15
could you go hands free?

My girls jump on their trampoline in the backyard almost daily. Thankfully that’s possible most times here in Texas. Except for the recent snowpocalypse when it was covered in a sheet of ice.

Inevitably when I shoo them outside, they utter the same request: Will you come jump with us?  Their three tiny voices so full of hope.

Hope that I regularly squash in the palm of my hand because hahahahaha! My plan is not to go jump. My plan is to get them to go jump so I can have some peace and quiet. Because they’ve been home all of 45 minutes, there are socks and shoes everywhere (how many feet do they have?) and I can no longer see the surface of my dining room table after the twin homework fiasco. But I’ll give my kids this: they don’t give up. They ask and ask and ask and ask until I say OMG fine! I will come jump with you!  Only I’m a little nicer about it, because seriously, it’s just a trampoline.

I’ve given every excuse in the book. I’m working. I’m tired. I have a headache. My back hurts (totally legit excuse right now that actually does make trampolining impossible).

hands free mama rachel macy stafford

I recently had a chance to read Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford, author of the popular blog of the same name, and I realized that I don’t want to be the mom who makes excuses anymore. Because sooner or later, my kids will start to think that I’m brushing them off. I mean, I am totally brushing them off, but I need to make them think it’s their idea.

When I step out onto the patio, it’s like a party in my honor. Mommy’s here! She’s going to jump with us!  Their excitement digs its way into my heart. Remember this, I tell myself. Remember how much they want you to play with them.

So we jump. They sit on the trampoline while I jump close to them, sending them sailing into the air, their faces full of delight and just a little bit of terror. We play Ring Around the Rosie, everyone anticipating we all fall DOWN!  We collapse in a fit of giggles and they all pile onto me and we lay there, looking up at the sky.

Remember this, I tell myself. Remember how much they just want to be with you.

And it never fails that after a few minutes of jumping, my headache is gone and my fatigue is dashed.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Rachel’s book and the message it delivers to let go of distraction and be with our children. I freelance from home. I try to do most of my work during hours that my kids are all in school, but there are times when I need to attend to something while Zoe draws next to me or plays on her tablet. Those times don’t worry me. It’s the times that I deliberately choose my distractions over my children that I need to work on.

That’s what Rachel’s book does. She reminds us of the beauty of every day life. Like do I really need to check my phone while I’m on a walk with my kids? Probably not. Can I survive a trip to the park without my phone? Can I completely shut down my computer one the kids come home from school?

I think about Rachel’s book every time I’m checking social media while waiting (and waiting and waiting) for Zoe to finish her dinner. I think about it when someone is talking to me, but I’m not quite hearing them because I really need to find a place to put this Q in Words with Friends. And more than once someone has gotten impatient about the morning and insisted that I’m NOT making breakfast, I’m just looking at my phone. Ouch. (FWIW I AM making breakfast. Waffles, thankyouverymuch.)

I’m working on it, with great results. Sure, if the kids are happily playing together, I allow myself some time. There are three of them involved deep in a game of Ninja Turtles. I admit I’m not a player. Give me all the crafts and all the puzzles, but make believe is not my thing. Especially when they have such distinct rules of what’s going on. No, Mom. Leo doesn’t say that.  WELL.

But I still need reminders. I need reminders to just sit and watch a movie with them, no matter what I can “get done” in that time (newsflash: you’re not doing anything important). I need reminders to sing an extra round of the twins’ bedtime lullaby. I need reminders not to sigh heavily when Zoe asks me to scratch her back, then her left arm, then her right arm, now stroke my nose, Mommy, and now my eyelids. 

Someday I will ache for this ritual.

 

Hand Free Mama is on sale now! If you enjoy her wildly popular blog, you will love this book. Here’s where you can get it:

Amazon (affiliate link)

Barnes & Noble

 

I was graciously given a copy of Hands Free Mama for review. All words and opinions and typos are completely my own. 

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18
finding a good after school routine

I told you guys that if I ever found a successful post-kindergarten day routine, I would shout it from the rooftops. Well here I am! Shouting! On rooftops!

Also, this post is kinda long, but with GIFs! Kindergarten life should always be described with GIFs.

