Tag Archives: Mike Reph

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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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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Two Cakes, Two Candles, Two Babies, One Birthday

On July 26, Henry and Arden turned one.

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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:

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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:

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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.

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The twins and their Grandpa and Papa!

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

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

Also special friends…

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

That’s better.

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And another set of twins!

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Happy Nonni.

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Happy birthday, Henry and Arden!

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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.

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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.

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Double Double Toil and Trouble

When my mama said they’ll be days like this, she was not screwing around.

I remember having a conversation about motherhood with her months ago when she said, with a shudder: “Just wait until you’re sick.  You will not believe you ever thought you knew misery before that day.”

I trusted her, but by that point the babies were six months old and we’d never been sick, not one of us.  So I put it on a shelf and forgot about it.

Then a month ago Henry got croup.  His first illness (at nine months, which I was pretty proud of).  Like the gentleman he is, he graciously passed it to each of us, so we shared colds for a week.  Mike and I swam in a sea of tissues, comforting babies, low on energy.  But it didn’t bring us to our knees.

Then last weekend, Arden got her first fever.  She had no accompanying symptoms, so I called the pediatrician who advised I do nothing but monitor her and keep her comfortable.  Her fever raised and lowered over the next two days, and then Henry caught it.  I took them both to the doctor because it was strange to have fevers and literally no other issues.  She did a thorough exam and said it was a virus, and that many babies had been in with the same experience.  She said it would be gone in the next day or two.

Since they were nearly healthy again the next day, I decided to go on our first run since the cold I’d had several weeks before.  I felt great, and was doing my best time post-birth.  I got back to the house and put the babies in their highchairs for a snack — and suddenly, I felt wrong.  My skin hurt and every single joint ached.  At first I thought I’d pushed myself too hard during the run, but the feeling wasn’t going away as I recovered from that effort.  I prepared the babies’ food and felt worse with every passing minute.

After half an hour I called Mike and told him something was wrong with me, but I had no idea what, as I’d just been healthy enough to push 65 pounds over hills in the neighborhood.  Fifteen minutes later it occurred to me: take your temperature, genius.  Bingo: 100 degrees.

From then on it was like being run over by a train.  I had to say out loud, “Just get me to the next thing, Jesus,” as I washed dishes or moved the kids to a different area.  I felt so weak and aching that I physically couldn’t play with them.  I went limp and laid on the floor, holding up a book and whisper-reading it to the babies.  I realized I would be laughing out loud at myself if only I had the strength.

It was soon obvious that Jesus had heard my pathetic wimper because the babies were chubby-thighed angels for the next forty-five minutes.  They just sat quietly playing next to the woman heroically auditioning for the role of a starfish washed ashore: arms and legs splayed, eyes closed.

In a moment of grace I will never forget, Arden looked at me, leaned over, and put her head on my arm, right in the crook by my shoulder.  She stared at me with her enormous eyes and just laid beside me, radiating empathy.  I felt so impossibly in love with her I thought it would be enough to heal me on the spot.  I also remembered she had felt this sick over the last five days, and maybe still did a little, and my heart broke.

I kept my hands on each of them so I knew they were safe, and then I pretended this all wasn’t happening, because I knew I didn’t have an out.  My mom was out of the country, my mother-in-love was working, my husband was working.  Okay — my husband was working and then had a four o’clock tee time, but I still felt guilty asking for help.  As soon as that became a conscious thought — “I feel so guilty asking him not to golf to come take care of the babies because I can’t move,” I realized how absurd it was, and I called him.

He immediately offered to come home before I had to beg, which helped me to remember this was the first such call I’d ever made.  He was understandably bummed about his plans, but made it home within an hour.  At his insistence I went to bed, announcing as I walked up the stairs that I’d sleep probably half an hour (because what kind of a mother takes a longer break than that? I berated myself)…and then didn’t regain consciousness for more than two.

Thank God this happened on a Thursday, because on Fridays my mother-in-love comes to help (alternating Fridays with my sister) so I knew I wouldn’t be alone the next day.  I felt much better through that day, but the fever spiked again as evening approached and I went to bed early, sleeping like the dead.

That Saturday we didn’t have plans, which is always cause for celebration in our house, and I told myself I was ruining it by being sick.  How could we do anything fun if I was sick?  How could we leave the house?  I had to rally!  This was Mike’s day off and the kids’ chance to get out and do something new and exciting; I had to pull it together.  But every ounce of my 101 degree temperature body was saying, Abby, move to the couch.  Do not move off of it.  So, logically, I forced myself to get dressed and put on accessories.

What is with this mother guilt?  Did I drink from a vial concocted by a gaggle of evil raccoons stirring a pot of poison in the woods labeled “Mother Guilt”?  Have I forgotten this disturbingly detailed memory?  Why do I not allow myself to get physically ill?

Mike walked into the room and saw me sitting next to the children, fully dressed and ready to go, but staring into the distance like one of the rubber giraffes they were playing with.

“Babe, I think you should stay home,” he admitted.  “You look like…babe, you need to sleep.  I’m taking the babies, we’re going walking along the water and getting lunch and you will sleep.”

He was so sincere, and so earnest about having a daddy-twins day that I finally caved.  I crawled to the couch and shouted last instructions.

“Take a bottle for each,” I moaned.  “Do you have wipes?”

As he left I burrowed under a blanket, freezing despite the heat radiating off my skin.  I was just about to fall asleep when I remembered: “Be sure to cover their legs with the thin blankets in the back of the car so they don’t get sunburned,” I texted him.

And with that motherly duty complete, I fell into a blissful two and a half hour coma.  When I woke up, my fever was gone and never returned.  Mike had a fabulous time with the babies on an afternoon adventure — perfectly happy, and not sunburned, without me.  Evil raccoon mother guilt be damned!

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Filed under The WORD (Faith)

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.

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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.

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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.

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Nothing!  It was an early win.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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The Twins are Six Months Old!

Happy six months to Henry and Arden!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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*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.

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