May 31, 2024

Goodbye May - Goals and Thoughts wrapup.

It's the end of May already!

What a weird month.  It wasn't the "Maycember" I've heard so much about on the internets.  Our school doesn't finish until late July... and even then it's only one of my kiddos finishing school.  Paid nursery is year round, and maternity leave with twins is 24/7.  So even though I am thinking about "summer" it doesn't feel like a big change is really coming.

This month is rained A LOT and was mostly cold.  There were a few nice days and we did get to spend some time hanging out in the garden

The twins were loving their food and are at the right age for cafes.  non-mobile, easy to feed
There were two Bank Holidays in May - one at the start and one at the end.  We tried to get to the beach for the first one but it was so wet.  We did get to the beach on the second one and managed to get out inbetween rain showers.  Lilah loves the beach and hopefully our summer can involve more beach adventures
I've made a bit of progress on my 2024 goals.  I read 6 books in May, which puts me at 21 for the year. My goal is to read 50 books, and I am 42% of the way there. The year is 41% complete, so I'm fairly on track there.

One of my goals for the year was to open bank accounts for the twins.  Our bank stopped doing childrens accounts, but I had an empty savings account I had used for our loft conversion and hand't closed yet.  So I renamed it "Twins Account" and considered it opened.

My family goals this year were as follows:
Contact everyone about will
Make charcuterie board
Day off work and up pen y fan with Andy
Get baby passports
Renew Isaac passport
Take kids to the bank
Open accounts for Audrey & Nora

Andy and I have booked a day off work to try and hike up Pen-y-fan (the largest mountain in south wales, which is not that big).  We really miss hiking.  The twins are hopefully at an OK age for a big hiking adventure.  

The bank is a good kid adventure because we have two bank branches - one is next to a castle and the other is next to a beach.  

And... I wanted to practice making a charcuterie board.  I haven't done this.  We haven't eaten outside much.  And our serving tray has been repurposed into a lego tray for Isaac. However we have two IKEA trays arriving today and hopefully some sun arriving this weekend so the charcuterie board will have to happen soon!


I've not been "feeling it" on the sports front.  I blame the weather and lack of sleep.  I was so excited to start running again and now the idea of doing and 2 mile loop in my local area brings back covid stir crazy.  Possible solutions:

  • Combine run with bike ride.  Ride somewhere and then run
  • Set standards lower - aim for one good trail run a week rather than thinking 3 runs is what counts?
  • Drive to a local trail for a better run?
  • Target a longer bike ride one morning?
  • Use paid child care time for exercise?
  • Find online classes I enjoy more or good youtube videos?

I have started back with my gym buddy and joined a gym.  I am going once a week with him, on a Thursday, and have done this for two weeks.  One of my goals this year was "Regular strength training" and once a week is pretty regular if we can keep this up.  Another goal was to do 4 local 5k races.  I may try and do one of them soon.  

I am hoping that if twins (and kids) continue reliably sleeping until at least 4:30again, and I keep reliably going to bed at 8pm again, that I will have enough energy to be a morning exercise person again. The introduction of 2am wake ups was not a good one this month.  Here is 8pm to 5am on the week ending the 19th of May:

And yes, I am really getting into my colour codings.  Green is walking.  Red is awake time.  Yellow is feeds.  


I may as well add this one into a monthly review, but our meals/eating have been great in May.  We have had fish for dinner a few times, which I love and often forget to make because it is expensive.  We also ate Shwarma, which is a crowd favourite and super easy since I just chuck chicken and veggies in a bag with seasonings all day and then roast in the oven for 30 mins or so.  I made pea fritters and falafels earlier this month and have been making hummus more too.  We haven't eaten oven chips once and barely any food has gone to waste.  I am spending a decent amount of time cooking and food prepping, but I am also enjoying eating more nutritious home made food.


