Category Archives: One WORD (Current Events)

Life as Five

All I can say is this: I did not know children like this actually existed.  Apart from movies, fairy tales, and suburban legends, I didn’t know babies could be this, shall we say, agreeable.

The twins were not difficult babies either.  They never cried excessively, slept pretty well, ate well, and were easy to handle, apart from the fact that there were two of them.  But Hunter?  Hunter seems to be openly competing for favorite child right out of the gate.

If this sounds like bragging, I promise you it is not.  This is not me holding my child in the sky, Simba-style, for all to admire.  This is me standing next to you, pointing at Mr. HT and saying, “How is this possible?  Let’s not even discuss it further or we may jinx it.”

To celebrate turning ten weeks old on Sunday, he decided to sleep through the night — ten straight hours.  I woke up, looked at the clock, and like all good mothers, promptly assumed my baby was dead.  Once I confirmed he was alive and well, I basically danced a jig.

But he’s been this way all along.  From day one he has slept three to four hours, eaten, and gone right back to sleep.  At six weeks we put him in his own crib all night and he started sleeping six hour stretches.  Then eight.  But I thought it would take months for him to go from 8PM to 6AM.

You know what?  I’m going to stop talking about it.  I may jinx it.

But before I move on, let’s look at the child who I’m still convincing myself is real.

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Here he is at nearly six weeks, covering my torso like a five month old.

He also continues to be enormous.  At his two month check-up a week ago, he weighed 14 lbs 4 oz.  It took Henry six months to weigh that much.  His feet are larger than the imprints we have of Arden and Henry at six months.  He wears six month onesies.  He lifts weights and requests protein shakes.

The twins are over their initial indifference/rage and now always ask where he is if he’s napping or kiss him aggressively.  So far we’ve had no acts of violence, but they do tend to lose their minds whenever Mike holds him.  It’s getting better, but for the first eight weeks you’d think Mike was filling out adoption papers the way they threw themselves on the ground in despair.  No, we are not selling you nor replacing you, we just want Mommy to make dinner to keep us all alive, so Daddy has to hold the baby for ten minutes.

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The real reason we’re doing as well as we are is the amount of help we are receiving.  My sister Erin comes nearly every day, my mom comes a couple of times a week, and my mother-in-love comes at least once a week.  I am overflowing with helpful hands, without which I may very well be drowning.  Whenever people ask how I’m doing with three, I sort of want to say I don’t know yet, because I’m not doing this alone.

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I did do most of a day alone for the first time this week, and it wasn’t as difficult as I expected, but I was reminded of how grateful I am to have such incredible women who care about us so deeply.

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Henry and Arden turn two on Sunday, and I’m thrilled and joyful for this milestone.  Okay, I am 80% happy and 20% totally in denial that they’re aging at all.  I will readily admit that the fact that in six months they will be halfway to kindergarten crushes my soul.

On the hardest days, the ones that feel like the work of child-rearing is a feat so burdensome it must be impossible, I remind myself that this time is finite.  And in that moment I am both totally relieved and completely bereft that these effervescent cherubs will one day leave their childhood behind.  I have never felt such a schizophrenic array of emotions inside the span of a day.

All of this gives me such happy anticipation for all that is ahead for Hunter.  I feel like I have forded the river of the first two years with Henry and Arden, and now I’m ferrying the boat back to pick up Hunter and make the journey again.  The structure is the same, but every crossing has its own wild currents, stray logs, and smooth waters.  I’ll end the metaphor before I’m losing oxen and axles a la Oregon Trail, but it’s a remarkable privilege to get to do this more than once.

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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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The First Big Trip — Part One

The motivation to get us on our first plane ride with the twins was a wedding; a glorious wedding, as it turned out, one that happened to fall on the twins’ birthday.  And this wedding was a non-negotiable because it was the nuptials of one of my greatest friends of all time, and I was in it.  It’s always good to show up when you’re a bridesmaid.

I did my fair share of fingernail chewing about having two infants on a plane, but it wasn’t nearly the endeavor it could have been because my entire family was traveling with us.  They adore Amy and Brian too, so they were every bit as committed to getting there as we were.

Off we flew to Philadelphia (direct, of course.  There IS no other way to fly with babies.)

