Twin Summertime

The first time Davey tore a piece of paper in half, I was enthralled. My tiny human being who weighed 4 pounds yesterday managed to impact his environment enough to actually destroy something. The feat seemed magical at the time.

Today I have one baby crawling, one baby just a hair shy of crawling, and two babies capable of wreaking a great amount of havoc. I’m convinced that if I left them alone long enough, I’d come back to find an entire room reduced to dust.

Sometimes life seriously feels like just putting out fires. Feed one baby, feed second baby, change diaper 1, change diaper 2, comfort Davey because he faceplanted (again), comfort Micah because Davey touched him.

Today, the babies woke us up at 3am, 5am, and, ultimately, 7am. Because I’ve decided that my Life Plan involves torturing myself on the premise that it’s good for me in the long term, I went on a run. Then I came home, packed my backpack, and headed to Starbucks to finish a couple of marketing articles with approaching deadlines.

Hitting my deadlines means leaving babies with Manny a few times a week so I can head to the coffee shop. If coffee shops disappear tomorrow, so will my copywriting career. They’re that essential.

Manny took both babies to a squadron picnic, and I picked them up from base a couple of hours later. While I was putting in my coffee shop hours, we also heard that Manny made tech sergeant this year–despite twins and all that they entail. That’s a feat, folks.

I came home and scrubbed the upstairs bathroom to celebrate.

At the end of the day we put the tiny humans to bed. I scramble to make the living room floor look less like it was bombed by Toys ‘R Us. I wash the dishes if I’m motivated, pawn them off on Manny if I’m not, drink a cup of tea if I have the energy to boil water, and pass out around 11 or 12.

We work adventures in somehow. Like excursions to Old Sturbridge Village, or a drive to New Haven experience the wonders of Ikea that I’ve heard so much about.

When a living history exhibit and an oversized department store are the most exciting things you do in a two-month span, there’s something wrong. Thankfully, the rest of the summer is looking up.

This weekend, we’re dog-sitting two of our friends’ dogs and one of my roommates from college is bringing her one-year-old to visit for a few days. We’ll see how much the crazy escalates when you add another tiny human and two more pups to the mix.

The weekend after that, another college friend and her husband are coming to stay for a few days (this must be the month for mini-reunions!).

The weekend after that, we’re heading down to PA for a get-together with an amazing group of twin mom Facebook friends I’ve never met (more on that later).

Sometime in September, a Costa Rica (or Colombia, or possibly Ecuador) trip is in the works for myself, my mom, and one baby who gets to go on his first ever international expedition, while his brother enjoys a staycation with his dad.

Things are happening! I’m going to need a lot of coffee to make it through the next several weeks, particularly if Micah keeps trying to climb everything in sight. But things are happening. I’ll take it.

I Calculated The Value of a (hand knit) Sock

I’m pretty sure my blog is schizophrenic. One minute it’s a parenting blog, then a diet blog, then a travel blog… I originally wanted it to be a “look at the fascinating/exciting things I’m doing and places I’m going!” blog, but I don’t do enough fascinating things for that to happen, so what you see is what you get.

Brace yourself, because I’m going full-on knitting mode.

Hand Knit Sock In Progress

I promise I’ll try to make it interesting, but if making amazing things isn’t your  jam, feel free to skip this one.

We recently took the boys to Texas. They experienced their first flight, a series of long road trips, and two weeks of visiting and sweating (June in Texas is no joke, y’all). The longest we spent in any one place during the whole trip was three days. Throw eight-month-old twins into the mix and that’s a recipe for crazy. BUT I had plenty of road trip time to knit socks.

The most knitting I get done lately is in the car, when we’re in transit. That’s the only time the boys are guaranteed to be safe (and likely asleep) that I don’t also have other pressing responsibilities. So I use that time to make things. I knit. And the very best travel knitting is sock knitting.

Hand Knit Socks Cascade Silk

I did some math. One pair of socks includes well over 20,000 individual stitches, and depending on the pattern, takes me about 10-15 hours to finish.

Which is why I laugh when occasionally (very occasionally) people ask if they can pay me to knit them socks.

The yarn for a pair of hand knit socks costs $20-$30. There’s cheaper sock yarn out there, but I won’t knit with it. If I’m going to spend 10-15 hours of my life running the stuff between my fingers, it’s going to be soft and beautiful.

Hand Knit Socks Araucania Huasco

At a modest rate of $10/hour plus yarn, a pair of handknit socks could easily cost $150 or more. But that’s assuming I would be willing to work for $10/hour. I probably wouldn’t.

