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Winter is my fourth favorite season. Even in years when the weather is fairly mild (as it has been in Austin this year), the dark nights, barren trees, and cloudy days can really leave me feeling down if I don’t take preventative measures. Which is why, for the past several years, I’ve enjoyed taking my cue from Anne Bogel (of Modern Mrs. Darcy fame) to reflect on a few things that are saving my life just as winter is approaching the midway mark (i.e., when Christmas is a distant memory and Spring still feels too far away).

Over the years, the items on my saving-my-life lists have ranged from the silly to the significant. Some have been temporary, others have had more staying power and could easily land a place on my list each year.

This winter has been going remarkably well (emotionally, spiritually, and even logistically) and there are a number of factors that have played into these happy days: babies who mostly sleep through the night, a solid daily routine, wonderful community, my return to regular blogging, and—most significantly—my decision to choose joy every moment of every day. Beyond these big-picture LIFE SAVERS, there have been smaller but still noteworthy life savers that are preserving my sanity and brightening my day this winter!

MUTU Exercise Program ~ As thankful as I am for Kali and Sully, I won’t pretend that a twin pregnancy didn’t wreck havoc on my body. Though nowhere near as difficult as the pregnancy itself, the postpartum recovery has been longer and harder than I’d anticipated. Four months postpartum, my insides still don’t feel quite where they should be (is it possible the doctor rearranged things during my c-section?), my incision still burns most of the time, my belly looks about six months pregnant (Charleston told me this week, “your belly looks round enough to have another baby”—hello diastis recti!), my pelvic floor is shot, and because I went nearly nine months without exercise, I have felt woefully out of shape. Enter the MUTU System.

My chiropractor recommended this online program as a way to help me ease back into exercise and help my body heal. The program consists of a series of increasingly harder exercise routines designed specifically to address postpartum issues such as a weakened pelvic floor, diastasis recti, and decreased body confidence (yep, yep, and yep!). The time commitment is fairly small: in addition to daily walking (which I’m able to knock out on our gym track), the program involves a 12-minute core module and a 22-minute intensive workout.

Thirty free minutes are hard to come by with twins and I’ve struggled to get my daily workouts in, but on those miraculous days when both twins nap at the same time, Charleston and I head to the living room for our exercises. The workouts are challenging without being too difficult, and it’s been so fun to do them alongside Charleston, who takes his role as coach VERY seriously. I have completed four of the twelve modules, and though I haven’t experienced any noticeable changes to my body, I am feeling stronger and much more confident in my Mom Bod.

Real Pajamas ~ Growing up I always wore “real pajamas” (nightgowns and nightshirts as a girl, and pajama sets as a teen). Somehow, in my adult life I had slipped into wearing sweatshirts, leggings, or workout shorts to bed. But now that I’m closer to forty than thirty, I decided it was time to begin dressing like a real adult and not a teenager for bedtime. I started with this set of Amazon pajamas that I bought to wear in the hospital after the twins were born. Wearing official bedtime clothing at night was such a positive experience that I asked for and received two more pairs of pajamas (these and these) for Christmas.

As a mom to newborns, the days and nights can all run together so I’ve found it mentally helpful and physically refreshing to slip into cozy pajamas after my nighttime shower, signaling to my body that it’s time to start winding down. Much to my delight, I’ve discovered that button-up pajama tops are excellent for breastfeeding. Who knew? (Actually, scratch that: most people probably knew. . . I’m just a little slow on the uptake.)

Harney and Sons Tea ~ I’ve been dying to try this luxurious-sounding tea for quite some time, but couldn’t bring myself to pay for it when I can find decent tea at much lower prices. But I was thrilled to find a couple of tins of Harney and Sons in my stocking on Christmas morning! Luke bought me the Cinnamon and Chocolate Mint teas, and both are absolutely to die for: they offer a rich flavor and heavenly aroma, and the metal tins are darling. I learned that our local tea shop also serves this brand of tea, and sampled the Pumpkin Spice, which is amazingly delicious as well.

After plowing through the tins Luke got me, I was eager to try more from this brand and discovered that it’s fairly inexpensive when you buy directly from their website; they even have free shipping! Next up, I’ll be trying the Paris tea, which is described as “A fruity black tea with vanilla and caramel flavors.” Yum!

Hand-Me-Down Baby Girl Clothes ~ We are quickly finding that two babies at once is not cheap. Thankfully we held onto all of Charleston’s old baby gear and clothes, so we have had plenty of things for the twins to wear. However, part of me was a little sad that I wasn’t able to dress my baby girl in girly clothes. I didn’t feel justified in spending money on lots of girl clothes because we were able to make do with a few gifted items, plus gender-neutral clothes and plenty of bows, but it just wasn’t quite the same. So a few weeks ago, when a friend from MOPS asked if I could use some of her daughter’s hand-me-downs, it was an immediate YES!

I had expected a small bag or two of clothes, so I was shocked when Rainee showed up at my door with an enormous tub of baby girl outfits! I stayed up late into the night sorting through everything, oohing and aahing over the adorable items she had gifted us. I have had so much fun dressing Kali up like a little princess, and am so very thankful to my friend for her kindness and generosity in blessing us with so many beautiful items.

And speaking of hand-me-downs: the booties that Kali is wearing in the below picture were handed down from ME! They were made for me by my grandmother more than 35 years ago, and my mom held onto them for me all these years!

Daily Time in Scripture ~ This made it onto last year’s list as well, but it’s become such an important part of my daily routines that I couldn’t bear to leave it off this year’s SML list. Like last year, Luke and I are both studying the Bible along with The Bible Recap, a daily podcast that recaps the readings of a one-year journey through a chronological reading of the Bible. Last year’s trip through the Bible was such an amazing experience, I couldn’t wait to do it again, and this time I’m going deeper.

I decided to become a Bible Recap Patron which means that I have access to additional Bible study materials, all of which I’ve been using and loving. When I wake up each morning, I listen to the Bible Recap right away, then dig into my daily Bible reading (either while the kids are still asleep or while nursing the twins, and sometimes sitting with Charleston while he eats breakfast). After I’m done reading I listen to the Recap a second time as a way of reviewing the material.

Once again, I’m doing the daily readings in my She Reads Truth Bible, which I’m supplementing with commentary from the ESV study Bible on my Kindle. I love highlighting in my Bible, and this year I’m using a different colored highlighter from last year; my hope is to use a new highlighter every year, so that I can see what stood out to me at different times in my life. I’m also taking notes in my Bible’s margins, as opposed to writing them in a separate journal as I’ve done in the past.

This second time through Scripture is revealing to me that the Bible really is an active document that speaks to us differently at different times in our lives. I am noticing so many new things this year, and I’ve loved seeing how God can use the SAME words to speak new messages and lessons to my heart. I’m also so glad that Luke has decided to embark on this journey with me once again, and our study has led to some great discussions. Not only is daily time in Scripture one of the best things I can do for my own faith life, it has wonderful implications for my marriage and for my parenting as my kids see me spending time in God’s Word every day.

What’s saving your life this winter? I’d love to hear about it!

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