one does is "the thing" that will make the baby/babies come.

With Lilah I remember cleaning the car and thinking "This is it!" and then she didn't come.  With Isaac I went to the gym and sat on a recumbent bike and thought "This is it!" and then he didn't come.  With these babies I had done so many "This is it!" things that I lost count.  

So it turns out, the "this is it!" thing was complaining on the internet.

After the last post I had a call from my midwife at 9:45 saying they were ready for me and how quick could I get there.  I called grandma to come watch kids, I called Andy who was at swim lessons with Isaac, and I got our stuff packed and ready to go.  I made two sandwiches (salmon and cream cheese!) and got to the hospital for 10:30.  By 11am I was in my room and at 12:00 my waters were broken and I was left alone with Andy.

Then a bunch of stuff happened and it was all generally awesome and as hoped for.  I had the most amazing midwives (UK maternity nurses - they are medically trained at hospital) who unfortunately finished shift at 7pm... but my new midwives were also amazing.  The babies were born at 8:30 and 8:45pm with the easiest delivery of all three pregnancies.  There were lots of people in the room but no baby doctors or support was needed for either baby. It's hard to compare a home birth (Lilah) to an epidural in hospital, but in terms of the after recovery this was definitely the easiest.  

It could be also that delivering two 6.5 pound babies is also just easier than one 8 pound baby.  And also, first babies are worst babies when it comes to labour.  It's rather unfair - second babies and onward are almost fun (in memory).  

Now we are a family of 6.  Isaac and Lilah are so excited with their new sisters Nora and Audrey.  I'm not sticking any photos up yet because there are very few times where news is ones own and photos are ones own.  For right now, these twins are ours and we are enjoying every minute.  Except the minutes of awake-ness between 9pm and 6am.  But thankfully I forget those hours surprisingly quickly.  And my remembering self is enjoying this immensely.