An Extra Ninety Minutes a Day

What would you do if you had ninety more minutes to spend every day? Perhaps you might need a moment to think about it. If you're a full-time mom, however, your answer should only take about a second!

I, on the other hand, have been dreaming about the answer to that question for a whole year!

Okay, not quite a year. 361 days, actually.

When the boys were first born, I tried my hardest to breastfeed them. I did alright for a few days, but my milk production wasn't kicking in fast enough and they needed the nutrition or they would have had to spend some time in the hospital. They were such different eaters - Jack was aggressive and Ben would fall asleep every few minutes - and I was going insane. I worked with a lactation consultant who encouraged me to feed one at a time, give his brother breastmilk in a bottle and then switch at the next feeding. Just until I got the hang of it and then I could try both of them at the same time. Well, guess what? Doing that every three hours for two weeks made me exhausted, run-down and discouraged. I felt like I was doing double the work! I was uncomfortable from my c-section and my emotions were running high. I really wanted my boys to have breastmilk (especially since my body was finally doing well in producing it!) but everything coming together at once made me feel like I was a lost cause. Rather than giving up, I decided to exclusively pump and give them breastmilk in a bottle. I've been doing that every single day since, ever since they were three weeks old.

Every single day. Six times a day. Fifteen minutes (at least) at each session. That's at least ninety minutes a day.

If only Benjamin knew how valuable that Liquid Gold really is, he might not be so quick to let it spill to the floor!
I would feed the boys bottled breastmilk in the middle of the night, put them back down, and pump. Even at 2:30am and then at 5:30am, I'd drag myself to my breastpump in order to give my boys The Good Stuff before I could crawl back into bed and get a few minutes sleep before having to wake up and do it all over again. When the boys started sleeping through the night, I wouldn't wake up on my own to pump in the wee hours of the morning, but instead, tried pumping more often during the day. I bought an adaptor and would pump in the van (while Andy drove) on the way to church, my mom's house, and dinner; I got really good! And that was some good milk. I was able to produce around 50 ounces a day, supplementing with 1-2 bottles of formula as well to keep my hungry boys fed.

I never regretted it. Pumping has given me the flexibility to feed my boys on-the-go, in front of anyone and with the possibility of someone else holding a bottle, too. But honestly, this is one of the biggest reasons I am SOOO excited for my boys' first birthday! No one said I had to do it for one calendar year. It was my own personal goal. I've wanted to quit many times and came close, but with the support of my husband as well as the satisfaction of knowing I was doing the best I could for my two little ones, I continued.

And now it's almost a year!

I've been decreasing my pumping lately, only doing it three times a day in the past week and supplementing with whole milk, so I can gradually let my milk supply dry. Even having that extra 45 minutes a day has been excellent! I honestly can't wait until I have an 'extra' ninety minutes!

I told you I've been dreaming of what I could do with my 'extra' time each day. And I wasn't lying!

I could clean my bathroom. Prep dinner. Watch the boys play without having to use any independent time to make an escape to pump. I could wear a normal bra. A NORMAL BRA! I could put all of my old shirts back into circulation and move the shirts with the 'extra allowance in the bust' to the back of the closet. I could read a book. Organize my purse. Write a note. Cut my toenails. Tweeze my eyebrows. Blog. Sleeeeeeeep! I could go to sleep less than an hour after we put our boys down for the night! Oh, the joy!

Other benefits include the fact that I will not have to consume an inhumane amount of water each day, carry this silly pump around wherever I go, wash a massive amounts of bottles and nipples every day, and eat something every few hours. On the other hand, I won't be able to eat my additional 1,000 calories a day to keep up my milk supply.

Hmm. I won't be able to eat my additional 1,000 calories a day.

Maybe I'll pump a little while longer.


Sorry, Medela Pump-in-Style Advanced Breastpump. We've had a good run and I'm grateful you exist, but it's time we severed our relationship. This girl's moving on!


Mom's Veggie Noodle Soup

I am convinced the soup is more than just food. It's a hug from your mom, a kiss from your dad, and better than any medicine a doctor can prescribe. It is food for your soul.