This is why hand knit socks are special. You can’t buy them (unless you’ve got a pretty hefty sock budget). You can bribe a knitter, but if that knitter doesn’t already like you a lot, it’s just not going to happen. In fact, if someone gives you a pair of hand knit socks, you should reevaluate your relationship with that person and consider thanking them with coffee. Or chocolate. Or a sports car. Because they gave you a pair of priceless socks and they probably deserve it.

You can go to the store and get perfectly serviceable socks for a dollar. You can get high-end Smart Wool socks for $20, if you want to be fancy. And neither of these options requires hours of running yarn between your fingers, rubbing needles together, putting to use all the skills learned over many years of trial and error and how-to videos.

That makes it crazy to knit socks, right? I mean, who does that? Why do that? If you realize that time is the most valuable currency, why knit anything–let alone socks?

Hand Knit Socks KnitPics Stroll

For me, knitting doesn’t replace other things I should be doing (most of the time). It is my entertainment, the thing I do when I would otherwise be sitting motionlessly watching Netflix, listening to an audiobook, or riding in the car (and I’m not good at sitting motionlessly). It’s an activity I enjoy that results in actual things I can keep or give to someone I really, really like.

You can’t pay me to knit socks or much of anything else. I have no desire to open an Etsy shop to sell the things I’ve made. I can make better money taking on extra writing work.

It’s about watching that beautiful yarn run through my fingers until something priceless comes out. Watching actual things come out of those little snippets of time is fun. It’s my version of PC gaming, movie watching, music listening, time-wasting amusement. And though I’m a little biased, I consider it superior to all of those–if only because in the zombie apocalypse, I’ll be able to enjoy myself and clothe my feet.

The Brain on Twins

Twins are like very cute little reality-altering drugs.

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If pregnancy brain is a thing (studies say it isn’t. I say the studies are stupid), twin brain is an even bigger phenomenon. Twin brain has very real, sometimes very disastrous results.

On twins, my brain does improvident things it never did before.

My brain leaves bags of merchandise sitting on mall benches while I rush away to feed a child.

My brain throws cell phones against walls.

My brain forgets a $600 jogging stroller in the middle of a public parking lot and drives away without it.

My brain forces me to laugh at my husband when he’s trying to make a very serious point.

My brain takes me to the store without my purse. Multiple times. In one week.

My brain forgets how to talk to normal adults that aren’t my husband, because I don’t do that anymore.

My brain sends emails, Facebook messages, and texts to the wrong people.

My brain makes me crave another baby when two is twice as many as I thought I wanted.

Twin brain also has its benefits, though. Having twins makes it easier to separate the important things from the things that don’t matter. Showers? Important. Coffee? Important. Fixing hair and wearing a bra? Not so important.

Waking up too early has never been so rewarding. The walk from my bed to the boys’ room at 3 a.m. might be agonizing, but seeing their smiles when I get there fixes that.

Twins make me brave. I can’t be self-conscious when the babies just need to be fed or to go on a walk. I can’t maintain a bad attitude for long when they grin at me every time I look at them. I can’t be the same kind of selfish I once was when these two little people need me for everything. Twins make all the excuses for not really living look absurd.

Twins make me want to be the very best version of myself possible. They make me want to spend hours outside. They make me want to learn so I can teach them. They make me want to explore more, to get out of my comfort zone in ways I would have hesitated to before. They make me want to go to Iceland, to run a half marathon, to dye my hair purple, to wear tie-dye and macaroni necklaces. Twins make me want to take very long naps.

So. My brain on twins? Sometimes rather expensive and potentially embarrassing. But not so bad.

 

Whole 30 Recap

For those of you who are at all curious, we finished the Whole30. No bread, sugar, legumes, dairy of any kind, or pizza.

Okay, so… 28 days. Does it make me a failure if my Whole30 was a Whole28?

On Saturday Manny and I ended up an hour from home after a day of wandering. We had walked a few miles scouting yard sales. We attended our local(ish) Tula Love Play Date, a babywearing meet-up that turned out to be amazing. And we hit up the Webs Tent Sale, a once-a-year yarn sale in Northampton that I couldn’t miss, despite the fact that my yarn connection rivals that of some small yarn shops.

After all that, mostly wearing babies, we were both starving. And there was a Five Guys Burgers & Fries. I’m sure you can imagine the rest.

