An Uncomplicated Life Blog: 2019


Monday, October 21, 2019

Coming Back From A Fitness Break

I took some time away from the gym and working out while I breastfed my twins. Here's what it's like to get back into fitness after taking a long break!

I've always worked out regularly. I love being active, and benefit of being physically fit is a nice perk. However, after I had the twins I took some time off... Um, like a solid year. I breastfed them exclusively and workouts not only negatively impacted my supply, the classes I enjoyed going to were right when they needed to nurse. I also just kinda stopped enjoying working out. It was a chore, not a joy. So I gave myself some grace and let myself have some time off. But now! Now I feel ready to get back into the gym/yoga studio and start dedicating some time to myself and my body again. Here's what it's like coming back from a fitness break, complete with before photos that will be updated after a few months to (hopefully!) show some progress.

"Before" photo! I'm back to prebaby weight but have lost all muscle tone from taking a fitness break

The weirdest thing about this fitness break I took was losing my desire to workout. I truly didn't enjoy going to even the calmest yoga classes! Now, I've been an athlete nearly my whole life. I made the varsity cheerleading team as a freshman in high school and ran track starting in 7th grade. Before that, I had been in dance. We regularly went ice skating in the winters as a family (every park in Minnesota has a rink for free!) and I'd go on runs with our family English Setter, Bosco. It was a real shock to me to not enjoy myself while being physically active. But I took it as a sign I needed to slow down; the birth of my twins wasn't an easy one (one VBAC and one c section!) so I decided to roll with it and allow myself some time off.

Then there was the breastfeeding dilemma. I was committed to make it a year breastfeeding the twins (AND I DID) and not only did class times not match up well with our nursing schedule, it negatively impacted my supply. If I did anything harder than an intense yoga class, say a HIIT class or something else cardio-heavy, my supply would drop. When you're nursing twins, you cannot, and I mean CANNOT, lose your supply. You've got to keep it up. So I'd eat oatmeal most mornings, I'd eat when I wasn't hungry (naturally, I eat two meals a day if I follow my own hunger cues, and I'm not a snacker. Just two good meals a day, and I'm set) and I'd munch on lactation bars when I drove. Man, the thing about breastfeeding is that you're always eating! It was annoying, but I also loved it and felt proud of myself for hitting my goals.

So, now here I am, a year postpartum. I'm still breastfeeding the twins, but only about three times a day. They love table food, and have no problem getting their nutrition from fruits, veggies, meats, and dairy. These babies literally haven't met a food they don't like yet! They also like whole milk, so they get a bottle of that while I'm away if  they need it. I lost all my baby weight after a few weeks but my shape? Yeah, it's not the same! And with the extended fitness break, I also lost a ton of muscle. So while the scale went down and I'm slender, I know I have a ton of work to do to get some strength and muscle tone back, whatever that may look like after having four kids in four and a half years.

Side view. Hope to do something to lift and tone that rear end

Here's what I'm committing to as a come back from my fitness break:
- 3 workouts a week. These are hour long classes I take, be it yoga, barre, Pilates, or some other form of group fitness
- eating vegetables at every meal
- having a protein bar for breakfast (it's not abnormal for me to not eat until 2pm or later)
- limiting alcohol (more on that below!)

The workouts are self explanatory. I've figured out a good, consistent schedule for me to get a variety of classes in, three times a week. This isn't my former schedule of at least four times a week, but I feel like it's a great introduction back into fitness and it's a nice compromise for me while the twins are still nursing a few times a day.

Veggies at every meal doesn't mean that I'll only eat veggies at every meal, simply that they'll be there at every meal (minus the protein bar breakfast, which is a meal I'm re-introducing anyway). Lunch and dinner will have a side of, or even be made mostly of, vegetables.

And then alcohol. Oh, alcohol. I do love a good glass of wine, but you know what? The older I've gotten, the less I can tolerate it. It's almost like my body just wants to refuse it more and more. I've pinpointed my insomnia problem to being directly related to alcohol. Now, if I drink wine at night, I simply WONT sleep. Not just sleep badly, or wake often - I won't sleep more than 45 mins - 2 hours, for the entire night. I'll wake up for the day at 12:15 am. And I won't just lie there in bed awake, I'll have a high heart rate, I'll sweat, I'll be freezing, I'll feel sick... It's gross! And just not worth it. My rule now is, I'll have a drink or two if I have enough time to digest it before bed (and for me, that's about 2 hours for every drink) but night drinking? That's out. It's not worth the destruction to my system and it's not worth the fat added to my belly!

Mid section close up: I have nearly zero arm tone and my belly button is an unhappy face emjoi from getting stretched out so far with twins

After the holidays, I plan on posting an update for y'all. Which is probably stupid on my part! I mean, the holidays are notorious for weight gain. Although, honestly, I've never been that person to pack o the pounds. I do enjoy Thanksgiving, mostly because stuffing, gravy and turkey are my JAM, but Christmas? Yeah, I'm not a big cookie eater. I actually didn't eat a single Christmas cookie last year (because I was dairy free with nursing newborns, and they're all made with butter...) and for our meal, we do a ham, a side salad and a few sides. New Years Eve is a little bit of a gut buster, because we do a family party with a whole bunch of appetizers that we let the kids eat in the living room while we watch movies and have dance parties, then are all asleep by 9pm. All in all, the holidays shouldn't do *too* bad a number on my weight/body size, but time will tell when I post my second post three months from now on Jan 16!

Coming back from a fitness break is daunting. When I work out, I can't do the things my body used to do before the break, and that's hard to take. I don't look the same, have the same muscle tone, or fit in my clothes the same way. I've got work to do! But I'm committed to myself and doing it. I'm finally ready to "bounce back" after my babies and my unexpected fitness break! Stay tuned on my Instagram Stories and the blog for updates on how things are going, my successes and setbacks. Y'all already know I'll post those setbacks all over my Instagram Stories.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Happy Birthday To Me!

I'm taking the day off because yesterday was my 35th birthday and I'm currently on a trip with the hubby! If you're into snooping, follow my Instagram Stories to see what we're up to. I'll be back here Monday with a personal post about fitness, how I fell off the wagon and how I'm getting back on it. See ya then!

Monday, October 14, 2019

The Nightmare Before Christmas Birthday Party

My twins turned one, so we threw them an October The Nightmare Before Christmas themed birthday party

And (NOT JUST LIKE THAT) they were one! No, this year didn't fly by. It was long. It was hard. There were a few times I didn't think I'd make it, and there were a bunch of moments I truly didn't enjoy. But, we're here! We made it. Around the 9-10 month mark, things started to get easier and now, it's like nearly everyday they get a tad easier. The twins turned one this past Saturday, so we threw us them a party and because we had mid-October babies, we went with a nice and weird theme: The Nightmare Before Christmas. It's my older boys' favorite Halloween movie, so clearly we had to use it for the twins. It's so funny, because I guess it's a movie with a big cult following, so even though it came out when I was in high school (I think?!) there's plenty of party supplies and clothes that all fit in the theme. If you've got a fall birthday in your family and want a fun party theme, look no further - check out this Nightmare Before Christmas birthday party.

