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Journey To the Finish Line

PR's, 4 children, hopes and dreams; I'm always running after something

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Work

Trust Your Journey

I’ve been in a weird place lately.

I know I’ve mentioned at least once that I’ve had a hard time putting together any cohesive thoughts for a blog post outside of something that already comes with an outline. As someone who thrives on organization, when my brain gets disorganized tend to cling onto anything that already has the steps written out for me. As if that is going to fix the jumbled mess. I feel scatterbrained. I write things down and still forget them.

There has been a lot up in the air in our lives lately and as a result I’m having trouble trusting what I already know. My job change brought with it some unforeseen issues and is moving along a little more slowly than anticipated. We’ve been awaiting news on a permanent teaching position for Bryan for awhile now and it still looks like no answer is coming anytime soon. I feel the uncertainty bleeding into other areas of my life – how I feel about myself as a professional, how I handle change, my running and training, how I’m raising the twins.

I went into my marathon training fully aware that my plan had me accumulating fewer miles than many do. My whole focus was to finish uninjured and not worry about time because it took me many months to increase my mileage enough to even consider training for one. Still, here I sit, 3.5 weeks from race day wondering if I made the right decision.

I went into this job change aware that things were going to be crazy and possibly unpredictable for awhile. Now there is a large part of me wondering why I, a person who thrives on predictability and consistent scheduIes, made a change that means there is a decent chance that scheduling changes can happen often and without much notice. A change that means very little predictability.

It is difficult while you are in the mess of anxiety to remember that the decisions you made were made for sound reasons, to remember that you once felt confident in the decision. I often hear runners tell those who are fretting about an upcoming race to “trust your training”. I’m finding it one of the hardest things to do, not only in terms of running but life in general. It’s so easy to get caught up in what if’s and anxieties, forgetting why you’re on the journey you’re on in the first place. Sometimes, you just need to be patient and remember that you’re on this path for a reason.

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I am trying.

Talk to Me Baby – Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Love to Play Puppy

Hey! I only went a month this time!

For those who are new to following this and simply because it has been so long, I’m creating a series of posts on popular baby/toddler toys and how you can use them to facilitate Speech and Language Development. My original post can be seen here

As with the last toys, an intro:

Receptive Language (what we understand) – this is the ability to listen and understand what is communicated by another person. In the Early Intervention age range (birth to 3) some examples would include: following simple directions, the ability to identify objects from a group, the ability to point to objects in pictures etc. In infants an example can be as simple as turning to the source of sound or responding to his/her name.

Expressive Language (the use of language) – this is the ability to communicate wants and needs. Usually we mean verbally but depending on the circumstances it can mean sign language or the use of a communication device. Some examples of this include: the ability to request objects using words, the ability to name objects (real objects or in pictures). In infants this includes grunting, cooing and babbling – all which sounds meaningless at first but are important stepping stones to using words in more functional ways.

Social Skills/Pragmatic Language – these are the more subtle aspects of language and in young children some examples include eye contact, joint attention (the ability to look at a toy, then to you, then back to the toy etc) and turn taking.

Of course these lists are nowhere near all inclusive and are simply meant to help clarify the definitions.

Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Love to Play Puppy

With some toy lettuce courtesy of Miles
With some toy lettuce courtesy of Miles

I believe this was a hand me down, but I’ve used it for Speech Therapy before.

Age Range: 6 months – 3 years.

What it does: Controlled by an on/off button on the foot, the puppy has two modes:

1. Sing : When you press a body part it either sings a song or a popular rhyme (Patty Cake)

2. Learning Time : When you press a body part it labels either just the part itself or the part with the color.

At any time you can press the paw with the music note and it will sing a song. If you leave it without interacting with it for a few seconds, it will say something (peek a boo, I love you etc)

Likes:  I find it hard to target body parts in a fun way in therapy, so this works really well. The songs are mostly well known popular ones, and sometimes it asks for a hug, which I find pretty cute.

Dislikes:  The buttons are REALLY sensitive. Sometimes I’d make it dance along to a song and accidentally change the setting, or turn it off. There is a switch in the back you can use to prevent it from accidentally turning on when you bump into it, though. A couple of the songs get on my nerves.

