Tag Archives: adventure

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.

DSC_0405

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.

2015-07-19 16.46.56

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.

2015-06-17 17.28.31

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.

2015-06-01 12.38.09

DSC_0408

2015-07-23 11.37.49

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.

2015-07-16 15.00.50

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under One WORD (Current Events)

A Peek Inside Life as a Mama of Three

A great friend of mine, Julianne Schneider, recently became a mother for the third time, and since I’m about to join that club I thought it apropos to do a little Q and A to focus my binoculars on that field a yonder that I’m traveling toward.  Julie, alongside her husband Jeff, is the proud mama of Brayden, 4, Luke, 2, and Samuel, two months.  She recently moved back to her home state of Wisconsin after living in Seattle for seven glorious years, and is experiencing the unique culture shock of one transplanted home again.  She’s a board-certified teacher by trade but is spending this year as a stay-at-home-mom. This exchange took place when Sam was only four weeks old.

Thank you, Jules, for sharing with us! IMG_5310 WBO:  First things first: are you keeping your head above water?
Julie:   We are doing as well as could be expected. We keep waiting for the floor to fall out, but that hasn’t happened yet. Perhaps, once we all get sick, then it will collapse. We are tired, but we are managing. I am very thankful that Brayden is at 4k in the morning, so I don’t feel guilty not playing with him and giving him the attention he wants (but doesn’t always need).

WBO:  What’s the hardest part about having three?
Julie:  The hardest thing about having all three is their needs are all so different! Brayden wants to play with Legos, Luke wants to destroy Lego creations (or eat them), and Samuel wants to be held. Harmony is impossible at these moments. For this reason, I am very thankful for PBSkids which keeps Luke entertained (and away from Brayden’s intricate Lego creations) while I am feeding Samuel, showering, or heaven forbid, feeding myself. Yes, TV is a great babysitter, and thankfully safe and teaches him a few things. I used to feel guilty about this with Brayden; now we are more in survival mode, so what the heck…I watched Sesame Street and I still went to college.

WBO:  Is there anything that surprised you because it wasn’t as hard as you expected?
Julie:  I think the transition wasn’t hard because we are already in kid mode. We don’t go out to dinner or fancy ski trips to the Alps. We don’t feel like we are missing anything anymore, which may be what makes having kids hard to begin with. The kids provide our daily adventure. Going from one to two made things harder, and pulled us both into the parenting, with less breaks. Now we are both in, and when Jeff is home, he knows what to do — no directions. I feel like we are a well-oiled machine. We just keep moving. No down time until all the kids are sleeping and we have dark chocolate and Netflix as a reward.

WBO:  What have people’s reactions been to you having three boys?
Julie:  Their reaction to three boys is very predictably, “Oh, you will have you hands full!” or “Will you try for a girl?” The cool thing about having three boys I learned is that once you have a third boy you enter this secret society of other moms with 3+ boys. During my delivery (we didn’t know what we were having), the OB who delivered Samuel and my actual OB were hoping I would have a third boy, as they both do.  After Samuel was born, they stuck around to share their joys of having three boys and welcomed me to the “club.” We seemed to share a common bond of living in the shear craziness of boyhood. We commiserated over not having calm tea parties or arts and craft sessions. Rather, they shared how exciting and loud their homes were.  My personal reaction to having three boys is of gratitude. As I reflect on the adventures I have already had with these guys, I recognize that God has equipped me to be a mother of boys. I truly believe it was all part of His plan. I don’t get super excited about the wrestling matches or bug catching. But I love building Legos, playing chase, and I already have the basketball hoop picked out to play basketball with them. I am also thrilled that I will probably never ever have to kill a spider again. Brayden has already taken over that role when Jeff is not around. If we never have a daughter, a curiosity may exist for what she would have been like, but never a disappointment. IMG_5508 WBO:  Is it hard coordinating different schedules?  Like feeding Sam so often but the others just three meals (plus snacks)?  Or managing different nap schedules?
Julie:  Brayden and Luke essentially have the same schedule. To bed at 7 and up between 6-6:30. Brayden doesn’t nap anymore, but from 12:30-3 is quiet time at our house. Brayden either reads books, plays Legos, watches a show, plays iPad games, or him and I do “learning time.” Feeding them all isn’t really that big of an issue, I mostly just get tired of doing dishes. I am thankful that Samuel doesn’t require any dishes.

WBO:  What adjustments did you have to make in terms of gear? A new car? A different stroller?  Sharing rooms? Julie:  We have a big car (Honda Pilot), but had to put Brayden in the third row to avoid all three in the same row. There would be way too much poking going on, and separation is good. Brayden and Luke both have their own rooms, and the baby is living in my closet. Our master is on the first floor, so I don’t think Samuel will be moving upstairs until he is mostly sleeping through the night.

WBO:  Are there other kids in your new neighborhood that your kids can get together with?
Julie:  We are thankful for new neighbors who organize playdates, and this entertains the older boys, especially when it is wicked cold out! The pent up energy needs to get released somewhere, and I am only up for so many games of hide-n-go-seek or chase before I need a break.

