Category Archives: One WORD (Current Events)

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?”

6 Comments

Filed under One WORD (Current Events)

The Twins are Six Months Old!

Happy six months to Henry and Arden!

DSC_0298color

Moms always say things like “I can’t believe they’re six months old already!” but really, I can believe it.  I’ve been with them every day and night of the last six months and I’ve immersed myself completely.  I don’t feel like I have whiplash because I wouldn’t allow myself to be caught off-guard, at least not this early in the game.  I told myself over and over that it would go quickly, and I think that reminder helped slow it down.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve buried my face in their little necks, breathing them in and saying I love you.  I often lay them both in front of me and tell them they’re my dreams come true, they’re the songs in my heart.  I look at them, look away, and by the time I look back they’re even cuter than I remembered.  Babies are opiates, I tell you.

DSC_0462color

DSC_0436color

Mike and I notice every day how much more they’re able to connect with us, to really see us and interact.  Their laughter is carbonated joy and there’s nothing too embarrassing to do to earn it.

In the last month we’ve been getting a taste of what it will be like to actually do things with them as participants.  Over three weekends we took them to the Seattle Aquarium, the Pacific Science Center, and Pike Place Market.  We always wear them facing outward so they’re able to see the sights and be entertained by it all.  Some of the entertainment for us is the constant stream of commentary we get from people as they pass us by.  They always speak as though we can’t hear them, making comments just as they pass or pointing from three feet away.  It never bothers us; it’s actually really fun to parade our little spectacles around.

20140120_140746

20131230_142715

20131230_141740

20131230_140856

A huge part of me is in a rapid-breath panic at the thought of being in the second half of their first year, and it’s family activities like this that keep me excited instead of in mourning.  I find that the more we do together, the more we have to look forward to, and the less there is for me to cry about leaving behind.

I read a great essay recently about parents’ tendencies to over-savor some moments of their children’s lives.  We can grasp at the present so fiercely that the moment isn’t authentic at all.  This struck a nerve with me because I’m always exclaiming, “This is the only time they’ll be 22 weeks and 3 days old ever in their entire lives!  They’ll never again fit into this onesie!   They can roll over — I miss when they were just blobs!  What if Arden never blows bubbles like this again?  What if Henry stops laughing when I reveal that it’s me behind the blanket?”   Life isn’t meant to be lived as though it’s already passed by; at times I catch myself projecting into the future imagining myself reminiscing about a moment as it’s happening.  That’s a little frightening, and it’s a slippery slope.  Soon I could be collecting their nail clippings, and we can’t have that.

With this in mind, I’m thrilled that they are exactly as they are today:  scrumptious thighs, a blush of fine hair, blue eyes for days and devastating smiles.

DSC_0346color

DSC_0392color

*gorgeous photos courtesy of Lindsay Schuette.

Also, what my mom calls “her joy”: walking into their nursery after their naps, each of them cooing and babbling, faces lit up like Christmas at the sight of us coming to get them.  It really is one of the happiest moments of my day (or my mom’s when she’s with me) and it’s something I will carry with me the rest of my life.

To every day ahead, my loves.

20140117_094702

12 Comments

Filed under One WORD (Current Events)

A Day in the Life at Twelve Weeks

7:10AM I hear the alarm — how long has that been ringing?  Did I already hit snooze?  It was a coma-like sleep…did it wake the babies?  Nope, babies are fast asleep next to our bed.   Which stay-at-home-mom uniform should I wear today?  Black leggings or gray?  Colored nursing tank top or black?  Let’s do black leggings, striped tank top, just to keep things mildly interesting.  I’ve got to update their charts…they were up twice last night to eat.  Do I have time to make Mike’s coffee and pump before the babies wake up?

7:20AM The babies are stirring…definitely no time to do anything else.  I breastfeed Arden while Mike bottle feeds Henry.  These babies!  It’s like three hours of sleep has let me forget the precise perfection of their faces and seeing them again makes me swoon.  Mike agrees; it’s such a grand injustice that dad should have to leave the house to make an income.

7:50AM It’s diaper time, and just LOOK at how they smile now that they’re really awake!  It’s like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir bursting into song just for us.  Oh!  The best part…picking out their clothes for the day; it’s infinitely better than when I was six and picking out clothes for Cabbage Patch dolls.

8AM Babies are propped up in their infant seats and I’m pumping.  Arden looks like she’s about to cry…here’s hoping rocking her with my only available appendage (my foot) will settle her.  Fifteen minutes of pumping goes by terribly slowly when two babies are staring at you as if to say, “Why, Mommy?  Why are you sitting in front of us but not holding us?”  Must think of more songs, maybe Disney?  Why not.  “Look at this stuff!  Isn’t it neat?  Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete?  Wouldn’t you think of a girl, a girl who has…everything?”  They’ll grow to love Ariel because their mother’s a redhead — I’m sure of it (though they may never understand why she doesn’t share her voice…).

8:15AM  I distract the babies by talking to them while I wash all the pump parts and make a cup of decaf tea.  While it steeps, it’s time for daily “twin time” on the blanket on the floor, along with tummy time (which I’m pretty sure they think of as torture time) and singing.  They look so cute right now I could just about die.  I take copious photos and email them to great-grandparents.

2013-10-17 12.31.08

8:45AM Upstairs the babies go, another diaper check, then story time from their children’s Bible which is really more entertaining for me then them.  But they humor me and listen.

9AM Babies go down for a nap.  I realize my untouched tea is now cold and pop it in the microwave.  What to do with the next uninterrupted 45 minutes?  Be practical, I suppose.  Balance the checkbook, update our calendar, answer emails.  Eat something.  That milk doesn’t come from nowhere.

