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.

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.

ENDURANCE TRAINING

A fellow twin mom had a post on FaceBook that read, “being a mommy means…” I thought it was going to end up as some hearts and flowers thread about how wonderful it is to be a parent, but I was pleasantly surprised to read the daily trials that any parent faces.

Comments included:

• Finding a random booger in your hand and knowing it’s not yours.

• Started on the muffins over an hour ago and haven’t even gotten the batter mixed together yet.

• Cleaning three different ‘spills’ before 8:30 am.

• Sleeping in until 5:30 am.

• Sitting in the bathroom while your child poops just in case zombies decide to come up through the potty.

There were other comments that were sweet and charming and I found it enjoyable to read what others found both special and mundane about parenting. Here are a couple of my thoughts to add to her post:

• Holding a kid by one leg while he pivots on his head as you attempt to wipe his poopy butt.

• Searching high and low for a pacifier only to find it in the diaper champ.

• Taping the paci clip together because “Houdini” has figured out how to unclip it and likes to toss it out of reach during naps.

• Going to the bathroom and having a circus barge in and put their heads in your lap as they say “awww.”

I told someone over the weekend that the hardest part of being a parent is the constancy of it all. From the time they wake up until they go to bed, it’s nonstop. Wiping butts and faces, reading books and putting together puzzles, rocking and soothing, tickling and laughing, crying and screaming, climbing and jumping, not to mention endless laundry and dishes and the inability to get a snack or go to the bathroom without “assistance.” Jeremy likes to say that being a parent isn’t strength training, its endurance training. He’s right and I’m not complaining. Being a parent is tough and all the things that come with it can be draining. However, I realize that if all of these things stop that I’ve lost immeasurably more.

A NEW ADDITION

Grant and Maria got to meet their newest family member yesterday! My brother and sister-in-law welcomed baby Leah into the world after an extraordinarily fast labor. After the two and a half-day odyssey that was the birth experience of their first child, Leah’s entrance seemed to be the opposite extreme. Thankfully, everyone is happy and healthy. The gender was a surprise to everyone and Nick wouldn’t tell me what it was until we actually saw her last night … that was a long three and a half-hour wait!

I’m excited that Maria has a girl cousin in the mix and thankful that my brother has a daughter. Jeremy had been working him over on the aspects of having a daughter – such as the measures that you sometimes have to undertake to clean a baby girl (“sometimes it’s necessary to go elbow deep”). Unlike a boy, there is nothing to hold back the poo and you can get what Jeremy refers to as the “poo-splosion” that takes over the entire front and back of the diaper region. Jeremy also said that when you have a boy, you are raising him to be a man … but a daughter is different … she’s daddy’s little girl.

It was odd holding a newborn. Not that it’s been that long, as several friends have had babies in the last few months, but to have a new niece is special and brought back lots of memories. At seven pounds and three ounces, she is double the weight that Maria dropped to in the days after she was born. My babies were almost 3 months old when they hit Leah’s weight and that is hard to imagine. Now, next to Leah, they seem like such big kids.

The holidays will definitely be very lively this year and I look forward to the days when they can all play together. I pray that they will have lifelong adventures and friendship as cousins.

PHASES AND CHANGES

My best friend, Emily, recently had her 2nd baby in only 15 months. After they were home for a couple of days, I sent her a message checking to see how everyone was doing. She replied that they were sleepy, but it was just temporary. I loved the response … after all the sleeplessness and adjustments to life with a new baby are just temporary. Eventually babies figure out night from day and the constancy of those first few weeks ease up.

Really, it seems that most things with children are temporary. As soon as you get used to one phase, something changes. This is good for those things that make you crazy and a little sad for those sweet things that you wish you could hold on to forever.

So, what are Grant and Maria up to?

• Maria just came out of an “I hate baths with a passion” phase. She screamed bloody murder and refused to sit. So, we tried to protect our hearing as best as possible and did an “express wash.” As quickly as this phase came upon us, it disappeared and now she tries to climb in the tub. Unfortunately, her first non-screaming bath in six weeks resulted in tub poop.

• Grant is obsessed with the book “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” I thought we were out of our Brown Bear phase, but it came roaring back last week. He would be content if I read it 100 times each night. The good news is that I have it memorized, so I can read it in the dark.

• They both love “reading” in bed and demand to have books in bed with them. They still nurse in the mornings before I leave for work, then go back to sleep for a while. When we’re done, I tell them to go back to bed and they turn to walk toward their room (they know it’s too early to be up). On their way down the hall, they stop by the bookshelf and pick up a new book to take back with them.

• It is not uncommon for a steady stream of animal noises to be coming from the nursery. Jeremy said that when he put them down for naps yesterday afternoon that Maria was alternating between barking and meowing for several minutes.

• They throw food or anything else they are finished with when they are eating. I’m told this gets better. I sure hope so.

• They love to push anything and everything. They pushed an empty diaper box up and down the sidewalk for several days before the bottom shredded. And the recycle bin is equally as entertaining to push around. They are kind of like Border Collies … if you don’t give them a job, they will come up with something on their own.

• Grant laughs anytime he passes gas. I doubt this is a phase. I think it is part of having a Y chromosome. Maria will let off an arsenal of gas and never even acknowledge it.
So far, we haven’t hit any phase that we can’t survive. For those tough ones, I will remember Emily’s words … it is just temporary!

BREAKING ALL THE RULES

The other night Brian and I watched a program on TV about potty training. Brian and I looked at each other and decided we had broken all the rules. Natalie has been potty trained completely since June, but Julian still is not. I had heard once you get one potty trained the other will be right behind the other. That has not been true for me and neither has the idea of potty training in three days; tried that too, what a joke for both of them.

Natalie decided she wanted an Ariel dress and I told her if she wanted one then I would get one for her after she had been using the potty for a month. I did give her the dress before I went to Haiti, so it had only been a few weeks, but since that time she has only had two accidents and they were both in the same day.

One of my friends suggested I use the same technique with Julian, since he has been asking for another party since his pool party. So Julian will get a Spiderman party when he decides to pee and poop on the potty. Unfortunately, that has not motivated Julian to poop in the potty, in fact he has regressed a bit and has had two pee accidents.

Through all this I have tried to be patient, not get angry with them, not to punish them (I have only if they do not try to go when I ask, like before we leave the house), but at times I have broken my own rules as well. Every child is unique and encouragement is the best policy. We have two more years before they go to school and everyone tells me he will be potty trained by then. Until then I will continue to be supportive and help Julian to learn he is loved no matter what!

POOP III—GRANT’S REVENGE

Grant finally did it. He pooped in the tub. Not only did he poop in the tub, it was a floater and he tried to go after it as if it was a toy. Had I been a half second slower we would have had a much different situation. The whole thing caught us off guard. We had our eyes on Maria because she was producing a fair amount of bubbles while bathing. I thought she was getting ready to release the heavy artillery. In watching for her poop face, I completely missed Grant’s signature grunt and red nose. I won’t make this mistake again.

This event comes on the heels of another Grant poo first…he made Jeremy gag. The text exchange went like this:

Jeremy: It took him 16 months but Grant finally had a poop that made me gag. Nasty!

Me: What was wrong with it?

Jeremy: There was nothing not wrong with that. Its very existence was an unholy abomination against God and Nature.

I appreciate a good laugh, but Jeremy’s updates have a way of making me laugh at inappropriate times at work. Perhaps I should stop reading text messages while in boring meetings.