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…

the girls: four month update

I am amazed at how quickly time flies since the girls were born! I am sure that time feels like it has passed quickly because of the lack of sleep and mind-numbing schedule of feeding the twins every three hours.  I am happy to say that as the girls hit their fourth month of life, their puking has subsided to only a “special” occasion occurrence (Carrie puked “Happy Father’s Day” in vomit all over her daddy – how sweet!).

Their laughing and smiling has evolved into cooed conversations where both girls try very hard to tell us very important things.  I try to imagine what they are saying, “Mommy, stop breathing on me – your breath is horrible” or “You will never guess what I just did in my diaper!”

At their four month appointment, the doctor was very pleased with their muscle tone, shapes of their heads and neck strength.  While they are still a bit “bobbly”, they are getting stronger and stronger every day.

Since the girls are still not sleeping through the night (love me some Starbucks), our doctor suggested that now would be an appropriate time to start feeding them oat cereal (rice would give them even worse constipation than they already have).  Enthusiastically Frank went out and bought organic oat cereal with probiotics and we went about the business of learning how to feed our girls.

Oh heavens.  It was a mess!  We don’t have high chairs yet, so we set them up in their bouncy seats.  While you or I might know how to use our tongues to swallow food, our girls are more interested in pushing food around their mouth.  The result is more food caked around their lips than actually makes it into their tummies.  Every feeding gets a little bit better, though.

We are also trying to work on a sleep schedule.  We had been letting the girls sort of settle into a natural sleeping routine, but now we are becoming more intentional about it.  We have a bedtime routine and we have been slowly moving their bedtime forward so that we are getting them ready for bed closer to 8:30 or 9 p.m.

All about Ellie:

Ellie wearing a special Father's Day bib for daddy!

Ellie’s red hair seems to be here to stay!  I love to snuggle Ellie and tell her how luscious she is.  She has the most beautiful, healthy-looking cheeks and perfect little lips.  She wants to be entertained when she is awake and loves to play on her activity mat.  When I lay her down on the mat, she kicks her feet wildly and swats and grabs for toys.  She especially enjoys the activity mat with the blinking lights.  Ellie is a great sleeper and is now officially sleeping in her crib and not in her car seat.  I love going into her room in the middle of the night to see what position she has worked herself into.  Ellie seems to have a very sweet disposition and loves to have mommy and daddy time so that she can babble away.  At Ellie’s four month doctor’s appointment she weighed 14 1/2 lbs and was 24 inches long (approximately 50th percentile for four month old full term babies, and 95th percentile for two month pre-term babies).  Miss Ellie is certainly thriving!

All about Carrie:

Carrie in her matching "Chicks dig pilots" bib!

Carrie loves to laugh and smile!  Even in the middle of the night, she often grins when we walk in the room and giggles at us.  She is very chatty and will talk to anyone who will listen.  She does not like to sit still and is working very hard on rolling over.  Like her sister, she is also sleeping in her crib and travels from one end to the other throughout the night.  Carrie is also very amused by her activity mat.  She especially loves bright toys that she can hold and study.  Carrie is very strong and when held up with her feet on the ground, she will stand as straight as an arrow.  She is certainly a lively baby and makes her likes AND dislikes well-known.  We are fortunate that for now, her likes seem to outweigh her dislikes.

Father’s Day

This year was Frank’s first father’s day!  To honor him, the girls (via me) made matching bibs that said “chicks dig pilots”.  When Frank was in college, he was quoted in the collegiate newspaper as having said, “chicks dig pilots” in response to the age-old question, “why did you get into aviation in the first place?”  The reporter used that particular quote as a call out for her story on the aviation school.  Frank never lived it down and was tickled when he saw his own chicks wearing these matching bibs.  The girls also gave Frank extra-long neckties, a sports massage at a local spa and brag book full of pictures that he can share with flight crews wherever he goes.  As an added bonus, the girls and I also had the car washed inside and out – nothing says “Happy Father’s Day” like a tidy baby-mobile!

how to date like Frank and Emily

You might be asking (although, probably not) how Frank and Emily keep the love alive after nearly 8 years of wedded bliss.  Although, you are more likely asking yourself what is for lunch, dinner or when the next season of Mad Men will start (sometime in 2012, sorry folks).  While I can only answer one of your other pressing questions, and I can suggest a myriad of restaurants and delicious recipes for your first two questions, I am able to give you a glimpse into a romantic interlude between my Romeo (Frank) and me.

