18 months

The twins are 18 months old.

I know that I am always amazed when I mark the time that has passed since the twins were born.

Every time I do that, I slap my forehead and think, “when did I get so OLD??”

And then I think, “I was so much younger 18 months ago! Where did that time go?”

Full circle.

So yes, the twins are 18 months old.  I am also 18 months older than I was when I birthed these babies.  Frank is, too.  Time, being all chronological and stuff, does that to a person ya know.

On the twins’ 18 month birthday, we celebrated my parent’s 116th birthday.  No, just kidding.  They’re only 58 each.  Ha ha ha. I bet they loved that joke.

As I’ve mentioned before, my parents have a lot in common, including being born within 24 hours of each other.  This is Super Convenient for planning birthday dinners and the like.

We enjoyed brats, burgers, salad, potato salad and Portillo’s chocolate cake.  OMG. Have you had Portillo’s chocolate cake?  Stop reading this and drive to your nearest Portillo’s and get some cake – what are you waiting for??

The girls had a blast playing with G-Ma and Rick Almighty.  Auntie Cay-Cay, Auntie Laur and Uncle Andy also entertained the twins, chasing them around the field behind our house.  All in all, everyone had a nice time – although it would’ve been 100x better if Auntie Sarah was there.  Instead she’s all like, in California surfing and stuff.

Boo.

So, yes, the twins are now 18 months old.  Ellie is our chatty baby – she says a lot of words now – Mama, Dada, Bib, Cah-gin, socks, shoes, sippy,  and WAH! (which means more milk, more food, more hugs, more snuggles, more binky).  Ellie also reprimands Carrie from time to time, “Cah-gin. Cah! No! NO!”  It’s pretty hilarious, but will likely need to be reined in.

The girls are hugging each other, which is, by far, the Cutest.Thing.Ever!

Carrie, our child with smaller vocabulary, is our child with the highest likelihood (at this point) to be an athlete.  Running, attempting jumping, spinning (until she makes herself dizzy and falls down… woops) and all sorts of shenanigans are the name of her game.  A lot can happen before the collegiate scouts go to their volleyball/basketball/whatever games.  But still, I am comforted by her interest in spherical objects and throwing them.

Both girls love to be snuggled and cuddled.  They have developed a twin language that they use to plot evil schemes, or who knows what.  It seems pretty legit and conversational, which has Frank and I amused. And concerned. But mostly amused.

The girls go in to be weighed and measured next month (we thought we would avoid the mad rush of back-to-school physicals), so I will post those relevant stats mid-September.  I’m sure that they have gained weight, I’m sure that they have grown taller.  I mean, Carrie grew two shoe sizes between May and July, so the stunner would be if they hadn’t progressed.

So yeah, 18 months, man.

 

 

twinfessions

Ah, twins.

Many a fellow parent has commented to Frank and me, “I don’t know how you do it!”

And I’ve been all like, “Um, what? Raise two infants simultaneously? Like that’s hard or something?”

Ha ha. Ha. Hummm.

It’s time to fess up.

Raising twins is like juggling grenades: If you drop one, everyone gets blown up.

Ok, maybe that’s a bit dramatic.

But let’s be clear: twin infants (even twinfants who enjoy projectile vomiting all.the.time) are a piece of cake, once you get them sleeping through the night. From 4 months through 13 months, it’s all just a matter of budgeting a little extra time to accommodate doing everything twice.

Twin toddlers? It’s like dealing with lunatic zombies. Cute lunatic zombies, but lunatic zombies all the same.

Logistically, if both Frank and I are watching the girls, it’s easy-peasy.  Man-on-man defense.  Done.

The challenge is when we are doing some demented version of zone defense because one of us is at work. That’s when it gets exciting.

Case in point: Frank left the room to brush his teeth. He was gone 2 1/2 minutes, tops.

He came back to the twins perched on top of their changing table having a grand old time.  They scaled the rocking chair and the dresser to get on top of their changing table pad.  And they were smiling like they were supposed to be there.

They love to dance on top of our glass topped coffee table.  Specifically, they love dancing to Rolling Stones on our glass topped coffee table.

The second we put them down in the family room, they identify all of the weak points and attack relentlessly. Remote controls? Cell phones? Glasses? Open baby gates? Nothing slips by them.