First, the invites. I searched on Amazon but didn't like how I couldn't do printing, and I didn't want to hand write in some of the details of the party. I thought that looked tacky. I also searched on Minted, which is our go-to for printed things like invitations and Christmas cards, but they didn't have anything in our theme. I then found these adorable invites on Zazzle and I'm really impressed. Nice quality, easy to customize online and I found an online coupon for 20% off my order, so they were actually quite affordable, too. Pic of the invite in this post!

One big bummer was that my cake decorator is no longer in business! She was so talented and made cakes for Henry and Otto that not only were exactly what I envisioned, but tasted great too. My second choice bakery is Whole Foods. I love how their cakes aren't too sweet. I planned on getting smash cakes for the twins and then cupcakes for everyone at the party and just put a cake toppers on the cupcakes. That's way easier than cutting cake for everyone (learned that at Henry's birthday party...) While I wanted a white and black Jack Skellington design, the baker told me that they don't have black dye because they only use natural food coloring, so I'd likely be disappointed in the end result. I decided to go with a pumpkin design that they had in the case, and just add the twins' names to the little cakes. Easy peasy, and can't be beat for less than $10 a cake (that, let's be serious, will mostly end up on the floor anyway - another reason I opted to not use the black and white design, I don't need my furniture stained!)

We learned at Henry's party that keeping the menu simple and buying most of it (as opposed to making it from scratch) is the way to go. So the day before the party, I ran to Costco and picked up a tray of sandwiches, a fruit and cheese tray, and some beer and wine. Then we put some crackers out for kids and had some chips and dip. Again, easy peasy! I wasn't trying to cook a meal for 30 people from scratch, especially considering Otto, Knox and Teddy didn't have school the day before the party so I had super limited time to get everything done.

Knox enjoying his cake
The day of the party was unseasonably cool out, which was perfect! We blew up our bounce house for older kids who came and had some yard games out. Corn hole, bocce ball and a croquet set were out there for all to enjoy. A fire pit would have been perfect, but too risky with all the young kids who were going to be there. Simple food, simple drinks, and simple activities. This was only a 2 hour party, after all.

Teddy going to town on the icing while Henry looks on in disapproval of the mess

Our decorations, on the other hand, weren't as simple. Of course my house is decorated for Halloween, but I really enjoyed shopping for The Nightmare Before Christmas party decorations and favors. Here's some links to the exact stuff I got:

The twins' outfits
Plates and napkins
Table covers
Happy Birthday banner
Cling decals
Goodie bags
Tattoos (for goodie bags)

The party went well, and we had a great turnout. The twins of course had no idea what was happening, or why everyone was signing to them, or why a massive ball of sugar was put in front of their face (Teddy REALLY likes sweet things while Knox is so-so on them, and usually won't eat fruit). I've never cried at any of my kids' parties or birthdays but I found myself having a minute with the twins. Perhaps because they're my last babies, and I officially no longer have any babies - they're toddlers now! Although I never feel like babies are real toddlers until they hit 18 months or so. That's when the real toddler-ness comes out.

Poor Teddy was sick (as was I) but he still put a smile on his face for the party!

It was a good day! We invited all our friends, family members flew into town and the next day, the twins got baptized. Now that it's over, hubs and I are preparing to take off for our first solo trip in nearly two years for my 35th birthday, which is Wednesday. After that, it's on to the holiday season... And then on to 2020! Now that they're no longer infants, time is just flying by.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Ultimate Gift Giving List

If you've got people on your list whom are hard to shop for, check out these lists of potential gifts as we head into the holiday season

It happened just like I said it would. Once all the summer vacations are over and school resumes, all we have to do is blink and boom - it's the holiday season! Sure, this post is still early. But if you're like me, and have many kids or just a large list to shop for, you've got to start planning now. Especially for those who "have everything" or who you're just not sure what to get them. I've rounded up all my "lists"' posts that serve as great ideas for gift giving, and will break down for who each list is good for. This, friends, is the ultimate gift giving list. And bonus, most of it is Prime eligible (hey free shipping) and about 90% of it is $25 or less. No, I didn't actually calculate that stat, but still! So much of it is within even a tight budget. *Contains affiliate links*

Kitchen gadgets
Have someone who loves to cook? Maybe they're interested in brushing up their culinary skills. This is a great list for them! You could also get something off this list and pair it with a fun local cooking class or a wine tasting, or pair one of the gadgets with a cookbook for a well rounded and super thoughtful gift.

Wooden toys
Calling all people with young kids! This list is a must-check-out if you've got babies, toddlers or even young kids (ages 5-7). I love wooden toys because the quality is SO much better than plastic, and it's not nearly as destructive to the earth as cheap plastic toys. These are actually things you can pass down to other children and will withstand even the roughest of play times. They're also gender neutral so you'll *actually* be able to keep them for all your kids regardless of gender. The twins are getting the walker for Christmas... Just saying!

Dry shampoo
Know a mom? A busy woman? Dry shampoo is a life saver and I really break down which formula is best for who in this post. Whether you're on a budget, have dark hair, or are sensitive to the fragrance in most dry shampoos, I've got it covered in that post! If you've got someone in your life that needs a good dry shampoo, and if you have a mom or a woman with an intense career you most certainly do, check it out and give her not only a useful gift, but one she'll appreciate.

Nursing friendly clothes
Got a new mom in your life? This is a great list for her! Or a mother you know is breastfeeding? She'd most certainly appreciate clothes (because let's be honest - moms aren't buying clothes for themselves anymore, they're buying clothes for their kids) especially stuff she can easily nurse her child(ren) in. I have a closet full of clothes, most of which I couldn't wear for the last year because there wasn't a good way for me to nurse in them. My cute maxi dresses? Yeah, can't access the goods in those. A regular t-shirt? Fine, but I have to pull it up and let my tummy hang out, and that's not comfortable for me in public. Nursing friendly clothes aren't mandatory, but certainly something that is NICE to have as a nursing mom, so if you know a nurser, this list is fantastic.

Yoga fashion finds
I called these "yoga fashion finds" but they'd work for just about any workout... Or, just for wearing athleisure clothes around. If you have a yogi, a barre lover, or a fitness enthusiast on your list this year, check it out. The clothes are as cute (or cuter!) than Lululemon without the insane price tag. Literally, most things on the list are $20 or less and look like the high end fitness brands.

Zero waste eco friendly products
I love how we as a society are waking up to the climate crisis. Thanks, Greta! If you want to do something about it, get ANYONE on your list one of these items so that they can make an easy product swap. There's so many great things here, from travel coffee mugs to food storage to toothbrushes. Literally, products that everyone uses but without the harmful plastic and obnoxious waste of conventional brands.

