Let me start off by saying I am very blessed. I have two healthy, beautiful, and thriving little girls. They embody all of the goodness that exists in this world. They are truly special and unique little specimens that amaze me with their ability everyday. They won't, however, go on the potty. I write this as the very thought of changing another dirty diaper or soiled pull-up consumes me. Before you ask, yes, I've tried everything. First, it was raisins. It may seem strange, but my little ones love dried fruit and they seldom get to consume it. Plus, honestly, what better a way to reward them for a job well-done than something relatively healthy that feels like a treat? I am well aware that the "authorities" tell you that you're not supposed to use food as a reward. But, I can say with confidence that 99% of the people I've spoken with (including my own mother,) used M&M's as a potty training bribe. With that in mind, I was not about to feel guilty about offering some natural sugar to two, very active toddlers. The biggest problem I anticipated was having one who deserved a reward, and one who didn't. Based on their maturity levels and their proclivity for tantrums, I decided that we would celebrate each success together with rewards for everyone. Despite not being a huge fan of the "everyone gets a trophy" mentality, I really felt there was no other option. In this house, if someone goes potty, everyone is getting raisins.   [AdSense-A]   The raisins would have been the perfect solution if my children at ALL responded to food as a reward. Turns out, they couldn't care less. This is especially strange because my daughters positively worship food. If you spent a day with us, I have no doubt in my mind that, at some point, you would incredulously say, "wow, they're eating AGAIN?" But alas, my tiny foodies quickly decided that they would forgo raisins for all eternity if it meant not spending another second sitting on the potty. Naturally, my next thought was to up the ante. Enter the gluten free cookie aisle. Have you ever seriously looked at this section of the store? All I can say is, I'm impressed. Whatever you crave is available gluten free, dairy free, nightshade free, grain free, and nut free - free of everything, basically. Well, except the mommy guilt I felt when I carefully selected a box of GF ginger snaps that seemed enticing enough to encourage elimination. Plus, 32 cookies per box? At that quantity/cost ratio, I'd buy multiple boxes per week if that guaranteed potty success. In fact, I bought two boxes right away. So, I bribed. And, I bribed again. Turns out, my little mostly paleo, cave-kids love cookies! Who knew? If left alone for a second with the 2 boxes I purchased, I'd bet confidently that both would be rapidly consumed and licked clean of crumbs. So why, I ask, do the cookies DO NOTHING to motivate them to go potty? I asked the pediatrician about why my kids are (seemingly) the exception to the rule. Why wasn't food working? She simply explained that some kids do not respond well to the "reward" mentality. Ok, then. Now what was I supposed to do? I had to try something else. So, we moved on to bigger and better crutches of modern-day bribery. The included my old iPad equipped with unlimited amounts of Daniel Tiger themed potty training vignettes. Despite memorizing the words to every brain-washing lyric + getting a cookie when they coincidentally happened to potty, we were still as unmotivated as ever. In fact, one twin decided she was just going to get a free ticket to the show by just sitting next to the potty with no pants on. Great. I put a smile on my face and tried again. This time portable desks with coloring books. That has got to excite a 2-year old, right? Markers, crayons, the world has never seen so many art supplies! It captured their interest for a day. A day that I spent approximately 55% of sitting on the floor next to two potties while my twins happily made pictures, and seldom relieved themselves. I was desperate. Next onto the store, where I purchased stickers and tag board. Yes, a sticker chart, at last. Turns out, not only are they not super excited about stickers, but they're also not really mature enough to understand earning a sticker and then not getting to have it on their person. Instead, they spend the majority of their time trying to peel the stickers off of the chart. Epic fail. Currently, the most common response to suggesting they go potty is, "I don't like the potty..." As if that's a choice you get to make in life. I wish I could explain to them the joy that is getting to the use the restroom alone once you are an adult who successfully procreated, but I digress.   [AdSense-A]   We wear pull-ups instead of diapers now, although I have no idea why. I do far more changing than rewarding. The gluten-free cookies are going stale next to the bathroom sink, and I've been giving stickers out for no apparent reason. I've tried real underwear, but I fear they are just not ready yet. I finally realized, after all of the interventions that I imposed upon my sweet girls, that they are very stubborn little creatures. In fact, they are just as stubborn as their mommy (and let's be honest: daddy, too.) Their adamant minds and bold personalities have started an anti-potty campaign that is far too well-managed. I'm actually impressed. Plus, we all know two is better than one. My efforts have been outnumbered from the start. So what's the plan? I'm not sure. Lately we've been running to the potty urgently only to find out that "potty" has already happened. We still "don't like" the potty. The truth is, I don't need more time - but they do. I read a statistic somewhere that in the first year with twins you change 4,000+ diapers. After 2+ years of that and approximately 8,000 diapers, I am more than ready for a little change of lifestyle. But they lack maturity, and maturity takes time to develop. I need to dig deep, channel Michelle Duggar, and find my long-lost patience. I have such a "type A" personality that it is difficult to not impose a deadline on a milestone likes this. But this accomplishment is not mine, it's theirs. It is not my job to force them to potty; it's my job to guide them as they navigate through toddlerhood and learn to understand their bodies. Until then, I'll put the cookies in an airtight container, and we'll buy ourselves some more time to learn to potty.