First, let’s describe the setting.  While many of you are probably used to having dates that take place in the fading light of a romantic sunset (read: best lighting for making everyone look attractive), Frank and I enjoy seeing each other in the stark, raw honesty of late morning sunshine.  We scoff at all of you who fight for reservations to a hot restaurant on a Friday or Saturday night.  Fools!  You can get any table you please on a Thursday morning, as long as your desired restaurant serves breakfast items.

Surrounded by men in business suits having important breakfast meetings, catty middle-aged women gossiping about their non-present friends and elderly couples, Frank and I feel that the mood is ripe for romance.  And, oh, is it!  In between bites of hash browns smothered in onions and cheese and over-sized egg-beater omelettes stuffed with jalapeño peppers, we both come to terms with the fact that our food selections suggest that there will be a pious good-bye kiss at the front door.

But it is between being seated and paying the bill that the real magic happens. Dates are not just about having delicious food and wearing clothes sans spit up stains.  Dates are about the meaningful heart-to-heart conversations that, deep down, we all desire.

Me: So, yeah.  Not such a bad night with the girls, right?  I think this acid reflux thing is behind us.

Frank: Yeah, I think so too.  Thank goodness, I was tired of wearing a rain coat during feedings.

Me: So.  There’s that.  Hey, did you hear about the new animal that was born that is like half giraffe and half zebra? It’s called an okopi.

Frank: Really?  (Gets out his cell phone to verify that I am not pulling his chain.  We have a long history of telling each other things that aren’t true, just to see if the other one repeats it.)  Well, how about that.

Me:  Yeah, it even has the tongue of a giraffe, which is blue.  And super long.

Frank: A giraffe’s tongue is blue?

Me: Yep!  See?  (Now my cell phone is out and I’m showing him pictures of giraffe tongues.  He is impressed.)

If you really want to get hot and bothered, keep reading because our discussions about the logistics of taking care of twins are practically rated PG-13.

Me: OK, so you’re going to go running at 11 and then I’ll pick up the girls at the sitters and then I’ll go running and then you’ll watch the girls and then you’ll go up to the airport for work and then I’ll watch the girls.  But I need $30 (conveniently, I know that is all the cash that Frank has in his wallet at the moment).

Frank: That’s all the cash I have at the moment.

Me: I know.  (Sly smile)

Frank: OK.

(Ten minutes later Frank tries to hand me the $10)

Me: Um, you’re about $20 short.  Wait, why are you giving me the money?  Aren’t you picking up the girls?

Frank: No, you’re picking up the girls.

Me: I am?

Frank: YES!

Me: Oh, yes, you’re right.  You’re still $20 short.

Frank: Grrr.

And lastly, because every moment can become a fun game that annoys your partner to no end, I use these tactics (among many others) to keep our marriage fresh and exciting.  But, brace yourself, we’re getting into NC-17 territory

Scene: Getting ready for a mid-morning nap sans kiddos after our hot brunch date.

Me: … and so then in my dream last night the hotel wasn’t really a hotel after all, it was the house I grew up in and then there was…

Frank: uh huh…..

Me: (not missing a beat) a big picnic set up in the backyard but it wasn’t really a picnic because there wasn’t food there were PICTURES of food and my first grade teacher was there, or, at least I think it was my first grade teacher but she looked like my 7th grade English teacher with shorter hair.  You know, a pixie-type cut but a little shaggier in the back – kind of like a mullet, but not.  So yeah, my first grade teacher was there and she was like, “Um, Emily, you still didn’t turn in your homework.  You can’t graduate from college.” And then I was like, “What?” and then my mom was there and she was mad and my sister pulled my homework out of her MOUTH…

Frank: uh huh… are we almost done?  I really wanted to take a nap.