Essential oils
I'm of the opinion that essential oils make AMAZING gifts. Even if all the person does is diffuse them in order to replace their toxic candles, that's a win! I wrote the attached post on all the ways I use them in my life. If you've got a "crunchy" friend who hasn't gotten into them yet, there are amazing gift options at Revive! Or you could get the oils associated with one of my DIYs or diffuser recipes, and print off the blog post so the recipient knows how to use them. Revive's oils are indigestible, 100% therapeutic grade essential oils that require no membership sign ups (buy them like you'd buy anything on Amazon) and always ship for free in the US and Canada. Use code PAIGE10 for 10% off your order, too!

Homemade gifts
Want to make your own gifts this year? I think that's a FANTASTIC idea! I have a bunch of super easy crafts to make that are quick and can be made in bulk so that you've got spare hostess or secret Santa gifts to give on a whim. That link is literally full of ideas on great things to make, from a peppermint foot scrub to a room spray to a massage oil. Whatever you might need, that post has you covered!

Gift giving season is upon us! I've curated this ultimate gift giving list to provide ideas for all kinds of people who might be on your list this year, from busy or nursing moms, to children to eco-minded people. I love it when some thought was put into the gifts I not only get, but to those I give. I love things that are helpful or needed, or that will help the environment. This year, give the GOOD gifts, both in helpful to the person and helpful to the world as a whole.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Mom Group Advice

The trends I've noticed about mom group questions and advice

I've posted about the proverbial "mom groups" before. A bunch of women grouped together, the only thing in common is that we're trying to raise little humans. We have different education levels, income levels, different parenting methods, different jobs or careers, different relationship statuses, and live in different cities and even different countries. Just a massive hodgepodge of women! Some are grouped based on your child's gender, some on the age of your children, some on the location of your home, some on your parenting philosophy, like extended breastfeeding or attachment parenting. Moms can join discussions, ask or answer questions, post funny memes. Sounds like a great way to forge an online community, right? Ha! Mom groups are a funny breed. Things get heated quickly. Tone can't be read on the internet and moms get offended at the slightest thing. The oddest thing is when a mom asks for advice. That's when mom groups get plain weird.

Do you seek advice in mom group? It's kinda like playing Russian roulette... You never know what you're gonna get!

What do I mean, you ask? Let's say a mom asks a question on her 8 month's old sleep habits. She's wondering if her baby waking up every two hours is normal, or if she can start to "sleep train" her baby. Oh Lordy, hold on to your seats, because things are about to get heated and weird! Mom number one pipes in and says yes, it's normal but that by 8 months, if her pediatrician gives the ok and the mom is comfortable with it, she can start to sleep train in whatever method works for mom and baby (this, BTW, would be the response I'd personally give. It's accurate information and also respectful to the mother and her parenting style, whatever that may be. Or, at least, that's my intent!)

Mom number 2 comes through to comment. "Good grief, why have you waited so long to sleep train?! It might not even work now. Good luck with that, your baby already has bad habits!" Not exactly helpful mom two, but whatever. Mom 3: "Is your baby breastfed? Breastfed babies wake up because they need comfort too, not just because he's hungry. If he cries and you don't go to him, you're emotionally damaging him! Don't even think about night weaning him until 18 months to two years of age or he'll resent you!" Ummmmm... This post wasn't about breastfeeding mom 3, but that's cool. Mom 4: "CIO (cry it out) is borderline child abuse. Just so you know." Ooookkkurrrr mom 4, not a helpful or true statement. Mom 5: "I don't know, but my perfect baby has slept through the night since the day we brought her home from the hospital." Thanks for letting us all know how great your baby is mom 5! Also? Everyone eye rolled pretty hard at you and how perfect your child is... Just so you know.

It gets better and better (aka weirder and weirder) the more comments that get dropped. Everyone has their two cents that cover the gamete of parenting scopes and perspectives. Eventually, the conversation devolves to something like this: Mom 56, "Y'all are a bunch of judgmental jerks! This mom didn't ask for your opinions, she asked if she could sleep train. Keep your opinions to yourself and keep scrolling next time!" Well... it's true that some people may have left some judgmental comments, but the original poster ABSOLUTELY asked for peoples opinions. That's why she left a question, soliciting people's responses.
A helpful response (jokes!) to an... Interesting question

The best is when the original question-asking mom swoops back in and starts yelling at all the people who commented on her post (you know... After she asked for people to comment or respond to her question) "Why are you all such a$$holes!? I never said I was going to let my baby cry, I just wanted to know if him waking up every two hours was normal! Jeez, y'all are opinionated. Go judge yourselves!" Look mom, I get what you're saying but the fact is you asked a mom group for their opinions... And you got them. So, you know, you got what you asked for.

I myself have been called a know-it-all in a mom group. I find this hilarious! I try to take all my personal opinion or personal parenting style out of any response I have and just make it about facts. So, for example, if a mom asks, "what's the best way to ensure breastfeeding success for me and my baby?" I'd reply, "feed on demand and latch the baby to your breast as much as possible. Drink tons of water and eat well!" I guess that matter of fact tone doesn't sit well with everyone, and it comes off as a know it all. Ok... but if I'm the one with the knowledge and you're the one with the question, what's the problem with that?

That's the internet for you though. Try to just leave a helpful response, and people will still be crazy about what you have to say. Don't position it just right and they're offended. Don't cushion it correctly, and you're a jerk. Or a know it all. Heaven forbid you may actually KNOW the answer to a question that's asked.
Oh boy. Please give your child more juice...

The funny thing about mom groups is that this is, from my experience, unique to mom groups. I'm in some blogging groups, and nobody reacts the way moms do in mom groups. People ask questions and are genuinely thankful for any and all advice and perspectives. I'm in a photography group and even the nastiest replies are met with, "wow, I never thought of it that way, that's great info to consider!" But mom groups? Nah, these women don't consider other perspectives or ways of parenting. They ask a question and proceed to get as hurt and offended by the people replying as they possibly can. It's so bizarre.

That's what I don't understand about mom groups. It seems like a question gets asked from a fellow mom seeking out mom group advice, but she's not really ready for the answer. She doesn't want anyone else's opinion - in fact, she's often offended or hurt by them. Even when people respond with the best of intentions, the online conversations often go awry. I'm not saying that all the respondents reply with good intentions, because they don't! Some comment just to bash the mom, which is another thing I don't get. The whole dynamic of participating in mom groups is pretty wild. But, motherhood in and of itself is pretty wild, so I guess the mom group advice columns are fitting after all.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Mean Girls And Fake Friends

If you've ever suffered through a mean girl or a fake friend, you need to read this! Helpful hints in identifying and processing friendships gone sour

In full disclosure, I'm seriously one of the lucky ones. I run a tight ship. I don't let people into my inner circle easily. While I'm an extrovert and have many friends, I have a few who actually, truly know me as a person. These are my *real* friends, and it takes a long time to get to that level. Even with all that, I've been deeply disappointed with some friends, even as an adult. I've been burned. I've been left, sometimes in another city after traveling there to see someone, thinking, what the hell?! I've gotten hurtful messages and I've had difficult conversations with friends. But there's a difference: you can have a hard conversation or a rough patch. That's one thing. Maybe you even go a long time without talking, that's ok too. But sometimes, even if you're super careful, you've let a mean girl or even an all out fake friend into your life. Here's what I'm talking about.