This post contains affiliate links - thank you for your support! One of the biggest reasons that I started a blog is because I've always loved reading them. There are several that I've been following for 7+ years. Whether it's just a glimpse into someone else's day, or a serious, well-researched opinion piece - it's free information that is up to date and right at our fingertips. I don't know about you, but I don't have a whole lot of time for reading lengthy novels or nonfiction books lately. So, I just wanted to share some of my favorite posts from the week with you! whatimreadinglatel By the way - if you like to read blogs and don't have a feedly, I highly recommend getting one! It keeps everything organized, so you don't have to have 1000 tabs open or annoying bookmarks. 1.Proteinaholic Review from Raw Food SOS Denise Minger wrote the book Death by Food Pyramid, which is an exposé on the politics and special interests groups that influence the US dietary guidelines.  In this (super lengthy) blog post she breaks down the good and the bad of the book, Proteinaholic, by Dr. Garth Davis. This book promotes a plant-based, low protein diet. Denise's rebuttal is well organized and fair. What I thought was an especially interesting point, was the comparison of the human diet to that orangutans and gorillas. Dr. Davis argues that because they are strong and eat only vegetation, humans can and should do the same thing. Denise then discusses how humans have entirely different guts, dominated by the small intestine rather than the colon, which are not designed to ferment 40+ pounds of plants per day like these herbivorous primates. If you'd like to read more about this - definitely check it out! 2. The Problem with Undereating I pretty much always like what anyone at Girls Gone Strong has to say. In this post, they discuss really low calorie diets (think 1200/day) and what you should do instead for weight loss. 3.  10 Common Primal Mistakes You Might Be Making Everyone who starts a new diet or lifestyle usually has a time where they go overboard. I know it was definitely that way for me when I started eating primal/paleo. Now, I just follow my instincts about what I think is healthy and try not to stress as much - i.e. I really don't care that I eat rice, popcorn, or quinoa. Mark Sisson discusses some great points in this post, and I'm guilty of pretty much all of them. Some of my favorites are: not eating pounds and pounds of bacon or almond flour treats just because they are "paleo," and not buying too many supplements and crazy stuff to support the lifestyle. I think there is a great internet community that supports real food.  However, sometimes people will get in partnership with companies and make you think you need to buy this collagen supplement, oil, bars or whatever - as if you're not paleo if you don't buy it! It's so not true. 4. Millenial Farmers Fight an Uphill Battle  Did you know the average age of the american farmer is 58 years old? This article discusses the younger farmers coming on to the scene (I hope to be one of them), who eschew conventional ideas of factory farming and are starting a new food movement. I particularly loved this comment at the end of the article:

"Even with all of the difficulties getting started, the risk, the time investment, change of lifestyle (I was a tech entrepreneur, and my wife an accountant), I would do it all over again. Getting up before dawn, drinking a cup of coffee as I watch the sun start to climb the hills, taking my 3 kids out before school to feed the animals, knowing that everything I do that day will have some kind of lasting effect on our goals as a family operation, is incredibly fulfilling. We are just starting out, and we have much to learn, but I'm looking forward to next 45 years of my life with even greater anticipation. How much more could you ask for."

