Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Trial Run Babies

This post will make sense to some and may infuriate others. I have tried to deny how two different species can be so similar because I truly believe that we are far, far superior to any mangy mutt that crosses my path. But truth be told, those beloved pets, you know the first pets you get with your hubby when you first get married are more useful than you might think. Sure, after the potty training, feeding, walking, brushing and sweeping of massive amounts of pet hair off your floor and couch, they do actually hold some sort of value. Let me explain.

My husband and I got two dogs early on in our relationship - Sydney & Blayney. The story goes that we wanted a dog, so we went to a shelter and got Sydney. After a night of hearing a puppy cry the entire time, we thought it would be a good idea to go back for her only remaining littermate - her runt sister, Blayney. You know, to give her a playmate. The following night, we had two puppies crying the entire time. Plan backfired, but both dogs stayed and we have them to this day.

When the babies were born, there were things about babyhood that reminded us about puppyhood. Let me stop right here to reiterate that there is no comparison between a human being and a canine. What I am suggesting is there are similarities to how we have to parent our real babies versus our fur babies. Below are some observations:

1. Babies cry all night long because they need milk, changed or cuddled. New puppies cry all night because they need water, their dog bed cleaned because they have piddled in it or they are about to piddle in it, they want to sleep in your bed with you or they have just pooped all over their crate and they are covered in yuckiness and want you to come check it out.

2. Babies are highly entertained with fun, interesting toys. Puppies love to sink their teeth into any overpriced toy that you put in front of them. But here is the kicker! They chew it up in like, 2 minutes, and you are left with a pile of scraps. Good times!

3. Babies like to try on mama and dada's shoes and walk around in them. Puppies like to locate your favorite pair of shoe and chew them to shreds.

4. Babies need to go to a babysitter when you are not able to take them with you. Sure, puppies can last a little while without a sitter, but if you plan on being gone overnight, the dog needs a sitter, too. One overnight trip with Fido on his own and the carpet is hosed. (Cat owners, my understanding is your feline can last several days without a sitter, but once that litter box gets too full, your whiskered friend is ticked and will revolt.)

5. Babies thrive best on a consistent schedule. This is a big one for puppies, too. Put them on a potty/feeding schedule and they will adjust better and have less accidents.

6. Babies have messes if they are not wearing a diaper. If only you can put a diaper on a dog (and they would keep it on)! I would have done it a long time ago...

7. Babies become the center of our universe. That adorable puppy used to be, but once the little bundle of precious human life came through the door, the dog took a back seat.

8. Twin babies can fight over the same toy. So can twin dogs (mine were from the same litter, remember!) Two exact bones and one is by far more valuable.

So, knowledge can be learned from getting that first fur baby and can be somewhat applied to parenting children. Pets are a good "trial run" for couples and for some people this is the only type of baby they will ever have. But for those of us who go on to experience the joy of bringing a little one or two of our own flesh and blood in the world, we know there is nothing that can come close. No amount of preparation can truly prepare you for parenthood until you are smack dab in the middle of it. But those little lessons we learn when we become responsible for something other than ourselves can be beneficial.

Angelina's Unique Baby Things

Angelina's Unique Baby Things is going out of business! I have bought several things from this site that I have found quite handy and I am sad to see them close their virtual doors.

Need anything for your little one? I received this email from Angelina's and wanted to pass along to you:

We are closing on October 31, 2008. So HURRY now if you would like to save up to 80% off our great remaining products! Also we have reduced most prices even more! And now you save an extra 10% on all orders or 20% with $30 or more. Use coupon codes Extra10 or Extra20 at checkout. SALE will be over October 31, 2008 so HURRY to get our GREAT products today.

I highly recommend this site: they have unique, interesting products, ship quickly and have good customer service. Take advantage one last time!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Being A Good Steward

Yesterday I had had it. Jelly Bean had walked around the playroom with the most whiny, annoying cry. She wouldn't stop. Even the brief moment of silence while she munched on a graham cracker would be quickly interrupted by shriek of disapproval as she walked around the room making sure that I knew that she was not happy.

When Jelly Bean ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

She wanted a frog. No, she wanted a turtle. No, she wanted every single toy that Peanut got her hands on. At one point, I begged Peanut to give Jelly Bean the toy in her hand to be nice. Not because it was fair or that Jelly Bean deserved it, but I just wanted her to STOP CRYING. Peanut, so happy to see me not freak out, handed over the frog which in today's market is worth like a whole box of graham crackers. I was taken back by Peanut's loving moment of sharing and thought, "Wow, we are doing something right here!"

Then I look at Jelly Bean. She lets me know that I haven't been Mommy of the Year or anything. Apparently something is going on and I am missing the boat. Regardless of what her problem was, it didn't matter. I got frustrated and yelled at her.

"Quit your whining or you will go to bed!"