  • Everyone staying healthy this month!
  • Twins enjoying food and starting to reduce number of milk feeds
  • Friends and play dates
  • Dinner out with my mom friends
  • Our garden looking so nice when the sun comes out
  • Eating meals outside 
  • Affording good nutritious food
  • Not injuring myself immediately on return to the gym
  • Scrambled eggs - our most favourite breakfast
  • Podcasts and positive inputs

May 30, 2024

Inputs and Positivity and Podcasts and a Positive Mental Attitude

My current podcast lineup is as follows:

  • Best of Both Worlds
  • Girl Next Door
  • Best Laid Plans
  • Organize365
  • About Progress
  • Office ladies
  • Lazy Genius
  • Didn't I Just Feed You 
I have gone off recent Cal Newport Deep Questions episodes because I am so out of the headspace of professional development right now.

I listened to a few episodes of Enemy in Paris recently, because I love Office Ladies and they were guests on the show.  
Although I did like the show, and found both presenters funny, I realised I did not like listening to something that was so negative.  It's in the title - it's a "hate watch" podcast.  They did not like the show.  I can see why.  They are funny while hating on the show, but I couldn't listen to it because I just felt... negative.

I don't know when I started being more careful about positive vs. negative inputs, but I now try very hard to avoid things/shows/people/news that are overly negative.

I try not to read news (although I do slip up - I have news sites blocked on my phone for this reason)

I try to nicely correct people close to me if they use negative language (for instance if someone says "I did something so stupid" I often say "please don't use stupid/dumb/hate/idiot around the kids, perhaps you meant you did something silly or made a mistake?".  This only works with people I am very close to, and mostly happens with family members who visit)

I don't follow politics at all, in the US or the UK (recently someone from the US mentioned November 5th and I asked if Guy Fawkes day was becoming a big deal. They meant the presidential election).

I don't read books about the dire state of things.  I didn't finish The Hungry Empire for this reason, although history is sad I don't want to learn more sad right now.

I don't watch regular TV so I never see ads.  Ads are not necessarily negative, but they do make me feel "less than"

I don't have any instagram/facebook/linkedin/Twitter so I can't be targeted with ads which might make me feel bad about my current life, or compare myself to others doing "better", or take on other peoples negative experiences.

Build the Life you Want had a great section on this, and on watching the language we use.  
I try not to say that I "hate" something.  I am definitely tired of the rain.  I don't want it to rain.  But I wouldn't say "I hate this weather" because that feels far more negative.  I definitely look forward to better weather!

It's interesting to me that being more selective about my inputs and my language has caused me to be more sensitive about negativity.  I find spending time with negative people far more taxing than it used to be.  I don't mind a gripe of course - problems shared are problems halved - but I do mind a perpetual onslaught of "here is a bad thing I read... here is something I saw on twitter... here is a bad experience I had this morning caused by someone else". 

Life seems hard enough without searching out more negativity?   

[As a caveat here... I know there are awful things happening in the world and I am writing from HUGE privilege.   The world is not a great place for so many people right now.  If I want to get involved in those causes or find out more I will search out the information.  In my opinion, going to a news site to look a pictures of horror and trauma from around the world isn't informing me... it's just letting the news site make a bit more advertising money.  I do believe there is value to being informed about the word we live, but I don't think we were meant to be have access to tragedy from every corner of the world every moment of every day.]

I also try and play a game (which doesn't always work) when driving.  If someone does something really aggressive or rude I think "man, that person must be having a tough day.  I'm glad I'm not having a tough day so I don't need to be so aggressive"

Or, the other day I was in LIDL and they opened up a new check out.  I had about 20 items and a man ran over with 4 things in his hand so I let him go in front of me.  Then he waved his wife over with a trolley full of items.  At first I was annoyed because I was trying to be nice and let him through, but then I though "I'm glad I'm not in such a rush that I have to cut in front of people.  I'm glad I'm not buying processed sausage rolls from LIDL.  I'm glad I have the chance to stand in this queue and not worry about 5 minutes".  

It doesn't always work and I'm obviously not always positive, but controlling negative inputs has definitely reframed how I see the world, and how I respond to things at a baseline level.  Coming at the world with neutrality or positivity doesn't make the world a better place, but entering every interaction with negitivity is unlikely to improve anything.

Any realistically positive (I don't need Pollyanna here) podcasts you enjoy?  

May 29, 2024

A Wednesday with Twins - childcare edition!

I've come to the decision that the amount of free time one has when one has small children is exactly equal to the amount of childcare one has.