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Fun Twin Flying Fact: one cannot have two lap-babies in a row.  Not just on one side, but all six seats across.  So at any given moment, all seven of us had to ensure that we passed the babies forward and backward so as not to break this rule.  Believe me, the stewardesses caught us more than once when we weren’t paying attention and the babies were adjusted accordingly.

Shocking no one more than me and Mike, the twins were virtually silent on the plane.  Perfectly content, happy with the novelty of the new sights (and snacks).  They didn’t cry once.  It was some sort of air travel nirvana.

Once we arrived, we had the joy of introducing the babies to their extended family, some of whom they’d already met (thank you aunties and uncle for visiting!).  The most important introduction was to my grandpa, the husband of Arden Charlotte’s namesake.  I had been anticipating their meeting since the day they were born.  I’m very close with my grandpa, so him meeting them was enormously emotional for me — it was like introducing the babies to a piece of my heart.

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They also got to meet little Avery, the newest addition to the family, daughter of my cousins Amy and Joel.  She’s so precious, and her hair makes my children green with envy — I mean, Arden won’t even acknowledge her.

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We had so much fun with them all together.  We plunged them into the pool in little floaties, because well, how could we resist this?

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This was the twins’ first real swimming experience, and they were timid but grew to love it.  Arden’s swim trick (Mike always holds her in the air and says “Swim swim swim!” and she does a perfect breaststroke that you wouldn’t believe) translated beautifully to actual swimming.

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Feel free to stop me if you feel your heart giving out.

Since the babies cleared their first bite of cake at their birthday party the previous week, we felt it was only fair that they try the local specialty: a Dunkin Donut.  Dunkin Donuts are sacred terrority in my family, with multiple runs to DD’s being made for breakfast in each visit east.  They didn’t get a whole donut, just a bite or two each, but it was all that they dreamed, I’m sure of it.

Their favorite place in the house was the kitchen, rustling up Great Grandpa’s pots and pans.  They never get to be in the kitchen at home, so this was like a theme park.

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Mostly we just soaked up time with loved ones we don’t see often enough.  It’s so amazing to be thirty years old and realize your heart is still feeling new emotions — this trip afforded me the joy of sharing my children with the family I’ve treasured my entire life.  My cousin Allie, pictured below, being silly with Arden, is a perfect example.

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It’s a joy coupled with pain, I soon realized, because Henry and Arden don’t get to see their wonderful great-grandpa and great aunts and uncles nearly enough.  I would love so much for them to grow up seeing each other every week.

I mean, look at the joy in these faces.

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My generous aunt Beth threw a birthday party for the babies, and it was so adorable — the accessories were everything.

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Henry!  Your eyes.  I could faint.  Arden, your cheeks!  It’s too much.

*Side note: Henry’s hat had to be cut at the side to fit over his head.  Further proof it’s larger than the average one year old.  Don’t worry, it’s just holding your huge brain, Hank!

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I know.  I can’t talk about my hair here either.  All I can say is: humidity + growing out bangs = lethal.

If you’re just dazzled by their enthusiasm, it’s because it was about 8PM and their bedtime is 7PM.  They were, shall we say, less than agreeable.

But we partied on!

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You’d think we’d just told them their cupcakes were made of quinoa and stuffed with spinach.  Or maybe they misunderstood what birthdays are and they think people arrive with packages to take your toys away?

We had some deja vu with the cake rejection here too.

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Henry: “Don’t you people learn?”

Arden: “No means no.”

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After several relaxing days spent with the family, we headed off to Lancaster for the wedding of the year.  Wait until you see this gorgeous couple and their wedding locale.  Oh, and Henry in a suit and Arden in a Parisian dress.  I can hear your toe tapping so I’ll get right on that.

Part Two coming soon!

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Because It’s Really Their First Car

There were a ton (okay, two tons) of items acquired to prepare for the babies, but none that I anticipated more than the purchase of our stroller.  I am a member of an unusual species, one that looks at strollers like cars, and did so long before my own children entered the picture.  I can’t really explain it, because I had no interest in any other baby paraphernalia, but before I had the babies I could pass six strollers on the street and tell you the make and model of each one, along with which was used by a celebrity for their spawn.  File under: useless information recall.

