Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

As one might guess, we're not doing anything special for New Year's tonight. We have no babysitter and I've never really enjoyed the holiday (too anti-climactic and too much drinking) so I'm happy to stay home. I'm currently debating a Wal-Mart run to pick up supplies.

So my "excitement" for the day was taking the kids to the Nordstrom's cafe for lunch, though it was ruined by Molly crying. We've had about 5 days of the kid crying all day long. I finally took her to the clinic yesterday (after she had me up from 2-5:30am Monday night/Tuesday morning) for an ear check and her ears are great ... but at that very moment she broke out in one of those all-over body rashes and the doctor instantly said "she has a virus" which is doctor speak for "I can't do anything to help her". Claire has had a couple bouts of something where she broke out in that weird all-over polka dot rash so I wasn't horrified to see it and I suppose that's what is bothering Molly. Oh, and the eye tooth coming in isn't helping her mood any either.

I did realize that I'm quite the clinic fixture when the doctor (whom I've seen the least out of the practice) said, "and the other two are doing OK?" ... meaning she actually remembered that I have two other kids although they weren't with me at the time. The funny thing about having twins is that people remember you which is quite an advantage.

I've got one more day off left this week (the holiday tomorrow) and then I'll have to start work again on Friday though I'll be at home. I've really enjoyed the time off but I wish I had secured more babysitter hours for the twins so Claire and I could have done a few more things - more ice skating, a trip to Wonderscope or Paradise Park, a trip to the indoor swimming pool, etc. Claire definitely gets the shaft during the twins' nap time when we're stuck at home.

I don't make New Year's resolutions, but I have a wish - that 2009 is easier on us than 2008. Care to wager whether that will happen?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Painting Pottery

I just can't seem to take a full day to myself without mother guilt, so I spent the morning on myself (a knee x-ray and a quiet lunch by myself) and then I picked up Claire for some painting fun. We went back to the place where she took the pottery class and painted the entire afternoon ... like four straight hours. The helpers at the store couldn't believe her patience given her age.

Claire made an adorable plate. I only helped with the ladybugs (I drew the black parts on the ladybugs) and the year, but she did the rest herself. I can't wait to see it once it's done. I picked a contemporary style bowl, my first painting/glazing attempt since childhood, and I was part of the reason we were there four hours - I got a little perfectionist myself about it. I'm interested to see how mine turns out too.

It wasn't a cheap day - $50 for everything and some hot chocolate - but it was good mother/daughter time for us. I'm posting a photo of Claire's plate before it goes in the oven and the colors adjust. I'll take a photo of the finished product when we get it home in a week or so.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Energizer Bunny

Claire's sleeping habits are driving me nuts. The last two nights she went to sleep at 11pm; tonight was about 10:30pm. She has behaved a little too well for a kid running on limited sleep (other than a full screaming meltdown right before dinner tonight which resulted in a 5-minute time out in her room). I don't know if the reason for this energy is Christmas excitement or that our routine is different (me being on vacation and Kyle took a little time off too) but I don't like having a child awake this many hours of the day. By 8:30pm I'm ready to be done with kid stuff, and I also haven't been able to go to bed early because of her. I've decided she needs at least 1-2 hours of vigorous activity each day to get to bed on time, and realistically we'll never get that most days - especially during the winter. So it looks as though my Energizer Bunny will drive me nutty this whole winter.

Today was low key. I stayed in bed a while this morning, but couldn't get back to sleep because Kyle and the kids were a little loud. I finally got up to figure out why Molly was crying too much. She seemed to have a small fever this morning (teething?) so I gave her some Motrin and she perked up and her mood improved. In the afternoon I exchanged some Christmas gifts and left Kyle home with the kids. Tonight after dinner Claire unexpectedly gave me a foot massage which I thought was amazingly sweet and endearing. I don't know where she got the idea to do that.

Yesterday we had a more exciting day. The day started with Claire's final ice skating lesson - she's already begging for more lessons - and then Claire and I had lunch together at Waffle House. We returned home so Kyle could make a haircut appointment, and two hours later when he returned Claire and I had fully decorated her dollhouse for the holidays. We made fake snow and a fake snowman, put greenery and holly berries in the window boxes, put up a Christmas tree in the living room of the house, wrapped miniature presents, and made stockings that we hung in the room. It was cute and a lot of work! Papa arrived soon after for a belated Christmas dinner. We had a nice evening and a good dinner (my mom sent food over for us, so the only cooking I did was to make mashed potatoes). Both Lily and Molly called him 'Papa' and Lily demanded to be held by him the entire time. Molly was super cranky (a precursor to her crankiness this morning) so I was happy when the twins went to bed. Papa did his best to help exhaust Claire, making up fun "obstacle courses" in the basement, but somehow she still stayed up late after he left.

Tomorrow I've got the nanny for just one day this week, so I'm currently debating a "me" day versus a Claire and me day. Or maybe I'll split the day between time with her and time alone. I get so few days to get stuff done without kids that it's hard to give up a chance like this.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

More Christmas Photos

Here's a few more Christmas photos. In the one with the microphone, Claire is putting on a show for us with her guitar playing and singing. It's too funny.

Merry Christmas

We would have had a perfect Christmas had Claire and I not gotten the stomach thing. Claire threw up around 2am, but only once. I woke up around the same time and fought the nausea but was up for about two to three hours trying to get back to sleep. Today I'm still queasy so I'm guessing Claire is too. She hasn't wanted to eat but is otherwise in a great mood.

