April 15, 2024

Exiting baby twin survival mode, one tiny step at a time

The twins are now 5.5 months old.  Recent milestones include sleeping through the night (until after 4:30am twice in a row).  They also have been chewing on some carrots and some cucumber and yesterday they tried and hated sweet potato.

This weekend, Andy and I went on a walk, outside, after everyone went to bed (my Aunt stayed in the house - we didn't leave our kids alone).  We spend 20 minutes outside the house, on our own.  I haven't been out for an evening walk in ages, partially because the end of pregnancy was so rough that I couldn't do much walking then either.  

Here are some things that indicate we are slowly leaving twin baby survival mode

  • We are packing lunches for Isaac 3 days a week.  He likes a packed lunch and I like packing lunches. We gave this up in December when the twins were 5 weeks old, and switched Isaac to school lunches.  It's nice to pack lunches again.
  • I am making hummus again! This weekend I made it from soaked (not canned) chickpeas.  I've started adding cumin and it's super yummy.  It was a big deal to me when I stopped making hummus.
  • I am going to start buying powdered laundry detergent again.  I have been using eco friendly laundry pods which get delivered to our house because the thought of measuring a scoop of laundry detergent was too much, but now I think I can use a measuring cup again.
  • Our meal plan doesn't always include chicken nuggets or dinners entirely pulled from the freezer and baked on a try.  It does often include fish fingers (fish sticks) one night a week... but fish fingers are delicious.
  • I cooked a meal! I made Nudja Gnochi Tray bake. I bought all the ingredients and cooked it and it was so delicious.  
  • When cooking said meal, I chopped garlic.  In February I bought a jar of Lazy Garlic since in no way was I capable of chopping garlic.  Now, I can chop garlic again. 

So here is hoping we continue to emerge from survival mode.  Also, the sun came out yesterday for the first time in 6 months (possible exaggeration).  So maybe the weather will exit survival mode as well?

April 11, 2024

Money spent is time saved? Or Money Spent is Sanity earned? Bathrooms, Beds, Floors and the Dishwasher.

We have recently invested money into the pain points of our lives.  While it's one thing for time management experts to say "Outsource!" It's far easier for me to read about what exactly other people outsource to make more time.  Here are some recent wins for us:

The Doors

The doors to our garage broke.  We bought them when we moved in (2017) and they cost £100.  Andy carefully painted and mounted them.  It took a long time.  

The doors stopped closing after getting water damaged.  We had to use a box of rocks to keep it shut.  This wasn't good for the door, for my back, or for the insurance.

Andy called our favourite carpenter and he fit new doors. They cost more than £100 but they shouldn't break in the next 5 years.  

Andy despaired at the thought of painting them.  "Why don't you hire a painter?" I asked.  And so we had a quote from our favourite painter.

The key to life is having favourite trades people.

The Bathroom

While the painter was coming to look at the doors I thought about anything else that might need painting.  The new bathroom is painted poorly (by us, quickly after the loft conversion) but it will do.

The downstairs bathroom, which was a 2023 goal, is still just as mouldy and unpleasant as it was then.  In fact, it's worse, because it's winter.  Renovation was too expensive and we couldn't find a tiler, so we left it.

While the painter was looking at the doors I asked him how much it would cost to pain the bathroom with mould resistant paint.  It was £90.

Why have I ever painted any room when I could have paid someone £90 to do it for me???!!

He painted it in a day.  It took me zero effort.  I am happier having a less gross bathroom.  In no world did I want to spend my limited time painting right now.

The Beds and the Floors

With four kids, we have a lot of beds.  We have a lot of mess.  We have a heavily used house with heavily used floors.

We have a cleaner every two weeks for two hours.  She is amazing.  We origionally hired her to clean the bathrooms because Andy and I both hate cleaning bathrooms. Now she does the whole house.

Recently, she has started coming ever week and alternating between 2 hours and 1 hour.  On the 1 hour days she changes all the bedsheets and does a quick hoover. On the 2 hour days she does bathrooms and bedrooms but not sheets.

I love knowing the sheets will be changed.  I love knowing one day a week the whole house will be hoovered. I still sweep and hoover often... but no matter how bad it gets there will be a day it is clean.  I don't know why I spent so long without hiring a cleaner.  This is one of my favourite £15 ever.

The Dishes

I've often wondered how much different my life would be if I had a dishwasher for the first 5 years we lived in this house.  How much fitter would I have been if I used that 30 minutes a day for exercise? Or I could be so well read? How many hours of my life did I spend washing dishes to avoid the £1,000 outlay for the minor kitchen refurb?  Why did I wait so long?

I like my job.  I like earning money.  I also like using that money to make my life better.  Right now, we don't go on holidays.  We spend a lot of time at home.  Using money to make our home better aligns with our values.  If we valued other things, it might make less sense. 

April 9, 2024

On Awkwardness and Values and WhatsApp and School

In our home, Andy is the school parent.  He does school emails, he does school parties.  He does the calendar. 

A few weeks ago Isaac missed a birthday party.  Or rather, the party missed him - it had been moved last minute to a new location due to a punctured bouncy castle.

Andy had corresponded with the party parent (after showing up at the original location) and they were super apologetic.  She had told the WhatsApp group and the parents at pick up, but apparently we weren't at pick up on that day, and neither Andy or I have WhatsApp.

At pick up, I heard someone asking for Isaac.  It was the party parent.  She had brought sweets as an apology. I assured her there was no problem and told her we're not on Whatsapp.  "Oh - WhatsApp is easy and can be good for getting information like school dress day" she said.

"Yes, but Andy doesn't have it, and I don't want it because I'll become default parent with lots of messages" I said, before realising that was akin to saying "I don't want to hear from you".  Embarrassed, but apparently unable to stop digging, I then doubled down and said "And I don't really do school stuff, that's really Andy. I don't even usually do pick up, I'm just here to get a break from my 5 month old twins"

So there was a pause, and she was super nice, and we chatted a bit more, but I still feel like a rather big A**hole.

To alleviate my feelings I played a gender reverse game.  What if a Dad was there and said "Oh we don't use WhatsApp, and all this school stuff is really my wife's thing.  I'm not even into doing this pickup, just here to help out you know??" 

Yes, he would sound like a bit of a useless dude, but it wouldn't be a shocking reveal.

I felt bad about my comments in the evening and thought about texting the parent to say thanks for the sweets... but then I decided that there had been enough texting.  She seemed really nice. I don't do school stuff.  I don't want to do school stuff.  I don't like doing long form texting without having a specific social or real life meet-up in mind.  So I left it and told Isaac to thank the child for the sweets.

Perhaps as a parent it seems odd to not be on WhatsApp - perhaps my kid is missing out on lots of birthday parties and perhaps he wouldn't have accidentally worn a uniform on non-uniform days if we were on the platform.  

But I would also have more messages, more parent things, more social things, more birthdays.  I would know people I don't need to.  I would have more reasons to touch my phone.

