housekeeping

Before I get caught up with the blog…

Entropy, or the concept that time moves in only one direction, has been a minor distraction of mine for the entirety of my life. I find it fascinating that we can physically move in many directions in space, but only in one direction in time.  So I love fiction (and non fiction) that talks about wormholes and time travel and other time-bending/reversing theories. The first chapter book my dad read to me was HG Wells’s The Time Machine.  Good stuff, even if I was only in second grade.

And so, here I sit, marveling at how precisely and fluidly time has marched forward, plucking away, while life happens. I am particularly aware of time’s effects when I look at our not-so-little Annie! Annie constantly grows and changes imperceptibly over the course of a day, but it isn’t until I look at pictures from a few months ago that I become aware of how she is no longer an infant and is verging on toddlerhood.

Speaking of Annie…

Annie is ten-and-a-half-months old.  If we were to assign labels, I would call Annie my “chill” baby.  She slept through the night at two months, rarely cries and loves playing little games with me.  Her favorite is when we grunt back and forth at each other until she dissolves into giggles.  As the designated “chill” baby, she is taking her time with mobility. A mighty-fast army crawler, she refuses to pull herself up on anything unless she feels the reward is greater than the risk.  She will walk assisted, but prefers to be on the ground, stealthily getting into things and finding little treasures (lint, dustbunnies). With a mobile baby, you can never vacuum or sweep enough – so – my new mantra: why bother?

Annie is eating table foods with ease, enjoys a good sippy cup every now and then, and is transitioning to reduced formula levels.  She loves to give “noseys”, but nose-beware: she is aggressive with her affection and has no fear of breaking a nose – yours or hers!

She is a dancer in the style of the groundhog from Caddy Shack, grooving in a herky-jerky rhythmic fashion while balancing on my knee.  She rolls with most things: no nap, no problem!, but occasionally develops a strong preference that she makes known.  Recently, she has developed a strong dislike for her “cage” – an open-air baby-safe area that she can roam around in our family room. Girlfriend knows her mind!

So that’s Annie the Awesome.

Her twinster sisters are four, which means, thank goodness, they are no longer three.  Three was a little bit of a debacle.  Considering the major changes in our family, it was actually not terrible, but three year olds certainly have an opinion that they enjoy sharing all-the-time.

At four, they are more reasonable and really quite smart.  They love talking about the natural sciences with Frank (how does the sun work? where does it go at night?) and ask surprisingly detailed follow up questions that demonstrate that they are trying to learn a topic.  While they need frequent reminders about manners and tidying up, most of the time they have it down right.  My current quest is to help Carrie word statements so they sound less like accusations (“Apparently you forgot to tell us what the day of the week is, Mom”) and more like reminders (“Hey mom, can you tell us the day of the week please?”).  I have a feeling that mastering this skill will be super useful to her in life – especially marriage.

We just had the girls’ parent-teacher conferences and it was interesting to see how the girls’ personalities come to light differently in the world than they do at home. Carrie has always been a dynamic little personality, but in the past year she has really blossomed and has been identified as a leader in her classroom.  She is encouraged to allow other children to also lead, but her teachers said that the other kids are quite happy to do whatever she suggests.  It will be interesting to watch that skill unfold and be refined.  At home, Carrie is often the laid-back kid who would prefer to sit slack-jawed in front of the TV for hours if we let her (we don’t let her!).

Ellie, who often instructs Carrie in what to do at home, is a little bit more introverted in the classroom.  She is also quite smart, grasping skills and concepts quickly.  She loves to take some time to herself to read a book while at school, but then is also happy to go play with her friends.  At home, we’ve seen her working on her teaching skills with Carrie and some of her other friends.  It’s quite cute to see her kneel down to instruct another child on how to do something.  When the other child accomplishes the tasks, she is so encouraging saying, “That’s right! Good job!” It’s really a joy to watch!

As far as staying at home – the short response is: it’s good.

