Monday, February 28, 2011

"A good book is the best of friends..."

Marty’s fortune cookie on Sunday night read, “A good book is the best of friends, the same today and forever.” He passed it over to me as if to say we had the cookies mixed up.

He knows who the bibliophile in this family is—at least for now.

If I have my way, Drew and Emily will one day love reading even more than their English teacher mommy.

Tonight as I scooped up the toys and put them in the basket to wrap up another day, I stopped for a moment and smiled at the number of books that were scattered among the singing animals and foam blocks.

I love how, even at this age, books are a part of having fun, even if it means chewing its corners or holding it up for closer inspection before dropping on the other’s head. I always get a good laugh at the irony of seeing one of them eating the book, Growing Foods.

The first book I read to the babies when we came home from the hospital was Are You My Mother? Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, I found comfort in the message that babies know their mommies-- even when their mommies are overwhelmed, exhausted, and hyper-emotional. Later, after I went back to work, the book took on new meaning, as I assured myself that even if I had to leave to bring “sustenance back to the nest,” they would still know me as Mommy.

Just then the mother bird came back to the tree. “Do you know who I am?” she said to her baby.
“Yes, I know who you are,” said the baby bird….
“You are a bird, and you are my mother.”

Another early read was Love You Forever. Sweetest book ever, but banned until my hormones reach a level where I don’t cry like a baby every time I read it.

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.

One of first important trips out of the house was to the bookstore. We commemorated the visit with a new book for each baby. One of those, How Do I Love You? became an instant favorite. As I read it, I like to substitute in their names and since it’s for two babies instead of one, we always make sure to make it plural.

How do I love you (Drew)? Let me count the ways.
I love you(Emily) as the sun loves the bright blue days…

Later, we bought the companion book, I Love You Through and Through. Currently, we get the most giggles with the parts that I can tickle and wiggle.

I love your fingers and toes, your ears and nose.

We also love the Tickle Monster, but take our word for it—don’t read it right before bed. The Tickle Monster will have them wiggling long after the last page.

I may not be right, but I’d venture to say/ You ought to be tickled ten times a day.

Marty insisted on one of our first family Christmas traditions-- reading T'was the Night Before Christmas. Granted, we read it Christmas morning since we all fell asleep on Christmas Eve.

For Valentine’s Day, Emily and Drew both got books because we all know that nothing says, “I Love You” like a chubby, board book. How Do I Love You? has turned out to be one of our new favorites.

“How do I love you? It’s impossible to say. For if I had a million days and time enough for all the praise, I couldn’t tell you all the ways…”

Finally, no night is complete at our house without the bedtime story, Time For Bed. We’ve read it so many times that now we don’t even look at the words. Sometimes we read it in funny voices. Sometimes we add animal sounds. Each time there’s always an Emmy-Bee and a Drew Bear. No matter how many nights we read it, they seem to love it just the same.

It’s time for bed little mouse, little mouse
Darkness is falling all over the house...

The stars on high are shining bright—
Sweet dreams, my darling(s), sleep well…good night

Makes me sleepy every time. Good night.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

It’s Been a Hard Day’s…Month??

Here we go again.

Good thing we stocked up on Boogie Wipes during the last go-round with the sneezies, snifflies, and coughies!

Emily started getting congested again this week, which progressed to a runny nose and a really nasty cough.

Then, it twin-fested today, and now Drew is not only drooling, he’s dripping.

I can’t stand seeing my babies sick :-(

Have you ever seen something so sad?? Breaks my heart.

So instead of our picture appointment tomorrow, we are now looking at doctor’s appointments. Maybe I will dress them in their new cute outfits just for the occasion. Looks like we won’t be getting out much any time soon.

It’s hard to say if a doctor’s trip is warranted, but two weeks ago, we decided to wait it out over the weekend, and we ended up in the emergency room on Saturday afternoon when Emily spiked a high fever and was having trouble breathing. We’d like to avoid the ER trip this weekend if possible.

A series of tests, a $200 co-pay, and one hysterical mommy later, we were discharged with a vague diagnosis of something viral. We were instructed to continue the same comfort measures we had already been trying: humidifier, Tylenol, Motrin, and bulb suction.

Don’t even get me started on the evils of those bulb suction things.

Instead, I’ll say that skin rashes are evil. First, Drew had a nasty neck rash from the drool and the fact that he has no discernable neck.

Then Emily started getting splotches and now has her own yucky neck rash. Again, the doctors in the ER told us not to worry. Sensitive skin, wetness from drooling, dry skin…it’s amazing the diagnosis you get for $2000+ trip to the ER these days. Don’t even get me started on insurance and hospital costs.

