Monday, June 29, 2009

Another Thud


As I predicted, Lily took another tumble out of bed. She just couldn't help herself from trying it again (fortunately, she was not hurt this time either). So tonight, the crib tent was installed (photo shows Kyle unsuccessfully trying to calm down a spastic Lily). She is terrified of it, and is screaming upstairs as I write this. It's all so fascinating, because Claire loved the crib tent including the first night she slept in it. Lily is just not good with change. Not at all. And I fully admit my fuse tends to be short with kids who cannot adjust to something new within a reasonable amount of time. Lily loves to hang her feet and arms out of the bed, through the slats of the crib, and this crib tent removes that access (which I think is great, because she wakes herself up screaming from cranking a leg between the slats when she turns over in her sleep). But I can imagine how she's upstairs right now panicking because she can't soothe herself to sleep in the normal hang-her-legs-and-arms-out-of-the-bed manner. We'll see how many nights it takes her to accept the new sleeping arrangement, but at least we have peace of mind that she won't be breaking any bones from bed falls.

The sixteen-year-old babysitter watched the kids today and seemed to do an excellent job. Other than Claire drinking half a Coke (oh yes, my child lied and told "Sam" she is allowed Coke if her behavior is good), I have no complaints. The aftermath of a new sitter, however, is always awful - the kids go into full meltdown as soon as the new person leaves. Molly went first, then Claire, and of course now Lily although admittedly Lily's meltdown is unrelated to the sitter. So we've had an awful string of tantrums and screaming from each kid tonight. Who said change was easy?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Responsibility


Raising kids is an overwhelming, never-ending, life-altering responsibility. Most of the time I focus on the day-to-day to keep myself from obsessing about the long-term responsibility. The problem is, every once in a while a simple image jolts me back to the reality that I do have three kids to shepherd to adulthood. This was my experience today, staring at the shoes grouped together against the wall. And today, after getting too mad at Claire for her tantrum about taking toys into my car (which I don't like), I will obsess about what life lessons I am teaching.

A Morning At Antioch Park





The girls and I had a fun morning at Antioch Park, and I braved Waffle House for lunch again. For some reason, this is the only restaurant where Molly isn't making a public scene right now, and I certainly appreciate her choosing our favorite grease joint for decent public behavior.

Photos are from the morning outing. The twins are napping now and I've got to work on the babysitter document for the interim babysitter who is coming to meet us tomorrow afternoon. Claire is begging for attention, but I don't know when else this document will get done.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Stifling Day



Poor Lily. She has that pathetic wet-dog look, with the pouty lip and all. When I snapped the photo, she was on her fourth time out for continuing to drink dirty water table water, and she wasn't happy. I think she totaled five time outs over the exact same issue. She doesn't like to listen.

And she's 21 months today (Molly too, of course). I just RSVP'd for the "NICU Reunion" at the hospital in August, our first reunion event, which makes for a good "then and now" comparison. Nearly two years later, I still haven't come to grips with Lily's bad start, and still, at times, expect a delayed shoe to fall.

On another note, today was super busy. Work continues to be insanely busy, so the kids got limited mom time today. Our biggest issue, though, was that Kyle stopped our air conditioning unit from working (thinking he was "fixing" it last night - instead he froze the line) so the stifling heat in the house all day was unbearable. Kyle tried fixing it again tonight, and the house is trying to cool itself now, but at nearly midnight our house temperature is hovering around 85 degrees. We won't sleep well.

