why I quit

Well, it’s taken me a few months to come out with this, but I quit my day job.

Yup. Quit.

Good-bye.

Donesies.

You should know, first and foremost, I loved my day job.  Yeah, there were crappy days and sometimes crappy seasons, but I love to work.  I’m kind of a junky like that.

Specifically, I loved the people I worked for and with.  Every day was new and fresh and different. That was excellent.

But…

After a night of fitful sleeping (the twins did this sleep regression thing for like, a year, that just about ended me), I would awake to the sweet sound of my alarm clock.  Or, in a wave of terror and panic, I would awake to two eyes staring at me from three inches away from my face. Either way, most work mornings were terrible. Corralling twin two year olds, convincing them to wear the clothes I wanted them to wear (for expediency’s sake), getting them moving in the right direction (towards the door) and also making sure that I was presentable – all by 7 a.m. so that we could run out the door, stop at Starbucks, drop the girls at their sitter and arrive at work on-time – was a fiasco.  Nearly every day someone cried.  Maybe it was the twins. Maybe it was me.  Maybe it was a squall line of stormy tears that ended almost as quickly as it began.  Maybe it was a freaking hurricane that lasted two days (“Mom. Mom. MOMMY. Remember how yesterday SHE wore the pink dress and I didn’t?” Commence tears. For two days.).  But there were almost always tears trying to leave the house.

Oh, and last winter I was very pregnant and it was -20 several mornings.

It was … amazing? Yes. Amazing.  Like, amazing that I didn’t develop some sort of twitch.

Or maybe I did.

Anyway, that was just the mornings.  If I had night meetings, my mom (St. Mary Kay) did pick ups and I arrived home after bedtime, exhausted.  If I didn’t have night meetings, I picked up two tired and hungry two year old toddlers and schlepped them home to try to make something that looked like dinner that, very often, they wouldn’t eat anyway. And then, because hygiene has always been a priority in our house, I’d hose the kids off in a very unfun bath, sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” as fast as I could, and put them to sleep.

I’d like to pause right now and give a big shout out to single parents out there.

SINGLE PARENTS! Holy crap.  How do you do this, ALL THE TIME? Seriously.  Good for you. GOOD FOR YOU.  Single parents do not get enough credit or sleep or time off. While Frank was gone for four days each week, I was by no means a single parent.  I had a safety net that came home and let me sleep and made breakfast and did tuck-ins. And baths.  So, all I’m saying is, I have a strong appreciation for the legit single parents.  You rock.

So, back to me.

I did this three days a week.  On the fourth day, because Jesus is kind and my Mother-In-Law loves her grandchildren (St. Sandy), the kids would get to stay home and paint and color and have fabulous tea parties with GrahSandy.

And THEN, Frank would come home.  Now, while a lot of people do point out that he had the benefit of a full night’s sleep at a hotel and dinners out and so on, WHICH HE TOTALLY DID AND I NEVER FORGOT THAT FOR EVEN ONE MINUTE, the flipside is that he was staying in a hotel with paper-thin walls, in an uncomfortable bed and eating at Chili’s-type restaurants for every.single.meal.  As an aside, I do not actually want to know how his body has been chemically altered by that lifestyle, but if any scientists are curious about the effects of Chipotle-Chili’s-Panda Express-only food pyramid lifestyles, Frank is totally available.

And then he had a terrible commute to and from work.  Thanks to the brilliant Wright Amendment (which ended on 10/13/14 – woot!), Frank could never fly non-stop to Dallas from Midway for work.  He always had to stop. Sometimes he had to change planes.  No matter what, a generally short 2 1/2 hour flight would be dragged out at least an extra hour or so – possibly more.

Once he landed in Chicago, he had another hour to two hour drive home, depending on traffic.  His route often covered four Interstates/Tollways/Expressways, so every time he has to exit/enter a new road, there was a significant opportunity for a back up.

So that was fun for him.

Often he would walk in the door and I would launch the nearest twin in his general direction as a means of saying “hello darling.” He learned to reflexively drop the suitcase in order to catch the child.  He’s spry.

Fortunately I didn’t work on Fridays, so we used Fridays to catch up on stuff like seeing our children. And chores and paperwork.  And moving houses.  We moved houses last year.  I just finished unpacking recently.  So, yeah, we got that going for us.

And laundry.  Do you know how much laundry a family of four generates?  That’s nuts.  Now that there are five of us, we’ve reached epic levels of laundry.

I’m saying all of this to say that the way that our family was operating was unsustainable.

Considering all that we went through in order to have a family, I was realizing more and more that I was going to get to the twins 18th birthday and probably say, “What the crap was THAT?” in reference to their entire childhood.

That’s not cool.

And then we were adding a third child to this situation.

When Annie was born, I found myself looking at her little fingers and her little face and thinking/praying, “Thank you God for sending this baby to save me from myself.”

I don’t think that’s hyperbole; Annie’s birth probably saved our family from the future we were racing toward.