Press my buttons
Press my buttons

6-12 months

Receptive Language

  • It never hurts to start exposing lots of language to kids early. Identify the body parts, encourage appropriate play (help her press the buttons), tell him its a dog etc
  • Play for awhile and then hide the puppy and see if she demonstrates object permanence (an understanding that the object still exists even when its out of sight)
  • Clap when a song is done and help your child clap
  • Turn the puppy on/off and help your child wave and say hi/bye
  • Press a button or activate the toy somehow. Wait and see if your baby “anticipates” that you will press the button again.While your baby is playing, call his or her name and see if he/she stops playing to look at you

Expressive Language

  • Sing along with the songs and encourage him to babble along.
  • Babies this age usually aren’t saying words yet but you can use the toy to encourage some babbling. They should start to have some simple cause and effect and the ability to imitate some so you can use that to your advantage.  Any of the early developing sounds work, which include /b/, /d/, /m/, /n/, /p/. Sing along with the songs and encourage him to babble along.
  • You can start to introduce baby sign. It isn’t likely they will use it yet but as stated above, exposure is never going to hurt. You can take your baby’s hands and give hand over hand cues to sign for “more” or “dog” or “song”
  • Again, you can use this for lots of language exposure – be very verbal during play and describe the body parts, colors, verbs etc.

12-18 months

Receptive Language

  • Appropriate play: does your baby press the buttons to activate the toy? Will he/she try to dance or sing along (even if just bouncing or babbling)
  • Simple one step directions: If she is familiar with body parts already you can ask her to “push the hand”. You can also try “give the dog a hug/kiss”. Put the dog up but in reach and ask her to go  get it. Put some shoes within reach and ask her to give the doggie the shoes.
  • While baby plays say “stop” and “wait” and see if baby responds (not necessarily listens, but at least responds)
  • Begin identification of body parts.

Expressive Language

  • Encourage imitation: You can try to imitate the body parts, colors, or the word more, song, play, hug…the possibilities are (almost) endless.
  • Encourage independent word use – point to the eye and ask “what is this?”. You may not get much at this age but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask.

Social Skills

  • Have the dog wave at your child/say hi and see if she waves or says hi back.
  • Talk to her about the body parts or colors. Pretend the dog is having a conversation with him. Pause like you would in a conversation and see if he responds. Responses don’t have to be real words and don’t have to make sense – you are just looking for the social aspect or the start of back and forth conversation

18-24 months

Receptive Language

  • Body part identification: ask him to push the foot. The cool thing is the toy will interact when a button is pressed so it is somewhat of a built in reward. If your child chooses the wrong one, simple say “that’s an eye” and then show him the foot.
  • If you have some play clothes get the dog dressed and ask your child to point to the shirt or shoes.
  • Simple verbs: Turn on a song and ask your child to dance with it. You can set up a tea party and ask her to feed it, give it a drink, put it to sleep, clap, sing etc.
  • Simple direction following with and without help – you can try without first, and if he doesn’t seem to understand you can provide help (see 12-18 months). You can use clothes for this too – “give doggie the socks”.
  • Introduce colors.

Expressive Language

  • Put two words together. You can pair things like “ dog on “(turn the dog on), “song please”, “green hand”
  • Encourage independent word use: see above.
  • Begin practicing verb use (and 2 word combinations). See above.
  • Label body parts.
  • Encourage him to sing along to the songs or rhymes.

Social Skills

  • While your baby is playing, comment on what he/she is doing or play along to encourage some joint attention, or the ability to look between you and the toy with eye contact.
  • Begin to encourage turn taking. Press a button and then say “your turn!”
  • Talk to her about the dog. Pause like you would in a conversation and see if she responds. It doesn’t have to be sentences. Even if you say “doggie says woof” and he looks at you and responds “woof doggie”, you are still practicing  social skills.

24 to 36 months

Receptive Language

  • Following directions without help. (see above)
  • Simple verbs like the ones described in 18-24 months. You can use these with your direction following.
  • Color identification.
  • Pronouns me, my, you, your. Touch the doggies nose and say “doggies nose” – where is YOUR/MY nose?
  • Begin spatial concepts such as in/out/on/off. Ask him to put the doggie ON/OFF the bed or IN/OUT of the box. If you have some play clothes you can throw them into the mix and ask him to “put doggies shirt on” or “take doggies socks off”.
  • You can use some simple adjectives such as soft, loud (using the volume control), squishy, hard, etc.