The Christmas gifts were a hit! Photos posted here. I'll have to do another post so I can show more photos. Claire loves the dollhouse, guitar, microphone, and handheld computer game the most at the moment.

Merry Christmas to all (and hope no one else had the stomach bug today - it's a real holiday downer).

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Later on Christmas Eve

We've been spared another vomit episode so far, but I'm still waiting on Claire (or me or Kyle) to wake up sick in the middle of the night tonight, dashing our hopes of a fun Christmas morning. It's been a tense day. I've been queasy all day but so far nothing worse has come of the feeling.

Claire is about to set up cookies for Santa, so I better sign off. Photo is of all the kids tonight dressed in their "Christmas outfits".

Christmas Eve

Instead of enjoying Christmas Eve day so far, we're on puke watch. Molly had a minor spit up incident at bedtime last night (which I almost noted on my blog post last night, but decided it was nothing), and sure enough, Lily woke up at 5:30am (which of course involves waking Molly up too) spewing vomit everywhere. So neither baby went back to sleep (the downside of bunking them together) and the vomit deal was a one-time event for the twins just like the Halloween stomach bug. Now we're in "waiting and watching" mode to see if any of the rest of us gets it. It would humor me, in a bad way, if our Christmas day is ruined by the second round of the stomach bug this season.

My opinion is the parks & rec gym area needs to be cleaned. My friend's son played there the other day and her entire family got the stomach bug, and then of course we were there on Monday and now we've got this thing going on. The stomach thing has been running rampant across Overland Park this season, with many an adult (and colleague) taken down by it.

Please, please tell me we escape another round so that our Christmas isn't ruined.

I'll update later today if someone else gets sick (unless it's me, and then I'll stay in bed).

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Skating Success

Today Claire had a complete attitude change on ice skating. She was enthusiastic about her lesson, smiled during the class, and then during our three hours of "open skate" this afternoon she really took to it. While she lagged behind during class (see photo today), during open skate when I skated with her she worked hard to go fast and wasn't at all afraid of falling down. She's learned to get up quickly by herself, and she even made at least one full lap on the rink without falling at all. I was actually very impressed by her progress in one day. While I expected today would be better, I was surprised by how much better it went.

We returned home by about 3:30 so I felt like I got to see the twins today too. They are getting far more interesting by the day. Molly shakes her head "yes" or "no" to answer my questions, and does her best to use her limited vocabulary to communicate. For example, tonight I said, "is Lily sitting in the chair?" to which Molly shook her head yes (which was correct). I ask if she wants specific things, and sometimes she says yes and sometimes no, so I know I'm getting relatively valid answers if I'm getting a mix of both yes and no. Lily is working hard at pointing and by default asking what something is so that she begins to learn more words. I tested her comprehension at snack time with "Lily, put down the cookie before you pick up the milk cup" and she actually followed my direction, so she might be understanding more than I've been giving her credit for. Mind you, the "cookie" was a Vanilla Wafer, but for ease of comprehension I lump in all those types of things under the word cookie.

OK, I'm off to check if Claire falls asleep quickly. One would imagine that 3 1/2 hours of ice skating would exhaust a 4-year-old but Claire can confound even the best guessers sometimes.

Tomorrow night, Christmas Eve, ought to be crazy here!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Molly Finds Her Balance and Claire Loses Hers

Ice skating was hysterical, absolutely hysterical. Claire fired "I despise you for doing this to me" looks from the ice as she fell down or wouldn't do anything at all, too afraid of falling again. I laughed the whole time except for when she was looking at me. Kyle appeared later to watch the spectacle, and Claire perked up at the sight of him, but continued to give us dirty looks. Then she wouldn't talk to us for a while afterwards. My guess is the perfectionist part of her can't handle the falling or the inability to skate - it feels like failure to her - so I think it's wonderful she gets to experience this. A feisty personality like hers needs to feel unbalanced (no pun intended) every once in a while. It's healthy for her self esteem and development. So I couldn't help but laugh, because other than the falling being funny, I know this is a good experience for her in the long run. My own personal triumphs come from experiences like this.

And because Claire didn't want to move on the ice, she basically got one-on-one instruction from the teacher who recruited a second girl to help so one of them could focus on Claire. However, I also think I did a poor job of dressing her - the jeans restricted her movement too much - so tomorrow we've got a great outfit picked out for the second lesson (assuming I can drag her there) and I'm hoping it will go better. We're also meeting friends in the afternoon for an "open skate" period, and I'm hoping the fun of being with her friends on the ice will increase her excitement about skating. I'm even going to join her on the ice. I skate horribly, so I told her I'd prove that it's a tough thing to do and not even all adults can do it.

After the morning skate, Claire and I had a big mother/daughter day. After a quick trip to the DMV (whoops, we were overdue on car tag renewal for the new minivan), we had lunch at Waffle House where Claire got the usual special treatment. We then headed over to the parks & rec place to meet friends for two hours of "open gym" play time, where the kids ran wild and burned off cabin fever energy. Claire and I then had an indulgent snack at a bakery, picked up her pottery class tiger (which looks fantastic!), and ran by Target to buy her better gloves for skating class tomorrow. So that was 7 straight hours of me/Claire time today and I enjoyed the day. The twins were home with the nanny and I've got the same childcare lined up for tomorrow so we can have a repeat mom/Claire day.

And to add to my fun for the day, I got to see Molly take her first (not very tentative) steps! I was lying on the floor with her, and she was sitting on my stomach as if I were her chair, and she suddenly stood up and took three steps toward Claire. I then got her to repeat the move a couple more times so Kyle would believe me. Yeah Molly! I am feeling so lucky that I witnessed all three kids' first steps. It's a very exciting moment for me to see the concept click in their little heads.

