How I’m “Taking it Easy” with Littles

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A question that keeps popping up more and more is, “How exactly are you taking it easy. You have two little kids…”. So today I’ll share the little details of how exactly we’re keeping me off my feet (as much as possible). The short answer is: Dan does almost everything. The only way I know to answer the question in any real detail is to give a snapshot of our typical day.

Before I wake up…

Dan gets up early and does some work from home. Some days he exercises in the garage, and every morning he also empties the dishwasher and puts away clean dishes.

7:30 Bible Time

Nothing has changed here. Every morning Lydia joins me as I read, pray, and memorize to start the day.

8:00 Put away folded laundry, pick out girls’ clothes, get dressed, clean bathroom

So far it doesn’t sound like I’m taking it easy, does it? Every evening Dan carries up a laundry basket full of folded laundry. I put this away, and while I’m putting away the bathroom towels I also get dressed and clean the bathroom.

Now, there are a couple tricks here. First of all, I have a pretty efficient laundry folding method which I’ll share below. Secondly, I only clean one part of the bathroom a day (Monday – sink, Tuesday – shower, Wednesday – wash towels, Thursday – toilet, Friday – mirror, empty trash, refill soap as needed) and on days when it’s looking good or I’m not feeling particularly up for it, I just skip it.

8:15 First trip downstairs to make breakfast

I make a simple breakfast and get it on the table. Lydia goes potty and gets dressed in the clothes I just picked out for her. To simplify things, I let Lydia pick out her outfits (She requests what she wants the night before. This is something she started doing this on her own to make sure she only was wearing the clothes she wanted to wear.) and she typically rotates through the same two or three so they never even make it back to her dresser.

Dan brings down Abby, changes her diaper, and gets her dressed. Then he puts her in her high chair before praying for our day and heading off to work. (Except on Wednesdays, he stays home and works upstairs)

While Dan gets Abby ready, I throw some laundry in the washer from the hamper that Dan brings downstairs each morning.

8:30 Breakfast

Sit and eat.

9:00 Bible time with the girls

Just like before, we read from Lydia and Abby’s story Bibles, pray, and practice a Bible verse memory song.

9:15 Breakfast clean-up-ish, and computer time

I don’t really clean up from meals any more. I simply stack the dishes while I’m sitting at the table, then put them on or next to the sink. They pile up all day for Dan to take care of later. While I’m on my feet I put away any food from breakfast and switch the laundry clothes to the drier. We brush our teeth and the girls play while I do some work on the computer: budgeting, blogging, emailing, or meal-planning (still at the dining room table usually).

This is when Lydia often plays dress up or looks at library books. Abby crawls around to see what sort of messes she can make. Her favorites are to pull laundry out of hampers and to take all the shoes off of our shoe rack. When that’s done, she will spread toys all over the living room and pull books off shelves.

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10ish Move to couch

Next we’ll spend an hour or two just reading various library books. We’ll read some picture books but we’ve also been reading through the Little House on the Prairie series. If Lydia thinks of it and asks for a snack, I’ll take a break from sitting to get a quick snack for the girls (bread, crackers, or fruit). I don’t even bother to put Abby in her high chair anymore, she just eats on the floor. Less lifting.

Sometimes I’ll do a small “school” activity with Lydia. Then, it’s back to reading.

12:00 Lunch

Leftovers.

1:00 Lunch Clean-up-ish and fold laundry

Sometimes I don’t even clean up from lunch, but I try to stack the dishes and put away leftover food.

I pull the laundry from the drier and sit on the floor while the girls play. Here’s that laundry technique I mentioned previously. First I sort all the laundry into piles based on where it belongs: bathroom, girls’ closet, Lydia’s dresser, Abby’s dresser etc. Then I fold room by room starting with the bathroom and working my way backwards toward our room. That way, when it’s time to put the laundry away I’m not running back and forth from room to room. It’s already piled by location starting in our bedroom and working its way to the bathroom, where I also get dressed.

It’s all about optimizing the time I spend on my feet and avoiding any running back-and-forth.