I thought about a Jehovas Witness who was in school with me.  He didn't celebrate birthdays or halloween.  We all thought "how sad he doesn't get these holidays!".  But I doubt he experienced life that way.  Perhaps the parents on WhatsApp think it's sad Isaac misses things.  I don't currently have a need for more things.  Our weekends are full. Our weeks are full.  We put reminders in the calendar for uniform days... or we miss them.  

If we someday decide we need more things, more reminders, we can join Whatsapp.  For now, more is not better. More is more. Right now, we have enough.

April 5, 2024

Hello April!

When the twins were born, Andy and I often commented that April would be the start of the good times.  I had hoped that good times would start earlier, but April seemed reasonable and far away.  March was not the worst, but I have a feeing we really are at the start of the good times. 

Fun things for April:
  • My Aunt visiting for a week
  • Trips to museums and National Trust sites
  • Babies are possible to take out for the day, kids are also able to go out for long periods of time. A short lived glimpse into the season of adventure
  • Lighter nights & mornings
  • Not having the heating on and getting fresh air in the house!
I've started some mini goals as well for April:
  • Read 5 books
  • Get a blood test for B12 levels (this will be a blog post for another day!)
  • Regular Pilates (3x Week)
  • Finish Week 4 & 5 of Couch to 5K (I think this is the week I've often given up, but I want to keep going!
  • Take big kids on big kid only adventures (at least 1 each)
  • Cook tasty food with lots of vegetables
As usual, I'm getting the desire to change to a new planner in a new season.  I think this is vaguely legit because my Ashley Shelley from 2023 is sometimes annoying as I'm constantly changing the day to match the date, and using last year's monthly calendar spread is a bit impossible.  Also, I spent 6 months using the schedule for tracking naps and using the boxes for tracking feeds that now I can't really vision much else for it. 
Here are two snapshots of my life:

I gave Isaac a notebook for him to write all his thoughts and ideas in. "That's great" he said, "I have so many thoughts and Ideas." He went away and started writing.  A few minutes later he brought me the book, and it said get a better house "not a new house" he said "just organise and tidy this house"
Last night, as I proclaimed "I need to go to bed earlier!" (it was 9:15) Andy told me that this would be my epitaph.  He pointed to the comedian Spike Milligan, whose tombstone says "I told you I was ill".  My epitaph will read "I need to go to bed earlier".  It seems fitting.

What are you most excited for in April? 

March 29, 2024

5 Good things on Good Friday

Light.  This is my favourite amount of daytime. Light mornings (5:30am) and dark by 7:30pm. Our time change is next week, so it will be light from 6:30am to 8:30pm.  I like that less.  And light at 10:30pm in the middle of summer? totally unnecessary.  But for today and tomorrow, I am glad we have the perfect amount of daylight.

Hot Cross Buns.  

I love these.  Last year I didn't feel I got enough of these.  I'm not some heathen who eats them in February or after Easter, but they are a definite Easter treat.  I plan to eat one or two a day all weekend.  

Grocery Delivery.  This is such a pandemic discovery and I still love it.  Our store does 4 hour slots for £2 and 1 hour slots for £4.  Normally I do the £2 slots but today that didn't work.  I thought about doing a collection instead (which would be free or £2) but then decided there was no 45 minute chunk of my day I wanted to spend getting groceries. And that I would rather pay £2 more to *not* drive out for my groceries.  At 7am we have groceries coming.  

School Holidays Our Easter holidays are 2 weeks long here, and I'm actually enjoying it and looking forward to next week.  Nursery is open during school holidays so I've had some time with just Isaac and the twins.  Andy is taking a week off work next week so he will be around with Isaac, and on one day Isaac is going to his childminder for a day while Andy and I have just the twins together.  Such a change from how I felt over the Christmas holidays.  

Saying Goodbye to Baby Clothes It's great being so done having babies.  I have been selling on Vinted (I made £60! I also spent way more than £60 on kids stuff, but I have made £60 back).  I have sometimes been including extra clothes when people buy from me.  I have 4 bags of baby clothes to go to the charity shop. I have a few pieces for a friend who just had a boy.  Baby clothes are so expensive when you need them and hard to get rid of once you have them.  I only wish I knew someone having their first baby soon because the stuff we are trying to get rid of now is so much nicer than the things we were donated when we had Isaac and didn't know anyone with babies.  

Bonus good thing - getting the kids clothing rotation sorted.  This week I took some time to go through the big kids clothes and make boxes for their current sizes.  Isaac has a 5-6 box which he is growing out of and a 6-7 box which he is growing into.  Lilah has a 3-4 which she is growing out of and a 4-5 which she is growing into.  This does mean 4 boxes of clothes to rotate into and out of, but it's working.  It also means I can quickly chuck clothes into boxes if we have anything donated to us.  I have unpacked all baby clothes through 12 months now (they are currently in 6-9).  More is definitely going out than coming in. Plus I have founds some cute things for Lilah in the boxes which saves us buying new clothes.  Win win win.

March 28, 2024

Thursday thoughts on time

I have been tracking my time since February and it's been an interesting exercise at this point in my life.  Here are some of my thoughts so far.

I am more aware of the free time I have.  Sure, I don't have a lot of free time.  I have four kids age 5 and under.  But I don't have *no* free time.  I have some free time.  Sometimes I use that time for hobbies and interests.  Sometimes I use that time to putter around the house.  Sometimes I write a blog or read.  I don't do a lot of this, but I definitely do some of this.

I am aware that in order to use my free time towards anything of value, I need to start planning this before the free time starts.  If babies go down for a nap and I think "what would be the best use of my time now?" I've already missed the opportunity.  For instance, if I want to exercise more, I need to decide early that when the babies go down for a nap I will do exercise.  If I wait for babies to go to sleep and then consider doing exercise I will waste too much time considering

I don't always need to use free time for things of value.  Today my time log includes 2.5 hours of "misc life putter house admin ?? Andy ??" time.  I don't really have much to show for that time, but I'm aware I had it.  I didn't have a day with no time for exercise or reading or cooking, I had a day where I chose not to do exercise or read or cook in the 2.5 hours available to me.

I am not as tired as I think.  I get on average 7.5 hours of sleep per 24 hour period.  This is fine.  Sure, I wake up once or twice or sometimes three times a night for baby stuff, but I am in bed early (usually by 8) and have been waking up between 5 and 6.  I'm not currently doing Rachel Mornings... but when my sleep average increases I'll start those again. Or maybe, someday, I'll leave the house after kid bedtime!

Our family works on a schedule, and right now Andy and I set the tone.  Because we go to bed early the kids also go to bed early.  Today Isaac and Lilah were asleep by 6:15.  Babies were asleep by 6:45.  Sure, everyone will be up at 6am, but when kids are tired we go to sleep.  We always eat dinner at 5:30.  If we get invited somewhere in the evening we don't go.  For us, this pattern is working for now.  In the future, we will have more spontaneity again.

