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Hopscotch Twins & Life Updates!

It’s been a while since my last blog post where I shared our big TWINS news! I’ve missed sharing what’s been happening in the Hopscotch household these days. However, it has been because of all the activity lately that I haven’t been able to share anything – there has just been too much going on for me to catch a breath!

However, first things first, I’m excited to share that this fall we’ll be welcoming a baby BOY and a baby GIRL to our family!

While we would have been happy and excited about any gender combination (boy/girl, boy/boy, girl/girl) we’re pretty darn happy to be welcoming one of each! And most importantly, so far babies appear to be happy and healthy and I’m doing great as well!

Now, back to the reason for my blogging hiatus: a whirlwind of life changes! We found out about the twins at 16 weeks into my pregnancy. Over the 8 weeks following that news, we managed to accomplish the following:

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Finding “me” time

One of my biggest challenges as a parent has been carving out “me” time. It’s an ironic struggle, because as an introvert and a manager of a very busy, very social team at work, wind-down time has always been an essential component of my daily routine and I definitely felt less healthy if I didn’t get that time to decompress from a very social day. Before becoming a mom, I swore that I would make that time a priority when baby arrived. And then I became a mom and reality set in.

Much of this challenge is admittedly self inflicted. Mr. Carrot is ready and willing to manage the kiddo on his own any time I so choose, and we have a set enough routine that I could reasonably take certain evenings or time on weekends to do my own thing and he could step in. I just choose not to. After a full day at work, and a long metro area commute there and back, we only really have about an hour of time in the morning and an hour in the evening with our daughter, and the idea of skipping dinner together and cuddle/reading time before her bedtime doesn’t sit well with me. There are times when I have to travel for work, or my best friends, who live hours away, set a day for us to spend together, but nearly every day, you’ll find me at home, putting baby to bed, grabbing a quick dinner that Mr. Carrot usually makes while I put baby to bed, and squeezing in some couple TV time and a little reading before my own bedtime.

Lately, I’ve been realizing that no matter how much I don’t want to miss time with my daughter,  I’m doing myself a disservice by not giving myself some time to do my own thing. I no longer exercise because I won’t pull myself away from home a few nights a week to go to kickboxing or Zumba. I am not nearly as connected with my friends and especially my coworkers because I skip happy hours and evening outings. I no longer follow social media as closely as I used to, which keeps me from being as current on work-related developments and my own personal interests that I hope to turn into professional ones as I could be. Some of these things were always going to give once I became a parent, but dropping them almost entirely is not benefiting my physical or mental health. Studies show that a little selfishness can be a very good thingin many aspects, and my immediate goal is to figure out how to start making myself a bigger priority than I have been.

What are your “me” time routines and suggestions for carving out “me” time from a busy day?

Mrs. High Heel’s Summer Fun List

Ever since I read Mrs. Cowgirl’s original Summer Fun List two summers ago, I have wanted to implement one of my own – I thought the idea was completely genius! I am a huge checklist person… it just makes me so happy. Sometimes I even put things on my lists that I’ve already done just so I can get the satisfaction of checking them off! I knew I had to keep it somewhat realistic because I work full-time, and there are only so many weekends in a summer… but with summer also comes lots and lots of daylight, giving us so many more hours to do all sorts of things!

We’re only in mid-July, but we’ve already checked off practically half the things on our list. I cheated a little because some of these I knew we could probably do multiple in one day… like go to the beach and build sandcastles.  I also put the date we did things as we checked them off.  At the end of summer, I’ll snap a final picture as a keepsake of all the things we did (and when we did them) this summer!

I tried to mix it up a little – some of these cost money, others are completely free, still others could be done in the comforts of our own home… though I’m thinking I probably could’ve saved the create forts out of cardboard boxes for our Fall/Winter Fun List. Fall/Winter Fun List you say??  That’s right! I’m loving this list so much I want to make another one after summer’s over!  Lots of ideas churning in my mind already.

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Being an Only Child

This post is about my own personal experiences and feelings about being an only child.

I was about four I think when I realized that I didn’t have any brothers or sisters. At the time I played down the street at my babysitter’s house while my parents worked. The babysitter had two young children — a boy older than me and a girl younger than me. One day when we were talking about marriages and how you couldn’t marry your brother or sister, it dawned on me that there wasn’t anyone I couldn’t marry because I didn’t have a brother or sister. From that day on I started to notice other families when I was out with my parents or babysitter –families with multiple children running after a single parent, families with children tumbling out of mini vans, families that had noise and shouts and laughter following them everywhere they went.