The gal in this photo is the very LAST thing from a fake friend - she's one of my bestest! But I had to use a photo I had the rights to so... Oh, making a living on the internet!

It's so *funny* (hahaha, not actually laughing...) to me, because you think as an adult, you've outgrown this and moved past this type of behavior. You think, no way! We're all grown women, we're all over this stage of our lives! I mean, Junior High was a long time ago, right? We've all emotionally matured since then, yeah? But I'm here to tell you, this is absolutely not true. You WILL experience this as an adult, and you WILL be let down, and you WILL be baffled at the actions/responses/reactions/words of grown women.

Mean girls are fairly easy to spot, although it is less obvious than you'd think. She's usually the one who won't let you finish a sentence before she starts talking about herself, her family or her situation. The conversation is usually dominated by her. That's a narcissistic mean girl. Everything quickly circles back around to her because she doesn't care about you or your situation, and certainly doesn't want to waste her time listening to you when she could be talking about herself. These women are always late too, because everything runs on HER time. Your schedule and your needs don't even register to her, you're of that little importance.
Another sign of a mean girl is someone who always has to "one up" you. "Oh, think THAT'S bad, wait until you hear this!" Or maybe you got a new car, but low and behold, she just bought one that's bigger/better/more expensive. She's the type of person who would announce her pregnancy at your child's birthday party. She feels the need to make sure everyone knows she's doing juuuuuust a little bit better than everyone else.

The obvious sign of a mean girl is someone who always has mean things to say about everyone. Now, mean things and criticism are two different things! I think one can criticize without being mean. I'm talking outright mean things, like commenting on someone's weight, or appearance, in a mean way. Maybe she consistently has mean things to say about another woman's marriage or how she raises her children. She's constantly snarky. But the thing here is, she's pointing out everything negative about everyone else because she's feeling negative about herself.

I think that's the thing about mean girls that makes me feel some compassion towards her. Whenever someone is mean towards someone, it's usually reflective of how she's feeling about herself. And if you take what that mean girl is saying and apply it to her, that's a pretty brutal life to live. So while their words may sting and hurt people, I do feel sorry for mean girls. It's the fake friends that I just absolutely cannot tolerate. There is no excuse for being a fake friend.

What's a fake friend look like? She's usually harder to spot than a mean girl, because she's sneaky. But there are several really good indicators I've learned to watch for. First, she'll never confront you about anything. Now, plenty of people hate confrontation! And that's ok, although I'm certainly not one of them. But she never brings any issues up with you that involve you. If you never hear directly from her that you did something that hurt her or offended her or simply disappointed her, she's probably a fake friend. REAL friends can say, "Hey, when you sent that text, it hurt my feelings" or "I don't know why you laughed when I shared that - it really offended me" or something along those lines. Nobody is perfect and in a friendship, mistakes are going to be made. But when you never hear this type of feedback, it's either because she doesn't care enough to invest the time in the friendship or she's telling everyone else BUT you about you. The former is a fake friend, the latter is a fake and emotionally immature friend.

Other signs of a fake friend? She has motivations outside of friendship. Maybe she's trying to sell you something. Maybe she wants to buy something from you, or access some of your friends/connections for her own gain (financial or otherwise). However you want to slice it, she's not there for YOU, she's there for what you offer HER.

Got a friend who constantly posts stuff like this? She's probably immature and can't handle adult conversations or feelings

Another great sign of a potential fake friend? One that posts those Facebook memes about fake friends and "toxic" people. You know, the ones that simply say, "if you're toxic, I'm cutting you out of my life" or some such nonsense. Ooookkkkkurrr. That just means you're not adult enough to have a frank conversation with your friend, or you're a mean girl who really didn't care to begin with, or you haven't emotionally matured enough to be able to manage those conversations.These women are "cut and run" type girls. They're really quick to call other's out and end the relationship, when in reality, THEY'RE the ones who can't manage their emotions or their expectations of the relationship.

In fact, the last type of fake friend is what's prompted me to write this post. I had no idea things had gone south in our relationship. I had no idea things were in a bad place, from her perception, for our relationship. All of a sudden, I stopped hearing from her. I reached out a few times, and nada. Then I finally got a response back, it was clear she had/has no intentions of rekindling our friendship. She also had no intentions of telling me what I did that bothered her - and that's the part that gets me riled up. That's not only disrespectful to what was our friendship and to me personally, it's an immature response. I personally value her more than that, and I would certainly respect her enough to tell her what she did that bothered me. But I guess I was off in la-la land and accidentally made a fake friend, because if she really cared about me or the friendship, we'd be having a conversation right now instead of me typing up a blog post about it.

Here's another mind blowing fact (yes, fact) about mean girls and fake friends: the odds are really good that someone has thought YOU were one of these people, too. I'm sure the friend I referenced above thought/thinks I'm a mean girl or a "toxic person." That's the funny thing about human relationships - there's no ONE truth or reality. It's your interpretation vs. your intention mixed with their interpretation vs. intention. While it's easy for me to sit here and write about "other" friends, I'm not so naive to think that people haven't had some of these exact same thoughts about me before.

Even though we think we outgrow high school and emotionally mature as women, mean girls and fake friends can easily creep into your life. I try to vet people fully before they come into my inner circle, yet here I am still bummed out and mourning the fake friendship I once thought was real. Mean girls and fake friends can still manipulate their way into your life! Here's the most important thing I want you to take away from this post: their behavior says nothing about YOU as a person or friend, and everything about THEM. It reflects on their insecurities and their emotional maturity, not yours. Don't let them bring you down to their level! You're worth more than that. Take a deep breath, and let those mean girls and fake friends go.

Monday, September 30, 2019

The Best Halloween Clothing For Kids

Halloween costumes, pajamas and other apparel is a fun way to celebrate the season

Halloween is, by far, my favorite holiday. Has been for years. Even as a little girl, my sister and I decorated our bedrooms with Halloween decorations. Then when we lived together in our mid-to-late twenties, we went all out and decorated our condo. I mean lights, garlands, pumpkins, jack o laterns, skulls and zombies - all of it, all over! Now as a mom, my kids have (thankfully) shown as much interest in the holiday as I did as a child, and talk about pumpkins and "spooky" stuff year round. Proud mom moment, you know? We plan our costumes months in advance and I start buying Halloween pajamas late in the summer. I mean hey, they get worn year round so why not? This post is all about what the kiddos will be for Halloween (think costumes) and my favorite sources of Halloween jammies. Generally, all the best Halloween clothing for kids, toddlers and babies. *Affiliate links used*

Y'all know I'm dedicated to living sustainably and always trying new ways to be "green" and eco-friendly. I recently read an article on the effects of cheap clothing and how "discount" clothing, the stuff that you truly only buy to wear for a year or one season, is SO detrimental: it has to be made (with insanely cheap labor) using cheap materials that also had to be processed (think cheap cotton that has to be grown, cheap dyes, etc), shipped/trucked to a warehouse, shipped/trucked to a store and then it ends up in a landfill after a few years. Yuck! With that in mind, I made my kids try on their costumes from last year, and wouldn't you know, they fit perfectly. So my older two will be the exact same things they were last year - a ghost and a witch. Good thing, because Otto is still obsessed with his witch costume and is thrilled to wear it again! Henry is pretty easy going with the dress up (it's Otto who is WAY into it) so he's content being a ghost again.