At 4pm, I decided the 90-something degree heat outdoors was basically matching our indoor temperature, so I got the kids playing in water on the patio to cool everyone down. All the kids also had cool baths tonight to help with the heat. Which begs the question: how did people function in the days before central A/C?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rescue Plans

I work toward calm predictability. My household is happier for it. However, I fell far short of it yesterday and today. Monday night, before the twins' bedtime, I took the three kids for a walk to the park. Though the heat index had hit 105 degrees that day, I thought the activity would be good. They had a blast, and kept walking, and walking, and walking. Suddenly, we were on a good 1-1.5 mile walk from the house. Without a stroller. I realized this would go south at some point, and it did. I called in an SOS to Kyle to bring a stroller or car, but he ended up being unreachable. So I had sweating, tired, thirsty, crying twins with only one parent and a long walk ahead of us. I picked up Molly (the crying one), held Lily by the hand and dragged her along, and Claire trailed behind whining about how thirsty she was. I was drenched and my arms were shaking from holding a baby for so long, but we trudged along, with no rescue plan after all. Finally, a neighbor spotted us, took pity on us, and carried Molly home while I carried Lily home. She told me a story about the time she was stranded in the summer when her three girls were young kids. She knew.

Clearly it was my mistake for misjudging the twins' walking stamina, but it never feels good when there's no safety net, no rescue plan to fall back on.

And then tonight I get an informative text from the nanny that she can't work on Monday, so I asked if she would trade Monday for Tuesday, and she reminds me that she's off to Europe for three weeks starting on Tuesday, don't I remember?

And I should have remembered. But she told me more than two months ago, and I committed "late July/early August" to memory (not late June/early July), and she hasn't reminded me since her initial email from two months ago, so I blindsided myself (with her help) on this one. I went into panic mode - how would we handle three weeks of no nanny starting on Monday?

And then last year's summer nanny rescued me. I sent her a panicked email and she called me within 15 minutes. She knows a 16-year-old who is willing, and I'm game. It's better than doing WFH five days per week - I don't think the boss would be that flexible. I love, love my old nanny and she is planning to visit us in July. She hasn't seen the girls in nearly a year so what a surprise she'll have!

Tomorrow I'll talk to the teenager about the sitting job and hopefully nail that down. And with a 110-degree heat index in the forecast, I won't be taking an evening walk with the kids tomorrow, stroller or no stroller.

Thank you, summer nanny, for the rescue - something in short supply in my life.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day





Father's Day started out with a bang. Or a thud, really. At 7:30am this morning, Kyle fell down the stairs carrying the twins, and while he protected the (frightened) twins from the fall, his elbow took a beating. With blood splashed on the walls, carpet, and dripping down his arm, he pronounced that he had to get stitches. But once he got over his initial alarm, things calmed down and I went back to sleep. Yes, I slept in on Father's Day. Maybe, just maybe, that's a tacit acknowledgment of all I do for this family.

We went out to the "new" Napoleon Bakery for lunch and I can't say I'm impressed with the new ownership. Besides service being far too slow, my Caprese sandwich came with, *gasp*, shredded mozzarella cheese - so don't waste your time on that menu item.

On the way back home, Kyle decided he wanted his elbow checked by the Urgent Care clinic. There began an hour-long fiasco that involved bad advice and not enough up-front research. In the end, Kyle never got his elbow checked at all today. We learned one valuable lesson: possible stitch sites must be checked within four hours of the injury.

So I believe Claire ended up having the best Father's Day of anyone in this family. While Kyle relaxed at home during the twins' nap time, I took Claire to the mall for some fun. She rode the carousel twice and did the super-sonic style trampoline ride (photos posted). We did some light shopping, had cookies for snack, and I ignored the required weekly HyVee grocery trip. Take-out pizza, therefore, ended up being our family dinner.

I guess you could say this will remain a very memorable Father's Day.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Garden, Part Seven


We spotted our first tomato tonight! It definitely needs more growing time (what, a few weeks? I don't even know), but the sighting of it brings pure joy! During tomato season, we can easily eat 15 pounds of tomatoes a week - we just slice them, add salt and pepper, and eat them with any dinner we're serving. Mouth sores from all the acid are a common side effect of this summer over-indulgence.

We also ate our second round of fresh green beans tonight, picked just minutes before dinner hit the table. If you enjoy a well-seasoned grilled meat hunk, accompanied by white trash hash brown potato casserole, then the fresh green beans are the perfect vegetable for taste and color. You can see how pretty dinner looked tonight.