My mom makes soup for my boys all of the time and they love it! I feel like they even sleep better when they've had soup. When I realized how easy it was, I asked her to explain how she did it so I could make it for them, too. It is sooo simple. These measurements aren't strict at all, especially since my mom's not a fan of measuring cups :) but I wanted to give a rough idea of how much I put into my pot.

Vegetable Noodle Soup
6 c. water
1.5 tsp. chicken bouillon (or 2 cubes)
2 celery stalks, grated
1 carrot stick, peeled and grated
2 T. Barilla pastina
1 egg
Heat water in a pot and add celery and carrots. Stir in bouillon. When the water boils, add pastina and cook for about 6 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of parsley. Then crack an egg inside and beat with a fork into the broth. Cool in a bowl, or add cold water to bring it to the right temperature.
I try not to use too much salt when I'm cooking for the boys, so I only put 1.5 teaspoons of bouillon. If I was making it for me and Andy, I probably would have put in more boullion and also used larger noodles such as egg noodles, etc. But hey, whatever works! I make one pot every few days and then reheat it for dinner each night. I'm also working on experimenting with other soups. I feed it to the boys when they're dressed only in their diapers to make cleanup a little easier as well.

I'll do almost anything to encourage a good night's sleep! :) Enjoy!


Another Mommy First

Motherhood is a series of firsts. The first time you change your baby's diaper, the first time they smile, the first time you feed them cereal with a spoon. It is exciting to see your babies reach each of these milestones... but moreover, it is the MOM who experiences the joy of a victory!

Well, I had another "first" on Friday. I put the boys in the van all by myself.

I know. This doesn't seem like a huge feat for those who have one baby or have never had kids at all. But it really is. Especially for a mom who has twins, lives on the second floor of a double and her babies recently will NOT be left alone. Oh, did I mention that they were sick, too? This wasn't like putting them in the stroller; there, I just carried a small bag with two bottles, some diapers and a few wipes. I put them in a side-by-side stroller, so I was never more than a foot away from both of them. This past Friday, we had to go to the pediatrician. I'd need the diaper bag, the bottle bag, my pump, clean bottles, and my purse. No, this would necessitate FOUR bags! How did I do it? Well, I'm glad you asked!

It was a process I had planned out in my head for weeks. Just in case of an emergency where Andy wasn't around and I needed to take them somewhere in the van. This past Friday, we had to go to the pediatrician. The boys had developed a rash around their mouths (and Jonathan also had a cough) and I wanted to be sure it wasn't anything serious. Andy had already left for work, so I was by myself. And thankfully, this was one of those ODD situations where things actually worked according to plan! Well, at least how I worked them out in my head.

Here it is.

After the boys and I were dressed and all of our bags were packed, I put two bags on each arm, scooped up the boys and went downstairs, being careful to lock each of the doors as I walked through. I used the remote to unlock the doors, put half of the bags down, put Benjamin on the floor of the passenger side, turned on the car so the music would play and then opened his window. This was the first part where I couldn't anticipate ahead of time, how Ben would react to being plopped in an unfamiliar place. Thank God, he was curious of his new surroundings and was content to hit the seat in front of him. Then I put the other bags on the floor behind the seat and strapped Jonathan into his car seat. Excellent. I was more than halfway done. After I closed his door, I retrieved Benjamin from his comfy spot in the front and then strapped him into his carseat. The boys were great. Thank.God. That could have ended so differently!

My heart was still racing as I pulled out of the driveway. But I felt like a new woman. Successful. More confident. Stronger. My mind wandered to a quote I remember hearing when I was younger.
"A woman is like a tea bag. You never know her strength until you put her in hot water."
Ain't that the truth?

The report from the doctor's office said that the boys' irritation was from extra saliva around their mouths. And Jack's cough was just a cough, nothing related to the rash or a reaction to an allergy. Thank God. I just have to keep their mouths dry and keep on pasting Aquaphor and Vaseline on top of that.

Jonathan's cold has still made for a few rough days in our house - he's not sleeping well, throwing up mucus, restless - but hey, it's not the FIRST time :)


Musing about a Picture

I just love this picture.

Jack is trying to push Ben in the walker. What he doesn't know, however, is that my husband strategically placed a yellow rubber block in the path of the wheel, making it virtually impossible for my 25-pound baby to push his "little" brother. Tried and tried as he did, he could NOT push him across the dining room! We were trying to get their picture and wanted them to both look in my direction, hence the stopper. The result made for one adorable photo opp.