1:30 Naps

Now I take my first trip upstairs for the day, put Abby in her crib and warn Lydia not to get off her bed during nap time. They play for a long time before falling asleep, so naptime can easily stretch throughout most of the afternoon. I usually read for a while before napping myself.

Oh, and on days when Dan is home, I just stay downstairs all day and nap on the couch. Dan takes care of anything that requires a trip up or down.

4ish Dan is home

I leave the girls in their room, awake or not, until Dan comes home early from work around 4. When he gets home, I make my second trip downstairs. Dan carries Abby downstairs and helps get Lyda and Abby a snack (this time putting Abby in her high chair).

4:30ish

Listen to Adventures on Odyssey with Lydia while lounging in the living room again.

5ish Prepare main course for dinner

Often while sitting on a stool, I’ll cook up a simple dish for dinner. Then I go back to the living room and read while Dan comes down and does everything else…

6 or 6:30ish Dinner

Dan sets the table (clears it from lunch if necessary), prepares a salad, changes any necessary diapers, and gets everyone to the table to eat. We eat and have Bible time.

7:30 Get ready for Bed

Now I move to the couch for the rest of the night while Dan does everything yet again. He changes Abby’s diaper, gets the girls into pajamas and brushes their teeth and tucks them in. Then he clears the table, cleans the high chair and floor, loads the dishwasher, and washes any other dishes. Every other night he washes diapers. Two or three times a week he bakes bread (in our breadmaker). As needed he washes counters and our stove, and takes out the trash. Some nights he changes the sheets or cleans the floors. After all that, he works until late into the night because his work has been demanding more from him lately.

Yes, Dan does a lot. He really deserves an award.

9:30ish

I move upstairs (my second time up those steps in a day) and get ready for bed. Usually I stay up reading until I’m tired enough to fall asleep.

Whew, and there’s a typical day.

Weekends

Dan gets up early and does all the grocery shopping. On Sundays and Wednesday nights he takes care of the girls single-handedly while I sit and listen to Bible study or church. On those occasions Dan drops me off and I find my chair and sit there until we leave several hours later (with potty breaks occasionally, I am pregnant after all!).

Helpers

Lydia is a big helper in all of this. She plays independently, puts away bibs after I fold laundry, and is constantly running on errands for me to find out what Abby’s doing or getting into. She picks things up for me and puts things away, and goes potty all by herself even though she hates to do it.

There is also a young lady from church who has volunteered to come over once a week. On Monday afternoons she’ll take the girls outside for some much-needed fresh air. She also sweeps, mops, and vacuums our floors downstairs, saving Dan from yet another weekly chore.

It’s not perfect, but it works.

So many things are far from ideal. The clutter is unbelievable. Our living room is almost always trashed. If I was able to get up and move around freely, I could clean it in about 5 minutes. Last night I asked Lydia to clean it (one object at a time) and it took her 45 minutes. So we don’t do that very often, only when I really can’t take it anymore.

Sometimes I need something that would be so easy to get but would require me to go upstairs or get up on my feet. I try to just suffer through until a convenient moment comes along to ask Dan for help. One day I left my fleece upstairs during my nap time and forgot to bring it downstairs. I was cold all evening but was avoiding another trip up on my feet and Dan was so busy I didn’t want to ask him to get it for me. On many occasions I run out of water during dinner and wait until Dan is on his feet before asking for a refill. It only takes a few seconds, but those with “littles” know how meal times go. With one person taking care of everything by himself…it’s often quite a long time after we pray before Dan even gets to take a bite. Taking care of the two is enough without me adding in extra requests!

So, while it’s a struggle at times, it’s working for now, and I’m able to be off my feet a surprising amount of the time. I will certainly be grateful when I can be fully active again, cleaning the living room and getting my own water! The days go by slowly for me, but each morning is another celebration that Baby isn’t here yet. If we can just make it a couple more weeks…

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Halfway Blessings…

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I don’t enjoy running.