WBO:  Tell us what it’s been like moving back to Wisconsin as a family, since you left as an engaged couple.
Julie: Even though we grew up in the area, we feel like transplants, since it has been almost 15 years since we lived in this area. Sometimes I tell a small lie when I meet people, and just tell them we are from Seattle, so they don’t assume I know more about the area than I do.  We are experiencing some culture shock, good and bad. People are super friendly, but sometimes close-minded, or maybe it’s just more that they don’t know what they don’t know since they haven’t left the ten mile radius where they grew up.

WBO:  As a parent, what are some of the more obvious differences between Seattle and Wisconsin?
Julie:  I find the playdates to always be interesting…I was surprised at my first playdate and the type of foods that were served. Really, Cheetos? For 4-year-olds. The moms in Seattle would have a heart attack. I am not sure if I appreciate less pressure now that I am not expected to make kale-carrot smoothies, homemade granola, etc., or more pressure to do more to counteract the influx of junk food. Brayden is currently obsessed with Cheetos since kids on this bus bring them for snack everyday. I am standing my ground on this one though — no Cheetos. To show my resolve, I got him sushi at Trader Joe’s yesterday and reminded him that this was his favorite food in Washington, and not Cheetos. We talked about how the carrots in the California Roll were natural orange, and Cheetos were fake orange, like eating a Crayon.

WBO:  Does babyhood seem to go faster with each child?
Julie:  Yes! But I think isn’t that true of the time of life in general? I feel like each year keeps going by faster and faster. I really can’t believe I am 32 or that I will have a 5 year old this spring. The newborn phase with all three boys was a blur, and it is so short, just mere weeks before they start smiling, maintaining eye contact, filling out, and holding up their heads. I am not sure it feels faster. I think the biggest difference is you don’t hyperanalyze every change, as you know the next day it will be something different. The old adage of “the days are long, but the years are short” becomes more and more true.

WBO:  How do you manage to keep your spirits up when it’s just.so.much.work?
Julie:  Despite the loss of down time, there is so much laughing (and crying and screaming and whining) in our house. The noise is incessant, but amazing. Our home feels alive, and there is always something going on. It’s exciting to see them grow, and seeing how quickly they go from a baby to a boy, so we try not to wish this time away. Seeing how they are starting to develop relationships between each other is so exciting. Luke adores Brayden, and can’t wait for him to get home. Both big boys adore Sam, and Brayden is the master at holding him and getting him to stop crying. So in short: it’s tiring, but awesome. The highs definitely outweigh the lows.

IMG_1320

Thank you so much for sharing with us, Julie!  You are one amazing mama (and I will be calling you once I cross this threshold).

1 Comment

Filed under UpWORD (Beauty)

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.

IMG_1274

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).

photo

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.

WP_20150117_001

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.

photo (1)

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!

20141211_112831

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.

20141122_162352

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

photo (2)

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under One WORD (Current Events)

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.

IMG_0893

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under One WORD (Current Events)

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:

IMG_1316

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:

22 Weeks

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.

8 Comments

Filed under One WORD (Current Events)

Two Cakes, Two Candles, Two Babies, One Birthday

On July 26, Henry and Arden turned one.

DSC_0606

We had the party on with a brunch on July 19 because we were going to be on the east coast at the wedding of the year on their actual birthday (details on that grand affair to follow).  A huge thank you to my gracious parents for offering their beautiful home as our location!

The theme, as you may be able to ascertain, was Anchors Aweigh!  I chose this for several reasons, the first of which was its gender-neutrality.  Next it said “Adventure!” and lent itself to overtly preppy clothes, of which I’m extremely fond.  Yes, Arden’s shirt has anchors.  Yes, her pink shorts are sailor shorts, not that you can tell in that photo.  And yes, Henry’s romper has embroidered sailboats.  This was half the fun.

This post is going to consist mostly of pictures, rather than weighty insights about them turning one, because I’ve covered that territory.  Besides, who could complain about twinsy pictures?

Sam and I made that Pinterest-inspired and -worthy lifering behind them, which reads “H & A REPH 07 – 26 – 2013.”

Before the earth spins off its axis, I should just say it: yes, I crafted!  I made things!  I shopped!  I loathe all of these things, but as their birthday approached I heard that creepy whisper (lie?) that all mothers hear that says: “If you don’t make things for their birthday with your own hands, what kind of a mother are you?”  I have a strong suspicion that I’ll be deaf to this whisper within three years, but for their first birthday, I went for it.

Further evidence:

DSC_0570

The giant “1” behind my beautiful friend and her son is made up of the 43 weekly pictures I took of the twins to chart their growth through the year.  It’s so fun to look at up close, and I wish I had a better picture of it.  There are only 43 because I started doing it when they were seven weeks old, and I couldn’t include the last two weeks due to their birthday party date.

I also strung up all eleven of their monthly photos, but sadly, I forgot to take a picture of that.  But it’s a craft!