This photo made me reflect on my own life. What areas am I pushing to succeed, but with no results? Could it be that Someone Else has a different plan? Not one that was meant to frustrate me, but for another purpose? Perhaps God has put little roadblocks in my path for a purpose. One that I cannot see right now, but I may understand in the future. Rather than waste my energy, perhaps I should trust the Master and go where He leads.

I'm sure we'll all look back on our lives someday and wonder why the Lord allowed certain things to happen. Was it to protect us? Or someone else? Was it to guide us in another direction? One that we wouldn't have gone otherwise? I know it's not good to muse about the 'what ifs' in life, especially when they are things we have no control. But it does make me grateful for such a loving God to have our best interests in mind. All of the time.

Even if we can't see it at the moment.


They're Doing it For Us

My husband is a remarkable man. He really is. And I'm not just saying that because I know he'll be reading this within a few days (I always ask him to read my posts - it keeps me honest!) But he really is simply amazing.

Not only does he work full time, leaving the house at 7:15am and rushing to get home by 5:45pm, but he also manages several rental properties (including our own home) and is totally focused on me and the boys when he walks through the door. You'd never know the weight of things he carries on his shoulders when he's playing with Jack and Ben. It's a beautiful thing. The boys can hardly contain themselves when they hear daddy coming up the stairs. They know their daddy is going to be ready to pounce as soon as he runs through that door!!

I was talking on the phone with Andy this afternoon and he was telling me about some of the extra responsibilities he's taken on at work. He's working on a big project that challenges him to get home 'on time' and keeps his mind racing even after he's left the office. It consumes much of our conversation on the weekend and sometimes, we need to explicitly tell ourselves to talk about something else. I listened to him a moment, then said, "Andy, I know you're doing this project for work, but I know you're really doing it for me. And the boys. Thank you." That really struck a chord with him. He even thanked me for saying that!

Isn't that the truth? No matter how much our husbands' work lives affect them, no matter how much they seem to tie up their thought process and add extra responsibilities to their already full plate, we need to remember. They're doing it all for us.

It's not enough just to appreciate what our husbands do for us. We need to tell them. Because I can't even tell you how much that statement seemed to mean to Andy. I've got to keep that one in mind!

And for those of you that think I'm exaggerating about how amazing my husband is, I'd just like to point out the fact that at this moment - at 10:26pm - he is washing our floors on his hands and knees. The entire floor, from the kitchen, to the dining room to the living room. He's even moving the boys' toys and the dining room chairs to get every square inch. Now if that's not love, I don't know what is.

Maybe that comment meant even more than I originally thought... ;)


Hidden Resentment

Andy and I watched a portion of a show called "Home Rules" on HGTV last night. I had never seen it before and it peaked my curiosity. Life Coach Fran Harris interviews a family in trouble, gives them advice, and if they take it, they get a home makeover. Interesting. (If only it were that easy, huh?)

This girl visited Erin and Corey, a multiracial couple with two beautiful little girls. Their house wasn't logically laid out, everything was a mess, and the couple was constantly bickering about how they spend their time. To make it a little more stressful, her parents are living in their basement so they can watch the girls while both parents work full-time.

Erin's biggest problem was the fact that Corey spends much of his time playing games on the computer. Corey said Erin's parents are around too much, making him feel like a visitor in his own home. Fingers were pointed in different directions and always ended with the mom in tears. It all got very complicated in just the few minutes we tuned in. But here's what the life coach discovered. Corey was spending a crazy amount of time on the computer. EIGHT HOURS A DAY, in fact! He'd get on about 8pm (after the girls went to bed) and play until 3am, sleep for three hours and then get up for work! Wow. But before you jump on Corey's bad habit, listen to this: their three-year-old daughter had been sleeping with them ever since she was born! Yeah, I don't think there's much more room in that bed for the daddy.

It was late, so we turned the show off before I got to see the end. But the situation feels pretty predictable to me.

Are you ready for my (very unprofessional) opinion? Well, here it is!