Yelling at a baby does not make them stop crying. It makes it much worse. I know this. Yet I still yelled at her? Why would I think that being mad at someone who is obviously upset and can't communicate to me their problems would somehow turn them around? I felt so bad after I yelled at her.

Last night after the girls and twindada were long off to bed, I sat on the couch watching TV and thinking about our day. And somehow I was reminded about something I had said a long time ago before my girls were ever born.

When we found out we were having twins, I knew they were truly not mine. Sure, I was carrying them and biologically they were even mine and twindada's, but really I am merely their steward. I am a careprovider for them as they grow and enter this world. Just as I belong to God, so do they. So, for me to say they are mine is not entirely correct. They are children of God and I am just the lucky person who gets to claim to have brought them into the world. I am the lucky person who gets to watch them grow up and see them accomplish more in their life than I could ever have dreamt of doing myself.

I am the responsible person who is looked at to make sure they know that Jesus Christ died for them and is not only their Savior, but also their Lord. That is my responsibility and my joy, but I don't get to claim their existence. God brought them to me just as anyone would hand over their child and said, "Take good care of them. I love them with all my heart. Love them as I would and treasure them as they are worth more than anything in this entire world."

Yesterday I yelled at one of my girls. I mean, God's girls. Sure, there will be times that raising my voice is going to happen, but I have to keep this perspective in mind. There will be times when it may be a moment when it is absolutely warranted like if they are unsafe or making someone else unsafe.

So I pray that next time we have one of these days, I can remember who's kids I am talking to. I pray that I can be given more patience to scoop them up and tell them, "I love you. I treasure you. I will take good care of you." Because that is what a good steward does, after all.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Shoe Shopping & Mayhem

Ever wonder what a long day, no nap, two tired babies and a crowded mall can cause? Well, let me tell you. Over the weekend, I decided to take the girls down to see my Mom and made plans that we would all go over to the local mall to find gym shoes for the girls. As the warmer months have faded away, it has occurred to me that sandals won't cut it anymore. (The sandals with socks look is cool, you know?) Especially sandals that are too small.

So after a long morning of trying to get all of us out the door, we finally got down to the Mom's who lives over an hour away. By now it was afternoon and normally the girls take an afternoon nap, but because I was on a mission to find gym shoes, I decided to give them a reprieve from taking their nap and we would just go without one.

Before we were able to leave Mom's for the mall, my brother stopped by and so we all caught up which was really nice and the girls were acting cute for him, so it was an enjoyable time. When he headed out, we realized it was dinner time, so Mom, the girls and me went to a restaurant at the mall.

Let me stop the play-by-play of our Saturday to put a point to all of this. I had a specific mission to accomplish on Saturday - Operation: Get shoes. There were many things that came up that could have prevented this from happening, but I was determined. I failed to see the glazed look in my girls' eyes that they had had enough and that shoe shopping really needed to be done another day. But the whole point of venturing out was for this purpose! It had to be done, right?


Back to our Saturday: Well, we finished our dinner. (The girls guzzled their milk and ate very little of their dinner. This is another sign my babies are tired. Lack of appetite.) Did it discourage me? Nope.

We ventured into the mall and ran into a store to return something and had to wait in line there. (Could this have been done another day? Yes, but it was right by the restaurant! C'mon, people, give me a break!) As we waited, the girls got squirmy in their stroller and cried to be taken out. So, Mom & I caved because they were getting louder and louder and the other people waiting in line didn't need tired, ticked off babies in stereo.

Finally, we were on our way to Children's Place to find shoes. I had gift certificates, so this was going to be a cheap transaction. After getting lost trying to find the store (still holding Jelly Bean as I push an empty stroller while Mom and Peanut were trailing behind us because Peanut wanted to walk and she is so slow. I mean, how dare her and her short legs, why can't she walk FASTER??) We walk into the store to find no shoes.

...they only sell shoes online, PEOPLE!

I calmly load the babies back into the stroller because my arms are quivering from holding Jelly Bean so long and Mom looks tired, when the girls stage a revolt in the middle of The Place. We leave as quickly as possible and now I am gone from determined to obsessed.

What would a good mother do at this point? She would have said sweetly, "We will do this another day. It is getting late and the girls need to go to bed."

What does a psychotic twinmama say? "I spent hours getting the girls and myself ready to come to the mall, we have rare help with us (Thanks, Mom!), we are already here and who knows when I will have the nerve to do this again, we are getting SHOES!"

We make a beeline for the Stride Rite store (which I realize would have been many people's first choice if you are at the mall, but remember I had gift certificates to The Place.)

Two associates greeted us and one of the ladies started measuring feet which apparently is very painful to babies. Having to stand on a foot measuring device and hold still is simply torture for 20 month olds. But after some coaxing, (yeah, coaxing, that's it!), we had our shoe sizes and the associate brought out different selection of shoes.

