a long overdue update on the twinsters

Yes, I have fallen behind in the girls’ second year with marking their milestones.

It’s not that they girls have stopped developing and thereby no longer necessitate updates.

Oh, heavens, they are definitely still developing.

It’s just that while writing an update and mopping up baby vomit was a challenge, writing an update and pulling one twin out of the toilet and the other out of the refrigerator is darn near impossible.

And yes, I know there are toilet locks.

And yes, I know there is probably something for the fridge, too.

But you know what?  I have the door locks for the bathrooms and haven’t had time to install them for a variety of VERY good reasons, reasons that may include my new fascination with Married to Jonas or WORK or OTHER AMAZING THINGS THAT I CANNOT NAME RIGHT NOW.

Excuses, excuses.

So, the twinsters are doing great.  Walking, running and TALKING up a storm.  They say things like,

  • milk
  • more
  • up
  • downstairs
  • outside
  • mama
  • dada
  • Aunt Cay Cay
  • Gramma
  • Papa
  • cow (moo)
  • dog (woof)
  • cat (meow)
  • sheep (bah)
  • book
  • shoes
  • socks
  • bath
  • water
  • bellybutton
  • eyes
  • nose
  • ears
  • mouth
  • cake
  • uh-oh
  • no
  • No
  • NO!!! (pointing finger) (Not sure where they learned that one)

etc, etc.  For anyone looking to compare how many words my girls have compared to their progeny: STOP (collaborate and listen, Ice is back with a brand new edition…). This is not an exhaustive list.  I’m sure your children are brilliant and say many amazing things.  My kids are starting to count. We could do this, “I’m parenting better than you” business all day long and you know what we’ll have to show for it? Even more exhaustion than we currently have to show for it. Let’s not be like that, K?  K.

Anywho.  The girls are stacking blocks, reading books, completing shape/animal puzzle-type games, dancing and generally living la vita loca.  Carrie feeds herself very well with a spoon and wears her dinner bowl as a very fashionable hat.  Ellie is an A+ snuggler who has completely grasped an innate ability to whine her way up into my arms. It’s not at all charming, but it is 99% effective.

Frank has started a pseudo evil game of telling the girls to put their arms up and then promptly tickling them.  The result? Our genius babies no longer raise their arms over their heads.  This is awesome unless you’re their poor mother who has to change their clothes and give them baths.

We are at that awkward phase of the girls wanting/loving independence, but us not letting them have it because, well, they can’t handle it.

Tonight, for example, there was a LOT of the word no.

“NO! Do not pull that out of the garbage!” (said while I am pulling twin #2 out of the dishwasher)

“NO! Do NOT play in the toilet! I am serious! OUT OF THERE!” (said while I am pulling twin #1 out of the garbage)

“NO! Get off of the coffee table! Didn’t I just tell you to get off of the coffee table!” (said while I am pulling twin #2 out of the toilet)

“NO!… Wait… YES! Let’s read a book!  A book would be great!” (said while I am pulling twin #1 off of the coffee table)

They are such happy babies and they don’t seem to be taking any of this “no” business personally.  Well, I mean, I haven’t gotten a bill for therapy yet, but they seem mostly happy and fulfilled.

The highlight of the last few months has been that the girls are starting to hug and love back.  They always enjoyed a snuggle or two, but now when I pick up the girls, they wrap their arms around my neck and squeeze.

It’s the sweetest thing.

Also, the girls have discovered make up, love wearing dresses, ask me to put their hair up in pony tails (only to take them out immediately) and are enamored with shoes of all shapes and sizes and styles.

Love my girly girls!

Ellie 1 year ago…

Miss Ellie at 19 months

Carrie 1 year ago…

Miss Carrie at 19 months

a prairie home companion

alternatively titled, “a love song for my children.”

I love talk radio.  I love conservative talk radio.  I love liberal talk radio.  I love post-Hawks games sports talk radio.  I love morning talk shows and will frequently change the station when they play music.  I adore news radio of all kinds.

But there is something absolutely magical about my childhood Saturday nights at 5 p.m. in Chicago.