Expressive Language

  • Encourage further expansion of sentences from 1-2 words to 2-3 or more words. Some examples include “turn doggie on”, “want song please”. You can use these when requesting as well: “mommy dog please” “more song please” “want dog in” etc. Or try to throw some colors in: “want blue ear”.
  • Yes/no questions. Ask “is this a foot?”
  • Continue with verb use – “clap hands” “press button” etc.
  • Encourage verb use. Make the dog clap/dance/sing and ask “what is she doing”

Social Skills

  • While your baby is playing, throw some balls out and exclaim “uh oh!” to encourage some joint attention, or the ability to look between you and the toy with eye contact.
  • Continue to practice turn taking.
  • Talk to her about the body parts/colors/dog. Pause like you would in a conversation and see if she responds. It doesn’t have to be sentences. You could try some simple “wh” questions as well such as “what does a doggie say?”

Keep in mind that many of the ideas for older toddlers can be introduced earlier. For example, it never hurts to introduce spatial concepts (in/out), adjectives (rough, smooth) or verbs earlier. You aren’t likely to come across a 12 month old who will say or even point to something smooth, but he is always learning and more exposure is never a bad thing. You can also engage a preschooler by asking him to help his sibling by asking questions (where is the eye?)

You can purchase this toy on Amazon. Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Love to Play Puppy (this is about the best price I’ve found).*

As always, requests are welcomed (and encouraged!) if you have a toy your child loves and you’d like some ideas on how to make it more functional for speech development. And please remember this is not meant to be an all encompassing list, just something you can use to help.

In case you missed the first three posts of this series:

Talk to Me Baby: The Cruise and Groove Ballapalooza

Talk to me Baby: Puppy and Friends Learning Table

Talk to Me Baby: Fisher Price Brilliant Basics Activity Puzzle.

Talk to Me Baby: The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Ball Pit

*This post does contain an affiliate link. Typically though, Amazon has the best prices and I do a lot of shopping on there anyway. If you buy one through my link I’ll earn a few cents. Nothing big.

(I’m in) Double Trouble

One of my Speech Therapy kiddos was joined by his ABA therapist during his session yesterday. She, like many others, react to the fact that I have twins with a bit of shock. Though this time I didn’t get a comment as I’m carrying two toddlers out of daycare about how I have my hands full (literally – hold the door for me please). Instead, she told me she just one her own nine months ago, and to her, twin moms are like superheroes.

I’m not sure how I feel about the whole superhero thing, but as nervous as I was about how I’d balance twins, I’ve felt pretty pleased about the way I’ve handled things in general. Felt is the key word here. As we quickly approach the dreaded “terrible twos” and “threes that are way worse than twos”, I suddenly feel ill equipped.  I work with 2 and 3 year olds daily, dole out speech, language and tantrum advice often but more often than not feel completely lost as to what is the best was to go about the more difficult aspects of toddlerhood.

One of my two year olds yesterday decided that as he was leaving his therapy session would be THE BEST time to throw himself on the ground screaming. I see this daily of course so it doesn’t bother me, but poor mom was embarrassed and forced to scoop him off the floor with his voice still ringing in all of our ears.

Suddenly, I thought about the time in the not so distant future, when the two of them will undoubtedly decide that the middle of Target is an AWESOME time to throw a fit TOGETHER, and YES I REALIZE I’M GETTING AHEAD OF MYSELF BUT OMFG WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?!?!!?

AHHHHHHH!!!

Talk to Me Baby: The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Ball Pit

If I thought three months was bad before, now its been FOUR.

For those who are new to following this and simply because it has been so long, I’m creating a series of posts on popular baby/toddler toys and how you can use them to facilitate Speech and Language Development. My original post can be seen here

As with the last toys, an intro:

Receptive Language (what we understand) – this is the ability to listen and understand what is communicated by another person. In the Early Intervention age range (birth to 3) some examples would include: following simple directions, the ability to identify objects from a group, the ability to point to objects in pictures etc. In infants an example can be as simple as turning to the source of sound or responding to his/her name.