We’ve gone through a great many phases of change from the start of kindergarten until now. At the beginning of the school year, they were so, so, SO tired when they got home, they didn’t know what to do with themselves. I didn’t know what to do with them. Sometimes their tired translated into them being too rowdy, which always resulted in someone getting hurt. Sometimes it translated into them wanting to do nothing but stare blankly at the TV. Playing was too hard, eating a snack was too laborious, and don’t even ASK us to flush the toilet, Mom. We’ve had a hard day of coloring and ABCs.

Truth be told, the day is long for them. We get up at 6:30 in order to get them to school by 7:45, out at 2:40, all with no nap or rest time. It’s rough on the 5-6 year old set.

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My girls are each given a folder on Monday with the week’s homework inside, along with a little instruction sheet telling us what worksheet and/or reading to do on which day. Sometimes we deviate from the schedule; if Claire really wants to do a certain worksheet one day, NBD. As long as it’s all done by Friday, and we’re not hurrying to finish it all Thursday evening.

So here’s what we tried, along with why it did or did not work FOR US, with two kindergarteners. What works for you and your family may be totally different, and that’s cool. But if you have kids who are new to school and you find yourself struggling with the afternoon routine and homework, this might give you some options.

Okay. You’ve picked up the kids from school. You walk in the door. Now what?

First things first, they take off their shoes and socks and hang up their backpacks. Now it’s time to choose your own adventure.

Routine #1: Grab a snack, because lunch was at 11:15 and they are starving. Famished even. WITHERING AWAY BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES. Then it’s off for some play time, because you figure they’ve been cooped up in a structured classroom environment all day, so they need a little time to cut loose. After a little playtime, have them sit at the table for homework time.

Why it didn’t work: This may work for older kids who are a little more, ahem, responsible? But for my girls, it meant intense play time that soon went south. Someone always got hurt. Plus it was really hard to bring them back down to a more Ross-appropriate level when we needed to move on to homework.

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Routine #2: Grab a snack. Talk about their day, getting a run down of approximately 6 minutes worth of their 7 hour school day. Head to the living room for a 30 minute show to provide some much needed down time after a long day of activity. After the show, turn off the TV and head to the table for homework time.

Why it didn’t work: Once they settled in to watch TV, it was very difficult – surprise, surprise! – for them to transition back to learning mode without getting all Amber on me.

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Routine #3: Grab a snack. Have free playtime until dinner. After dinner, it’s straight to homework. This plan is great if you have and need a spouse or partner there to help with the work or to distract other children.

Why it didn’t work: I’ll admit, this was never an option for us. Dinner is around 6, and after that it’s usually short playtime with Christian (they beg to wrestle him as soon as he walks in the door), then bath, then bed between 7 and 7:30. I just can’t imagine trying to squeeze homework in there. They usually have the hyper-tireds by this time anyway.

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Routine #4: aka THE WINNER!

Grab a snack. If you haven’t figured it out by now, this is ALWAYS the first option. Always. After hanging up backpacks and shedding footwear (at least in our house), get yo’self straight to the kitchen and let them face plant into a Costco sized bag of Pirate’s Booty.

After snack, it’s straight to homework. They always ask to either go jump on the trampoline, watch a show, or play on their tablets, but it’s just too difficult to get them to transition back to homework mode after they’ve gotten a sweet taste of freedom. MOST of the time, there is little to no resistance, and they get right to it, my eager little learners.

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Sometimes we deviate from this plan, if we have an after school play date or errand to run. Since their assignments are fairly short, it’s not hard to make it up the next day or do it quickly after dinner.

Since my girls are not reading completely on their own yet, I have to help them quite a bit with their work. And since they are in separate classes, they don’t often have the same homework, meaning I have to help them one at a time. That means that I have to find something for Claire to do while Rachel does her homework, and vice versa. On a really good day, they will sit and draw or color quietly while the other works. On a SUPER day, one of them has a worksheet that needs minimal help from me, like cutting and pasting, and we are done super quickly.

Once homework is finished, they can do whatever they want, BUT… tablet time is restricted to 30 minutes, and I really try to hold them off of watching TV until 5 or so when I have to make dinner. However, every day is different. Some days they will literally play on the trampoline or in the backyard until dinner time (January so far here in Texas has proved fairly mild.)(Watch, we’ll get a snowstorm now.). Some days it’s a mix of outside and inside play time or drawing. Other days I can tell that they are tired and ornery beyond repair, and I let them veg for longer than usual. Because it beats having to break up fights or listening to whining for 3 hours.

