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Fill your Cup Up First

As a health coach, one of the biggest complaints I heard from moms is that they just didn’t have time to workout  or eat well. I used to be that mom! I would go to sleep and wake up completely exhausted.

Being a new mom to twins was the hardest thing that I had ever done up until that point in my life. I’ve been through boot camp, deployed twice and still, being a new mom was the hardest task I had ever tackled in my life.

I didn’t sleep enough. I didn’t get to enjoy a hot shower enough. I learned why moms always wore their hair in pony tails. I didn’t eat enough. Once my twins were old enough to eat solid foods, I would eat whatever was left on their plate as my meal.

There was one point early in my twins’ lives where I would actually pack the kids in the car in the so that they could take a nap while I drove to Taco Bell, grab some food and enjoy a long, peaceful drive out on the shoreline. That winter I became depressed and packed on nearly 20 pounds. I was stressed and irritable. It really wasn’t a great point in my life.

Finally the spring came. I started putting the kids in their double stroller and taking them, and my two dogs, for long walks. I found my groove again in the workout and healthy eating arena, something that had always been a focal point in my life. I started feeling better, loosing weight, and being in an overall better mood. When I started doing things that made me happy, my kids were happier because I was creating a better atmosphere in our household.

Putting ourselves first is not selfish, it’s essential. I used to think that by taking time to do something I found important was taking away from time with my children. I now know that this couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

Working out, taking walks, and cooking became family events. My twins, Zac and Kenna, learned that this was a part of our daily routine. Get up, have breakfast, workout, and then get on with whatever activity we had planned for the day. Even now, at 5 years old, they both ask to join me in my workout in the morning. I love that by learning to fill up my cup and do things that are important to me, for both my physical and emotional health, are now a part of their lives.

File_000 (7) Enjoying a beautiful day on the trail!

Lately, I’ve been getting up earlier to start my days in order to be more prepared instead of always being in a reactionary mode. For my own personal self-care routine I wake up by 5 a.m., listen to a book on Audible, write, start laundry, make lunches, or wash last night’s dishes. (Yes, I’m the mom that leaves dishes in the sink overnight because family time after dinner is far more important to me than a task I can complete later).

Getting up early to start my day has been one of the best things that I’ve done for myself and my family. I’m able to greet my children in a good mood and help them start their day off right. This doesn’t happen every single day, because we all have days where we oversleep, but 95% of the time this is how my day goes. If it’s a school day, and I didn’t fit in my workout, I am able to do a longer workout when I get home from dropping them off.

If you’re reading this and need help getting into a better self-care routine, remember that YOU are important. Taking care of yourself is not selfish. It’s the same concept of putting on your oxygen mask before helping those around you.

Moms have tough roles, so take care of yourself first in order to take better care of those that need you most.

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Body Image and Talking to Our Children

Last night my daughter and I had a hard conversation. One that I feel is too young to have with a five year old. The conversation was about body image.

We had a wonderful evening after school, filled with a dance class, a barbecue to enjoy the nice weather, and I watched as the neighbor kids played with mine afterwards. It was bath night. I was getting my daughter ready for her the bath and I caught her looking at herself in the full length mirror. She asked in her sweet little voice, her big, blue eyes looking into mine, “mama, why is my belly big?” Talk about a knife to the heart!

I told her that it’s because it’s just how she’s made. She sucked in her little belly to make her look thinner in the mirror and said, “this is how I want to look.” After a few questions, I asked her why she thought she needed to look like that. MacKenna told me that they read a book in school that day about how people’s bodies all look different.

I’m sure that this was a well-intended lesson for the class on how everyone is different or unique, but I had never heard the word thinner come out of my child’s mouth until last night. I do not use fat or thin to describe people. We have had the conversation about size over the last couple of weeks as my kids noticed that my breasts are smaller than my sister’s. (She concluded that mine were smaller because I breastfed them for a while and I don’t have milk in there any more. Ha!) Kids are curious and want to understand the world around them. I get that.