I am typing this from my office, while a lovely babysitter watches the twins downstairs.  She is here for 3 hours.  Today is her first day.  

In honour of her first day here, and because it's my first time having help, the twins have been on a reverse schedule chaos day today.

Audrey took her first nap early, Nora took her first nap late.  They fed sometimes and didn't feed other times. I went for a walk where Audrey slept and Nora didn't... when I got home Nora slept and Audrey didn't.

Half an hour after the sitter arrived Nora started wailing, which she did for 20 minutes until I realised she was hungry.

Babies love a schedule.  I don't know why I tried to "play it cool" with twins today and let Audrey start her morning nap earlier than Nora.  

I am currently 83 minutes into my childcare.  I have tidied my office.  But the main question is - what to do with this time??

I am stuck with possibility.

I have wanted to write a blog for a while, so decided this was as good of an endeavour as any.

I'm avoiding downstairs so I can't work on dinner, although dinner should be fine anyways.

I could work on the piles of laundry... but I can also do these tomorrow or later tonight

I could do an exercise video but my exercise mojo has been so low recently.  Babies sleep has been pretty bad and I've had to go back to prioritising sleep... which has meant no morning exercise.  I'm in bed by 8pm and asleep by 8:30.  usually up a few times (hopefully for a very short time) and then babies feed between 4am and 4:30am.  Then I try to get some more sleep before kids are up at 6:30.  4am feels like too early to start my day right now, although if I can sleep through from 8:30 to 4am that is 7.5 hours of sleep which is arguably almost enough?

The other day I fell asleep at 8:30 and when I woke up it was just getting light and I thought "OMG I have slept through the night! YAY!" and then I looked at the clock and it was 9:45pm.

Anyways, this is just a phase.  It feels like a very long phase.

It seems a waste to pay for help for babies when my accomplishment is basically the same as a normal day (food, laundry).  But hopefully this day will feel better than a normal day?  Also, being able to hand one baby off to the sitter while I feed and put down the other baby is pretty useful.  So even if I'm not using this time in the traditional babysitting sense, maybe just having a day that is slightly easier than super hard is benefit enough.

May 25, 2024

May Reading

May has been an awesome reading month.  In addition to some long term holds coming through, I have also read some random books.  For instance, I was flipping through Libby one night and decided to try "The Help":  

I think it was in the "bestsellers" section of Libby.  I've been reading lots of newer books lately and I should definitely spend more time/effort picking some "backlist" books (as MMD told me they are called!) because some of the best books I read last year were not written last year.  I was thinking of Where the Crawdads Sing, although even that was 2018.

Also, The Help made me really want a maid, or at least a household help person.  I know that wasn't the point of the book and obviously I do not want the associated racism of 1960s Mississippi.  I often think about how full time working moms today spend more time with their children than stay at home moms in 1950. Although fiction, this book is definitely an insight into how that time may have been spent.   

I would just love to not clean two high chairs three times a day, and to not carry two babies up and down stairs all day.  I would love to not spend morning nap making dinner.  I would love a break from Laundry.  Maybe the chance to leave the house in the middle of the day without babies?

[Long maternity leaves are great, but I am going on 7 months of never spending more than 90 minutes away from the twins.  Actually once or twice I've taken one twin to something, so I have spent up to 2.5 hours away from twins, but max 90 minutes away from both babies.  Not for any real reason - we just have a lot of kids.]

I also Read Just For The Summer by Abby Jimenez 

I cant remember what blog person recommended this one.  I wasn't a huge fan of The Happily Ever After Playlist (which I listened to on Audio) but I *really* enjoyed this one.  I think perhaps it was my life circumstance at the time which made the Happily Ever After Playlist not as good?  I wasn't as into this Chick Lit narrative then.  It's basically my summer reading staple now.  I am already reading Yours Truly because I love me some character crossover.

I also just read The Rachel Incident and The Violin Conspiracy.  Both of these have been floating around the blog-o-sphere for a while and both were great.  I listened to The Rachel Incident and it was fun and a bit confusing to listen a generally intelligible Irish Accent.  Slow and clear speech is not usually an Irish trait.