You won’t know this stroller, or care, but before I had babies I always thought I’d buy the Orbit.  The Orbit is genius, and cool, and looks like a spaceship.  The seat twists on and off the base and then twists on and off a matching base in your car.  I probably would have purchased it, too, if it hadn’t been for the little double surprise we encountered.  Because just look at the locomotive that is the double-version:

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Six wheels?  The thing is about eight feet long.  How do you turn?  Or fold it up?  Forget about it.

Next I thought I wanted the Bugaboo Donkey Twin stroller, but I test drove one and it felt forty feet wide and I knew it wouldn’t fit through standard door frames, no matter what they told me.  Fitting through doors, I’d say, is kind of essential.

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Easily the most popular stroller in Seattle is the BOB, and it’s popular for good reason.  I just couldn’t go with it because it didn’t fit two car seats, and it was beastly to collapse and store in the back of the car.

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Where to turn?  What to do?  After an embarrassing number of hours of research, a fellow twin mom told me she was going with the Baby Jogger City Select, which I had never heard of.  At first I naturally thought, “amateur” but after further intense research, I dragged Mike to the store and we fell in love with it.  I also asked for stroller recommendations at the next EMOMs meeting, and was met with a chorus of advice to get the City Select.

I insisted on adding the bassinets, because one of my long-held stroller fantasies was to push a baby in a bassinet.  It’s so classic, so British, so splendidly posh.  If I was going to be falling asleep at the wheel, I was going to do so behind a bassinet.  Or two, as the case may be.

After ten months with our little red SUV, I can now report that it was a wise purchase.  Speaking of purchase, I haven’t listed the prices of any of the strollers here intentionally; those who care will look it up, and those who don’t I won’t horrify.  Just remember: Judgy Wudgy Was a Bear.

What makes the City Select so choice, as Ferris Bueller would say?  The versatility.  It can be configured to hold two bassinets, two car seats, two seats, or some combination of those if you have children of different ages.  We can even add a glider board once we have another baby so all three are riding (which sounds ridiculous, but we’ll see when we get there).

Our first use of it was to take Arden in for our daily visit to Henry in the NICU:

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This only required one bassinet, obviously, and it worked well.

During subsequent outings I would choose bassinets or car seats based on whether they were sleeping, or likely to.

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It sounds complicated to configure, but the bassinets just click in and out, and then we click little frames in to hold the car seats.

bassinet view

As the babies were able to sit up, I would let them ride perched in the bassinets.  This was adorable, but unsafe, as they could arch their backs and fall out (theoretically…it didn’t actually happen).

bassinet sitting

It took me a very long time to switch to the big kid seats because I was so attached to the bassinets.  Also it was winter, so it made sense to keep them in their little traveling sleeping bags.

bassinet foxes

 

bassinet foxes sitting 2

But a couple of weeks after they turned eight months in late March, it was time to make the switch.  We ran into our friend Matt soon after, and he summed it up perfectly: “First stop: five-point harness, second stop: college.”  This was EXACTLY why I didn’t want to move out of the bassinets.  It was like admitting they were ready to have email addresses.

big seats

The glimmering silver lining was that they instantly loved it.  Their faces looked like, “WHAT?  I can sit up fully supported!?  AND touch all the things?!”

stroller reach

(Also please note their gender differences even in seated positions.  Arden always sits ankles crossed like the lady she is, and Henry’s legs are always swinging high in the air, toes wiggling.)

We can have the seats face front, back, or each other.  We always have them facing each other because then neither of them is staring at the back of a seat.  Plus they interact, which is just as adorable as it sounds.

full view

On rare occasions one of them will fall asleep in the car and one will still be awake, in which case we rock the different seating combo.

stroller two seats

One of the key requirements in our stroller search was that it be easily collapsible, as I’d be doing it myself the majority of the time.  The City Select has two knobs on either side and when I pull them at the same time they collapse the whole thing.  It’s really easy, but it’s still a little awkward to load into the car since it’s not a featherweight umbrella stroller.

The name makes this obvious, but we use it to go on runs and it does just fine.

At this point Baby Jogger should be sending me a check, but since they’re not, I’ll conclude with its drawbacks.  There isn’t a safety connection from my wrist to the stroller, which I think of every time we go running, as I imagine myself tripping and sending the twins into oncoming traffic.  It’s not “recommended” for jogging like their sportier strollers are, so I’m sure there’s a better running experience out there, but the ride is smooth and works for us.