And the twins are completely fearless, a la lunatic zombies.  I’ve noticed other toddlers are more hesitant to go down the slide at the park, but not our girls. Ellie, our generally more cautious girl, went down the slide the other day, her foot caught and she summersaulted the rest of the way down. I thought for SURE there would be tears. She stood up, brushed herself off, and hurried back to the stairs to go down the slide again. What the what?!

wheeee! Carrie conquers the slide!

This weekend I took the girls to the park solo. Seemed reasonable enough.  How bad can a park be?

I don’t know if you’ve been to a park these days, but holy-crapola, these parks are DEATH traps. Sure, they coat everything in rubber and plastic, but every single piece of equipment has a side that is a free-fall into wood chips. If you are only watching one toddler, this wouldn’t be a problem, but since I am watching two lunatic zombie toddlers, this is a major issue.  Carrie likes to walk right up to the edge and growl at me.

 

Grrr, Mama!!

Again, this would be fine if I wasn’t already distracted by Ellie going up and down the stairs to the slide with the grace of a heavily intoxicated, stiletto-wearing monkey.

Oh, and then there are the communication issues. The girls know how to wave “hi” and “bye”. This is really cute until Carrie is waving “bye” as she walks off in one direction and Ellie sprints in the other. They only sort of understand “Stop!” and “SIT STILL!” and “STAY THERE!”  We’re working on it, but right now the communication gap adds a totally interesting layer.

So yeah, raising two toddlers makes for some very interesting/challenging/exciting/crazy times.  I’m forever grateful that strollers and wagons have seat belts. And I’m even more grateful that I have a husband who is truly a partner in raising these girls – cuz man alive, I certainly wouldn’t want to do this solo all the time!

Plotting to take over the world…

an open letter from the twins

Hello world, it’s us. The twins.  Well, it’s me, Carrie, writing on behalf of both of us.

We thought it was about time the world heard our side of the story.

Sure, you’ve heard all the “wah, wah, my bey-beyz barfied on everything” nonsense our mom and dad still whine about on a regular basis.

News flash: we have not puked since like, December. Except for that one time that Ellie puked like 6 times in a row.  Not sure what was up with that, but whatevs. Sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

So Mom and Dad are all like, “Get off the coffee table!” and “Point to your nose!” and “Say, ‘more please!'”

It’s all well and good that they want us to be all verbal and respectful and stuff, but Ellie and I have been talking it over and we think it’s pretty amazing that we can climb on the coffee table.

I mean, a year ago, it was a big deal that we could roll over.  Now? We can hurl our 25 pound bodies up on the glass coffee table faster than you can say, “Babe, you watching the twins?”

Y’know what else? We rock the tech. Give us an iPhone or a remote control and we can do some serious damage.  Two weeks ago, we got Siri to call one of Mom’s work contacts.  Three weeks ago, we turned on Telemundo AND set the DVR to record it.

Doods – there are people like five decades older than us who can’t figure out how to record stuff on the DVR.  We got it LOCKED. DOWN!

So yeah.

Also? We are good babies.  We know we are. Sure, we don’t like the nursery at church and get all up in the sweet church ladies’ grills, but ya win some, ya lose some.  It’s all in the name of scoring a few extra gold fish crackers and cheerios while you’re up in church and we’re doing time.

And sure, we tend to run off in opposite directions when you try to play with us outside.  It’s called strategy.  Ellie and I figure that if we divide, we will conquer. And it works.

While it seems like we’re smart cookies, we do a few repetiviely dumb things, like walking straight off the step down into the family room.  Mom, Dad, I don’t think we’re Mensa material, but I don’t think we’ll be a total bust either.

You gotta take the good with the bad, for sure.

Guys, I know you’re gonna be all up tight and all “my kids have to excel at all things” and stuff, but chill.  It’s gonna be OK.  We’ll learn how to talk.  We will likely go to college potty trained.  And we’re probably gonna do some bone-headed things in the meantime.

I mean, Mom, you got your TONGUE stuck in your BRACES. And Dad, is there anything you DIDN’T hit with your head??  You both turned out OK, right?

So yeah. It’ll be fine. Have a glass of wine on the porch, but keep it down. We’re trying to catch our z’s.