I started the Whole30 as a diet reset. And it did that. It changed our normal and forced us to think of food differently. I lost 15 pounds over the 30 (ahem, 28) days without changing anything but my diet. I felt better, had more energy, and suffered from absolutely NO food guilt during that time.

I’m suffering from food guilt now. That hamburger doesn’t feel as great as it tasted. So the Whole30 challenge didn’t fix everything. It was still one of the best things I could have done for myself post-twins, and I wish I’d done it sooner.

After a lot of soul-searching and talking to Manny, I’ve decided to keep eating a mostly Whole30 diet from now on. I’m going back on the Whole30 completely for a few days to bounce back from the food I shouldn’t have eaten, then reintroducing a bit of milk and agave nectar in my coffee/tea (one thing that I really have missed!).

I’m also going to start adding in deliberate workouts (as in, something other than just weightlifting twins, which counts for not much). A friend in my Mothers of Twins group shared that she had great success with the much-acclaimed Mommy Trainer 15-Day Challenge. So I’m going to give it a try–it’s a good fit for the timeline I have between now and our two-week trip to Texas.

It’s a process.

 

Whole30 Day 9

I feel amazing. I want pizza. But I feel amazing. And I’m already a little terrified of what happens after this Whole30 is over and I have to trust myself to make reasonable choices without strict rules keeping me in line.

Part of the Whole30 program is a commitment NOT to step on the scale until it’s over. That’s probably a good thing, because I’m pretty sure I haven’t lost any weight (yet), and confirming that would be the worst thing I could do for myself right now. If I stop to think about it, I want pizza. Not a slice or two. I want an entire large pepperoni pizza.

And a latte.

But I don’t really. The truth is, I’m feeling more rested, and I have more energy to do things during the day. I think I’m less grouchy, though I’m not sure whether or not Manny would agree about that one. And knowing that I’m making good choices about what to put into my body makes me feel better about pretty much everything.

I’m really surprised by some of the things I don’t miss. Like sugar. If I thought about it long enough, I’d have to acknowledge that life would indeed be incomplete without cheesecake. But on an everyday basis, the only time I really miss sugar is when I’m making my coffee in the morning.

I don’t miss dairy, except cheese. Boy do I miss cheese.

I don’t miss legumes. I could live just fine without beans, peanut butter, or anything similar.

I don’t really even miss grains. Not the way I thought I would. I mean, I want my morning bowl of oatmeal, and I want to be able to eat a sandwich. Or, like I said, a pizza. But I could live without them for the most part. And the fact that I can say that is kind of monumental.

Unfortunately, we have managed to spend almost an entire month’s normal grocery budget in the week and a half we’ve been doing the program, so I’m going to have to get smarter about meal planning and shopping. On the upside, we’re not eating out, so that does help the budget issues a bit.

In other news, we moved the twins into their own room last night. It’s kind of sad and kind of strange to have our bedroom to ourselves again–and, more importantly, to be able to go into our bedroom after 8 p.m. without tiptoeing around in fear of hitting a squeaky floorboard. In moving them into their own room, I’m thinking about all the things I want to do to the room–new curtains, painting the dressers, putting some artwork up on the walls–to make it feel more like a nursery should feel.

I’m reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. The sad part? I’ve been trying to read it for two months now, and whenever I do have free time, so many other things seem more important. Like doing the dishes. Or knitting a thing. Or clearing out the flowerbeds outside. Or staring blankly into space.

So unless something clicks to make this book seem pretty important in the very near future, I’ll probably still be reading it when Thanksgiving rolls around. That’s #twinlife for you.

The Beginning of Our Whole30 Experiment

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I expected the pregnancy weight to just fall off after the twins were born.

The joke was on me. Though I ended up just ten pounds heavier than my pre-pregnancy weight one week after the babies’ birth, the scale just kept creeping back upward in the weeks after they were born.

Sleepless nights coupled with a complete lack of motivation to plan healthy meals converged to form a miserable diet situation. Manny was living on peanut butter toast and I was living on whatever required the lest effort and brainpower.

Unless you already have stellar eating habits, not thinking and choosing the easiest route = bad juju. All of a sudden my idea of a relaxing afternoon was chilling with the babies on the sofa, eating popcorn. Or Wint-O-Green Lifesavers. Or pizza.

It wasn’t pretty.

Whole30 Basics

I’d been hearing a lot about the Whole30 thing but passed it off as just another diet plan. It wasn’t until someone in a cloth diaper Facebook group (of all places!) mentioned what a big difference it had made in her life that I decided to give it a whirl. The basics?