When I was in seventh grade I joined the cross-country team. I dreaded every practice. The thought that kept me going during each race was “Before I know it…I’ll be done…”, and then I would picture my water bottle and my couch. I finished the season. I stayed on the team. And I ran every race without stopping to walk. At the end of the season I was devastated when I lost my team picture and later my team t-shirt was also lost in the laundry. There was no evidence that I had ever survived the whole season or that I had even joined the team.

After seventh grade I quit running until my college days. There was gym just across the street from my apartment that I could get into for free with my college ID card. For a few weeks I walked to the gym every weekday and ran around the track. Then I came down with a cold and decided to rest rather than run. My resting continued right up through college graduation. That was my second attempt at running.

When I was pregnant with Lydia, another Mama gave me a brilliant idea. She had trained couch-to-5K after her fourth baby was born, her fourth c-section at that. What a great way, I thought to get back in shape after nine months of pregnancy. I took that idea and decided to follow the same plan after Lydia was born, and then again after Abby.

I succeeded in my Lydia-5K, but then Abby came along. Training for a 5K with two littles is a lot harder than training for a 5K with one baby and a daddy who is in school and home often enough to babysit. After a couple of false starts at my 5K training this year, Dan and I both decided my running wouldn’t be able to continue until we invested in a double jogging stroller.

So began my search. Every day I would get on Craigslist and check for a stroller that was in usable condition but within our price range. Finally, after a handful of disappointing emails and texts (Please, take your item off of Craigslist when it sells!), we paid $25 more than we wanted for a blue baby trend double jogger and I got to start my training again.

Day 1
I realized that we don’t even own a stop watch so my only timing device was my cell phone. Not ideal, but I could carry it while I ran and check the time whenever I ran underneath some shade. (The screen is too hard to see in the sunlight). I buckled up the girls and we took off for a short walk/run to test out the stroller and get my training back under way.

My long-awaited jogger has a fixed front wheel, so I have to do a wheely every time I want to turn. Since the stroller was lightweight, I didn’t think it would be a problem. Right? Wrong. Our neighborhood is all curves. The neighborhood across the street is all curves. And the neighborhood next to ours is all curves. By the end of my short run, my arms were aching. To make things worse, all the neighborhoods around are tiny one or two street neighborhoods, fine for a 5-minute run, but not practical for anything longer.

Day 2
I decided to find a route other than the neighborhood across the street. I ventured out onto the road, but that road is busy. Very busy. Semi-truck busy. And there is no sidewalk. I started the run in the “bike lane” but the first car that zoomed by at 50 miles an hour was far too close for comfort. I ended up jogging with my eyes and ears parked for the next batch of cars. Whenever some cars came I stopped my jogging, did my wheely to get off the road, and waited in the grass for the next break in traffic. All those wheelies were giving my arms a workout, but the stop-and-go running wasn’t what I had envisioned.

The good news: there was a sidewalk for the stretch of about 5 houses. Five houses of non-stop jogging.

Day 3
This time I didn’t even bother to jog for the first 15 minutes. I repeated the previous route along the busy road with the tiny patch of sidewalk until I made it to a bike trail. Then I was able to complete my run in all its glory with no semi-trucks, to stopping, and fewer wheelies.

By now my runs were up to more than ten minutes and it was definitely time to bring along some music. I was happy to find my mp3 player but disappointed to realize the USB cord was packed away in some hopeless location and the player was dead.

I was back to running without music. And you know I don’t like running.

One day I had the idea to try Dan’s phone charger on my mp3 player, and it worked. My next run was so much happier, but with one down-side: the music last loaded onto the mp3 player also included the entire King James Version of the Bible, all 1,189 chapters of the KJV Bible. Great for listening, but not while running.

Now my run involved ten minutes of semi-dodging wheelies, one sweaty hand holding my cell-phone timer, one hand scrolling through all 34 chapters of Deuteronomy before I could get to the next real song (which was a slow one anyway), and one jogging stroller running into the grass while I tried to push it with my forearms…

TO BE CONTINUED.