I would’ve kept working if we only had the twins.  I would’ve muscled through it and done the “grin and bear it” routine.  I would’ve missed events at school and stuff at work, feeling inadequate and terrible in both arenas. Frank and I would’ve put our marriage on ice and hoped there was something left when the kids went off to their small liberal arts colleges along the Mississippi River or in Upstate New York (or maybe a Big Ten school, I don’t really know).  We could’ve done it.  I would’ve done it.

It would’ve been a mess.

I wondered while I was pregnant with Annie how it would play out if I kept the crazy cycle going. And always, I just sort of knew, we couldn’t stop the landslide – so we better just sidestep it.

At first, when Frank and I started thinking about this change, we kept looking at our checkbook.  But, in an unspoken way, we kind of knew that God would provide and He seems to open and close doors for us in a weird way. We decided to trust this rhythm we had with God and we had with each other and make this move.

On my last day of work, I was filled with relief and … something else.  Turns out, thanks to an abundance of psychologists in my life, this other feeling was grief.

It was hard to quit. As I said before, I love to work.  I love projects and check lists and people and ideas and all manner of work-y type things.

I just do.  It’s weird, when I think of it, how much I do like to do these things.

So while it was hard to release the death grip I had on working, I did it.

I did it because I love my family. I love my husband and I love my children. I did it because all of those stupid cliches are sometimes true – people on their deathbeds don’t say, “Gee, I wish I worked more.” People dying say, “I wish I had more time with my family.”

I give mad props to the women who work and have families and can do it all.  That is awesome.  I so wanted to be that woman – the one who could work and, like day to evening Barbie, transition effortlessly to caring for my family with organic homemade food and manicured hands. It’s just that, for me, the reality is this: I. Can’t. Do. It.

In some ways I felt like I was a failure because I couldn’t do it all.  I couldn’t sustain all of these fires I had burning without getting burned myself.

Staying at home with the children is work, no doubt. And I went through a hazing week a few weeks ago that caused me to see my hairstylist earlier than normal to touch up my roots. My dear friend, St. Eve, had to increase her data plan due to the insane amount of text messages she received from me, many consisting of things like “Sweet Jesus help me!” and “OMG YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE WHAT JUST HAPPENED.” It got so ugly, she stopped reading my texts while eating.

Enough of that, though. (for now)

When the rays of sunshine are long, stretching across the floor of our office/study/gathering area and the twins are busy drawing a very important picture for me to review and Annie is spreading spit-up across her blanket and the floor; when the sink is happily full of dishes from meals eaten at home; when the girls’ fingers are prunes from long bath times playing; when we have a stack of books to read at bedtime from the library; when we can take our time walking to school in the morning holding hands and saying “hi” to Miss Leslie-the-Crossing-Guard (and Carrie can give her a flower); when our kitchen window is full of pictures and when the five of us are snuggled on a couch – when those moments and days and experiences happen, my heart is full and happy.

And when a whole bunch of other stuff goes down (future blog posts, maybe), I sometimes wish I could be somewhere else. Like at a job. Or hiding in my bathroom with the door locked.

But no matter the situation, this is a pretty awesome gig: this staying-at-home business.

SInce I’ve been at home, I wanted to blog more.  Write about Ellie and Carrie and Annie.  After all, this blog is for them. But no matter the blog posts I was writing in my head, I could never put them down because before I could write all of that, I had to write this.

So here it is. Sort of word vomit. Sort of an explanation.

To my daughters: if you work outside the home and have children, awesome. If you work outside the home and don’t have children, awesome (but get some dogs that I can spoil or travel a bunch so I can bore my friends at The Home with the minutia of your latest adventures). If you stay at home and have children, awesome.  If you stay at home and don’t have children, seriously, what are you doing? Go to work. Or volunteer. Geesh.

’round here…

Just a few diddies, in no particular order…

I had Annie on her floor mat, working on rolling over. Ellie came over, intrigued by what was going on.

“Ellie, want to help me teach Annie how to roll over?” I asked.

“Sure. I got this.  Watch.” And I did watch as Ellie unceremoniously pushed Annie over. “There. Done.”

Annie, because she’s cool as a cucumber, was unfazed.

 

As we pulled into the Peapod Pick Up location, I told the girls to say “hi” to Peapod.

“Hi Peapod! We are here! How are you today?” asked Ellie.

“Oh, I’m OK. I’m just tired and taking a nap,” answered Carrie in a squeaky voice, apparently in-character as the Peapod building.

 

This happens nearly every morning at breakfast: Ellie gulps down her orange juice just as I’ve started feeding Annie her long-awaited, much-deserved cereal and/or bottle.  As I explain to Ellie that I am feeding Annie and cannot get her more juice, she says, “OK, fine, I’ll feed her, you get me some juice, OK?”  Girlfriend is a logistics queen already!

 

Ellie, upon realizing we have a library book that needs to go back, delivered the following monologue.