What a reading month!  Also, I did not realize how different book covers are between UK editions and US editions sometimes.  Modern Mrs. Darcy had a post on this recently.  I use US Libby but the UK Library so I tend to see a mishmash of covers

I had seen Slow Productivity on Cal's blog:
And was surprised when I got it from my library:
Is that a real lake? I want to go there.  But I haven't figured out how to google what that actually is.

May is not usually a huge reading month for me but I guess the endless rain and 2:30-4:30am baby wake ups is really helping keep my reading life active (but my active life is not active.  I was in running gear this morning until the babies decided to wake at 4:30 and 5:30 and now I'm back in pyjamas at 5:45.  So it is all trade offs!)

Have you read any great books in May?

May 21, 2024

Low priority personal goals and a photo collection of random things

Recently my "to do" list has become full of things so low priority, it's hard to prioritise any of them and easy to work on none of it. Here are a few of the things swirling in my head:

I've been thinking of making zucchini brownies for over a week and yet the zucchinis still sat in the fridge (and I've started to eat through other less good chocolate in the house).  

I haven't done the April photo albums.  I usually update the family album and each kid albums monthly, generally at the start of the month.  The kids albums take about 15 minutes each to update and the family album takes a bit longer.  The whole process is somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half.  And can be done in small parts.  And I haven't started it.

I've thought of and forgotten a lot of blog posts

I have baby clothes to list on Vinted and try to make some extra £££

I have blog comments I keep meaning to make!  You all write such interesting and thoughtful things.  

My office is disorganised, but I rarely go into my office.

I want to draft out an ideal week plan but haven't started.

I want to read and enjoy the Modern Mrs Darcy summer reading guide

As mentioned earlier, I don't have much free time right now.  I don't know when I'll get a one hour chunk of time to do any of the above.  Or two hours.

And also, are any of the above worth one of my very valuable one or two personal hours?  I am not complaining about lack of Rachel Time here - I've managed to get my hair both cut and dyed last week! I have a massage booked in 3 weeks! But through indecisiveness I haven't started any of the above.  

Maybe I'm lacking low value time? 

I realised with a low priority to-do list I may as well pick something and do it.  So tonight, after the kids went to bed and before I tidied the kitchen, I made the brownies.  They are delicious.

And then I cleaned the kitchen, went to the shop to buy potatoes for tomorrows dinner, and wrote this blog post.  

Tomorrow maybe I'll do one of the other things on my low priority list. 

Here are some things I've done recently, but not from my to do list:

I bought 4 used (but like new!) bibs for £6 from Vinted:

I bought a container of dinosaurs for £6 from our local charity shop:
I have super enjoyed making Isaac packed lunches in his PlanetBox Lunch Box
I made baby muffins for the twins.  Baby food is my wheelhouse - these ones are egg, butterbean, cheese, milk and self rising flour.  I love inventing recipes that adults will never taste:
I painted my nails badly.  One of my goals is to paint my nails more.  I had 5 minutes and I decided to just go for it.  It doesn't look great, I'm not sure I like the color, but I do like not putting it off and waiting for the perfect nail painting time, since the perfect nail painting time didn't seem to happen:
I taught the twins to read:
Okay, just kidding.  They can't read.  Also, in case you are curious, Nora has a Strawberry Nevis mark on her head which came out after she was born and will probably disappear at some point.  It helps me tell them apart quickly (that and the crazy size difference).

What's on your low priority list?  Are your nails currently painted?  

May 17, 2024

Being Influenced from around the Internet - Podcasts and Blogs

Here is a quick roundup of recent things that all seem to have been influenced by podcasts and blogs.

I got my hair cut and dyed and I that is a BIG Rachel thing off my list.  I've decided I want to go back to my natural-ish colour and then let my hair go grey naturally.  I'm excited! If I hate it I can always dye it again later.  I think it was the Girl Next Door podcast which made me think about aging and how it's odd that we talk about "grey haired old ladies" when most women actually go grey in their 30s or 40s.  So why is Grey hair only OK in your 60s or 70s?  I'm all for hair dying but I am loving the grey haired 30 and 40 year olds that I see and the more I can help normalize what is normal (going grey) the easier it will be for anyone else who doesn't want to dye hair forever or have to make the "big decision" to go grey.  