 

This routine seems to be the norm for other parents of young kids that I’ve seen around. But do what works best for your kids and your family. Then you can relish in your totally awesome after school parenting abilities.

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15
Yes, please, bring all the ailments

I am currently suffering from ginormous snot globules stuck in my face (cedar fever) and excruciating back/leg/butt pain (sciatica). My days look something like this:

Wake up. Attempt to sniffle, but nose is completely blocked. Smack completely dry lips around cottony mouth and take a swig of water that almost helps the parch. Swallow water, which pops ears, because BLOCKED NOSE. Blow approximately 1/3 cup of mucus out of nose. Still blocked.

Roll out of bed and attempt to stand up. Hobble to bathroom – OW! –  hunched over – JESUS! –  with left leg kinda bent – SH!T! – grabbing onto anything you can along the way – MOTHERF*@^ER! – for support.

That’s just the first 5 minutes or so, but the rest of the day is more of the same. Snot and pain. Pain and snot. I can’t breathe, I want to scratch my eyes out, and there is no comfortable position for my body. Mainlining ibuprofen and Zyrtec-D like a boss.

I’m still training for the Biggest Loser Half Marathon (4 miles in the books on Saturday and 4 more due on Monday). My back and allergies don’t really bother me when I run; I can breathe easy and run pretty much pain free. It’s the after that kills. I’m trying to remember to stretch more – I hate stretching, but I know my back and legs need it – and I’m busting out the foam roller now and then.

Soooo….I guess I should go see a chiropractor? No information online says exactly where the best place is to start doctor wise. I’m not thrilled about going to see my general practitioner, even if she may be able to correctly diagnose me. I don’t want to just be given a prescription, you know?

But take it from me — nothing ruins your day, or your attitude, more than being in constant pain. The constant snot blockage just adds insult to injury.

The upside is that I’m currently laying in bed on a Sunday afternoon with an ice pack on my back. Something tells me I need to get up soon, lest my family starts to think I’m milking this?

 

SPECIAL NOTES OF SPECIALNESS:

1) I have discount code for the Biggest Loser Run/Walk! Use the promo code BLOGGERLEIGH and get 20% off your race registration!

2) MomCom is happening THIS WEEKEND! Great speakers, great fun for women of all types. Register here (affiliate link).

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7
#firstworldproblems

Things I have actually said:

 

This guacamole is just too spicy. #ayecaramba

My fingernails are too long and it’s interfering with typing on my iPhone. #claws

I’m having trouble syncing my Google calendar with my Mac’s iCal with my iPhone. #whatdayisit?

When I wear a long sleeved running shirt, I can’t thread my earbud cord through the sleeve. #runningwoes

The 80s Alternative Pandora station is good. But it’s not great. #spinmerightround

I forgot to order my Sonic drinks “easy ice.” #happyhourhaschanged

I tied my shoelaces too tight. I tied them again, now they are too loose. There is no perfect middle tie. #needvelcro

The worst part about getting a new computer is not knowing any of my passwords. #thanksautofill

I can’t decide between soccer or gymnastics or dance for the kids. #notadecisionmaker

 

What’s your first world problem?

 

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17
back in training

I’m in training again. Don’t I sound excited?

Actually, I am very excited. It’s been a whole year since I actually trained whole heartedly for a race, and I need this stability. Over the summer I intended to train for a 10 mile race that was in October. But I didn’t sign up and therefore slacked off (didn’t help that it is hotter than balls here in the summer).

Then I was going to sign up for the 3M Half Marathon in January. But I didn’t sign up early enough, so I slacked off, and then spending $100+ on a race at Christmas time didn’t sound appealing. Sorry, kids. No presents for you, ’cause Mommy’s got a race.

THEN I was thinking of running the Austin Half Marathon in February, but again with the $100+ race fees right at or after Christmas time. So I slacked off again.

Are you sensing a pattern here? If I don’t sign up, I slack off.

Also, I am cheap.

So when my friend Lori sent me a link to the Biggest Loser Half Marathon and pointed out the very low race fee, I jumped on that like a cheetah on a wildebeest.