First we fit Jelly Bean. We let her walk around to make sure they fit and they looked good. Mom was holding Peanut, so I took Peanut and we put another pair of shoes on her. In the meantime, Jelly Bean had climbed back into my lap. I put Peanut on the floor so she could walk around and she looked down and pointed, "Shoes." Then she walked over to the floor mirror inspecting them. I thought this was cute. Then she decided to turn around and run out of the store. I didn't think this was cute.

My Mom took off after Peanut as I was still holding Jelly Bean. I got up to run after them, too, until I realized my Mom had stumbled. I thought at one point, she was going to catch herself, but then across the aisles of shoes, I see my Mom do a slow motion fall right out into the middle of the mall. Next thing I heard was Peanut screaming. Feeling helpless, I thrust Jelly Bean in the sales associates arms, so I could go help and ran to find my Mom and Peanut both laying on the mall floor. I called to my Mom as I picked up screaming Peanut. She started to get up and I helped her up while inspecting Peanut for bumps and cuts. Mom had hit her mouth on the way down, but fortunately was okay. Peanut had a bump on the forehead, but was physically okay.

We all walked back into the store and I see Jelly Bean wide eyed, but relaxed playing with the sales associate's name badge. I look at the lady and say, "We will take them."

So, to wrap up the point on this post is this: In the twin world, there are a lot of inconveniences. It is much more logistically involved to get your babies from point A to point B and it can ware on us twinmamas and twindadas. When things need to get done, keep them simple and do one or two a day. Don't become obsessive about it because who knows what will happen. Twingrandmas will fall, babies will have nervous break downs and twinmamas will spend $80 on two pairs of shoes.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Potty Training S.O.S.

Ha! I hope that I don't have too many of these in the coming months (years), but I do have a question for all those mamas who have potty trained or know people who have potty trained their twins (or singular tots, too.) We are going to be embarking on a whole new journey - how to use the potty and stop wearing diapers because mama is sick of spending $100+ a month in something that somebody poops in and then we throw away. Seriously, isn't that awful?

I have slight suspicions that at least one of my twin girls is interested in the potty. Don't worry, I don't have too high of expectations because they are still quite young at 20 months. However I figured that if I didn't have a potty chair even available for them, then how would they know this was an option?

So, now it is time to suck your brain:

1. What potty chair would you recommend for girls who are a tad on the short side?

2. Should I get 2 potty chairs since I would (ideally) be training both girls?

3. What advice can you share so that I don't learn the hard way on something? (See my previous post below.)

Thanks, mamas! I couldn't do this without you! (And the girls, too, of course since it is up to them.) Wow, our family budget lies in the hands of my that is some serious power.

Learning Things The Hard Way

If only I was a perfect parent and have made all the right decisions. Life would have been so much easier for the past 20 months. Seriously. I probably would have more time and less frustration. I would have done things right the first time and the series of trial and error that has occurred throughout these first months of parenthood would have been unnecessary. I would have known exactly what my babies needed. I would have known how to fix a dilemma or maybe it wouldn't have occurred at all. Dare to dream, huh?

But as we all know, there is no such thing as a perfect parent. I have met people who have extensive experience with children who once become parents couldn't believe how unprepared they really were for the life change. If only those little babies came with a handbook, right? If only it was required that all people get a degree in child development before they have one. Well, since that doesn't happen and I am not even convinced the most educated person would still make the best decisions when they are sleep deprived and overwhelmed, trial and error it is!

So, what things have I learned the hard way? Let me provide you with a list of "Doh!" moments.

1. Do not assume that applesauce with cinnamon or ranch dressing is harmless. It will burn their skin.

2. Do not assume the mobile child who is only in a diaper won't take it off. Learned this one the hard way and the carpet paid the price.

3. Do not assume if you like something that your children will like it too. Hello, chocolate chip cookies?? They must have been switched birth!

4. Do not assume just because you give in and give your child something that they really shouldn't be playing with that they will understand that now you must take it away because it is a bad idea. (Plastic water bottles are very entertaining, but mine BIT through it. Wild animals!)

5. Do not assume that laughing at a bad behavior isn't going keep that behavior coming back again and again. If it ain't cute at 5, it ain't cute now!

6. Do not assume that two toys that are exactly the same have the same value. Your twins will let you know which one is worth more.

7. Do not assume that your children will eat all their meal especially if you give them a huge sippy cup of whole milk ahead of time. Enough said.

8. Do not assume that your children could possibly be too full from drinking all that milk and not eating their meal to have a cookie. There is a special compartment in the stomach just for cookies. Just not the chocolate chip kind.

9. Do not assume just because your children can't say a word doesn't mean they don't know what you are talking about.

10. Do not assume one of your twins won't run off with the dirty diaper that you just took off from the other twin and try to do who knows what with it. (ewww....)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Smelling the Flowers

Ever bit off more than you can chew? Does it ever feel like life is flying by because you are too busy doing the laundry and washing dishes to notice? Well, I am officially here to say that I have apparently blacked out recently because I cannot believe it is mid-October and we have been living in our house now for over a month. Where did this chunk of my life go?