We have tried everything to beat these rashes, but so far, we are losing.

We are still fighting the crib wars, too, and while they are generally sleeping in their cribs, they are not falling asleep there. A narrow window of sleepiness exists and we have to seize it; otherwise, we move into the “beyond sleepy” phase where it’s nearly impossible to get them down. Just ask my parents. During our trip to the camper this past weekend, we eventually had to take Emily for a ride to get her down—three hours after we started trying. I think our ears are still bleeding.

As if sick, insomniac babies haven’t been hard enough, Drew has been going through this starvation phase where he wakes up with a ravishing hunger during the middle of the night. At one of our pediatrician appointments this past month for the coughing and persistent neck rash, the doctor advised us to try to avoid night time bottles. So, like the obedient mommy that I try to be, I tried. We gave him a small bottle to begin dialing back his daily intake expectation. That just pissed him off. Then we tried the water in the bottle. He drank that like it was the best thing ever and then cried for more and spit the water back up.

Call us lazy. Call us desperate. Call us weak. We caved and gave him a bottle. He ate it all. He slept and was quiet.

Three hours later, he wants more. This boy is hungry.

And, his parents are tired and desperate for just one full night of sleep. We invite the doctor to come to our house and show us how to deal with a crying baby at 2:00 in the morning when the fastest path back to sleep is a bottle. Stat.

I have blocked out those days this month when Marty and I have also been sick. There's really no reason to remember it since we barely even had time to visit a Minute Clinic, wipe our noses, and fill up on decongestants. It's all a Mucinex haze.

Then, there are twin-fits. That’s the new phenomenon where one of them crying sets off the other one, sending them both into a fit.

Last night, around 2:30, I am berating Marty on his slow bottle making skills.
“Hurry up! Faster! Shake it like you mean it! You want him to wake up EMILY??”

Persistent colds, angry rashes, over-sleepy babies, feeding frenzies, sick mommy and daddy, and screaming competitions. I thought February was supposed to be a SHORT month?

Don’t even get me started on how much I am ready for spring.

Monday, February 21, 2011

MaMe Music

A pregnant friend of mine recently texted me to say she was sobbing over Darius Rucker's "It Won't Be This Way For Long." I advised her to turn the station unless she just wanted a good cry. Believe me, I know, because almost nine months past delivery, certain songs (like that one) still turn me into a blubbering mess.

As Marty and I drove to the beach this weekend, we put the i-pod on shuffle and reminisced about songs that remind us of the babies. We shared a teary-eyed moment over Five for Fighting's "100 Years" and a good laugh about us making Emily dance to "Starstrukk." We wondered what Drew and Marty's version of "Anything Like Me" would be, and we both hummed Wainwright's "Daughter" all weekend. I thought of the "Voices" that I want the babies to hear, how I want them to grow up slow like "American Honey," how my love just "comes natural," and that I have so many "wishes" for them.

Which songs remind you of your family? Make you sappy? Happy?

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Sunday, February 20, 2011

They see us strollin'...

The babies had a BIG weekend, starting with the purchase of a BIG jogging stroller! This thing is so cool I *almost* want to start jogging. I didn't do anything crazy like that, but we did go on two walks. This may be the start of a new exercise plan for me. And, when lifting this monster, who needs weights?

Drew knows how to kick back.

Emily looked drowsy most of the walk. She kept herself awake practicing the consonant sound she found this week--the "g" sound. "GaaGaaGaa. GooGooGoo."

Saturday we headed to the beach for an overnight stay at the campground with Grandma and Papa. We took the new stroller for a spin on the pier. Drew loved the water.

Drew looks for fish while Emily looks slightly unimpressed.

I wasn't exaggerating when I said Drew did not take his eyes off the water the entire time we were on the pier. Something tells me Tanner's going to have a fishing buddy. Maybe Emily's just miffed because I stuck that pink bow in her hair.

One cool thing about having twins is watching their interaction. This weekend was one of the most entertaining. Here they are both going for the same power cord.

When Drew doesn't let Emily have it, she decides to jump on him and go over him. Don't feel bad for Drew. Later, he took her toy away and then grabbed her bottle.

Em and Drew got another treat this weekend...fresh banana in their new teether feeder thingees.

Drew mashes his up first.

But it doesn't take him long to get the hang of it.

It was so cute to hear the two of them smacking away.