Me:  Oh, OK.  Fine.

Frank: Great.  Shhhh.  Sleepies.

Me: SHHHH.

Frank: Shhh.

Me: Sh.

Frank: Sh.

Me: (waiting a few seconds) sh.

Frank: (waiting a few more seconds) sh.

Me: (very, very quietly) sh.

Frank: (trying to be even quieter) sh.

Me: (even quieter than Frank) sh.

Frank: (laughing) OK!  C’mon!  Sleepies!

Me: (giggling) OK… (waiting a few seconds) Shhh.

Frank: ARGH!

Me: And then my DAD was in my dream yelling at my sister for eating my homework.  But it wasn’t my sister any more, it was Gwenyth Paltrow…

Frank: I can’t win.

So yeah, in a nutshell, that’s how you keep the love alive.

Smooches!

three things: i love you

Frank and I are quirky.  Not overtly quirky.  Subtly quirky.

And nothing is quite as quirky for us as the somewhat strange ways we say “I love you.”

thing one: making the bed.

When we were first married, I told my new, sweet husband that I loved it when the bed was made.

I neglected to tell him that even though I loved it, I really only loved it when SOMEONE ELSE made the bed.

Frank, trying so dutifully to be the good husband, made the bed frequently, all the while wondering when exactly I was planning on making the bed.

Finally, after about a year of his dutiful bed making, he finally pointed out to me that for someone who loves it when the bed is made, I certainly don’t do much to make it happen, and I realized (insert lightbulb moment here!) that Frank ALSO liked it when the bed was made.

As Frank has been traveling more, even if I can’t do anything else, I try so hard to at least make the bed when he comes home.  And when Frank leaves, he makes the bed for me.

Just seeing the bed made, with the silly stuffed dog in the middle, and I know that he loves me.

thing two: tm,a. mgd.lyb.bbq.

To you, those may only be letters.  Letters that don’t mean anything.

But to me, those letters sum up nearly 8 years of togetherness with Frank.

When we were first dating, if Frank did something to annoy me, he would ask me how much I hated him.  I would say, “This much” and he would say, “Which way?” and I would point in no particular direction and say, “This much, that way!”

But as we fell in love, on of us would ask “how much do you love me?” (or, sometimes, “how much?”) and the other would respond, “this much!” and the first would say, “which way?” and the other would say “always!”

When we were married, we each engraved something on the inside of each other’s rings.  We didn’t tell each other what we were engraving, so after we were married, we both pulled off of our rings only to discover that we both engraved, “This much, always.”  And now, for short, Frank will often text me “tm, a.”

Along the same vein, I would call out to Frank as I got out of the car at work “Make good decisions!” (or mgd for short) It became a game to see who could say it last as we were hanging up the phone or jumping out of the car.

And when Frank is taking off at the airport, he will often just text me “leaving ATL [Atlanta], LYB!”  And of course, as anyone could guess, he is just saying “Love you, bye!”

But the icing on the cake of our love story is BBQ.  What does it mean?

Barbecue.

Yeah, that’s right.  One day Frank texted me “tm,a. mgd.lyb.bbq.”

“BBQ?” I asked him.

“Yeah, BBQ,” he replied casually.

“As in barbecue?”

“Yep.”

“Any reason?”

“Nope.”

“Oh. Ok.”

So when I see this long train wreck of mangled letters, I smile.  It’s how we say, “I love you.”

thing three: the game.

Frank and I play a lot of games with each other.  Weird games.

These games keep our marriage light and playful.

But let’s be real, we’re still a little bit weird.

One of the games is that everything becomes a game.

If he taps me, I tap him back.

Not wanting me to get the last word in – he taps me lightly, just so I might not notice.

And I tap him back, even lighter.

And we do this until one of us finally breaks down and laughs.

Usually it’s Frank who breaks down first.

I’m just telling it like it is.

…… tap….. shhhh.

And in our own way, it’s how we say “I love you.”

seven years ago…

Well, let’s go back a little further – about eight years ago I was breaking up with my then longest boyfriend ever.

