Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Michael-Mama Time

Mornings are slow around here. A month or two ago I spent mornings doing housework; but I've found that if I spend this time simply being with my boys, they are much more pleasant the rest of the day. And now that the twins are napping more regularly (YAY), we get at least a little bit of time every morning when it's just me and my big boy.

At first he didn't really get it. I would tell him I was putting the babies upstairs for a nap and he got all upset. But sometime last week I told him it was time for the babies to go to sleep, and then it would be "Michael-Mama time." He thought about this for a second. I watched as he processed it and then decided, "Huh ... I like that idea!"

Now when I come down from putting Gregory to bed, I'm greeted by a little voice waiting on the stairs saying, "It's Michael-Mama time!"

Usually he just wants me to build stuff with his blocks. Or watch him build stuff with his blocks. (He loves his blocks. They are what he plays with 50% of the time.) Other times we'll read or draw. Often I have to make him a "nest" out of pillows and blankets so he can be a Michael-bird.

And then some days we make popovers and eat them with lots of butter while this song plays on repeat, per Michael's request.

Often I'll take a shower during this time, or fold some laundry. But I never touch the computer. It really makes a huge difference if I stay away from it until Michael's nap. He knows my attention is all his. And we're both happier people because of it.

Michael loves the wallpaper in his room.

When in doubt ... hexipuff!

Still reading The Body of This by Andrew McNabb. The stories here are short and quite intense. I think I'm going to take this book slowly. (Although I imagine I'd devour it if I had a long stretch of time to devote it proper attention.)

So I am looking for another book to read at the same time. On my Kindle I have A Mother's Rule of Life and The Nesting Place; which should I read?

I ran out of yarn for my leaves from last week. I'm still in a somewhat scattered place and not ready to settle down to a real project. So instead I have turned to puffs. Now I am addicted again. And in no danger of running out of yarn anytime soon, as you can see from the above picture ... all fingering scraps go into the shoebox. And I have quite a few mini-skeins I traded for last year as well.  

These 14 are all from the past week or so. Last night I actually found myself knitting puffs in my sleep. :-P (Not literally, just in my head.) The one on the needles is #129. And if you are wondering what that many puffs looks like .... 

...the answer is surprisingly small. If I ever want this thing to cover an actual bed I have a looong ways to go. But I'm pretty sure I have enough yarn. Heh.

(I'm going to pretend that Sophie the giraffe is in this picture for size comparison and not because there are toys all over my living room floor. ;) )

Linking up with Ginny.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Blogging against the odds (yarn along)

Why is it that I can (generally) do the dishes, fold the laundry, scrub a toilet, and the kids are fine ... but when I try to take pictures for my blog the babies start screaming at me with desperate expressions and Michael starts crying to hold the yarn, the camera, the knitting needles, all that I am working with? Sigh.

Oh well. Hopefully this post will get finished eventually.

It feels like forever since I've done a yarn along. Knitting has been scarce around here. I've been itching the past week to pick up a real project but nothing in my queue seems imminent, for whatever reason. So I've been doing a few odds and ends here and there ... some hexipuffs, some leaves. 

The leaf pattern is from the Family Tree Afghan. I figured I would knit it over time out of scraps from projects knit for Michael. Then when he's grown and moves out he can have it. The blue is from his baby blanket, the orangish-brown from his Milo vest, the light and emerald greens from a sweater my mom knit him. But then I started knitting these dark green leaves from leftovers from a pair of fingerless gloves for Keith. So ... perhaps the plan is changing? We'll see. I'm not certain the dark green looks good with the other colors. 

I've also considered using the leftovers from the twins' Milos (the two balls in the picture, although the blue doesn't seem to fit in, does it?). And there is a yarn crawl next month. I think it would be kind of neat to buy a skein of yarn at each store and use it in this afghan. Then Michael can have it for his big boy bed.

I may not have been knitting, but I have certainly been reading! I finished Kristin Lavransdatter two days ago. What an experience, to finally emerge from the world you've been immersed in for more than 1000 pages. I would like to write about it here ... but the reality is I probably won't have the time. So I will just have to say here that it is excellent beyond my expectations. It is, obviously, quite a commitment to pick up and read; but it's time well spent. 

Linking up with Ginny and her yarn along.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Stitch Fix!

One of my goals for this year is to build a new wardrobe--one that is suited to what my days are actually like and to the body I actually have.

I haven't really bought anything new for myself since before I was married. Which means that a lot of my stuff was just getting too old. Then there were some things I never wore because I didn't like them any more; other things simply will never fit again. (Or may fit if I have a decent stretch of time between nursing and being pregnant. But I decided that unless I really love something in this category ... there's not much point in me keeping it.)

