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:

February 17, 2024

Race Medal Project

This project appeared from nowhere but fits perfectly in baby life - no time limit, can be done in tiny interrupted chunks, very low effort!

Here's how it started - too many medals I do not want to keep:

And here's what's in the mail to me now!
I managed to find some race photos in my photo collection - I separated photos by year on my computer.  I also moved everything off google drive and onto my actual computer, and will try to go through and delete and consolidate.  But I was so pleased that past Rachel had put some photos in date-sorted folders!
Also, when I look at these photos it's a reminder of the fact that I actually was pretty fit in my 30's! I always thought I was the out of shape poser just hanging on... but I ran with really fast people.  I wasn't a really fast person, but I was a decently fit person.  I wish I could go back in time and say "Hey past Rachel - you ARE in great shape because you are running half marathons.  Even if they take 2 hours and 30 minutes.  Not everyone can do half marathons!"

And I'm in the process of figuring out how to get rid of the medals - putting them in the bin seems a waste but I'm not sure they can be recycled.  Maybe add magnet on the back and make them into fridge magnets?  I have thrown away all the small ones and all the non metal ones.

Today I finished week 1 of couch to 5k.  8 weeks left to go.  I am excited to get back into running again.  It's not super fun here like it was in the US (I had such good running buddies there!) but it's still something I enjoy and want to enjoy again.  

February 16, 2024

Friday 5 - cake, decluttering, positivity and very small adventures

Office/Gym Project: I got my new office mirror!  

Question, do you say Mir-or or Mir?  Andy pointed out that I say Mirror as if it's the space station Mir.  I pointed out that 13 years into our relationship is a weird time to start making fun of my accent. 

Now I can see how wonky I am when I do exercise.  I'm kind of enjoying seeing how different my body is after being pregnant with twins.  It's not always pretty but it's super fascinating and I know that I'm only 3 months out so things will still change, but there's some funny stuff happing where I held 13lbs of baby.  

Mornings: I am LOVING my 5am mornings. Not *at* 5am... but I've remembered how to sip coffee slowly rather than gulp it down.  I've got a good little routine as follows:

  • Line a day journal (last year on this day it says "train to london for work" so my life has changed a lot!)
  • vitamins (I take a multivitamin and vitamin D - the Vitamin D is for the babies mostly)
  • Time Log (I've started this again and enjoying it!
  • Planner/goals for the day/metrics (I've been tracking exercise, steps, and screen time 
  • Anything else I want to work on (Blog? Photo Albums? Monthly goals/tasks 

Valentines Day: For valentines day I ordered one of my favourite cakes from a famous Yorkshire bakery.  I didn't read the fine print and see that delivery could happen until 8:30pm.  Delivery was supposed to be at 5:45 which was great timing for our tea party, but 5:45 came and went with no cake.  Finally it arrived at 7pm, after everyone had left and I had gone to bed with the babies.  I was initially annoyed before noting the following

  • How lucky am I to get to order myself expensive nice cake?
  • How lucky am I to get to eat this nice cake the next day?
  • How lucky am I that the worst thing I experienced today was a late delivery of cake?

In case you're wondering my cake of choice is Fondant Fancies from Bettys:

Adventure: It doesn't mean what it once did but on Wednesday I took the babies and Isaac to a play date! I left the house with two babies and Isaac.  I am a superhero.

Decluttering: Yesterday the babies napped long enough for me to list a bunch of baby clothes on Vinted.  I sold £9 of clothing already! Vinted charge no fees, so that means my hour of listing has netted me £9 already - and I still have about 20 ads up.  I need to take it to the post office, but since I need to do walking anyways I don't count that time as a cost.  I am LOVING getting rid of baby clothes. Turns out I have NO FEELINGS AT ALL about newborn clothes.  No more newborn babies! No more newborn clothes!

February 14, 2024

Happy Valentines Day - a quick post

Happy Valentines Day!

Lilah is ready for her nursery valentines day party

Lest you think romance is dead, I made Andy heart shaped avocado toast this morning.  Not pictured. I also made a heart shaped pear, which is just a pear, and not very heart shaped.

I also ordered cake from my favourite shop, but it's not arriving untill 4:30-5:30 today.  Sad! I had to have different biscuits with my Tea.