My time feels so different on days when there is actually no down time, like when I am watching the twins and the three year old.  I don't know how moms do twins and small children without childcare.  I am not suited for it.  I adore all my kids, but I adore them more when I have some down time in a day. 

A smart phone can suck 15 minutes of my time as often as I let it.  It's very easy to create a "when/then" pairing with a smart phone.  "When the babies feed, then I scroll" is a hard habit to break.  Remembering that I have to write "play with phone" on my time log helps me do less of it, but this is definitely something to keep an eye on.

Really, the time log reinforces that I have enough time for almost anything I want to do, but I don't have time for everything I want to do.  So I need to keep thinking of what I really want with my time and focusing on that.  Sometimes, it is a day of puttering around the house.  Sometimes it's more. 

How I use our time is an indication of what I value. Time tracking helps me realign if I'm starting to drift away from my values.

Have you ever done time tracking?  Far more information, and far better written info, can be found at LauraVanderkam.com

March 25, 2024

Adventurous seasons of life - Spring is here

I have decided it is soon the season of adventure.

This weekend we took the twins and the big kids on their first CAR then PRAM outing.  

We went to a National Trust site. The sun came out.  The kids ran around. We found some easter themed activities.  It was a good adventure.

I managed to feed two babies while out and about.  At one point I had Audrey laying on my jacket post feed, and Nora feeding.  Audrey needed a burp.  Nora baby needed a feed.  Andy had taken the bigger kids somewhere else.

At just the right time a former colleague of mine walked up towards us and said hi! So I said "hi, can you please pick up that baby and hold her for a few minutes?" which she of course did.  My plan B was to just ask anyone to hold the baby.  There was a family with two older kids which I probably would have asked next.

I figure people will either hold the baby or say no.  Twins, as far as I can tell, is actually impossible alone.  

While acknowledging twins are impossible, I can also acknowledge we are entering a summer of adventure.  Twins are not moving yet.  They sleep on the go. They can't walk and their opinions are "Tired, Hungry, Bored, Poopy, Overstimulated".  Nothing else. So this summer we need to get out for local adventures.  Next summer we will be on nap schedule again, and we will be splitting our day into morning and afternoon again.  Right now, we are not! 

Sure, we are tired.  Twins are waking a bit more at night.  It's not adventure weather.  This is not inspiring:
If I want for the right season, the one where we had enough sleep, the one where we are all healthy, the one where the house is clean and the fridge is stocked, the weather is nice and it's not going to rain... we will never have adventure.

Daria is about to travel internationally with two small children.  Amazing.  I have no desire to travel international right now, but I am inspired by the effort and mentality.  

In this spring season I'm excited for gardens, easter egg hunts, and castles.  That's the adventure for the season we are in.  There will be other adventures another day.  

What's on your spring adventure list?

March 20, 2024

Wednesday thoughts, some photos, and brownies.

I am currently writing this at 8:05pm.  Yes, PM! I have stayed awake longer than the babies, who have been asleep for 45 minutes now.  In that time I completed my time log, quickly tidied downstairs, and made these Zucchini Brownies
The recipe says to cool completely on a wire rack but I want to eat them right now.  I think brownies are best slightly warm but not super hot.  I am having crazy insane chocolate and cake cravings still, so I'm hoping giving in with some brownie will help. 

So far this week I have been doing two things in one day and that is too many things.  But they are good things! On Tuesday I went out to brunch and then went for a walk with a friend and with the babies.  Today I went for a walk with a different friend and the babies and then met another friend for lunch.  However I am really craving some down time at home, which I should get tomorrow.  Things are starting to feel fast.

Here are the babies, chilling at the coffee shop:
I was very excited on Tuesday because my podcast selection was super on point.  I have enjoyed all these episodes.  
I wish I spent more time taking notes on episodes.  Even Cal Newports episode on taking notes.  

It's become obvious why the Brits invented Pathetic Fallacy because it has been grey and drizzly since November here (slight overstatement) and everyone is in a grey and drizzly mood.  HOWEVER we did get 5 minutes of sun on Monday and I managed to get the littlest 3 to the park
I am SOO ready for spring.  I need sun!  Also, the time change in the UK hasn't happened yet so I am living with a bit of dread as I am very anti-time changes.  I think we should stay on summer time year round.  I think people should get up earlier when the sun is up earlier.  In fact, I think that hours should change length in winter and summer such that dark is 12 hours and light is 12 hours and we just divide each into 12.  I know there are huge downsides to this plan, but it seems more seasonally appropriate right?  So what that a summer hour is 100 minutes and a winter hour is 40 minutes? We can deal with that right?

Enough ranting from me - let's go check on those brownies.

Do you prefer brownies or cookies? Do you dread or love time changes? Does anyone love time changes? Why do we still have them??

March 17, 2024

Weekend Update with RachelinWales

It's been a weekend!

Lilah and I took a bus! We walked/rode to our local library (15 minute walk) then took the bus home after.  We arrived at the bus 20 minutes early (or 10 minutes late, depending on how you quantify arrival times for an every 30 minute bus) so bought a chelsea bun from the bakery and ate it on a bench.  It was very wholesome.
The bus driver gave Lilah a ticket.  He didn't even charge us for the ride because apparently a three year old taking a dolly on the bus for her first bus ride is too cute to charge.  It was all so wholesome.

On Saturday we went out for a long adventure to visit friends who live an hour away.  It was our longest trip out with babies and they did great and enjoyed their big adventure.  The kids enjoyed as well, we went and saw a very angry goose
Also, Lilah and Isaac saw a squished Frog and were fascinated. Lilah said it wasn't a real frog, which I thought was an interesting way of understanding a squished frog.  It was a former frog. Not a Real frog.

Today (Sunday) the kids made robot costumes, which is also ridiculously wholesome:

Besides lots of kid stuff, Andy and I each got an adventure morning.  Andy had Saturday from 8-10am for a bike ride, and I had Sunday from 8:30-10am for my own adventure.  I did Couch to 5K week 3 and then added a bit more jogging just for fun.  

It's hard to be both aware that we are in the super adorable wholesome stage right now AND that things will get both easier and harder.  

When I think of days like today, I think of this quote from Ann Patchett's Tom Lake:

There is no explaining this simple truth about life: you will forget much of it. The painful things you were certain you’d never be able to let go? Now you’re not entirely sure when they happened, while the thrilling parts, the heart-stopping joys, splintered and scattered and became something else. Memories are then replaced by different joys and larger sorrows, and unbelievably, those things get knocked aside as well, until one morning you’re picking cherries with your three grown daughters and your husband goes by on the Gator and you are positive that this is all you’ve ever wanted in the world.

Did you have a good weekend?  Did you do anything wholesome?

March 14, 2024

A Morning in the Life

Engie commented on my recent Routines post that she's interested in the logistics of big families and how things get done.  I know I posted a rather dire "night in the life" post when the babies were 6 weeks old, but I thought perhaps I would do a "Morning in the life" post today since it's 12:10 and I have up to 20 minutes before the babies wake up!