Family watching became a habit for me that still continues to this day I admit. When I went to my friend’s homes, there was always noise, chaos of toys and kids running all over the house; this was such a stark contrast from my own home where my mother and father would watch TV or read books, and I was left to my own devices for hours on end. When I was alone I rarely talked out loud, even when playing, because who was there to talk to? All my games were played silently in my head and thus the silence of my house stood out to me so much when I realized that other homes weren’t like mine.

I started to bug my parents, mostly my mother, about wanting a brother or sister. My parents would demure of course, and side step and dodge the questions. I was persistent. I started to try to find out how babies were made so that I could make my parents have a baby for me. Luckily for everyone (myself included), my conclusions at the tender age of five lead me to believe that babies came from kissing on the mouth, so for months I would constantly try to shove, push, and even try to trip my parents into one another. Clearly this got me nowhere.

I won’t lie in saying I wasn’t lonely growing up. I was. Being lonely and bored were the number one reasons I wanted a sibling. My friends would tell me how lucky I was not to have a sibling, how annoying it was to have one and how they hated having to share their toys. I thought about how I would have loved to share my toys if only I had someone to share with. My situation was also compounded by the fact that my mother was deathly afraid of all animals big or small, leaving me with goldfish as the only real option for a pet.

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What We’re Really Doing

A few months ago, Mr. Cowboy and I registered Lil’ CB for Kindergarten. I actually managed not to cry… mostly because I was helping run the registration since it was at my school. Yep, in a little less than two months, Lil’ CB will be a Kindergartner and I’ll continue to teach Kindergarten at the same school. He definitely won’t be in my class, but it’ll be fun to be in the same grade together!

A while back, I wrote a series on what and how to prepare for Kindergarten. I promised and swore that we would not be purchasing workbooks in order to prepare Lil’ CB for Kindergarten. And we didn’t and I do think he is ready for the big K! Now that we are mere weeks, away, I thought I’d share what we really are doing to help our little cowboy as he prepares for his first year of full-day, big boy school!

The most important thing that we are trying to do is incorporate literacy activities daily while keeping them as genuine and authentic as possible. I outlined in a previous post about the reason why I’m not doing any formal reading lessons with Lil’ CB at home, and that is something I’m sticking by. There are a couple of easy, patterned books we have from school that we’ll sometimes read, but Lil’ CB chooses when to read them and we try to do it very casually so as not to stress him out and have him feel any unnecessary pressure. He loves books and he loves “reading,” and while I’m fairly certain he could learn to read one-on-one with me, I want him to take the lead on it until he is required to engage in reading lessons at school.

We continue to read lots and lots of books at home and visit the library every 2-3 weeks, returning with a fairly giant stack of books each time. Lil’ CB almost always has a book with him, too, wherever we go. Thankfully, he is so great about plopping down just about anywhere so long as he’s got a good book, and it’s made running errands so much easier!

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Target Blocks: Fun Foam Finds

I think we’re at a really fun stage in the Bear household right now. Both cubs are very enthusiastic when it comes to learning things – in Patrick’s case, he’s actually listening and trying to mimic my actions to the best of his ability then improving on my meager attempts at creative play. In Olivia’s case she’s more intent on destruction, much to the dismay of Patrick, and no amount of gentle redirecting can get her to alter from her decided path. Patrick tries to build while Olivia tries to effectively disassemble. I’m sure you can imagine the wonderful cacophony of noise at my household during those times.

Which is why I’m glad I stumbled across these blocks recently at the Target One Spot. Seriously, guys, I’m in love.

They come in packs of 18 and I’m still kicking myself for only buying two packs because they are fantastic. I love that I can give each kid a pile of them at opposite ends of the table and they’ll stay like that, mostly content for at least two point five seconds. Long enough for me to put my cold cup of coffee in the microwave and push the appropriate buttons. What makes them so wonderful? Well I’m glad you asked!

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Lactogenic banana bread

I adapted my low fat banana bread recipe to be a little more lactogenic based on what I’ve learned about possible substitutions, and I was really surprised that it was moist, and that it actually baked through (I’ve often made disaster quickbreads where the center never sets and remains gooey, especially when I’ve substituted applesauce for eggs, so this chia seed egg concoction is impressive). I would venture to say it’s slightly healthy and a good choice for anyone and not just nursing moms. I even let baby Winter have a few bites. The molasses actually made it quite sweet and moist, to the point where I really don’t think it needed the two squares of bakers chocolate I included… and I’m always the gal that throws chocolate into her baked goods. 

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