“Mommy.  OK.  So, we can ONLY keep a library book for SEVERAL days. We cannot keep it forever. We have to return it, OK?” Her little eyebrows went up and she nodded her head. “OK. So, we can go tomorrow, OK Mommy? And when we go there, we can get WHATEVER we want.  First, we can go down the movie aisle. And then we can go down the book aisle, OK, Mommy? OK. Good.  Here, let me show you this book.” At this point she started paging through the book a la Vanna White.  I couldn’t stop giggling.

 

“I want a (fill in the blank).” This question is asked daily in a whiney, plaintive, accusing voice by both of my children.  I hate it. I always correct them.

But they Just. Don’t. Get. It.

So instead, I’ve started responding with, “Well, I want an oompa-loompa!”

At first, that response stopped the whining as they pondered what I requested.

A few days after I started this response, their Auntie Cay-Cay said, “I want a drink of water.”

The twins responded, “Well, our mom wants an oompa-loompa!”

 

A storm came through a week or so ago, resulting in a lot of downed tree branches in my parents’ neighborhood.  We drove through to survey the damage.  Carrie’s eyes became as big as saucers as she took in the scene.

“Wow. This was a LARGE storm!” Then, deftly, Carrie merged the world she saw with her imagination. “Let me look at my phone. Oh wow. Yes, this was a LARGE storm. Mom, do you see the trees? It was a LARGE storm. We should call Grandma Gigi and tell her.  I think there were bad lizards. Mom, can you use your real phone and see if there is another LARGE storm coming? We better tell Grandma Gigi about the bad lizards.

After thinking about what she may have meant when she said, “bad lizards”, I finally deduced that she meant blizzards.

“Honey, do you mean blizzards?” I asked.

“Yes. Bad lizards!” she replied.

“Oh, no, it’s not bad lizards, it’s blizzards. Like lots of snow and wind. That’s a blizzard.”

Carrie was not impressed. I am sure that a bunch of naughty reptiles raining down from the sky seemed a lot more interesting.

 

Carrie, upon eating a Skittle, said,”Mommy, this jelly bean (she knows not what she eats) tastes like an eyeball: sweet and squishy.”

… Um, what?

That is all for now…

annabel

I’ve wanted to write this post for weeks now, but every time I try to sit down at the “big computer,” I decide to sleep instead. And also it is really hard to type with one hand.

A Birth Story

On May 8, we went to a regularly scheduled OB appointment and discovered that the baby was transverse – lying across the uterus instead of in the preferred “head down” position.  The fact that I had a lot of fluid and a misshapen uterus (thanks to a myomectomy and a twin pregnancy) made it very easy for the baby to swim into whatever position she preferred.  Dr. G had already performed a “version” (changing the baby’s position) in the office at 37 weeks, but the baby happily shifted by the next day. Knowing that the baby moved so quickly, Dr. S suggested that once we achieved 39 weeks gestation, we should schedule another version followed immediately by an induction.  In the meantime, we were advised that I should try hard NOT to go into labor and that if I did go into labor, or my water broke, we should go straight to the hospital due to risk of umbilical cord prolapse.

Thus began my maternity leave.

The first available date for the version and induction was Wednesday, May 14 with Dr. G.  We were signed up for a 7:30 a.m. time slot.

In between the appointment and the induction, I managed to injure my neck, causing me considerable pain and insomnia.  The day before the induction, we visited our friendly neighborhood chiropractor who attempted to mitigate the pain and gave Frank some suggestions for assisting me with pain management during labor and delivery.

We both woke up bright and early on Wednesday morning, ready to meet our third child.  It was an absolutely beautiful morning and a perfect drive to the hospital. I was so happy to walk into Labor and Delivery, instead of being wheeled into L&D in complete terror (as was what happened with the twins). We were set up in our room, I changed and was put on monitors … and then the fun started.

 

Ready to go to the hospital!

Ready to go to the hospital!

Dr. G is sort of a legend in our area.  My mom actually went to his practice many years ago in hopes that he would deliver her third child, my brother Andy, but unfortunately she went into labor on a day that he wasn’t on duty.  He is an older gentleman, with a sweet and kind demeanor.  His old-school training made him more likely to try things like a version, something that only one of his colleagues would also attempt (Dr. S). He was optimistic that he could shift the baby’s position, but he was also realistic.  He’d seen enough versions that should’ve been easy that failed, and other versions that should’ve failed, work. Within minutes of locating the baby on the ultrasound, he began the process of shifting her position.  We watched in awe as her little shape moved into a perfect head-down position.

Once it was confirmed that her head was in the best position possible, Dr. G broke my water and began pitocin.

Hanging out, inducing and stuff...

Hanging out, inducing and stuff…

Everything was pretty uneventful after that.  Frank and I watched a movie, texted, played games, and just sat around waiting to meet our baby. Frank left for breakfast and lunch breaks, and finally by about 2 p.m. we decided to get the epidural.  At that point I was dilated to 2 cm and everything was looking good.

At 5 p.m. Dr. G was leaving for the day and he wanted to see how things were going with me before handing me off to Dr. S.  I was dilated to 3 cm and everything looked fine. After he left, though, my nurse and I both noticed a deceleration with the baby’s heart rate on the next contraction.  I bit my lip nervously as I waited for the heart rate to return to normal.