This is Henry's ghost costume (the exact one isn't sold anymore, but this one is super close!) and this is Otto's witch costume. Both were great quality and I was really happy with them! Good enough quality to wash and wear for more than one year and neither was expensive.

The twins are a bit harder. There are so many cute baby costumes, but it's just too hot here to put them in, say, a fuzzy lion costume, or a plush pig costume. I need it to be as light and breathable as possible, because it's often still 90+ degrees here on Halloween. Now, I had this pumpkin costume from when Otto was a baby and it was just a tad too small, but holy heck is it ever cute on a baby! If you want a warmer version for a baby, this one is adorable and great for colder climates. If you live in my kind of climate, or perhaps even warmer or more humid, this one is similar to mine without the jumpsuit underneath so it'd be great for a hot Halloween.

What's the fun of twins if you can't do a themed costume, right? And also dress them alike. Trust me... This is one of the few joys of twins, because outside of this, they're just a TON of work. We went with salt and pepper, because one baby (Knox) is salty most of the time and Teddy is a little lovejoy firecracker (pepper). This is the salt onesie and here's the pepper onesie. They haven't come in the mail yet, but I can't wait to get a picture of that.

Onto the jammies! I absolutely adore holiday pajamas. Halloween, Christmas, Easter... Yup, all of them. Here's some of our favorites for the big boys that I've bought in the last two years:
- Scary jack o'lantern
- Happy pumpkin face

For the twins, I got these Nightmare Before Christmas jammies to wear for their first birthday, since that's their theme. These cute orange witch jammies, because they had green witches on them, and what baby doesn't look great in a green witch?! The jammies pictured above are from the actual Carter's store, and they're currently on mega sale! This is the top but I couldn't find any links to the bottoms.

I also just got some really cute matching Halloween jammies from Burt's Bees Baby. Amazon sells some of the styles from previous years, but their actual site contains all the cute, new styles and they regularly have good sales too. I love BBB because it's reasonably priced organic cotton, and they carry ALL sizes for Christmas pajamas - they even have a bandanna for your dog so he can match too! They literally have men's, women's, child, toddler and baby sizes and you can get everyone matching. We already have our Christmas jammies for this year because if you wait, certain sizes sell out and I need to buy from every single category. I'm a planner like that. This year's Christmas card is gonna be good!

Figuring out Halloween costumes and watching your kids have as much fun with it as you do is truly one of my favorite parts of parenting. Picking out holiday pajamas and listening to my kids "ohhhhh" and "ahhhhh" at how they glow in the dark. Halloween is definitely my favorite holiday because it's silly! We can decorate with pumpkins and orange lights and watch silly scary movies. There's no religious over/undertone so there's nothing somber or "deep" about it - it's just there for a good time (actually, the history of Halloween is pretty fascinating it you're looking for something to Google). We love getting into the holiday spirit, and these are the best Halloween clothing options for kids.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

My Experience With Diastasis Recti

Diastasis Recti is the separation of the ab muscles, and is very common in pregnancy - especially twins! Here's my experience with it and what I did about it

I've popped out four kids in four and a half years. My first two children are 19 months apart, then two and a half years later, I had twins. Somehow, I managed to keep my abs together all the way until I had the twins. While I was insanely blessed to make it to 37 weeks with them, my body didn't escape unscathed! I developed some pretty severe diastasis recti. This post is all about what the condition is, what the effects are, and what I did to treat it: my experience with diastasis recti.

One week after delivering twins

First, what is it exactly? WebMD breaks down the actual name to tell us that diastasis means "separation" and recti refers to the ab muscle called rectus abdominis. In a normal human, these muscles are connected and engaged. They're used to not only support the core or trunk of human weight, but also to keep the organs held in place in the body. Pregnancy causes extreme stretching of these muscles; so much so that in some cases, they separate completely, which is diastasis recti. This leaves only a thin band of connective tissue to hold organs in place, and the stomach muscles "pooch" out, leaving the woman still looking pregnant even though she delivered her baby weeks, months or even years ago. Some complications of this include uterine leaking, constant lower back pain and constipation. In severe cases of diastasis recti, a hernia can form, which requires surgery to fix.

Checking for diastasis recti is really simple. While laying down, flex your ab muscles. If you can get more than one finger in between them, and your stomach "peaks" like a mountain top, odds are good you've got a case of diastasis recti. 

I didn't have a severe case, and thankfully, all my organs stayed in place. However, after I delivered the twins, I could fit a full fist in between my ab muscles! An. Entire. Fist. When I flexed my ab muscles, my tummy was transformed to an upside-down V shape - it literally looked like a mountain peak. Even months after delivery, when my postpartum belly had gone down, I looked several months pregnant. And by the end of the day, I looked many months pregnant!

Looks aside, I had constant lower back pain. In fact, that's still a lingering side effect (more on that in a minute). When your ab muscles aren't where they should be and therefore aren't doing the job they're intended to do, it really does a number on your back. I had scoliosis surgery right before my 13th birthday, and while all is well and I generally have no complications from it, the doctors over-harvested bone from my hip to graph it all together. Several times a year, that spot will ache terribly, which I was fine with because it was only a few times a year, and a couple doses of Advil would knock it out. Since having the twins and developing diastasis recti, I've noticed this ache in my low back/high hip occurring several times a MONTH, and Advil doesn't take care of it.

The day I delivered the twins - 15 minutes before we left for the hospital

The other non-cosmetic effect is... As one could guess, bladder control. I've been so so lucky and have had very few issues with this! But after the twins, the weirdest thing happened. I don't *actually* pee in my pants (thankyouJesus!) but I go from not remotely needing to pee, to needing to pee right now. Like the muscles are about thisclose to not being able to keep it in! I've woken up in the middle of the night like, holy heck, I need to pee this very minute! Then when I go, I wonder what the emergency was because it wasn't a ton of fluid. Turns out, it's my restraining muscles that need to be strengthened again, and my ab muscles that need to be put back in place to assist my pelvic floor in doing it's job more efficiently.

Oh babies. You sure do a number on us moms! Everyone, go hug your mother. She sacrificed so much for you!

So what does one do for diastasis recti? The funny thing is, you need to do the opposite of what you'd think. Which is to say, you need to NOT work your abs out! You've got to let them heal and rest from the pregnancy. Give them proper time to move back to where they should be and recover from the distress they were just in. By just giving my abs time to recover, they went back to a two to two and a half finger separation, down from the entire fist that could fit in there shortly after my twin birth. Work with your OBGYN to establish how long you need to rest, and be sure to get cleared for any activity before beginning a program.