I’ll thank myself later if I prep for when they’re awake.  So — make Henry a bottle, clean the bottles in the sink that fed him all last night, get the vitamin D ready to give each of them.  Is it laundry day?  Probably…in go a load of whites.

10AM Somebody’s crying through the monitor, so like a shotgun has gone off I race upstairs in the hope of snatching one baby out of the room before the other one wakes up.  Today: no dice.  They’re both wimpering, and due to our house rule of not carrying both babies on the stairs, I have to make Sophie’s Choice and choose the most unhappy baby to take downstairs first.  Right now it’s Arden so she goes into her seat downstairs and I race back up to get crying Henry.

10:05AM  The Boppy pillow goes on the couch next to me with Henry propped inside it, then I pick up Arden and start breastfeeding her, and then grab the bottle and start feeding Henry with my free hand.  It’s a circus act, but everybody’s happy.  It’s fine to watch some TV while they’re both eating, right?  Right.  Netflix live-stream it is.

10:30AM  Play time on the floor, more tummy time, more twin time, more singing and dancing, more diapers.  Perhaps even a few workout moves that involve them.  Pushups over babies, ole!

2013-10-17 12.01.21

11AM  When was the last time I drank water?  Must drink 16oz immediately.  Did I reply to that person’s text?  How many days ago was that?

11:15AM  The babies are getting fussy but they have fifteen more minutes of wake time before their naps.  Time to get creative — one in the swing (please don’t fall asleep, Henry) and one with a rattle-accompanied version of the A, B, C’s.

11:30AM  Down for naps.  Move wet laundry to dryer.  I haven’t combed my hair today, or brushed my teeth — must take care of those now.  Time to eat again, maybe a bowl of cereal?  OH and I have to pump!

12:10PM  I hear someone stirring in the monitor; please stay asleep for ten more minutes…I haven’t even sat down since you went to sleep.

12:30PM  Babies are awake and ready to eat.  Tiny circus act commences.

1PM  It’s a nice day, how about a walk?  First let’s change both diapers and run out to the car to get the stroller that we store in the back.  I’m wheeling it inside when I hear a baby crying because I was out of sight for more than fifteen seconds.  What will they need for the walk?  Hats, blankets, a good attitude…check, check, fingers crossed.

1:15PM  This walk is glorious.  Both babies are thrilled to be somewhere other than the living room, and this mama is exhilarated by the presence of fresh air and walking in a straight line for more than ten steps.1392054_10151942214635325_451886915_n

1:35PM  The bursting pride of walking the twins never, ever gets old.

1381232_10151942214730325_63706830_n
1:40PM  Arden is crying.  This walk is getting old.

1:45PM  We’re back at the house and the fussiness indicates it’s almost naptime.

2PM  Nap time!!!

2:10PM  …also means pump time.  Sigh.  And make Henry his next bottle time.

2:20PM  I should really write thank you notes (for meals, gifts, acts of service) but the thought is a mental hurdle I can’t climb at the moment.  Instead I will check Facebook.

2:30PM  Oh yeah — I have laundry to fold.  And it’s time to run the dishwasher after hand-washing the pump parts.

2:45PM  Did I hear a baby wimper?  Or was that a phantom baby wimper that my mind plays tricks on me with?

2:50PM  It was real — Henry is awake.  I snatch him up and carry him downstairs and start to feed him; please, Arden, sleep just ten minutes and then I’ll have finished feeding Henry.

3PM  Thank you, Arden!  Now I can focus on feeding you — see how brilliantly that works out for both of us?

3:20PM  How many hours until Dad gets home?

3:30PM  Floor time, play time, twin time.  These babies are so cute I feel absurdly grateful, like I could just burst.  Thank God I’m here!  I tell them aloud: thank God we get the whole day together.

2013-10-09 15.25.01

4PM  When Mike gets home we’re definitely having an adult beverage.

4:30PM  Nap time!!!!

4:35PM  Pump time.

4:45PM  What are we having for dinner?  This freezer has chicken in it, why didn’t I think to defrost that earlier?  I need a snack.  When was the last time I drank water?  Have I gone to the bathroom today?

5PM  Must answer more emails.  Falling behind on life.

5:30PM  Both babies are up — shoot, I wish Mike had just gotten home so Henry could be held while eating.

5:40PM Mike’s home!  Just in time to burp Henry.

6PM  I scramble to make dinner while Mike does baby duty, joyfully reunited after eight hours apart.

6:30PM  Please play idly in your little chairs, dear ones, so Mike and I can eat and talk at the same time.

6:45PM  They are dream babies who inhabit the earth…they are just sucking on their hands and staring around the room.

7PM  Nap/bed time…it could go either way…they could be asleep for a quick hour or for several.  Regardless, it’s our version of Mardi Gras: we collapse on the couch, pour a glass of wine, and debate having an engaging conversation versus movie-watching.  Movie watching wins.

8PM  I better pump one more time, just for good measure.

8:20PM  Henry is fussing; he wiggled out of his swaddle like the little Houdini he is.  Luckily reswaddling him does the trick.

8:45PM  I make three bottles for Henry for overnight, so we’re not running up and down the stairs at 3AM.

10:30PM  We “dream feed” the babies, which means feeding them without really waking them up, then putting them right back to bed.

10:50PM  Babies are sleeping, and with a kiss and an I love you, so are we.

2:45AM  Arden is awake, so we wake Henry to keep them on the same schedule.  It’s the midnight milk cafe.

6:50AM  Henry wakes up — can we convince him it’s the middle of the night so he’ll resettle?  Success.

7AM  We look at each other, laugh, and snuggle in for five more minutes before the start of another day.

5 Comments

Filed under One WORD (Current Events)