Corey found a way to disconnect himself from his family because he wasn't getting what he needed: time alone with his wife. Erin, in turn, embraced her daughter's company and didn't fight it because at least she wasn't alone! Corey gradually let his time playing increase rather than fighting over a space in bed. Erin grew frustrated that he was emotionally distant from the family rather than giving him reasons (wink, wink) to join her in the evening. They let their resentment build up until it had reached an unhealthy level, but no one knew how to handle it. It's all a slippery slope. Funny, how much easier these things are to see when you're not the one in the middle of it!

Here's my point. When the husband doesn't get what he needs, the wife doesn't get what she needs, and everyone loses.

It starts with us, girls! It all starts with us.

I'm sure the life coach used some amazing technique (or just sheer will) to get the daughter to enjoy sleeping in her own bed, and convinced Corey into spending less time on the computer. I would have also encouraged Erin to make life more interesting and convince her husband that she's more worth his attention. When he feels respected - with his needs, his space, and his time - he can then give Erin the love that she needs. Husbands need to be respected; wives need to be loved.

Amazing, how these truths show themselves in so many different ways. Who said television was all bad? :)


A Small Gesture

After we put the boys down for the night, my husband and I are finally able to have some time for ourselves. While I enjoy relaxing in front of the computer before going to bed, Andy enjoys relaxing in front of the television. And believe me, after all of the work he does during the day, he deserves it.

Before I go to the computer, I poke my head into the room and ask, "Can I get you anything?" What he asks me for is never a big deal. A glass of water, his cell phone, if anything at all. Why I'm asking him, is the big deal.

This is one small way I feel like I can honor my husband. Make him comfortable. Communicate just how much I appreciate him working and recognize that he needs time to relax, too. Rather than making him feel guilty, I try and encourage it. And believe me, he notices.

As wives, we are called to serve our husbands. Not in a way that is demeaning or degrading, but in a way that is honorable and noble. I don't offer a helping hand because I feel like he expects me to. Or that he simply assumes that's part of my role as his wife. (If that were the case, I doubt I would do it at all!) I do it because I know it blesses him.

And when our husbands feel appreciated, they are then able to care for and love their family. It's a cycle of love. But it starts with us.


Walking Attempts Documented

Oh my word. It is so much easier taking pictures of the boys when daddy's around! I took advantage of Andy's helping hands this afternoon to try and get some action shots of the boys' walking attempts.

Jack and Ben with daddy - couldn't resist the matchy green!

Jonathan tries out his sea legs and hets about seven steps!

I love Jack's face on this one!

Maybe I should have rolled up his pant legs!

Benjamin can stand for quite some time, a skill he's mastered over time.

Ben gains his footing...

... and takes a few steps!

Now there's NO hope for me to keep the house clean!


One Step at a Time

It started innocently enough. A little bit here, a little bit there. Nothing huge. My mom was the first to see Jonathan doing it; last Wednesday, in fact. I thought she was exaggerating. I mean, there's no way. Right? My boys are too little for that. And then Ben started doing it, too. Mostly when no one was watching. They don't do it all of the time, but they're getting better. Stronger. More confident. And I'm getting scared. Really scared.

That's right. My boys have taken their first steps.

True to form, Jonathan won't 'perform' his new skill on command. Instead, he waits for when the attention is somewhere else before he practices. Usually, it's when he's walking alongside the wall, using his one hand to steady himself; he takes position and stands on his own. He waits a few seconds, takes a step, then takes another, then takes another. Then he falls on his butt or goes forward on his hands and knees. (This explains all of the extra red marks, bumps and bruises they've acquired on their bodies lately!) Benjamin seems to be a little more hesitant. Ben waits for our attention to see him stand for what feels like an eternity, maybe take a step or two and then collapse on the ground. Whereas he's always struck me as being the more outgoing personality of the two, he has surprised me with how tentative he's been about taking chances.

It will be interesting to see how they progress from here! It's been more than a week since Jonathan took his first steps and already, he's up to about seven steps at a time. Ben has taken only about two or three at a time so far, but still, that's pretty good! They're not even a year old yet! Unbelievable. It is so exciting to watch them grow!

One step at a time.


Taking a Breath

As a mom, life can be hectic and chaotic. Disorganized and frazzled. But this afternoon, I am basking in the quiet times of motherhood.