Until then, peace out P’s (Parents).

XOXO,

Carrie & Ellie

mothers day deux

Parenting is not pretty.

Last mothers day weekend, I begged my sister to come spend the night. Frank was out of town and I had to go up to my in-laws for mothers day on Saturday.  We plant flowers and have a nice meal together.

But I knew I would be in no condition to go up there if I had the twins to myself at night.

And so I commenced begging Caitlin.

Because Caitlin is so amazing, the conversation went like this:

Me: Hey Cait–

Caitlin: I’m coming over!!

So yeah.  The evening initially went OK. I mean, there was the requisite puking, but by bedtime, Caitlin was still wearing the same clothes she arrived in.  We snuggled the girls into their car seats (that’s where they slept for three or four months) and tried to get some sleep.

I want to tell you I vividly remember what occurred that night.  I want to tell you that it was a series of Norman Rockwell moments illustrating a generation of sisters passing along the torch of sisterhood to the next generation of sisters.

No.

I have to tell the truth.  The night is a blur.  I desperately wanted and needed sleep, but the nursery house of horrors had come alive in vivid shades of regurgitated formula and the soundtrack was the wailing and gnashing of gums.  I helped Caitlin with one of the feedings, I think.

I know that I went into the nursery a few times and tried to help.  My sister valiantly sent me back to bed.  I was somewhat aware that she was in a new outfit – or that her outfit had been “redecorated” by one of the twins – but I didn’t stop to question it.

When I came-to in the morning, having had a few continuous hours of sleep punctuated by a foggy awareness of babies crying, I stumbled into the nursery at 6 a.m. to find my sister surrounded by a half-dozen half-eaten bottles and dirtied burp rags. Her normally beautifully-kept, perfect blond hair was in rats nests around her face (how do babies make that happen so quickly???) and she had the look of a woman who had seen things she could not bear to repeat.

Me: What… what… what happened?

Caitlin: Oh (looking around, trying not to break down), it’s nothing. They just… they just… THEY WOULDN’T GO TO SLEEP! (lower lip quivering) Why? Why? I tried (weeping) Lord knows, I tried.  I sang, I rocked and they – THEY VOMITED!

Me: Uh huh. Are you OK?

Caitlin: Yes. Yes.  I’m OK.  I’m OK. I just… Just.. need… sleep.  Please, make the crying stop.  I just need to go to sleep.  One would stop and the other would start. Why??

Me: There, there.  It’s OK.

The twins, for the record, had calmed down.  They were looking at us with a quiet satisfaction. It appears that the generational torch of sisterhood can be passed in either direction.

Together, we put the girls in their cutest outfits.  I combed my hair.  Caitlin helped me load the car for my one hour journey and then she stumbled to her car and drove home, where she slept until 2 p.m.

I don’t blame her.

And I thought to myself, “Is this how it is always going to be? What did I sign up for?! HELP!”

I wasn’t alone.

Around July of last year, Frank looked at me pleadingly and asked, “will these children EVER sleep through the night?” I told him reassuringly, “Of course!” but thought, “What if they don’t? What if we never sleep again?!” And then, miraculously, about a week or so later, the twins finally started sleeping through the night.

We had the same situation with feeding the girls solids – it seemed like we would be forever be covered in sweet potatoes and mashed green beans and all sorts of disgusting (and, might I say, bland) baby food.  It seemed like the girls would never figure out their sippy cups or straws.  It seemed like they would never crawl or walk or talk.

And every time I’ve felt that way, I’ve been wrong.  Motherhood has proven me wrong more often than not.

So this year, I’d like to say three things about parenting on this lovely Mothers Day weekend:

1. It is epically humbling.  Not: “Waving at someone across the street because you think you know them but then you realize that you don’t know them and so you pretend your wave was actually a hair adjustment”, but “Holy crap, I actually showed up to college graduation naked AND without the required number of hours!” But, the good news is that it’s not about you as a parent, but rather about doing what’s best for your kids and your family. So, you know, grab a trench coat from graduation coat check and fake it til you make it.