I signed up for the Modern Mrs Darcy Patreon  so I could get the Summer Reading Guide.  Now I just need to find a colour printer so I can print it off because it looks SO COOL.  I flipped through it super quickly (on my phone - total demerit there) and reserved a few of the books at my library hoping to avoid the flood.  25 library hold a month on Libby isn't enough for me so I had to drop a few off my already on hold list.  I am not going to read Outlive by Peter Atilla soon.  And I have had The Lincoln Highway on there for ages too.  Those both went off the holds and onto the TBR list.

I made this chickpea salad from NoraCooks which I think was on Birchie's blog? And Jen?  Or elsewhere.. but anyways it's SO GOOD. My husband tried it and he said "this seems like an American approximation of a coronation chicken salad.  Which is true - coronation chicken is a super gross (IMHO) British salad made from mayonaise and curry powder and chicken.  But somehow switch to yogurt and chickpeas and it is yum. The only problem is the gastrointestinal issues surrounding my consumption of chickpeas and cashews... but the babies don't seem to mind. 

I really enjoyed this podcast on Grocery Shopping from About Progress.  My grocery bill is HUGE right now and although it's not really a problem I thought there were some interesting ideas in this one.  Mostly the idea of shopping every other week, and of doing a two week meal plan.  I feel like we are *always* planning meals and maybe doing it for two weeks at a time would make it feel less like we were *always* planning?  There are some things (milk and fruit) that we would need more often but how much of my grocery shop is random bits because I am putting an order in?  Although saying that... I didn't buy any cookies during last week's delivery and I have regretted it every afternoon.  I did buy courgettes with the intention of making courgette brownies, but I still just have two courgettes and no brownies.

And finally, I was influenced by... me!  I took a trip down memory lane of this blog and found a post about Gym Day which I wrote in 2012.  My gym buddy Geraint and I are still good friends but we have not been gym buddies for a while due to the sheer quantity of children and pregnancies I've had in the last 6 years (4 children, 3 pregnancies).  Anyways, I sent him the blog post and we were reminiscing about gym and then I realized I *could* made it work!  So on Thursday I went to the gym with him and we did an arms set.  It was great.  While I have been busy having kids he has been busy getting strong and now he lifts weights so heavy I couldn't even load his rack for him.  

And while this isn't influenced at all, I really love taking photos of babies and making it look like they have hair.  Is that a tic tok trend?  Here is Audrey the baby hair model:

What's your best tip from the internet or podcast sphere recently?

May 15, 2024

Time Frugality and Maternity Leave time in Weeks and Hours

I love reading The Frugal Girl blog, even though my life is definitely not frugal.  I would love to DIY more, or to thrift more (Elisabeth is an amazing thrifter!).  I know there is an active freecycle here, and I also know that the TooGoodToGo app would provide cheap bread and other products if I could use it.  However... I am not financially frugal right now.

I've been wondering whether the concept of frugality could be applied to time.  I am frugal with my spare time.  I don't want to spend more time looking for clothes at a thrift store and I'm paying a financial premium to order online instead.  There is a wooden mirror in my room which I would like to paint and put in the kids room - but I want to do this less than I want to write a blog, or do exercise, or tidy my house.  And, of course, I can only accomplish anything with focus during the twins 2-3 naps a day.

Laura Vanderkam has written around this topic and I especially liked this post on the value of time.  Maternity leave makes this time value weird though, since I'm technically being paid (and soon not paid) to stay at home with the babies.  So arguably my time is worth... nothing?  But by the same token, I am watching twins 24 hours a day.  The nap approx 4 hours and "sleep" approx 11 hours a night.  I need to be asleep by 9 to get close to 8 hours of sleep (including wake ups) by 6:30am (when some iteration of our many children will be awake).

So in potential Rachel time, I have 4 hours of naps and 2 hours (7-9) in the evening.  6 hours per 24 hours not watching babies.

And in these 6 hours I need to do the the meal prep, the misc house work, the laundry.  And any sports or leisure I want as well.  And any house projects. Any blogs or emails.  Any reading or writing. 