The longer response is:

It is both what I imagined and nothing that I imagined.  I’ve kept busy with some free-lance projects and volunteering, but I’ve also loved just being with the girls to hear about their days and to go on little adventures.  Like many mothers before me have noted, it’s frequently hard to know where the day has gone. I rarely find myself just sitting on the couch or with free time to write, which is contrary to how I imagined it would be. I can appreciate why so many stay at home moms feel under attack by others who question “What did you do all day?”  There is a lot of time and energy that goes into keeping the operations of our household running, but the actual tasks are often not worth noting.  I cleaned a toilet. I fed the children. I paid some bills. I researched a project. I did some work.

I can also appreciate why some moms are totally unstimulated by staying at home.  Repetitive tasks like dishes and laundry have become monsters in their own right.  Boring, tedious monsters that scare – not by jumping out of dark corners when I least expect them to – but by just sitting where they are, staring quietly with eyes that plainly say, “Sure. Fold me/Clean me – I’ll just be right back here in a matter of hours or days. Try me.” These monsters are unrelenting in many ways.

Of course, these monsters existed even when I worked, but let’s be honest: I rarely cooked when I worked so we ran the dishwasher once a day (maybe). Now, I run that sucker two or three times a day. And when I worked, I had a lot of dry cleaning and only had time for laundry once a week, making it feel more like an exciting event.  Now with five people in our family, laundry has to be done twice a week or we will drown in laundry. Literally.

To finish my evolution into a complete cliche, the twins will start soccer in two weeks with one of their buddies down the street from us. So yes, I will be rolling into soccer practice in our minivan, drinking a half-caf latte and wearing yoga pants. It’s going to happen and there is nothing any of us can do to stop it. So I say, embrace it!

Over the course of my existence, I’ve come to realize that nothing lasts forever. I know that this stay at home mom experience is just a season of my life. I am doing this for now, and I will do something else later. In spite of the laundry and dish monsters lurking at every turn, I am trying to put into practice the concept of being content where I am and enjoying this season of life.

So that’s it.  I think I’m caught up now with the blog.  I am hoping to write on a few more topics in the upcoming weeks because so much more has been happening in the K-House than just laundry!

bedtime

At first, they were quiet.  It was 8:35 p.m.  Well past bedtime.

And then they were talking and singing.  I ignored it.

And then I heard the first footsteps thunk on the floor over my head.

Crap, I thought.

The footsteps were quickly joined by their matching pair.  The footsteps padded around the twins’ room.

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle.

And then, almost without warning, the footsteps were running at a frenzy down the hall and to the stairs. Bum da bum da bum bum bum bum bum.

“MOOOOOMMMMM!!!” shouted both girls.

“What?” I asked firmly, trying to walk the fine line between yelling and pleading.

“There is a GHOST! We saw HIM!” said Carrie, appearing around the entry of the living room, her eyes wide, but her lips betrayed her as they were curled up in a smile.

“Seriously? There isn’t a ghost,” I told her.  A curly red head popped around the same corner.

“Yes, yes there IS!” Ellie testified.

“No, there isn’t. C’mon girls, go back to bed,” I directed them.

Sensing that I knew that they were making the whole thing up, the twins scurried up the stairs.  I heard their footsteps round the corner of the banister and chase each other down the long hall to their room.

Whispering, talking and then outright hollering ensued.  I sighed.

THUNK! 

I cocked my head to the side to listen to hear if there was a follow up scream of pain. Nope.

And then there was the dull staccato of little feet running on the carpet, flying around the banister and drumming down the stairs.

“MOOOOM!” Oh, the whining.  Frank and I have been trying to break them of it.  Every word is stretched out by at least one or more syllables, often with sentences beginning with the word, “Buhhhhhhh-t!” (“But” is the original, un-mangled word). We correct them nearly every time the whining surfaces, sometimes even demonstrating for them how absolutely annoying the whining is.

So far, we’ve only been met with blank stares and more whining.