This is really concerning for me because if I didn't blog, I don't think I would know what day it was. (The kind blogspot people put the date on each of my posts.) Sometimes I will freak out and run to my dear husband and go, "What is the day??" He will usually reply with some specific calendar date and then I shake my head furiously and say, "No, I don't care about the date, just tell me the day! Is it Monday or Wednesday or Saturday?" He will raise his eyebrows and go, "It's Thursday..." in his slow, what-is-your-problem type voice.

See what I mean? I am blacking out! And I think I know what the culprits are that are causing me to lose sections of my life.

First and foremost, the moment I conceived my sweet twin girls, a huge portion of my brain cells died instantly. I might have been known as a "scatterbrain" in the past by some, but let me tell you, it got significantly worse. Now I don't notice my mommybrain because I have adapted to it, but my husband points out things from time to time.

After the girls were born, life completely turned upside down and the endless diaper changes, feedings, soothings, bathings, clothing changes and every other little thing that you have to do to prepare for all these things (bottle washing, formula preparation, laundry, etc.) made the time fly by. (I would have to say there were times in the first few months that I probably wouldn't have been able to say if it was morning or night.)

Fast forward a bit and as chief operating officer of my household, I am responsible for everything that goes on inside of it with the exception of the remodeling projects, snow removal and trash. (A twinmama has the draw a line in the sand somewhere...) However the remaining responsibilities are enough for a team of ten much less one person who also has to still do quite a lot for 20 month old twins.

Oh, did I tell you I work, too? Yep, once the girls go to bed, I am up working two telecommute positions. And three days a week I babysit. Sooooooo.....

Okay, so there are a ton of us out there that have more on our plates than we can handle right now. This post is not a sob story of my life and I am not asking for sympathy. My situation is the way it is because I have had to make these sacrifices so I can stay home with my kids and I wouldn't change it for anything. I love the time I am spending with them. And it took a children's show for me to find this perspective.

The other day the girls were watching "It's a Big Big World". Okay, fine! I was watching Snook and the girls were playing and occasionally looking up when he started singing. After all, the sloth cracks me up because he is a little too mellow if you catch my drift. But anywhoo...

One of the characters was busy running around trying to get a list of chores done and Snook tells her to stop and smell the flowers. If only she would slow down and take a break here and there, then she would be able to handle everything that was on her plate.

Ha! I shook my head in disgust. That monkey doesn't KNOW what a full plate is all about. And Snook! Well, Snook doesn't know what he is talking about because he is a sloth and they are lazy and is this really helpful to children? Shouldn't we be more honest and tell them that life is full of responsibility and sacrifice and they better enjoy playing because the party is over when you grow up and become a parent! (Cynical, huh?)

After my mental rant, I looked down at the girls and watched them playing. Jelly Bean was pushing buttons on a toy to make it play music while she danced along. Peanut was sitting studying her favorite book - a board book of colored pictures of animals. They were happy and content, doing what they loved.

Then it finally occurred to me. I am doing what I love, too. Every time I wash a dish, do a load of laundry, log in an hour of work, change a diaper, I am doing what I love. It isn't the actual activity that makes me jump for joy, but why I am doing that activity. Everything I do is for my family. My plate is full, but it is full of purpose.

So, I slid off the couch and sat next to Peanut and hugged her. I motioned for Jelly Bean to come to me and she ran into my lap giggling. I cuddled both of my daughters and kissed the tops of their heads catching the fragrance of shampoo in their hair. Finally I got it. Sometimes you really do have to stop and smell the flowers.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I Get It

There is nothing like being surrounded by peers who have similar interests, ideals and goals. People who share a certain perspective on life tend to engage in wonderful relationships and genuine esteem for one another. If you belong to any support group, bible study or common interest club, you know what I mean.

There are many wonderful organizations that provide support to mothers including local mother's groups, multiple mother's groups and MOPS. I have been thinking strongly about joining the local chapter of the National Organization of Mothers of Twins group.

I intended on joining when my girls were first born, but the craziness of the times and then a move changed my plans. Looking back, I think that it would have made a world of difference for me to have been part of this group of mothers who truly understand what it is like to parent and parent twins.

It is amazing when I run across families that have twins. I didn't realize how many twins are out there in the world and it seems when you have your own set, you find twins everywhere. There is a secret code amongst mothers of twins that isn't said out loud, but still exists. When we meet each other, we cautiously ask if the other person's children are twins. We don't want to be one of those crazy people out there who ask a whole bunch of stupid questions, but it is good to not assume everything. Then, we study the other set to see if they are fraternal or identical, but we rarely ask. Usually this information is offered by the parent to avoid the question. Finally, we compare notes. If the children are different ages, there is a lot of "Oh, mine did that!" or "How do you do this?"

