Monday, July 26, 2010

Crazy 8

My dearest husband,

Today we celebrate eight years of marriage -- when did we get so old? One day we were passing notes in 7th grade band class, and suddenly we are in our 30s with a real house and real kids like we are real grown ups. It makes me think back to...

...the first year, when I had just graduated and you were finishing your last semester of college. We lived in a 400 sq ft apartment in married housing on Michigan State's campus, and I got a temporary job at Bed Bath & Beyond. Life was simple, bills were small, and we were so happy to finally be reunited after spending four years apart during school.

...the second year, when we were living in St. Louis. We were both so busy working full time and attending graduate school in the evenings. Then we bought our first house and any last free minute was sucked up by replacing ugly green carpet, repainting neon yellow walls, and burning the hell out of the grass learning how to properly use lawn fertilizer.

...the third year, when we traveled to Ireland and decided to book through a tour company because were too busy to plan the trip ourselves. We ended up seeing the country with a bus load of retirees who hit the pubs in the evenings while we collapsed in exhaustion in our room. We may have looked like pansies, but I had an absolute blast with you.

...the fourth year, when we were finishing grad school and preparing to start a family. I was doing my practicum as a counselor with Washington University in St. Louis, and I worried I'd get morning sickness and have to bolt from a session to throw up in the bathroom. Nothing shows empathy and acceptance like some barf on a client's shoes. That fear, of course, never materialized.

...the fifth year, when we experienced the devastation of infertility. We endured what seemed like an endless barrage of tests and treatments, all ending up with Big Fat Negatives. The stress of this can push some couples apart, but it pulled us together. I was reminded why I married you, as you always remained concerned about the toll it was taking on me.

...the sixth year, when we finally saw that long-awaited positive home pregnancy test. I will never forget your reaction when I showed you the two lines. We went to Grand Cayman for our anniversary, our last trip taken as a couple. You were offered a job promotion if we relocated to Seattle, and I declared I would move there over my dead body.

...the seventh year, when we moved to Seattle. And only three months later, our precious baby Bean was born. What an adjustment! We thought we would never survive those first weeks. We feared that parenthood was beyond our capabilities, and worried that we would never see four hours of uninterrupted sleep again. Sadly, it turns out we were right about that last part. (And sometimes, even the first part.)

...the eighth year, when we got pregnant with the twins -- our IUI was on our last anniversary, in fact! We continued to enjoy Bean as he grew into toddlerhood, and we were assured to see that our missteps as parents haven't seemed to cause any irreparable damage (yet!). Then with three months of complete bedrest, you rose to the challenge of caring for me once again. It paid off with two gorgeous, enormous, and healthy twin boys.

This next year will be crazy, without a doubt. Truck loads of diapers, gallons of spit-up, and countless nighttime awakenings. But more importantly, big toddler hugs, baby coos and giggles, and with the help of my parents, a few stolen moments being the same young couple that nervously held hands during our first date to Homecoming in high school. You still smile at me as if I am the most beautiful girl you've ever seen, and it makes my heart flutter just like it did at 16.

I hope you enjoy the Chocolate Chili Cupcakes that I made for you today. (Bean "helped" make the batter, so not only did they take extra long to prepare, but they are baked with extra love.) The recipe calls for either ancho chili powder or chipotle chili powder, but I put in both because I know how much you love spice. Here's to keeping the spice in our life -- in our marriage -- forever!

My love always,



Friday, July 23, 2010

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe

First, some housekeeping. Thought I'd mention that this is my 300th blog post. Not too much to say about that... just woo hoo!

And I have finally decided on blog nicknames for the twinklets. Why not keep it simple and use what I call them at home? Twin A will henceforth be known as "Nix." This is just one of the thirty-plus nicknames that the poor child suffers throughout the day by his dear mama, from The Nickster to Nicker Nickerson to Nicholas Nickleby. And Twin B, instead of Peanut, shall be called "Gax." This rather unattractive but surprisingly endearing nickname was bestowed by Bean, who had trouble pronouncing his brother's given name when he first came home from the hospital. (We have found the moniker lends itself to many adaptations, such as Gaxers, The Gaxinator, Gaxercising, etc.)

So there you have it, Nix on the left and Gax on the right.

I feel better now, don't you?

Moving on.

As the title of this post alludes, I wanted to give a little update/insight into life in our household with a toddler and twin infants.

Just as you might expect, there are incredibly good times, and then there are incredibly tough times. The tough times may last for a couple of hours, or a couple of days, or most recently, a couple of weeks. (Poor Allison had to endure quite a lot of them during her visit -- and yet she didn't race to the airport to catch an earlier flight home, stopping only to get her tubes tied on the way. Now that's a good friend for you.)