A few more contractions came and went without decelerations.  The nurses changed shifts and the new nurse wanted to check my cervix.  While she checked, a worried look crossed her face.

“Did the doctor mention anything about feeling facial features when he checked last?” she asked.  I shook my head.

I’m not a doctor, but I knew enough to know that you shouldn’t feel a baby’s facial features during a cervical check. Crap, I thought.

The next contraction, as though the baby knew, involved another heart rate deceleration.  I furrowed my brow. Frank was now pacing next to my hospital bed.  The nurse called the hospitalist (the doctor on duty for the hospital).  The hospitalist arrived quickly.

“Yes, I feel a forehead… and eyes.  What does the OB want you to do?” the hospitalist asked the nurse.

“Turn her on her side and stop the pitocin and call the OB in,” said the nurse, reaching to turn off the pitocin as she said it. The hospitalist nodded. Within 30 minutes, my OB was in the room.

Dr. S was a very professional and still very kind doctor.  She is one of those doctors that instills a sense of authority while still being very compassionate at the same time.  She spent a long time assessing the situation.  During her check, she attempted to move the baby’s chin down in order to shift her head into a better position.  She attempted to push the baby’s head back into the uterus.  Neither effort worked – the baby was fully engaged.  Dr. S could tell that the baby’s head was becoming swollen from the pressure from the contractions.

Dr. S looked at me with sad eyes and I knew before she even said it.  “We have to do a C-Section. I can’t move the baby’s head.  There is a risk that if the baby is allowed to be born this way, she might break her neck,” explained Dr. S.

My heart dropped. My poor baby.  All I could think of was this poor, sweet baby trying to be born into this world and being stuck and injured.  Frank and I took a few minutes to talk and to pray.  I knew I had to do the C-Section, but even though I had tried to mentally prepare for that before we were induced – I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.

I’ve done a lot of difficult things. Not climbing mountains or anything, but I’d had surgery before, been through challenging seasons of my life and so on. I’d created ways to mentally push through those difficult situations by outlining steps in my head.  Just get through this, this and this. Once you do those three things, you will be done.  But being awake for a major surgery? I knew what the steps were and I just couldn’t see my way through. I actually thought, so then they will put your organs back in… sweet heavens to Betsy… my organs will be on the outside… on.the.outside.  I couldn’t see my way through it. I started to panic.

And then I remembered that the last time I had a similar surgery to a C-Section (a myomectomy), I had been horrifically sick.  I threw up for hours by myself in my hospital room after surgery.  I remembered texting Frank and telling him how sick I was. Frank had asked if he should come back to the hospital. For what reason?  I remember thinking.  To watch me puke up jello into a kidney shaped blue bowl while I try not to hurt my already aching stomach muscles?  It was the kind of lonely misery that would not be improved by a spectator.

At the memory of my myomectomy recovery, I became scared of puking on one side of the operating curtain, while my actual stomach was exposed on the other side.  I couldn’t handle it.

I will say, my doctors were amazing.  Upon hearing of my nausea/vomiting fears, they took every step possible to reduce any chance that I would become violently ill while delivering my baby.  Not once during the C-Section did I even think of vomiting.  I was grateful.

Once I signed off on the paperwork for the C-Section, I was prepped and wheeled into the same operating room in which I delivered the twins.  I was moved from the L&D bed onto the narrow operating table.  The anesthesiologist began the spinal through the same port as my epidural and the final work to bring our baby into this world began.

Frank joined me by the head of the table, but he watched the entire surgery, not missing a moment of our baby’s delivery.  The thing about a C-Section is that while you do not feel pain, you feel your insides being moved around.  It’s a totally surreal situation – knowing that on the other side of a thin piece of blue fabric, your insides are on the outside.

But, oh heavens, at the first gurgling cries of sweet Annabel – it was all worth it. At 7:18 pm on May 14, 2014 she made her way into this world.

"Seriously you guys, what took you so long??"

“Seriously you guys, what took you so long??”

 

“It’s a girl! And she’s a big baby!” announced Frank and the doctor, laughing.

They brought a screaming, healthy baby Annie around the curtain so I could see her for the first time.  Frank laughed, “Boy is she angry!” The swelling in her forehead gave her a particularly angry scowl.

They cleaned up Annie and weighed her – 9lbs 3oz and 21 inches long – and brought her over for a more formal introduction.

"Hey, Mom, wassup?"

“Hey, Mom, wassup?”

Frank, Annie and me.

Frank, Annie and me. All of our best angles.

Annie and Frank hung out in the nursery waiting for me to get cleaned up and after two hours of recovery, we were all reunited.

"Mmm... Pain Management rocks!"

“Mmm… Pain Management rocks!”

Annie and I snuggled while Frank tried to forge for food (a nearly impossible task).  In between coos, I hit the button for pain medication every ten minutes. I’ll tell you what, C-Sections are no joke and I am grateful for the excellent pain management (the PC way to say “large quantities of pain killers”) that I was offered at the hospital.