It was definitely for the better.

A few days later, this tall, lanky, cute friend of mine, who was very concerned about my well-being after the break up took me out to dinner.  It was probably one of the best dinners I’d had in a long time.  He was so much fun to talk to!  We laughed the entire way home from the dinner and then we sat around for a few hours talking. When he left, he asked me for a good-bye kiss.

“But I just broke up with my boyfriend…”

EMILY!!!  What were you thinking??

And I didn’t think he was really serious.

I called my friend Julie D (who later caught the bouquet at our wedding, coincidentally) and told her “I think I like my friend Frank!”

A month later I went down to Eastern Illinois University and then University of Illinois to meet up with friends… and Frank.

While at U of I, I told my friends that I had a crush on Frank.  I didn’t want there to be any ambiguity about the situation.

I wore a skirt (I knew, even then, that Frank had a soft spot for skirts)…

We went to a party and came back to my friend Kate’s house.

Instead of my friends leaving Frank and I alone to talk, they all sat on the couch with us.

After five long, awkward minutes of virtual silence with everyone staring at eachother, Frank said, “Well… uh, I gotta get going….”

I walked Frank to the door.  He said, “Well, kiddo, this might be the last time I see you until like, Thanksgiving…”

My heart sunk.

“Really?”

“Yeah, probably.”

“Oh.  C’mon, I’m sure I’ll see you before then.”

“Well, how about a good-bye kiss?”

“Frank!  I don’t think so.”  I smiled.  He smiled.

And he left.

Without a good-bye kiss.

EMILY!!! Tactical error!

So, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, I didn’t realize that Frank liked me, even though I totally had a crush on him.  I guess the use of the word “kiddo” kind of threw me off.  It’s sort of a distancing, kid-sister kind of word to use.  Plus, we’d been friends for four years – I couldn’t imagine that he was interested in me.

After that weekend, I called Frank one night “just to talk.” For an hour.  The entire time, I was trying to get the nerve up to tell Frank that I liked him.  You know, liked him, liked him.

I couldn’t do it.

I hung up the phone feeling like an idiot.

So I did what any mature adult would do: I went online.  (hey, I was only a senior in college – what did I know)

Tallgrl98: Hi Frank

Frank523: Hi Emily

Tallgrl98: So, I wanted to tell you something on the phone, but I didn’t get the nerve up to tell you on the phone.  Well, anyway, I like you.

(after I hit send, I wanted to hide forever)

Frank523: Well, I like you too, in a non-platonic kind of way.

Here is where I remind you that I was a BUSINESS major.  I couldn’t remember if platonic was good or bad.  Is non-platonic good or bad?

Instead of going on Dictionary.com and finding out that Frank meant that he liked me as more than friends, I assumed that he was telling me that he only liked me as a friend.

SERIOUSLY??  EMILY!!

Thinking that Frank made himself perfectly clear in not liking me, I moved on.

I dated a few other guys.

But I still REALLY liked Frank.

And one night, again on the instant messager, I was talking to Frank about this new guy I was dating and he told me that his heart was broken.

This confused me.  I asked him why.

He explained that he liked me.  As in, he liked me, liked me.

My heart dropped.

I liked the guy I was seeing, but I liked Frank a whole lot more.

Night and day really.

You know, I like orange juice, but I realllly like ice cream.

Two totally different kinds of like.

But who knew what was going to happen with Frank.  He wasn’t sure where he was going after graduation.

My heart was so torn.

Over Memorial Day, I went down to visit a friend in Asheville, NC.  While I was there, we watched a movie and I fell sound asleep on the couch.

While I was sleeping, I dreamt about Frank.  I won’t bore you with the details (and I could totally tell you exactly the dream I had – it’s still vivid), but I woke up with the distinct feeling that I HAD to break up with the guy I was seeing and I HAD to figure out a way to make it work with Frank.

So, as any mature college senior would do, I logged on to instant messager from my friend’s house.

While I was breaking it off with one guy in a conversation in one window, I was making plans to go on a date with Frank in another window.

And my soul felt at peace.