Knowledge. We try to suck knowledge out of each other's brains. We want to know things that can help us figure out why our babies aren't sharing or have suddenly developed their own crazy language. We want to secretly compare our set of twins with the other person's twins to see developmentally how ours are measuring up.

All of this exchange can happen in mere seconds.

And why does it happen? There is probably different answers to this questions, but for me it is just that moment in time where I can connect with someone who can understand what I am going through. Possibly someone who isn't going to look at my ratty T-shirt and tired eyes and judge me for "letting myself go." Someone who may be thinking, "I Get It. I am right there with you. I am tired, too. I have more on my plate than I can handle. I don't have many escapes. I don't get enough breaks and when I do, I am busy doing housework, working one of my jobs or trying to organize our family budget, shopping list or calendar."

The other day, the girls had an appointment at the pediatrician's office. I sat across from a nurse practitioner who was checking Jelly Bean's ears while Peanut stood by my lap sobbing because I couldn't hold her. I made the apologetic comment, "Usually I have someone help me when we come for their well visits, but on sick visits, I have to come alone." I felt bad that we all had to stand there and listen to Peanut scream. It wasn't very pleasant. The nurse practitioner sweetly said, "I remember those days. It was never fun taking my twin girls to the doctor either."

At that moment, my tenseness melted. We were in good hands. She was part of "the club." She wasn't going to walk out of there and tell the rest of the staff, "Those kids are horrible. That mother should get more control!" I just knew that she did understand and found out that her twins were in high school now. Wow, that seems so far away, yet the days will fly by.

After our visit, we were leaving the office and out in the waiting room I ran into more members of our elite group of stressed out posse. A mother and father sat each holding a little boy. The mother sat up seeing my girls, "Twins?" she cautiously inquired. "Yes, 20 month old twin girls," I replied (I try to give out the basic information so people don't have to ask a million questions.) "Ours are almost 12 months! Are yours sick? They both have colds and so do we," said the mom pointing to her and her husband. I told her that we did, too. And we shared a laugh about how everything gets passed around in the household. (Although we both know that it really isn't funny and we loath when we see running noses, of course.) We said goodbye to our new friends and left.

On the drive home, it hit me. I cling to mothers who have older twins because they have "the goods." They have so much experience, remember different situations and stages and have the ability to look back and give an amazing perspective that those of us living in the "little ones" years cannot muster up right now. On the other hand, I love running into mothers of twins who are younger than mine because I would love to be a sympathetic ear, a loving hug and give them any piece of knowledge they asked for in helping them get through those first 20 months. (Cause that's all I know.)

But most importantly, I think the biggest help to any mother whether they are a mommy of one, two or ten is the simple fact that we have all been in crazy moments with our kids and that none of us are perfect. We love our children, we do our best and with God's provisions, they are well provided for. I just want you all to know, "I get it."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Jelly Bean-ese and Misunderstandings

It is difficult living with people who don't speak the same language as me and twindada. The communication break down happens on a daily, if not hourly, basis at our house. At 20 months of age, Peanut and Jelly Bean are very active and their level of comprehension and communication is increasing regularly. However, there are times that I scratch my head because I have no clue what they are talking about or I laugh because there has been a misunderstanding.

Jelly Bean is my little communicator. She was the first to say Dada and the number of words she says increases weekly. Her very first word besides Dada and Mama was "door." She is constantly gabbing and sometimes there are a few English words dropped into her conversation, but other times she is definitely speaking her own language.

Her new thing is "reading" the books herself. She has decided that she is a big girl and wants to read to me and Peanut and is quite expressive. (I am quite expressive when I read to them.)

Here are a few Jelly Bean words that I hear regularly, but honestly have not been able to translate:

1. Shaboy-ya
2. Trac-ta
3. A-wu-da-ba

If anyone speaks this language, please let me know what my child is saying. She may be telling me how the nation should get out of our financial crisis and I am unable to decode. Maybe I should call the CIA...

Then there is Peanut. Her level of comprehension is astounding, but her communication isn't as strong as Jelly Bean right now. She is definitely a smart little whipper-snapper though! If I mention a certain animal in one book, she can locate another book or toy that has that same exact animal. We call that cross-referencing.

However sometimes we have misunderstandings because she is retaining so much. Here are some examples:

1. Peanut knows most of her body parts and one of those is elbow. We don't watch Sesame Street, but received a Elmo toy recently. When I told her who he was, she pointed to her elbow. "No, that is elbow. This is ELMO." I try to explain. Forget it. She is determined to show me that she knows what she is talking about. She also did it when we watched Dora dance the mambo on Dora the Explorer. Babies.

2. Like I said, she knows her body parts. When we got a book of farm animals, I pointed to the baby chicks and told her, "Chicks." "Dah!" Peanut points to her CHEEKS (The ones on her face. C'mon, this a g-rated blog!)