I’m revisiting my old friend Hal Higdon for the half marathon training plan. Counting weeks until the race, I have ZERO extra weeks padded in for sickness and/or laziness. It’s mainly the laziness I’m concerned about. Training is hard and monotonous, and sometimes I don’t want to go for those early morning runs. I’d rather sit in a chair and drink coffee.

Last week another kindergarten mom told me I was inspiring her. We had run into her and her son on the way to school, and while the kids giggled and hollered down the sidewalk, she mentioned that seeing me taking off for runs after drop off gave her the motivation to do the same. Because even if she just runs straight home from the school, it was better than nothing right? I agreed, and encouraged her to find a 5k if she’s like me and needs an upcoming race to stay motivated.

I don’t set out to inspire people with my training. I do it to fulfill a challenge within myself. But when I trained for Zooma, readers came out of the woodwork to say that I had inspired them to run a 5k, a 10k, or even a half. And I have to admit that I loved it! Knowing that others are using what I’m doing as motivation totally pumps me up.

Everyone jokes about people who broadcast their workouts on social media. But the thing is, every like and “woo hoo!” and “OMG LEIGH ANN YOU ARE THE MOST AWESOME AND FASTEST RUNNER IN THE WORLD!” is a huge boost and gives me the motivation to do it again. And if you couldn’t tell, I needs mah motivation.

My goal this year is to train harder. Last year I completely blew off cross training and strength training. I know I need them to make me a better athlete, so I’m working in yoga once a week and strength training here at home. If you ever need cheering up, just think of me doing yoga. The instructor says, “Clear your mind,” and all I can think about is blogging about how I broke my back doing yoga. He tells us to breathe deep, but I can’t hear him over my own screaming of “SHUT YOUR YOGA FACE, MY BODY DOESN’T BEND THAT WAY.”

So beware, I’m in training again, so I’ll be mentioning it here on the blog, on the Facebook, on Twitter, and maybe I’ll even send a carrier pigeon to your house to inform you that I survived a 9 mile run.

 

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7
woohoo saturday night

If the college me could see the parent me right now, she would march right up to the nearest bar and order herself a drink. And another for me, the parent me. And then she would sit there, sad and woeful, and wonder when exactly her life would take a turn for the boring.

I’m sitting here wondering the same thing. After the kids went to bed, Christian flopped on the floor next to the couch where I was curled up with my laptop.

“What do you want to do?”

“Nothing. You?”

“Nothing.”

But it wasn’t meant to be. My night has consisted of activities so exciting, I’m a little afraid to share them. Activities like:

 

  • doing the dishes (start with a bang)
  • unsubscribing from a bunch of blogs (not yours. never yours.)
  • reading a bunch of other blogs (definitely yours)
  • showering (you’re welcome)
  • folding laundry (no parenthetical to insert here)
  • watching series 1: episode 5 of Doctor Who (oh yes. I have drunk the Kool Aid. And it tastes like Christopher Eccleccleccleston.)
  • writing this blog post (lucky you!)

 

Calm yourselves, offspring-free children of youth and indulgence. It’s not all snores and ass imprints in the couch, although, well, yes a lot of it is. I won’t lie. But I assure you, your day will come with you much prefer hanging out in bed and eating a cup of Chobani yogurt to whatever that fancy concoction is gracing your plate at that hipster restaurant where everyone looks cool. Until then, party on, raise the roof, domo arigato Mr. Roboto, et cetera, et cetera.

 

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8
growing and learning and throw up

I picked Rachel and Claire up from school and was immediately informed by Claire that she got a negative on her behavior card. This was the first frowny face to come home, and she was nervous that I would be mad. But I know (because the principal told me and the other 27 parents at the PTA meeting) that negatives marks are opportunities for growth and learning. So on the way to the car, I thought about how I was going to grow and learn from this situation.

She explained that she got the negative for leaning over the table at lunch. When I asked her how it made her feel to get a negative, she said it made her feel sad, like her friend Logan.  “Oh, did he get a negative too?”

“Yeah. For saying CHICKEN BUTT! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

I sensed I was starting to lose her. I’ll admit, when she first mentioned the negative, I feared it was for some kind of butt talk. Butts are hilariously funny, and it’s hard to recover from that kind of smart punchline. But I was finally able to steer her towards more behavioral discussion. Because I like my dead horses completely beaten.

“So getting the negative didn’t make you feel very good, huh?”

