Flying with twin toddlers

We did it. We took our first flight with our twin toddlers. I won’t lie – leading up to the trip we were anxious about the flight – what if they cried the whole time? What if everyone around us was going to throw shade? After all, the internet is filled with horror stories of people being hateful and nobody likes sitting next to babies.

It turns out that the flights really weren’t bad. There were a few moments of fussiness but overall the girls were entertained and happy. I attribute this to a combination of my prep and a new environment.

How we keep our twins happy on our 3.5 hour flight

Leading up to our flight to Colorado, I obsessively researched ways to keep babies entertained on planes. I queried my mom groups, my travel groups and my friends. I surfed on Amazon and I quickly realized that there’s a huge, very expensive industry geared towards travel toys.

I was not about to spend $30/per toy per baby just for a flight. That’s absurd. As I was getting ready to head out one day, I noticed that Zoey was playing at my feet with my husband’s toiletry bag. She was hyper focused on unzipping the side pockets and pulling things out. Which gave me an idea, so I headed to Target and raided the dollar section, school supplies and party favors. This is the outcome:

Because we were flying with so much stuff, I wanted something compact. I also wanted things that weren’t going to cost a lot of money in case the girls broke or lost things (inevitable).

I originally was looking for makeup bags, but found that pencil cases were cheaper and had much more fun prints. Inside each case, I put in the following things:

  • 1 Indestructible book
  • 6 soft, shiny poofs
  • 3 Clothes hangers
  • 2 sticky felt letters/numbers
  • Teething toys
  • A koosh ball
  • A plastic spoon
  • Linky loops
  • 2 Balls with suction cups all over
  • Post-it notes

Outside of the bag, I also had a roll of colorful tape that we tore pieces off and stuck to hands, tray tables, etc.

Each item was new (except for the teething toys and linky loops) and had different textures. While they didn’t play with the pouches exclusively, they did enjoy sticking their hands inside and pulling out everything.

The biggest hits were the Koosh balls (they liked pulling the rubbery strings), Post-It notes (all my seat mates were “gifted” Post-It notes on the way there), the clothes pins and the suction cup balls. Noted.

What we ate on the plane

When we booked our flights, we intentionally booked early flights to try to capitalize on naps (for the record, Zoey was way too excited to sleep on the plane on the way there). But I know my babies – they love to eat. Milk was not going to be enough for an almost 4 hour flight, and I didn’t want to rely on crappy plane snacks. So on the way there I packed food for all of us, including:

  • 8 oz bottles of milk for the girls
  • Homemade oatmeal bars with apples and raisins
  • BBQ Turkey meatballs
  • Snack packs of granola for El Hombre and I
  • Baby teething crackers

We gave the girls bottles at takeoff and landing for their ears. As we were flying, we broke off parts of the oatmeal bars for the girls for their breakfast. As we got close to landing, we switched to the BBQ meatballs. This way we had full bellies with real, homemade food. Because full babies are happy babies.

What we learned

Flying with babies isn’t as bad as it seems if you plan in advance. Also, everyone around us was nice and supportive. Several people asked if we needed help, offered to share food, etc. Instead of getting static, we were told lots of stories about our seat mates’ children and their first flying experiences.  I’m sure there were some anti-baby people on that plane, but we didn’t feel any rudeness from anyone.

 

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Every day I’m hustlin’

I’ve had my nose to the grind for the past couple weeks. I’ve been writing, editing and planning non-stop. During nap time, after the babies hit the sack, when the sitter is here.

It’s time to rest for now. I’ve just wrapped up a ton of content for one of my projects, I’ve got my action plan in place for another, El Hombre ran out and the kids are still napping. I’m set to finish a ton of work in the next two weeks and then take a break for a week (as much as any freelancer can take a break that is).

Now I’m daydreaming of crisp mountain air, being outside in tolerable heat and exploring. We head to Colorado in two weeks and I’m ready for a change of pace. I’m excited to be outside without feeing smothered by humidity. I’m nervous about two wriggly babies on a 4.5 hour flight.

This is why I freelance… to be able to strike out on adventures when we want to. When you can work from where ever, and whenever it opens up the world. It allows you to meet new people, to forge new relationships (which can lead to more business) and open up your worldview. I never feel more creative than when I get a different perspective and there’s nothing like travel to spark that fire.

