Tag Archives: twins

Life as Five

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Day in the Life At 18 Months

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2:30PM  Down for naps!

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

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

4:30PM  Babies are up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pack Your Helmets (Physical and Psychological)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mike cut to the chase.

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

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

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

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

“Twins?”  she asked.  We said yes.

“I have twins too.  How old?”

“Seventeen months,” we answered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Three Under Two!

We’re having another baby!

Yes, just one.  We checked.  Thoroughly.

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

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

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

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

Here I was at 22 weeks with twins:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We dutifully resumed our rigid postures and waited.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The First Big Trip — Part Two

Can it even be called “Part Two” when “Part One” was two months ago?  I don’t want to think about it.

Let’s instead focus on the wedding of the year.  This wedding was spectacular for a myriad of reasons: it was the marriage of one of my best, closest friends I’ve known since I was 13, it took place at an extraordinary farm on the same road as the farm my parents lived on during their first year of marriage (I mean, seriously!), and it was on July 26 — the twins’ first birthday!  All of this just further reinforces our life-long friendship connection.

Plus it was gorgeous.  But when this lady is the star of the show, isn’t that obvious?

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The ceremony was a Catholic mass, which was beautiful and solemn and celebratory all at once.  The bride’s brother sang, her sister served as maid of honor, and her parents radiated joy the entire day (that’s her happy mom Anne to the left in the photo).

Plus this was the jaw-dropping cathedral.

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Amy married Brian, who you may remember from Italy, and he is one of the funniest and most generous people I know.  Now, he’s also one of the luckiest.

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Side note: that dress.  I cannot even.  It is exquisite.

During the ceremony my family took care of the babies, one of whom fell fast asleep.  Hint: it wasn’t the one in the tiny tan suit, it was the one in the tiny Parisian dress.

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Their bridal party was top-notch — entirely supportive, hugely fun, and, if I may say, uncommonly attractive — check us out just working it during the photo sesh:

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They couldn’t have been more welcoming to this lone bridesmaid from the west, to the point that I’m keeping in touch with a few of them…this bride has great taste in friends.

Plus we really excelled at kicking back.

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The reception site was a completely updated and renovated farm.  It had a gorgeous hundreds-year-old farmhouse where the ladies got ready, a refurbished barn for the dinner and dancing, and picture-perfect grounds with lush weeping willows and a peaceful pond.

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I mean, look at that magazine-worthy barn.

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Amy is probably the most thoughtful bride I’ve ever encountered.  She told her photographer in advance to take family photos of us because it was the twins’ birthday.  We couldn’t believe it and we’re so thrilled with these priceless memories we’ll always treasure.

A little back story: last year, the babies were scheduled for induction on July 25, and I was so wrapped up in that it didn’t even occur to me that the following day was the one-year-prior-to-the-wedding day.  Once the babies were born on that day instead, I think it took a full day afterward, in my drug-addled state, to turn to my mom and say, “Wait, what day is Amy’s wedding?  Is it today next year?  Were the babies born on her wedding day?”  And as I said it I knew.  And I felt a mix of new-mom joy and anxiety, with an exclamation-ridden thought train that looked like this:

“Oh my gosh Amy and Brian and the twins are going to share this day forever!!”

“Amy will be with the twins on their birthday!”

“I’m a bridesmaid so I will be busy the whole day…away from my babies on their first birthday…I had these children hours ago and I’m already feeling like the worst mom ever for missing their birthday!”

“It doesn’t matter, this is her WEDDING day!  FAR more important than a million birthdays!”

“We can just have their birthday party the week before!  This isn’t a big deal at all!”

“I can’t be away from them on their first birthday!  I am just going to pretend this isn’t happening until it is.”

“I hope this doesn’t occur to Amy so she doesn’t worry about it!  It’s NOT her problem, she’s the BRIDE!”

You can see I didn’t over-think it at all.

Well, I shouldn’t have given it any thought.  Amy humbled me to my knees with a mini-birthday party right in the middle of the reception.

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Her parents announced that it was Henry and Arden’s birthday and out came custom cupcakes and the entire room of guests sang happy birthday.  I was so moved, so totally overwhelmed, I did a lot of the thrilled-while-half-crying face.  A lot.

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Who’s the luckiest boy in the room?  Usually the groom.  In this moment, Henry.

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In a moment I’ll always remember, Mike lifted Arden high in his arms and she did what she always does when he does that — she kicked her legs in unison and we yelled “swim swim swim!” while she went crazy with happiness.  To our surprise, everyone started yelling “swim swim swim!” and she just kicked her little heart out.

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My heart was so full.  Standing next to the new Mrs. Fuga, surrounded by her wonderful family and mine, amazed that we’ve been friends since she was 12 and I was 13 — and here she was yielding the spotlight on her biggest day to celebrate my precious babies.  It was just overwhelming and so undeserved.

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After dinner…the dancing, which was phenomenal.  It may be worth your time to inquire about this DJ.  He killed it.

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(Bridal party entrances are key.)

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Weddings with family are everything.

What a spectacular wedding filled with an enormous amount of love.

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And I have this girl to thank.  Seventeen years and counting, my friend!  Cheers to you on marrying the love of your life.  Thank you for allowing us to share in your joy.

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The First Big Trip — Part One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I mean, look at the joy in these faces.

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

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

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

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

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

But we partied on!

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

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

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Henry: “Don’t you people learn?”

Arden: “No means no.”

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

Part Two coming soon!

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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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