We have started using the high chairs when we go out to eat, and they LOVE it. They've been promoted to the big people table!

Here I catch Emily laughing. Love it!

One last BIG thing...Emily is now pulling up and standing--every chance she gets. Yes, that's Drew in the background, crawling to yet another power cord.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Squashing my fears and a-peeling to reason

If there’s one thing worse than mommy guilt, it’s mommy self-doubt. You’d think that feeding your children would be one of the most natural things in the world, but surprisingly for me, it’s been one of the most stressful parts of parenthood.

First, I had to come to terms that breastfeeding wasn’t working for us for all the reasons I have enumerated before. Definite guilt. But, at the same time, I had little doubt about how to mix the formula, and even though it was formula, rationally, I knew it was good for the babies. I did stress over bottle or tap water, the best way to wash and sterilize the bottles, and even the material the bottles are made of (BPA-free and contain no PVC, lead or phthalates). Yet, it all worked out, and we made bottles. Lots of them. And the babies grew.

Then it was time to start adding solids. This part was actually fairly easy. We went with organic jar food—a mix of veggies and fruits—and organic rice cereal and then oatmeal. There was only one day when I slightly freaked out when I read that the lids of these jars may contain BPA. At that point, I decided to stop reading the “safe mom” blogs for a while. After all, it wasn’t like I was letting them lick the jar lid. So, we continued on. And the babies grew some more.

But recently family starting suggesting that maybe they were ready for something more than pureed jar food. Why not just blend up some real food? Um. Where do you suppose they will get this real food? From their culinary-challenged mom?

The truth is I am not ready to taint my children with my still-less-than-perfect eating habits. Sure, we’re cooking at home more, but we are far from healthy. At least with the jar, I know what they are getting. I am scared to feed the babies my cooking. Big people food doesn’t come with the handy “stages” so that a new (and not so savvy) mom like me knows that this is the right food for them at this time. Plus, it comes in interesting combinations. I am a “basic” recipe type girl. Mixing stuff is scary.

And this is where I know I am being ridiculous. I can’t feed them from a jar forever. Furthermore, how am I ever going to feed these children for the next 18 years unless I learn to trust myself a bit more? Am I really so incompetent that I trust a big factory to mass produce my babies' food more than I trust myself? *Insert nod of shame here*

Where is this irrational mommy fear coming from?

I look at Emily and Drew, so pure and perfect. I don’t want to be the reason they develop unhealthy eating habits or some health issue that stems from a poor diet or accidental contamination. Somewhere deep down, I think that if I feed them all the right things, protect them from all the cooties, slather them with the safest lotions, buy them the safest toys, and hold them tight enough, long enough, that I will be able to ensure that they stay healthy, safe, and unharmed--forever. I want my bubble around them to be impenetrable.

Tonight I staged an intervention and decided to confront my fears and make my first homemade baby food. My mom and I went to Whole Foods and bought the basics, and I came home and cooked, chopped, and froze butternut squash, apples, summer squash, and sweet potatoes.

Three hours later, I have 18 containers tucked away in the freezer. Another hour later, I have a clean kitchen again. I have to hope that practice makes perfect or at least, practice means it won’t take 4 hours, five bowls, three spoons, and a roll of paper towels next time.

Will they like it? If I had to place a wager, I’d say Emily will love; Drew will tolerate it. And both will grow some more.

First attempt at butternut squash--one of Drew's favorites

Steaming some squash and boiling the apples

The aftermath...

The finished product

Friday, February 18, 2011

DeDUCKtion..another Duck Tale

The duck strikes again...

This morning Drew celebrated his first day as an official crawler with a nice big mouthful of yellow duck hair. Unfortunately, duck hair is not an approved Level 2 baby food, and the choking sounds and accompanying gagging expression were enough to make my heart stop. When I finally gasped for air, I scooped Drew up, screamed for Marty, and began patting his back. Marty swooped in, and by the time he started checking for an open airway, Drew was laughing and bopping.

I totally expect that his hairball will pass in a future poo unless I find him, like one of the cats, in the corner, coughing it up.

The duck, on the other hand, did not fare as well.

First, I put him in time-out on the mantle for the day. After thinking long and hard, I decided we would not send him to Ole McDonald's Farm, but would seek to rehabilitate him with a duck cut--a little deDUCKtion, if you will.

Until we quack again, waddle on my friends...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Living Intentionally- My Birthday List

Tonight Marty and I took the plunge—the plunge into the deep unknown world of our finances.