On weekends the other kids are home.  If I split nap time with the Andy that only allows 2 hours of daytime free time on Saturday and Sunday.  And on Fridays I watch Lilah so the nap times are Lilah times.

Adding this up, my weekly non-baby and child watching time is approx 20 hours.  The evening hours include dinner tidy up, and they day hours include all the other life logistics.  20 hours a week of "free" time may seem like a lot, but it doesn't necessarily feel that way to me.  And it's also why I would rather order clothes online in 30 minutes than try and get to a charity shop.   Or why I pay our cleaner to change the bed sheets. Why I order groceries online (if the shop takes an hour that's 5% of my weekly "free" time and up to 25% of my daily free time!).

If I spend an hour a day cleaning up highchairs, doing laundry, doing dishes, and misc tidying, that gives me 10 hours left of child free me time a week. 

And yes, I can actually do some of these things while watching babies.  But I can't do all of these things while watching awake babies. Awake babies take a lot of attention, and nursing twins takes a few hours of my day as well.

Sometimes the math helps me realise that these really are the busy times.  And that when our nanny starts (in September) every hour she is here is an hour of Rachel time.  I will be going back to work, but we are adding 30 hours of childcare and 24 hours of paid employment.  I am almost doubling my "free" time from 10 to 14 hours.  

Anyways, today Andy put the babies down for a nap and I snuck out and got my hair cut!  I love when they make my hair smooth and pretty, especially after it's been in a ponytail for the last 6 months straight. 
Also, I am going to be not a red head soon.  I've had red hair since 2006 so this is a pretty big transition. The hair dresser today asked me what I was up to for the rest of the day and I told her I'm on maternity leave and spending the day watching 6 month old twins.  A few minutes later she asked if I was up to anything for the rest of the day.  I realised that my answer did not make sense to the 23 year old, because my answer was basically "I am up to nothing" which isn't an answer a 23 year old understands.

May 14, 2024

Critical thinking and critical tiredness

It may not surprise you to know that I have a liberal arts degree.  In theory I learned to think critically and compose convincing arguments with the data available.  I think it was Tara Moher's book "Playing Big" which made the point that sometimes people (especially women) use these skills to think critically about their own endeavours.  I can think critically about my own professional progress and come up with a good argument as to why I don't deserve a promotion or a raise.  I can think critically about a job and come up with compelling evidence as to why I'm not qualified for it.  My critical thinking is on point!

When I am very very tired I have a habit of using these critical thinking skills to convince myself that people don't like me, or are mad at me.  I go though a history of recent conversations and interactions with a specific person and put together a very compelling narrative as to why they must be secretly mad at me.  

Last night the babies woke up at 3 and 4 and 5 and the kids were up at 6.  I did go to bed at 9... but slightly less than 6 hours of sleep is massively less than ideal for me.  This morning I was composing a great mental narrative on why a good friend of mine is no longer my friend.  About an hour into this process (I had so much evidence, going back months, and including other people, texts... everything!) I realised this is a sign of me being very tired.  15 year friendships don't collapse in a day of analysis.

What a lame way to utilise my expensive college taught critical thinking skills.

The weird bit is even knowing this is an insane way to spend my time, I can't seem to get my brain to reroute to another direction of thought. A friend of mine in college used to get drunk and repeatedly ask everyone "are you mad at me"? to which we would say no.  And then 10 or 15 times later we were mad at her for asking so many times.

To add to my mental gymnastics and tiredness, it's raining again.  After 75 degrees and sun all weekend it was 60 degrees and raining yesterday.  We got so wet on the walk home from school pick up that we turned on the fire (gas fire) and drank hot chocolate.  I definitely enjoyed my summer this year, but I am sad that it was only two days long. [/British sarcasm]

May 12, 2024

Warm Weather and The Great 2024 Wardrobe Project.

It's finally warm! Yesterday it was 75f/25c degrees, which is about as hot as I like it.  The UK is not made for warm weather and when it's any hotter than 75 it looks like a wasteland, unless you're on the beach, and then it's just super crowded.  