5:40 Hear five year old in bathroom, sneak out of bedroom and sit on stairs waiting for him to finish

5:45 Five year old gives me a hug in between doing his morning business and washing his hands.  Parenting is lovely.  Check that 3 and 5 year old are back in bed ok

5:50 come downstairs and do my time log, my daily plan/to-dos, my line a day journal, and some blogging.  Watch babies through monitor. Enjoy quiet time.

6:30 kids are up and building a new home playing with brio. Tell them to come downstairs to avoid waking the babies. Put croissants in the oven because we are having fancy breakfast (croissants, yogurt, fruit, eggs)

6:45 babies awake - feed babies.

7:00 come downstairs and eat croissant and coffee.  Leave babies playing upstairs because the non-rolling and non-moving phase is great

7:15 get babies dressed

7:30 get kids dressed

7:45 Start Laundry

7:50 get myself dressed in running clothes

8:00 Walk Isaac to school.  Run home to change into waterproof jacket as it's started to rain

8:50 finish run. Dry off, drink water, eat a handful of nuts

9:00 Start 20 minute core workout video. Do 15 minutes before.... 

9:20 Babies awake.  Andy watches them while I take a quick shower

9:45 Feed babies

10:00 watch babies while eating breakfast of leftover macaroni and cheese, then crackers and hummus.

10:50 put babies to sleep

11:00 Put laundry outside, make homemade hummus, make courgette fritters, chop veg for dinner. Eat a slice of cake and a decaf coffee

11:45 Finish thank you cards for midwives and drop off at neighbours house to take to the hospital.

11:50 clean up cooking mess. Start dishwasher.

12:00 start blog post

12:10 Answer call from Nursery saying Lilah has a low grade fever and seems sad.  Ask grandma to pick her up.

12:15 Call friend to cancel lunch plans

12:20 Babies are awake

12:30 Feed babies

12:50 Lilah is home, read her stories and settle her in bed

1:00 Stress eat a cupcake that is probably too old but it's been in the fridge so that's fine right?

1:05 keep writing blog post

1:25 Finish blog post.

Dinner prep, meals, the value of time and the value of food.

I started a line a day journal in 2021 (actually my first post was December 31st 2020, because I am sometimes a rebel).  It's interesting for noticing trends.  For instance - it appears that I don't like March 13th.  in 2021 I complained about Lilah's bad sleep (it was terrible!!) and then 2022 Lilah didn't have a second nap for the first time and in 2023 I wasn't sure about work and in 2024... well it was fine.  It was cold, it was rainy, I spent basically all day making dinner and watching two babies and doing 2 loads of laundry.

I'm still keeping my time log but sometimes I feel I am writing "baby, feed baby, laundry, tidy, dinner prep, sleep" on repeat.  I know I should probably aspire to more than tidying and dinner prep... but here we are.  

What I realised about dinner prep is that I value cooking and eating good food.  I haven't been cooking recently because we have been in twin survival mode.  At the same time, I haven't been feeling great about what we do eat.  On Tuesday I made a try of fish fingers, fishcakes, broccoli and carrot then stuck it in the oven and served it with steamed rice.  We've had this a lot recently, mostly without the broccoli and carrots.  That type of food is fine and serves a need, but I am tired of eating it.  I want food made from real food.  Not machine food.

It takes time to make real food. I'm not cooking fancy, but vegetables take time to prepare.  Yesterday I made burrito bowls for dinner (because kids hate eating anything mixed together, so this was an assemble at the table dinner).  Over the course of the day I made pinto beans, roast sweet potato, quinoa, corn, cheese, avocado.

Chopping sweet potatoes took 15 minutes.  Chopping veg for slow cooker pinto beans took another 15 minutes.  Making Quinoa was super easy but I still had to look up a recipe and measure the quinoa and water.  Grating cheese takes time. Chopping avocado takes a minute. Defrosting corn and putting it in a bowl was another minute.  Setting the table, putting out enough serving spoons, making sure the kids have water cups.  Nothing takes no time at all... and then I have to set the table too.  I probably spent upwards of 1 hour on food prep throughout the day.  Split across 4 naps.  

The dinner was good, although I ate it cold because the babies woke up for their dinner at exactly dinner time.

[6:18am Interlude - I can hear my kiddos coughing in bed upstairs.  How come little kids don't realise they will cough way less if the just BLOW THEIR NOSES!]

I do love the philosophy of "don't spend all day cooking and meal prepping and tidying" but I am also aware that our recent meals have not been in accordance with my values. I value good home made food for me and my family.  Unfortunately food/cooking time comes from other time... and I don't have a lot of leisure time.  So if I'm going to value nutritious home-made food, I'm going to value it enough to use my valuable time cooking it.

March 12, 2024

A Tuesday and some podcast thinks

It has been a Tuesday!  I did't feel particularly settled into today, but maybe that's because of the relentless rain.  Last Wednesday the sun came out and I felt ALIVE! Today it rained all day and I feel... alive. 

Anyways, I did get the house tidied for the cleaner this morning and she cleaned the bedrooms today and the house looks great and I feel much better for having a clean house.  

Also, sarah does super cute things like this on Lilah's bed.  Straight up cute:

I listened to a lot of podcasts today.  On an episode of Organize365 Lisa Woodruff was talking about burnout and how when people have burnout they're told to take a step back and focus on themselves and change the overwhelm.  And that raising kids is hard and then when your kids are in their teens or older and you feel like you can breathe again and you change things and take a step back and focu on yourself then it's called a midlife crisis.  I thought that was really interesting. I think parenting burnout is real.  

At least I know I'll be back in work in a year.  I am so amazed at moms who can do babies and then continue to do only babies and toddlers and kids.  That's impressive.

Second podcast thought was About Progress - Monica Packer was interviewing... someone. I forgot.  It was about planning and then planning a day as a mom and finding activities to fit into the small bits of life.  So instead of a daily time block (which is how I work best, but which is not possible) make weekly goals and then seperate by the time needed to do said goals.  For instance, "naptime goals" or "morning goals" or "out of the house goals".  I don't think I need that but it might be good for me to consider my daily goals in this way to make sure I'm not banking too much on naps.  

Speaking of banking too much on naps, one is awake from a nap now.  My day of 45 minute increments continues.  Happy tuesday!

March 11, 2024

Monday Thoughts - What does success look like?

Mondays are my hardest day - I have the twins and Lilah at home.  It's made easier by having my mom here, as she's taken Lilah this morning so it's just me and the twins.  Hence the blog! But still, I've been slightly fearing the trickyness of Mondays all weekend, and I've been trying to conserve my own energy for Monday.  This was all going well... untill Lilah woke me up at 10:30pm because her blankets weren't straight (??) and then she needed water and a cuddle and her blankets again.  Back to sleep at 11pm, then the babies were up at 12:30 and very angry... and somewhat hungry.  So an early feed and back to bed, before another wake up at 5am.  Which makes sense and is developmentally appropriate and I was still rather tired and annoyed.