And if you can't handle the love and romance so far... Andy also got me a valentines day present.

He got our windows cleaned! <3
Would the window cleaner have charged more if he knew he was also entertaining a five year old?  

The babies napped enough for me to work on my race medals project.  It turns out, half the medals belonged to Andy.  I decided to only keep 3 - stories of these races to come:

This morning I peeled myself out of bed at 5am to experiment on whether I feel better getting up before kids or getting extra sleep but being woken up by the kids.  I definitely had a nicer morning, but we'll see if I end up grumpy and tired later.

Later we are also having tea party for dinner... which means sandwiches.  Sandwiches for dinner.  What a day!

February 12, 2024

Too much stuff! Office Gym project

 In 2021 we had our loft (attic) converted into two small rooms and a landing. One room is my office (and also the guest room) and one is Andy’s. Since I’m not in work now I would like to use mine as a mini gym, and I have ordered a full length mirror so I can actually see myself. Fun fact, after carrying twins I can’t actually tell if I’m standing up straight anymore without checking in a mirror.

In order to fit the mirror I needed to empty this kallax and put it upright. I’m not sure this is the right piece of furniture for the room, but it’s the piece I currently have. 

As i emptied it out i just kept thinking “too much stuff!” It has useful things, it has stuff I’ve currently listed on Vinted, it has a box with all our gift wrapping and gifts. But it also has stuff I don’t think I need but don’t know what to do with. Like:

A box of coins my grandfather collected from various countries. Really old money. Lots of it. What do I do with this??

A pile of race medals from when I did lots of racing. I know they’re cool but it’s very heavy and what am I saving these for?  Fun fact, when we moved to the uk I brought them with us in my carryon and the TSA agent was so confused from the scan.

Or what about old binders filled with poly pockets? Charity? can I donate to the school?  I feel if I need plastic pockets in the future I can go them and also I won’t need 200. This used to hold my uni work but I decided to get rid of all of it so now it’s just empty binders

Here is a photo of the room mid project. It actually looks better now, but the babies woke up before I could get a photo:

Part of the problem it’s it’s hard to organize an office/guest room/gym/storage room. It’s not really the most welcoming of any of those types of room.

 I wish British houses had closets. There is so much “adventure gear” tucked everywhere in the house. 

Any advice much appreciated blogger friends!

Edited to add - how it looks now:

Thai is not my new mirror. That is my old mirror

February 11, 2024

No longer a digital minimalist - Musings on Smart Watches

In 2015 I bought my first smart watch - a Garmin Forerunner 235.  I loved this watch.  I loved the step count, the interface, the heart rate monitor.  It was AWESOME.  It basically identified my first pregnancy with Isaac when I saw my hear rate increase rapidly during exercise while exertion remained the same - I found out I was pregnant two days later.

It was also very much a running watch.  I felt a bit silly wearing a running watch at work and around for errands when I clearly wasn't running.  During covid I decided to get a smaller watch that would track just my steps and heartate so went for the Garmin Vivosmart HR (used on Ebay).  

This arguably fit all my specifications - it did steps. It did steps, and heart-rate.  It just wasn't particularly inspiring... or pretty.  I just didn't like it much.  It didn't look cool.

So now, in 2024, I decided I wanted a new watch.  I wanted to have a few metrics beyond how many nappies, baby naps, and baby feeds I've done in a day.  Steps is at least a "me" metric.

I didn't want a watch that looked like a running watch, and I didn't want a basic watch.  I wanted something that looked coolish while tracking my steps and resting heart rate.  Bonus if it counted my standing time.  I also wanted it to rack runs and heart-rate during exercise.  Bonus if it counted flights of stairs.  

I started looking online, and at the same time listened to two podcasts where the hosts randomly spoke about their apple watches.  It seemed like the apple watch did everything I wanted, and at a price point less than new garmins.  And it definitely didn't say "runner".  

It turns out, the apple watch does everything. it does so much of everything that I can't figure out how to use it.  It's too much watch for me.  It doesn't look like a running watch (obvs).  I know there is probably an apple solution for everything I'm not keen on (how do I make it just show me numbers? what is rings? where is step count? how do I set an alarm to vibrate and not ring?) but I don't feel like extending the energy to lear how to apple right now.  I did figure out how to disable all notifications and un-synch it from my phone (I don't like having any notifications on my person - the only noise my phone makes is ringing)

Maybe I'm the only person who doesn't like apple watch?  Maybe I need to learn how to use it? or maybe I need to just start wearing the Garmin 235 again and pretend I'm always about to go for a run?