So, it is never a dull moment here at our house. There is lots of learning and clarifying and re-stating and head scratching and what the heck did she just say? Life is grand.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Finding Peaks In the Valley

Guest Post by Twindada who was "inspired to write today." Gotta love that!

Walking in the valley is never a pleasant experience, you would think. However, I truly believe it can be very rewarding. It is a constant reminder of where you have been and where you are going. My family and I have seen plenty of "valleys" in our lives. The ups have been wonderful experiences and the downs have been pretty rough.

Now we find ourselves currently living in the valley, literally. Our new house is in southwest Ohio in an area known as the Miami Valley and we are truly settled for the first time in our lives. I find it somewhat ironic when thinking about it, that after moving so many times over the years to places we thought we would be happy,that we would be led to the valley.

I grew up in the same area that we are now living. All I wanted to do was get out of there as fast as I could. I did just that. I went to college after high school across the state and never looked back. Sure, I came "home" every now and then to see my family and friends, but I never truly considered it my home. I wanted to truly experience life. Life to me was so much more than what my hometown could offer me. My dream was to move to Florida or even Tennessee (where my Dad's side of the family is from and a majority still live). Well, after finding the love of my life and marrying her (twinmama of course!), we made the leap. We moved to Florida. We lasted one year and felt a true calling (which neither one of us had experienced before) to move back to Ohio. At the time we had no idea why, but we had to get back.

We ended up in the valley. The same area we are in now. But this move was only temporary of course, until we found our true home. We talked about Florida again (who knows why, we like the torture, I guess), North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and on and on. Flash forward a couple years and we were blessed with wonderful twin girls. Life as we knew it was over. Talk about a change in things you took advantage of before! Everything was a whirlwind. We pressed a pause button on life and our #1 priority become our new family with Jelly Bean and Peanut.

Our freethinking ways pretty much ceased when it came to moving away. All of the sudden family and friends became a huge priority in life. After all, we needed the help! So much so, we made the decision to move in with my Mother-in-Law, who lives about an hour south of the valley, temporarily until we found a place to settle down - not back up in the valley of course! Fast forward another year, and an extraordinary thing happened. We were being led to the valley once again. No real explanation as to why, it was just that "feeling" rearing it's head once again.

So, here we are, with the valley being our true home. Yeah, it's tough beyond comprehension right now. But we find solace in knowing for certain that this is exactly where we are supposed to be. It wasn't easy getting here, there were a lot of obstacles in our way and we fought through all of them (with the help from the Man upstairs of course). The most amazing thing to me is that even though we may be living in a literal valley and going through struggles in the theoretical valley, it is comforting to know that our little piece of land that we own sits atop a peak where we can look out and clearly see where our true priorities lie.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Our Bathtime Routine

Ever wonder what it is like to give two monkeys a bath at the same time? Well, let me give you a peek into how it all goes down...

Me: "It's bathtime, let's go take a bath, girls."
Peanut: "Baf! Baf"
Jelly Bean: "BAAAAAF!" (As she runs around the playroom.)

Creak...I open the door to the baby gate to let out the wild animals. Two babies practically knock me over trying to get through the entrance way. One baby runs into the kitchen. The other baby runs into the living room. These locations are in opposite directions. I run for the baby in the kitchen (it seems to be the most dangerous place between the two without supervision). I scoop up the Peanut who shrieks thinking we are playing a game.

In the meantime, Jelly Bean has now left the living room and has run down the hallway into one of the bedrooms. (Here is a good time to mention that we are in the middle of remodeling the living room and bedrooms, these are no places for babies.) I hustle as fast as I can through the maze of boxes and clutter looking for her. As I locate the runaway, she is standing in the middle of their future bedroom and shrieks, too. This time it is quite loud because there are hardwood floors in there and no furniture. Echos all around.

Me: "C'mon, Jelly Bean!" I grab her hand and lead her to the bathroom while Peanut is now in chorus with her sister trying to match her soprano squeaks grinning ear to ear.

Inside the bathroom, I am able to close the door to avoid escapes, but now there are whole new things waiting for the girls to get into.

They both run to the toilet looking to swish their little hands around. (I need a toilet lock.) They open up cabinets (I need cabinet locks.) They grab the toilet paper and walk away with it. (I need my mind.)

Me: "Okay, let's get your clothes off so you can take a bath." I lean over to begin filling up the tub. Both girls immediately start splashing the water and giggling as it pours out of the faucet. I get one girl's clothes and diaper off and put her in the bathtub after it is filled. Then I do the same with the next baby.

Me: "Peanut, sit down, please." She has decided to stand up and jump up and down in the bathtub. Yeah.

Peanut: "Ha, ha, ha!" Crazy baby.

Jelly Bean: "Sissy." She points to her maniacal sister who has decided to not listen to me and has continued to jump up and down. I pick Peanut up and sit her back in the tub and then put Jelly Bean in with her.