Luckily Andy did the big kids this morning so I slept until 8 and let the babies sleep until.  I don't know what this means for the rest of the days naps/feeds but I decided I needed it.  The schedule the babies are in now is totally working for me and totally temporary, which is a tricky place to be! Soon their naps and feeds will shift and then I'll have to shift again.  My major consideration is whether I can shift their schedules around enough to make the £13 pilates class at 9:30am rather than the £20 pilates class at 10:30.  We will see!

I've been a big grumpy this morning but as I filled out my time log for last week I realised I actually have had enough sleep.  I'm averaging 8.2 hours of sleep per 24 hour period.
And suddenly I was less tired.  So I decided to do a quick blog post.  Then I'll tackle laundry (currently a load in the drier and 2 loads in the baby room), and I need to get dressed, text our cleaner, and then maybe read my book (authors note - this is why I am still on page 22 of my book)?  

I got out for a Mothers Day run yesterday and did a 15 minute core workout so I'm not feeling keen to exercise again this morning.  I also am coming around to the apple watch and finally figured out how to add strava!  So, my first recorded run:

So many PRs!  It's week 2 of Couch to 5k... and I feel I'm taking it adequately slow enough for recovery.  It feels weird but I am super excited for someday being in the woods for a 10k again.  Being on the streets for a 4k is good for now.

All this to say - what will make today a success?
  • Staying calm with Lilah (3 year olds can be a lot)
  • Having the house in OK shape for the cleaner tomorrow
  • Putting away the laundry
  • Taking the twins and Lilah to a friend's house for a cup of tea
  • Finishing Time Log and Line a Day journal
  • Writing a blog post
  • Going to bed early so I can wake up early for Rachel time
  • Eating one of these delicious cupcakes (old photo - there are only 3 left)
That all seems achievable to me.  And tomorrow it's my weekend!

March 9, 2024

Weekend Vibes - Mothers Day and kid adventures

It's the weekend.  Which means - hard work! Lots of noise! 

It's a very family weekend this weekend.  Today I took my mom to the garden center to get some plants for her garden.  She bought some daffodils.  I bough a random plant.  Someday I will think about how to have a pretty garden, but for now I like buying cheap plants, sticking them in the ground, and seeing what happens.

After the garden center we took the kids to the aquarium! And by "aquarium" I mean fish shop.  Cardiff doesn't have an aquarium, but the fish shop is basically the same right?

Heres two kids looking at some fish.

This afternoon Andy's parents are coming over for lunch.  Isaac is having a sleepover at Grandmas and ANdy has made a giant pasta bake for dinner.

Tomorrow we're hosting a Mothers day afternoon tea for my mom and a mom friend who often watches Lilah.  Mothers day in the US and Australia and Canada is in May... Mothers day in the UK is in March. I don't know why.  Moms like wet cold weather?

In the morning I'll hopefully get out on the bike for my own mothers day adventure.  On my first Mothers Day with Isaac I wanted to pretend I wasn't a mom and have a whole day for me.  This is my fifth mothers day and I've set my expectations lower - I'm going to be a mom who gets to go out for an hours bike ride.  And eat some delicious cupcakes.  

I think I'll end this mothers day more satisfied than with the first.  I'll definitely be eating better cake.

And then it will be Monday! The hard day! I will be using sticker book bribery on Monday, which she will get for her amazing potty training, but also because I need her to have something to do on Monday.  

Here's wishing you a happy weekend and a happy Mothering Sunday!

March 8, 2024

5 Food Things on a Friday

Here is a list of things I am loving.  I started this list before realising it's all food or food related.  Oops!

Dating Tupperware in the fridge.  I started using a chalkboard pen to label leftovers when they go in the fridge.  This is mostly because I instantly forget how old something is and I hate food waste.  Our family wastes almost no food (except kid half finished food, which I hated at first had to let go).  I consider it a personal failing if something goes off in the fridge - why didn't someone eat it first? We have so many meal times every week to eat leftovers. Nothing should go bad.

This also explains my penchant for dinner at breakfast.  4 day old chili is my breakfast buddy.  I would rather eat carbonara in the morning than have it go bad.  I also don't *really* like freezing food that is near its expiry because then I have to be careful to eat it quickly on unfreezing.  I am also probably laxer than most on how long I will let things sit before I eat them... so it's probably good I have some standards.  Andy's general rule seems to be a week, I am "before a week" which I know google will say is too long.

Decaf Coffee. I recently realised i like the taste of coffee.  I was sad because I was trying to stick to one coffee a day (there are no conclusive studies associating coffee with awakeness in breastfeed babies, but I didn't want to risk it.  The Emily Oster in my mind was telling me off for this sentiment).  But then I remembered - decaf coffee!  Same great taste, no caffeine.  Yum!  I have been enjoying a decaf (or sometimes half-caf) second coffee. 

This apple magic thing.  Slicing apples is boring.  This makes it easy!  How do I like them apples? I like them a lot.

Scooping spoon.  I eat a lot of peanut butter, especially now that I chop apples often.  Apple is a great vessel for peanut butter.  But as per the above, I detest wasting food.  Enter this scooping spoon! It gets into all the peanut butter jar crevices to give me more tasty peanut butter and waste less tasty peanut butter.
Really good cake.  Andy's mum used to bring us cake every Monday, which we would eat throughout the week.  She is an amazing cake baker. This was a great set up.  I did not realise how attached I had become to Monday cake delivery.  She hasn't been able to come lately and I am going through serious cake withdrawal.  

This weekend we are getting cupcakes for Mothers day, I am hoping that fixes my cake needs. I'm also wondering whether I need to just spend a week eating cake and see if that cures me? Whatever it is, no chocolates or biscuits are good enough to fill this cake void I currently have

March 7, 2024

March - goals and other misc thoughts

It's currently March!  On March 1st it hailed.  A lot.  

Yesterday the sun was out all day!  

Yesterday I got out on my bike and rode in the hills for almost an hour.

I walked with my friend for an hour in the sun as well.  at 2:30 pm it seemed a good time for a beer in a beer garden but unfortunately the pub didn't open until 5pm.  I'm not sure if I can make the argument that pubs need to open earlier so that mothers on maternity leave can get a midday drink... it's probably not a great idea.  But also, it would have been nice.

Today is Thursday, which means my Rachel weekend is soon over.  This weekend-weekend involves a lot of family.  We are having an afternoon tea for Mothers Day and I've ordered fancy cupcakes which I am very excited about.  

I've had some trouble getting into books this month.  I started Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte and abandoned it quickly.  

I am hesitant to put more anything into my phone at the moment, and I also don't feel like I have a fully functioning first brain.  The book had some interesting concepts, but like Build The Life You Want I needed to spend a bit more time focusing on it and not just listening while puttering around the house.  I decided to DNF after 2 of 7 hours.

I finally started reading Birnam Wood and I am getting into it but I think it's long... sometimes it's hard to tell how long something is on Kindle but this feels long.  

