4/27/17

Q&A: More kids? Balancing life? Favorite cookbooks?

Thank you for all the questions you asked me in response to my request for this Q&A post! I think of myself as someone who goes deep fast and it seems like many of my readers are too; wow you asked some great and pointed questions! I won't be able to get to all of them, but I chose the most repeated. A few I have addressed in the past (read my thoughts on faith and fertility treatments in this post) and the questions about breastfeeding I've decided to answer in their own post so look for that in a few weeks! I'm also thinking about writing a post on the whole process of embryo adoption, but want to do some digging to see if some kind of helpful document on the process- in its many forms- already exists first. (If you know of one, please let me know!)

Let's start with the meatiest question, which is about the future of our family: Are you having any more children? Related, a number of you asked if we have any more embryos and what our relationship with the embryo donors is like.

The embryos were donated to us anonymously via our fertility clinic's anonymous donation program. This means that we do not know the donors.

There are remaining embryos however after much (emotional) thought and prayer, we've decided not to pursue any more fertility treatments. (The embryos will go back to our clinic for another couple.) If you've been through the IVF process you can probably understand our decision. If not, I don't know if I can adequately express how truly taxing the process is. After our many IUIs, two surgeries, and three rounds of donor IVF, I'm done. I am grateful beyond description for our twins and for Arie which is why the decision is so tough, but I don't have it in me physically or emotionally to undergo more embryo transfers.

These days I feel fully invested in the present tense and I am loving it! I take each day as it comes and pour all my energy into my family. Undergoing IVF would take me out of the present tense. It would require me to use my time and energies for something else. I don't want to miss a single second of these crazy precious years with my three little boys! I want to enjoy them. I am enjoying them.

If I am totally honest I will tell you that I do want one more baby. If I were one of those fertile people who get to have a say in when they conceive, I would want to add a fourth and final child to our family in a few years. (Probably when the twins go to preschool to give me a break from the nausea I would anticipate living with for the first four months again!) However when you are infertile you don't get to decide if you'll have more children, much less when. So, I'm deciding to be content with my three beautiful, precious, amazing little boys. I may always feel a little ache for a fourth child but it is nothing, nothing, like the devastating hollow in my heart before them. I can live with the ache because it is soothed with the gratitude I have for my three.

Yes. Unless we are surprised with a miracle baby, three is our number. Three is our joy!
Our three precious gifts! 

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The next most common questions were all some form of: How do you do it all? How do you balance everything? 

The very first thing I always say when someone asks me this question is: I don't believe in balance. 

Instead, I believe in priorities.

Different seasons and heck even different days call for different priorities.

For the first three months of the twins' life I heard this comment a lot: "Make sure you take care of YOU."

Um.... those people must not have had twins.

Or maybe I just had no idea of what "self-care" looked like with newborn twins. For those first three months there was not a chance in hell I was getting away for a massage. I barely had time to pee. And that's not an exaggeration. I remember reading a book for twin moms and the author said something like, "In the first few months postpartum, if you brush your teeth and care for your babies, consider your day a success." Reading those words was such a relief to me! Trying to figure out "self-care" at that time was just one more thing for me to fail at.

Before the twins, self-care meant going to my pottery class, getting a massage, or taking a day to go shopping. After the twins, at first self care looked like remembering to eat lunch and closing my eyes while I yawned. After those first few very intense months passed, self-care meant I loaded up the twins in my minivan and drove around for an hour so they would both sleep at the same time and I could listen to a podcast and sit down without holding anyone. I admit, I drove through our local ice-cream place for milkshake to enjoy on my minivan drives on more than one occasion. That precious hour was such a nice breather in the middle of my afternoon!
Happy 6 month old Roman in the van! 

Now that the twins are on a schedule (finally!) my evenings are free for me again. As an introvert, I like nothing more than to have a quiet evening alone (with John). I feel like I have time for myself again, time to take a bath, look up decorating ideas for our house, read my food magazines and search for new recipes, edit photos, indulge in my hobbies again. I prioritize my evenings for myself and I cherish that time.

As far as other priorities, it really depends on the day. If I'm having company, I'll prioritize cleaning. If not, I'll let my kitchen floors get gross, hope I don't have any surprise company, and do something else like work on my blog or write an email to a friend. (The other day I had a friend over and when I apologized for the stiiiiiiick-cruuuuuuunch thing her socks were doing on my kitchen floors, she just smiled and said, "Feels like home." I mean... is that a true friend or what??) If the weather is nice, the tiny messy handprints on my windows stay there and the boys and I enjoy being outside. If it is rainy and cold, I might get around to my bi-annual Vacuuming Of The Stairs.

I don't do it all and I don't have a balanced life. I just prioritize. The most important things get done (Children alive and well? Check.), the least important things almost never do (Vacuuming the stairs? Rarely. Ironing? Never.), and the medium important things happen in a last minute panic with some swearing (It's our week to bring snack to kindergarten!!! WHO THE HELL ATE ALL THE CHEESE STRINGS?!).

