Saturday, January 21, 2012


Even the word itself - simplicity - rolls off the tongue and floats through the mind like some delightful, whispered secret. I spelled it out in scrabble letters on my fridge and even loved the way the word looked.

But more than that - I love what the word can mean. When I think about what simplicity means, it conjures a feeling that is like an emotional lungful of fresh air after being choked in a polluted city for months or years. I look around my small apartment, that in reality is more than enough space for the four of us, and feel choked at times by the amount of stuff and clutter around me. 

Yes, I know I have two small babies and the messiness of a young family is going to be a part of my life for many years to come, but I can't help feeling that there is still just Too Much. Too much to look at, to much to clean, too much to organize, too much to pick up and too much to find a place for (don't even get me started on the Too Much of our possessions compared to the rest of the world). If the Too Much was lessened - simplified - to only the things that we really needed and loved, this place we called home would not only take me less time to clean and maintain, but could turn into a welcoming haven rather than a stuffed-to-the-brim kingdom of Stuff

There are so many other reasons that The Stuff has me itching to purge. Two of the big ones being that I want to be able to welcome people over to our home on a moment's notice without wondering how much clutter I'll have to clear away before they'll have a place to sit. And two, our lease is up in December. I don't know if we'll move and if we move I don't know where to, but I do know that if we stay here I can not live in this clutter and if we move somewhere else I'll be darned if I pack, unpack and find a new place for anything that I don't truly need or love. December is a ways away, but I also have to be realistic - I've got infant twins and de-cluttering this whole apartment in a major way is going take some serious time. Time that needs to be spread gently over a long stretch of months so I don't stress myself (and my family) out. My goal in finding simplicity is about creating a haven of peace in our home and overcommitting in order to purge will do nothing to create peace in the interim. 

In honor of my new journey towards simplicity - our apartment first and along with it our life and focus as a family - I've redesigned my blog with something clean and uncomplicated. Much like the clutter of my apartment, the layers and layers of this blog's design suddenly made me cringe to look at. And unlike the clutter of my apartment, I can revamp this blog while one of the twins sleeps on my lap. 

Oh, I probably should have mentioned that I'm reading Organized Simplicity right now which is why am about to go NUTS on this apartment! I'm just itching to be home full time so I can start simplifying this place. Watch out material things - I'm about to get'cha.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My New Career Path

My first day back at work after my maternity leave was like a breath of fresh air. The six weeks I had spent away had been filled with sleep deprivation, the stress of new motherhood and lots and lots of crying (from the twins and from me). For at least four of those six weeks I felt like my life and myself had been sucked from me and going back to work was a welcomed break. I felt horribly guilty for these feelings (mother guilt is awful isn't it?), but thought perhaps I was just one of those women who was a better mom when she had a break from her kiddos for a little while. 

But as my boys continued to grow, when they started to smile at me and the wonder of new discoveries started to shine in their eyes, it got harder and harder to go to work each day (even though I was only in the office three days a week). Motherhood started to become something I enjoyed and meeting the needs of our household (cooking, cleaning and being a helpmate to Devin) became something I longed to do more than ever before. I also began to realize that eventually, the meals, the baby-sitting and the extra help that friends and family had so generously lavished on us after the twins' birth would eventually dwindle and somehow I would have to mange my family responsibilities and my full-time job all on my own. It would be too much and I knew it. 

But "Jen the Designer" was such a huge part of my identity. It was who I was and how I introduced myself to people. (Okay I didn't actually say, "Hello, I'm Jen the Designer," - pretentious much? - but you know what I mean.) Being a graphic designer at an agency was a "cool kid's" job and I was good at it. But now I had this competing identity of "Jen the Mom" that, while I resented at times, was becoming more and more important to me. At the same time, I was afraid that "Jen the Mom" would completely swallow up any other identifying qualities that I had and I would completely loose myself. 

Then there was the money issue - how could we double the size of our family and half our income? We'd always been frugal, but by choice, not by necessity. There is a big different between the two. Plus, I felt huge guilt at the thought of quitting my job and putting the full financial burden on Devin's shoulders. That is, until Devin (who watched the twins on Mondays) was just about at the end of his rope as "Mr. Mom" and I asked him, "Which would be less stress on you - finding another part-time job or staying home with the babies on Mondays so I can still work?" Without hesitation he replied, "Finding another part time job. Jen, you are a better mom than I am." 

So, after a few more weeks of wrestling with my guilt and identity issues, I put in my resignation at work. Starting February 1st, I will have the blessing and honor of switching careers to become a full time mom and wife. I will also be able to assist Devin more with his photography business and pick up some freelance design work here and there. My heart is so full of joy at this decision and while I know it will mean some sacrifices, adjustments and changes, I'm confident that it will be worth it and will be something Devin and I will never regret doing. 

The day I finally decided to quit my job, I came across this quote and it made my decision firm: "If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. No one said it would be easy, they only promised that it would be worth it."  

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fevers and Coughing and Tissues - Oh My!

It's "Weekend of the Crud" here at the Hanson house and I'm your host, Jennifer Hanson of "Mama's Can't Take Sick Days." 

Isaac's got a horribly running nose and had a fever last night (scared the new mama pants off of me until I read this comforting, "don't panic" article from Dr. Sears.) All he wants is to be held and cuddled (so thankful for my baby carrier - I'm wearing him now and he's resting peacefully.) Weston's got a awful cough and can't seem to keep much down. I've got a sore throat and Devin's been fighting lung congestion for about a month. Oy. 

This is a parenting first for me - this whole, "you're the mama and have a sick family to take care of, suck it up if you're sick too" thing. It feels a little like the newborn days when the boys would both be crying and I couldn't figure out how to comfort them. Poor little guys. 

