Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Confessional

Today I am linking up with Kristen of A Little Something for Me for her Friday Confessional feature. Thank you, Kristen, for giving me the opportunity to confess my shortcomings, clear my conscious, and enter the weekend ready to be fabulously imperfect.


On being connected

I confess…In the car this morning, I couldn’t find my cell phone. My first thought was “I’ll just call Marty to see if I left my cell at home.” Oh, yeah…if I had a phone…

I confess…I need a back-up cell phone or a clapper to help me locate said lost phone.

I confess…I reached for missing cell phone (for various reasons) at least 20 times while driving to work this morning.

On being fashionable

I confess…I went shopping to update my fall wardrobe. I was styling in my new shirt Thursday morning until I went over railroad tracks and spilled coffee all over it.

I confess…I wore a cute dress to work this week. While wearing cute dress, I inadvertently see a colleague’s phone who just received a text sent by another colleague in the room: “Is Melissa pregnant?” Ouch. Guess this cute dress makes me look like a cute pregnant woman.

On being blonde

I confess…On the same morning I wore the cute dress to work, I forgot to put on deodorant. Apparently, I appeared to be a smelly, pregnant woman.

I confess…I was shocked when I saw a Sara Lee van this week with the slogan, “Nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee.” I always thought they were saying, “Nobody does IT like Sara Lee.”

I confess…I have picked up a new annoying habit—saying “Sure” to indicate agreement. At least I am not saying, “totally,” right?

On being a blogger

I confess…I have lost my blogging mojo. While I haven’t been actually writing and responding lately, I have lots of ideas for posts—just not enough time, energy, and motivation to write them.

I confess…I lost a blog follower this week, and I felt strangely wounded. Kind of like when I lose a friend on Facebook and can’t figure out who it was…Please tell me, “It not you; it’s me…”

I confess…I also feel similar rejection when I follow and/or comment on other blogs numerous times with no sign of acknowledgement. Did I forget my online deodorant? Did I invade your online personal space? Do I give off scary stalker vibes? Do I have virtual cooties? Please tell me, “It’s not you; it’s me…”

On being a working mom

I confess… I feel like a bad mom when the morning daycare teacher says, “Well, we haven’t seen you in a while.”

I confess…I feel like a bad mom when said daycare teacher runs down the list of my babies' ailments that I can’t fix: runny nose, croupy cough, and loose stools.

I confess…I feel like a super mom when I pick the babies up in the afternoon, and they excitedly run to me.

I confess…I feel like a super mom when I carry both babies out of daycare--in my arms at the same time. Even though I struggle to carry 40+ lbs of babies at the same time, I don’t let it show. Instead, I smile smugly at the other (weaker) moms. Maybe I can’t drop them off and pick them up or cure their various ailments, but I can carry two wiggly toddlers all by myself.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fall Makeover

With the official start of fall this past week, I decided to finally start making the transition.

I started with the easy stuff. The fun stuff. Like the wreath and the flag--because nothing says I am ready for fall like the changing of the yard decor.


Then I moved on to transitioning the babies' closet because I realized I would feel like a negligent mommy sending her kids to daycare in tank tops in October (even if it is still around 80 degrees during the day here). This task was a bit trickier because I didn't take advantage of last year's clearance sale to stock up on winter clothes, and I missed the Moms of Multiples Fall/Winter sale.

So today Marty and I hit the stores and tried to find some good deals. Between Kohl's and Old Navy, the babies now have some new cute fall/winter clothes.

And minus Marty's grumbling, this part of the summer-to-fall transition was pretty easy and pretty fun, too.

But, then I looked down at my juice-stained shirt and flip flops and realized the yard and the babies aren't the only ones in need of a seasonal update.

And I started to panic--ever so slightly.

Last winter I blamed my disheveled appearance 6 month old twins. Will that excuse work as well a year later?

While I love buying baby clothes, I feel totally inept when it comes to buying clothes for myself, especially now with my post-twin pregnancy body.

Everything clings to my middle.

I feel guilty when I splurge on clothes for myself, so I need to find good deals, which takes time I don't have.