Expressive Language (the use of language) – this is the ability to communicate wants and needs. Usually we mean verbally but depending on the circumstances it can mean sign language or the use of a communication device. Some examples of this include: the ability to request objects using words, the ability to name objects (real objects or in pictures). In infants this includes grunting, cooing and babbling – all which sounds meaningless at first but are important stepping stones to using words in more functional ways.

Social Skills/Pragmatic Language – these are the more subtle aspects of language and in young children some examples include eye contact, joint attention (the ability to look at a toy, then to you, then back to the toy etc) and turn taking.

Of course these lists are nowhere near all inclusive and are simply meant to help clarify the definitions.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Ball Pit

We received this toy as a belated birthday gift.

Age Range: 2 years plus. Let me just say right now that is baloney (bologna?). The twins were about 16 months old when we got it and they LOVE IT. I cannot stress how much they love this thing!

What it does: This one is pretty self explanatory. I mean, it’s a ball pit. It is a little different in that it has a big hole in the top, two big entryways on two sides and then an area where you can push balls in or out.

Likes: Um, everything. They love to climb in it, kick their feet, throw balls out the sides and through the holes (much to my dismay). Once, Miles watched an entire episode of Pocoyo in it.

I see better this way
I see better this way

Dislikes:  Two words: balls.everywhere. And it only comes with 20 balls.  Definitely invest in an extra bag of balls. For inflatable plastic, its a bit on the pricey side, depending on where you look.

Since I really think this toy could be enjoyable earlier than stated…..

12-18 months

Receptive Language

  • Appropriate play: does your baby pick up the balls and throw them? Will he push them through the holes? Put them in his mouth? (hey, that’s appropriate too)
  • Simple one step directions: There aren’t too many choices here as far as a “give me a ___” command, but you can ask her to give you a ball, push the ball through the hole, throw the ball etc, all with a gesture to help.
  • While baby plays say “stop” and “wait” and see if baby responds (not necessarily listens, but at least responds)
  • Begin identification of body parts using the balls. It sounds like a stretch but you can always take one and say “got your nose/ear/leg!” with it.
  • Object identification: have some simple objects lying around? (ball, shoe, spoon, etc). Throw them in the ball pit and ask your child to find one.

Expressive Language

  • Encourage imitation: If you’re like me and already feel like you say ball a bajilion times a day, be prepared to do it some more. Try to get your child to imitate ball, push, throw, go, anything that would be appropriate (or you could make appropriate). Play peek a boo or work on hi and bye.
  • Encourage independent word use: pick up a ball and ask “what is this?”. Again, choices are more limited here since it is a big pit of nothing but balls, but you can also encourage words like the ones listed above.

Social Skills

  • Poke your head through and say “hi!” and see if your child says hi back.
  • Talk to her about the balls or colors. Pause like you would in a conversation and see if she responds. Responses don’t have to be real words and don’t have to make sense – you are just looking for the social aspect or the start of back and forth conversation

18-24 months

Receptive Language

  • Picture identification: throw some puzzle pieces with basic pictures in and ask your child to find them.
  • Simple verbs: you may have to be a little more creative here but you can still do it. Roll, throw, kick, push would all be easy ones to use.
  • Simple direction following with and without help – you can try without first, and if he doesn’t seem to understand you can provide help (see 12-18 months).
  • Continue with identification of body parts – ask him to point to Mickey’s eyes or Pluto’s nose.

Expressive Language

  • Put two words together. You can pair things like “ ball in” or “throw/kick/roll ball”. You can also begin to label colors, like “red ball”.
  • Encourage independent word use: see above.
  • Begin practicing verb use (and 2 word combinations). See above.

Social Skills

  • While your baby is playing, comment on what he/she is doing or play along to encourage some joint attention, or the ability to look between you and the toy with eye contact.
  • Begin to encourage turn taking. Push a ball out of a hole and say “your turn!”
  • Talk to her about the ball. Pause like you would in a conversation and see if she responds. It doesn’t have to be sentences. Even if you say “Look at this pretty red ball” and he looks at you and responds “ball”, you are still practicing  social skills.

24 to 36 months

Receptive Language

  • Following directions without help. (see above)
  • Simple verbs like the ones described in 18-24 months. You can use these with your direction following
  • Begin color identification. With the multicolored balls this one is easy!
  • Pronouns me, my, you, your. Get a couple of cups/bowls and ask your child to put a ball in “my” or “your” bowl. Take the ball and touch “your” or “my” nose.
  • Begin spatial concepts such as in/out. You’ll probably get more out than in, though 🙂
  • You can use some simple adjectives such as smooth, squishy, shiny, soft.