My little girl and I talked for a few minutes about how bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Some of us are tall, and some people are short. We eat healthy foods that give us energy to play for a long time. We talked about how strong she was. How fast she could run. That she has a fantastic laugh that makes me smile. That her little legs could go on a 2 mile bike ride to the park without issue. That the shape of our body does not determine our beauty. That the measure of beauty is in fact what is in our hearts. She makes other people feel loved because she is loving and kind.

I asked her if she thought I was beautiful. Thankfully she said yes. So, I lifted up my shirt to show her that my belly wasn’t thin and that sucking in my belly didn’t make me any more or less beautiful. After this, we told one another what she says often, you’re beautiful just the way you are. Maybe I went overboard on the examples with her but I felt like it was important to cover it all instead of dismissing her question with a quick answer. Parenting is tricky!

I have personally struggled in the past with having a positive self-image, which went into full effect my freshman year of college with my first boyfriend. He always had images of these very thin, muscular models around. I was athletic but not ripped like these women. These images made me feel as though somehow I was not enough. I struggled with disordered eating and working out at least three hours a day thinking that if I looked a certain way the man of my dreams would sweep me off my feet because I was “worthy”. I wish I could go back and slap some sense into my twenty something self!

Now that I’m in my thirties, being ripped and being outwardly beautiful in someone else’s eyes is not my thing. I’ve worked on self-love and acceptance. I’ve made peace with myself and love me for who I am as a person. I do not feel the need to impress anyone and am gentler on myself. I eat to be healthy. I am active because I enjoy it. Pushing my body makes me feel good, and eases stress. I don’t stand in the mirror and scrutinize myself. I love myself and know that I am worthy of love.

Our beauty isn’t attached to a magical number on a scale. I know that my worth – her worth, or anyone else’s for that matter- isn’t attached to how our bodies look.

Kids see and hear more than we realize. I have no idea if I handled her questions in the right way but I hope I did.

If you’ve had this conversation with your child, I’d love to hear how you handled it. Be sure to comment below!

Life with Twins is a True Adventure

First off, being a twin mom in itself is an adventure! Second, adventures don’t have to be monumental events. Everyday adventures are just as wonderful. From picking out cool rocks on the way to school, having a picnic, or setting up a fort in the living room.

My entire life, I’ve loved having adventures. From making up stories for my brother and sister while pretending to be explorers in the woods behind our house, or travelling around the world, my life has been full of adventure. That’s not to say that my life has been easy by any means, but out of all the mess, I chose to see the positives. Being a single mother of boy/girl twins has been one of my life’s greatest adventures.

Adventure can be defined as “an exciting or remarkable experience”. That’s more or less how I view being a mom.

Not every day is exciting. Not every day is fun. It is however, the single-most gratifying adventure I’ve ever encountered in my life. As any parent of twins already knows, getting out the door can sometimes take nearly an entire morning before everyone is actually ready.

In the first couple of months, one likes to poop in their diaper then right before you leave the house, the other one does the same. Then they both need to be fed. As they get older one can’t find their shoe, they’re hungry or have to go the bathroom just as you’re about to leave. (See a trend here?) I swear, one of the biggest hurdles twin parents have to jump is getting down the basic routine of actually leaving on time. Or, let’s be honest, having any sort of basic routine. Some of my best days were just figuring out a routine and mentally high-fiving myself.

In the first few months, I don’t think that I viewed parenthood as grand quite yet. I was so focused on me not getting any sleep, not showering, or having any of the “me” time that I once had. Those first few months of their life were the hardest of mine. I had recently separated from the military. The job that I thought I had fell through, and I was quickly running out of money in savings. I was depressed and had to move back home for a while. It was all a lot to take in, and I felt like a life failure. How was I ever going to be a good mom if I couldn’t even find a job?

I was stuck in my mindset of, Wow! This is hard! I felt like I was stuck inside the house too often at times. I felt like I was unable to live my best life and work on my fitness and other things that were important to me. None of that was actually true though. It was just how I felt at the time. I was living in fear and giving myself excuses.

After eating some humble pie, I tried to re-frame the way I looked at life. I tried to find the good in a less than optimal situation. I needed to remember that yes, I am the parent, my feelings matter but life isn’t all about me anymore. I’m not saying that I denied my feelings, but I am saying that I started to think about the fact that they needed to start enjoying their days more. They deserved more experiences and more connection with me other than the bare minimum. Instead of staying at home all the time and feeling sorry for myself, I forced myself to get out and at least enjoy nature.