[Dramatic sad face] “No.”

“What did you learn from that?”

“Um…I learned…I learned how to draw a mouse! In art!”

Right.

My point was that making bad choices leads to bad feelings, but making good choices makes us feel good. Claire is a borderline suck up that loves to help, so I knew this angle would work. She agreed, saying that she helped her teacher when she dropped something and asked Claire to pick it up.

“Well, that’s very helpful, I’m sure she appreciated that.”

And Rachel piped up, “I helped my teacher too!”

“Really! What did you help with?”

“When she cleaned up the throw up, I moved back so I wouldn’t step in it and she could wipe it up.”

“Wait. What? Who threw up?”

“The throw up on the floor. She said ‘MOVE BACK!’ and I did what she said! I moved back so she could clean it all up!”

I’m sure she appreciated that too. I think we still have some growing and learning to do.

And so help me, if someone in this house comes down with a stomach bug, I am temporarily moving out.

twins

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9
it’s all stir crazy up in here!

I’m crawling out of a hole. The hole of sick and cold and bored and crazy.

Last week Rachel was diagnosed with the flu, an ear infection, and strep all at once. It was super fun. $205 later and all the kids were on Tamiflu and she was on an extra antibiotic.

One by one, people went down. Christian got the flu. Claire got the half-flu, thanks to the medicine. I got a sore throat and felt a little crappy, but the universe knows that the mom can’t get sick, so my body stubbornly fought it off. Zoe remained obliviously well and healthy, which is good. There’s nothing sadder than a sick 3 year old.

And the cat got sick, which just made sense, because I had been looking for a reason to cry tears of rage and exhaustion and pity. For the entire week I deftly juggled Clorox and Resolve and Tylenol and Motrin.

Oh, it’s been all kinds of stir crazy up in here. We didn’t go outside for days. DAYS. I donned extended wearings of my pajamas, not even bothering to change between sleeping and waking, only removing my jacket to sleep. It wasn’t until I noticed something crusty on the sleeve that I really started to question how long it had been since I had actually changed my clothes. The entire ensemble had become a part of me. My pajama pants? They got me.

Not only have we been going stir crazy, some of us have been going just plain crazy, with fits of roid rage from the Tamiflu. Come get your twice daily dose of crazy, kids! I don’t know how many times I had to remind myself that it wasn’t Rachel screaming obscenities* at me because I wouldn’t let her play with her tablet. It was those damn, wonderful, terrible, flu killing meds.

[*Obsceneties = NOOOOONONO! YOU'RE A BLOOGY, MOMMY YOU'RE GETTING A NEGATIVE!]

Today everyone was well. And it was super cold, temps in the 40s but with a wicked wind chill, so super cold to us Texans. We’re desperately trying to enforce certain times for electronic devices, so there weren’t many options, other than playing with each other, or, I don’t know, ALL THE TOYS YOU JUST GOT? YOU KNOW, THE PRESENTS? THE SANTA? ANYONE? We finally took down Christmas, so that provided some mild entertainment (set them down gently! GENTLY!). But that still left endless hours stretched before us in this day of cold and hell and boredom and apparent new toy amnesia.

Pirate Pig Attack? NO.

Hungry Hungry Hippos? NO!

How about your LEGOS? NO! NO! NONONONO! SCHNERGBLERGPALLSHIGUMSTOMPPOUTWAIL!

Well, that settles it, then. Have fun flailing on the floor!

We finally braved the cold to go to Target and Best Buy for headphones, came home, started a movie, and I promptly went to take a nap. Hour long outings are exhausting.

This. This was the most fun they had today. Tying ribbons around their heads to be Christmas ninjas. I told them to make serious ninja faces. Zoe obviously has it down. Just remember! Christmas ninjas don’t fight with each other or else they will die!

(I only made up the first part. The, uh, “consequence” was all their doing. That being said, I should go check to make sure they are all still alive. School starts Tuesday, right? RIGHT? HAHAHAHAHAHA!)

 

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18
2013 Recap

I know what you’re thinking. 2013 is over, time to move on, but here’s the thing. I love recaps, and I love answering questions about myself. And I’ve been so consumed with sickness the past week or so that my plans on wrapping up 2013 before 2013 actually ended went awry. And I found this fun recap on Rage Against the Minivan and thought it would be a fun annual thing to start.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

I ran a half marathon! And I also ran the Capitol 10000, which has been on my wish list for years.