Expressive Language

  • Encourage further expansion of sentences from 1-2 words to 2-3 or more words. Some examples include “ball go in”, “want ball please”. You can use these when requesting as well: “want house please” “more puzzle please” “want frog in” etc. Or try to throw some colors in: “want blue ball”.
  • Yes/no questions. Ask “do you want a ball?”
  • Continue with verb use – “roll ball” “kick ball” etc.

Social Skills

  • While your baby is playing, throw some balls out and exclaim “uh oh!” to encourage some joint attention, or the ability to look between you and the toy with eye contact.
  • Continue to practice turn taking.
  • Talk to her about the balls/colors. Pause like you would in a conversation and see if she responds. It doesn’t have to be sentences. Even if you say “Look at this pretty red ball” and he looks at you and responds “red ball”, you are still practicing  social skills. At this age though we like to see responses of at least 2-3 words.

Keep in mind that many of the ideas for older toddlers can be introduced earlier. For example, it never hurts to introduce spatial concepts (in/out), adjectives (rough, smooth) or verbs earlier. You aren’t likely to come across a 12 month old who will say or even point to something smooth, but he is always learning and more exposure is never a bad thing. You can also engage a preschooler by making a game of hide and seek, for example. Have him/her find objects mixed in the balls and ask him/her what you do with it. Or work on identifying colors, using adjectives, etc.

You can purchase this toy on Amazon. (this is about the best price I’ve found). Disney Mickey Having a Ball with 20 Balls.*

As always, requests are welcomed (and encouraged!) if you have a toy your child loves and you’d like some ideas on how to make it more functional for speech development. And please remember this is not meant to be an all encompassing list, just something you can use to help.

In case you missed the first three posts of this series:

Talk to Me Baby: The Cruise and Groove Ballapalooza

Talk to me Baby: Puppy and Friends Learning Table

Talk to Me Baby: Fisher Price Brilliant Basics Activity Puzzle.

*This post does contain an affiliate link. Typically though, Amazon has the best prices and I do a lot of shopping on there anyway. If you buy one through my link I’ll earn a few cents. Nothing big.

I Have Ways of Making You Talk

I don’t traditionally blog much about my job, and honestly I’m not really sure why because I really enjoy it. Maybe it was an attempt to keep it separate from my personal life, but now as the babies get older it is naturally making its way into my personal life more and more.

In professional terms I am a Speech-Language Pathologist. Most know me as a Speech Therapist. Every once in awhile someone asks what drove me to my profession and the truth is I don’t really have a crazy or compelling story. I started college unsure of what I wanted to do and it was suggested by my advisor that I take a few classes that interest me and see if it helps. That first semester I took a class on Dietetics, Psychology and an intro to Communication Disorders. I ended up choosing the major by a strange process of elimination – because of a bout with both disordered eating and depression, (that really lasted well into my college years and beyond, but that’s a topic for another day….maybe) I knew that it would be difficult for me to truly succeed in a profession as a dietician or counselor. What initially drew me to it was the idea of helping those with strokes learn how to communicate again. I completed a 4 year undergraduate degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders, took a year off and worked part time in a therapy office and as a nanny, and then enrolled in a 2 year graduate program. At the time my focus was on adults – my “dream job” in a rehab hospital. Unfortunately since I was married to a member of the Air Force at the time, I knew I would only be at my first job for a year before relocating, so I took a job at a nursing home.

I worked in 2 different nursing homes my first three years and then quit. That turned out a be a huge blessing because I really was not happy at my job and had hemmed and hawed at the idea of switching to pediatrics for awhile. I contacted the man I worked for between undergrad and grad school (who just happened to own a pediatric clinic), asked if he had any openings and then began my journey in the world of pediatrics. Admittedly there were hard times, but working with kids every day while battling infertility actually bothered me much less than I had expected. Thank goodness.