And Frank finally got his good-bye kiss.  And I realized that Frank only says “kiddo” to people he really, really cares about.

About 10 months after our first kiss, Frank proposed on March 21st, 2003.

But one week before he proposed (seven years ago today), I graduated from my PIT class at my first ad agency (PIT= People in Training).  After 10 weeks of the class on top of my regular work load, I was looking forward to having some semblance of my life back.

Frank suggested that we go on a nice date to celebrate the end of training.  Little did I know what he was planning.

What’s funny is that the week before he proposed, I was starting to wonder where the relationship was going.

We were having some pretty deep conversations about our relationship, and in an effort to not tell me his plan to propose, Frank was being a little bit aloof about our future plans.  And I read that as him not wanting to get married.

The good news is that I was wrong.

Six months after Frank proposed, we were married.

I think it worked out perfectly.

three things: marriage edition

I was just thinking today, outloud, about how far Frank and I have come since we were first married.

I’ve only really witnessed a few marriages up close and personal – my parents and my maternal grand parents.

And both were marriages were/are very fiery, passionate, yet humorous, pairings.

I guess they raised my tolerance level for my own marriage.  Which is good because, man, Frank really tested my limits.

And from time to time, I tested his…

Here are three things about our marriage:

Example 1.  The Shower.

When Frank and I were first married, he liked to test the boundaries (many of you who know me in real life know these stories – so you can feel free to skip ahead).

Frank thought it was quite novel that now that we were married, it was for LIFE.  And he liked to see exactly how long I would let him live.

His first test of the longevity of our union was simple: pour cold water on me over the top of the shower.  Awe-some.

Unfortunately for him, I got wise and I could hear him running the water in the kitchen and yell at him pre-emptively.

When that got old (which was rather quickly), he decided to go for the grand-daddy of all shower pranks: he threw cold water over the top, flushed the toilet and turned off the lights.

And he’s still alive today.

Example 2. The Bugs.

When I am stressed out, I dream about weird things.  When we were first married, I had a very stressful job and we had a bug infestation. Specifically, the bug infestation was a colony of earwigs.  You know, the ugly bugs with pinchers on them?  In one night, Frank killed 19 of them in our master bedroom.

It was nasty.

As a result, I would dream about bugs crawling on me and I would wake up at 4 a.m., turn on all the lights in our room and pull back the covers.

Thankfully, the only thing I found in the bed was a very confused husband staring back at me.

One night, as we were falling asleep, Frank gently brushed my leg with his finger, mimicking the sensation of a bug crawling on my thigh.

Squealing, I jumped out of bed, turned on the lights and pulled back the covers.  Frank grinned back at me, proud of his accomplishment.

“FINE!” I said, snatching my pillow off of the bed.  “I will sleep on the COUCH!”

Sidebar: If you know nothing about Frank, you should just know that he HATES being startled, especially by people jumping out at him. Continuing on with the story…

As I stormed down the hall, Frank realized that he went too far and followed me out to the family room.

What he didn’t know is that I ducked into the laundry room.

As he passed the dark laundry room on his way to the also dark family room, I jumped out at him, yelling.

Frank screamed.  I smiled.  We both went back to bed and eventually fell asleep.

Example 3. The Penny.

There are a few things that happen in our marriage that Frank and I are fully aware of, but we don’t say anything about them.  I can’t tell you about the most current examples of this because, well, Frank reads this blog and it would break the code of silence prematurely.

When we were first married, there was a penny on the floor of the kitchen.  I’m not sure how it got there, but when I noticed it I wondered if Frank would pick it up.

And Frank wondered if I would pick it up.

For months, we walked around this penny in the kitchen.  I even washed the floors around the penny.

We said not a word to each other about the penny.

One day Frank’s mom was visiting and she saw the penny and bent down to pick it up -but I stopped her.

“Oh, no, go ahead and leave that penny there.  I’m waiting to see if Frank will pick it up,” I explained.

She sort of cocked her head to one side and looked at me, puzzled.

She still does that.  Our marriage often causes people to pause and wonder.

And I don’t blame them.