We had our first meeting with a financial planner to start looking at where we are and where we want to be. Most of the time, we practice the avoidance strategy--a little “don’t ask don’t tell” with a side of “we’ll get to it later.” But, the reality is we now have two children who will one day want cars and college, and hopefully, if we live long enough, we’ll need money to keep ourselves out of an old folks’ home. At some point, we had to acknowledge we are officially adults and start acting like it when it comes to money.

For me, this realization really started sinking in when I turned 35 in November. Not just a realization that I was now an adult who needed a comprehensive retirement plan, but a bigger realization that I had so much more for which I was responsible. As if two babies at one time wasn’t enough responsibility, I was also in charge of living my own life.

In the midst of feeling like the weight of my birthday was going to crush me, Marty tried hard to perk me up by planning a birthday surprise that included an afternoon at the art museum sans babies.

As we strolled through the whiteness of the museum, I felt the tension between the peacefulness of the setting and my frenetic mind. Feeling more mixed up than an abstract painting, I had to work to slow down and soak in the serenity. Away from my cell phone, Facebook, and babies, Marty and I walked through the museum at our own pace. I felt keenly aware of the sanctity of life as I looked into the eyes through the ages. As I tried to place myself in the grandness of history, I realized anew that one of our greatest abilities is the ability to think, and for a while, I selfishly reveled in thinking deeply about the art that was before me. I realized much of the beauty was of the ordinary variety—a bowl of fruit, a couple in love, a sunrise, a man standing alone. As a new mom, I was drawn to the pictures of mothers with their children. Regardless of the time that separates us, the connection is the same, and I thanked God again for the opportunity to count myself among those who answer to name of “mommy.” In a time when the world seems to be shrinking, my stroll through the museum reminded me that there is still a big, wide world that awaits my visit. Just as art requires us to slow down and be intentional in our thoughts, I think the art of enjoying life requires some of the same intentionality. Don’t we all need to slow it down and appreciate the art of daily life just a little bit more?

One of my favorite teacher sayings and an art-inspired one at that is, “Attitude is the mind’s paintbrush,” and as I left the museum that day, I tried to color my attitude with a brighter hue.

I resolved to be more intentional about my happiness and about living my life. I resolved to quit using the babies as an excuse for not doing things and instead view them as the motivation for doing them. My babies deserve the best mommy possible.

And that was the start of my birthday list. I resolved to create a list of 35 things to do in my 35th year, which brings us back to the trip to the financial planner. Number 11 is “Re-evaluate my long-term finances and set tangible goals for my money.” Check!

The list is in no particular order. Some of the goals are broad. Some are specific. Some can be checked off. Others will always be a work in progress. The ultimate goal is to use each day to the best of my ability, and hopefully arrive at 36, alive and healthy, rejuvenated and ready to find 36 new ways to love my life.

1. Be the best mommy I can be.
2. Be present.
3. Learn to take a good picture.
4. Exercise.
5. Run a 5K.
6. Go to NYC with my mom and sister.
7. Teach the babies how to sign. (in progress)
8. Read at least a book a month. (so far so good)
9. Join a yoga class. (have taken 1 class)
10. Learn to gamble. Poker, craps, and some other game (had a great Texas hold'em lesson recently)
11. Re-evaluate my long-term finances and set tangible goals for my money. (in progress)
12. Send more hand-written cards. (sent a couple)
13. Throw a party and reconnect with old friends. (threw a Christmas get-together)
14. Support a charity. (Go, Little Pink!)
15. Blog more. (currently keeping up my week-long challenge)
16. Take swimming lessons with Emily and Drew. (starts at the end of February)
17. Worry less. (daily struggle)
18. Appreciate more.
19. Update Emily and Drew’s baby books.
20. Watch old movies that everyone has seen but me. (must find a way to stay
21. Learn to make a good mixed drink.
22. Put work into the proper prospective.
23. Buy only items that I love.
24. Lose weight and get back to my 2006 weight.
25. Eat healthier and set a better example for Drew and Emily. (loving the crock pot meals!)
26. Travel to one new state/country that I have not yet visited.
27. Say I love you more.
28. Cut clutter.
29. Pay for a stranger’s meal.
30. Find a church home for our family.
31. Go hang-gliding.
32. Lower my cholesterol.
33. Watch a meteor shower.
34. Take a spur-of-the- moment road trip.
35. Begin our own family traditions.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

They only turn 1 once

It's hard to believe, but Emily and Drew will be turning one in less than four months!