Once I shifted my mindset, I was able to begin having “adventures” with my twins. I loved getting all of us out and seeing them experience things for the first time. The change in my attitude helped the day go so much smoother. There were still frustrating moments where my kids were practically pulling my hair out for me. There were still days that couldn’t end soon enough, but overall, once I changed my mindset I was able to enjoy life and my kids more.

Not every day has been fantastic, but to be honest, we have never had a “bad” day.

Remembering our earlier days of getting out for a walk on the trail together.

Here are a few ideas to get you and your twins out on an “adventure” today.

  1. Have an outdoor picnic.
  2. Collect one specific item on a short walk near your home. Acorns, rocks, mushrooms, anything!
  3. Pretend to be explorers, get out your invisible maps and pretend certain things are jewels to put into your pretend backpacks.
  4. Lay outside and watch the clouds and tell each other what you see.
  5. Build a fort in your living room. Dining room chairs and a fitted sheet work great!

What sorts of activities do you enjoy doing with your twins? Post in the comments below!

Congratulations! You’re having twins!

To start off, I need to be really honest with you all. Before I found out I was pregnant, I never had any intentions of having children. I never dreamt of getting married, having children, or any of those “normal” thoughts women are “supposed” to have. No, I was content with my three dogs, two horses, and advancing in my career.

On Christmas day 2011 something kept telling me, “you’re pregnant!” So, after meeting a friend at the non-denominational church for the service near my house I made my way to an open store. There, I purchased two pregnancy tests. The man at the checkout counter looked at me as he handed me my bagged items and said with a smile, “Merry Christmas! Good Luck!” Much to my chagrin, I said thank you and made my way to my truck. I drove the couple of miles back home slower than I had probably ever driven before. I chugged some water, sat in the truck until I was too cold to stay out there any more and made my way to the bathroom.

I peed on the first stick. Pregnant. NO!

Then I peed on the second stick. Pregnant. F@*K!

I called out for my sister, who was staying with me at the time, from the bathroom in between sobs. She rushed into the bathroom, and as I held up the pregnancy tests, she yelled OMG! CONGRATULATIONS! In that moment I felt as though my entire life was over. I wouldn’t be going on the upcoming deployment. I’d be looked down on by my peers. I wasn’t married, let alone even dating the guy who would now be the father of my child. Nothing about my life at the time screamed that I was prepared to be a mother. I cried the entire rest of the day until I finally came to terms with things.

About 2-3 weeks later, I had my very first ultrasound appointment. I was really nervous and excited all at the same time. As I was about to go in for my appointment I called their father-to-be. He made some not so funny jokes because he was nervous too. The least funny joke he told me was, “wouldn’t it be funny if you were pregnant with twins?! They run in my family!” Ha! So, not funny. After I hung up the phone, I went in for my ultrasound appointment.

What seemed like an eternity later, the doctor finally came in the room, asked if I was ready, and then we got to take a sneak peek into my uterus. There was my little peanut on the screen! In that moment I was absolutely elated! There was a real live baby inside of me! And then before she could say anything, I saw another little peanut. She said aloud what I had already seen; twins! I don’t think that I will ever forget that moment. I just remember lying there, putting my arm over my head and smiling. Of course it’s twins!

No matter how I felt before, I knew right then that I was doubly blessed and couldn’t wait to be their mother. A mother of twins!

Welcome to our Super Twin Adventure!

Welcome to our blog! This blog is dedicated to my boy/girl twins, Zachary and MacKenna. I hope to inspire other twin parents to be excited about parenting twins, rather than dwelling on the exhaustion. (Trust me, I know it’s exhausting!) This is my journey as a single mother to these beautiful souls and our adventures in life. I’ll be sharing stories, what I’ve learned along the way, fun activities, and kid approved healthy food recipes.

Mom life isn’t always easy. One minute life is fantastic, and the next there’s flour covering the floor, the dogs and kids are having a ball making paper mache out of said flour while you’re crying about not buying more wine.

Please feel to contact me with any comments/ questions!