The twins were excited to meet their new sister.  Poor Carrigan, confused and concerned by the logistics of birthing, immediately asked if Annie was going “back in.” We assured her that Annie was here to stay.

Party of 5!

Party of 5!

Annie and I hung out in the hospital for four days and were discharged, happily, on May 18.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

Frank and his girls!

Frank and his girls!

"Let's rock and roll mom and dad!"

“Let’s rock and roll mom and dad!”

Sisters

Sisters

About the Name

Annie’s first trimester was more exciting than we had hoped.  Early on, we were very concerned about some bleeding issues that went on for nearly four weeks.  During that time of worry, I felt peace at church and felt that her middle name would be Ruth.  We knew we wanted an “A” first name, and it was between Abigail and Annabel.  I’ve always loved Annabel and it’s literary history.  We both loved that the name could be shortened to Anna, Ann, Annie, etc.  Annabel is actually a variation on the Scottish name Amabel, meaning loving.  And she definitely is a little lovebug!

Two weeks old, poolside

Two weeks old, poolside

Eight weeks old

Eight weeks old

three

The twins are three years old.

Three years ago, almost to the day, we were bringing our tiny babies home from the NICU. Three years from now, we will be sending our girls off to first grade.

It’s amazing to think that they’ve grown up so much, and yet I haven’t aged.  It’s a miracle!

All about Ellie at Three

Elliana, the oldest by four minutes, is a very sweet, very engaged little girl.  She knows all of her letters and has even started writing some of them.  She has lovely little conversations with me and makes sure we don’t forget to pray before meals and bed time.

Her curly red hair shows no signs of fading away. Despite all of the stereotypes about redheads, Ellie’s most “redhead” trait is her fierce desire to stick to a plan.

She is a sensitive soul and has taken to saying, “You’re breaking my heart!” whenever her sister is gruff with her or we tell her she can’t do something.  She loves broccoli and pasta and meat.  She can take or leave dessert (more often leaving it).  She loves to “snuggle in” and watch a favorite show or read a favorite book.  She has seen frozen approximately three times and is trying desperately to sing along with the songs.

All about Carrie at Three

Carrigan is my little sparkler.  She has this shimmer in her eyes when she’s about to do something hilarious-or-dramatic-or inappropriate.  Her creativity is astounding.  Everything she touches can become something magical in her imagination; even dinner. This has lead to quite a few discussions about how inappropriate it is to play with food and that fingers dipped in peanut butter are NOT dinosaurs (Rawrrrr!!). But it has also lead to some very delightful discussions about imaginary scenarios.

She has developed a particular fascination with dinosaurs and tells me her favorite is the brachiosaurus.  She plays well by herself, but loves to drag her sister into an involved session of Paw Patrol. Her creative playtime is enthusiastic and vocal – it’s hard to hear oneself think while she’s growling like a dinosaur or hollering “Ryder! Come quick! We have an emergency at the beach!”

Carrie is a little social butterfly.  She loves to introduce her family and friends to new people.  We had pizza delivered the other day and she proudly told the pizza, “This is my friend my Mom and this is my friend my sister Ellie and I’m Carrie!” The pizza delivery guy was somewhat amused, but being a teenager, he wasn’t really sure how to respond.   It was adorable!

 

We celebrated the girls’ birthdays with a few small family gatherings with Frank’s family and my family, but for the first time we had a very low-key shindig at the Park District for the twins and a few of their friends.  They played on a tot gym, enjoyed some cake and colored.

The simple pleasures!

Happy 3rd Birthday Girls!

year in review

In short:

It was winter & it was cold.

The girls turned two.

We bought a house and sold a condo and moved.

Everyone knows that the actual moving part is the worst part of any home purchase.

It was appropriately terrible, especially with my ear infection that WOULD NOT GO AWAY. But has. So we are all good now.

We frolicked at the park any time it was over 30 degrees and under 120 degrees.

We laughed, we cried, I cut my hair, we took some selfies, we laughed some more and then we found out we were pregnant with #3.

This was not a surprise.

We planned it.

But still.  THREE KIDS. OMG.

What were we thinking??

And now, the year in pictures.  Beginning January:

2013 01 Haircut Carrie 2

Carrie’s First Haircut

2013 01 Haircut Ellie

Ellie’s First Haircut

2013 02 2nd Birthday

Twins turn Two.

2013 02 Birthdays

Grandma Sandy, Julia, Elliana and Carrigan all celebrated birthdays together. (and took a lovely picture with Luke and Joshua)

2013 02 Carrie Bling

Carrie loves her pretties! (aka bracelets and jewels and sparkly things!)

2013 02 Carrie Cool

Carrie is also VERY busy, babe. So, like, leave a message or whatever.

2013 02 Ellie Cool Glasses

Shades and a binky NEVER go out of style.

2013 02 Selfies Carrie

Carrie’s February Selfie. So now.

2013 02 Selfies Mom and Ellie

Ellie and Mommy selfie together.

2013 03 Easter Egg Hunt Ellie

Ellie hunts the elusive Easter Egg.