One of the things I did while "resting" was tummy binding (as seen in the first photo). I'd recommend this for any mom after birth, because it offers back support at a time your tummy muscles are confused and stretched out! There isn't much science backing up if it helps your waist shrink or not, but that's neither here nor there for me. I found it felt great and was so supportive - the tummy binder literally did the job my ab muscles no longer had the strength or position to do for my body. I used this bamboo one, and highly recommend it because bamboo breathes better than synthetic binders. Order a size down for sure. You'll need help getting into it at first, but my tummy always shrunk so fast I'd have quickly outgrown the size the brand suggested I buy.

Taken the day before this post published - over 11 months postpartum from twins

After you've been cleared for exercise, stay away from ab-heavy workouts. I did a ton of yoga, but when the instructor would do specific ab work, I'd go into child's pose or do other stretches and wait for him/her to get back to the flow. It's best to start with a diastasis recti-specific program, which is going to lead you through breathing and postures first, then light exercises and then transition you back to regular workout-type exercises. Most diastasis recti specific programs are 12-15 weeks long and will leave you ready to do standard group fitness classes. Keep in mind, this is after you've healed for the traditional 6 weeks postpartum and any additional time your OBGYN asks to to heal, so all in, you're looking at a five to six month healing time! And that's on the low end.

Diastasis recti is a bummer, but it comes with the territory of being pregnant, especially if you're expecting multiples. It takes a good long while to heal. Even nearly a full year later, I can stick a finger or two in between my ab muscles, and my belly button hasn't entirely returned to it's former self. But my bladder control has gotten tons better, and my lower back pain is slowly improving. If you're suffering from diastasis recti, make sure to speak to your OBGYN and get a referral for a pelvic floor specialist as well as a workout recommendation so that you don't make it worse! It takes time and work, but my experience with diastasis recti shows you can overcome it!

Monday, September 23, 2019

See Ya Thursday!

No post today, since I spent the weekend gallivanting around New York City with my high school bestie. Hope you watched my IG stories for all the fun times (mostly food, won't lie!) that were had. I'll be back here Thursday with some suuuuuuuper cute Halloween costume ideas, for kids, tots and babies and I'll also share where I get our Halloween jammies with all the links to the sets we've gotten this year.

I'll leave you with a pic of the adorableness that is to come on Thursday!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

"I Don't" Mom Culture

There's a new trend in mom culture, listing all the things you "don't do" with pride. Here's why I think it needs to change.

Typically, I write my blog posts out weeks in advance. I have my month entirely planned out, and usually half the next month too, in terms of content. But if you've been watching my IG stories, you know we got utterly taken out by a tummy bug (some of us twice!) and it's thrown off everything, so here I am writing this post the week it goes up. Interestingly enough, in the time I brainstormed it, asked y'all in last Thursday's post if I should actually write it and had the chance to sit down and write it, my perspective on the whole thing has changed! Not my opinion, but my perspective. What was going to be a fairly strong worded post on "I Don't" mom culture (if you haven't heard of that yet, I'll explain below) is now, hopefully, going to be more encouraging as opposed to scathing. I've actually been reading some of my old posts and thinking, "Jeez Paige, that was a little strong worded... If people didn't know you personally, they'd think you're a real jerk!" So! While I will share my thoughts on "I Don't" mom culture, because it's still me here, I also want to share the weird/divine interventions that have inspired me to change my tone.

First, let's talk about "I Don't" mom culture. I guess on one of the bigger, collaborative mom blogs in Australia (think similar to Scary Mommy, Her View From Home, etc that we have here in the U.S.) there was a post from a mom blogger who started the "I Don't" list. I think she probably had good intentions. It was a way for moms to vent about how they don't do it all - they don't cook from scratch every night after working all day, they don't have tidy homes, they don't limit their children's screen times, and so on. It was a post intended to laugh and bond over some of our shortcomings or imperfections or what-have-you's about motherhood. Here's a link to the post. It was shared in multiple mom groups I'm in, from local to international, and the thread of comments from women who loved this idea was expansive. Hundreds upon hundreds of women chimed in, proudly displaying what they "don't do" as moms/wives/caretakers/spouses/etc.

So that's "I Don't" mom culture. And I'm going to tell you exactly what I think about it and how it's failing us as women. But first (well, secondly at this point) the divine intervention! I knew if I laid out all my thoughts as passionately as I felt them, I'd get burned at the cross by other moms for it. It'd come across as judgmental, snarky, a know-it-all, and a do-it-all post. I went to lunch with a friend whom I haven't seen in several years a bit ago, and we talked about it. She wants to start a Christian blog with an unconventional twist, so we were talking all things blogging as I shared my idea with her. 

She listened to my ideas and thoughts on the topic and said she agreed - there was a lot of truth in what I had to say. But she suggested that instead of just criticizing the "movement" (should we even call it that?) that perhaps I should use it as a way to encourage moms to do better. To say, hey it's ok to not do everything perfectly, or as we "should" do it, but instead of giving ourselves a virtual high five for all the things we DON'T do, lets change the narrative to ways we can help each other. I loved that!

It's now Sunday and I'm sitting down to write this post that goes up Thursday (like I said, I'm way behind from this tummy bug!) Every Sunday morning I do a devotional from this book and this book (both take less than 2 minutes and are seriously LIFE CHANGING! I'm not religious so much as I am spiritual, although I was baptized and raised Christian, and I highly suggest getting them. $10 or less each and they're both BEAUTIFUL books to boot, full of encouraging and beautiful thoughts) and the topic of the day's post was judgment. I laughed as I read the title because I was just about to sit down and write this post! Anyhow, this passage really struck me: "But we have a tendency to see someone else's sin before we see our own... We never know how far someone has come, and we're not always sure what another family is going through. As moms, we need to be careful of thinking that the way we do things is the only way to do things. Instead, we need to walk humbly with one another and always extend grace, remembering how much we ourselves are in need of it."

Boom. The older I get, the more I see how much God is trying to talk to me and my heart, everyday. It's always right there in front of my face, I just have to choose to see it.

I don't think there's any inherent harm in "bonding" over shortcomings as moms. I know I've definitely spoken with a mom friend and talked about how I made a nasty dinner (burned it, recipe fail, doesn't matter!) and she's responded with a similar story. I've confessed to friends about how I wasn't proud of the way I disciplined one of my children before. I feel like talking about the ways in which we make mistakes as parents is normal and healthy. It's a way for us as moms to confess, process and move on with them.

But this movement isn't that. If it was intended as that, it's morphed into something else. 

It's almost like a competition to see which mom doesn't do even some of the most basic parenting. I can't tell you how many moms replied that they didn't limit screen time at ALL, that they fed their kids fast food most days of the week and that their houses were a disastrous mess. Newsflash: you're child isn't getting any smarter staring at that screen (probably while you stare at yours...), fast food has no nutrition in it, not to mention all the preservatives and chemicals that make it not even real food (oh, and the sodium and high calorie count...) and while my home isn't always perfect (there's toys all over the floor as I write this) who wants to live in filth?!