Parenting appears to be a lot of repetition without a lot of immediate gratification.  I’m guessing in 30 years the twins won’t even remember to thank us for breaking them of this nasty habit – they will just be consumed with the whining in their own homes.

But I digress.

“What now?” I asked. Again, working hard to maintain a firmness in my voice without sounding desperate. If they could please, please, please sleep, I could get some of the long, long over-due thank you notes done.

“Ayeeeee. Neeeeed. Waaaahhhh-ter!” complained Carrie.

“Stop whining, please.  You can get a glass of water.”

“Mooooom.  Ayeeeee. Neeeeeed. Kleeeenexxxxxx!” called Ellie.

“Well, first, please stop whining.  Second.  Please, for the love, go get a Kleenex.”

As far as I could tell, the feet and voices obeyed.  The footsteps wandered back to the twins’ bedroom. Another loud THUNK.

I sighed.  I put down the pen I was using to write out thank you notes.

Up the stairs I went, flipping off the light in the twins’ bathroom at the top of the stairs.

Their bedroom is at the far end of a long hallway, giving them ample time to hop into bed and to pretend as though they never left it in the first place.

“Girls,”I said upon arriving. “Get. In. Bed.”

Carrie stared back at me, deciding whether she was going to heckle me by stating the obvious.

“We are, Mooom.”

Oh no, she didn’t! I thought.

“You weren’t three seconds ago. I can HEAR you walking around and singing and hollering,” I told them.  Ellie’s eyebrows inadvertently shot up.  This was news to her.

“Girls. I am very, very disappointed to find you both out of your beds, wandering around and playing…” so began my lecture.

I am sure I said many wise and important Mom-things from the doorway to the twins’ room.  In response both girls tried to explain that they were only playing with the doll house.

But as my gaze around the room took in both the chaotic mess of their room (So.Many.Stuffed.Animals!), my heart softened as I looked at their little faces.

“Please, girls, go to bed.  We can do so many fun things tomorrow, but you need your rest so that you can enjoy them.” I finished.  Not quite General Patton, but I was severely limited by my own lack of stamina and restrictions on appropriate word choices (the twins’ expert-level use of the phrase “sons of bitches” is not what I want to get called into pre-school for this year).

“But Mom, remember when we went to the park with Daddy and the lightening and the thunder and we had to hurry home and it rained?” said Carrie as quickly as she could.

I started to interrupt her.  I started to tell her that the story about the storm was irrelevant, but then I stopped myself.

Her big blue eyes were serious. Playing at the park and leaving because of a storm was one of the riskiest things she’d ever done in her life so far. It was not a secondary detail, but an important thing to remember while I was telling her about future plans to play at the park.

“Yes, and everything was OK.  It was scary, but you made it home and everything was OK.  Now let’s go to bed and get rested for the busy day tomorrow, OK?”

There was some more whining and some more negotiating, but in the end, there were two girls in two beds, attempting (as far as I could tell) to sleep.

I went downstairs, stopping at the kitchen for a snack.  As I walked back to the living room, I had a realization that I am sure that every parent has.  It isn’t a new or unique or extraordinary.

It is as common as the way that time marches onward.

I realized that there will be a day when the twins and Annie are gone.  They will be at college or in their first apartments or wherever, but what’s important is that they won’t be at home. Around bedtime on that day, I will probably wander into the kitchen for a snack or a glass of water.  I will turn off the lights in the kitchen as I leave and round the corner to the living room, passing the stairs as I go.  I will look up those stairs and I will realize that there isn’t a light on, dimly, in the hallway for little girls to find their way to the potty late at night.  I will wander up the stairs, around the banister and to the end of the hallway.

I will stand in the doorway of the twins’ room, remembering that years ago I told them to please, for the love of all that is good, go.to.bed.

And instead of big blue eyes peering up at me from a lovely mop of blond hair or piercing blue eyes looking back at me framed by a mane of wild red curls – there will be two perfectly made twin beds.  They will be well-worn and indented in the middle from where two little girls grew up tall and strong and smart and brave.