Maybe balance is important to you. Just ignore me then. But I'm not happy trying to find balance. I say no to a LOT and figure out what is important to me. Life is still crazy and busy but you know? We only get this one life and I don't want to spend it stressed about doing it all. I know what it important to me and I focus on those things. Everything else can wait or go away.

So please don't think I "do it all." I don't! This week I cooked some amazing dinners, cleaned out the boys' closets, kept our house mostly clean, spent time outside with the boys, forgot to mail a document I was supposed to mail two weeks ago, failed to send Arie to school with his indoor shoes four days in a row, decided my shower wasn't that dirty and can probably make it another week (it really can't), lost a baby's sun hat after ONE use, and... was happy.

...

When I first wrote this answer I left it there but I felt I should come back and give you at least one paragraph of practice advice. Here are my three best tips for making life run smoothly:

1) Minimalism. The less you have, the less you have to clean up, worry about, fix and repair, and deal with. Hearty recommendation for the book The Joy of Less by Francine Jay.

2) Amazon Prime. Just this week our carbon monixide detector died. Instead of putting it on a list to be forgotten about for months or searched for aimlessly in the hardware store, I just typed the make and model in Amazon and two days later it was at my doorstep. I order SO MANY THINGS on amazon. Make up, bar soap, pajamas for the twins, shoes for Arie, craft supplies, extension cords, batteries, party balloons, YOU NAME IT. Saves so much time at the store!

3) Bullet journaling, calendar keeping, and list making. As a mom, I am only working with 25% of my brain at any given time. My babies stole the rest while I wasn't sleeping. Writing stuff down makes life run better because I am not stressed about remembering or forgetting.

What are your favorite cookbooks and recipes? 

Oh me. Oh my.

Do you have an hour?

I probably could have talked about cooking in the above "self-care" and "priorities" because cooking falls into both those categories for me. I feel like myself in the kitchen. I feel so good about my mothering when I put a good meal on the table. For me cooking indulges my creativity, makes me feel like I'm doing a good job as a spouse and parent, and the dinner hour grounds us and centers our family's daily schedule... it ticks many boxes.

Right now my favorite cookbooks are all about fast cooking because I have three kids and I don't have a ton of time to spend in the kitchen. I look for meals that take about 30-45 minutes from cracking open the cookbook to dinner on the table.
Making Sloppy Joes from: 100 Days of Real Food Fast and Fabulous cookbook

Currently loving:

100 Days of Real Food (Her granola recipe is perfection.)
100 Days of Real Food Fast and Fabulous (Morrocan meatballs are a current favorite over here!)
Skinny Taste Fast and Slow (Just made her "Three Cup Chicken" in my Instant Pot for dinner tonight. Yum!)
Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime (Chicken Enchiladas. Need I say more?)

When I have more time to cook and/or prep a meal, my two current favorites are:

The Farm: rustic recipes for a year of fabulous food (his "Blueberry Belle" dessert will send you to heaven!)
Eating in the Middle: a mostly wholesome cookbook (her chicken souvlaki with taziki sauce makes my heart beat faster.)

Past favorites that are stained and torn and well-loved:

My Father's Daughter: delicious, easy recipes celebrating family and togetherness (I go back to many of her soup recipes again and again!)
Super Natural Everyday: well loved recipes from my natural foods kitchen (just saying the title of her recipe, "Broccoli Gribiche" makes my mouth water!)

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Phew! Only got through three questions and I feel I have been typing for hours. I may have to return to another Q&A to answer more. I hope this is helpful for you! Thank you again for asking your wonderful questions! Keep them coming. They help me know how and what to write about!

xo 

3 comments:

  1. I agree with you 110% on prioritizing. I'm not a mama of multiples, but my husband and I both work outside the home and have a two year old. There is no way I could balance EVERYTHING that comes with being married, a mother, and owning a home, and so I simply don't. I read I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam a while back and highly recommend it - she highly encourages mothers to discern what is most important to them and the well-being of them and their families, and prioritize these things. An example in my own life is that I HATE having a messy kitchen, so my daily cleaning priority is making sure the kitchen is clean. I don't mind if our other main living areas aren't very tidy, so I only focus on picking them up on the weekend. It works for us, so I just don't worry about it anymore and it's much less stressful than trying to tidy everything all the time.

    You also make a great point on living more simply and embracing a more minimalistic living style. Thanks for the book recommendation, I'll have to add that to my list! :o)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for talking about 100 days of real food in your post! I few months back I ordered both her cookbooks after your posts and loved them both. And you're 300% right about her granola!

    ReplyDelete
  3. How did you get the twins on a schedule? My 8 month old used to get up once a night but now it's more like 3-4 times. I'm considering sleeping training but don't want her to cry it out. I'd love to hear your thoughts...

    ReplyDelete

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