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.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I'm so glad it's Friday - it has felt like a long week. I was in the office the full 2 1/2 days this week. I cooked dinner four nights (well, tonight was leftovers, but I still prepped the dinner). I did all the kid's laundry today, which took all afternoon and evening. And today I didn't get more than half an hour's break from kids between 9am and 8pm - that's 11 straight hours of kids. I'm wiped.

I also didn't get enough sleep this week because I was determined to finish Newsweek's election coverage issue. I finished it officially at 9pm tonight, and it's a good read. Who knew that both campaign's systems were hacked (by maybe the Russians or the Chinese)?

So on that note, I'm off to bed early now. Tomorrow is tap & ballet class and a few errands, though the weather is going to be frightfully cold. We might be better off staying inside and finishing the closet clean out for the donation to Goodwill.

A couple kid notes:

Molly has already decided to try a few tentative steps (1-2 steps) after recently standing by herself. Lily is up to maybe 3-4 steps when coaxed, but refuses to consider walking a good way to maneuver around.

Claire's humor has really matured. After picking up spaghetti at our favorite spaghetti restaurant last week, the conversation at the dinner table went like this:

Kyle - "so was the restaurant busy tonight?"
Me - "yes, it was packed"
Claire [without missing a beat] - "like a suitcase"

Ha ha! Now don't get her into telling Knock Knock jokes - her versions are horrible!

Monday, November 10, 2008

And Now Lily

Yes, and now Lily has the double earache. We figured it out at 9:20pm, and after much argument, I convinced Kyle to take Lily to the clinic for the final diagnosis. It's just past 10pm, we dosed her with Molly's meds and Motrin and he's putting her back to bed. Tomorrow we'll get her prescription. Though it was a minor crisis tonight, it was a major crisis averted as we have avoided an awful night of sleep for Lily and at least one parent.

Did I mention that the sickness thing won't stop? This is my proof.

Just shoot me.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Fall Photo Shoot

As far as photo shoots go with 13-month-old twins and a 4-year-old, it could have gone a lot worse. We engineered the twins' naps perfectly this morning so we'd have a good hour or two for afternoon photos without a baby meltdown, and we made sure everyone was fed and happy before the pictures. Claire, in fact, was the least cooperative child, because she wanted to run around outside and play rather than pose for photos. The twins did quite well but were very squirmy.

The weather turned out to be sunny and nearly 50 degrees, so we were able to be outside without coats without kids crying about the cold. Yesterday was cold and damp and very overcast so I felt extremely lucky we got today's weather.

I think we got some good ones, but we've yet to see the results. And this is tough on someone like me who likes instant gratification with photos. Soon the photographer will send us a link to view our photos privately on her website and I'm counting the hours already.

Papa came over for dinner tonight, and we had a nice dinner of Asian take-out (who has time to cook with an entire day dedicated to the photo shoot?) and the babies were in a pretty good mood even after today's excitement. Claire was ramped up and the chocolate after dinner didn't help. Claire beat Papa at Candy Land but I think Papa let her cheat.

Today's photo shows a now-normal kitchen scene: Molly raiding the pantry for the Teddy Grahams and Lily just standing. Not walking, but standing. Molly actually hit a milestone last night when she stood and balanced on her own for the first time. The race is on! Who will walk first? Lily should win, but her walking progress has stagnated, so maybe Molly will move out ahead of her sister.

Tomorrow: back to the office and a short break from the kids after all the sick time at home last week.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Honey I Put The Kids In A Bubble

I wish I could stick the kids in a bubble sometimes. After more than a month of sick kid hell, I want to quarantine them and keep them well and have a few moments of sanity. The past three days have been insane. Molly has cried nonstop, and after her sleeping pattern changed, I knew what the problem was. Tonight I took her to the after-hours clinic, listened to her scream furiously for over an hour while we waited for the doctor, and got the diagnosis I expected: a double earache. This is just like sister Lily's most recent earache, where no real head cold was apparent, but enough drainage had caused the earache. Parents take heed: earaches can occur without a head cold.

So this explains the evil baby behavior. I should have taken her to the clinic sooner - both for her sanity and mine. I was super busy with work since Wednesday, both because I was catching up from not working Tuesday and because I'm fighting through another work issue, so it was immensely stressful trying to work and care for a screaming baby (and two other needy kids). I've been a little frantic. Besides, I've slept poorly because Molly has slept poorly, so that hasn't helped my stress level.

Tomorrow should be a new day. We hope. The pink medicine has saved us again.

Even without an earache, Molly has definitely shifted into toddler behavior mode. She is feisty, angry, temperamental, and already throws tantrums by throwing herself on the floor. At 13 months. Huh? I didn't know this was possible at such a young age. Lily, in contrast, is turning out to be spastic and hyper when happy, but much milder in temperament (a total flip flop on temperaments from their infant days). The difference between Molly and Lily is that Molly gets angry whereas Lily gets her feelings hurt. It's a striking difference.