Had a great afternoon with the kids, including a HyVee trip for the meat hunks and lots of outdoor play time. If Molly could sustain her (relatively tantrum-free) behavior from today, I would count myself utterly lucky.

Morning Mall Trip



The kids and I had a great morning at the "dirt mall". Freakishly, Molly was on best behavior. She didn't scream at the mall (other than when I made her leave), and Molly and Lily both thought the play structure was fantastic fun. We then had a fun lunch at Waffle House. Not only did I not have to rush out due to Molly's typical restaurant screaming, but I was able to languish a while because Molly kept saying she wasn't ready to leave. She was enjoying playing with the ice water. So after at least a six-week break from Waffle House, I finally got to indulge and actually enjoyed the experience with the three kids. I'm horrified to find out the twins didn't like the scattered and covered hash browns though!

It's now raining, the twins are napping, and Claire and I are stuck at home while Kyle works the whole day today.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Play Now, Pay Later





At 6pm tonight, when I was still working (and trying to get dinner ready too), I explained to Claire that our morning playing at the park and lunch at Mr. Goodcents meant that the whole afternoon ended up being work time. That explanation doesn't quite resonate with a 4-year-old kid. It was definitely a play now, pay later day - I was determined to get the kids out this morning for some fun, but my afternoon was all work and no play because of our park time.

Photos from this morning (yes, Lily has her fingers in her ears in the one - there were really loud mowers going at that moment). This park is a haul from the house, but I love it because it's shaded by huge trees so the heat isn't scorching. I wish I had enough money to live in one of the nearby houses .... ah, one can dream, right?

Lunchtime was pure hell - there's no other way to put it. Molly was having none of that sit-and-eat business, so she screamed, ran around the restaurant, and pulled out chip bags and threw them on the floor. With all eyes on us, I gave up, and ate about half my lunch today. I hurried the kids out the door, frustrated and embarrassed. At least the park was fun.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dancing Queens

Here's a view of my dancing queens from earlier this evening. Note that Molly is only interested in her sippy cup, and Lily seems to be attempting a jump, not a dance.

Another long day here - too much work and a few cranky kid moments. I am catching up on work tonight as I also upload this video. Night work has become a recent requirement for me. Whatever happened to being able to get my job done well in about 20 hours every week? Ah well, better than unemployment.

During my conference calls today, Claire ended up napping (without my knowledge) so I took her out on errands tonight until 9:30pm knowing that she wouldn't go to bed early tonight anyways. She was a hoot. Cracking non-stop jokes from the backseat and being the kid I wish she could be throughout the day.

In fact, she's still awake now ... so who knows what behavior she'll exhibit tomorrow.

video

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Molars

We seem to be going through another bad teething phase, with the twins doing some night waking and being particularly cranky during the day. I've been liberal with the Motrin this time which takes the edge off a little. Two-year molars really make my kids miserable. Too bad I get roped into that misery also.

I did, after all, add that third stroller to our line-up tonight. I found another twin mom selling a sit-and-stand stroller, so for $45 I thought it was worth a try. Her youngest child is now three, and she said she is just now able to let her three walk at parks without lugging along a stroller. I guess that means I've got more than a year before I can hope for freedom from bulky baby equipment.

I'm signing off - Sex & The City reruns are the new nightly entertainment. Why didn't I find these months ago?

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Garden, Part Six



I remain in childlike amazement at my own garden: this is the shortest farm-to-table I've ever experienced. Tonight we picked the green beans for the first time and immediately cooked them. How delectable. They had this fantastic crispness that didn't quickly turn to mush while cooking (like store-bought green beans), and the flavor was intense. Two neighbors watched us pick the green beans and the adult of the group seemed to be salivating over the thought of fresh, oh-so-fresh, green beans for dinner. She was right to salivate. They were as good as they looked.