Our recent problems stem from the fact that we don't have any real schedule during the day, and the boys haven't been napping well, resulting in a pair of very grumpy munchkins. This is something I am just starting to work out, with the help of "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" (worth it's weight in gold) and the rest of the cast and crew of this crazy show. With twins, it's become glaringly apparent that if you don't have any schedule, you will wear yourself out running from one to the other, trying to nurse and sooth and comfort one while the other screams bloody murder. Or at best, maybe they sleep okay, but it's at alternating times so you never get two seconds to pee or scarf down a sandwich.

Here's where I insert a question to other mamas out there. Specifically to those who have kiddos napping in cribs, because while babywearing and bedsharing is lovely, I certainly don't have the luxury to lay down with one twin while Bean and the other twin play chess. Any tips on getting your child to sleep, and stay asleep, in the crib? I am working on it and slowly seeing progress by putting them down almost asleep, then trying to sooth them if they wake up too soon. Easier said than done with two willful babes, but I'm trying. I've read many things -- some of them helpful, some of them completely beyond my abilities (thank you "The No Cry Sleep Solution"). But for you, personally, what worked? Was there lots of crying involved, because no matter what I try, it seems one twin is wailing while I'm trying to comfort the other? Even if I get them both down in their respective cribs, the naps rarely last more than 30-45 minutes, then I spend the next hour or two juggling double grumpy diaper-butts. But on the off chance an adult happens to have the time to hold them, the twins can sleep for 3 hours at a time and wake up happy as clams. ARG! And also just as important, how did you get them to nap at the same time? Was there sorcery involved, and if so, what is the magic word? (Because it's certainly not "please.")

When I was pregnant this last time, I thought that it would be very difficult to care for three children under three years old. But it turns out that, really, it's impossible. For me it is, at least -- I'm sure there are stronger women than me who manage just fine. This has been a difficult pill for me to swallow. I am so disappointed in myself that I have more children than I can care for, because I view people like Octomom and Kate Plus Eight as reproductively irresponsible. If I didn't have my parents here, I would have taken a long walk off a short pier by now. And don't get me wrong, I absolutely love having them in our house. Not only for the help, for which I am eternally grateful, but because we have a lot of fun together. I really do enjoy their company. I just wish their company wasn't necessary to keep me off a cocktail of mood stabilizers. It makes me feel like a sub-par mommy, and after infertility and C-sections and such, it's not a good thing.

And you know the craziest part? I'm devastated to know that I won't have any more kids.


But lest this post make me sound all woe-is-me, let me assure you that there are plenty of wonderful times around here. Thanks to help from my parents, I am not only able to shower EVERY SINGLE MORNING (and my teeth are pearly white *gleam*) but my mom and I take the kiddos out and about almost every day. Yesterday we took Bean and our traveling circus to a MOMS Club outing where he made pizza at a pizzeria. So adorable! (Pictures coming soon.) It's cliche but true, I am absolutely head-over-heels in love with my sons. I truly am happy to my core; I love being a mom, a mom with three kids, a mom with a set of twins. My heart smiles when I picture them growing up together.

I just need to figure out how to survive the first year. Or five.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summer shots

I have a couple of "real" blog posts about life with a toddler + twinfants rolling around in my head (with actual! thoughts! and! words!), but until I can find a moment to focus and type them out, here are a few pictures to distract you.

Our smiling Spartan.

Grandma's constant accessory, a child (or two).

After two years of longing, I finally designed my own custom BabyHawk carrier. Or a "Chicken Hawk," as DH calls it. Go away boy, ya bother me!

My friend Allison is visiting from Wisconsin for a week. It's awesome spending time with her, and she really has a gift with the kiddos! We force allow her to hold the babies for most of the day.

Peanut prepares to make his move on Sarah, the little sister of Bean's girlfriend Em. He grabbed at her leg and she bonked him in the face, while Twin A slept through the entire playdate. Behold, the future.

Yesterday, DH and Allison and I took the three boys to Alki Beach. It was a gorgeous day! We picnicked under a tree and gazed at the city across Puget Sound.

The twins mercifully slept for much of the outing, but they did wake long enough for a double diaper change and to pose in their cute crabby outfits on our awesome new picnic blanket from Kohl's.

Bean was asleep before we had even loaded the twins into the car.

Twin A's double line of defense: his killer good looks and a strong arm.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Winners, winners, chicken dinners

Announcing the winners of my Infertility book giveaway extravaganza! post.

At 12 pm Pacific Time today, I went to RANDOM.ORG and generated two numbers.

The first was #8... Doug and Heidi! She (call me crazy, but I'm guessing she's the one who entered) requested the second set of books.

The second was #11... Alana! As luck would have it, she requested the first set.

Congratulations to you both. I will be contacting you to get shipping information.

And speaking of winners, I wanted to follow up on the baby-naming contest on The Name Game post. Top prize goes to Jamie, as Twin B's name appeared on her list! I contacted her and she kindly declined a reward, instead encouraging me to get a treat for myself. Normally I don't need much convincing on that, but I'm hoping she'll change her mind because she works really hard and deserves something fun!