  • no grains of any kind
  • no legumes
  • no added sugar, processed or natural
  • no dairy
  • no pizza. or donuts. or wint-o-green. or homemade buttery scones. or pasta. or or or…

It seems extreme, but our diet needed a major reset.

The driving goal behind the Whole30 program is not weight loss. It’s identifying foods that are physically or psychologically unhealthy. By eliminating the foods that are often inflammatory, gut-disrupting, or otherwise problematic, then adding them back in slowly after the 30-day reset, you can pinpoint the foods that spark cravings or make you feel miserable.

I especially needed to refocus and prioritize food, the stuff my body runs on. The twinlets are demanding, to say the least, and the fuel I expected my body to run on just wasn’t cutting it. After a trip to visit the in-laws, during which we splurged waaay too much (midnight run to Sheetz for donuts, candies, and all the sugar we could get our hands on? Cue sugar coma.)

After talking to Manny about the program, we decided to take the plunge. The first step? Clear out the stuff we wouldn’t be eating for a month.

Spring Cleaning the Pantry

We weren’t willing to actually throw away staples like beans, lentils, canned chickpeas, pasta, flour, cornmeal, sprouted grain cereals, oatmeal, and other stuff we already had in the house, so we boxed it up and hid it in the basement. It’s amazing how much that purging opened up the kitchen and pantry. I can actually see what’s in the fridge and cabinets now. Choosing meals is simpler too, because I have fewer options. I choose to look at that as an added benefit, because the less I have to think about meal planning, the better. Planning veggies, fruits, and proteins really simplifies the process.

Whole 30 In Review: Days 1-4

Today is Day 4. Truth: I’m sitting at a coffee shop wishing my black coffee and banana would morph into a latte and chocolate croissant. I’m wearing my bottle-cap earrings, though I won’t be having a soda anytime soon. But it feels amazing to know that I’m giving my body better food than I have in months–and setting myself up for success.

Actually cooking meals regularly has revolutionized our diet. It should be noted, though, that when they say that days 2-3 will be miserable, they’re serious. Holy headache, Batman. If that’s what a hangover feels like, I don’t ever care to get drunk.

The cravings haven’t been terrible. Despite my salads,  greens, delicious walnut-crusted pork tenderloin, bananas smeared with almond butter, and sweet potato soup, it’s weird not to be able to just grab some crackers for a snack or a piece of toast or bowl of oatmeal in the mornings. Last night, Manny’s coworkers enjoyed taunting him with donuts, Mexican food, and candy when they found out that he was doing the program with me. But so far we’ve survived without major incident. I am realizing that I have a tendency to snack on fruit a lot, which I realize I probably need to substitute with more veggies.

The fact that I’m still nursing the twins (mostly just one twin, but still) means I have an excuse to eat more fruits and starchy foods like potatoes and squash, and I’m milking that (pardon the pun) for all it’s worth!

Though some mothers have voiced concerns that the Whole30 program would hurt their milk supply, I don’t see how switching to whole foods, eliminating processed sugar, and living on veggies, fruits, and meats would cause problems unless you’re just not eating enough.

This is long, so I’ll end it here. For the next few weeks, expect to see updates on our Whole30 journey, which may or may not turn into whining all I want is pizza vents on occasions. Wish us luck!

 

Life Is Best When It’s Busy

IMG_2426I’m almost afraid to write what I’m about to write, because it’s likely to come back and bite me where it hurts.

But.

This twin thing isn’t so bad.

During the two years between graduation/marriage and twin babies, I didn’t do much. I mean, I picked up writing work here and there, I worked a stint at a scuba dive shop, I hung out at the beach. But during all that, I felt like I should have been doing something more.

I found out that, like most of society, if I’m given unlimited time to relax/read/study/explore/work out/whatever, chances are good I’m just going to sit on the sofa and do basically none of the above.

In college, life was best when it was busy, every hour of the day occupied with classes and activities I believed to be worthwhile. Just enough sleep to get by. During the semesters in which I took the heaviest course loads, I tended to be happier, to learn more, to get better grades, and to step outside my comfort zone.

It’s not good for Steffani to be unoccupied.

I recall sitting on the toilet–the only time I had to myself–about a month after the twins were born, when they were starting to really keep us up all night. While sitting there, I had two groggy thoughts.

The first: I miss heated Japanese toilet seats.

The second: Finally, something I can sink my teeth into. 

So maybe I’m crazy, but having twins was exactly what I needed, and not just because I now have these beautiful little minions whose smiles can light up my entire day. It’s because I have something to do now.

It’s good to be back.