I will stand in that doorway, holding a cold glass of water with the condensation making my hand wet and I will stare at that room for a really long time, remembering.

And I know, without a doubt, I will wonder, maybe even aloud, “Where did all that time go? How can they be gone already?”

So tonight I sat down in the living room, put away the thank you notes, and wrote this down.  Not just for me, but for my girls so that they know how deeply and profoundly loved they are – and as Frank says to them whenever he puts them to bed, “you can’t do anything to change that.”

I love you Elliana, Carrigan and Annabel. Every minute, of every day.

annie: two months-ish

Hello Annie!

You are two months and three weeks old. The Baby Center email updates are a wonderful reminder of the time that is passing.  Even though you have been here for a short period of time, it seems like you’ve been here forever. I commented to your dad that it seemed that our family was sorely missing you – and we didn’t even realize it! He agreed – you have been such a gift!

You are a lovely, delicious baby.  You have soft reddish hair that stands up on top of your head because, quite frankly, your daddy brushes your hair that way.  Your sky-blue eyes dance whenever I make funny noises at you.  Your plump little cheeks fluff out whenever you are smiling and delighted.  You have a smooth, expressive voice that coos and grunts and sings to me throughout the day.

You are a fantastic sleeper.  Sweet heavens to Betsy, please always be an excellent sleeper! You sleep through the night, much to the surprise of the doctors.  Since you are tipping the scales at 14 lbs 12 oz and are 24 inches long, the doctors have reluctantly decided that your sleep habits are just fine – albeit somewhat out of the ordinary. “Well, NORMALLY, if a baby was sleeping through the night THIS early, we’d be concerned, BUT, since she’s clearly gaining weight and eating well… I guess it’s OK.”

Miss Annie at 2 months 3 weeksish... Sleepin' like a rock star!

Miss Annie at 2 months 3 weeksish… Sleepin’ like a rock star!

Like all babies at your age, you prefer to be held, but if I can’t hold you, your second choice is to have a view of all of the activity going on around you.  You soak in your sisters wacky, loud antics while kicking your little legs to make your bouncy chair rock back and forth.  You seem to enjoy them for their entertainment value, but I’ve noticed you get a little concerned when it appears that you think I am handing you off to one of them.  You should be concerned – I’ve seen what the twins do to their dolls, so I’m not about to leave you with them unsupervised. (Carrie’s bitty baby hasn’t had clothes on since the second day she’s been here, and Ellie’s bitty baby has spent a lot of her time face-down in a stroller…)

It’s good to get to know you, Miss Annie.  While I can’t wait to see who you will become – I am certainly enjoying this time with you now.

Love,

Mom

three

We are pleased to announce that we are expecting our third baby in May 2014!

Having children is certainly an… adventure… for us and for a long time, we weren’t sure if we’d have any children, let alone fulfill our hopes for a larger family.  We can scarcely believe that we’ve been so blessed with the twins and to find out that we are expecting a third is beyond amazing.

Since my husband is Frank the Fifth, we’ve been asked plenty of times whether we are hoping for a boy next.  We’ve talked about our hopes and desires for the next baby, and as cliche as it sounds, we would just be beyond grateful for a healthy baby.

We figure a girl is great because we have all the clothing, toys and so on that a girl could ever need.  And also – we know how girls work.  The dolls, the moods, the sensitivity, the giggles – and we love everything about having twin girls – so one more girl would be delightful!

We figure a boy is great because, well, we don’t have a boy and boys seem like fun! Wrestling on the family room floor, trucks (which the girls love, too) and other dude stuff seems like a good time for everyone.  Plus, it helps Frank have someone he can relate to on a manly-man level.  You know, passing the torch and what-not.

So far, I’ve had six ultrasounds, thanks to a pesky bleed and other factors, and the baby is growing right on target and is a super swimmer – jumping and kicking all over the place. This one reminds me of Carrigan. Carrigan was always jetting around her amniotic sack, giving her sister a run for her money.