Me: "Girls, sit down." Now both babies are participating in this activity. I sit them both down and now have kicked the bathing process into high gear so we can get out of there. I wash their hair and scrub their crusty little bodies. To rinse, I turn the water back on and fill up a bath cup. Both girls go back to the faucet giggling at the running water. Apparently, running water is funny. I fail to see the joke. So, they decide to help me see the joke by pushing the knob up and turning the shower on. Running water is still not funny.

Then they decide to finally obey me, but instead of sitting and being good, now Peanut is swimming in the bath tub and drinking the water like a whale.

Me: "Oooh...Dirty baby! Don't be one of those babies that drink bath water."

I have 2 of those babies that drink bath water.

Jelly Bean: "Ahhhh..." (As if she just had a refreshing lemonade. Should I tell her that she is bathing in her sister's filth, too?)

Back to their feet...

I finish up the rinse process while continuously sitting them on their bottoms.

Me: "Sit down, girls."
Peanut: "Sit." She points to me.
Me: "No, YOU sit down."
Jelly Bean: "Doggy! Doggy!" What the?

I pull them out the bathtub and realize there are no diapers in the cupboard. Knowing there is a matter of time before twinkle hits the bathroom carpet (I know, don't get me started. It is on the remodel list.), I wrap up both babies and yell for twindada to come take one. My voice echos through this part of the house (hardwood floors, no furniture.)

Jelly Bean: "Dada! Dada!"
Peanut: "DaDaaaaa!"

Twindada scoops up Peanut. She smiles sweetly at him like she has been a precious little angel the whole time. I know the truth. He carries her off to get her into her diaper and pajamas. Jelly Bean is standing there in her towel waiting for me to pick her up.

Jelly Bean: "Hee Hee." She giggles.

I am exhausted, but I pick her up and off we go to get a diddy and pajamas on. Almost to bed! I am minutes from flopping on the couch for a break. Twindada and I take the girls upstairs to their temporary bedroom ready to say goodnight. Then suddenly I remember that I have forgot to brush their teeth.


Monday, October 6, 2008

How To Afford The Shirts On Their Backs

Operation: Clothing Recover was a success. I was able to locate the boxes that contained my girls' fall and winter clothes over the weekend and have washed and folded most of their new cold weather wardrobe. Today the temperature is supposed to be 82. Sigh.

Going through the boxes, I came across a ton of the girls' old clothes and items they used when they were first born. I found all their cute little preemie clothes and it was amazing to see how tiny they really were. When I first put them in outfits at the hospital to go home in, the preemie clothes were even too big. So now to see them 27 lbs and growing, it is amazing. Especially Peanut. She was a mere 4 lbs 1 oz at birth and went down to 3lbs 13 oz during the first couple of days. Now, she is a solid little girl who can hold her own and is quite strong. Who would've thunk it?

They have a ton of outgrown clothes that I have been stashing away in boxes. Hoarding, if you will. I don't want to get rid of anything until twindada and I have made the decision on whether we will try to have another one. (Notice I said, one. I think Helene over at I'm Living Proof That God Has a Sense of Humor is awesome and her 2 sets of twins are adorable. I just don't know if I could do it all over again, but it isn't really left up to me, now is it?) Life has been way too busy to think about making our lives even more busy, so this topic of conversation is definitely on the backburner.

Going through those boxes got me thinking about what I would do differently if I were preparing for a little one or next time there is a baby shower gift to purchase. I received so many adorable outfits and items that were completely needed and almost everything was used at least once. At least I tried to get the girls in everything that I was given at least once.

I received a ton of preemie clothes, 0-3 month clothes and 3-6 month clothes when we had the girls and at the baby showers my family and friends graciously threw for me. I did receive some clothes that were 6 months and up, but very little. Now I am so not complaining about what I received because those first 6 months, you need as many onesies as you can get your hands on especially if you have little ones that spit up regularly (as both of mine did.) But I found a serious drought in baby clothes when the girls were ready for 6-9 month clothing and I was scrambling to the store to find stuff.

Luckily my sister-in-law has saved me a ton by handing down my niece's outgrown clothing. (She is a little over a year older than Peanut & Jelly Bean.) This has meant so much to me and we have been so appreciative especially because my little niece has some fabulous clothes, they are well taken care of and there is plenty to clothe both of my girls without us running out. Thanks, twinaunt!

So, what is a mama and dada to do when they have to dress the little tykes? Here are the options that I have found, but let me know if you all have come up with other ways to find affordable clothing as your tots grow.

1. Before the bab(ies) arrive, register for clothing in sizes up to 12 months. Also, communicate your wishes to family and friends so they know. On the baby shower invitations, you can ask people that if they are going to be buying clothing to buy certain sizes so that you can get a variety.