Wow, that comment is just... everything. 5. Got Allergies? Your Gut Microbes Could Be Responsible  Great read about adding in foods that support gut microbiota diversity. I'm definitely not doing as good of a job as I should, especially since I struggle with allergies and asthma. 6. Why You Should Ditch the Classes and Pick Up Some Weights Alyssa, from Mom on the Move, started out with group fitness - but quickly realized it wasn't giving her the results she wanted. She's definitely not bashing people for getting moving (because any exercise is good!), but she is pointing out that a lot can be missing from your standard aerobics-type class. 7. 9 Tips for Helping Your Little Ones Adjust to a Time Difference With a couple of super long flights to Hawaii and back with twins, I can totally relate to her tips here. The time difference once we got to our destination was definitely less of a big deal than it was just getting through the 9 hour flights! I was lucky enough to sit next to a former OB/GYN last time who LOVED babies and didn't mind being kicked while they nursed LOL. 8. Maybe This Is The Easy Part Great post from a mommy of twins + 2. I don't know how she does it, but she has an awesome outlook on the whole situation! Thanks for reading! If you have any posts that you'd like to me to read and potentially add to the next volume, please contact me - (ashley [at] downhomeduo.com) or comment. If you have any thoughts on these posts - I would love to read them below!

I so wish this wasn't true. But, for every photo taken with their beautifully smiling faces, there are at least 10 moments of tears and tantrums that went uncaptured. I often hear from friends and family - "they're so happy!" "all they do is smile!" People don't believe me that my twins cry - A LOT I've tried to get some candid shots, but I just don't know why anyone would want pictures of my two screaming children in their photostreams. IMG_1481 Since the moment Baby A arrived, she's been LOUD. Baby B had to be gently coaxed by the nurses to take her first breath, though she's not far behind her sister in the decibel department. None of us could believe that two, teeny tiny, 5 pound babies could scream that way! I had visions of sweet, cuddly newborns circling in my head during my pregnancy - only to find that my babies shunned cuddling in favor of crying, sleeping in favor of waking, and contentment in favor of drama. We struggled with feeding issues and fussiness that I'm sure was some type of colic. We even bought them special baby hammocks to help soothe them at night. (They worked magic - for a little while at least!) Thankfully, they've turned into great sleepers at night - it's the daytime crying that takes it's toll. My twins have been incessantly drooling and teething every moment of every day since they were three months old. And no, the amber necklaces did NOT work. Sigh. [caption id="attachment_502" align="aligncenter" width="479"]If only they were always this peaceful! If only they were always this peaceful![/caption]  My twins cry for me. When they're being watched by others, they are perfect angels 99% of the time. When they were cast in a movie, people always remarked about their good-natured dispositions. I could quickly hand them off to their stage-mommy, and they'd smile at her happily until the scene was over. They are the babies that wave to passersby in Target, smile enthusiastically, and say "hi." When they're home with me, they go crazy. In the newborn stage, that just meant lots of crying for them while I tearfully breastfed on the couch and watched Hallmark movie marathons. As toddlers, it's tantrums, jealousy, and misery - often for no reason. They are the kind of kids that "scary cry," and I sometimes have to remind them to breathe! I wrote in to a multiples group on Facebook to see if anyone else experienced this. The verdict? Most moms do. Apparently, it's a thing. One mom suggested that I am their safe haven. I am the person they have come to rely on again and again, therefore, they let loose around me. They are unafraid to show their true feelings to me, both good and bad. They also probably feel that there isn't room enough for two in their "safe haven." This definitely makes sense to me. It's like the kids who are terrible at home, but lovely at school for their teachers, but toddler-style. Their little brains can't handle controlling their emotions all the time. Learning to maintain behavioral restraint is just too complex. Something or someone has got to give - and it's usually got to be mommy. IMG_1636 I don't really have any advice. I consider myself "in the trenches" of the crying mornings and tearful afternoons, with no solution in sight. What does ease my mind, is knowing that this might not last forever, (or maybe we'll take at least take a brief hiatus until the teen years!) I just try my best to please them both within my limits of sanity. I'm learning that these tiny humans are individuals. They are not just a copy & paste of one another. One is more sensitive, while the other is more sassy. One is more clingy, the other is more independent. One steals toys, the other steals food. They've been forced to share everything since day one of conception - I can't expect them to share emotions and needs too. IMG_1011

The beauty of the situation is this: getting to know their true personalities will help me tailor my approach to each child differently as time goes on. It's not going to be easy, but multitasking is the name of the game in Motherhood. Just know, that if your baby or babies are criers,  and you think there is no one else who understands.... you are not alone!

twin mom                                                                    (source) I'm here to talk, if you can manage to hear yourself think over the resounding tantrums.