2. A win is a win. Yeah, your kid may not have walked as soon as Susie’s prodigy child or Donna’s baby might have a larger vocabulary, but odds are, your kid will not go to high school only saying “bah” (ball) and “dada” (everything else).  Odds are, you will have a phone bill that will prove that your child has indeed expanded her/his vocabulary to include “Whatever” and “Can I have the car tonight?”

3. Old people are on to something.  Live long enough, I’m starting to realize, and you’ll start saying the same annoying stuff your parents said.  I’m not going to suggest that anyone admit their parents are (gasp!) right, but perhaps our parents might have a few pieces of well-earned wisdom.  They still don’t understand good movies/music/books/fashion/texting/whatever, but they definitely might have a few pieces of sage advice when it comes to raising/chasing after/loving kids.  I mean, I/you didn’t turn out so bad, did we?

Right now I find myself starting to wonder if the twins will ever grow up.

And I stop myself.

 

 

Happy Mothers Day to all you ladies.

three things: bodily functions

A few months after having the twins, Frank and I were out on a mini-date, and during a lull in the conversation, Frank said, “You know, having twins wasn’t quite the poop storm I thought it would be.” (He didn’t say poop… but you know, what I mean)

And, really, it wasn’t a total poop storm.  Except on the few occasions that it was literally that: a storm of poopies. Or barfies. Or whatever.

Just today, I was thinking that I didn’t want to write something my kids would be embarassed about later.  But just like Carrigan cannot resist the siren song of the TV remote control, I cannot resist telling a few scintillating baby stories that I am sure will make their weddings all the more memorable.

Story #1: Everybody Poops

At some point, we realized we couldn’t both get up for every feeding, so we started taking shifts in the middle of the night.  One night Frank came back to bed and I rolled over, half sleeping, and asked him how the first middle of the night feeding went.

“I got poop on my face.”

In my sleep-induced fog, I couldn’t quite figure out the mechanics of that statement. I was vaguely aware that poop just typically doesn’t go on your face.  Or my face.  Or anyone’s face.

In the morning, certain that I was having weirdly realistic dreams, I dismissed the memory as fiction.

But over breakfast, appropriately, Frank gave me the low-down.  While changing Ellie’s poopie diaper, he dropped it dirty-side-down on the carpet. Annoyed and without thinking, he bent over to pick it up, putting his face dangerously close to Ellie’s behind. Being a gassy little love, Miss Ellie chose that moment to let a wet one loose, resulting in poop on Frank’s face.

The way that Frank tells it, there was a long pause where he reflected on the situation, absorbing the reality that it was 2 a.m. and there was poop on his face.

Story #2: Diapering 101

One night, after many nights of not getting a lot of sleep, we were bathing the girls and getting them ready for bed.  Or maybe we were just changing diapers and it was dark.  Or maybe we were changing diapers and it was the middle of the day.  Who knows?

The important thing is that one of us (Frank) took a few liberties with the diaper changing process.  Namely, he didn’t really secure the diaper to Carrigan’s itty-bitty behind.

I was sitting on the rocker, holding Carrie on my leg when it happened.  It began as a subtle warming on my leg, spreading  quickly. When I finally realized what was happening, Carrie had peed through her clothes, my pants and onto the floor. 

Her diaper, however, was hanging around her knees and was totally dry.

Story #3: The Barfies

Our twins had reflux from the time they came home from the hospital until they were 9 months old. Seriously.  You can’t make that crap up.

They barfed all the time.  Sometimes, just when you would think to yourself, “Oh, it’s been an hour since their last feeding, certainly they can’t possibly get sick” is usually also the time where they would unload the motherload of vomit. So. Awesome.

 I smelled barf everywhere I went for a very long time.  Even now, I sometimes sniff my clothes just to make sure I don’t have barf on them somewhere.

While many people experienced the twins’ epic barfies – my family members started bringing extra clothes with them when they came for a visit- the best barfing extravaganza happened to my dear friend Eve.

Eve came over to visit while she was still 6 months pregnant with her little Josiah.  Probably expecting a zen evening of snuggling babies, I don’t think that Eve really understood what was in store.

“Want to give Carrigan a bottle?” I asked her. Said another way, “Want to pull the pin from this grenade?”

“SURE!” 

