TRAINING WHEELS

Last week we got the book “Training Wheels” in the mail, a book about embryo adoption. The twins were very excited to get a book in the mail so we sat down to read it. As I read it, I also related their story to it as we went through the book. I explained how the different characters in the book were also like, Mommy, Daddy, them and Patty and Jim Cassidy. After I finished reading the book I asked Julian what he thought about it and he replied, “I want to go back to Disney World and see the Cassidy family!” I decided I like how he thinks!

Last year at this time we were getting ready to go to Disney World and we wish that was the case this year too! But we are looking forward to seeing the Cassidy family this summer. Plans have not been completely made, but we do plan on seeing each other one way or another. The twins are talking so much more now and just say the cutest things.

Just this morning Natalie was praying before breakfast and while she was doing that Julian was reaching for money on the bar. When she got done she told Julian that he was not “being sensible.” That he needed to have his hands folded. She also told him today to stop pooping in his pants that she did not want to change poop anymore! He did not poop in his pants at that time, but later he did. Natalie knows him well. Just got to love her! Julian is very close to being potty trained and we are very proud of him and hope that it continues. Maybe by the time we see the Cassidy family this summer we will be able to celebrate being potty trained as well as all the wonderful changes in the twins this past year.

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HOME SWEET HOME

My tenure in purgatory has ended. We finished contract negotiations Thursday evening and I made it home Friday afternoon. After spending 9 of the previous 12 nights gone, I was ready to be home. The babies were napping when I arrived, which provided a brief period of rest on the couch with my cat, who apparently also missed me as she was purring louder than the dog was snoring.

Jeremy and I decided to let him get them when they woke up and allow me to be a surprise in the living room. When he went in, he said “Guess who is home?” Maria excitedly said “Mommy?!” and I soon saw her turn the corner and she was in her best straight arm and leg run toward me. She didn’t slow down and wrapped herself around me. She got into nursing position, tugged on my shirt and said “HI!” with a huge grin on her face. Grant was right behind her and gave me his signature grin, but was distracted by my suitcase and needed to investigate. The bliss of my return home was short lived though. In no time, I was propelled back into the reality of two almost two-year-olds.

This is reality:

• Grant has a cold and was running a fever. He coughed so hard that he threw up all over both of us. He soon wanted nothing but my lap and did not want to share me with Maria, which doesn’t exactly go over well.

• Maria fell holding one of her puzzles and the corner of the puzzle skinned the area between her lips and nose.

• In order to try to bring down Grant’s fever, we ran a lukewarm bath for him. He screamed the whole time.

• While I was rocking Grant, Jeremy gave Maria a warmer bath. It must have been very relaxing as she took a massive dump chock full of blueberries. I would spend part of my time between getting them to bed and eating dinner cleaning the tub and toys.

• I managed to get two 10-minute trainer videos before dinner. These are a saving grace on days when I can’t get work in any other physical activity.

• Just as we were getting ready to enjoy a quiet dinner together, my cat threw up her dinner.

• No sooner did we finish eating and were getting ready to put our heads down on the couch, Grant coughed himself and Maria awake. We spent about 20 minutes returning the nursery to silence.

Admittedly, while I did not like being gone, having only myself to care for is much easier. However, I’m so thankful to be back at home reading Green Eggs and Ham and Hippos Go Berserk over and over and over again.

CELEBRATE EVERY DAY WE HAVE

This past Saturday was Brian’s brother’s memorial service. It was nice to hear so many stories about Evan and how he meant so much to so many. It is often the little things that we will miss about someone when they are gone. I want to take in and enjoy every day I have with my children because I know they go by so fast, but sometimes it is just hard to enjoy every minute.

This past Wednesday I fell stepping out of my sister’s door while holding Natalie. I went down on my knees ripping my corduroy pants, twisting my ankle and hitting Natalie’s head. Natalie was fine, I took most of the hit and I have to say it hurt really bad. The next day I was still in pain and I was short with the twins and moaned as I walked or got up and down from a sitting position.