I should keep reading The Hungry Empire because I bet I will like it but I just don't sit down with a real book often.  I could be sitting with a real book now... but I'm blogging instead.

I completed my March page in my Ashley Shelley Planner:

In summary, I'm hoping March is more of the good things from Feb.
  • More decluttering
  • More writing
  • More exercise
  • More being outside
  • More Vegetables.
My main "goals" are 
  • Buy a Fire Extinguisher - done and under the sink already!  And I threw away some old mats we don't used from under the sink, so that's decluttering as well!
  • Consolidate Digital Photos - I can already tell I don't want to do this and probably wont.
  • Continue Photo Albums - Because I do this all the time I should probably take it off the list
  • Move the babies to their own room for Naps - I am scared of this one.  But it has to be done. I haven't so far because their room is my laundry staging area, but that needs to get fixed too.
I like how Ashley Shelley planners ask what I will say "no" to - and I wrote "doing 2 things in 1 day".  On Tuesday I tried to do 2 things in 1 day and I was an hour late to one because I forgot.  I will continue to try and schedule 1 thing a day.

March 6, 2024

Laundry thoughts

I currently do a lot of laundry.  I also currently think a lot about laundry. And it's been almost a year since my last post on laundry!  Time for another!

I’ve recently been considering how I can have the kids be more involved in their laundry situation. I don’t feel it’s my forever responsibility to fold their clothes or put laundry away in their drawers, although I know the three-year-old isn’t really capable of folding, nor is the five-year-old. 

Part of getting them to put their laundry away will be lowering my standards of how their laundry should be put away.  I use a bunch of SKUBB baskets from IKEA to sort their clothes in their drawers. Isaac has enough T-shirts that they need to be folded to fit into the space, but pyjamas just get chucked into the bottom drawer. I know he can chuck his own pyjamas into a drawer.

Growing up, there was a clean laundry basket in my parents bedroom, and my parents would always ask us to put our laundry away. we generally resisted this because if we were looking for something, it was usually in the clean laundry basket. In hindsight, I think my parents didn’t want us to use their room as excess clothing storage. 

I asked Andy how his parents did laundry. He said his mom washed, folded, and ironed his laundry, and then gave him a pile of laundry to put away. 

FYI, I do not iron, and I’ve never ironed Andy‘s clothes and barely ever iron my own. I certainly wouldn’t iron my kids clothing.

I’m considering getting the kids, a clean clothing basket, but my fear is this will just become another basket and also they might mix clean and dirty clothing. Maybe a clean clothing drawer??  I could leave it In a pile outside the room however, it would probably stay there until I got annoyed.

If you have kids, do your kids put away their laundry? What age did they start putting away their own clothes?

 Did your parents do your laundry when you were a kid?

March 5, 2024

Rhythms and Routines

The other week a delivery driver sighed and said "Mondays!" when he dropped off a parcel at our house.  "Oh it's definitely a Monday!" I said... and he said "yeah those weekends just go to fast".  But then I realised... no, I was lamenting that it was a Monday because Mondays are hard.  Mondays are me and the twins and the three year old.  Weekends are also hard, because although I add a husband I also add the 5 year old and the 3 year old.   I wasn't looking back wistfully the the weekend... I was just commenting on it being a Monday.

I've had some grumpy Saturdays recently, but I think this may be more of a mental framing issue.  I've mostly lived in a world where we make it to Saturday and then... we breathe.  Or at least the day changes.  If we work a 9 to 5 on Saturday we subtract work and add kids.  Or we subtract work and add hobbies.  For me... I just add.  On Maternity leave my 9-5 is babies, and on the weekend those babies are still there... plus the others.  It's a lot.  And on Monday I subtract the other adult and keep one of the kids.  It's more.

I decided I need to change my mental approach to my week.  My "weekends" will be Tuesday-Thursday, when it's just me and the babies.  The 3 year old is in nursery, the 5 year old is in School.  Yesterday I told the husband to go into the office today so I could be at home alone (+babies).  Everyone was out the door at 8am and the babies were asleep and I was so excited.

I spent the first hour tidying before the cleaner came.  Then a friend came and we went to a pilates class (top tip - if you have twins find someone who doesn't work during the week to help you take babies to baby classes!). Then we went to a cafe for lunch.  Then home, where my clean house greeted me! And I put the babies down for a nap, swapped out the laundry, made some more food, and started writing this blog.

Tomorrow a friend is coming over to help me take the babies for a walk in the woods.  (Top tip for twins - find someone who doesn't work in the week who wants to carry a baby in a baby carrier so you can go for a walk!)

Anyways, the reason this is all possible is that these two gremlins are now 4 months old, and they are starting to reliably nap! 
Not every nap is reliable, but nap 1 is.  Which means I have one time a day when I know I will get some me time.  It turns out, all I need is one tiny bit of reliability to feel so much better about life. In addition to the morning nap, every night I reliably get a bit of TV with Andy while we put the babies to bed.

A lot of life is still hard work.  Dinner is hard. Post school pre bed is hard. Waking up once a night feels easy, but is hard.

But my Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday is not hard.  So when Saturday is hard I'll try and remember I'm only 2 days away from Tuesday.

March 1, 2024

5 on a Friday - sports, toilets, goals, books, TV

Sports - I finally used my turbo trainer! Turbo trainers are awful.  In case you don't know, it's a thing where you turn your bike into a stationary bike by putting the back wheel on a resistance thing.  It's loud and unpleasant and hard.  I did about 20 minutes of 50% with two intervals of 30 seconds at 90% because aforementioned HARD and also because my goal was to just do 20 minutes.  It would probably be better if I had a plan of what to *do* on the turbo.  But at least I got some cardio in rather than endless short interval rehab and light strength training.

My Favourite Toilet Stall - Do you have a favourite toilet stall?  At a museum in South Wales the ladies room has this stall:
In case you don't live with small children, one of lifes major small child dilemmas is "my child needs a wee but it will take forever and so much convincing but I need a wee and I can be quick but I might derail my childs wee by going first".  THIS STALL SOLVES EVERYTHING! Everyone can wee!  I want to submit it to some sort of Toilet Award show.  Does that exist?

Yearly Goals - I have the goal to buy a fire extinguisher for the house this year.  I know this is more of a To Do.  Where you keep a fire extinguisher? I don't want the kids to play with it of course.  Should I try and mount it in the bathroom? Is there a teeny tiny one? The kitchen seems the obvious place but our kitchen is so tiny and so full.  Also, I know a few of my goals are "buy a thing" but "buy a thing" can be a goal! I have to do research! And order it! And collect it! and find a place for it!  This is all work.

Books - I have started reading an actual book and it's so much more unweildy than the kindle.  I need to carve out some actual reading time.  Andy has a reading light on a clip but the brightness and the rustle of turning pages seems like a lot of sound and noise.  Perhaps kindle is the way forward when two mini people are sleeping in ones room.