I work with kids of all ages ranging from a few months to 15 years, but the vast majority of my caseload is ” Early Intervention “, or kids aged 1-3 with some form of speech or language delay. So basically, I spend most of my day playing with an IPad and toys. As the babies get older and we begin to enter the world of associations with objects and learning first words, I’ve come across many moms worried about their own kids’ speech development. I’d be lying if I said I’m not watching mine like a hawk and mentally (or literally *cough*) evaluating their skills. Since I’m doing it anyway, I thought I’d start a series of posts where I describe a popular or favorite toy and then explain how it can be used to help develop speech and language skills. It’s been churning in my mind for a few weeks now and so I think its time to give it a shot and see if it develops some interest.

Stay tuned but be warned, I have ways of making you talk 🙂

*I am still accepting guest posts for anyone still interested – it kinda fell through with the holidays but I’d love to get it started again!*

Let’s Be Honest: I Think I’m Spoiled

(It wasn’t my intention to make this part of the honesty theme, but as I started to type it out it fit. So, I guess I’m starting.)

With a mere 5 months of motherhood under my belt, I’m certainly no expert. I still consider myself a new mom, but find myself offering advice to “newer” moms. One of the most important bits of advice I throw out there is to make sure you have time for yourself.

I’m not honestly sure where I learned this. My mom was a stay at home mom that didn’t have a ton of activities outside of us that I can recall (not that this is a bad thing, I simply don’t remember). Maybe its just because in my experience of watching over the years I’ve found moms have one thing in common: they are often exhausted. I for one am someone who is constantly involved in something as I feel like I need it to recharge. So, I offer the advice with the justification that a happier you will equal a better mom.

Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed something: I’m tired. I’m edgy. I’m more quickly annoyed and more easily bothered. Sure, months of broken sleep could definitely be a factor, but it feels like a different kind of exhaustion. It’s bothered me because even as I write this I still can’t quite put a finger on the cause. I don’t feel overwhelmed by work or the time I spend at home. Bryan happily takes over so I can exercise or go out and when he can’t I take them with me or give them toys while I spend 30 minutes on the elliptical. I still have a few outside activities. My house is only a half disaster.

There are many people out there who believe that once you have children, they are to become the focus. The problem with that theory, I think, is that it wears you out when you spend ALL of your energy on something other than yourself or your relationship. In fact, even the Babywise book has a section about taking time with your spouse in order to keep your relationship healthy.

Yesterday Bryan told the babies that they were his 2 favorite people in the world. Pretending to be insulted, I asked where I fit in, to which he responded “if given the choice between them and me, wouldn’t you choose them?”.

In a way, I think I already have.

It’s a bit ironic because I can easily name 3 activities that I participate in that allows me to be me without having to be mom. At least a few times a week I’m able to have some time to recharge. I realize that have what many (both moms and non moms) would love to have. I am very grateful for that. The problem is that while I can get my BODY away, I can’t seem to say the same for my BRAIN. And completely unnecessary GUILT and WORRY.

Am I making sure the babies get enough sleep (at least what’s under my control)? Are they really ok in day care? Am I letting Bryan have enough time away? My house is a mess! There is stuff everywhere! Can we really afford this toy/trip/necessary or unnecessary expense? Boy I hope the babies will take a nap. Uh oh, did I just hear a baby cry/whimper/squeal? There is just so much to DO. And for some reason I feel like I need to be able to do it all.

The original intent of this post was to say I should try to find a way to heed my own advice in my brain, not just my body, but as I type this out, I feel a little like a spoiled brat. I have a nice balance when it comes to working/staying home, I have time to do things I want/need to do (at least most of the time), a husband who is happy to help…and yet I feel tired and grumpy. Annoyed over things that aren’t done. And for what?

Maybe its just a phase. Maybe it’s a new mom thing. Or maybe the real issue isn’t time or guilt or my brain. Maybe my expectations aren’t realistic. Maybe I’m being a little (or more than a little) ridiculous. Maybe the real issue is that I need to get my head out of my butt. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that to myself – that sometimes my problems are self created. That sometimes I am the problem.

Okay, me. It’s just you and…well, me.

 

A Lame Realization

I’m generally a horrible relaxer. Throw me some free time and I spend half of it cleaning, or if I don’t, I spend half the lounging time feeling guilty about not cleaning.