The twins are already asleep for the night (I barely saw them today, which does make me sad) and Claire should fall asleep the minute her head hits the pillow. The goal is to have her exhausted by bedtime every day this week so she sleeps on track and she's not up until 11pm on Christmas Eve. We've had too many late nights and late mornings recently.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's Too Cold Outside

Yesterday Papa came over for a Sam's Club trip (he does a once yearly trip for his office Christmas party), and he bought me a big package of raspberries and blackberries. I made a cobbler today with them. Yum. The recipe is a bit different because it bakes in a pie pan, but it's honestly a cobbler. Photo posted here.

Today it is about 8 degrees with 25 below wind chills. I am refusing to leave the house (hence all the time to bake cobblers and start dinner already). The babies are napping and my mom braved the cold to drop off Christmas presents, so she's here and playing with Claire. They're being too loud as always, and I believe they've awakened Lily already.

Tomorrow is Claire's first ice skating attempt! She starts her week of ice skating "lessons" - four 30-minute lessons in total this week - so we'll see what she thinks. Tomorrow I'll post some photos of her skating.

Today's other photos are of the twins playing in a more "grown up" way - they were actually, sort of, playing "pretend kitchen" this morning, and a photo of Claire's whiteboard drawing (Claire took the photo herself). See if you can find her stars, houses, cars, hopscotch, and pumpkins. Her drawings are actually improving. She made a mental leap in the last month and her drawings are becoming more realistic.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Christmas Program

Tonight was Claire's first (and our first) Christmas program. The whole day was focused around getting kid schedules to mesh with the nighttime program, which meant baths and an early dinner and a late, long nap to make sure everyone was in a good mood. We accomplished it all. Unfortunately, because of a squirmy Molly (always a squirmy, inquisitive Molly), I didn't see much of the program - I was concentrated on keeping her from screaming and getting in the way of everyone. Lily was relatively low key through the event, but she is never as boldly inquisitive as her twin. Lily stays close by a parent, whereas Molly takes on the world.

A couple photos from the event posted here, including one of the twins getting to eat cookies at the event. Molly has taken to "winking" or squinting at us in every photo, and we have no idea why.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Earaches, Continued

For a wonderful back-to-back after-hours clinic event, Kyle took Lily into the clinic last night where they confirmed (as I suspected would happen) that the 10 days of Omnicef didn't help and she's now on 10 days of Augmentin for her darned ears. That's 20 straight days of antibiotics for Lily, 16 days for Molly, and 10 for Claire. If I had been smarter I should have requested an ear check for Lily Sunday afternoon when I took them all for Claire's ear check, but she wasn't yet acting cranky. I'll know for next time, though I'm hoping there's no next time and that tubes will cure us of this earache hell.

Today it snowed. Kyle left the house at 9am and returned at nearly 10pm. That means I had a 13-hour day of kids, no break, no help, nothing. Kyle left the impression this morning that preschool was likely closed, and at the last minute I second guessed him only to find out that school was not cancelled. I literally woke Claire up at 8:49am and had her to school at 9:10 - that meant breakfast in the car, along with screaming twins, out of sorts from the (scary) snow and the unusual routine for the morning. They really are routine freaks. Anything out of the norm makes them anxious. It was a frantic half an hour, and the roads were slick, and I didn't like having my entire brood in the car under the circumstances. I then had to turn around and pick Claire up at 11:30am under similar conditions, though it seemed the extra traffic on the roads had helped a little by then.

I was excruciatingly busy with work today, so I had to balance kids and the job as well as I could. The twins napped all afternoon - I forced them to skip the morning nap so they were wiped - but Claire was bored and after much pleading she did her best to entertain herself so I could work.

Dinner (without Kyle's help) went reasonably well but the after-dinner stretch wasn't very much fun. Both Molly and Lily were tired and crying and I tried my best to ignore them and get the kitchen cleaned. Again, Claire had to entertain herself while I cleaned and then got the twins down for the night. Claire said at dinner "at least I got to go to school today, it's a lot funner than this". After I corrected her on the word 'funner', I told her I was doing my best but one adult and three kids isn't always a good ratio.

And now I'm numb with exhaustion, so good night.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dance Show and More Earaches

Saturday morning was Claire's last tap & ballet class of the session, so family members were invited in to watch a "show". It wasn't a true recital (no costumes, no stage), but the kids got to experience a little stage fright. I've posted some photos here. The whole family went along (Molly was a handful!), and then we had lunch, but then the kids and I were confined to home while Kyle worked for the afternoon and the twins napped.

For a little weather trivia today, the temperature here has dropped more than 40 degrees since lunchtime (and it's now snowing). I believe it was around 60 degrees earlier in the day, and now it's in the teens. Brrrr. This wouldn't be significant, except for trivia purposes, had Claire not mentioned on the phone to my mother that she had an earache. It was 4:40pm. That's 20 minutes until the after-hours clinic closes. Ahhhhhhhh! I'm actually trusting Claire's pain judgment now, so without a second's pause, I raced to pack up three kids - without coats - into the car, sped to the clinic, and got there with eight minutes to spare. The door was locked. While Molly screamed and Claire whimpered from the cold (the wind chill must have made it about zero degrees), I had to call directory assistance, get connected to the clinic, and then have the door opened. The clinic staff wasn't happy to see us. For punishment, they left us in a room for 40 minutes ... despite being the only patient in the building ... so I dealt with a very squirmy, whiny, hungry Molly while I waited on the doctor to confirm Claire's earache. Yes, she has one, and might even have strep but we didn't even confirm that knowing the antibiotics would cover her.

