Monthly Archives: January 2015

A Day in the Life At 18 Months

It almost feels silly doing a day in the life at eighteen months, because compared to the first time I did this at twelve weeks, it’s an absolute laugh.  The new mom of newborns I was then could not even imagine how easy it would be now, and in fact would have resented anyone telling her it would be, because “now” was so far away.  My “now” looks like laying on a hammock with a margarita compared to my “then.”  But, that’s only by comparison.  It’s still a ton of work, as we shall see.

6:15AM Henry is babbling in his bed.  Since he can talk now, when he’s had enough babbling, he says “Mama, Mama!” which is as impossible to resist as it sounds.  It’s also a bummer because I can’t lie to myself and say he’s loving life in his crib, and therefore buy ten more minutes.  I pick him up and carry him into bed with us, where he lies next to me sucking his thumb and tenderly stroking my face. Bliss.

6:45AM Arden is awake.  “Mama!  Dada!”  Mike runs to get her and we all pile in bed for cuddles and silly talk time.

7:15AM  Mike is showering and I’m getting dressed for the day, after changing two diapers.  I stall as long as possible because it’s more fun to hang out as the four of us than it is to go downstairs in the dark and start breakfast.  How many more weeks until the sun is up at this hour?  Infinity weeks?

7:30AM  I carry the twins downstairs, thinking with every step that the day is approaching when I probably shouldn’t carry them at the same time, due to my burgeoning belly.  But that day is not today, and I vow to do more down-steps practice with them later today.  I make them a green smoothie (one glass, two straws), and we sit on the floor picnic-style while they slurp.

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7:45AM  I make Mike’s coffee and he joins us downstairs for a drawn-out Daddy goodbye.  I then make my own breakfast of Greek yogurt, sliced banana, and a drizzle of honey. I sit in peace and read the latest on the interwebs while the twins play in the family room (in full view; I’m not a monster).

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8:00AM We play, read, sing, look for the garbage truck if it’s Tuesday, and run around having fun.  If it were Tuesday or Thursday we’d be prepping to leave for Mommy and Me class or Kindermusik (much, much more effort), but instead we’re just having a normal day at home.

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9:15AM  I coax the babies upstairs to change into their clothes for the day, and realize I’m more than ready for the break that accompanies their nap.

9:30AM  Down for naps!  Now it’s time for some combination of: a workout DVD, shower, a devotional, quick emails/calendar updates, throw in a load of laundry if it’s laundry day, and eat a second breakfast (I am pregnant, after all).  If I know my mom, dad, sister or mother-in-love are coming over to help, I’ll do everything but shower, using that precious time when they’re playing with the kids.

10:30AM  The babies are awake and ready for the steel-cut oatmeal with cinnamon I’ve prepared.  We do another picnic-style snack and then change diapers.

11:00AM  The weather is cooperating so we head outside for a stroller walk — which sounds simple, but it takes considerable time putting on four shoes and four socks, two coats and two hats, along with my own shoes and outerwear.  Especially if my little subjects are unzipping what I’ve zipped and untying my laces as I put on my jacket.

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After our walk we spend time toddling around the front yard, easily their favorite activity.

12:00PM  Let’s practice going down the stairs on our bellies, shall we?  Let’s prep for the day when Mama can hardly bend at the waist.

12:30PM  Lunch is upon us.  I try to make something different every day, but it’s generally a rotation of the same five to eight things.  They’re good eaters, thankfully.  My mom arrived half an hour ago and is an enormous help in entertaining them while I prepare food and then helps feed them so I can make my own lunch too.  Such luxury.

1:00PM  While my mom watches the kids, I’m out the door for groceries or other errands, along with doing one “extra” chore of the day (like bathrooms or vacuuming, something beyond just daily cleanup).  If she weren’t here, we’d make like players and play play play play play.  Burn that energy!  Stimulate those little minds!

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2:30PM  Down for naps!

2:40PM  I use the first part of their nap/my break for dinner prep, so I make whatever I can ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator.