TV - Andy and I started watching a rubbish show called The Traitors and we are loving it.  We used to enjoy watching survivor and this is somewhat similar.  It's also fun to watch shows together.  

Someday we will put babies down and leave the room (not watch TV and have me fall asleep), but today is not that day.  I did think it would be March, but now I'm thinking we go straight to babies own room in April.  Plus my 8pm bedtime is the only thing that makes this 5:30am Rachel Time possible and I love Rachel Time.

February 29, 2024

Goodbye February!

Happy February 29th! I texted a friend earlier in the week and said that February felt more than one day too long.  I stand by this analysis. 

I started tracking things in February... then promptly fell off the wagon when life got hard:

That was supposed to be steps, workouts, physio routine and screen time.  I feel like I've been off the wagon on all of it for ages but actually it was about a week.

I did accomplish some pretty major things this month
  • Passports - I got the twins their passports and got Isaac's passport
  • Home Gym - I got my new mirror set up and rearranged the furniture
  • New Computer - I got my new computer set up and I love using it!
  • Race Album - I sorted my race medals and printed a race album
  • Contact everyone about our will - I sent an email about the will.
Two of these things (passports and will) were on my goals for the year list so that's a great start!  The Will was on the list for the last 3 years so it's good to have it done done done now (in the UK, people need to know where your actual will is kept.  I literally needed to email people with the name of the solicitor. It still took over 6 months.

I did not finish writing thank you cards to the midwives who delivered Audrey and Nora.  I have done 3 of 5 and I have printed photos of the twins to send in the cards.  I still don't know one of the student midwives names so I may have to go with "Dear student midwife with three kids who lived in italy but now lives in West Wales" and hope it gets to her.

I read 5 books in February.

Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center (Audio) 
The Lost Bookshop by Evie Woods 
I must betray you by Rita Sepetys
Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros (Audio)
Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau 

None were amazing but all were good.  I can't remember who recommended Mary Jane but it was fun to read a "coming of age" novel again - I haven't read one of those in ages.  Fourth Wing was excellent.  The Lost Bookshop was close to amazing but landed on "good".  I must betray you was also fascinating - I had no idea Romania was so oppressive so recently.  Happiness for Beginners I read instead of watching the Netflix movie and now I don't think I'll watch the movie... it wasn't exactly what I expected but it wasn't different enough either.

I am still using my lovely Ashley Shelley Planner.  Its a 2023 planner that I got on discount.  Normally I just cross off the day of the week and write the correct day on top, but I realised the leap year makes it a bit tricky.  Here is my bodged together 28th/29th page:
Overall I got a surprising amount done in February, mostly due to slowly plodding through things during Rachel morning.    

Also, twins were born on the 30th of October.  Does that mean they are 4 months old today?  On the 29th? It feels like I'm cheating them out of a day!

How was your February? Do you enjoy leap years? I think I will enjoy the next leap year but I'm done with February this time around.  Maybe I need to plan myself a Leap Day celebration for 2028!

February 28, 2024

Wrong side of the bed

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

There was no reason why - it just happened. Kids were awake too early after a fractious bedtime.  Babies slept till 3:30am (yay!) but that threw off my morning as I didn't feel like waking up at 5am after getting them down from their feed at 4:15.  

And the house was a mess.  I have tried to embrace a mentality of "it can be done later" and "don't spend all day on the house" but also coming down to a messy kitchen is really really unsatisfying.

Plus we had left the remains of dinosaur pasta in the pot counter and not in the fridge.  We have lowered our standards of kitchen cleanliness because our dinners transition straight to kid bedtime and then baby bedtime and then my bedtime... but last night it was really really not good.

This morning I spent over an hour sorting the house out.  Putting things in their right place.  I collected a bag for charity and dropped it off.

We finally set up the new crib in the baby room and now the small room looks like furnature storage.  That footstool is being collected for charity, but we still need to fit another crib in here.  That's a problem for future me

I spend a lot of time in the baby room and I think it looking like chaos is not helping me.

I also try to be hands off about the kids room, but last night their room was a mess and their behaviour was not great either and I wondered if messy room was creating messy feelings in them like it does in me.  Today I tidied their room.  Hopefully it will be an easier bedtime.

Also, This is our dinner.  It's basically all frozen.  It will be fine.  We ate real cooked food twice this week.  I can't tidy house and also make food in a day.
I was going to make grilled haloumi for the burgers but the haloumi expired in October 2023.  Oops.  I hate wasting food but that was beyond my comfort level.

We have a lot of white mushrooms in the fridge and a thing of Creme Fresh.  I feel there should be something I can make with this combo.  But what?

Babies calling. 16 minutes of Rachel Time complete!

February 27, 2024

Mental Load in two parts - School and Rubbish

School Emails 
Andy is the school boss.  I am the paid childcare boss. Our school has an email system which sends SO MANY EMAILS. They come to all of us via a shared email address. I could feel my brain cluttering up with emails - did Andy sign that permission slip for a school trip? Are we collecting toilet rolls for art projects?    I was trying to think of a good way to manage all these emails - maybe we could review all the emails at our Logistics meetings?  Maybe we could keep an email record of things the school needed?

I wanted to ask him and check, but I also knew that school was his job and he doesn't check on my jobs.

And then I realized the problem wasn't the emails, or Andy's job. The problem was that this was in my head at all.  So I created a filter in my email and sent all emails from the school directly into the archive.  Now I don't see them.  My brain feels lighter! If we miss something... well it wasn't me that missed it.  And he did sign the permission slip... without me asking.

Andy is in charge of rubbish.  He takes it out of the house and he puts it on the curb on the right day.  He checks if we have enough bin bags and recycling bags.  He is in charge of it all.

Recently our local council decided to change our recycling scheme.  Not, instead of. collecting a trash every 2 weeks,  nappies every week, and combined recycling every week, they have presented us with many different bags to collect many different things on many different weeks.

This probably makes sense, but it does mean a fundamental change to our sorting system.  It was only a few months ago when I got my shiny kitchen bin with trash on one side on recycling on the other! And, as silly as it is, I really like my shiny bin.

Now we have four different sortings to do, and this is a two compartment bin.  Andy suggested we get a different bin system for the kitchen.  At first, I was annoyed because I just figured our our current system, and now I had to figure out a new system.  I did some quick googling, I thought aobut our space... and then I remembered....

Andy is the rubbish person.  He can find a new bin. He can order it! This is totally not my job.  His comment of "We need to get a different bin" was not "hey Rachel, order a different bin" it was the observation a new bin may be required.  

So I have left it.  And my bin is still there.  And someday Andy will find his new system, which he will check with me, and I can think about it then.  But for now this system works for me.

Mental load is real and very legit - but I do try to be mindful of what is really my load and what I am making my load for no good reason.

February 26, 2024

Wind Crazy, a castle visit, and winter babies.

I read once that in the midwest wind can make people crazy.  Is that a thing? I could google it, but as evidence it is very windy right now and it makes me feel very crazy.  I live in a place of constant rain so I get grumpy when the weather tries to attack me with something new.