 

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn’t make resolutions, but my word for 2013 was EMERGE, and I like to think I was able to adhere to it somewhat. I try to loosely base my goals for the year around a word, and in 2013, I wanted to emerge from the kid fog that had surrounded me since we started this amazing and exhausting journey in 2008. I wanted to write more, run more, get out more, be more present. And you know what? I think I did. I started writing for AllParenting and started writing differently for Free Fun in Austin, which forced me to get out more with the kids. All in all, I feel like I am leaving this kid fog behind.

 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My friend Ashley had a little baby girl. My friend Keely had a little baby boy and has managed to retain her quick witted sense of humor on her Facebook page if she’s not blogging. I’m absolutely positive I’m forgetting someone, but that’s just what I do.

 

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, thank goodness.

 

5. What countries did you visit?

Let’s see, there’s the US…and Austin is kind of its own country…

This list obviously thinks I am more ambitious than I really am. I said I wanted to get out more, but this circus isn’t ready for international travel just yet.

 

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

More motivation. More balls.

 

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

August 26. The day Rachel and Claire started kindergarten.

 

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Hm. I suppose it would be completing the ZOOMA Texas half marathon. That was hard, yo.

 

9. What was your biggest failure?

Letting my training slide after the race. It’s really hard to keep up a good running schedule in the summer here. It’s too humid before sunrise, but too hot by 7am. And running more than 2 miles on a treadmill is TORTURE.

 

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I suffered a few running-related injuries that were solved with new shoes. Other than that, I am pretty ridiculously healthy.

 

11. What was the best thing you bought?

My Craigslist purchases. I am incredibly proud of the two IKEA twin beds I got for the girls for $100 in perfect condition, and I found a World Market cabinet for all of our art supplies. Austin people sell some nice stuff, I’m telling you.

 

12. Where did most of your money go?

Good question. Probably to Mother’s Day Out.  Well, and of course the mortgage.

 

13. What did you get really excited about?

I got really excited (and nervous) about kindergarten. And Zoe starting preschool. Basically I was excited about having some kid-free time after 5.5 years.  I was sad for a few days, bumbled around for a few weeks, but I think we’ve found our groove. We’re all loving it.

14. What song will always remind you of 2013?

I’m not hip to what the kids are listening to most of the time. But that damn Blurred Lines seemed to cause a stir. And I have had What Does the Fox Say? stuck in my head since the first time I heard it. Damn you, Ylvis, you creepy geniuses.

 

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? Not necessarily happier, but different? Okay, happier because I am in a different place as far as mothering my kids.

– thinner or fatter? I prefer heavier. Sigh. Everything I lost in last year’s training came back, and then some.

– richer or poorer? Richer is not quite the way I would put it. But we are fortunate.

 

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Read. I’m finally starting to put books before internets again, and it feels fantastic.

 

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Internets. It’s hard, because the lines between my work and my non-work are so often blurred. I need to exercise more control.

 

18. How did you spend Christmas?

We opened gifts at home Christmas morning, then drove to Dallas to spend a few days with my family.

 

19. What was your favorite TV program?

The Walking Dead. Hands down.

 

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

I am perpetually behind on things like this, so I just finished Gone Girl, and it was by far the best book I’ve read in a long time.

 

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

The Avett Brothers, Lana del Rey, The National. And my running playlist.

 

22. What was your favorite film of the year?

Also something I’m always behind on. I don’t think I saw a current movie in 2013. So maybe Silver Linings Playbook? Because we watched that one. And Man of Steel. Because shirtless Henry Cavill.

 

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

My birthday was lackluster. I believe the kids were sick (believe me when I say we are NOT always sick, but it seems like it lately), and we went out to dinner, where my husband kindly informed the waiter that I did not want any singing. He’s the best.

 

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Being able to get and stay more organized, especially as I’m now juggling school schedules, freelance work, and this blog. I can stick to a plan, but I have a really hard time coming up with one on my own.

 

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

Well. In the spring I felt great and loved wearing my clothes. I bought lots of new clothes and threw out old ones. Once I stopped running so much, I didn’t like getting dressed so much. So my “personal fashion concept” was more like “find something that fits.” I know. It’s sad.