The babies started day care last week and while eventually the plan is for me to work 3 full days, the caseload just isn’t there right now so I only work a few hours on Wednesdays. Since Bryan works right across the street and we are paying for it anyway, he takes the babies to day care for the full day. This means that, at least for the next few weeks, I have a few hours to myself every Wednesday. After spending all my time recently juggling babies and cleaning, laundry and exercising it seemed my options were endless…..well, as endless as they could be considering I still have to pump every 3 hours. I could sleep all morning, I could watch episode after episode of Gilmore Girls, I could blog until my hearts content, I could run and run and run.

Naturally I didn’t.

You know how you see those TV episodes where mom finds herself alone in the house for a few hours? She has these grand plans of a luxurious bath while reading half a novel followed by a 2 hour movie and then a nap? But somehow she gets distracted and ends up cleaning the entire house in a fury?

I thought of that today while I washed out the vacuum canister.

It wasn’t all bad though. I went for a 6 mile run this morning, took a shower, had my coffee and pop tarts. I washed and folded two loads of laundry, cleaned the vacuum, vacuumed the floors, cleaned out the coffee maker, unladed and loaded the dishwasher, attempted a nap, took a picture of the giant shrimp Bryan had shipped here per his request (don’t ask), all while watching Gilmore Girls in the background until I pulled a plug with the vacuum attachment while attempting to rid the area behind the TV of cobwebs. I didn’t get everything done I wanted to in my head but somehow I managed to get a few things done and relax a bit in the meantime.S Strangely I feel somewhat recharged.

As I sit here now in front of my laptop, pumping, I think to myself that I have a much bigger issue than the un mopped floors and piles of baby clothes left unsorted (all left for tomorrow, or maybe next Wednesday). I just described a morning of cleaning, showering and eating as somewhat relaxing.

I am horribly lame.

Oh well 🙂

Winnie the Pooh Has It Right

Running, motherhood, and life in general after babies has been both easier and harder than I expected.  (So is getting  “older”, as I turned 31 today!) This post has, too, as I’ve been working on it in my head for over a week without any real idea of how its going to start and end.

One of the best and worst things about me, I think, is that I tend to set expectations high. Because of that I often find myself simultaneously proud and disappointed. I’ve almost always been the type to wear many hats. For example: singer, runner, wife, infertile, bad amateur comedienne, girl with really curly hair, speech therapist. Fourteen weeks ago I added another much desired hat: mother. Something about the addition of this hat changes the balancing act. When I’m honest with myself I realize that I’m having difficulty finding my place.

I easily identified myself as an infertile. I found this great community of other women going through something similar who shared great advice, support and excitement when our IVF cycle worked. Now of course my life mostly revolves around the babies and so my blog posts do too. Though a pregnancy doesn’t take away the infertility I find myself feeling more separated because I’m doing what I think most infertiles would respond to with a gasp: actively preventing another pregnancy. I continue to find myself shocked that I am a mother. Even 14 weeks after birth I STILL sometimes feel like I have to return the babies to someone – almost like an extended babysitting gig.  I find aspects of motherhood to be both incredibly rewarding and incredibly frustrating. Though I always knew logically that, infertile or not, there would be difficult parts of it, I still wrestle with guilt when I get frustrated. I seek support from other moms just to make sure its normal. Infertility makes some aspects of motherhood both harder and easier than I expected. I feel like anytime I “complain” I have to back it up with a “I love my babies and wouldn’t trade them for the world” – which I wouldn’t, but I don’t like that I feel like I have to add that. This isn’t the fault of anyone but myself either. No one but me has made me feel guilty. On the other hand, I think generally speaking that all we went through for these babies does make me appreciate motherhood more than I would have otherwise.

I returned to work 3 weeks ago. Despite my desperate proclamations while infertile that I’d happily stay home, I’ve always known that I’m not meant to be a Stay at Home Mom. I worked hard for 6  years to earn my degree and enjoy my job/career. (However I am NOT knocking anyone in a similar boat who decided to stay home – it simply isn’t for me) I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to return to work part time – enough to stay current, converse with adults and contribute a little financially, but not so much that I feel like I miss all of the babies’ “firsts”. I know this set up makes me a better mom. What I’m having trouble with is fitting back into the work crowd, as if the change in status has somehow changed my place there.