We haven’t decided officially if we want to know the gender ahead of time.  There are few great surprises in life – the gender of your children being one of them.

Final

 

 

an open letter to other twin-to-be parents

Congratulations!

And, yes. Twins are hard.

I want to be all like, “what? twins? hard? for you, perhaps…”

But that’s not true.

Twins. Are. Hard.

Know it, love it, live it… and then get your peace with it and eat some chocolate and then get a little more peace with it and eat some ice cream… rinse and repeat as needed.

Twins are also awesome and for so many more reasons than dressing them alike (or in coordinating outfits) at Christmas.

Which is, of course, still awesome.

Obviously, what makes twins twins is that they are born at the same time (unless you’re these people, in which case, I got nothing). The beauty of first-born twins is this: they are equally adored and equally ignored.

My friends having their second babies lament that their first will feel put off and that their second will never feel the benefit of sole attention.

Guess what? Twins have no clue. From day one, they always had a buddy.  To make up for the shared spotlight, twins are given a lot of public adoration and attention at the mall.  I’ve gone out with one baby and was virtually ignored.  I go out with two? “OMG! Twins! I have friends that are twins! Do you know all of the other twins in the world? Are yours natural? Identical? SQUEE! Twins!”

Parenting twins also has a ton of built-in grace. Raising two babies simultaneously means that you realize at warp-speed that you are not nearly as awesome or as awful of a parent as you may have initially thought.

For example: Ellie is a lovely, delightful child who HAS TO have her mommy Now. And Now. AND NOW.  Forget you if you get in her way.  For like, 23 seconds I considered that her neediness was a DIRECT result of MY parenting. I thought, “I HAVE FAILED! BAHHH!!” I look over at her sister Carrie who walks into a room, hugs everyone and hollers, “HEY FRIENDS! HOW’S IT GOING?” And for another two seconds, while watching sweet Carrie charm her way into Grandpa K’s lap for a cookie, I think, “Man, I’m an awesome mom. I mean, really.  Look at that kid. I rock!”  …Reality settles in. Neither situation has as much to do with me as it does have to do with the girls’ individual and unique and lovely personalities.

This realization also allows me to go to play dates and trips the park and not go into a tailspin because Joey is climbing higher and Suzie is saying more words and on and on and on. Raising twins is a daily reminder of the uniqueness of each child.

Twins keep it real.

When you have two infants flipping you the bird because breakfast is late AGAIN because you just need two more seconds of sleep FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD, you kind of say, “forget the daily pictures of the kids in every outfit – I need a shower!” (and a drink and chocolate and ice cream and rinse and repeat as needed…).  You cut out the extra stuff – like organizing your diaper bag so that the bibs coordinate with the changing pad and your wallet – and you just make sure you have both babies when you walk out the door.

And your keys.

And your wallet.

And diapers.

And everything else.

While well-dressed, matching babies are totes adorbs and say, “I got this business LOCKED down” – it’s not the most important thing. Unless you make your living parading around your well-dressed, matching babies… in which case, I stand corrected.

Parenting twins means you figure out your most important things early on. The battles worth fighting.  The wars worth winning.

For us? Daily showers. Mascara for me, matching socks for Frank.  Snuggles with the girls. Walks to the grocery store. Trips to the park. Games of hide and seek. Bubbles on the lawn.

Were there nights where I walked the first floor of our house in endless circles with a baby in each arm singing “Fifty Nifty” and swearing whenever I messed up the order of the States? Yes.  Were there days where Frank and I bartered with impossible promises for an extra hour of sleep? Maybe.

But just as quickly as we were awash in the insanity of twin newborns with acid reflux, it was over. And nothing makes you more aware of your own humanity and mortality than watching your child grow up.  Singleton babies or multiples – you will blink and this time will be gone.