I was at work all day and didn't get home until much later than normal, so I feel out of touch with the kids' moods today. I have noted that Molly seems to be exploding in two-word phrases all the sudden which is a monumental shift in language development. Tonight she "answered" the phone when my mother called for Claire, and she kept yelling, "Claire? BB", to tell Claire that BB was on the phone - she even had the right voice inflection for 'Claire, where are you?' and 'It's BB on the phone'. Very cute. Of course there was nothing cute about her as she wailed for dinner tonight, literally pulling my shirt and batting at me, but once her blood sugar was correctly situated she was back to the usual Molly antics. Sometimes, I imagine her at Claire's age, and fear the next couple years - she is going to give feisty Claire a run for her money. Molly is more drama, and more volume, than any kid I've got. She's also by far the most openly loving and cuddly kid I've got. She lives large. My, does she. Lily, on the other hand, has become quietly defiant. She openly (and with glee) ignores requests, pretends she's absorbed in play, stays nicely quiet and reserved, and then feigns shock when she gets a time-out over her behavior. I've finally caught on to her game. I repeat myself again: could my twins be more opposite?

Tomorrow: a WFH day with all the juggling that entails.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Great Weekend






Had a perfect couple days here with the kids. It was the ideal mix of kid time, alone time, extra sleep time, and time away from the kitchen that really carried me through the whole weekend. If I could repeat this mix every weekend, life would be good.

Saturday I had the kids mostly to myself, and we did lunch (with the neighbor kid Ashley), played, shopped, and hung out on the grounds of my office building - basically, we spent the day outside. Molly only napped an hour so I woke up Lily a bit early to take advantage of the time before dinner. I exhausted them so much that they both slept until 8:40am this morning!

Today I slept in and did a little shopping on my own, but also had lunch with the family and took everyone to Deanna Rose (animal park) for some play time. Kyle had the kids outside all morning while I slept so we once again maximized our outdoors time. The kids (and parents) are so much happier because of it.

Back to the grind tomorrow, but for once I'm nicely refreshed and ready for it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Haircut



Haircuts are such a rarity for the girls in our household that it's worth noting when someone gets a trim (the twins won't get their first for another year and a half or so - I like my girls with long hair). Today Claire lost three inches of her locks, and got a beautiful braid job from the hair lady. I took photos of Claire picking lettuce in the garden (which we had with dinner tonight) to make sure I could show off the new hairdo. It's a rare event to see Claire with smooth, combed hair, so I thought she looked great today.

Another long day here - I had the kids from 8:30am to 6:30pm by myself and I threw in a lunch outing and the haircut to mix up the routine a bit. Molly was horrible at lunch and at the haircut place; Lily was temperamental tonight. It seems they are opposites in terms of their best/happiest times of the day. That shouldn't surprise me. Just about everything with them seems to be opposite.

Work slowed down a little, but not nearly as slow as a typical Friday. This allowed me to pick the lettuce, do the haircut trip and get some laundry done too.

I'm just happy it's Friday and my work inbox is still under 100 emails. I have no plans for the weekend but want to do something fun (though Kyle works tomorrow, so I won't have his help with the kids again). I need a break from work, cooking dinners, and cleaning because Monday will come too soon.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mess Patrol And Household Control

Many of my posts deal with the never-ending mess patrol. It can feel like a losing battle (I clean up, the kids make another mess), but more importantly, it is often the choice battle ground in a lot of marriages. Especially those with lots of young kids. Here's a great article with some smart tips:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/personal/06/11/p.husband.does.fair.share/index.html

But let's face it, with studies confirming that working wives are still pulling the majority of household task weight, this is a battle that won't be won. I guess it's the smart spouses who know enough to pitch in more (without being badgered into it) and who learn how to say 'thank you'.

Beheaded


Lily, our tactile sensory kid, is also a little rough with things. She likes to bang on things, throw them, whack them around. Today she beheaded her security blanket. I have absolutely no idea how (or why) a 20-something pounder found the strength to pull the animal head off her night-night blanket but she accomplished the feat within 20 minutes after waking from her nap. Needless to say, the blanket is in the closet tonight and probably won't be used again because it's a bit shredded. Too bad I can't sew.