As I try to rebuild my speed, stamina and miles, I find I’m not sure how to 100% identify myself as a runner either. I once compared infertility to a marathon, noting the ups and downs of training and the race itself. There were points in both where I really had to work to muster the energy to keep going, knowing in the end it would be worth it.  I’m not really sure of the reason for this “identity crisis”, if you will, I just know that sometimes lately I feel a bit uncomfortable in my own skin. I guess I had this expectation that I would just slide right into this entirely new role seamlessly and without much effort, which in hindsight is pretty unrealistic.  hopped on the treadmill the other day for a run that was supposed to be an easy one: 3-4 miles at a 10min/mile pace. About a mile and a half in, though, I was tired. I stopped, frustrated, unable to understand why this easy run suddenly required so much effort. I took a break and after a few minutes realized I wasn’t just frustrated by the effort of the run, but also with the transition that I crazily expected to be “easy”. Its funny how frustrations tend to make themselves known in other ways.

One of my favorite quotes also comes from one of my favorite cartoons: Winnie the Pooh.

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think”

I don’t know what the solution is. I do know that after a few minutes rest I got back on the treadmill and finished the run. I have as many hard runs as easy ones but usually finish them all (unless an injury is involved). I thought to myself as I finished the workout that I have a better appreciation for running because it makes me push myself and realize I have more stamina and strength than I think. I am stronger than I seem. For now I’m still working on balancing all of this.I’m still not sure how to be a good wife/mom/runner/coworker/speech therapist etc all at the same time. The balance will come. Until then, I keep running – remembering the wise words of Winnie. Because who wouldn’t follow a big fluffy bears’ advice?

Life With Twins – Week 12

A couple big things happened this week to make up for last weeks boring-ness (yes, I know that isn’t a real word).

First, my sister made her official move down and is now a permanent resident of South Carolina. This also means that the babies got to visit with Grandma and Grandpa again. I appreciated this visit not only to see family but because I got 3 nights of sleep that required me only to get up once to pump for 10-15 minutes. So far I got one family member to move down here with me, only two more to go 🙂

I also returned to work this week. I’m almost certain I would have felt differently if I had been returning full time, but since I’m only working part time I was ready to go back. The first trip to my friends was quite the adventure because it required me to take all the (baby) things along with me: milk, bottles, play mat, pack and play, boppy, swaddles, blankets etc. I’ll admit leaving them was harder than I expected but the fact that I HATE being late kept me from lingering too long. With a few (literally) days of work back under my belt I have to say that part time was a smart decision for me and I am so glad I have that option.

As for the babies (because I know thats why anyone really reads this thing–

Miss Abby has started grabbing objects on the playmat more. Both have started drooling, though Miles more than Abby. We can see clear amusement when they are doing something they enjoy. Miles has started blowing spit bubbles. They’ve started giggling and though its not full on belly laughs its still freakishly cute. And most notably they made us very happy by sleeping a 5-7 hour stretch at night ALL WEEK LONG — until the next growth spurt hits I’m sure. I have to say though that I wonder if they already went through it because I went to get them up one morning after several wake ups and I SWORE they looked bigger.

On my end I impressed myself by running not only an 8.3 mile long run but also 1.5 miles at a steady 7:30 pace. I am really excited that this transition back to running has been easier than I feared. I haven’t registered yet but am now seriously planning to run the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon (half) on October 20.

Now for THE fun.

  • Family visiting means lots of snuggles
This is the life
This is the life
Don't forget mama
Don’t forget mama
Snuggling with jazz hands is a special talent
Snuggling with jazz hands is a special talent
  • Miss Abby gets a head start on the method with which she is going to use to get all the things
First, rings. Next, mommys wallet
First, rings. Next, mommys wallet
  • We unwillingly pose for the camera
How long do you think she's gonna make us sit here? I'm hungry
How long do you think she’s gonna make us sit here? I’m hungry
  • I get a picture of what will probably be the only time they’ll help with the laundry
GOOOO laundry!
GOOOO laundry!
Mom. Seriously. I'm sitting on your underwear
Mom. Seriously. I’m sitting on your underwear
  • And I sent them off to the sitters in cutesy matchy matchy outfits
Be careful mom, people might thing we're identical
Be careful mom, people might think we’re identical

This weeks run stats (yay!)

Total Miles: 12.5

Fastest Mile: 7:30

Longest Distance: 8.3 miles

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