Then Brian got sick the day of Evan’s service. He was coughing and throwing up. He was not in the best of moods besides the obvious circumstances and I was still in pain from the fall. Then Monday the kids were in bad moods because they were coughing, but thankfully not throwing up!

Some days, I just have to get through. But most days I really treasure. As more and more people I love die, I am reminded that when life is over all others will have is memories of us together. Today the twins and I took our first picnic outside for the New Year. After Julian’s karate class we came home and did an art project. Natalie just kissed me twice while I was coloring with her. She is not one to give kisses, so it was a real treat! She said she just loved for me to color with her. That is a moment I pray I will never forget. I too loved to color with my father and I see those days as some of the best memories I have of him, since he died when I was six. I know all too well how short life is and some days I do better than others trying to make the most of each second I have here. Many of my life circumstances (death of loved ones and infertility) cause me to treasure each day and my children. May we all take a moment to hug our loved ones more closely and celebrate every day we live.

A SHORT HOMECOMING

I managed to make it home last night for the first time since I left Monday morning. It was nice to be home, even if it was for only 12 hours. I made it in time to go to Music Together with Grant and Maria, which was my goal. When I arrived home, Maria was beside herself. She reached out, started crying and clung to me for dear life. I tried to put her down so I could go to the bathroom, but she came running after me and sat on my lap while I emptied my bladder; that is something only a mother would allow! Grant looked at me as if I was some sort of mirage for a few minutes. Once he realized it was really me, he gave me his best ladies’ man smile.

Both kids looked taller and Grant’s hair was noticeably longer. They both stuck pretty close to me during music and bedtime did take longer than normal, with an added wake-up an hour later. This morning I debated on going into their room or just leaving but I just couldn’t leave for another night and not lay my eyes on them. The door opening didn’t wake either one and I watched each sleep for a couple minutes and covered them up. But as I turned to leave their room, Maria popped up and asked to be held. I couldn’t deny her request. She nursed and rocked for few minutes and I just as I was getting ready to put her down, the furnace kicked on and Grant popped awake. Both took about 15 minutes to settle down, but it was nice to get some extra cuddle time with them.

My western Kentucky odyssey continues and I should make it home tomorrow night for two nights. Jeremy is managing well with some extra help from the Grands. I’m expecting that when this is all over, I will have two very clingy kiddos for some time. I’m looking forward to it.

MR. SUAVE

Tonight while I was cooking dinner my son said to me, “Mommy, you are so beautiful” that was added to when we were doing Yoga together and he said, “Mommy, your lips are so pretty, they are the same color as my shirt!” Yes, this is what I live with Mr. Suave. Brian said tonight, “I am going to have to kick Julian out of the house, because he makes me look so bad.” And let me tell you he does!

The other day, the twins were telling me a story Dad had told them the night before and it was about flowers. After the twins told all about it Julian looked up at me and said, “I want to get you and Natalie flowers!” How sweet is that! This was also the same day I was a little concerned when I heard Julian tell Natalie that he was pretending to be Dolly Parton, until I realized he was putting books in mailboxes. They are always so excited when they get a book in the mail each month from Dolly.

Julian has such a giving heart. I just pray it continues throughout his whole life. Of course he still has moments when he has to be reminded to share with his sister, but overall they both are very kind to each other and play quite nicely together. They also enjoy playing with their cousins. We are so thankful to have so many and around the same age on both mine and Brian’s side of the family.
They often talk about their cousins and name things after them as well. Julian wanted to make dinner for his cousin Will and have me set a place for him even though he was not coming to dinner. After the death of Brian’s brother, I have tried to soak in the times I spend with my brother and sister as well. At my niece’s birthday party, I was thankful to listen to them talk about old times and their old friends. They are both quite older than me, so when they talk about their childhood, I just listen.

I am so thankful Natalie and Julian will have such wonderful memories together. I was like an only child in many ways, so it is exciting for me to see them together. I am already praying for Natalie’s husband, that he will be able to hold a candle next to Julian. Julian not only tells me how beautiful I am, but he also compliments Natalie as well. Any man Natalie dates will have mighty big shoes to fill. She is not allowed to date until she is 21, according to Brian, but I am afraid that time will be here before we know it!

IT TAKES A VILLAGE

At my last company, I traveled about 50% of the time. I mainly went to Chicago and Cleveland and I became a proficient traveler. I always had my laptop and shoes ready for security and didn’t get mad when my Friday evening flights home were inevitably delayed. I would tell Jeremy my schedule, pack my bags and be on my way.

While I didn’t mind the travel, I switched jobs nearly five years ago and am glad I have managed to only have one overnight trip in two years. However, I will spend the better part of the next two weeks in union contract negotiations two hours away and I’m realizing how much more complicated work travel is with kids at home. Even though Jeremy stays at home with them, there’s still a lot to think about. I handle any early morning wake ups and bath and bedtime really requires two people to manage effectively. I think someone at work thought I was whining when I expressed my displeasure about being told we’ll also negotiating next Saturday, but it just adds another piece of stress. One, because it’s more time away from my family and two, Jeremy needs a break and on Saturdays he typically sleeps in and I have the mornings with Grant and Maria.

Even though it’s going to be a long two weeks, we have a plan. My mom will assist with evenings, and Jeremy’s mom will come over several mornings during the week so Jeremy can get to the gym without lugging them with him. As to not stress Jeremy further, I withheld possibility of my being gone on Saturday until I knew for sure, but had floated to my mom the idea of keeping them all day Saturday if needed. She was game if we needed. We’ve since introduced the concept of a sleep over and after finding a second pack and play to borrow, next Friday Grant and Maria will have their very first night away from home since coming home from the hospital. Jeremy is concerned they won’t sleep well in a place other than home, but I think they’ll do okay and if not, it’s only one night. Jeremy will get a good break and be ready for the next round of solo parenting.

I’m glad that this is not a normal thing for us and that in February life should return to normal. I give kudos to all those single parents and parents with spouses who travel regularly. Childrearing is a two-person job, at a minimum. I’m thankful that we have a village!

HERDING CATS

The best way to describe my life right now is “herding cats” and I’m not talking about the wine … although some days it includes a lot of whining. I’ve seen the debate on the twins club forum and among friends and family whether it’s harder to have twins or to have two close in age. There are advantages and disadvantages to both but the fact remains that both are hard. With one child, your attention is focused. With two, no matter how you slice it, your attention is split.

With twins, I can say the following:

• They often want the same thing at the same time and I often hear myself saying “one of me; two of you, please be patient.”

• When they aren’t wanting the same thing, they are going in opposite directions. Four hands can get into a lot in no time and I haven’t figured out how to be in two places at once.

• At this age, they will play together and entertain each other so I can get something done. However, peaceful play can go to hell in a hand basket in a hurry.

• Finding uninterrupted one-on-one time is difficult. They are on the same schedule, so I can’t play with one while the other is napping. The good thing is they are on the same schedule, so we can get a break.

• Having twins as our first born children, we do not have the advantage of hindsight. They are both in the same stages at the same time; we can’t apply lessons from the first child to the second.

• Our phases feel like they last a long time. One will start and the other follows…and then the first regresses and so on. Potty training should be interesting.

• People make a lot of assumptions about twins. Yes, they have a special bond that only twins can have. But, they are also two unique individuals that have unique needs and sometimes meeting those needs at the same time is a challenge.

I know I was meant to be a mother of twins. I had a feeling for many years that I would have twins. There were no surprises the day we saw two little heartbeats on our 6-week ultrasound. I welcomed the challenge and pray each day that God gives me the strength, wisdom, and endurance to not only survive as a twin mom, but thrive.