(This post contains affiliate links, thanks for your support! Also see disclaimer here.) I thought this week might be a good time to check in with my post-baby body progress. The last time I really took a look at my progress was January. My twins are now 17 months old! I haven't really lost much weight, maybe a few pounds that fluctuate. I definitely feel stronger and a little leaner. I'm still about 7 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight, but I don't really mind the scale too much. I've gained a lot of muscle, and I think a little more weight loss will come once the twins wean from breastfeeding. We are down to twice per day now, and it's probably going to happen sooner than later - definitely bittersweet! [caption id="attachment_485" align="aligncenter" width="510"]postpartum fitness                    14 months postpartum vs 17 months postpartum[/caption] I was just thinking about my mindset after I first had the twins. I was so self-conscious. I went from feeling like the most beautiful pregnant woman in the world, to feeling frumpy and exhausted. I know my expectations were unrealistic. I thought I would just "bounce back" after a few weeks - like the celebrities do. I wish we could all just accept that the timeline to get back in shape is most likely not 6 weeks for the average person. I'm hoping that through my real experiences you'll see that these changes take time and effort. I'm still not 100% where I'd like to be. I think pregnancy, especially twin pregnancy, is a lot for the body to handle. My body is now, and always will be, a work in progress. We need to be gentle with ourselves and not expect too much too soon. I'm just glad and proud to have gained so much strength and fit into my old jeans. At the end of the day - that's all that really matters! We've been loving the nicer weather and getting outside for some workouts! It's a nice change of scenery from the basement, plus it affords me the opportunity to workout when the babies are awake. Sometimes I need early morning & nap time for school work, so this is a great option. The twins have a great time running around and playing. They love to say "shoes" and their little faces light up when we get ready to go out. IMG_3795 IMG_3657 IMG_3691 Now onto the workouts! Monday: 4/11 Strength:  max chin ups x 3 max pull ups x 3 static ring holds, 20 seconds x 3 (I have these) push press - worked up to 95# WOD - 3 rounds: 15 box jumps 20 push press (45#) 15 ring rows 15 barbell good mornings cash out: 3 x 12 long sided barbell rows (I had a 25# plate on - see demo) 3 x 12 one-armed bent over rows (20# KB) Tuesday: 4/12 turkish get ups - did multiple sets with 20# KB until form suffered 3 rounds: 5 assisted pistols (each side) 10 KB cleans (each side) 3 x 10 OH triceps extension 3 x 10 dips 3 x 10 tricep pull down with band Wednesday: 4/13 5 sets of 10 back squats (65# - I don't have a squat rack) WOD - 3 rounds: 10 pushups 15 barbell hip thrusts (65#) 5 chest flies on the rings 10 reverse lunges (each leg) 10 single leg deadlifts (each leg) 10 goblet squats (35#) cash out: 3 x 10 hack squats 65# 3 x 10 glute kickbacks Thursday: 4/14 outside! 3 rounds: 20 KB swings (35#) 15 sumo deadlift high pull (35#) 10 burpees 10 sets of stroller sprints Friday: 4/15 Strength: max pull ups x 3 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 chin ups Power cleans: worked up to 105#. Couldn't get 115, though I tried!!! WOD - 5 rounds: 5 snatches (65#) 10 hanging knee raises 30 second plank 100 jump ropes Saturday: 4/16 rest day! Sunday: 4/17 max chin ups x 3 3 x 3 negative pull ups 3 x 10 ring rows WOD - 3 rounds: 14 push press (65#) 14 straight leg deadlift (65#) 7 burpees took me about 8 minutes, I was slow. 3 rounds: max ring hold max wall sit 10 hanging knee raises 10 lying leg lifts Monday: 4/18 warm up: jump rope deadlifts - worked up to 5 sets at 165! That's all for this week. Let me know if you did any great workouts in the comments! Always looking for inspiration :-)