Do you use a smart watch? What kind? What's your favourite thing about it?

February 9, 2024

Friday 5

 1 - Andy and my movie nights continue.  Every night we watch 20 minutes of a film.  After hidden figures we watched Moneyball.  It was a great movie too! I've been telling everyone how good Hidden Figures was and then I realized it was 7 years old... Moneyball is 13 years old.  I guess I haven't seen many movies in the last 13 years.  After Moneyball we saw The Immitation Game.  We didn't like this one as much.  I do like Benedict Cumberbatch (sp?) but Andy was annoyed by the "super smart super weird british person" angle.  He wanted more math and less acting.  Also, Keira Knightly is so pretty and she talks without moving her teeth which is pretty impressive.

2 - I went for a run today!  My physio said that couch to 5k is the best rehab after pregnancy so I did the first session.  Did it feel weird? yes! Did walking feel weird? Yes! Did having someone say "you can do this!" seem patronizing since I used to be able to do a half marathon with little training?  Also yes.  But it was awesome to get out.

3 - I went to Twin Club and met other twin moms.  It was good to go.  It made me realise I have lots of friends here and a good support network already.  I am very lucky.  Also, twins get so much better and then so much harder.  I saw what 18 month old twins are like and now I'm so glad I have a nanny coming.  Also, I trust the decisions I'm making more.  Other people make different decisions.  That's cool.  I'm happy with where I am with twins.

4 - I had a catch up with my boss at work.  I like my boss.  I felt great sitting in my home office and chatting with her.  Maternity leave is cool, but I love work life too.

5 - Tonight we have a kid free dinner!  We do have two babies though.  Isaac and Lilah are at grandmas for dinner.  On Sunday we will have a big kid free night as both are having sleepovers!  Andy and I can sleep as late as the babies!

February 8, 2024

Routines that are working

Although much of life is chaos, there are some routines that are slowing emerging from the piles of chaos that were my daily life.  I've started to use my planner a bit more, and I've even challenged myself to track time this week - which I've done every day since Monday!  Here are a few routines that are working right now:

Laundry - We have A LOT of laundry.  We make about 1.25 loads a day of clothes & baby stuff daily. Every other Tuesday our cleaner changes all the bedsheets (yay!) which adds another few loads.  With laundry, I start a load every morning, first thing.  At some point in the day I get it out to the drier, and at some point I get it back in the house.  A successful day ends with a clean load of laundry in a basket in the baby room, ready to be put away during morning kid time or first nap.  Some days I need to do two loads, which I plan when Andy is home or when I think I can start the first load at 6am.  A wash here takes 2 hours, the drier takes 2 hours, and it takes me 1-2 hours to get my 15 minutes of time to transfer between the two as our drier is in the garage and the washer is in the kitchen.  It;s 9am and the second load is in, the first load is in the drier, and with any luck I may get both loads put away today (but I am fine with a pile of clean laundry in the house if not put away)

Sleep - Time tracking is helping me alleviate my sleep panic.  Right now I go to bed just after we put the babies to bed, between 7:30 and 8:00.  Babies seem to be moving towards one feed a night (maybe?? It's only happened the last two nights though, so this may be way premature) which is between 2 and 3 am.  Sometimes they are up more, sometimes not.  Even with some nights of babies up a few times, I seem to be averaging 9 hours of sleep a night (again, a very small sample size! Monday to Thursday!) If this is the case, I have no argument against getting up a bit earlier to try and wake before the babies.  Normally sleep comes first for me, and I never want to sacrifice needed sleep for exercise or me time, but 9 hours is more than I need.  7.5 to 8 hours average is fine.  If this trend continues I'll be getting up before babies routinely soon.  Fingers crossed!

Planning - I will probably never be able to use an Ashley Shelley planner again because it will remind me of baby times, but I'm enjoying writing down a small structure to my day.  The babies reliably nap for 40 minutes at a time (sometimes/rarely more) so if I have planned to do something in that time I can get it done right away.  If I put them down for a nap and then try to figure out what to do then I've already missed my chance.