In other words, while I had a lot of clothes, I didn't have many things I could actually wear, and after the twins' birth things had really reached a "last straw" point. (Two shirts, one pair of pants that wasn't yoga pants, and two skirts, only one of which was suitable for Mass. Yikes. Summer clothes were slightly better)

After reading about it on Haley's blog, I decided to try out Stitch Fix. And I love it. Love it. It was so much fun to see what was waiting for me in the box! I would keep everything, but I don't have that kind of money. So! While I do NOT have the skills of a fashion blogger, I am sharing these photos with you. Please opine away and help me decide. :) 

This dress. It is already in my closet. I have already worn it out. It is my favorite. Definitely keeping! :)

This cardigan ... now that I see it in a picture, it's not so bad. But I don't think it's quite my style ...? Pretty sure I'll be sending it back. 

The jeans: they fit perfectly and are super-comfortable and flattering, except maybe the length. I'm going to send them back because I'm not into the ripped and frayed stuff. But I've made a note of the brand and size and could even buy the exact same jeans if I wanted to, minus the rips. (And possibly even for a cheaper price!)

The top: I could probably have snuck a cardigan out of the closet without waking Gregory, which is how I would wear this, but I wanted to show the shape of this. I like this top, and so does Keith. But I worry if maybe it isn't the best for my body shape? What do you think? (Also it is preeetty tight up top--I don't know if you can tell from the photo. But I figure that's only temporary, since I'm nursing twins. But maybe that's not the right way to think about it?)

Back view. (Sorry for the bra strap ... keeping it classy.)

My other reservation for buying this shirt is that I would also like to buy this dress, but it's pretty expensive, and I don't know how I feel about buying both.

I love this dress. It's the first time I've liked a maxi. I like the shape of the neckline, and the way this dress feels to wear--very feminine and flowy. It is stylish but comfy.

But, as I mentioned, it's kind of expensive. And it's six inches too long, at least. You can see how it trails on the ground! (This is part of why I don't own any maxi dresses!) I could get it hemmed I guess, but that's still a count against it. Finally, Keith is not a big fan because he doesn't like floor-length dresses.

What do you think? Should I go for the expensive dress or the not-so-expensive shirt? Price matters but I don't want it to be the only factor. Which looks better? (Or should I send them both back...?)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

So maybe I don't always hate summer.

Aren't they beautiful? Blueberry Ginger Jam from Food in Jars and Apricot Lavender Jam with honey ... I can't seem to find the recipe I used for the latter.

I am so excited to be making jam this summer. It's something I've wanted to do for a while, and the babies are at a stage where I can take the bit of time I need to do it during the day. I bought some quilted jars and pectin (as yet unused) and have made two small batches. (Small as in there was only enough jam to fill two half-pint jars.) And now I want to make ALL the jams!

Whenever I go into the store now I get so happy walking through the produce aisle to see all the berries and stone fruit. I'd love to get some from local farms, but pick-your-own is kind of out of the question this summer; there are some farms where you can buy them pre-picked, but they're all 20-30 minutes away. So a bit of a commitment to get to. Maybe we'll hit up a farmer's market sometime soon?

Seeing such abundance makes me marvel at how much goodness there is in creation. So much to be thankful for!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Easy is a Moving Target

I have a friend whose children are five months younger than mine. So her oldest is not yet two, and her littlest is about two months. She is in the "crazy" stage and we had a lot of "fun" (wink wink) commiserating when she came to visit the other day, laughing about how ridiculously hard some days can be. You know, those days when your kids are crying and screaming and so you end up crying and screaming and then by the evening you're in a puddle on the floor thinking, "God, I am a horrible mother, why did you think this was a good idea?!" Those kind of days.

I think it is so important to have mother friends who have been where you are. So important. Partly so that you can laugh about the bad days with them. There is nothing like someone else's stories to give you a little perspective!

I have a lot on my plate right now. I have some writing commitments I'm struggling to meet, some editorial work, and some work I'm getting paid to do but has a deadline and is time-consuming. It feels like I have a part time job. And in the meanwhile Michael has more energy than ever, and he needs me to be present for him. The twins are starting solids, and I'm trying to get them on a nap schedule, and every time I think we've found a routine that works BAM they change things up again.

Ever since the twins were born I feel like I've been clinging to the idea of some future time when things will be "easy" again. I've read through forums, I've asked other twin moms, I've searched on Google: when do things get easy?

But listening to my friend, I realized ... six months ago, if I could've seen my life now, I would have called it easy!

I think this is partly because things have gotten easier. The twins sleep a little better, they're content on their own or with their brothers for much longer periods of time, they're happy nursers. I no longer have to stay in Michael's room for half an hour at night until he falls asleep because of nighttime separation anxiety. I am cooking dinner every night, going grocery shopping once a week, and for the most part my clean laundry all gets folded in a timely manner. All things I could only dream about six months ago.

There are still plenty of other challenges. Naps that are too short, nights that are disrupted, exhaustion that leaves no room for writing or quality conversation with my husband or the myriad of projects we want to tackle with the house. Encouraged by the fact I had meals under control, I signed up to take some meals to new mothers in the area. That was a mistake and I ended up flaking on all but one of them. I am still in a position where I need help rather than give it.

And of course there are some new challenges. Michael is ... well, he's two years old. Dominic is about to start crawling. Etc.