But what an apt visual for our night tonight, when all-around kid chaos erupted around dinner time. I wasn't sure whether I wanted to cut my own head off or theirs. Like the last few weeks, I had a non-stop work day that didn't end until 5:30pm. The kids were like wild animals, bored and screaming around the house while I tried to troubleshoot a work issue. Finally, I gave up on work and took them outside which helped - the natives became less restless (and Lily ate more gravel, because she likes the way it feels). However, as the dinner bell was ringing (thank you, Amy's Enchilada's, for another easy dinner) Claire threw a ferocious 30-minute tantrum about not getting to eat outside with Ashley (neighbor kid) and the twins were a little bothered by all the screaming and didn't want to eat much as a result. Not to mention my dinner was ruined by Claire's behavior. Afterward, I did baths for the twins and then got them to bed. The first song I always sing them is "If You're Happy And You Know It ..." (they try to do all the actions, like clap, which is quite funny), but tonight I didn't sing that song with the usual gusto. I'm not happy. Too much work, too much kid craziness. Last night I was up until midnight weeding my inbox from 714 emails to 44. Impressive end result, but it took four hours to get there. I really need some downtime.

Live update: Claire is now in my face saying she needs a spanking (for her previous behavior). "Mom, give me a spanking." I'm saying no. She's arguing the point. She's just vying for attention now and trying to avoid bedtime.

Wow, tonight seems never ending. It's a good thing we all still have our heads.

The Garden, Part Five


Houston, we have green beans! Overnight it seems these beans sprouted. They are not yet big enough to pick (at least this gardening novice doesn't think so, but please speak up if I'm wrong), but this is an exciting development!

And on a totally different topic, I love the intellectual elitist's guide to the Jon & Kate Plus 8 debacle:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Things Worth Noting


A couple things worth noting ... first, I just passed the year milestone on this blog (happy first birthday, blog). So why have I stuck with it (when everyone guessed I wouldn't)? Because I still gain perspective at the end of each day when I go to transcribe my thoughts. I may feel moments of rage toward kids, job, life - whatever is eating at me that day - but once I start typing here, I realize that most of what happened is often funny, or slightly annoying, or frustrating, but never nearly as bad as I suspected in the heat of the moment. This is my outlet, and it is much needed in the frantic-ness that I call my life. But what I always suspected was that I'd get an even greater perspective on the whole motherhood thing, if I could just stick with it ... meaning, I'd get to compare my mindset year over year, which is, fortunately, like comparing apples to oranges. And I was right. I just went back today and read my first few months of posts. The twins were 8 months old when I started this blog. Needy, whiny infants, who never let me sleep through the night or eat a hot meal. I had not even started enjoying them a year ago - they just seemed to be an energy drain that I was not well equipped to handle. So what I took away today, in reading my old posts, is the deep satisfaction that, well, I've come a long way baby. Every day is a challenge, and every day has its frustrations (including Lily's grumpy mood tonight), but guess what? The twins can be enjoyable now. They're cute. Funny. Entertaining. And I would no longer trade them in for that singleton. How else could I snap photos like this from tonight, if I had only birthed one of them?

My only regret is in not starting the blog during the twin pregnancy or when the twins were newborns, but let's face it, there was no time for blog posting in those early days.

My second noteworthy bit is that we're down to two strollers. I know, this doesn't sound all that interesting, but I believe at one point we had five strollers in our garage. We obviously sold the singleton strollers, but then we had three doubles: the Graco tandem with the matching infant carseats (a must for twin newborns, but trust me, buy it used because you won't use it for very long ... also one of those snap n' go doubles will work great too, but again buy it used because it's short-term use only), the Peg Perego side-by-side glorified umbrella stroller (weighs 14 pounds and fits through all standard doorways), and the double jogger with the swivel wheel that Claire can hitch a ride on.