It's never ending.

Imagine my disgust when I learned that Kyle heard about a possible earache at 8am this morning, when we could have taken care of the issue earlier in the day without the stress of one person taking three kids in during subzero temperatures. He just dismissed her comment and never said a word to me. Clearly he isn't trusting Claire's pain judgment yet. Sigh.

So I officially racked up more doctor's hours for the week - just what I needed!

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Week of Doctors

I've added it up, and I've spent about a full eight hours in the company of doctors this week. Maybe more. Obviously we've done two ear checks for the twins this week, and I had an ob/gyn visit. My ob/gyn listened to my list of gripes (some unrelated to female issues) and she was quite concerned when I hit on one about a dilated pupil and lightheadedness. She stared at my oversized pupil and said "you need to call your GP first thing in the morning about this". I took it seriously and followed her direction, because up until then I had overlooked the pupil thing as a sign of the stress and anxiety in my super busy life. My GP freaked and demanded I go into the ER ("it could be neurological" - "stress would affect both eyes"). I declined, and made a regular appointment, but I admit that I had the after-hours clinic doctor check my eyes last night at Molly's re-check appointment. I'm not one to be totally reckless with my health. I do have three young kids, you know. I also got a consult with an eye doctor/neurologist the day before Christmas.

But then this morning I saw the GP, and she was flummoxed by the "eye which isn't responding to light normally". She said it was "good I still have my vision" (ok, now that's never good to hear) and said it would be ok to wait until Dec. 24 as long as nothing changed. As luck would have it, I returned home for a conference call, at which point I started getting cloudy peripheral vision. I was terrified. I'm going blind! I'm dying! I called the GP back, told her what was going on, and she said "find the eye doctor today or go to the ER". I tracked down a different neurologist/eye doc, whose office recommended I go to the KU Med ER to meet its resident there. What that actually meant is I got sucked into the ER system, spent hours waiting on doctors, and felt irritated by the slow progress on my eye that was going blind. I was lucky to have my friend accompany me for moral support (and for safe driving) as Kyle was home with the kids, so at least we got some good talk time today. Four hours in an ER can be hard to pass. Thank God for my friend and cell phones.

The short of it is that I have a tonic eye (one pupil naturally bigger than the other), but also my current symptoms are caused by a "migraine equivalent". In other words, I have no headache, no nausea, none of the usual migraine symptoms - but this is still a migraine somehow, and it just happens to be showing itself on the side of the head with the already larger pupil. So for two months or more now, I've been living with a daily migraine, unaware that my pupil weirdness and bouts of lightheadedness were caused by a migraine. The doctor said it's not worth treating (and I agree) unless it gets worse, but I should try to determine the 'trigger'. Hmmmm. Let me think. Hard.

Ah ha! I know the trigger! It's called stress. Yes, that incipient little thing that wraps around my crazy, 100 mile per hour life. I think that's the culprit. Anyone have a fix for that?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Another After-Hours Clinic Visit

Today I made an ENT appointment for the twins in early January, and it couldn't arrive soon enough. Tonight I had to take a very cranky Molly back to the after-hours clinic for an ear re-check, where I learned (as I guessed) that the Omnicef wasn't curing her earache so we're now on the high-powered Augmentin. I can't stand pumping antibiotics into them like this.

I had a low-key day, distracted and saddened by the death of Caleb, and worrying about the family's health as always. I don't think Claire got one single bit of decent attention from me and I feel guilty about that. At least she had school this morning, which was a break from the house for her.

Tonight we're supposed to start putting together Claire's doll house from Santa, just to make sure all the parts are there and in good shape so we have time for replacements before Christmas Day. We'll see if that happens. I first have to make sure she's fast asleep before pulling it out.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In Memory of Caleb

To Caleb, who helped me hone my early diapering skills: Godspeed to you. May you find the peace you were searching for.

Caleb is the younger brother of my friend. My friend (of 35 years) just let me know tonight that she buried her brother today. My friend and I are separated by too much distance and the busy-ness of life, and I know she didn't want to upset me (or my family), so I just found out this tragic news late tonight.

As very young girls, my friend and I would take care of Caleb - feed him, change his diapers (my first experience with diapers), comfort him, play with him. I remember on one "sleepover" night Caleb was crying and crying in the middle of the night, so I got him out of his crib and brought him to the bed with us. He might have been two years old. Looking back, I'm sure the parents were mortified I'd done this (they were probably teaching him to 'cry it out'), but I couldn't stand to hear him suffer. He told me he had had a bad dream.

Caleb was brilliant and funny and sweet. He leaves three young children (Charlie, Sam, and Bess) and a wife named Claire, and his sister, older brother, mother, and one niece and twin nephews. I envision Caleb and Wade (his father who passed too young also) making up for lost time.