3:15PM  Then…this as my true rest time.  I get a snack, check my phone for messages to reply to, turn on a favorite show or grab a book, and force myself to sit for as long as possible.  Sometimes I take a nap if my preggo body needs it.  Mostly I just absorb the sweet, sweet silence and peace that I’ve come to treasure.

4:30PM  Babies are up!

4:45PM  After a little quiet wake up time, we head outside for another walk.  It’s staying light later and later and we love the chance to get outside one more time.

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5:15PM  I make dinner while the kiddos play in the family room (again, fully visible).

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5:30PM  Mike is home!  Praise the Lord, and the cacophony of twin joy descends on him as he lights up at the sight of them.

5:45PM  Dinner is served and we soak up family time, all around the table together.

6:15PM  Mike cleans the dishes while I play with the bambinos, and then he joins us for family play time.  He turns on kid music and we dance around like fools and laugh hysterically at Henry and Arden’s moves.

7:10PM  Bath time.  In other words, their Happiest Place on Earth.

7:30PM  Pajamas, diapers, tooth-brushing, lotion-applying, story-reading, prayers-saying, loves and kisses and hugs goodnight.

7:45PM  Parent party time!  Which looks a lot like Netflix and sweet treats.

10PM  We’re in bed.  Asleep.  And I have to say, tired in the best possible way.

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Pack Your Helmets (Physical and Psychological)

A few Saturdays ago we decided the kids were old enough for us to do something entirely for them — not just visit a place we like and hope they enjoy it, but actually go somewhere created for kids.  We considered this the first of many, many a Saturday devoted to their entertainment.  It was our first head-first jump into kid — read: not baby — chaos.

We chose KidsQuest Children’s Museum, located in Bellevue.  They’re a non-profit, though we didn’t know that as we handed over the exorbitant $38 for the four of us.  They’re located in a mall, which turned me off right from the start, but they had a huge area devoted exclusively to kids under age three, which was appealing.

Post-hand sanitization, we entered the children’s play area.  There were tiny houses and huts, a little kitchen and a garden with wooden vegetables.  A dozen bouncer bunnies filled the floor, ready to be ridden.  There was a huge carved-out tree in the corner with kids running all through the maze in its branches above.  They had light-filled boxes, tactile toys and a train table.  But all of that faded to black when Arden laid eyes on the fish tank. IMG_0897 She ran toward it with her little finger pointing, lips in a kissy face blowing in and out as fast as she could, her classic fish impression.  She stood there, forehead pressed to the glass, and we knew she didn’t need an entire children’s museum, just a fish tank.  I briefly considered getting one as she stared in wonder, but then I thought of cleaning it every week it and the sentiment quickly passed.

Mike lifted Henry onto a giant leaf slide, guiding him down the gentle slope.  That was all it took; Henry was hooked.  As soon as his feet hit the floor, he immediately made the sign for “again” and then Arden joined the fun.  We started a little toddler conveyer belt of them going up and down again and again.

And that’s when the playground parents in us came out.

As we were picking Henry up for another ride, a girl of about six walked up the slide and slid back down.  Then a husky boy the same age tumbled down the slide while his mother circled the fake leaf, pretending not to notice.  We looked at them for a minute, like, are you enjoying the toy made for children half your age?  Do you realize your careers as playground bullies are off to promising starts?

Mike cut to the chase.

“He looks a little older than three,” he said loudly, obviously intending for the mother to hear.  Almost immediately my brain registered: this is absurd, these are children, why do I feel angry enough to pick them up and throw them over the three-foot wall?  But it’s like anything else in life — when someone isn’t following the rules, you just sort of want to kick them in the shins.

I always used to think that parents who got their panties in a twist over things like this just needed to get over themselves.  But now that I was grabbing Henry out of the way of this bowling ball of a kid barreling toward him, I thought: hmm, no, those types of parents are right to press charges against pint-sized law-breakers.  There are enormous play structures covering every inch of this place, and these kids had access to all of it.  They did not need to play Jack and the Beanstalk with the under-three set.