I’m hoping to do a post soon about other top products I haven’t been able to live without, but for now I had to start with the mothership.  I’m reminded of it everywhere we go, because sometimes it gets more attention than the twins do.

I don’t like to say I love inanimate objects, so let’s just say that I deeply like this stroller.

stroller toes

 

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May 31, 2014 · 9:29 PM

Sweet and Sour

Weekends away are supposed to be rejuvenating and fun, not make you want to get your tubes tied.

Over Valentine’s Day weekend we had our first family getaway to Whidbey Island for my 30th birthday.  We rented a house on the beach, Mike took two days off of work, and we hopped aboard a ferry for the short trip across the sound to the island.

Packing took hours.  It’s not the baby clothes that slow you down, it’s the, “oh, we’ll need another pack and play so they each have somewhere to sleep.  Oh and did you grab their bouncers?  Otherwise they’ll have nowhere to sit.  How many diapers do you think we’ll need for four days?  Do you think their baby food will stay frozen for the 90 minute drive?  Did you get the stroller?”

I finished all of that, feeling like an Olympian, and pronounced, “We’re ready to go!”  And then immediately realized I hadn’t actually packed myself.  Cue another 30 minute delay of departure.

When we arrived we soaked in the fresh feeling of being somewhere new and unfamiliar.   The view of the water and mountains was gorgeous from every window and we felt our lungs expand from the vast amount of visual space.  I’m big on visual space.  I get a little suffocated when my eyes have nothing to gaze upon but the four walls around me.   Beach houses are the perfect remedy.

We strapped the babies onto our chests for a walk on the beach.  It was perfect — sunny, brisk, and nobody else in sight.  The babies cuddled against us and we beamed at each other, proud that our trip was proving to be family-of-four fun.

beach

mike beach

We had brought along several bags of food, knowing that going out to dinner wouldn’t be an option with two six-month-olds.  But I told Mike I was getting a little panicky at our lack of adequate post-dinner sweets, plus we didn’t even have popcorn, which in our family is an aberration.

In true Mike fashion, he agreed to buy a handful of snacks and instead returned with three bottles of wine, chips and salsa, popcorn, half a dozen types of candy, ice cream, potato chips and beer.  I almost had a stroke, but then reminded myself that this is a significant portion of our fun these days; the theory being, we can’t leave the house at night, so let’s pig out and watch movies like fatties.

At this point, we were still buoyantly optimistic about our getaway.  We knew traveling with children could be a double-edged sword, we just didn’t realize quite how sharp.  For the remainder of this post, I’m going to slice and dice.

Sweet

The first night was the night of my 30th birthday, so we had a fabulous home-style happy hour on the deck while the kids napped.  Mike gave me a few presents, and then he made dinner.  The kids went to bed without issue and slept well all night.

Sour

Nothing!  It was an early win.

Sweet

The next day we explored Langley, an adorable seaside town with lots of shops, cafes and art studios.  We walked the babies around happily in their strollers and then decided to have lunch at a popular pizzeria.

Sour

Just as the waitress approached while we were waiting for a table, the babies were like, “Oh you wanted to have lunch?  Perfect timing, because we want to get out of here.”  We sighed and left, knowing we were no match for babies who want to nap but can’t fall asleep.

Hunger caused our good-naturedness to hit a snag.  We got in the car to head home for lunch but realized we were too hungry to make a meal from scratch.  Mike stopped at the corner market while I ran inside for a frozen pizza, which, after smelling gourmet pizza moments ago, was torture.  By the time I was back in the car the babies had fallen asleep, so we decided to return to the restaurant to salvage our afternoon.

Sweet

We got a table with a gorgeous view and quickly ordered a pizza and two beers.

“How long do you think we have?” I asked Mike.

“Twenty minutes?  How do we get the food out here faster without looking like jerks?”  he said.

“She just saw us leave earlier because of them, so let’s hope she can figure it out,” I replied.

The babies woke up not long after the pizza arrived, but I already had their bottles ready so we each fed one while feeding ourselves.  It was a stroke of genius to choose pizza because it can be eaten with one hand.

We took another great walk on the beach when we got back to the house and put the kids down to sleep without issue.  They woke up once or twice overnight but it wasn’t earth-shattering.