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Red, white & blue

Awesomest. Weekend. Ever.

And very patriotic, no less.

We kicked off the weekend with a good old American barbecue with the family of Bean's future wife girlfriend friend from preschool, Em. I got out of cooking anything I provided breastmilk for the twins, and everyone else provided burgers, fruit salad, broccoli salad, red-white-and-blue layered jello, cake, cookies, and some beer for good measure. The food was great and the company even better, although after observing their second daughter who is two weeks younger than the twins, I left feeling even more bitter about this "easy baby" phenomenon that some of my friends seem to be enjoying. Humph.

Then taking our country's colors individually, we begin with the blue. As a thank-you to my Mom for caring for all of us during my 11-week bedrest ordeal, one of the things we got her was a gift certificate for a manicure and pedicure at a nice salon down the street. And to match her sacrifice, knowing she wouldn't want to go solo, I selflessly set aside money from my 30th birthday to go with her. *ahem* So on Saturday morning, we waved goodbye to all five boys (five! gah!) and started the day by using a coupon for two free drinks at my favorite coffee chain. And a gift from God, they recently began selling the infamous maple bars, so we naturally had to partake.

Yum yum yum yum YUM.

Then we indulged in some serious girlie pampering, of the nail variety. Being the fabulously chic chicks that we are, we shunned the boring usual polish colors for our toes. I am sporting a shimmery blue mermaid-inspired hue (OPI color "Catch me in your net") and my Mom was talked into selected a green shade from the new Shrek line (OPI color "Who the Shrek are you?"). Taking care of three kids under three hasn't hampered our style, thank you very much. Although a comment by one of the nail techs did leave me scratching my head. As we admired our glistening nails, she leaned in and laughed, "You know, I have to admit. When I first met you two, I wondered how you were related. I thought maybe you were lesbians!"

Yeah, I'm trying not to think too much about that one.

Anyway, the red. I had dared hope that my newest baby carrier would arrive in the mail on Saturday, and after quickly flashing my mani and pedi for DH to pretend to admire, I ran to the mailbox, and...


A red adjustable fleece sling from Kangaroo Korner. When I decided I wanted to get one, I put two other of my carriers (our untouched Bjorn and one of my two awesome Slinglings) and some business-casual maternity clothes on craigslist to fund the purchase. Well, unfortunately they haven't sold yet... but I was so excited about the carrier that DH said I could order it immediately while waiting for the other items to go. His quote: "You work hard and you deserve it." A keeper. Totally a keeper.

And speaking of a keeper... I absolutely *love* this new sling, way more than I even anticipated. It is so comfy and snuggly and convenient! The boys love it too, which is almost as important as how cute it is. If I work even harder, do you think DH would get me a new Beco Butterfly 2? They are pricey at $140 and I don't technically need one... but man, the new patterns are to die for!

No, I didn't think so.

Moving on, today was the white. DH and I took Bean to see his first movie in the theater: Toy Story 3, featuring his very favorite character, "Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!" It was the perfect choice to introduce him into the wonderful world of sticky floors and $5 candy bars, as we've watched the first two movies in the trilogy over 2,000 times each in the past couple of months.

He absolutely loved the movie, but the plot obviously went over his head. During some of the more frightening scenes (frightening for the younger crowd of course -- I certainly wasn't grasping DH's arm tightly and whispering "I'm scared!"), he was entirely unmoved and instead continued his happy exclamations of "Woody!" and "Buzz Lightyear!" whenever they appeared on the screen. The movie ended right as naptime usually begins, so the credits were met with his sobbing, "Want to watch new Buzz Lightyear movie again!" With grins on our faces, we carried our little man back to the car, and we barely managed to pull into the driveway before he fell asleep. He is now snoozing contentedly in his bed as I type this.

And then tomorrow? OUR CARPETS ARE BEING CLEANED. By, like, professionals. This is how much fun life in the suburbs with young kids can be, folks. A steam cleaner and some carpet shampoo.

Other things we've been up to lately...

Because his brothers are both perpetual fountains of baby barf, Bean is diligent about using a burp cloth with his doll. You can never be too careful.

Sibling rivalry begins early, as the twins take sides in our family's MSU-vs-U of M feud.

But Peanut knows who the real school is.

Grandma hides her disgust of smelly sheep to encourage Bean to participate at the petting zoo.

Bean enjoys his first freeze pop with Em.

Watching Toy Story 2 with Bumpa for the 1,826th time.

Both twins sleeping at the same time: the eighth wonder of the world.

The twins pose for their individual shots.

Bean helped make and decorate a cake for his daddy's 30th birthday. Yep, now DH is officially old like me.

Our summer weather has been ridiculously horrible so far, but we still find evidence of fun in the sand that washes off Bean in the bathtub.

It's amazing how much cuteness one couch can hold.

Not only is he patriotic, but Twin A rocks the baby jeans, too.