We sold the double Graco along with the carseats (in fact, our house is now infant carseat free!). At 40 pounds, the thing was a beast to lift, and it's like pushing a long train. Side-by-side doubles are really the only way to go once you're beyond the infant stage. I sold the Graco stroller and carseats to a Craig's Lister who is pregnant with twin boys and already has two older girls (ages 7 and 4). Man, did I feel for her.

I can't promise that we'll stay at two strollers. I'm eyeing a compact sit-and-stand model and I actually think a single umbrella stroller would be handy (and am kicking myself for selling our perfectly good version a year ago). But those are wants, not necessities.

Necessities, for me, are ways to add perspective to my days. I thank technology and the web for this blog, and I thank the readers (most of you are silent and don't post comments, darnit!, but I know you're reading). Here's to another year of watching the girls grow up. That includes me (on the growing up front). I still have a long way to go too.

Monday, June 8, 2009

TV Brain


If parents don't think that television is riveting for young kids, look no further than my photo tonight for proof. The girls should have been enjoying some fun with the push car, but instead froze mid-action in front of the tv.

Of course I have to use this to my advantage while working at home, but other times it pains me to see the course of their play so clearly affected by that brain rot. Um, yes, I should have turned off the tv tonight, and actually after snapping the photo I did. Then they just fought like mad over who would get to sit in the car.

I just figured out why Lily has horrendously crooked upper teeth. Literally 25 minutes ago I looked in her mouth and realized she grew an extra tooth, hence the reason why one of them is completely sideways in her mouth. It had to make room for the extra (it seems to be an extra eye tooth). I guess I can wait until their 2-year appointment to ask the doctor what one should do about extra teeth. I have no family members who have grown extra teeth - in fact, we tend to have fewer teeth than the average person (I only grew two wisdom teeth). So I'll have to ask Kyle if he has some toothiness going on in his side of the family.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Garden, Part Four



Claire and I shared a "first" today - we ate food from our own garden. The only thing we can eat so far is the lettuce, and we used it for tonight's salad. The best part? My kid asked for lettuce at snack time today. Lettuce. I hope the healthy trend continues as more edible food appears.

Photos are of our garden and lettuce (the tomatoes in the photo are store bought as our tomato plants haven't produced anything yet).

We had a pretty nice day. Papa joined us for a hectic lunch at Dean & Deluca (hectic because Molly won't sit still or be quiet and Lily refuses to eat turkey meat and cheese), but afterwards we had a nice trip to Suburban Lawn & Garden. For you parents not in the know, it's like a fantastic park for the kids, complete with lots of swing sets, free popcorn, cheap food and drinks, nice restrooms, and of course the golf carts you can freely drive around. It's a wonderful place for the kids, and trust me, they won't notice if you don't buy any plants.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Monet's Garden (and Claire)





At the Arboretum tonight, a painter painting a garden scene asked Claire to stop and model for him. Of course I started snapping photos of them, and Kyle asked the painter about his plans for the painting once finished. It will be entered in a contest, but depending on what happens with it, we may be in the market for an original piece of artwork that just happens to have our daughter in it. Very random, but cool!

Kyle saw the painting at a later stage than I did (and from the photo here) and he said it's really looking nice.

A Full, Fun Saturday






Today was jam packed with activities - park this morning, lunch at Winstead's (Kyle was working while we did the morning stint), birthday party for Claire's friend Gabbie (which ended up giving me about an hour of free time to myself, so I ran errands), Overland Park Arboretum, and Pizza Shoppe for dinner. If the kids don't fall asleep within 10 minutes tonight I'll be shocked.

Photos are from the Arboretum - there was a wedding going on there (hence Claire staring at the bride in the photo), a painter painting, and the twins got to walk around freely without being stuck in a stroller, so it was a big outing! The continuous challenge is keeping three kids, or at least the twins, roughly in the same location when out walking around.