And as a fellow mother, I wish Claire Herculean strength as she raises three kids by herself, and works to fill a deep hole left by their father's untimely death.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sleeping Success and Scary Snow

It's just past 8pm, and I put the twins down for the night in their room ... together ... for the third night in a row now. I'm downright flabbergasted - the transition has gone perfectly well the last two nights. I know there will be bad nights to come, but for now, I'm blown away by the ease at which they've adjusted to the new routine. Equally important, I had forgotten what it was like to have my "own" room I don't have to tiptoe around. I can read, watch tv, take a shower, brush my teeth - all the things I used to do before Molly took over my room. I'd like to say that I'm also amazed by my ability to get a full night's sleep too, but sadly, my sleep routine is in poor shape after exactly 23 months of not sleeping through the night. The first night we bunked the twins I had to get up at 5:45am to enroll Claire in the parks & rec classes. She is now in tap/ballet, gymnastics, and swimming (we'll be busy this winter, though not everything overlaps), but I didn't really fall back asleep after my early awakening for the enrollment. Last night I should have had a perfect night of sleep, but thanks to Molly training, I awoke at her usual 4am and struggled to get back to sleep for a while. I'm hoping tonight's the night where I sleep at least 8-9 hours straight.

During the day I let the twins nap in different rooms. I'm a firm believer that they are different people and need different amounts of sleep, so the separate rooms let them sleep as needed. With Lily up earlier now (she used to sleep about 1-2 hours longer at night than Molly), she actually took a Molly-length nap today - about three to four hours - so they napped about the same amount. Not a bad deal on a WFH day.

Today is our first significant snow. Snow totals are still forthcoming, and Kyle may or may not have to plow snow tonight. For a new experience, I let the twins play in the snow. One by one, I took them outside to touch it and tell them what it was called. Molly tried to imitate the word 'snow', which sounded like a drawn-out 'o'. They watched Claire cavort in the snow and make snow angels. They then begged to go out again, so I dressed them in snow bibs and coats and let them stand or sit in the snow, at which point they decided that snow was utterly terrifying and screaming was the right approach to handling the fear. I tried to calm them down to no avail, so I gave up and took them inside. Unfortunately, they were so rattled, they cried for another 10 minutes inside (shooting my blood pressure through the roof). I took some photos of them outside today and posted here.

The other picture is of the girls playing with toy strollers in the basement. Molly and Lily actually pushed each other in the strollers. Lily loves to sit and get pushed, and Molly likes pushing, but Molly does not like to sit in the stroller. It's a hoot to see them play like this together.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Earaches (Again) and Shared Sleeping Spaces

I hate being right about the sickness stuff, but here I am vindicated again with an earache diagnosis on Saturday for the twins (Lily's is worse than Molly's, but Molly feels the pain more). I knew with the ever-so-slight congestion that we were headed for earaches, so on Saturday, in anticipation of my friend's yearly Christmas party for which we actually had a babysitter (a once a year deal for us to get a babysitter for an evening out together), I proactively took the kids in at 4:15pm after some cranky behavior (I admit I shed some tears driving to the clinic over the wear and tear all this sickness crud takes on me/us). I got my diagnosis, dropped off the prescription, made dinner, and had the twins medicated (both with Omnicef and Motrin) and in bed by the time the nanny arrived. Claire and I had earlier rented the official Cinderella movie (Claire thought Blockbuster was fantastic - you can tell we don't do movie rentals), so she got to watch a movie before bedtime while Kyle and I went to the party. It always feels good to get out for a while.

I had one glass of wine, which is enough to make my head hurt, so you can imagine my despair when Molly woke me up at 4am and wouldn't settle back down until 6:30am. I wanted to cry. I tried to sleep in this morning but had four separate kid interruptions (thanks Kyle) so I didn't catch up on sleep. I'm a little numb I'm so tired. We also had a swimming birthday party this evening (one of Claire's neighbor friends turned 5) and Papa came over for lunch, so today was quite busy.

And tomorrow? Let's see ... I have to set an alarm for 5:45am to get settled at the computer so I can enroll Claire in tap/ballet and swimming classes. If I don't have her in the system within the first 5-7 minutes the spots are all taken. It's psycho - there are loads of Johnson County moms getting up at the crack of dawn tomorrow to enroll kids in parks & rec classes and I've become one of those strange people. Also, the nanny has finals this week, so we have no babysitter. As usual, I'm sacrificing myself a little by asking my boss for extra work-from-home flexibility to cover the gap, and while Kyle is supposed to willingly give me all the hours I need at work (even the full day if needed) he is still begging for additional work hours tomorrow beyond what I've promised him already. It's a never-ending battle we face every time a nanny is not available.

So what did I proactively do to make my night better tonight? I bunked the twins tonight. Yes, more than 14 months later, the twins are sharing a room together for the first time ever. Wow. And sad it's taken this long. I don't know how the night will go, but Kyle is on point to deal with Molly waking up and the expected domino effect of Lily awakening, so this should be an interesting night. At least I might sleep soundly (depending on how loudly they scream) until that darned alarm sounds off at 5:45am. You can bet I'll be straight back in bed as soon as the class enrollment is complete.

Good night!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Here We Go Again

With what seems like the 30th round already, Claire has kicked off a new round of family sickness with an over 100-degree fever. The twins will be following soon (my guess is middle of night tonight). Both Claire and Molly were awake in the middle of the night last night so none of us are well rested. This will continue tonight. I proactively dosed Molly with Motrin (as she's a bad sleeper when sick) and Claire is already due for another dose of Motrin but she is asleep currently. Lily's nose is starting to run, so we'll have the usual earaches/after-hours clinic visit in due time. I think we'll see an ENT this winter just to see if tubes might help the twins.

So Claire is missing two days of preschool this week and I'm getting a full dose of kids - and a sick one in the mix - while trying to work at home. Not so fun.