 

26. What kept you sane?

My husband. My girlfriends. My blog friends. Remembering to give the distractions the finger and stop and snuggle my kids.

 

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.

I may not think I know what I am doing at any given time. But I am everything to these kids. At least for now. And that’s  something.

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8
2013 in favorite posts and photos

Oh hey! Some of you may have gotten this post – or something like it – in your readers already. That’s because I am a true professional and scheduled it before I finished it, as it was the only way I could preview my Instagram embeds. Then…well, life got in the way and I decided to watch a movie instead of finish the post, and it went live only half finished. So, um, here it is in its entirety. Don’t fire me.

And by photos I mean Instagrams because my photos are so scattered between my new computer and my old one (a classic First World Problem, if you ask me), and I pretty much only took phone photos anyway. If anyone has a failsafe and easy way to organize about 1.3 million photos, please bring forth that information, stat.

Here we go!

January

In January I was gearing up for my new writing gig at AllParenting, and I needed a real, honest to goodness headshot. It was humbling, to say the least. Headshots: A humbling experience.

 
February

I was running a LOT in February, gearing up for my half marathon. Seeing these girls running to greet me made the agony of a 10 mile run totally worth it.

Also in February I wrote up a fun little ditty about Activities Not Meant for Introverts. Months later it hit viral-ish status when the Facebook page Introverts are Awesome shared it. I was semi-famous for a day!

March

I don’t know what the best part of this photo is – the adorable, smiling 3 year old, the sister elbowing her in the face, or the photobomb from the other sister who was currently in between vomiting episodes. Classic Torres life.

March was the month I ran the half marathon I had trained so hard for, and I wrote about each and every exhilarating and painful step. I also look back at those photos and sigh longingly at how thin my face was when I was running 20+ miles a week. ZOOMA Texas Half Marathon recap: Battling my demons to the end.

April

Pretty door, pretty girls. And wow they look young in this photo. *SOB*

In April I decided to put together some tips from my half marathon experience. It’s one of my most visited and most pinned posts. How to rock your 1st half marathon.

For you non runners, you may enjoy a little story about how I feared that bitchy text I almost sent my husband could very well be my last. Watch your texts!

May

The epitome of summer, this photo.

May was not entirely blog worthy, but I did write a little about our Mother’s Day experience and how things seem to be getting easier as the kids get older. It’s one of those bittersweet pills life hands you. They’re not little tiny babies anymore, but man is it easier to get out and do stuff. Moms of small children, have hope. Holidays – Mother’s Day especially – is ROUGH with little kids. It gets easier. I see the light: An overindulgent Mother’s Day.

June

This photo? Goes perfectly with my favorite June post. And then the circus came to town. Alternate title: In which I make you feel better about your life.

July

We braved Six Flags Fiesta Texas. And we closed that mother DOWN.

By far, one of my most popular posts was One Kid, where I talk about how, although I completely love all of my children and could never choose between them, sometimes I’m sad that I missed out on getting to have them one AT A TIME. It’s very important that the AT A TIME is in there. Some readers missed that when it was syndicated on BlogHer.

August

I love this photo with all my heart. It’s so my girls. And that bright yellow background? That’s a dumpster. I’m spilling all my photography secrets now!

August was a little lean on the blog, and I love all the posts, but of course it’s all summed up with Some quick thoughts on kindergarten because it’s all I can manage right now.

September

Yes, September is still sprinkler weather here.

In September I experienced an unexpected reflection when I happened upon a 9/11 memorial I didn’t even know existed.

October

Zoe and I had lots of adventures while the girls were at school. Here she poses ever so nonchalantly in front of one of Austin’s most iconic spots.

And speaking of which, my favorite post in October was in fact a chronicle of my Insta-muse.

November

We went to the Chuy’s Parade with the kids and Christian’s mom, and happened to walk right up to where all of the characters were hanging out for photo ops before the parade. Rachel was astounded to met her hero, Spider-Man. She has no clue who that guy with the hammer is.

I talked twins in November, when we started navigating the world of separate birthday party invitations. Bonus post, I announced that I’m part of the production team of the 2014 Listen to Your Mother Austin!

December

I pick two for December, because it’s my blog, and I do what I want.

And really, how else can you wrap up a year in posts other than reading about that time I almost set my house on fire on Thanksgiving.

Happy New Year!

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