I walked up to the woman who monitored the play area, intending to ask her to enforce the age limit, but as I watched her put all the wooden turnips and spatulas and rutabagas back in their places, I just couldn’t do it.  I pick up after my children all day every day, but I do it out of love, and because they’re my own.  I shuddered thinking that she took a job doing it for eight hours a day for complete strangers.  Was I really going to be the Susie Tattletail who forces her to kick children out of play areas?  Not while I still had any sense of decency, no, I wasn’t.

After forty minutes or so, we took the twins out to explore the other exhibits they could enjoy, if not entirely understand.  We didn’t expect them to use magnets to create cog-and-wheel sets, but they could touch them and watch as we turned the gears.  There was a life-sized semi-truck cabin that they could crawl through, and as we walked up the stairs into it a woman addressed us.

“Twins?”  she asked.  We said yes.

“I have twins too.  How old?”

“Seventeen months,” we answered.

Looking right at them, she crossed her arms self-righteously and said, “Oh…ugh, I don’t miss those days.”

Before I could trot out my usual cheerful retort, Mike jumped right in. “Actually we’re having so much fun with them,” he said, and no one else could detect it, but I knew this was his polite parent speak for “you are heinous and an embarrassment to yourself.”

Still, I couldn’t help but ask, “And how old are yours?”

“Two and a half,” she said smugly.  I almost burst out laughing.  Here was a woman running her victory lap approximately sixteen years too soon, and taunting the people a mere year behind her.

Less than a minute later I stood behind Henry as he approached a window in the truck, except I realized a second too late that it wasn’t a window but an opening, and just then he put his hand out to lean on it and fell through to the metal platform below.  I dove for him, blood cold, and scooped him up as he began to wail.  I was instantly filled with self-hatred for not protecting him.  Mike hollered an admonishing “ABBY!” and I didn’t blame him, but was still mortified.  I thanked God the landing was just a foot below the opening — right before thinking, “What if it hadn’t been?” which ushered nightmares into my mind.

He cried in my arms and one of the little two-and-a-half-year-old twins rushed up to me and exclaimed, “Kiss him!  Give him a kiss!” with such conviction and compassion I didn’t know what to do.  A deep shame ran through me as I realized I hadn’t been kissing him, just holding him and comforting him and talking to him.  I felt like an enormous idiot as I kissed my son at the direction of this preschooler, but what kind of monster would I be if I didn’t just because of my pride?  The entire situation made me want to go back in time to a land before the concept of children’s museums was invented.

Henry being Henry, he was fine in a matter of minutes — even if his mother was emotionally scarred — and we actually had a good time exploring the rest of the place.

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Note leaf slide in background with large child on it. (Look at me still not getting over it.)

All in all we spent only an hour and a half at the museum, but in toddler time that is half a day, at least.  We both felt relieved as we left, but wiser too.  It felt like we had taken our first war tour and next time we’d be better prepared for the battlefield.

…which was two weeks later at Seattle Children’s Museum, and all I can say is it was such a superior experience we felt like generals.  Okay maybe majors.  But still.

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Three Under Two!

We’re having another baby!

Yes, just one.  We checked.  Thoroughly.

We’re so, so excited and grateful up to our eyebrows.  We’re also a leeeeetle nervous, given that we will have three children under the age of two for two and a half months after this child is born.  And then once the twins turn two, we’ll have three under three, which doesn’t exactly feel like a cool compress to the head, does it?

This baby is due May 12, which puts me at 22 weeks along.  Here we are:

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Please forgive the lighting and general lack of effort (note the end-of-day toy pile).  I literally just walked into the family room and had Mike take this on his phone.  World class blogger.

If you’re anything like me, all you’re thinking when you see that picture is: how does it compare to the twin belly?  I’m comparing all the time because I’m convinced I’m the same size I was then.  Which sort of makes sense because second pregnancy bellies are notorious for rounding sooner and bigger, but my hope is that this neck-and-neck race to largeness will be won decidedly by the twin belly.