2013 03 Easter Egg HuntCarrie

Carrie has concern for the elusive Easter egg. Where is it? What is in it? These are big questions.

2013 03 Easter

Easter brunch with Frank’s parents. Delish!

2013 03 Frank and girls

A trip to Water Tower Place in Chicago.

2013 03 Hockey

Hawks Game!

2013 03 Mom and girls

Story time with Mom in March

2013 03 Night out

A much-needed night out in March to see The Book of Mormon.

2013 03 Snow

Boo! Snow in March!

2013 04 Carrie Pig tails

A warm day in April means a trip to the park – and pigtails for Carrie!

2013 04 Carrie Selfie

A mommy and Carrie selfie in April

2013 04 Carrie

A trip to a bakery in Lincoln Park. Yum!

2013 04 Ellie

Ellie scoping out Lincoln Park. Future Blue Demon??

2013 04 Horsey ellie

Cowgirl Ellie takes the reins…

2013 04 Horsey

Cowgirl Carrie is on the move!

2013 04 Picnic small

An outdoor snack in April. Loving the warm weather!

2013 04 Selfie Carrie Hat

Carrie stylin’ a new hat from Grandma Sandy.

2013 05 Carrie Pancake

Carrie can’t believe the WHOLE pancake is for her!

2013 05 Carrie

Early morning Carrie is the best!

2013 05 Ellie Asleep

Ellie tuckered out on a car ride home…

2013 05 Flowers 2

Enjoying the “snow” of flower petals in May.

2013 05 House

We bought a house!

2013 05 K Fam

Just the four of us… for now!

2013 05 Park Carrie

Carrie loves the park!

2013 05 Park Ellie

Ellie also loves the park.

2013 05 Picnic

“Dahling, isn’t picnicking just the bees’ knees?”

2013 05 Tea Party Ellie

A tea party between Ellie and Michael. He’s such a good sport!

2013 05 Twins Beds Carrie

Carrie in a toddler bed!

2013 05 Twins Beds Ellie

Ellie in a toddler bed!

2013 05 Twins Wishing Frank Happy Birthday

The twins wishing Daddy a happy 33rd birthday!

2013 06 Carrie Ride

Do we have a future motorcycle chick??

2013 06 Ellie Ride

Ellie enjoyed her bike as well!

2013 06 Furniture

Improvising with furniture during the move. Camp chairs are so in right now!

2013 06 George

Saying goodbye to our trusty Honda Accord, George in June.

2013 06 Girls Room

Lounging in their new room.

2013 06 Hanging with Kelsey

Carrie and her buddy Kelsey chilling.

2013 06 Hockey

One game to the Stanley Cup!

2013 06 Lunch

We love lunching outside!

2013 06 Packing

Packing is never dull when you are packing with twins two year olds!

2013 06 Park

I love the PARK!!

2013 06 Rain Carrie

Mommy and Carrie watching the rain!

2013 06 Rain Ellie

Ellie catching the rain!

2013 06 Train Twins

Riding the train at the July Jaycee carnival in Hoffman Estates!

2013 07 Carrie at the beach

Carrie playing on the beach, with appropriate jewels, of course!

2013 07 Ellie eating brekkie

A healthy breakfast is the best way to start the day!

2013 07 Getting Ready in the morning

Getting ready for work with Mom!

2013 07 Hanging with my sibs

Sibling night … PUT THE PHONES AWAY! That is all.

2013 07 Post Bath Discussions

The girls deep in discussions post bath in July.

2013 07 Riding the bus to church

The girls love to ride the bus to church. Church is also one of their favorite places to go – they ask to go all week long!

2013 07 Summer Concerts

Ellie and Mom taking in a very hot summer concert together – so much fun!

2013 08 Beach Time

The girls loved their beach time in August!

2013 08 Beach

Carrie particularly loved the pier and looking at the fish.

2013 08 Cousins visiting

Cousins Luke and Julia came to visit in August. They had so much fun!

2013 08 Ellie visiting Caycay

Ellie visited Auntie Cay-cay and raided her amazing costume jewelry collection.

2013 08 Emilys Haircut

I chopped my hair!

2013 08 First Day of Playschool

The first day of Playschool for the twins!

2013 08 First Day with Mom

The girls couldn’t wait to go inside!

2013 08 Mommy Potty Training

The first day of potty training. It was harder on Mom (and Dad) than it was on the girls.

2013 08 Park Carrie

Carrie cruising at the park in August.

2013 08 Potty Training

Potty training bootcamp.

2013 08 Trikes with Carrie

Carrie giving her trike a tune-up in August.

2013 08 Trikes with Ellie

Ellie in August.

2013 08 Visiting Caycay

Carrie also raided Auntie Cay-cay’s jewelry. So glamorous!

2013 08 WI State Fair Ellie

Going to the Wisconsin State Fair was exhausting…

2013 08 WI State Fair

… and delicious!

2013 09 Fire Trucks

Ellie and Carrie explored their first fire truck!

2013 09 Prego

Holy positive pregnancy test, batman! It was a September to remember!

2013 09 Tea Party

Tea Partiers.