I'm off to bed now so I might get a little sleep before Molly wakes me up.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Separated At Birth

Last night I attended a book talk/book signing of female authors who are identical twins but were separated at birth and adopted by different families for a "nature vs nurture" study. They finally met when they were 35 years old. It was very interesting, and caused me to feel a wide range of emotions while listening to them talk about the experience. Mostly, I feel sadness for them. They've only been in contact for about 4 1/2 years now (in fact, last night one of the twins met the other twins' brother for the first time), and their friendship and also awkwardness with each other was on full display. A fascinating story. Some day when I have more time in my life I'll read the book.

Molly woke me up at 3:30am and never really let me go back to sleep. It was a horrid night and I'm not sure how I functioned today. I fully admit that I'm not doing the right thing by her (and me) by having her in my room and allowing her to demand help in settling herself back down in the middle of the night. The molar thing isn't helping - she has three in and maybe the last one coming in - but more than the molars she's been taught that she can get help in the middle of the night so I have created a kid with major sleeping issues. Now I have to unwind this mistake and fix it. I need to think through whether the twins will finally be bunked in the same room or whether Molly will get the guest room. Ideally she would be transitioned into her own bed in the twins' room, and yet we're afraid to do that and interrupt Lily's perfect nighttime sleeping. My indecision on this point keeps this interim Molly-in-the-playpen-in-my-room thing going on so I just need to force a decision. No matter what we decide, we'll have a bad month of sleep while everyone settles into the new routine ... and I'm certainly dreading that.

On that note, I'm going to watch weather now and go to bed and pray Molly sleeps through the night.

Oh, and on a postscript note here, Claire pulled the stocking hanger down on her head and gave herself a bump and a scratch last night while I was at the book talk. Lovely. I guess next time she'll take our warning seriously about not touching the stockings.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fully Decorated

We're Christmas'ed up now. Fully decorated. Tree is done, mantle is done. And Claire continued to be hyper all day (from Christmas excitement) but she did note that the decorating took a while and could get a little boring.

I saw my first movie in over 5 years last night! My friend and I went to a late-night movie after kids were in bed. We saw "The Secret Life of Bees", with all of eight women in the theatre. A good chick flick, but more importantly, a couple hours of pure mind escape. I had forgotten the value of movies for that escapism factor.

Back to work tomorrow, with no more vacation time until closer to Christmas. I'm sure the nanny will have fun keeping the twins out of the Christmas decorations (though you'll note in my photos here that we did put up the gate around the tree).

Photos today are of the Christmas tree, mantle, Claire's personal tree (she gets to decorate it as she likes, with no help from us), and two funny photos of the twins at breakfast. In one, Lily has Molly's favorite empty Motrin bottle and Molly is desperate to get it back; in the other, they are looking at Kyle/the camera in a way that made me laugh.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Holiday Traditions Education

Today Claire and I spent about 8 hours working on a gingerbread house (the long length of time is due to particular parts having to dry for a few hours before other parts can be added) - a first for both of us. We worked from a kit (hey, I don't have time to do this stuff from scratch) but had to improvise quite a bit because of my lack of gingerbread house-making skills. It's tough! It's actually more fun than I expected, but my icing was always the wrong consistency, making the job hard. And it's messy. Very messy.

We also made it to McDonald's for lunch (I needed a break from the kitchen), so I bundled up the kids and walked despite the cold outside. The babies skipped the morning nap and then napped all afternoon, giving us considerable time to work on the gingerbread house. My mom also came over for her belated holiday visit, and she showed me how to cook "turkey hash", a Thanksgiving holiday family tradition. She stayed for dinner and was able to help for a few minutes with the gingerbread house (which was not completed until 9:15pm tonight).

So I learned about gingerbread houses and turkey hash preparation today. Claire might have learned a few things too.

Kyle purchased our Christmas tree this year (a little skinny, but not bad otherwise), so he was prepping the tree for the house after dinner tonight. Claire is just now going to bed at 10:30pm thanks to her "assistance" with the gingerbread house and the Christmas tree. We will decorate tomorrow. Tonight Kyle is troubleshooting a leak which seems to be from our Christmas tree base. I've told him to make a Wal-Mart run now (it's open 24 hours) to save our floors from standing water but I know he's averse to these late-night trips out of the house. Once he's settled at home in the evenings he despises leaving. I'm the opposite - I usually look for reasons to leave!

News flash: Kyle says the stand isn't leaking now. Hmmmm, we'll see.

Tomorrow there's no tap class. I'm hoping to get a reasonable sleep in. Molly woke me up at 3am last night, right in the middle of this amazingly deep sleep. For the first time, I gave up after an hour of trying to calm her back down. I got Kyle and traded bedrooms with him. I thought I'd sleep well in the guest room, but instead, the "newness" of the room bothered me and I slept just as poorly as if I'd stayed with Molly. I can't win! So I need to catch up on a few hours of sleep. Starting now.

Good night.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

To all, a Happy Thanksgiving. Claire told us she is thankful for toys. I am thankful for the health of my family members, which always feels so tenuous.

I cooked last night and all of today for four unappreciative seeming people in my family (we had no extended family join us today, so it seemed like quite a waste of extreme effort). The kids didn't like the meal and Kyle never appreciates the effort it takes. Nevertheless, despite the letdown, I'm bloated with the usual Thanksgiving fare - turkey, gravy, stuffing, roasted carrots, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, regular mashed potatoes, and yeast rolls. And I haven't even eaten a piece of my chocolate chip pecan pie yet. My back and feet ache from standing in a kitchen all day so I deserve that piece of pie even if I'm not hungry for it.