Recently, someone asked me if I had thought about their first birthday party, and I had to admit, with some degree of mommy guilt, that I hadn't given the topic much thought. Of course I knew we'd have a party and cute cakes, but beyond that, I had nothing--which got the wheels turning.

After reaching the outer limits of the Internet, I realized I wasn't completely satisfied with any of the ideas I found. Should it be hard to come up with a theme that isn't too commercial for babies who don't know the difference between Winnie the Pooh and Baby Einstein?

Yes, I completely understand they won't remember any of it. I know, I know. This party is more for me than them. Yes, I know the cake and a good picture will be all that matter. Sure, I could save the time and the money.

Don't try to reason with a crazy mommy.

Instead, you can cast your vote and help me make this important, life-altering decision. As a token of my thanks, I invite you to join us in June for birthday cake--color and theme to be determined.

Theme for first birthday party?
Bee and Bear
Thing 1 and Thing 2
Under the Sea
Other (leave a comment) free polls

Monday, February 14, 2011

How Do I Love You?

Since the babies entered our lives, it's like it is Valentine's Day every day. I am in love. Head over heels. I am officially that mom. So when every day is Valentine's Day, how does one celebrate?

I got my first homemade card from the babies. Notice how they lovingingly chewed the corners:

We gave the babies their first Valentine's Day gifts:

When I got home from work, I took the babies on a Valentine's Day walk. Drew loved it. Emily slept. As a family, we celebrated with story time on the floor. Mommy and Daddy had a romantic crock pot meal as we watched Emily and Drew crawl on the end table and TV tables. After babies were asleep, we topped off a perfect day with Dairy Queen strawberry milkshakes. Ah. Life is good. How good?

"It's impossible to say. For if I had a million days and time enough for all the praise, I couldn't tell you all the ways."

How I Really Met My Husband

As Marty and I celebrate our sixth Valentine’s Day together, I woke up to the greatest of all Valentine’s presents—two adorable, sweet blue-eyed babies and one awesome, handsome blue-eyed man who was already up feeding said babies.

Six Valentine’s Days ago, we were still in those awkward first days of dating. I don’t remember if we even exchanged gifts, but I am guessing not. It wasn’t until the Valentine’s Day Massacre of 2007, as Marty likes to call it, that he learned he should at least get a card, especially when he’s flying out of the country on Valentine’s Day.

We met officially in December 2005 on a cold night at Hibernian on Glenwood. There’s a bit more to our modern day romance, but our official story is, “We met at a bar.” And this much is true.

When people ask when or how I met my husband, I am sure they are asking for the usual details: Where were we? Who introduced us? Was it love at first sight? Did we know right away each other was the “one”?

Now when I think about when and how I meet my husband, I think of other meetings and how those meetings tell more about us than that first encounter…

I met my husband on the day we decided to start a family. I saw a man willing to take a leap of faith, compromise, and trust my vision of our future.

I met my husband on those days I was too pregnant to move. I saw a man who would rub my feet, get my water, listen to my latest irrational fear, and buy me another strawberry milkshake.

I met my husband as he felt our babies thump and kick. I saw a man take a break from a hockey game to smile every time he felt them move like it was the first time.

I met my husband that June morning in the operating room when he watched as our babies were born. I saw a man watching his family grow right before his eyes.

I met my husband every sleepless night as he made bottles, changed diapers, and rocked a crying baby. I saw a man who was made to be a daddy.

I met my husband as I watched him make up silly songs to sing to our Drew Bear and our Emmy Bee. I saw a man with a soft heart beneath his often-grumpy exterior.

I met my husband when I saw him wheel a double stroller and carry an apple green diaper bag. I saw a man proud of the babies who bear his looks and hopefully his heart.

I met my husband yesterday as he played outside with his niece and nephew. I saw a man who remembers what it’s like to be a child and look up to someone older.

I met my husband this afternoon as we played on the floor and read Valentine’s books to Emily and Drew. I saw a man with whom I am able to enjoy the little things.

I met my husband this evening when he went out to fill my car with gas so I don't have to stop early in the morning. I saw a man who knows some things say "I Love You" more than a card, jewelry, or candy.

I will meet my husband later tonight when we curl up after the babies are down to talk of the day’s events and cuddle as we fall asleep. I will see a man who is so much more than just another guy at a bar.

I will see a man who is my best friend, my husband, my babies’ daddy, and my Valentine.

And that’s how I really met my husband.

I love you, Marty.

Sunday, February 13, 2011




Turn THIS over


Play with THIS


Crawl on THIS


Chew on THIS


Bang on THIS


Knock THIS


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