It's been very wet as of late.  Yesterday, at great effort, I took the big kids out to a castle.  It's the closest mostly indoor castle:

We still had full waterproofs for exploring.  Although everything is hard at the moment, it's still probably a good idea to get out on local adventures.  This is the reason I live in wales right?

I also realized that it's been a while since I hung out with just the big kids.  At the end of pregnancy I was basically always at home.  And now these babies are *almost* 4 months old, which means it's probably been 6 months since I've done any adventures with the bigger two.  

I can see that bigger kids and bigger adventures are coming.  I'm starting to plan next fall.  I want to go visit my friend in cumbira, and take the two big kids on the 6 hour drive.  Last time we went Lilah was 18 months old, Isaac was 3.5, and it was HARD.  But I bet an adventure with a 4 and 6 year old will be fun?

Winter is rough, and this is my 3rd winter in 6 years with newborn babies.  Andy and I both agree this makes for better summers, but I do wonder what a summer baby would be like.  Have I set myself up for unbearably crap winters? What if the barrier to entry for outside wasn't wind and rain and waterproofs and cold? What would a baby in sunshine be like? 

I'll never know... but I'm looking forward to enjoying twin 6 month olds in sunshine.  Only a few months to go.

February 23, 2024

5 on Friday - Toys, Food, Meals, Schedules.

1 Toys:  Isaac has been enjoying playing with Lincoln Logs.  They aren't a big thing over here, so my mom brought him a set from the states, and then I found another set for £6 on Vinted.  Score! He's very creative with his constructions and Lilah is into them to.  Here they are posing with their babies:
2 Sleep: Sleep has been not good lately.  For whatever baby reason the babies have started waking up more than once a night.  I have not had Rachel mornings for a few days.  Today I had a Lilah morning when she came in upset at 5am after I put the babies down at 3:30am.  We had a family meeting about sleep with the kids where we reiterated they need to stay in their room untill 6:30.  This was after a particularly rough morning with a particulary bad reaction from me (I told the kids I had made french toast but would be throwing it in the bin because they woke up the babies.  Not my finest parenting! But, as per Dr. Becky, it was a great moment after to talk to kids about why we all feel better with more sleep and about apologising for behaviour and confirming that it's not always the other persons fault.)

3 Time Tracking:  I'm enjoying doing this again.  I've set a conditional formatting for baby feeds to see if there are patterns developing.  This is not a good nightime pattern (starts at 6:30pm, which is baby bedtime)

The babies are 16 weeks old now... so I know I am nearing a better schedule. But I'm not there yet. I need to get sleep again. 

4 Meal planning.  It's hard to plan meals when tired.  I did manage to make 1 massive slow cooker meal this week! I made vegetarian spag bol.  I have enough to save.  It has lots of vegetables.  And I put some in the freezer for later, so that we are actually stocking the freezer rather than depleting it.  We need to plan more meals for this week today.  Why does everyone need to do eating all the time? 

5 Exercise. I hurt my back and have done no exercise this week.  Good news, I can always do more next week!

February 19, 2024

Naming What Matters - Lazy Genius-ing my life right now

My life is fairly chaotic right now.  Halfterm just finished and Isaac (5) is back to school today.  Lilah (3) has three days of nursery a week (Tues-Thurs). The twins will be 4 months old at the end of this month, and while they're getting easier I still dislike certain things about twin babies... mostly burping, the amount of vomit I have on me, short wake windows such that I feel I'm *always* putting them down for naps, 7 feed a day (around 3 hours of feeding out of 24).  Actually, I like the feeding OK, but I'm not sure it's how I would chose to spend 3 hours of my own time.

Here are some of the things I have figured out since they were born by naming what matters (stolen from the Lazy Genius!) and letting go of the rest

Rachel Morning Time:
Right now it is my Rachel morning time, so I am doing Rachel morning stuff.  I can see the following things from where I am sat in the dining room:
  • 2 dirty nappies
  • the nappy bag on the floor
  • a tumbled down lincoln log house
  • a sticky floor
  • a puzzle box lid (begs the question, where is the rest of the puzzle and box?)
Prior to these baby things I could have spent a quick 15 minutes sorting this all out.  However... I may only have 15 minutes of time for me right now, and I know that what matters to me is me time. So instead I am blogging, and assuming the mess will get cleaned up later.  The important thing about morning time is it's my time

Don't be precious about food:
There's a chicken carcass in a bag on the counter in the kitchen.  Why? I assume that was a forgotten Andy project to freeze for stock.  I think past Rachel would have been annoyed - are we a family that wastes a good stock-chicken?  But we can buy more chicken someday. Stock was an Andy project.  Seems a waste of a plastic bag, but we also have a lot of plastic bags.

I got a lot of chocolate and biscuits after the babies were born and my natural inclination is to save the best ones for "special" occasions.  I used to get annoyed if Andy at my Tony's chocolony bar because I love them! But they sell them at the small grocery store down the road.  I can afford a £3 bar of chocolate.  I am very lucky.  I used to have nice cheddar for eating and cheaper cheddar for cooking.  If someone uses the nice cheddar for cooking I can get more cheddar.  Just be happy someone else is cooking.  If someone eats the last bagel know I can buy more bagels.

Ask for help
I think this twin thing is somewhat impossible.  I have had to ask for help far more than every before.  One morning after getting almost no sleep I texted our neighbour (who I barely know) and asked if she could walk Isaac to school.  She did.  I texted people I don't know super well and asked if Isaac or Lilah could have play dates at their house.  When people were at my house I would ask them to get in the laundry or make me some food.  People like being helpful and they like being asked.  They can say no - but they mostly didn't. 

Be nice to Isaac and Lilah - the upset moment is not the teachable one
Twins is a lot. Isaac and Lilah have done really well, but when they are tired they *are* more on edge.  So am I.  I am always on edge.  I try to remind myself to approach them with kindness in the first instance.  This morning they were up at 6am (their OK to wake clock is 6:30) and instead of stomping up and saying "Get back in bed it's too early!" I started with a morning cuddle for both of them. Then we picked a book together and I told them I was so excited to see them downstairs at 6:30.  Did I have to go back upstairs 4 times in last 20 minutes to remind them to be quiet? Yes.  Would I prefer they just stay in their room till 6:30 LIKE WE HAVE TOLD THEM TO DO FOREVER AND EVER? Yes! But in the interim, avoiding crying and "I want to go downstairs now" battles is a victory for this morning.

Anyway, my real point is that if things look all la-de-dah on this blog it is definitely not all easy peasy here.  There are lots of compromises.  I will look forward to being in a season of life where my floor is swept nightly, where laundry is put away daily, where the table isn't sticky in the morning.  Right now I'm trying to remember what matters and ignore the rest - because as Kendra says, if Everything matters then Nothing matters.

PS - does matching pyjamas matter? Yes! Was this photo taken on valentines day? Not at all: