DITCH DIGGER

“I’d rather dig ditches all day and refill them.” This was a comment Jeremy recently received while at the gym when he told a guy he was a stay-at-home father of twins. We both get lots of comments and questions regarding our decision to have Jeremy stay-at-home. Frankly, it came down to pay and benefits…we could live on mine alone, but not his. For many years, he told people that he got to play in television, while I had the “real job.” He loved his job. He didn’t really want to quit, but when it came down to finding an alternate schedule that would allow him home during the week and still have family time and sleep, quitting was the only option.

In case you were wondering, here are some answers to some of the most common comments and questions we get.

“How is he doing?” – He’s doing well. They have their days, but don’t we all?

“When is he going to go back to work?” – He is working. Between the two of us, his job is way harder. You mean, when is he going to go back for a paycheck? Unless it becomes financially necessary, he’s staying home at least until they go to school, possibly longer.

“Seriously, when is he going back to work?” – Seriously, he’s working.

“Men need to work in order to feel like they have a purpose. Their egos need it.” – You haven’t met my husband, have you? Ego schmego. What better purpose is there in life than to raise your children?

“Doesn’t he miss adult interaction?” – Am I not an adult? He gets out of the house every day to go to the gym, spends time with his friends on the weekends after I go to bed, and has one evening out during the week to play cards. Plus, he doesn’t really like that many people. He worked overnights at a TV station in a dark cave by himself for years…he’s actually around more people now than before we had kids.

“Does he cook and clean?” – Yes, he runs a tight ship when it comes to daily chores. About the only thing he doesn’t do is clean the toilet, but that is related to a long standing agreement between us. He cuts the grass. I clean the toilet.

“Aren’t you sad you are going to miss all their “firsts”? – Really, why would you say that to a mother? Haven’t missed a “first” yet. And, if I do, at least it’s with their dad.

“You are so lucky to be able to have one of you at home.” – I wouldn’t call it luck…more like strategic planning. It might have something to do with the fact that both our cars are paid for, we live in a small house (translate – small mortgage), we don’t have credit card debt, and we live within our means…aka on a budget. Yes, I have a good job, but I also spent many years in school and worked hard in my profession. It’s not luck.

I know this arrangement wouldn’t work for a lot of families, but it’s working for us. Each family has to make choices as to what is best for them. Being a stay-at-home parent is the hardest job out there. I’m thankful I have a husband who is up to the challenge.

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TWIN BONDING

Grant and Maria crack each other up. Over the last month or so, their interaction with one another has increased tremendously. This is entertaining, except when they are so distracted by one another that they can’t focus on eating or mimic each other by spraying peas all over their trays as they raspberry at us. Yesterday, Maria was taking a turn in the jumparoo and Grant was watching her while playing on the floor. He started shaking his head back and forth rapidly. Well, Maria thought this was hilarious and busted out laughing. Of course, the more she laughed, the more he shook his head. This went on for several minutes, but stopped as soon as I had the camera available. We’ve also been readily finding them talking with one another rather than napping. Since they are able to move around better, they will position themselves on their bellies so they can see each other while in their cribs. They chit chat through a myriad of different sounds, trying to match one another in inflection and decibel level.

We also found that they actually sleep better when they nurse together during their top off before I go to bed and anytime they nurse in the middle of the night. I had started feeding them separately most of the time and we started having problems with them settling back to sleep, so went back to dual nursing at night, which solved the settling issue. It’s like they need that time to reconnect with each other since they sleep in separate cribs. It’s during these nursing sessions that they communicate via Morse code. One will pat their hand against my shoulder and the other will match it, this sometimes goes on the entire 10 or so minutes that they are nursing.

It’s not always hearts and flowers, though. We’re also starting to see some power plays when it comes to toys. We will sit them down and put several toys between them only to find all of them in front of one baby. It seems that Maria is the hoarder, although Grant does his fair share of stealing. They get mad and Jeremy and I usually give it a minute to see how it plays itself out. Sharing is something on which we’re going to have to work. In addition, they can get on each other’s nerves, especially when one is fussing in the middle of the night and wakes the other. The trick is to find out who the instigator is and calm that one. Generally, once he or she has settled, the other one calms right down.

God willing, they will have a long life together. My hope for them is the irritation they face with one another is far outweighed by the laughter and special bond they share as twins.

THE LAST TWO DAYS WITH THE CASSIDYS

The next to last day at Disney we went to Magic Kingdom again and got to ride all the rides we did not get to the first time around. Cathy, Patty’s sister, joined us again. I was just exhausted by lunch and did not see how I could go on! But as Patty said, lunch revived me. The weather was beautiful and very warm. It would have also been a great day for a water park!

The twins just love the Cassidy boys and refer to them as their “friends.” The boys are so good with them and always impress me with their manners and loving demeanor. It is so nice how Patty and her whole family have just taken us all in as family too! I am not sure what our relationship will look like in ten or twenty years, but I know with God at the wheel, it will be more beautiful than I can imagine. If it is up to Brian and Ryan we will all be living in Orlando in five years. I am not sure if this is God’s plan, but I will just have to wait and see.

It was hard leaving the last day. I was tired, from being at Disney till midnight, but the twins at least were not as tired since Patty took the smaller kids back to the hotel after dinner. It was nice that the last night we got to eat with Cathy and her husband Scott. I think we all could have stayed another week in our hearts, but our bodies were all worn out from such long days.

When Brian and I got on the bus to go to the airport Jim and the older boys helped us with the twins and the baggage. Once all our stuff was on the bus, I turned to Ryan to get Natalie. Jim said, “Ryan, you are going to have to give her back now, we cannot keep her.” That was heartbreaking for me to hear, I just cannot imagine how it must feel. It was such a sacrifice for them to donate their embryos and I imagine they will always feel that a part of them is in Tennessee. But I also know if they had chosen not to do anything with them, they would not know the love that Natalie and Julian now bring to their lives as well as ours! God has truly blessed us both with their decision to donate embryos.

A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON DISNEY

I had all intentions of blogging every night from Disney, but didn’t know that I couldn’t send the blogs because the resort we were staying at didn’t have wireless service. The one blog I did post was written the afternoon that I took Chad back to the resort because he wasn’t feeling well while everyone else remained behind in Epcot. I don’t think he missed out on much in retrospect. Epcot isn’t one of his favorites, and there isn’t much he likes to do there, except eat! We usually eat our way through the Country Showcases, between snacks and meals. Sometimes we try to time it where we have two meals, different countries of course. The only thing that we missed out on that I would have like to have done was eat at Rose & Crown with everyone, as well as tour the Country Showcases. We’ve never eaten there on past trips, and I really enjoyed dinner time for some quiet, quality time with all the kids. It was a great opportunity to talk about what we had already done and what was planned next. I think Jim was more upset than I was that we would miss the reservation. In the end, as long as I eat dinner I’m happy.

This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy my dinner that night. I think I had the best seat in the house with the best company. After all, I dined with a very handsome Prince Charming, but don’t tell Jim! Chad had laid down when we returned to the room, and watched some of his favorite shows on PBS. I know, we plan a great trip to Disney, and he’s watching TV. I really didn’t care, because he needed the rest, and despite the fact he didn’t sleep, he was refreshed enough to want to eat dinner. We had already missed the dinner reservation, so we called to see what everyone else was up to, and when they planned to return to the resort. They were heading back to the bus stop, so Chad and I decided to get takeout from the resort and dine on our balcony. We ordered pizza and salad, which surprisingly was quite good, and just enjoyed the lovely evening. I realized that Chad is at the age where dinner on the balcony can still be special, almost like an adventure. I don’t know that Joel or Ryan would have been as excited by it. Chad was in rare form, his usual funny self, which was great because he had been so quiet all day because he wasn’t feeling well.

Now that we have been home for a week and have slipped back into our routines, I realize that some of the best memories were the simple things, like breakfast in the room, swimming in the pool, walking in the parks, even waiting in line. Our two families just enjoyed spending time together. It didn’t matter where we were, or even what we were doing, we always had fun. Some people that I’ve talked with since we’re back were amazed that we stayed in the same room. I told them we intentionally did this, because we weren’t sure how much time we would spend there. I was concerned that Natalie and Julian would be exhausted and need to go to bed early, but they were real troopers. They kept up with us, or napped in their strollers. My response to people who were surprised about our hotel arrangements was that we didn’t plan this trip to spend evenings apart, but to spend as much time as possible together. Our families have blended together so well in such a short period of time. Our times together really are “Magical.”

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

On the fourth day of our trip we were off to Hollywood Studios. Patty’s sister Cathy even got to join us for the first part of the day! As soon as we got in we headed straight to the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster which was just awesome. Cathy stayed back with the twins and Chad while the rest of us enjoyed the ride. We could not get enough, so we went a second time. While the boys and I took off to the famous Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Cathy and Patty took the younger ones to see a show. The show ended up being full, so they went to play at Honey I Shrunk the Kids movie set. The twins were having so much fun they did not want to leave, but we decided it was time for lunch.

Once we ate lunch we went to “Lights, Motor, Action!” It was an extreme stunt show, which held the twins’ attention the whole time. Then it was time to get our Fast Passes for the Toy Story Mania so that we could go do that later tonight. Patty, Brian, Chad and the twins and I went to see Voyage of the Little Mermaid while the rest of the boys rode a couple movie rides. Patty and I then took the twins and Chad to see the show Beauty and the Beast while the other boys went to an Indiana Jones show.
After the show we went to meet the rest of the gang to eat at Hollywood and Vine. While we were waiting I took the kids to look at a water fountain in which they danced around. Julian fell on his face while shaking his groove thing. I was on the phone, checking on my friend who is pregnant with twin boys, when this happened. I did not see him fall, but others around me said he just fell and then bounced off the pavement and fell again! Ouch! So now he had two band-aids on his face and a scratch on his noise. Poor little guy!

After dinner we headed to Fantasmic! We got there early so we could be sure to get a seat. I had brought the kids glow in the dark necklaces and a glow in the dark sword and flower wand for Natalie. It did give them something to do, as well as something to cry over and drop. Once the show started it was astounding. The twins were a bit frightened at first, but I just told Julian to get his sword out and fight off the dragon. So then Natalie was chanting, “Julian save Mickey.” I had never seen the show before or read about it. I did not know that at the end Mickey would fight the dragon and all the villains off with his magic sword. Natalie was so excited that Julian saved Mickey, it was so sweet to observe her. The show was great, but the twin’s reaction to it all made it just magical! We had to hurry so that we could get back to ride The Toy Story ride (this was Natalie’s favorite ride). Before the evening was over we had three rider’s swaps left to Twilight Zone of Terrier, so Brian took Ryan and Joel while the rest of us when into a few shops.

It was just another awesome day that ended way too quickly. The show was a great way to top it all off. My friend Maria, had told me it was a must see and she was right. I just wish we were back there again, instead of at home, especially since Natalie and Julian are both running a fever.

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