Here I was at 22 weeks with twins:

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So far, this pregnancy has felt mostly the same as my first.  I haven’t had any nausea (I can feel your hate radiating through the interwebs, and I’m sorry), I’ve felt like myself, and I’m amazed at how quickly it’s flying by.  To be perfectly frank, half the time I forget I’m pregnant because who has the time?  I’m managing 17-month-old twins all the live-long day, so I don’t have the luxury I did with the first pregnancy to sit and rub my belly and ponder the wonder that is occurring beneath the surface.  It’s a shame, and yet it’s also a blessing because I’m not worrying half as much either.

Easily one of the most entertaining aspects of being pregnant with our third has been people’s reactions.  They are exactly what you would expect, and are exactly what you yourself probably thought.  Here they are, in no particular order:

1.  WHAT?!  Was this on PURPOSE?!
2.  Oh my gosh you’re going to be BUSY.
3.  But….you have twins.  You have a boy and a girl.  Why are you having… (voice trails off)
4.  CONGRATULATIONS!!  THIS IS AWESOME!!!
5.  (Blank stare of shock)

You can see why telling people was a little like giving someone a non-registry gift: they’re either going to be thrilled by your brilliance, or confused and not exactly pleased that you detoured from their plan.

But we saw that coming a mile away, since we know the general leaning of society is to stop at two.  We trust the Lord’s plans for our family, and we’re humbled that He would entrust us with another life.  So before we told anyone, we decided outside commentary didn’t matter.  The people who matter most in our lives are so excited and full of love for this baby, and we feel blessed to welcome him or her to our family.

That reminds me: we won’t know if it’s a him or a her until the birthday, because this is basically the most ideal situation for not knowing.  We already have all the clothes and items needed for each, so it’s just a fun surprise.

When we went in for our eight-week ultrasound, to say we were nervous would be like saying John D. Rockafeller had some spare cash.  We were all but pacing the room, talking ourselves into how we would be totally fine if we were having twins again.  We’d already conqured once, we could do it again with two toddlers at our knees, right?  Riiiiiiight.

As the doctor scanned my belly, we held hands and let out an enormous exhale the second the screen showed one little heart.  It was an exhale not just from seeing one, but also because there was our baby; our healthy, strong, precious child.  It was a breathtaking miracle not reduced in the slightest by its singularity.

“Don’t get excited yet,” the doctor warned.  “Sometimes the second one is obscured behind the first. I want to do a thorough check.”

We dutifully resumed our rigid postures and waited.

“Ooooookay, I think we’re in the clear — one baby!” she announced.

We shared a kiss and huge smiles as she took measurements and confirmed our due date.

Even though the prospect of having several young children is intimidating, we’ve found that there is so much that’s easier — the preparation alone is a joke compared to round one.  I can’t think of a single thing we have to buy before the baby comes, apart from furniture for the nursery.  I’m not going to need baby showers, clothes, toys, or any of the myriad breastfeeding gear.  Also, and this is huge: we’re more confident.  We have done this already with two babies.  While this baby could be wildly different from Henry and Arden, we’re still miles from the bewildered parents coming home with two newborns that we were 17 months ago.  And let’s just state the biggest factor: it’s ONE baby.  No matter what curveball we’re thrown, it’s only ONE BABY.  Feeding him, diapering her, carrying him, dressing her, getting him to sleep — all of it only once!  I can’t wrap my mind around the inherent simplicity in that.

(Twin mom disclaimer: my feelings on my singleton — that word, ugh, I know — in no way are meant to imply that having one baby is not a mind-boggling amount of backbreaking work twenty-four hours a day.  All babies are hard.  Period.  This isn’t a contest of who is working hardest.  End of parenthetical.)

The sweetest part in all of this has been Arden and Henry’s understanding of it.  They know there’s a baby in my tummy and they toddle over and lift my shirt to see the belly and say “baby, baby” and wave.  Without any prompting at all, they have started kissing my belly, the most delicate kisses I’ve ever seen.  I stare at them and think, “How do you know this?  YOU are my babies, and you’re babying this little baby?!?”  It’s love magnified until it fills the whole room.

Welcome, 2015, and the family of five you carry with it.

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