As parents, it's our job to instill good habits and behavior in our kids, and I don't get how any of those things are doing that. WE are the ones who need to set boundaries. WE are the ones that need to encourage physical and imaginative play for brain and muscle development. WE control what our children eat and the nutrition they (do or don't) get. WE control our home's environment, and have the power to assign chores so that we don't have to do it alone.

The internet emboldens people. They say things online they'd never have the courage to say to someone's face. And this "I Don't" mom culture is a bizarre way to brag about how you're a crappy mom. Nobody expects perfection! My kids had grilled cheese and tator tots last week from a local greasy spoon/fast food type spot. But it's one thing to occasionally do these things and it's another to have it be your lifestyle. A lifestyle that you brag about online. It's not brag worthy to live that lifestyle.

Speaking of "mom culture" I wrote this post earlier this year on some other bizarre things that are cool with moms that I simply don't identify or agree with if you want to check it out. 

I'd love to switch the "I Don't" mom culture to "I Didn't" so that it's not a lifestyle of things we don't do, but hey - something I didn't do today but I'll try again tomorrow. I fed my kids fast food last Thursday (after I had been up the whole night with sick kids) so I DIDN'T cook that night; but Friday I defrosted some homemade bone broth chicken soup and baked biscuits! Isn't that a much better narrative to tell? I didn't that one day, but dangit, I'm going to try again tomorrow! I feel like "I Didn't" gives us the room for grace on the bad days, but encourages us to try again the next day. It doesn't let us ingrain bad habits into our lifestyle with a flippant "oh well!" I'd love to see the negativity of the "I Don't" mom lists switched to an "I Didn't" with encouragement from other moms that tomorrow is a new day.

Monday, September 16, 2019

8 Best Zero Waste Eco Friendly Products

Live a greener lifestyle with these no waste, environmentally friendly product swaps

I'd love to think that by 2019 - heck, we're nearly into 2020 now! - most people are aware that climate change is real and that we're slowly destroying the planet with our carbon emissions, use of disposable plastics, heavy meat processing and consumption in developed nations, and our fuel consumption (gas is bad enough but jet fuel is outright horrific). Even if you're not on board with climate change (ummm...) you're probably aware of various endocrine disruptions you've had: perhaps fertility issues, unexplained weight gain, autoimmune diseases, food allergies, skin problems. I could go on and on! Some people really do get it and are looking for ways to limit waste so that both their personal health and the health of the planet improves; others are just starting to connect all the dots on how ALL of this is intertwined and our personal health is not independent of that of the environment. If you're looking for ways to reduce your waste and become more environmentally friendly, you've got to check out these 8 best zero waste, eco friendly products to help reduce your footprint - and improve your health while you're at it! *affiliate links used*

Starbucks is doing some great things, like taking away straws... But they still serve their coffee in paper or plastic cups. Ouch! If you get a reusable cup like this one, not only will you help reduce non-biodegradable waste (those plastic cups their iced drinks are served in aren't going anywhere for hundreds of years...) but you'll save money making your own coffee! Finance tip from a former financial adviser: buying coffee out is the BIGGEST waste of money - a "fancy" drink can set you back close to $10 now. Do the environment AND your wallet a favor and make your coffee at home. I like ceramic best because you can microwave it to heat it again, and as a mom, I zap my coffee hot again... and again and again.

So many cities, and even a few entire states, are getting on board with how absolutely terrible plastic bags are. I wish I could say Dallas was one of them, but we're about 20 years behind the curve down here. In fact, the city council passed a law taxing the use of plastic bags by a measly 5 cents each in an attempt to discourage their use and people threw such a fit, the law was reversed after a few months. Way to friggin go, Texans. Get reusable bags. These stand up better in your car so that your food and provisions don't spill all over your trunk, so that alone is a big win over plastic bags.

Y'all know you shouldn't be microwaving food in plastic, right? NOPE. The BPA will "bleed" into your food. You're not going to die overnight, but it will slowly cause a disruption to your endocrine system, which will in turn mess with your hormones which will mess with EVERYTHING about how your body functions, fights sickness and disease, and more. So, just don't store your food in plastic, mmmmk? Trust me, these will last longer than plastic containers anyway, plus they don't stain (raise your hand if you've ever stored marinara in plastic to have it turn a nasty shade of pink, permanently!).

We all know plastic straws are terrible for the earth. Some people have moved to paper, which is a step up, but still - any sort of disposable straw isn't idea. The paper ones also start to disintegrate in your mouth if you're sipping alcohol, which is pretty gross. My go to has become these metal ones. I love that they come with a cleaning wand if you need to scrub the inside and they're dishwasher friendly for disinfecting. Win win. Another win is that they're super cheap!
Plastic baggies are on the same level as plastic bags from stores, in my opinion. We used to use tons of these for the kids' lunches, but this year we got smart and got compartmentalized food storage boxes to reduce the waste. I will say, I LOVE not having to write my kids names on every single baggie (if you've got preschoolers, you know what I'm talking about) and I just throw them in the dishwasher with the dinner dishes after a day at school so they're ready for the next day. If my kids went to preschool daily, I'd probably get two per kid so that there wasn't the immediate need to wash them, but I'm kinda lazy like that.

Beeswax covers
Just like with food storage containers, if you're microwaving food with plastic wrap over it... You're going to want to stop! Clearly, all that wrap just ends up in landfills for decades upon decades, or in oceans where it kills fish and wildlife. But the chemicals that comprise the plastic also leak into your food when heated, which means you're ingesting them. Beeswax covers function in the exact same way as plastic wrap but are washable and reusable. No waste and no harmful chemicals. Yesssss.
This one was one of the first things I did many years ago to reduce my personal waste output. It's been preached for years how destructive plastic water bottles are. We've seen the photos of ocean bays covered in floating plastic bottles. And I have to say, I'm saddened and disgusted when I see how many people in Dallas are buying them in bulk. Almost every time I go to Target, Walmart, Sam's Club or Costco, the people in front of me and behind me in line are buying several cases of bottles of water. WHY?? Dallas actually has some of the best public water in the U.S. (it's rated in the top 10 of major cities for taste and purity) so what the heck is up with all the plastic bottles folks?! Ughhh. I wrote the linked post on the best insulated water bottles that keep your beverage cold. Get one of those, save yourself some serious money and do the planet a favor. Your kids and grand kids will thank you for it!

Seems like a silly, small detail but all those plastic toothbrushes you use in your life? Yeah, they add up. And they stay there. They're not decomposing in your lifetime, your kids lifetime, your grandbabies' lifetime, your great-grandbabies' lifetime... and on and on. We don't know how long they'll take to decompose because it hasn't happened yet, but current estimates are several hundred years. Think about that - you brushing your teeth today will negatively impact the world for hundreds of years. That's intense! Reduce your load by switching to bamboo tooth brushes, which will combine back into the earth in just 2-3 years. Oh, and they're SO MUCH CHEAPER than the plastic ones, and also come in brush softness levels.