Minimalism

Lately I’ve found myself musing about how transformative these last year and a half has been.  It’s no secret that we’ve been divesting ourselves of excess over the past year or so. As we donate, upcycle or toss items, It’s become clear how expensive it is to buy cheap things. Most of our clothes that were “cheap” have become rags, while the more expensive things are still in perfect condition after years of use. The same goes for kitchen ware, housewares and more.

It’s striking to see how our natural style has emerged as we rid ourselves of impulse buys we never really needed. Gone are the radical colors and what remains are calming blues, greens and taupes. Colors that soothe and inspire relaxation. (that is, if you are a geek and believe in color theory like I do.)

Overall, it’s interesting just how transformative it is to pare down and live with less. Yes, there’s a certain catharsis of ridding yourself of excess, but it also lends itself to a more relaxing home environment. Now things are easier to find and organize. There’s less to negotiate when pulling things out of closets or drawers and there’s less to clean. Everything has it’s place, everything is functional and everything stands the test of time.

These are small things but they have a big impact on our lives. Think about it – how often do you get frustrated when you need to find something and you can’t figure out where it is? Now imagine trying to dig through a drawer, dropping something on the floor or your foot because that drawer is overflowing with stuff. Unnecessary stuff. You’re already frustrated. Then you have to get on a call with a client or a vender – it’s already off to a bad start, even if you don’t realize it. As I contemplate all these things, it’s no wonder that I find myself less anxious over things that don’t really matter, and more focused on the things that do.

Working Wednesday: the ebbs and flows

Freelancing is scary to a lot of people because there’s no guarantee that you get a consistent paycheck. Sometimes work is slow, and sometimes work is fast. For the past few months I’ve been running close to idle at times. Granted, being idle was somewhat by design (or as idle as any working mother with twins can be!) but none the less, I was starting to get a bit antsy. I was also starting to question whether freelancing was the right choice.

Then things started to shift. In the past few weeks, leads started coming in and my clients started ramping up. I’m not sure where it’s coming from because I am not out, hard selling people. But I am talking to my contacts more frequently than I ever did, sitting miserably in a cubicle.

If my workflow was ebbing earlier this year, it’s certainly flowing (almost overflowing) lately. And it’s awesome. It’s exciting. It’s humbling to know that people think of me when they think of hiring a contractor. These feelings are what keeps freelancers going.

Today I turned to El Hombre (who’s now being pulled in on certain projects) to tell him that I might seriously consider contracting out some of my colleagues, just to make sure I don’t overload myself. It’s such a gratifying feeling to know that at this stage in my life, I don’t have to consider going back into an office any time soon. Because that’s my goal for myself professionally. It’s our goal for ourselves, personally.

And that got me thinking. So many people say that they aren’t meant to sit in an office, yet they resentfully trudge to work every day. It doesn’t have to be like that.

I spent way too much time sitting in traffic, stressed, angry and upset to not consider walking this path. But I also wasn’t impulsive about it. I bounced the idea off El Hombre so many times that he eventually told me he didn’t want to hear about it if I wasn’t going to do it. He always supported me, but I was nervous. I kept worrying about whether I would be successful, whether I would make enough money. But then I realized – I made good money but I wasn’t happy. And one day I thought about it differently – what if I kept making enough money that I would keep justifying not being happy. That I would continue to justify spending the majority of my waking hours doing something that damaged my health from the insane amounts of stress. So I made a plan.

I started saving up. I cut expenses (which wasn’t hard – I basically went back to my life when I was crippled by student load debt) and I started chatting with people in my network who freelanced to get an idea of the highs and lows that I should expect

And then I made the leap. And it’s been worth every minute of it.

Summer musings

Summer is pretty much here, and it’s got me a bit nostalgic for my childhood. I remember eagerly waiting for the first official day of summer (which, by the way, was the last day of school). It was a countdown to long days outside, pool days and library books. Once summer was here, we knew we were allowed to play outside ALL DAY, catching lightning bugs at night and drink honeysuckles. That was a North Carolina summer.  We didn’t care how hot it was, or if we would get tan lines. We squirmed to get out the door as our mom slathered us in coconut-scented sun screen and we charged like bulls into our kitchen for lunch, only to charge back out and jump on our bikes, or explore the woods.