Eve fed Carrigan a bottle. And Carrigan, equal to the task, gulped the whole bottle down in record time.  She gave a few demure burps, batted her eyelashes, opened her mouth as if to yawn and …

BARFED ALL OVER EVE.

It went down the back of Eve’s shoulder and the front of her shoulder.  It cascaded like a rancid waterfall onto the couch.  It went down the front of her shirt.

And Eve, being six months pregnant, began gasping, coughing, dry heaving and generally reacting to being coated in a thick layer of regurgitated formula. 

If the quantiy of barf expended by my children was directly proportional to the amount of love they feel for a person, my dear twins must love a lot of people VERY MUCH.

style

Specifically, management style.

We’ve all got a management style.

I’ve got it.  You’ve got it. We’ve all got it!

Sure beats herpes, right?

(nothing like a herpes reference to kick off a blog post, eh?)

So. Anywho.

I’ve had lots of managers in my lifetime.  My first two managers were my parents.

My parents have a very unique, very different management style than most parents.

Let’s talk about my mom first.

My mother LOVES a good time. Loves it. Every day was a new adventure.  Mom LOVES people. She loves to talk in lines at the grocery store, at the post office, waiting for the walk signal at a stop light, on the phone to customer service reps, at sporting events and so on. Church was the ultimate showcase of the differences between my parents – after the last note of the last song was sung, my dad BOLTED for the car, grabbing whichever children were closest. My mom? She saw her friend Joyce and wanted to check in on how Joyce’s uncle’s brother’s wife was doing.  And then she saw Ann and goodness, Ann’s oldest looks so cute with her new haircut.  And on the way out she wanted to check in with Father Joe about the Women’s Pot Luck for the Council of Catholic Women and also to see who needed a dish for a funeral.

And to my mother’s horror, when she stepped out into the crisp sunshine of a glorious Sunday, there was my father, pulled right up to the front doors of the church, waiting.

How the next few moments went often determined whether we would be going out for a delightful family brunch or if we were going home for left over cold pizza.

My dad is practically her exact opposite. My dad loved to sit with us and talk about our five year plans and what our personality profiles suggested would be ideal career paths for us. He still loves to review business and acquisition strategies and enjoys reading resumes for people on the hunt for a new job.  He practices looking at things in new ways.

When we were home sick from school and my dad was our caregiver one rare November day, my dad made charts of our fevers on 3×5 index cards.  He planned story times, sometimes the content of which he imagined up in some of the most hilarious stories I’d ever heard in my young life, and sometimes he read to us from The Time Machine  by H.G. Wells.

Were my parents perfect? Nope. They were lots of fun, absolutely.  If you were going to have to be stuck in a car for two weeks traveling across the country and staying in a pop-up camper, you’d be lucky to be stuck with my family.

But the part of me that loves the idea of schedules and charts and graphs (oh, excel, how I love thee), always sort of wished my mom gave me more routine and structure. And for anyone saying, “But Emily, your mom reads your blog! How could you say that??” I must tell you, I know this about myself because my mother told me so.  My mother is a keen observer.  She knew things about us before we ever knew it. She knew I’d go to DePaul before I ever knew it. She knew I’d marry Frank before I even said yes.

She’s good like that.

Annoyingly good.

My parents are different from my friends’ parents.  They are very different from Frank’s parents.  Frank was raised by a periodontist and an artist.  If you want to know what makes a pilot, I think that has to be it – the perfect combination of science on a small scale (in.your.mouth.yuck!) and the abstract vision of modern sculpting.

And yet, despite our parents’ very different management styles, interests and skills, Frank and I make (and laugh at) the same juvenile jokes.

Tonight, Frank looked at me and said, very confidently with a slight smirk, “titmouse.”

And I. Lost. It.

For those of you at home who wonder if this is a made up word, I assure you it is not.  Below, please take a moment to enjoy the tufted titmouse:

Yes, I am a Tufted Titmouse. What?

On Facebook and in forums and in conversations, I have observed much dispute over parenting management styles.  From epidurals to store-bought baby food, nothing is sacred. Or perhaps the issue is that everything is sacred.

I gotta tell y’all that if you get an epidural or you don’t, if you breastfeed or you don’t, if you cloth diaper or you don’t, if you make all of your baby food or you don’t, you may still raise a daughter or a son that will date, fall in love with, and marry another individual who will absolutely fall apart when your child says, “titmouse.”