Here's a recent planner page:

Movement - I've done 6 exercise classes in February so far!  My classes are postnatal recovery, core and pelvic floor focused, and 15-25 minutes long (online) and I am loving moving again.  I also attended reformer pilates class again.  Yay excercise!

House - At night the standard is dishwasher run, lights off, doors locked, table wiped down.  It's the minimum viable effort for keeping the house functioning.  Someday I will sweep, someday we will hoover, someday the counters will be clear every night again.  Today is not that day.  

Are you routines working for you right now?  Have you started any new routines recently?

February 5, 2024

This house is heavily used

Yesterday Andy made the comment that our house is currently very heavily used.  This is true.  There are a lot of people here, and a lot less time to maintain things.

I have severly lowered my standards on cleanliness.  It turns out, slippers can mask how many crumbs exist in our dining room! Why sweep now when Sarah (our cleaner) can do it on Tuesday?  I could be sweeping now, but I would rather write a blog post.  

We also have the pram currently stored in the dining room, because double prams are really big.  British houses are not.

This is a really sub optimal set up.

I have the urge to get rid of many things.  The big kids are prolific artists.  Why is the bread on top of the bread bin?  Can I throw away that pile of child drawings or will someone be sad?
We did have a grocery delivery today, which explains all the bread... but still.  Chaos! 

Also, I will tell you the story of that breadmaker.  We make a lot of bread. We eat a lot of bread! About two months ago, our bread started coming out flat.  I thought it was the breadmaker - it's almost 8 years old and used almost daily for the last 5 years.  Andy wanted to try other things.  I almost bought a breadmaker in December but decided to wait and let him work on it.  Then breadmakers were out of stock untill February.  Finally they were in stock and I bought a new one.  I made a loaf of bread with a bag of whole wheat flour and it turned out great.

Andy then made a loaf in the old bread maker with that same bag of flour and it turned out great.  Apparently, it was our old flour causing our bread not to rise.

I'm not sure why we didn't try new flour in the last two months.  But now we own two bread-makers.  One brand new and expensive.  I don't want to sell it on and instantly lose money... which I know is a total sunk cost fallacy.  I'm annoyed neither of us tried buying new flour, although we both think we tried that and that it didn't work.  Anyways, our house does not have room for a second breadmaker.

Another thing I want to declutter is my iron and vitamin C supplement.  I took this for a very short time while pregnant and it made me feel awful.  Do I throw it away? I would love to give it to someone who wants an Iron and Vitamin C supplement, however I don't want to spend the time to join a freecycle group and message people and arrange collection etc.  Perhaps I need to take a page from KC Davies and just throw it away? But it feels so... wasteful.

what can I do with half a bottle of expensive Conditioner for curly hair when I now wear straight hair?  Or the unopened white pepper that came with a meal kit which I'll probably never use?

And as more things come in... I've emptied this box of baby 6-9 clothes:
I made a bag for the baby charity shop (because I just know I wont put the twins in some of these things - most were third hand for Isaac) and a bag to give away to friend with a baby boy.  I put the rest in a drawer, which is slighty satisfying, but the drawer is already overfull:
I don't think babies need more than one drawer of clothes.  The top is full of 3-6 months, which is what they are in now.  Unfortunately Audrey is about to grow out of these and so I'm waiting untill I can put both of them in 6-9, poor Nora will just look like a tiny baby in massive clothes.  

But back to baby clothes - I want to give these to the baby bank, which is baby specific donations.  But, I have to get to the baby bank, which is tricky.  So it's more things in my house for now.  It feels like I'm not emptying the house... I'm just moving things around in the house. 

Also, I don't like tidying the big kids room.  I decided to get the kids baskets for everything.  Anything that doesn't live in a basket either goes to charity or has to have a different home. Here is their basket system:
FYI, the baby play gym on the right does not belong in this room, but Lilah insists on putting it there for her babies.  Apparently the actual babies don't get a go.

Well now that I've managed this me time of writing a blog post (babies slept! Yay!) I think I might work on clearing off that counter.  Maybe I'll wipe up the crumbs.  Maybe.