At 5 p.m. on Saturday night, the self-deprecating Minnesotan Garrison Keillor, accompanied by a jaunty pianist, would open up the stage of “A Praire Home Companion,” a lovely radio show that often featured tales of Garrison’s beloved Lake Wobegon

Listening to APHC is like being thoroughly ensconced in some of the most treasured aspects of my childhood.  Growing up, we mostly listened to APHC on the way to Saturday night Catholic Mass, and some of my strongest, most delicious memories, are of Garrison’s steady, deep voice rumbling through stories of Guy Noir and News of Lake Wobegon.  Our family’s red minivan bounced along the tree-lined streets of Palatine, the same streets that brimmed with my own family’s 50+ year history of growing up and growing old in this town.  Sunlight filtered and danced through the large oak trees we drove under, a faint smell of barbecues pre-heating wafted through open car windows and Garrison’s narrative rose and fell over the sounds of my family chattering along the way to mass.

I especially recall Garrison’s folksy duets with guest singers and song writers: a perfect soundtrack to a lush summer day.

Tonight, on the way home from a day with Frank’s family at the Lake, I turned on NPR and heard the familiar sounds of my beloved APHC.  The first strains of the piano accompaniment sent me straight back to those wonderful evenings driving to Mass.  I turned the volume up, hoping that the sound of Garrison’s rambling stories, always punctuated with his deep, inhaling breaths through his nose, would bury themselves deep into the girls’ psyche.

See, those Saturday night family trips to Mass are, for me, the epitome of an American childhood.  We worked outside all day on nearly every Saturday – mowing, trimming, watering, and planting – and then we would wash up, put on clean cotton shirts and skirts, and go to Mass.

The church I grew up in, was a dark, cavernous space, but it was not unfriendly – not at all – it was a holy and happy place for me.  On Saturday nights, our parish allowed the worship director to use guitars and folksy versions of our favorite hymns.  We always left church on Saturday nights with light hearts – and hungry stomachs.

Usually Garrison’s show was still going on when we left church.  While we drove somewhere to pick up dinner, we’d listen to the News of Lake Wobegon, smiling as Garrison deftly wove together stories of Lutherans and casseroles and young people making their way in life.

And always, always, Garrison finished his broadcast with: “That’s the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.”

Then, the jaunty pianist would send us all off into the proverbial sunset, happy and satisfied that somewhere in the world, there must be a Lake Wobegon. And more importantly, there seemed to be an implicite promise that there would always be a Lake Wobegon – as long as their story was told.

One day, maybe my children will hear the sound of Garrison Keillor’s voice intimately narrating a story about the stoic midwestern folks up in Minnesota, and that they will feel what I feel: that our stories and our legacy and our love continues on in the people we love, long after we are gone.

 

18 months

The twins are 18 months old.

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

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

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

Full circle.

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

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

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

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

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

Boo.

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

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

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

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

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

So yeah, 18 months, man.

 

 

twinfessions

Ah, twins.

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

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

Ha ha. Ha. Hummm.

It’s time to fess up.

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

Ok, maybe that’s a bit dramatic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

wheeee! Carrie conquers the slide!

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

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

 

Grrr, Mama!!

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

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

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

Plotting to take over the world…

an open letter from the twins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until then, peace out P’s (Parents).

XOXO,

Carrie & Ellie

mothers day deux

Parenting is not pretty.

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

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

And so I commenced begging Caitlin.

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

Me: Hey Cait–

Caitlin: I’m coming over!!

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

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

No.

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

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

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

Me: What… what… what happened?

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

Me: Uh huh. Are you OK?

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

Me: There, there.  It’s OK.

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

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

I don’t blame her.

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

I wasn’t alone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I stop myself.

 

 

Happy Mothers Day to all you ladies.

three things: bodily functions

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

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

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

Story #1: Everybody Poops

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

“I got poop on my face.”

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

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

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

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

Story #2: Diapering 101

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

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

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

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

Story #3: The Barfies

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

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

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

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

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

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

“SURE!” 

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

BARFED ALL OVER EVE.

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

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

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