2. Ask, Ask, Ask! Ask family and friends if they know anyone looking to get rid of their old baby clothes. Sometimes people hold on (like us) until they are absolutely sure they are done, but once people have closed up shop on the ole' uterus, those boxes are doing no good in their attic. Some people may try to sell at consignment shops or at garage sales, but other people don't want to mess with the hassle. Also, some people are afraid to offer their used items because they don't want to offend a new mom. Please. Accept any item you can get your hands on. You will get plenty of brand new items, too. (Also, pay the favor forward. I plan on dropping a huge lot of clothing on some new mother one day. If I can't find someone in my family or friend's circle, then I will donate to my church.)

3. Garage Sales or Consignment Shops? There is not a wrong answer here. Both places have excellent deals on baby and children's clothing if you are willing to hunt for it. Since I am a bargain shopper, I opt for garage sales, but be ready to devote time to this option. You will need it.

4. Sales, Clearance Items, etc. Hit the end of season sales for the following year's clothing. With prices marked off considerably, this is an ideal way to get the more expensive items like winter coats, shoes and Christmas dresses/suits. Don't forget, too, about outlet stores that have designer label clothing marked down from what you would pay at the mall.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Fall snuck up on me. Last week, it was hot and shorts-wearing kind of weather. It was a typical day in September when it was not considered summer anymore by the calendar, but someone hadn't told the weather that it was time to lay off on the heat.

So, this week, I woke up to chilly mornings and it never went away. It has been downright chilly here in Ohio and Fall is officially in full swing. Last weekend was the Apple Festival so maybe that was the reason it finally changed. Who knows. All I know, is that I am very unprepared for this seasonal switch and it shows in the outfits that my kids have been running around in.

You all know I have been droning on and on about us moving into our house. (I know, I am sick of living it, much less writing about it.) But this temporary refugee-like living situation we have found ourselves in has created a complete fashion crisis for my girls. Now the weather is cooler, so all of the cute T-shirts and skooter skirts they have been accustomed to wearing all summer long, (you know, the only clothes that are in their dresser and are washed), are pretty much worthless now.

Now I have been frantically trying to find the boxes that have their fall/winter clothes, but who knows what I did with all of those? I am not the most organized person (twindada, if you are reading this, stop shaking your head "Yes".) So, I have been trying to search through the clothes that are available to find long sleeves and pants. I have found some, but of course nothing matches.

We have had some interesting outfits this week and my girls have reminded me of a certain character from my youth...remember Punky Brewster? Well, this scrappy little girl has nothing on my crazy little clowns-in-training. My husband even came home last night and looked at Peanut and said, "That's a snazzy outfit you got on there." Sigh. It is bad when twindada thinks they look like "fashion don't's." I am failing as a mother.

So many people would shrug their shoulders and say, "who cares, you aren't going anywhere, right?" Well, no, we haven't and I really shouldn't care. But some female in this family better look good because me and the dogs aren't cutting it.

The dogs haven't had baths for awhile, so they are looking pretty dingy and well, I have had a bath recently and I still look pretty dingy. If my kids don't look good, then we are all going to be one big scrappy family.

So, this clothing crisis is real. I will spend the weekend locating, washing and folding clothes that can be properly aligned with other clothes and we will continue to give the illusion that we have it all together.

Now, if only it were true...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


The other night, my husband and I were watching TV. (For all of you who know we have recently moved and know that we have a million projects we could be working on instead of watching TV, well, we needed a break!) Strangely, we were both drawn to the Cosby show marathon on TVland.

One episode that we were watching was about Denise leaving for college. I know that I probably have seen that episode several times both as a young child and as an adult, but there was one scene that hit me so hard and really got me thinking. The strong, but loving mom, Claire Huxtable pulls her daughter aside and wishes her goodbye before she leaves for school and she says, "Denise, I am proud of you. Not because I love you, but because I like you."

Whoa. It hit my heart like a thousand arrows piercing my soul. It really affected me and made me think of my little girls and my relationship with them. I know the moment that I found out they existed that I loved them. And I know for the rest of my life no matter what, I will always love them. That is unconditional love. But to "like" them is a completely different story.

Will I like them when they make decisions in their life that I don't agree with? Will I like them when they purposefully disobey me? Will I like them when their philosophies don't mesh with mine? Will I like them if they ever hurt someone else or me? I can always love them, but liking is a pretty big deal.

Why would liking someone be harder than loving them? Loving requires forgiveness, loyalty, a deep affection and a commitment to their well-being. What does liking someone require? Perhaps it is easy to say it requires the attributes that I have listed above for loving someone, but I think liking someone is the desire to be around them and enjoy their qualities.

So my little ones are, well, little, but I can honestly say that I really do like them. Peanut is funny and easy going and makes me laugh. Jelly Bean is sweet and cuddly and makes me feel needed. That is why I like them.

And I hope it is always like this though it is hard to say what the future will bring. But I pray that I can sweetly look into my daughters' eyes one day and tell them the truth, "I am proud of you, not because I love you, but because I like you."

I believe that is the best compliment a mother can give her child.