Anyways, on Friday I was HOT.  As part of my goal to only have clothes that fit I have been meticulously going through my wardrobe and getting rid of clothes.  I had about 10 warm cotton teeshirts and long sleeved shirts from a specific brand that I had LOVED, but I realised they were all from pre-babies, which meant they were at least 6 years old right now.  Plus I realised I LOVED those shirts, but I didn't love them anymore.  They didn't really flatter and they weren't the right colours.  They went to the charity shop.

Unfortunately it turns out in the process of getting rid of everything that doesn't fit I had gotten rid of all my tank tops/vest tops.  I also have had only 1 summer in the last 6 years where I was not pregnant or nursing a baby.  So this probably accounts for my exceptionally poor selection of summer clothes - i certainly haven't bought any new summer clothes in the last 6 years.  In fact, the last time I bought anything for summer was when we lived in the USA in 2015. 

Instead of waiting for this problem to magically resolve (my general clothing tactic) I set a 20 minute timer and filled an online basket with some summer tops.  In a few days I will have a number of tops arrive, and hopefully I can keep one or two and then I can send the rest back.

The great closet project of 2024 continues.  My goal is to have only clothes that fit and that I want to wear in my closet at the end of this year.  For full transparency, here is my starting closet situation:
Andy and I share a closet.  The right 25% is his. the left 75% is mine. 

I also have two drawers of this, but I didn't take a photo because they contain my unmentionables!  Also they are very messy.  The top circled drawer has shorts, trousers, socks, underwear, tights, and socks.  The bottom drawer just has sports clothes:
The small top drawer has random makeup stuff in it right now and not clothes.  It used to have clothes.  That space could be better used.

I have two favourite shirts - a green one and a grey one.  I like them because they are soft and flattering.  I don't wear them because they need ironing.

I own a lot of striped shirts, and I'm not sure why.  I don't think stripes look that good on me, but it seems better than solid colours.

I don't own any pattered shirts, but I do own some pattered dresses, which I do like to wear sometimes.  Especially to work.

I'm looking forward to my new shirts arriving.  For living in a dark wet country I sure wear a lot of dark uninspiring colours.

In other news, here is a baby that is not loving the end of fish pie dinner and wants more fish pie dinner and less fish pie face photos:
Do you wear prints or solid colours? Do you have a favourite colour of clothing?  Striped shirts, yay or nay?

May 10, 2024

Women and the world of productivity

SHU had a wonderfully well considered post on Does The Most Popular Productivity Advice Apply to Women on her blog here - following on from a Deep Questions by Cal Newport episode here.  

The comments on SHUs post are the real gold.  Especially this comment:

There is an argument to be made that productivity and planning books which include whole-life (kids/family/career) become "women's interest" books and end up in self-help rather than business.  Because they're not business, men don't buy them, and then they don't sell as well and become more "niche" and less serious.  

How come 4,000 weeks by Oliver Burkman is a bestseller but 168 hours by Laura Vanderkam stayed on shelves?  I know they are fundamentally different styles of books - but I do wonder if there is a gender bias there.  I imagine Oliver Burkeman has far more female followers than Laura Vanderkam has male ones. 

When male productivity authors (Cal Newport, Oliver Burkeman, James Clear) start talking or writing about family life it always gives me a sense of "oh, they're including me! They have kids! They factor kids into their lives!"  

I wonder if men have the alternate reaction when approaching Laura Vanderkam or Tiffany Dufu... do they think "oh, kid stuff, this isn't a book for me".

Or maybe people who have time to write/buy productivity books generally don't have kids?  I wouldn't have cared at all about who was giving advice before I had kids.  Work late? Sure! Good systems? Sure!  

I am so much more productive and focused now, personally and professionally, than before I had kids.  The operational logistics of my household are far more challenging, complex, and interesting than the actual operations job I get paid for 9-5. 

I wonder if the fact that most/many women take on either a full or part time home operations role before even starting their professional careers means that none of these books are really covering the productivity advice women need.  Or even if we do start our professional careers with all the same productivity needs, if we then have families the advice doesn't apply to us for some interim period, which at best puts us "behind" the men who don't really change.  And if women don't have families/children they are still viewed as "women in the workplace".  Even the best mind-like-water woman can be asked to get coffee while her male colleague is asked to review a powerpoint.