So yes. Twins are hard. But if you are fortunate enough to parent twins (or triplets or quads…or you know, a bunch), the blessings are multiplied as well.

Good luck and Godspeed.

 

produce

I have issues with produce.  I wish I didn’t have these issues.  I have friends who love produce – who cannot get enough of berries and apples and veggies!

But I… I have issues. Confession time:

 

Produce freaks me the freak out. Selecting even the most basic fruit in the store makes me break out in hives because I live in constant fear of Getting It Wrong.  Bananas. Seems easy enough.  But I hesitate because do I want all yellow bananas?  What if I don’t eat them fast enough and then they get mushy and get TOO banana-ey? What if I don’t have time to make banana bread with the mushy banana and then, bam, I’ve lost that banana?  Or, what if I buy them too green and have to wait a few days and then when they are JUST turning yellow, open it up and find out that it’s still just a bit too firm on the inside? I mean, I’ll eat it anyway, but I won’t like it as much.

And peeps, that’s just me and bananas.  Strawberries.  They all look great in the carton, but on far too many occasions  I’ve removed the top berry to find a hairy, moldy, nast-tastic strawberry lurking in the center.  And then I start wondering, “Well, has that strawberry contaminated the other strawberries?  Are they all secretly going moldy and then, you know, what if I don’t wash the strawberries well enough??”

Tomatoes seem to be easier for me, so we eat a lot of those.  Raspberries are the same issue as strawberries, plus, they really need a lot more rinsing and inspecting. Pineapples are responsible for the pesky frown lines in my forehead.  As are melons.  Grapes used to be easy, but then I’ve had a few icky batches and now I furrow my brow in their general direction, too.

Do NOT get me started on lettuce. First of all, I know the bagged lettuces are bad.  I’ve read the articles about the lettuce bacteria found in the prepared salad bags that will eat your face off in the middle of the night. But that, to me, is less scary than getting a thingie of Romaine lettuce.  There’s like, dirt up in the romaine lettuce.  You have to really clean those suckers.  And even then, I find myself picking through my salad wondering if I got it all…

NOT FUN.

Once I get through the screening process and the washing process and the prep process, I find myself LEERY of the final product. Uncertain of whether I’ve made the right decision and having bitten into a few too many items of produce that just didn’t taste right, I am slow to chomp down.

I’m more likely to be OK with produce at a restaurant – far more confident in someone else’s ability to select, clean, prepare and serve produce than my own. Tell me all you want about kitchens in restaurants – and I’m still more likely to enjoy their produce than my own. It’s sad.

In an effort to do better with produce, I’ve started purchasing most of my produce through Peapod.  They do a nice job of picking out produce and I’ve had far fewer misses with their selections than with mine.  Even still…

You know what I’ve never wondered about?  Chocolate. Maybe I should just focus on my strengths. Do what you know, you know?

woops

On Saturday morning, I decided that I would go for a nice, long jog. It always clears my head and helps me think. At mile one, I took a dive and scraped up my knees and hand. Niiice. Way to go, Em.

I went home Saturday night and hung out with Frank. It was nice to have some FK and EK time. Sunday we went to church and then went down to the lake to spend the day relaxing. This morning, Frank and I had breakfast and I came back down to P-Town to see Dad and help out around the house.

Dad had a terrible headache today, likely the result of brain swelling due to the substantial stroke he suffered. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the worst pain he’s ever felt, he was at a 9. After hounding the nurses several times, he was finally given 2 tylenol. After that didn’t take the edge off, they came back with 2 vicoden. They also took him over to the ER for a CT scan. My poor dad!!! First they had to move him from his bed onto the stretcher. Two women moving a 200 lb 6’3″ man off of a bed and onto a stretcher does not go smoothly! Then they jostled him down to the elevator, onto a van and across the street, where the jostled him onto a CT scan bed and then back on to the stretcher for the return ride. Poor guy had a terrible headache and then was bumped around for almost an hour!!! Fortunately the vicoden (vicodin?) finally started to work. Phew!!