These are all some great products you can swap in to take over conventional products that not only aren't so great for the environment, they're also not so great for you. The more you look into being eco friendly, the more you learn that eco friendly is HUMAN friendly, and the product swaps are good for you on a personal level too. These 8 best zero waste eco friendly products are a great place to start for better health for you and a planet that stays greener for longer, too.

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Currently, September Edition

Here's what I'm thinking and feeling, currently

Holy moly, we're already halfway through September! Man, the older I get the faster time moves. I swear that we just got back from our beach vacation but no... That was already 6 weeks ago. Soon, it will be sweater weather here! Then I'll blink and it will be Thanksgiving, then Christmas and all of a sudden it's 2020. I skipped over the fact that the twins' first birthday is basically next week and three days later I turn 35. What the heck. I'm being really cliche here but man if my mind isn't blown with how fast life moves the older you get. Hell, it's basically time to plan my funeral with the speed things are moving! Too much? Ok. Anyway, here's what's been going on around these parts since my last currently post back in the summer:

The twins' first birthday party and my 35th birthday trip! God finally validated my love for Halloween with twins born mid-October (I was trying to get them born as close to Halloween as possible!) so their birthday party theme is The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is one of my older sons' favorite "scary" movies. It's a "cult" film, so there's actually a ton of adorable decorations on Amazon for the theme! I'm sure I'll do a recap post with links to shop from, so if you're a Halloween freak like me and want an unconventional kid's birthday party theme, I got you! My 35th birthday is four days later, and hubby and I are taking our first solo trip together after having the babies. We're still trying to figure out where we're going, but now we're thinking of heading to Richmond (so that I can see some of my inner circle friends!) and taking a day trip to Charlottesville for some wineries. The Virginia wineries are seriously breathtaking and the weather should be perfect mid-October.

The twins' invites! Looks a little funny because I've blocked out key info but you get the idea

Preparing for:
A trip! I'm headed to NYC with my best friend from high school. I haven't been to NYC since 2009 (funny how travel is limited with four kids, no?) It's definitely NOT my favorite city, but hopefully by the end of the month it will feel like fall there (still triple digits here...) and we'll have some amazing food. Oh, and spending time with her is always a good time. You know people who just get you? That's her. She and I understand each other's souls, I swear. Hanging with her is not only always fun, but I feel recharged. I don't have to explain my crazy feelings or bad jokes to her, she just gets me. Loooooove friends like that! I have a handful of girlfriends like this and every single one is such a gift to me. I know well that I'm a very intense person and it takes a "special kind" to be my friend. While I'm an extrovert and know many people and have a wide circle of friends, I have a small "inner circle" who get to know the emotional side of me or who get to know my real, true life story and all those gals (and one guy!) are as loved by me as my own children and hubby.

Me and my homie, back before high res cameras were on iPhones and I actually wore makeup. Weird. 

Ohhhhhhkay, that's enough emotions, let's move on and get back to the sarcasm and self-depreciating humor that y'all come here for, mmmmk?

Frustrated? Annoyed? Dismayed? The twins started preschool three days a week for a few hours. Since they're still under a year, along with their lunch I send a bottle of breast milk, since we all know that up until a year, babies should get the bulk of their calories and nutrition from that or formula. And they're being sent home with nearly full bottles! They eat all their lunch, and love food, so I know they're not hungry but y'all... Pumping that milk is HARD WORK. I used to just wake up in the middle of the night and pump out 8oz in under 15 minutes, easy as pie. Which is perfect because they both take 4oz bottles. But now I'm mayyyyyybe getting 4oz total, sometimes just 3oz and I've increased my pump time to 25 minutes. I'm cutting into my freezer stash daily. Sigh.

We'll make it to a year, but I'm working way to hard for that milk to go to waste! Of course it's sour when they come home because it's been sitting out for five hours. Now, they've only had two days of preschool so obvi we're still figuring out all our "systems" and routine, but I'm going to talk to their teachers and see what we can do about it. Or, I'll be sending them to school with 2oz bottles so I'm not wasting as much milk! I CANNOT WAIT for them to be a year so I can stop pumping... Cannot. Wait. We'll continue nursing on demand until they no longer want to, but lawd have mercy, pumping is just the WORST and I'm so ready to no longer be stressed about how many ounces I've pumped and what kind of bottles they're getting (and actually drinking) for the day. So ready.

BTW, if you get an email from me or I respond to your Instagram DM between 1:30-2am, that's what I'm doing. No, I'm not a night owl or someone who works around the clock. I'm well aware I look like an insane person, but if I'm going to be up pumping I may as well multitask!

Knox isn't sure about this first day of school business...

Taking Otto to tumbling class. He and the twins only go to preschool three days a week, so on Thursday mornings, a nanny stays with the twins while I take him to White Rock Tumble and Cheer with about 8 other rambunctious 3 year olds. He LOVES it and talks about going there every single day, and I love that he gets to bounce some energy out... And have something special for him, since all the attention is usually on Henry, who's a big kindergartner now, or the babies, who are not only our babies but are twins to boot. Poor middle child Otto! This has been something for him to do on his own that his brothers don't do, a chance to connect with other kids his age (beyond his preschool class) and a chance for him and me to spend one on one time together.

If I may brag for a second, it's so fun to watch him because he's one of the best listeners in the class. There's a few boys that just run WILD and I'm reminded about how amazing my kids are, but especially Otto. The first day they did a race across the tumbling floor at the end of class. Nobody listened to the teacher, and while he never said, "GO!" they all started racing... Except Otto. He stood there and said, "Where are you going, the teacher didn't say go!" and the teacher said, "Otto wins! He's still at the start but the only kid who's listening! Yay Otto!" Awwweee, my sweet boy.

Why is she always named Janet?!

Thinking about:
Writing a pretty controversial blog post. I've noticed a huge trend in parenting lately. I'm not in many mom groups, but the few I'm in have all had posts on the topic recently. But my view is 100% OPPOSITE of what most moms feel, so I'm scared to write it because I legit might get crucified... It'd be on how being a "bad mom" has become in fashion and if you're a "classic" or "good" mom, you're the "Janet" of Facebook memes and a total jerk. For instance, one group I'm in started an "I don't" thread, where moms posted what they don't do - so many people replied saying they don't cook, they don't clean, they don't limit screen time ever, they didn't/don't breastfeed and don't feel remotely bad for it... You know, all the things you AND your spouse should do as parents (not just moms!) has become what "annoying, perfect" parents do and no longer the norm. It's kinda like how wine culture with moms has become the norm, and it's a way to hide behind being either a borderline alcoholic or a functioning alcoholic or a straight up alcoholic. If you cook meals from scratch and have a clean home, all of a sudden you're marginalized by current mom culture. I really want to do a deep dive into why I think this is not only wrong, it's outright destructive, but I'm really scared I'm going to be burned on the cross in the comments and on social media for it. What do you think - should I write it?!