Photos are of our dinner tonight, with some specific food shots. I didn't achieve my mom's mastery of the gravy process but it turned out pretty decent. I overcooked the turkey a little, but no worse than the average American did today. All in all, I put a decent meal on the table even if it was meaningless to the family.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

14 Months!

Forgot to mention the twins turned 14 months today!

And here's a photo of Lily being a girlie girl. Honestly, it isn't a posed photo - she put this stuff on herself.

Oh, and Molly had me up from the minute I tried to go to bed last night (about midnight) to 2am - so I'm keeping my fingers crossed we don't have a repeat tonight. I've had two late nights in a row and I'm getting too tired to enjoy my vacation time. At least my Christmas shopping for the kids is finished. Thank you,

Thanksgiving Party

Claire's preschool had a Thanksgiving party this morning. Somehow, people ate turkey and the usual side dishes at 10:45am in the morning. Yuck. It was a potluck, and I took a green bean casserole, and instead of eating I let the squirmy twins crawl around on the (dirty) floor while Kyle and Claire ate at the table.

What this outing did, however, was make the twins super tired, so they slept the entire afternoon. This trashed my plans to get the kids out today on my vacation day. Instead, Claire and I were stuck inside and I ended up enrolling her in a few classes: a singular hour-long painting/glazing class for Dec. 19, a short science class in February, and a 4-session ice skating class over Christmas week. Claire was bored out of her mind while she watched me choose these classes. I wish we had been able to get out of the house and enjoy our day a little more.

I also figured out I'm on point to do a Thanksgiving dinner now - for just the five of us - now that extended family members suddenly changed plans today. So I rushed out to HyVee for all the Thanksgiving items and got that done tonight after dinner. I had to do some quick menu planning and think through some make-ahead dishes so I'm not stuck frantically cooking all day on Thursday.

Today's photos are from the preschool's Thanksgiving party.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Busy Sunday

Claire and I had a busy day today. I didn't get to sleep in much (thanks to kid interruptions), so I spent the morning getting a "real" shower (as opposed to those 5-minute ones during the week) and then Claire and I had lunch at Waffle House. After that, we went to the mall to cash in my birthday gift certificate on some wonderfully comfortable, but stylish, shoes from Nordstrom's, picked out a few more charms for Claire's charm bracelet, made a stop by Mrs. Field's cookies for a snack, and then went home, picked up Kyle and the twins, and went to the "dirt mall" (the low-end mall) to Burlington Coat Factory to pick out a coat for Claire. She and Molly were both incredibly impatient with that mall trip (Molly demanded to be held or allowed to crawl around on dirty store floors, while Claire got grumpy about trying on 10 different coats). Lily was perfectly behaved. We returned home, and soon afterwards Papa arrived for dinner. Papa and I picked up food at Dean & Deluca for dinner and then we had some play time with kids afterwards. Claire was noticeably jealous when Papa paid attention to her sisters. She also threw a class-act tantrum when Kyle made her go to bed and Papa was still in the house. She's exhausted (but somehow still playing in her room upstairs now).

Photos today are from the play time with Papa and Claire tonight, where we were laughing at the static Claire's hair was picking up from the plastic climbing equipment.

Tomorrow I'm working a few hours in the morning and then taking the rest of the week off! I'm still having the nanny work this week so I can get some Christmas (Santa) shopping done and catch a small break for myself, a rare delight during the daytime.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Molly's Molars and the Mother Machine

I was up from 1am-4:30am last night, thanks to Molly getting her second molar. And I just completed 12 hours straight with kids so I am beyond wiped. I also accomplished (in addition to this morning's dance class) a grocery trip and the fixing of a massive amount of spaghetti sauce. I started cooking at 1:30pm and ended at 6:30pm. I also organized Claire's artwork today. Sometimes, I don't know how I do it.

Back on the topic of molars - if the last round were any indicator, it looks as though tonight and Sunday night will be awful. I've warned Kyle he's on Molly duty tonight when she wakes up at 1am again. I can't keep doing this. I've been a little lightheaded the past few days and I'm wondering if it's exhaustion.

Today, as I noted, we had our usual Saturday dance class, and then we joined Lauren and her family for lunch afterwards, did the HyVee trip, and Kyle had to work today so I had kid duty and cooking duty all afternoon. As long as I was stuck at home today I thought I might as well make it worthwhile, so I doubled the spaghetti sauce recipe for lasagna tonight and froze the remaining for other nights for a quick dinner. And I did some organizing and a lady stopped by and bought a couple of our bigger baby items (the activity center and one bouncy seat). I made a quick $65 today. I love Craig's List.

Claire begged me to read her a bedtime story (a duty I've passed to Kyle for nearly two years now) and I agreed so when I left her room at 9:12pm I realized I'd been with kids for 12 hours straight without one tiny little break. Sigh.

Yesterday was a big milestone day. Lily decided to walk! I consider her 'officially' walking now because she voluntarily decides to walk at particular moments, and while she's very unsteady, she can actually go a small distance. When she falls, she usually resorts to crawling, but sometimes she gets back up and tries to walk again. In my mind, that's real walking. She's made the mental connection that walking upright is the next thing to perfect.

The cutest thing that has happened this week is one morning, when Molly saw Lily for the first time (Molly wakes up hours ahead of Lily generally), she crawled up to her and said "Hi!". I wish I had it on film.