When my mom needed to get out of the house, she’d load us up into the minivan and take us (with some of our friends if we were lucky) to the community pool. As we got bigger, we’d get to go to the local waterpark if we were lucky. Looking back, both were great ways to wear out three hyperactive little kids.

I also think about our family trips to the beach and the mountains. We’d build sandcastles on big, wide beaches with my dad, while my mom looked on from her beach chair. We’d make “beach friends” – kids near our age that were camped out near us. Friends we never expected to form lasting friendships with, but were fun to hang out with for a few days. We’d ride bikes and go to bed listening to the ocean and the crickets.

Or we’d take a break and head to the cooler, more dry air of the mountains. We’d take hikes and splash in swimming holes and go home to pick blueberries off my grandmother’s trees.

Now, as we have our own kids, I think more about these things than I used to. As an adult, I realize that these were not the more simple times that I remember. There was the stock market crash, the cold war and who knows what else. But we don’t remember that. I remember my dad serenading my mom on the guitar with the song, “even though we ain’t got money/I’m so in love with you honey…” but we didn’t understand the reason why he’d continuously sing that song. We just knew we loved how he’d play the guitar and sing.

These are not simple times. But as we grow into this whole parenthood thing, I want to make sure we build the same sort of adventurous, fun and idyllic memories for our girls. I want to shield them from the darker tones of life without smothering them or painting a false reality. While I plan to vet their activities, I don’t want to over-architect them. I want them to make real friends, play in person and interact with people face-to-face as much as possible.

Life, lately

How are we halfway through the year? How are my babies almost one? Why would I ever go back into a 9-5 setting?

These are the random thoughts that flitted through my head as I watched my girls giggle a play while cupping a warm mug of coffee between my hands and listening to it rain.

I’ve heard that once you have kids, the days go by slowly and the years fly. It’s true. But I think that’s more than just having kids, it’s life. And these are the things that I’ve been contemplating lately. Particularly as it involves how I spend my waking hours.

Sometimes I feel like I never unplug. Working from home does that to you because there’s not a clear delineation between work and home. But unlike before I don’t resent it. Maybe it’s because I love my work, or because I am lucky to have awesome clients, but now I’m excited to plug in and work on things. Or perhaps it’s having adult conversations about something other than babies. It’s probably all of the above.

But as I listen to my friends complain about their jobs or sitting in traffic, I find myself regretting spending so much time and energy towards things that didn’t excite me. Now there’s a bit more risk, but it’s so worth it. And I’m pretty sure that now that I’m feeling so much more positive about that part of my life, the opportunities are starting to roll in. So thank you, Universe, for the affirmation!

 

Friday faves

It’s been a rough week. Both girls are sick and teething so we are all miserable. It’s their first time being truly sick, and while it’s nothing serious, we can’t help feel bad for them. But my personal business has been busy and I’ve been out of the house more for work, which is both invigorating and a confidence booster.

Last week I threw out a post on my favorite things for the week, and I like the concept of embracing the positives in written form, so I’m continuing it this week. Especially because it’s been tough, I wanted to reflect on things that I enjoyed.

Cactus Bloom

Our cactus occasionally blooms, and only in the mornings. There’s something dreamy about padding outside in flip flops with my coffee to see if there are blossoms.

Lizard among our succulents

We’ve been sticking close to home since the girls are sick, so in the quiet moments, I’ve been taking advantage of our front and back patios. El Hombre’s plant game is on point, and it’s nice to sit outside and take it all in. It’s been raining a lot, and the plants are loving it, and so have the lizards.

IMG_3129

I totally get why my mom always made my favorite foods when I got sick. It’s comforting to eat something that makes you feel warm and comfortable inside. Also, it meant I would actually eat. Because the girls’ appetites are down, they get hungry faster, which means they don’t sleep as well and are extra cranky. So I threw together a risotto with sage, using the last of my homemade chicken broth. And I realized that I went from never making risotto in my life, to “just throwing it together” status in the matter of weeks. Cooking is a mental release for me and the more that I can add to my repertoire, the better.

Bengal cat helps me work

This cute little booger has been hanging out with me on the desk, making sure everything is up to par. And by “up to par,” I mean she’s demanding ear scratches.

twin babies playing

At this age, most babies tend to parallel play and my girls are no different. But because they have always been together, they also play together occasionally (when they aren’t stealing each others’ toys and screaming about it.) It’s always so cute to me when they sit right next to each other to play.