Molly, therefore, has become quite high maintenance recently. She can be exhausting. On the other hand, she also gives back a lot. She is the cuddliest baby I've ever had, needing constant physical reassurance (which is both endearing and tiring). She is also amazingly observant and is learning words at light speed. A few nights ago, during dinner, the babies had gotten messy with whatever food they were eating. Kyle offhandedly looked at Molly and said, "do you want a bath tonight?" (mind you, Molly loves nothing more than baths - she screams when you take her out of the tub). Molly immediately pushed herself back from the table and tried to unbuckle her safety strap while smiling ear to ear and looking toward upstairs. It was downright hysterical and made Kyle and me immediately laugh. Lily didn't comprehend one bit of the exchange, another striking difference between them.

Lily, as I said, has gotten quite spastic and hyper when she's happy, throwing herself around the floor for fun (her uncle noted we must put her in gymnastics as soon as possible). She continues to be overly active - though still refusing to walk - and other than occasionally sitting in your lap (just to practice the ability to maneuver herself into your lap) she doesn't much care for physical reassurance. She just wants to move. But she's mild all day, and content just to keep herself moving, and doesn't take much effort other than an occasional meal or diaper change. She's getting the short end of the stick right now due to both Molly and Claire's need for attention, but others remind me to forget the guilt and instead be happy that I don't have both twins being high maintenance right now. I just worry that Lily's lack of vocabulary can be linked to the current lack of attention, but I suppose she'll catch up some day.

Tomorrow is tap & ballet class, which was missed last weekend because of the vomiting, and lots of errands because we are getting ready for a family photo shoot on Sunday. It's Christmas card time!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Virulent Virus

I have a perfectly acceptable reason for my lapse in posts. The Halloween weekend puke fest took Kyle and me out too. First Molly, then Lily, then Claire, then my mom, then Kyle, then the visiting Uncle, then me, and today I rushed home to relieve the nanny who felt it all coming on. So that is 8 out of 9 people who got this horrid awful thing. Only the visiting Aunt is still standing. It's a good thing Papa cancelled on his weekend visit otherwise he would have been another victim.

This virus just hangs with you. I came down with it Monday night at 11pm (after going to work that day and leaving a sick Kyle in the basement with the nanny taking care of the kids upstairs), was up every hour through the night, but thanked the heavens it happened once kids were asleep. Tuesday I stayed home, on the couch, and felt horrible all day. Today I'm at about 80% but my stomach is still feeling funky and I'm weak from not eating very much. I now understand why the twins are just now getting their appetites back. Claire, Kyle, and I are still barely eating.

I did not go to work today. I felt too weak. Instead, I spent the morning spraying every germy surface of our home with Lysol - this is my version of fumigating our house - hoping to keep the nanny from getting sick (clearly that failed because I put her in the hot seat on Monday). This afternoon the nanny showed up to help while I left the house to conduct a few conference calls from my car. I only made it through one call when I got the SOS text message from the nanny that she was starting to feel bad. I rushed home, sent her on her way (with many apologies), and had to keep Claire quiet and occupied while I finished working and joined another conference call. I bribed her with bubble gum. I admit it. I'm still playing catch up from not working Tuesday so I was busier than usual. I was lucky the babies napped for a couple hours this afternoon.

All I can say is that it is hellish to have five out of five family members get so sick in such quick succession. We have had a household full of stress and frustration. I can't stand times like this.

While I'd like to be an optimist, I never am, so realistically speaking with winter approaching I know we have a tough road ahead for the next few months. We'll get sick again and again and struggle through all of it. It would be nice if we could learn how to do it with a little less stress around the house.

The photos from today were actually taken by the nanny on Monday. Lily was napping so there are no photos of her in the bunch. The nanny did a nice job.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Cinderella and the Stomach Flu

I must post the requisite Halloween photos of Claire (of course she chose to be Cinderella, her current obsession). We should have had a very exciting weekend - Aunt & Uncle were in town (my sister/brother-in-law) - and Friday started out that way. But by Saturday morning Claire had come down with the stomach flu and proceeded to vomit her way through the whole day. Auntie and Uncle got the heck out of dodge and went to see Papa (I don't blame them!) and I hunkered down with the twins while Kyle was on puke duty. It was just one disgusting day.

The twins both vomited one time - Molly once Thursday morning (which we thought was random, but now realize it wasn't), and Lily woke up at 1:50am Friday night/Saturday morning and had thrown up all over her bed. Kyle had to clean up and get her settled back down. Molly heard the commotion (not to mention an overly sleepy Kyle came in to get the wrong baby and picked Molly up instead of Lily), and she then kept me awake for over two hours until she could get back to sleep. So we were exhausted yesterday.

I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that my sister, brother-in-law, and I avoid the stomach bug - if my sister gets it, I don't think she'll ever visit us again.

Today our visitors left early so we have the whole day to get Claire out of the house now that she's feeling better. I need a break from the sick den myself.