Today's photos: Molly crawling up the stairs (her new favorite game - she makes a break for it any time she sees the chance), the twins looking outside at Claire and the neighbor friend today, and playing in Claire's room tonight before bedtime.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Oh Where Oh Where Has My Empathy Gone

I was at least 40 minutes late to work and got busted today by the boss. I wouldn't have been busted except my "out of office" alert left over from yesterday's time off ended up cluing him into the fact that I hadn't gotten into work yet to turn it off. Ugggg. Totally my mistake. After getting up with Molly at 6:40am, I handed her off to Kyle about 7:10am and got back in bed for a catnap. That "catnap" ended up being hard sleep, and I woke up to the sound of the nanny's voice in my house at 8:30am. Ooops. It just indicates my sheer exhaustion.

And the exhaustion continues thanks to today. I had an afternoon of meetings - another one of those hours long "All Hands" meetings, along with a customer call, and a chili potluck for lunch - and when I finally got home tonight, I learned that Claire was saying her ear hurt. Everything seemed low key as the nanny left, but the minute Kyle walked in the door Claire erupted in obnoxious crying that wouldn't stop (she goes to him for comfort now; I'm the tough love mother). I thought it would be good for us if I took her to the clinic, thinking she'd calm down and she would see that I too could be compassionate and loving when she felt bad, but that ended up being the worst idea I've had in months. Claire cried the entire time at the clinic. She wouldn't stop. She made a complete scene, and it was that awful half fake crying/moaning thing with occasional outbursts of screaming, and I literally had to deep breathe not to take my kid's head off in a doctor's office. It turned out to be a very ugly scene - frustrating, embarrassing, irritating, and disappointing.

She has an earache (one side only). The doctor said it looked bad and likely hurts a lot, but my lord, it didn't require such drama. The clinic now sells antibiotics - yipee! - so I paid $15 extra for immediate gratification and no trip to and wait at the drugstore. That's well worth the upcharge.

Claire was completely chipper upon returning home, which sent me into fits. I couldn't be around her. I got lucky with a surprise post-birthday visit from a friend (who dropped off deliciously evil chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons), and the brief conversation cooled my jets and all the kids were in bed by the time I stepped back inside the house. I lost myself in CSI: NY so I could forget the hell of my evening.

I had a brief conversation with Kyle about 'meeting in the middle' in terms of our compassion for the kids - the 'good cop/bad cop' routine isn't working for me. Kyle is overly syrupy with them, which makes me overcompensate with tough love (super tough love) so that we don't create wimpy whiny kids, but it's an awful position to be in when I see my kids go for their dad for compassion versus me. Aren't women supposed to be the empathetic, compassionate caregivers? I feel like a failure as a mom, and I feel I've been put in this position by having to balance his over permissiveness during sick/hurt moments, so I asked him to add in some tough love so I could begin to add in some compassion. I think we'll both be the better parent for it, and the kids won't get such mixed signals either. We'll see if any of this happens. For the moment, I'm still the Mean Mom Who Doesn't Care When Her Kids Are Sick. Just ask Claire.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me

The other night I wore a t-shirt to bed that came from my sorority days, one of those party favors, an oversized thing with graphics on the back and the party event and date mentioned on the front. It said 1991. I realized that meant I was actually in college 17 years ago. I was surprised by that for some reason. So I shouldn't have been surprised that my cake had "36" noted on it today, but I still felt a little, uh, ooooold tonight. I'm not afraid of aging by any means - I think it's a badge of honor, with the aged person being bestowed with the gift of life wisdom - but I guess I'm surprised by how quickly 36 years has passed. Or at least how quickly life has passed since I had kids.

I had a nice birthday. The kids were great, the visit at Lauren's house was nice, and we got everyone out for dinner. I came home to cake and birthday presents (noted in pictures, with Claire's handwritten gift tag in the pic), got the kids to bed, and then picked up my twin mom friend and had a glass of wine. Aaaaaaaah. Not a bad day at all.

Here's to hoping my 36th year is a little easier than my 35th was.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Molars and Middle of Night Wakings

Molly is getting a molar. Just one. This has caused her to wake up in the middle of the night for the past three nights for anywhere from 2 hours to 3 1/2 hours. I'm exhausted. This is only her first molar, so I realize I'll go through this another three times when the others appear. Sigh.

I have a feeling tonight will be the fourth night she puts me through the same routine.

This week our schedule is a little different. Sunday, yesterday, we tried to enjoy a quick family shopping outing but Molly didn't handle it well. We returned home. Today was an office day - peaceful and easy. Tomorrow is a dentist appointment for Claire so she will miss school. It's also my birthday, so I'm taking the afternoon off, and the plan (so far) is to take Claire (and the twins) over to Lauren's house to play for a little while. Lauren's face was badly burned by hot olive oil off the stove - a very scary story - so she's been out of school and at home healing. Her mom wanted her to have some friend time tomorrow. Claire got to see Lauren's burned face at dance class this past Saturday and she handled it beautifully. She barely noticed and said Lauren looked great. I, on the other hand, felt brokenhearted for Lauren's mother, knowing the mom guilt she is going through.

Lily took about 4-5 steps tonight, so she actually made some walking progress. Molly is currently scaring me because I'm afraid she got a small drink of Lysol cleaning wipe "juice" - I was letting her hold the container while I changed her diaper before bed, and before I knew it she was sucking on the top. I hope nothing seeped out. I've already (obsessively) checked on her twice since she went to sleep. Kids. Accidents. It's just inevitable, but scary.

The photos are from the McDonald's outing yesterday - Kyle took the kids to breakfast and allowed me to sleep in after all the nighttime waking issues.