2013 10 FLying

Does someone have a future in aviation? Perhaps!

2013 10 Selfies Ellie

Mom and Ellie Selfies in October.

2013 10 Selfies

Mom and Carrie Selfie in October.

2013 10 Sports Carrie

Carrie enjoyed her first sports camp. Bend it like Beckham!

2013 10 Sports

Ellie is ready to take on the entire team. Solo. With one hand tied behind her back. Game on, girlfriend!

2013 11 Carrie in the Pantry

Carrie loves the pantry in the new house nearly as much as I do.

2013 11 Pool Carrie

Carrie is a future pool shark in the making.

2013 11 Pool Ellie

Important life skillz.

2013 11 Thanksgiving

The twins ready to celebrate Thanksgiving with Grandma Sandy and Grandpa K.

2013 11 Vegas

Frank and I enjoyed a lovely visit to Vegas in November. So much fun!

2013 12 Christmas Twins 2

Twin love at Christmas.

2013 12 Christmas Twins

Say Cheese! Say Merry Christmas!

2013 12 Christmas Twins 3

Santa came!

2013 12 Drawing Carrie

Carrie, our little lefty.

2013 12 Drawing

Ellie drawing.

2013 12 Hawks

Frank and I at a Hawks game. With that guy. Yo.

So, there you have it: 2013 in pictures.

It was a good year.

The forecast for 2014 calls for less sleep, lots of new baby snuggles and big sister hugs.

What a ride.

baby fever

Let’s be real: the reality of baby #3 has not totally sunk in.

You’d think 15 weeks in, post morning sickness, post exhaustion, post first trimester, I’d be all like, “Woot, woot. We gotta bay-bay cookin’!”

Only sort of.  I mean, yes, I totally know that I am pregnant.

And I understand that being pregnant often results in a baby.

The part I’m having trouble with is imagining what our life will look like with baby #3.

Perhaps I should’ve had a more solid vision of life with baby #3 before we began this process of getting pregnant.

Truthfully, I have a vision of life with child #3 – although I glossed over infancy and toddlerhood in my vision.  I love having two sisters and a brother.  I love the gatherings we have when we get together and laugh and giggle and talk and argue and laugh some more.  We are siblings and friends.

The twins have a unique and wonderful bond with each other because they have never known even a minute of existence without the other. Just tonight, we were driving home and Ellie was in a fowl mood.  Something about apple pies and Christmas trees really honked her off.  Ellie was muttering and sobbing in her car seat for about five minutes when Carrie yelled at her. Not in an angry, “What the heck?” kind of way, but in a mocking “this is how dumb you sound” kind of way. It worked.  Ellie found Carrie to be hilarious.  The next ten minutes of our ride was still filled with screaming, but mixed with fits of giggles as they made each other laugh.

It was the best.

It was why people have twins and siblings for their children.

When I think of this third child, I think of road trips and family vacations and Frank tossing the kids into the pool.  I think of three pairs of eyes peeking over the edge of our bed on Christmas morning, pleading with us to let them open their gifts from Santa.

I think of the twins teaching this child new things and this child being a joy to them. And a pain. And an annoyance.

The good and the bad… Family.

When we were in the midst of this whole having babies business the first time, I could barely dare to dream that we’d have a family – much less dream of a family of five.

When we decided to try to have a third baby, it seemed like less of a choice and more of a prayer that we tossed heavenward. And then we wondered.  And we hoped.

And God, being the funny and merciful One that He is, said, “Yes.”

Amazement. Awe.

More hope. More prayer.

Last night was an outright debacle. Nothing went as planned – not even close. After a “quick” stop by Walgreens for a prescription turned into a 30 minute fiasco and I brought my sobbing children into the house a full hour after bedtime, I felt totally outnumbered. I’d put one in bed, the other one would get out.  Finally, I had them both in bed and went on a quest for Jingle the Husky Pup.  I returned to mass chaos.

Carrie was sitting up in bed, crying and staring at Ellie.  Ellie was screaming and her nose was bleeding on EVERY THING. I carried her to the bathroom and stopped the bleeding, cleaned her up, stripped her bed, made her bed, put her back into her bed and then stood in the middle of their room. They looked at me and I looked at them.

And it felt like together we all thought, “So, Mom, what happens when you have a third infant in a carrier that needs a bath and a diaper and dinner and pajamas and bed? What about when that happens?”

I doubt I would’ve made all of the same choices that got me to the point of utter meltdown, but I also know that I can’t plan for everything.

There will come a point where a similar scenario plays out.

I’m glad I have six more months to get my “poop in a group” because right now, I am so not ready.

Christmas in pictures… with a score card

Anyone who tells you they aren’t keeping track of who is winning in this game of parenting is a liar.

I’m keeping track.  And based on the results of this Christmas season, I don’t think I’m playing for the winning team.

The game? Parenting.  The goal? To raise your children.  The obstacle? They will try to raise you.  Every time a parent is able to maintain peace and present a unified front, parents get a point.  Every time a child successfully demolishes that facade? Point to the child.