I remember when I was growing up and my mom would get really sick but insist that she wasn't. I thought she was nuts not to rest when she was obviously feeling miserable. I understand now - there were just too many other things and little people to take care of for her to worry about herself. Thanks for taking care of us Mom and I'm sorry we didn't/couldn't let you rest more when you were sick too. 

I'm not complaining - I promise. Just pondering the sometimes still inconceivable reality that I'M now the Mama who can't take a sick day and has to find the energy somewhere to care for her little family despite feeling stinky herself.

Speaking of stinky - I've been covered in snot, spit-up and drool for the past two days. I should probably take a shower... Oops - the boys are waking up and want to be fed, cuddled, changed and have their noses wiped (okay, they don't really want that last one, they HATE having their noses cleaned. I didn't realize that hatred started at such a young age.) I'm grateful The Daddy is here today too and can offer an extra set of arms for the babies to cuddle in.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Homemade Christmas and Completing Goal #34

More progress on my Project 101 in 1001 list. Read about my journey here. 
Goal #34: For Christmas one year, hand-make all gifts - COMPLETE

As I was looking over my list of goals and realizing that this Christmas was when I had planned to make all my gifts, I thought that surely I would loose my mind if I tired. Had I any clue (which I didn't, not even close) last Christmas that this Christmas I would be a mama to twins, I would have gone to great lengths to complete this goal in 2010. But as life would have it, I had the goal of making all my Christmas gifts in 2011... while caring for two-month-old twins. 

So for starters, to keep my sanity, I had to loosely re-define the word "all." This year "all" my gifts didn't include the ones that Devin picked out (i.e. for most of the guys in our family) (which is good because it is really hard to make gifts for guys.) "All" also turned into "(most of) all." As in: "hand-make (most of) all gifts." So while many of my gift were hand-made, parts of them included purchased gifts (such as gift cards and picture frames). Lastly, I didn't make Devin's gift because 1) He's a guy and as mentioned before, that is a tough species to make gifts for and 2) I spent nine months of 2011 "making" him the gift of our twins sons, so I figured I got a pass with that one. 

While I initially thought this goal would be the end of me, it turned out to be really great. I love art and making crafts and it's something I haven't done much of since being pregnant and certainly not after the twins were first born. It was very relaxing and therapeutic to have something to do (besides sleep, which I did neglect while completing this goal) that was fun and used my artistic talents. It made me feel like me again, which seemed a lofty experience when caring for twins nearly 24/7. Turns out the timing of this goal was exactly what I needed. 

Here are the gifts I made this year:

Shanty 2 Chic inspired recipe/photo holders (I added the monogram for a little something extra)
Reversible Superman/Batman capes for my nephews (who are potty training right now, so along with the capes they received superhero big boy undies)

A "Celebrate" banner for my mom (inspired by my cousin Bethany)

Fabric headbands for my sisters and soon-to-be sis-in-law

A graphic map for my brother and (soon-to-be) sis-in-law of thier favorite city and hometown, Tucson. (This was the one gift I made for a guy - per his request.)

Plus, my parents got revamped frames full of pictures that Devin and I took of these cutie pies (see more here and here):

Thus, project "Homemade Christmas" was a great success and a lot of fun!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Right Now (in bullets)

Someone commented to me today that I must feel like I'm being pulled in five different directions. Indeed I do. Those five directions being: a husband, a baby, another baby, a home and a full-time job. Its... a lot. My mind is so jumbled and scattered that to write any sort of eloquent update would quite possibly short-circuit me, so I thought I would just give you a quick peek at my "right now" in bullet point form. 

1). A Husband

  • Devin has been an amazing encouragement as we adjust to this new life of ours
  • He has been so patient with me
  • He is an amazing dad
  • I love watching him interact with the boys
  • He is such a hard worker
  • I love this man beyond words
  • I want to learn to love him better

2). A Baby

  • Weston is such a happy, silly baby
  • But when he is upset, he gets UPSET
  • He is starting to giggle
  • He babbles to himself a lot
  • He is a morning person
  • I am not
  • But seeing his great big grin every morning is making me cherish the mornings 
  • I love this kid so much

3). Another Baby:

  • Isaac is such a sweetheart
  • He looks just like Devin
  • He acts a lot like Devin too - a quite observer 
  • But, oh my, can that boy scream when he gets upset (this is not like Devin)
  • He loves being held and snuggling into crevices (armpits especially)
  • He loves "talking" and listening to whoever is interacting with him
  • He is absolutely fascinated by his hands right now
  • Seriously, he just lays there staring at his hands and studying them as they move
  • I love this kid so much too

4). A Home: 

  • Mostly messy, most of the time
  • We've got a lot of stuff and not a lot of room
  • I desperately want the time to purge and organize
  • Still receiving meals for some amazing friends and family 
  • Feeling so grateful for this
  • But eventually I'm going to have to start cooking again 
  • Cooking is not my gift
  • Would love to be a better homemaker
  • Doing my best with what time I have

5). A full-time job:

  • It's stressful
  • But some days it's nice to get away and just be a designer
  • But most of the time, I hate being away from Devin and the babies so much
  • I get home just a couple of hours before Devin and the babies go to bed 
  • If I could sum it up in two words:
  • Too
  • Much

Notice a couple of key things missing from my top five list? Yeah, "God" and "Me" are almost not-to-be-found most days. I am so blessed in so many ways and I love my new life as a mama to twins, but something's got to give. The current pace is not sustainable long-term. But never you worry dear reader, Devin and I have something in the works that could very possibly be one of the best decisions we'll make during our life together...