Sweet

On Saturday we drove to Coupeville, the other charming town on Whidbey, and explored shops and drank coffee and wore the babies on our chests.  We had a great time, and our positive pizza experience gave us the confidence to try for lunch a second time.

pier

mike pier

This time we chose what appeared to be the most popular bakery/restaurant in town, Knead and Feed, which had a dining room the size of our living room at home.  We sat at a two-person table, which was bold considering we were each wearing an extra person.  The people were so disarmingly welcoming we actually began to relax, rather than spend the entire hour stressing over everyone’s disapproving stares.  Several people came by to interact with the babies and we were so happy it was a little ridiculous.  We ordered big meals, Mike even going so far as to order mussels, which later proved to be as impossible as it sounds while holding a baby.

Sour

As we were finishing our meals, the babies were tapping their watches and motioning toward the door.  We scrambled to stuff the last few bites in our mouths while cooing at them and sing-songing our way through waiting for the bill.  We stood up to put our coats back on, as well as our baby carriers, and the entire room turned to watch.  Putting a baby in a Baby Bjorn is difficult enough with two people.  Putting a baby in one with only a baby-holding person to help is like juggling bowling balls with one hand.  We wrestled everything into position and then burst out laughing when we couldn’t get one strap buttoned into another.  Everyone was staring, we were sweating from the effort, and we tumbled out the door of that pressure cooker.

Sweet

Sarah and Casey met us back at the house to spend half a day with us, and we were thrilled to have great company as well as extra hands to hold babies.  We ventured out to a winery nearby for some wine tasting, and then had dinner together back at the house after the babies went to sleep.

wine tasting

So, So Sour

Except that they didn’t, not really.  Arden cried for half an hour before falling asleep, and then woke up around 10:30PM, never to return to real sleep ever, ever again.  The Bullers left around 9PM, so thankfully they were spared the screaming.  We’re not sure what changed between the other nights and this night, but we assume it was just her weariness at not being in her own bed, because she’s never cried that much in her entire life.

We took turns walking her around, pacing the room and silently begging her to go to sleep.  We soothed, we sang, we kissed, we participated in a parenting ritual as old as parenting itself.  Henry slept through it, miraculously, so at least a quarter of us was getting some rest.  We kept moaning to each other, incredulous that we dared to think this would be relaxing.

She would quiet temporarily, and then the second we’d put her in her crib she’d scream like her life depended on it.  A few rounds of that game of battleship and she sunk us, so we brought her into our bed.  She fell asleep after awhile and we collapsed on our pillows in relief.

I started to relax and then noticed something.  There were two skylights directly above our bed.  On our first two nights these were appealing — we had great lighting during the day and could see the moon as clear as day during the night.  As I looked up on this night, however, I saw the moon approaching the skylight directly over Arden’s little body.  I whisper-yelled to Mike, “The moon!  The light is going to wake her up!  What do we do!?”  I put my hand between her face and the light.  His bleary eyes looked back at me like, really?  Now we’re battling space to get our kid to sleep?

The spotlight shot down on us like a cannon, illuminating the entire bed.  She startled awake and the long charade began again, this time with Henry chiming in.  He wasn’t crying from restlessness so much as a general complaint to management.  I couldn’t blame him; these living conditions were entirely unacceptable.

Mike carried Henry around the room, and I counted up the hours left until morning, which only brought me right to the brink of losing my mind.  So this, I thought, is why people refuse to have more than two.  It’s making perfect sense to me now.

Just then Mike walked back into the room with Henry still crying and announced, “We’re not having any more kids!”

“I’m way ahead of you,” was all I could mutter in reply.

We nestled the two crying babies between us in the bed and cuddled them as best one can cuddle a screaming infant.  We looked at each other and sighed as they finally fell asleep.

The Sweetest

The next morning, if you can call a morning “next” when you have all but ushered it in, we groaned as the light filled the room and the babies started their day.  I fed each of them and we said a holier-than-thou “We forgive you” as they stared at us with their eyes full of love.  And that’s what always gets us — no matter what happens overnight, no matter how enraged and beleaguered we feel, those cherub cheeks and happy squawks pierce through the misery and we’re hopelessly in love again.

morning after

“So,” I said to Mike as we looked at the water with our happy babies, “we’re back on track for four kids, right?”

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