I guess my general thought is that if I feel like I'm always tidying things up then I probably need fewer things, and yet I'm having trouble getting rid of things.  

Also, someday I'll spend some time proofreading my posts again.  I'm sure I could declutter half the words.

Today is not that day!

What should I do with my vitamin C?  What else can I get rid of today?

February 4, 2024

New computer and digital clutter

This weekend I set up my new laptop.  I've been using a Macbook air from 2013, and it's been awesome.  The battery isn't great, but that was OK... however it was increasingly not supported by applications so I couldn't really browse the internet, or do online shopping... and I got a lot of web based error messages.  I couldn't update the operating system anymore either.  

My software engineer husband did not want to get a new computer, as he argued we are just falling victim to planned obsolesce.  This may be the case, but I decided 10 years was a good amount of time for a new computer.

This morning I spent an hour setting up the new laptop.  Having an hour of Rachel time was a luxury, as is blogging from the new gorgeous machine!

I had to decide what to bring over from the old machine.  First I started using the migration assistant to move everything... but then I thought this could be a fresh start.  I wanted to bring over photos and documents... and in the process I realised my digital storage system is terrible.  

When I saw how much *stuff* was on the comptuer I decided I should only bring what I really wanted.  I saved everything I needed (documents and photos) into google drive and left everything on the old computer.  I have some photos on the computer but not many, all sorted into folders by year, and these are now in google drive.   

I also have some photos on an external hard drive, and I have some photos on icloud, and I have some photos on a server Andy set up.  

In theory, the main place I've put photos is in our family photo albums.  As a historian (sort of) I generally believe that hard copies of things will outlive digital.  As an example - microfiche was all the rage for archiving things.  But now if I found a microfiche I would have no idea what to do with it.  If I found an old newspaper I could read it.

Even feeling confident that printed albums are the best way of keeping photos for my family I still feel sad at not having a better digital storage system.  Digital clutter is a type of clutter... but it's far easier to ignore than regular clutter.

I also don't particularly want to pay to store thousands of photos.  I do pay apple 99p a month for icloud already.  I'm not keen to start paying google as well.  Also, I'll never have less digital clutter, so unless I think of a system now I will always have more and more things to store online, and less and less ability to sort and review it.

How do you store your digital photos?  Do you print photos?  Will our grandchildren and great grandchildren dispair of our digital clutter in the same way we might recoil in horror at a storage unit filled with photos?

February 2, 2024

February Energy

I am excited about February.  The month is off to a good start, I've had 40 minutes of Rachel time in the early morning on both days.  I'm going to bed by 8:30, waking up to feed babies at 1-2, then waking up for the next feed at 5am which is a good time to start my day.  I'm only doing rehab exercise so far, but it's all a good start.

I've started the audiobook for Fourth Wing - it's 21 hours long and I have 16 hours left and a 13 day loan.  Not sure I'll make it, but this is exactly the fantasy book I was hoping to find.

I did not finish Build the Life you Want but I think it might have been a better paperback read than audiobook or even kindle.  I might try and get a real copy from the library.

This month I'm going to complete my goal of sending an email to everyone in our Will to let them know where the will is and our intentions.  We finished our wills last year so that's sorted, and we've informally told everyone what the deal is, but I think writing it down (and especially telling them where the will is) will formally cross this off our to do list for a while.

This month has a week of school holiday for Isaac, and Lilah will continue to be in nursery 3 days a week.  On Mondays I will have help from my mom and Andys mum to watch Lilah and I will plan for them to take her out of the house so I can have some quite time with the babies.  

Hopefully this month brings more baby routines and easy times.

I start a baby yoga class in the latter half of February - it's yoga I can take babies to.  That should add both movement and me time.

I would like to go swimming this month but need to figure out how to make it happen.  I would also like to start couch to 5k - this is slightly easier as I can run with babies.  

I hope to keep reading.  Audio books have overtaken Kindle for January.  I'm trying to be more intentional about podcasts... although they are fun listening I think audiobooks are higher calibre.

Mostly I am excited because February is short and is a good time for being at home.  Small babies are good for being at home.  Crossing fingers we avoid diseases and continue to stay in routine.  I am aiming low for Feb and I am super excited about my minimal goals;.