For Christmas, we are scoring a few key areas:

  1. The Christmas Card Picture (2 possible points for execution and final product)
  2. The Christmas Outing (3 possible points for execution, most remaining Christmas Spirit and photographic evidence)
  3. Christmas Presents (2 possible points for sustained delight and photographic evidence)
  4. Official Christmas Festivities (1 point for attending church, 1 point for ensemble’s attire, 2 points for general outcome, 3 points for photographic evidence)

Total Possible Points: 15

Winner must win by at least two points.

Let the scoring commence.

The Christmas Card Picture: Twins 2 points

Shot 20

Shot 1

Shot 1

Shot 15

Shot 450

Shot 450

It took three separate photo shoots on three separate days, relocated furniture, bribes and a counseling session for mom and dad, but we finally captured this shot:

 

"Who, us? Difficult to photograph? No!"

“Who, us? Difficult to photograph? No!”

The thing is, I would’ve split the points evenly since we did get a cute shot, but the reason the girls look so angelic is because they are looking at us saying, “Mom, we live in a world that has sanity, and that sanity has to be destroyed by babies with attitude. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Dad? We have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for your sanity, and you curse your interrupted sleep. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what we know. That the toilet, while alluring to us in so many ways, probably distracted us from coloring on your walls. And our existence, while occasionally cute and snuggly to you, ends sanity. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want to be insane, you need to be insane. We use words like poopoos, uh oh, binkies. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent dismantling your sanity. You use them as a punchline. We have neither the time nor the inclination to explain ourselves to parents who cuddle and snuggle under the blankie of the very crazy joy that we provide, and then question the manner in which we provide it. We would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, we suggest you pick up a binkie, and stand a post. Either way, we don’t give a hoot what Christmas pictures you think you are entitled to.”  Not kidding.  Even with angelic faces, the soundtrack playing behind their innocent eyes was definitely Col. Jessup.

 

The Christmas Outing: Twins 2 Points, Parents 1 Point

First of all, kudos to Frank because he scored us our one point.  Frank went into the Christmas outing with an expectation of insanity.  His expectations were met and therefore, his Christmas Outing experience did not damage his overall sense of Christmas Joy.  The remaining points were awarded to the twins.

Between packed aisles, mobs of people at 9 a.m. and the veritable cornucopia of crap that comes with twin toddlers (diaper bags, coats, hats, binkies, bottles, snacks, etc, etc, etc), maneuvering through the store formerly called Marshall Fields was a hot, sweaty challenge.  Santa was on floor five.  Walnut Room, floor seven.  Christmas Tree viewing? Floor eight.  Elevators were cramped with 10 people and a double tandem stroller.  We eventually ditched the stroller and introduced the twins to the escalators, which they enjoyed.

The folks at the store formerly called Marshall Fields packed us all into a table with about four inches between us and our neighboring table. Which is fine if it’s not a brunch buffet and everyone doesn’t need to get up to get their brunch.  But guess what?? It’s a BUFFET!  Squee!

All in all, my siblings and my dad helped maintain the general Christmas spirit and even the twins were happy to scarf down “cake” (muffins… which, really, let’s be honest? Breakfast cake.)

Unfortunately, what you are about to see is the best picture from the three that we took.  And therefore, proof that the twins did win two points, fair and square:

Say "WHAT?? Where??"

Say “WHAT?? Where??”

Christmas Presents: Parents 1 point, Twins 1 point

The proof is in the video. I’m gonna go ahead and give myself credit for the amazing kitchen set that I put together.

But then, the nod goes to the twin to the all-out hysteria when Ms. Ellie did not get 100% dominance over the shopping cart they received as a gift from Aunt Cathy.  That hysteria can be glimpsed at the end of this video.  I stopped filming when it went to crazy-town levels.

 

Christmas Festivities: Parents 3 points, Twins 4 points

First, we got a “gimme” point because we did go to church.  And it was relatively uneventful and we even went to Chipotle for a traditional Christmas burrito bol.  I think Jesus would’ve approved.

I also gave us a “gimme” point because we were all dressed for Christmas Day.  We were even dressed in somewhat coordinating outfits.  Point.

I’m also going to say that we split the difference on the general Christmas experience.  While the girls certainly gave us a run for our money, we retaliated with an appearance by the big guy in a red suit.

Ellie: "Hey, someone is at the door!"

Ellie: “Hey, someone is at the door!”

 

Ellie: "Um, OMG! RUN!!"

Ellie: “Um, OMG! RUN!!”

You can even see that Ellie’s cousin Josh is a little horrified as well.  Score!

Emily: "Hey Frank, capture the Christmas magic! Quick!"

Emily: “Hey Frank, capture the Christmas magic! Quick!”

Frank and the twins playing on Christmas Day.

Frank and the twins playing on Christmas Day.

They look so sweet and innocent playing the organ, but this mama knows better...

They look so sweet and innocent playing the organ, but this mama knows better…

Me? Plot to take over the world? Never!

Me? Plot to take over the world? Never!

Final score?  Twins 10, Parents 5.