Jonathan looking out the window

Benjamin looking at something on his hand

Jonathan, sleeping on the Boppy pillow

Thank God for days to take a breath, relax, and smile at the little things. We do serve a wonderful God.


The Gift of Follow-Through

Every Easter, my husband tells me the same story. It was a story that dates back to when he was a kid, probably around eight or nine years old.

Andy had four brothers, all three years apart. He and his older brother were mischievieous little guys and were constantly pushing their dad to the limit. He was a quiet man. Firm. But he was always consistent, always followed through. He'd tell the subsequent consequence, give three warnings and then deliver. Every.single.time.

The night before this particular Easter, Andy and his brother were making a lot of noise upstairs before bed, running into the mattresses they had pushed against the wall. Their dad became frustrated with their uncooperation and said, "If you don't stop playing, you can either have five bare-bottom spankings or not get your Easter basket tomorrow." The boys thought they were being pretty clever. "Alright Dad," they said, "we won't get our Easter baskets." No matter how tough their dad was, there's no way he wouldn't give them their Easter baskets. Right? They continued to play to their hearts' content and then went to sleep, dreaming of what their morning would bring them.

They woke up on Easter morning and began searching for their beloved baskets. Ymm... big chocolate bunny, Cadbury Egg... they could even taste it. His two younger brothers found theirs. Andy and his brother kept searching. "Wow," they said to eachother, "Dad really hid them GOOD this year!"

After a while, they began to get discouraged. "Okay, we give up. We can't find them anywhere."

"What are you looking for?" their dad asked, barely looking up from his morning paper.

The boys became confused. "Our Easter baskets. Where are they?"

"Don't you remember? You decided to disobey instead."


That's when they realized how much bigger their two other brothers' baskets were. The Easter Bunny simply dumped the contents from theirs into their brothers'. 

I don't know that Andy and his brother stopped disobeying at that point - I mean, missing out on your Easter basket is a big deal - but I can attest to what a difference this lesson made in my husband's life. Andy learned that his dad meant business. You could trust his word. You could count on him to follow through. Say what you mean, mean what you say. What a valuable concept to pass on to your children. This is one of the many lessons Andy learned from his dad more than twenty years ago, a lesson that has helped shaped my husband into the man of character that he is today.

And every Easter, he is reminded of a gift his dad was strong enough to give.

Even though my boys will never meet their grandfather on this side of heaven (he died ten years ago,) they will benefit from his legacy of love for eternity. And that gift lasts a lot longer than a few pieces of chocolate. Thanks, dad.


April UNtruths

I am not a fan of April Fool's Day. I don't mean to be a party-pooper, but I'm just not a good practical jokester. I don't enjoy being on either side, the one being tricked or the one making the joke. I mean, honestly, who wants someone always doubting everything you say? I'm glad my husband knows this about me and will take any clever ideas of trickery to someone else. That makes our relationship much healthier :)

But in the spirit of the day, I've decided to record a bunch of UNtruths about me.
  • I am a slim 140 pounds and my body is perfectly toned.
  • There are no stretch marks on my tummy; it is as flat as a brick. (Right, Robyn? :)
  • I have never been a nail biter, much less after I became a mom.
  • I can play the tuba, the accordian, and the bass guitar.
  • I can play the piano by ear. Any song you'd ever want to hear.
  • My kids never fight or steal toys from the other without their permission.
  • They never scream in public or throw food on the ground. Nope. They behave like gentleman all the time.
  • I have never purchased a large bag of Milky Ways only to have it gone within two days. Okay, one day.
  • I know how to use the remote control for my (husband's) television.
  • I hate using coupons.
  • I love shopping amongst huge insane crowds.
  • I do not have a secret obsession with Lipton's Diet Raspberry White Tea, drinking 2-3 bottles of it a day.
  • I do not know every single line of Disney's The Little Mermaid.
  • I go to the salon to get my hair done every six weeks.
  • I drive a Cadillac Escalade.
  • I love watching gory shows that show blood, guts and gore. The more graphic, the better.
  • I hate romantic comedies.
  • I would never create a million Facebook status updates in my head through the day and then only post about 5% of them.
  • I do not have more than 200 CDs I have burned of photographs and videos I have taken in the past six years. That would just be insane, border line obsessive.
I guess I can celebrate the fun of April Fool's Day after all!