I think I am coming out of survival mode. But life is by no means "easy."

Except for once a few weekends ago, when I was home alone with just one baby. THAT was easy. And yet being home along with a baby would have been so hard when it was just Michael.

Perhaps life doesn't have to be easy in order to be good.

Rosie, a fellow twin mom (who is expecting her fifth! yay!), once told me that things get easier and then harder and then easier again. I am starting to experience that for myself. Things keep changing, and so I keep changing. As a parent you are forced to stretch, to grow, and growth is hard.

In any area of life when you master one thing, when something becomes "easy," it's time to move on to the next step. Except I have always had a tendency to want to stay where it's easy. To stick with what I already know and can do. Which eventually leads to stagnation.

Parenthood doesn't let you do that.

And so I trust that even hardship, even my failures as a parent, are a mercy, are a source of grace, because they are leading me to become a better person who has more to give, to my family and to others.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Bedroom Tour (with a little before/after)

In the past few days I've really buckled down and tried to get the twins on a semi-consistent routine. The main goal that being their (sometimes quite short) naps overlap, at least a little. And so far it hasn't been too bad! Some successes, some failures ... but right now I have a kettle on for some chai, a slice of pear-cardamom upside-down cake awaiting the tea, and this blog post open on my computer screen. And all three boys are SLEEPING.

(I'm sure one of them will wake up before the tea is finished brewing. But that's okay! Just ten minutes is enough to make me feel a little more grounded.)

Right now Gregory sleeps in a pack'n'play in our closet. Because I am scared of what will happen if I try to put them down in the same room together. One step at a time.

It's a step above having him in a pack'n'play in our bedroom ... and two steps above him sleeping on our bed, although that's where both babies end up eventually. (They've also started falling off the edge in the wee hours of the morning. :( Time to back off on the bedsharing. Luckily our bed is less than a foot off the ground.)

Anyway. Our closet is pretty awesome. It's a walk-in with plenty of space (and a window, artfully covered by a thick blanket so that Gregory will actually sleep in there). In fact, we have a another (regular sized) closet just across from this one ... I think our bedroom has more storage space than any other room in the house.

Our bedroom was the first and biggest project we tackled in this house. It was a partially finished attic that was used as a bedroom by the previous owner, but ... it was in pretty bad shape. We finished it a week before the twins were born. (And then I couldn't sleep there for four weeks because of the c-section ... and since then the babies have shared it with us to varying degrees!)


The flooring was this weird white vinyl stuff, and the wallpaper was not exactly our style. I don't know how well you can see it, but the previous owner cut individual plates out of the wallpaper and pasted them to the (also wallpapered) ceiling.

Long story short, we had a LOT of wallpaper to take down. We even bought a wall-paper remover ... we figured it was a good investment since there's wall-paper to take down in every room but the living room and the basement! (And even in the living room it looks like some previous wallpaper was painted over, so hopefully that won't become an issue.)

Removing wallpaper from the ceiling is a PAIN.

We also had to replace one of the walls (you can see the plaster in the first "before" picture), and of course paint. (So imagine me hugely pregnant wearing clothes that don't fit painting the ceiling. Or maybe don't. It's not too flattering a picture.) We also got new carpeting and were paranoid of dripping paint on it ... probably should've saved that step for last!

But the results were very worth it. I love this room; it's one of my favorite places in the house. 


Doesn't the quilt complement the colors of our bedroom perfectly? It makes me happy. :) The Moroccan wedding rug that Keith's friend gave us for our wedding is at the foot of the bed, and a print given to us by friends of Mary and Joseph's wedding (left of the window). I'd like to get a side table of some sort for Keith's side of the bed, perhaps two matching ones ... we'll see! The doors on the right open to a little cupboard where I keep our sheets and a few other things. 

 The Sacred and Immaculate Heart statues on our windowsill belonged to my grandma. And the curtains in the room were made by my great-grandma Ivy, who passed away when I was 8 or 10. She traced the pattern onto the linen, embroidered the flowers, and sewed the curtains. I think she copied the flowers from an illustration in one of the Little House books. They are a bit worn in some places; I need to have them repaired soon.

Our little alcove. The windowseat opens to more storage, and the door to the left leads to a crawlspace under the eaves. I admit I am kind of terrified of the idea of the boys falling out of this window, so I never ever open it. 

Cat doorstops my husband gave me when we were dating. :) I told him a story about sleeping in a bed and breakfast when I was a very little girl. The lady who owned it had these stuffed cats that served as doorstops, and I took one to bed with me. (I also remember waking up that night to a terrifying noise; when I shook my mom awake she told me it was just Dad snoring.) These cats migrate a lot because Michael likes to come upstairs in the morning and play with them.

View from the bed. (Except normally Keith has clothes piled on top of his dresser ... sometimes up to the ceiling. I staged an intervention before taking these photos. ;) ) The alcove is to the left. Our walk-in closet is just left of the doorway, with the other closet opposite. If you look, you can see we still have that wallpaper above the stairs. 

I found you Mama!
And Gregory just now woke up! How providential. :)