I promise I am going somewhere with this. It’s a lesson, and a good one. But baby nap times only last so long, I have a counter full of dishes to wash and two loads of laundry to fold so you are all going to have to bear with me and wait patiently for the next post which will contain the rest of the story…

When Life Gives Us Lemons

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Last week Lydia was eating sunflower seeds out of a cup. I noticed her sneeze as she reclined in Abby’s Boppy and then saw something come out of her nose. Surprised, I called her over to discover that it was a sunflower seed she had stuck up her nose. I quickly informed her that she should never again put anything up her nose, especially a sunflower seed and then told her to throw it in the trash can.

She shoved it up her nose again.

I quickly grabbed her and looked up her nose, but there was no seed in sight. I told her to blow her nose, but she sucked air in instead. Thinking to myself, “I have to get her to sneeze”, I put some pepper in my hand and told her to smell it. No sneeze. I called Dan while Lydia kept pouring out pepper and sniffing it, something she now thinks is hilarious.

Dan searched online and found some instructions on performing a “Mother’s Kiss”. I plugged Lydia’s other nostril (the one without the seed in it), covered her mouth with mine, and gently blew. The seed didn’t come out, but Lydia thought this was hilarious too. I finally gave up, but a few moments later Lydia walked over to me with the seed in her hand. It worked.

The next day we had a container of cherry tomatoes sitting on the table, leftover from a meal provided by a family from our church the night before. As I was taking care of Abigail, Lydia wandered over to the table, crawled up a chair, and started eating the tomatoes. “Well, tomatoes are good for her”, I thought to myself and didn’t pay much attention. A few minutes later Lydia started screaming, “Salsa! Salsa! Pants!”. I didn’t know what she was talking about and told her everything was just fine.

When she didn’t calm down I came to her to find out what the problem was. She had overeaten on tomatoes and thrown up all over her pants. I cleaned her up and chuckled about the situation and then got on the computer to do some work. Lydia asked to sit in my lap and a few moments later threw up again, all over my pants this time.

As you can see, things are sometimes crazy around this home now that we have two little ones. While we are happy to have Abby home, I would be lying if I pretended everything was going perfectly. But, at least the exciting happenings are something we can laugh about…later. Along with Lydia’s shenanigans, Abby is contributing to the madness and Dan and I haven’t been getting much sleep.

Now, Dan manages ok without sleep, but I tend to get a little, well…moody. One minute I’m snuggling my girls, the next I’m angry, the next I’m crying, than we’re all hugging again. Sometimes the only good thing to do is laugh.

Last week Abby decided she only wanted to sleep while being held on the couch…all night long. Around the same time I followed some internet instructions on washing a pillow that Lydia had thrown up on. The pillow came out of the wash not only torn open, but completely deformed. And so, between my nights on the couch and in bed on a lumply pillow, I have developed a terribly stiff neck.

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Now Abby likes to sleep on her Boppy during the day, so one day I was inspired to follow her example and I took a nap on the floor lying with my head on the Boppy. It turns out the Boppy is pretty comfortable! Well Dan blessed me with an early Christmas present this weekend: a new pillow. But we still took the time last night to marvel and the comfort of a Boppy and thought how strange it would look if we just replaced our pillows on the bed with Boppys for one and all.

Last night I was having some of my sleep-deprived mood swings. I had been happily snuggling with Dan on the floor next to the couch as we played with Abby. Then we got dinner ready (well, a family from church had given us dinner and we heated it all up). Somewhere in there I got mad and by the time we were eating I was crying. Once that was over there was a moment of silence. Dan looked at some cut up lemons that had been given to us by the family from church. He said, “Want to see who can eat a quarter of a lemon faster?”

Of course, that was the best thing to do at the time, so to break all of the tension we had a brief lemon-eating competition. Even though he hates anything sour, Dan finished his in about one tenth the time that I did, but cheered me on for finishing anyway.

All that to say, things are pretty crazy around here, but we’re trying to stay good humored. And while we may not be laughing at it all just yet, we have at least learned how to cope. When life gives you lemons, have a lemon-eating competition.