May 4, 2024

Musings at the start of May (Weather, Twins, Sleep and Eating Too Much Sugar)

The start of April felt like resurfacing from underwater.  The twins were turning a corner in sleep, patter, and general enjoyablilyt. Life was getting easier. Suddenly we could do some things again.  We could cook dinners! The babies were sleeping better! I left the house with the big kids!

And then, it felt more like surfacing from underwater and realising you were still drifting out in the ocean.  We still have four small kids.  Everyone still needs a lot.  Naps are on a pattern but not a schedule.  Getting one baby to nap is hard, getting two babies to nap is... more than twice as hard.

Laundry was relentless.  Food prep had to be done during first nap or it didn't get done.  The house felt like pushing back a rising tide of clutter.  Finished projects brought me joy, but unfinished projects came on faster.  I went for a 8 runs this month and made it to two pilates classes and a few more sessions at home.

Mostly it rained and was surprisingly cold.

I made it outside for a walk on most days (thanks Elisabeth!).  There's even photographic proof of a very wet double baby buggy walk on her blog here.

However, things aren't all bad.  I have consistently been tracking my time, and I discovered that while my bedtime was creeping later (sometimes 10pm!) I was not really *doing* anything with that time.  Of course it's important to have downtime, and nothing time... but I should be able to remember something about what kept me awake between 9 and 10pm, if I'm staying up that late.  And then I should feel good about writing that thing down.  But looking at the log, there was always a blank half hour between 9 and 10.  

May goal: either go to bed at 9 or do something I can write down until 10.  "messing around on the internet" is not something I want to use my time doing, and it's not worth staying awake for. 

I have been very tired.  Although the babies sleep till 4ish (and then onwards till 7) I am still not getting a consistent amount of good sleep.  Last night I was up at 11 when Lilah was sick in her bed (though she was very jolly about it... weird?) and then Audrey was practicing singing at 3:30am (Andy patted her back to sleep) and then babies fed at 5am and I started my day just after.  

Babies are physically tiring, and two of them is twice as tiring.  Two times carrying semi-floppy 16lbs kids up and down stairs multiple times a day.  Bending over two cots to get them out.  Cleaning up two highchairs and two floor messes after food.  Lifting them both into their pram.  It's a lot.

Yesterday I decided to go to the post office with the twins and Lilah.  I went for a new method of carrying everyone - Nora in a carrier, Audrey in a single pram, Lilah walking.  I took a photo.  

Sometimes people make things look easy.  That is not me.  When I saw this photo I realised that while things are hard right now, at least I also make them LOOK hard.  

During this walk (which was 15 minutes) Lilah asked for a nature wee in someone's garden.  Of course I said no, and she yelled she needed a wee RIGHT NOW and IT WAS COMING OUT so we nipped into a local coffee shop to use the toilet.  Of course with a baby strapped to me and another in a pram I can't "nip" anywhere.  I saw someone sitting with two middle age kids (7? 9?) and parked Audrey next to her.  "This is Audrey, can you watch her while I take my daughter to the toilet?" I asked - before running after Lilah.  I helped Lilah in the toilet with Nora strapped to me.  I got her dressed again, collected the baby & pram, went to the post office, came home, and felt like I had run a marathon.

Later, Andy went for a walk back to the coffee shop and bought me a cookie, as a thank you to the shop for their toilet and a thank you to me for the adventure. In February Andy and I said we would get our diet under control and stop eating endless sugar - we thought we were exiting survival mode.  Maybe we were, but I still feel squarely in sugar dependancy mode.

On May 1st I turned on the heat in the morning because it was still 7c/42f outside.  Today, the sun is out for the first time in May.  It is supposed to get up to 62 degrees later this week (this is warm/good).  It's a cliche that British people talk about the weather all the time... but it's also true.  Because the weather starts to control how all British people feel.  Also, the Met Office has a great blog post about how rubbish this April has been (spoiler: it's the 6th wettest April since records began in 1836).  If you want to read dire reports from a small wet island, click here!

Do you live in a place with normal weather? Do you think about the weather all of the time or none of the time? Would you want to live in a place that rains all the time?

Edited To Add: The original post had the line "submerging from underwater" twice.  Sometimes writing like that remind me how far my brain is from 100% function yet.