When my first boyfriend broke up with me, my mom and dad did the most wonderful thing.  First, my mom realized that this was a job for dad.  And my dad sat down and talked to me about grieving lost relationships. As a 17 year old girl, there is nothing more powerful than a dad who is brave enough and smart enough to sit down with you and affirm that you are beautiful and that not all men suck. Just some.

He told me all of the old adages apply: “Time heals all wounds” and “it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all”.  And then he very profoundly quoted John Lennon and told me, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.”

I, myself, have gotten all worked up about whether my child will excel or fail miserably based upon the quantity and quality of breastmilk she received.

But in the midst of the anguish of deciding how to feed my children, I learned how to love them. How to make difficult decisions to care for them, how to snuggle them without watching the clock, how to make them laugh, how to play with them and how to be the mom they need me to be.

Not to worry, we have another 17+ years to go. I don’t expect this learning process to end now that they are close to walking.  I expect that I will continue learning how to be their parent and how to love them.

And I am grateful for all of the styles of parenting I’ve been able to witness because I will likely draw from all of them as I develop as a mom.

Titmouse.

Ha ha ha. 🙂

for posterity…

So, for posterity’s sake, and so our children know how crazy their parents are, I am posting a copy of the baby sitting notes we left for my awesome brother Andy and his fantastic girlfriend Lauren.  This was from a few months ago.

I don’t believe any further introduction is warranted.  The note reads as follows:

Andy, Lauren – Your mission, which you’ve already chosen to accept, is to KEEP THESE BABIES ALIVE FOR 8 HOURS! Also, they will try to kill you as well. Try to avoid that. Make no mistake, these are pretty indestructible little monsters, but they’ll try their best to test their indestructability.

  • 5:00-6:00 Play with them in their play–pen. They like to be tickled, play peek-a-boo, be bounced on a knee, and continue their nun-chuck training.
  • 6:00 They’ll start getting pissy around this time. This means they’re hungry. First, change their diapers. Diaper training 101:
  1. Remove outer garments.
  2. Slide clean diaper under soiled diaper
  3. Check for hidden explosives
  4. Remove soiled diaper. Place out of reach of little monster.
  5. Secure diaper at belly–button
  6. Replace outer garments.
  • It’s now time to feed the little “angels”. Their food is in the fridge. Bibs are on the chairs. It doesn’t matter who gets what, just so that it’s even. Throw it in the microwave for about 20 seconds so that it’s warm. When they’re done eating, give them a bottle. The bottles are put together and in the corner of the kitchen counter. Put 3 ounces of formula in each bottle. Then add 3 ounces of HOT water to the bottle. If they still seem hungry, give them some puffs that are on the counter (NOT the bourbon sitting next to the puffs – the bourbon is for you). These also placate them while you’re warming up the food.
  • 6:30-6:50 These gremlins LOVE to barf. It’s how they mark their territory. They need to stay in their seats for 20 – 30 minutes after dinner to let things settle. There are two suction cup toys that you can stick on their trays.
  • 7:00-7:45 Continue playing in the pen.
  • 7:45 Change diapers (see above) and put on pjs and sleep sacks. Sit on the floor and read a few stories out of the kiddie bible we set out.
  • 8:00 Lights out. Their vision is based on movement in both bright light and darkness, but they can’t see in dim light. Dim the lights to just above dark. Ocean sounds also seem to distract them and disrupt their plotting. Press the second from bottom button on the back of the sheep with the beret (I can’t believe I just wrote that) for wave sounds. They may cry for a bit. Let them cry. The taste of tears is a natural sedative for them. If still crying after 5 minutes, give them a binky. DO NOT PICK THEM UP. It’s probably just a ruse. We’ll be back around 12 – 12:30. Call if you need anything. God be with you.

Now, I would’ve just scanned in a copy of the actual note and/or saved the original in the twins’ baby boxes.

Unfortunately, I can’t do that.

Why?

Because the next day, the twins ate the note.

No really.  They. ate. the. note.

Have you ever had to tell your childcare provider to check the diapers for a quarter sheet of 60# bright white copy paper?

We have.

It rocks.