My extremely craft-gifted sister, Sam, made this adorable sign:

DSC_0546

Yes, that’s a mimosa and bloody mary bar.  You didn’t know this major rule of hosting a one-year-old birthday?  You do now.  You’re welcome (your guests will thank me).

I could go on about the enormous printed pictures and handmade themed tablecloths (thanks Mom!), but I think you get the idea.  Let’s move on to the real meaning of the day: the people.

DSC_0594

The twins and their Grandpa and Papa!

DSC_0564

Best friends/family with the birthday boy, who is judging/desiring that Mary.

DSC_0637

We had this gorgeous new mom and our youngest guest, her eight-day-old Gardner!

Also special friends…

DSC_0631

This is a recreation of a ten-year-old photo.  We do unattractive well.

That’s better.

DSC_0630

And another set of twins!

DSC_0682

I could share so many more photos of the dozens of treasured family and friends in attendance, but then this might begin to feel like a roll call.

So let’s cut the cake!

Erin and I made their little three-tier cakes, with alternating chocolate and vanilla cake.  Erin made the whipped cream from scratch to serve as frosting, because this was the babies’ first taste of sugar and I thought heavy, processed icing might make them sick.  Or maybe I thought they’d devour it and then be sick.  Either way.

DSC_0661

We helped them blow out their candles after singing to each of them, and then we let them at it.

DSC_0673

DSC_0677

Their reaction can best be described as a mix of nonchalance and confusion.  We expected them to dive headfirst, and instead they were as Arden is above.  “Here, Nonni, if you say it’s so great, you go ahead.”

So the aunties jumped in to give them some backup.

DSC_0686

I have to admit I felt the strangest combination of disappointment and pride.  I really wanted them to go hog wild, but when they didn’t I felt a little like, yesssss, my Seattle hippie mom moves are paying off!  They don’t care about sugar!  Time has proven this not to be true at all (ice cream, I’m looking at you), but I enjoyed the fantasy for that day.

DSC_0705

Non-love for cake aside, we had a wonderful day celebrating a wonderful year.  Mike made a lovely slideshow that made me cry, and we got to stop for a moment and acknowledge the richness that’s been added to our lives in the form of our two most precious people.

We also got to high-five the accomplishment of surviving the first year.  Not insignificant, I must say!

Happy Nana.

DSC_0556

Happy Nonni.

DSC_0752

Happy birthday, Henry and Arden!

DSC_0612

Leave a comment

Filed under UpWORD (Beauty)

Vastly Improved

After last week’s trial by fire, I thought the kids and I deserved a little field trip.  The Kirkland farmer’s market opened for the season on Wednesday, so we drove over and strolled among the fresh produce and baked goods.

It was a gorgeous, blue bird day, full of sunshine and plenty of shoppers. We walked the stalls, pausing to admire the array of color in the radishes, carrots and peppers. We stopped to talk to our favorite organic lotion shopkeeper who hadn’t seen the babies since close of last season.  He had a new organic baby lotion, which we would’ve purchased had it not been for the stores of similar lotion we have at home.

We walked the pier, basking in the water view, breathing the fresh air, and basically having every opposite sensation to illness one can have.

image

 

Mike called while we were walking the pier, saying he was just getting off the freeway into downtown Kirkland.  I couldn’t believe it; it was only 4PM.  It was like we were getting reimbursed by a cosmic retailer for last week’s trouble.

“Three of you were sick?  Here’s a sunny day.  You, the mama, were sick?  Okay I’ll throw in a market day.  This went on for days?  Fine!  I fold.  Mike will get off early and meet you for a drink.”

I accepted this deal, hands outstretched.  We walked up to the Slip, our favorite outdoor restaurant/bar in Kirkland, and we met the baby daddy and another good friend for a beer.  I nearly had whiplash from the change: here I was, not lying helplessly on the floor, but sitting in the sunshine drinking a beer during happy hour, holding giggling babies — on a Wednesday.  It was some sort of stay-at-home-mom unicorn day.

And now, even more spectacular, I’m looking ahead to a momentous first — our first night away.  On Mother’s Day Mike gave me a card that told me we were staying overnight at a fancy hotel on June 14.  I was so excited, but also nervous to be away from the babies for the first time.  I’m still nervous, anticipating texting my parents every hour to check on them, but I’m also out of my mind excited.  I can sleep in.  I can sleep in.  I can sleep in.  Even if our wine tasting afternoon fails, and dinner isn’t great, even if everything else goes wrong — I can sleep in.  I haven’t slept in in over ten months (and I really wasn’t sleeping in while pregnant, so it’s been over a year, easily).

This is the life of a parent, isn’t it?  Ecstatic at the thought of twenty-four hours of freedom, and desperate at the thought of even one hour away from those scrumptious cheeks, chubby thighs, eager smiles.  I’ve never missed a morning of them waking to greet me.  I thank God I have my trustworthy parents to leave them to.  I know I’m going to relish a day away of doing whatever we please, but just as much I know I’m going to sprint back to their shining eyes and outstretched arms.

5 Comments

Filed under UpWORD (Beauty)