Anyone out there have some fashion tips for this fall? Must-have items? Best brands? Best places to shop? If you could see me right now, you would know I need all the help I can get!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Nothing could be finer...

than to be back in Carolina!

This week I am loving the fact that we are home! But I am also happy to share a new Mama Loves product that we discovered as part of our recent travel adventures: the Trunki.

Visit Trunki Site

The Trunki by Melissa and Doug is a "lightweight, sturdy, carry-on sized suitcase serves as luggage, riding toy, and transport for kids on the go!"

"Trunki allows children to scoot along on their luggage through the airport or train station" or cruise terminal.

The week before the cruise we bought Emily and Drew Trunkis at a local toy store that carries Melissa and Doug products. You can also buy cute stickers, including some travel destination ones, to customize your Trunki.

Marty was skeptical when we first purchased them. He thought they were too small to be practical. He also thought the babies were really too small to enjoy them.

Using the vacuum storage bags, I was able to condense each child's clothing down until the bag fit comfortably inside the Trunki. They are definitely more roomy than they appear.

The babies also loved pulling them (even if just for a little while), and they also used them as toys once they were unpacked (providing them with yet another thing to climb on).

We were a little disappointed when the Trunkis arrived to our room missing a few pieces (a clasp and a horn handle) after checking them with the cruise line. Maybe we shouldn't have checked them...

But, they were still very useable.

After we got home, I called Melissa and Doug to inquire about replacement pieces. I was blown away by the superior customer service. The lady was super helpful, and instead of sending us replacement parts, they are sending us new Trunkis. She asked that we mail the others back so their QA department can investigate and make necessary improvements. Melissa and Doug have new fans!

We are looking forward to using the Trunki for travel for several years to come!

Manic Mother

While we want to raise children who love to travel and explore new places, I also pray that they'll always appreciate and value the comfort of home.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cruisin'- Part III

Thursday, September 15
Thursday started early for us—really early. Like 2 in the morning early.

Drew, who had been a little hoarse all day, started rasping, wheezing, and barking like a seal. Was it another asthma-like attack like the one he had back in April?

The effect of eating too much St Thomas sand? Some dangerous viral infection picked up from licking a railing? In the absence of an internet connection to consult Dr. Google, we decided to call the nurse on duty and have Drew evaluated.

I waited nervously in the room with Emily while Marty took Drew down to see the nurse. They came back shortly with a tentative diagnosis-croup. At this point, we would treat the fever with Tylenol and see the doctor in the morning for an evaluation.

A quick, yet expensive trip to the ship doctor around 8am confirmed the croup diagnosis. As long as his breathing didn’t become too labored, we wouldn’t need steroids. A steamy bathroom served as a makeshift humidifier.

Exhausted from the lack of sleep and the stress of a sick baby, we crashed after breakfast and slept until 1:00. I think the rest did wonders for us all.
We spent the afternoon puttering around the ship.

We attended a reception for past guests, and the babies quickly made their star status known by getting dancing on the main stage. Drew loved it so much he did an encore presentation.

By this time of the week, we had people coming up and calling the babies by name. I guess that’s what happens when you are crazy enough to take 15 month twins on a cruise ship for seven days along with four proud grandparents.

Of course, as a mother, I was most proud of their overall good behavior, especially given the sickness and all of the activity. I also marveled at how quickly they learned things:

• How to turn the cabin light on and off
• How to buckle the stroller straps
• How to dip their food into ketchup
• How to play corn hole
• How to climb—on everything
• How to kiss a fish
• How to say “no”

Friday, September 16
On Friday, my mom, sister, and I headed to the spa for a girls’ morning. We each had the Tip to Toe massage, and surprise—my masseuse informed me I was carrying a lot of tension. What gave it away?

After leaving a little tension behind, we went to the main dining room for one last breakfast and maybe the first breakfast I’ve had without the babies all week.

As we are leaving the dining room, we decide to walk back through the buffet to the Lido and who do we see? Marty and the babies!

Suddenly I found myself back in mommy mode—not because I had to—but because I wanted to—for just a little bit.

After getting my baby fix in, I cashed in some more of the time I had banked with Marty (during his casino outings) to continue my girl morning. I headed back to the cabin for a nap. Sure, I could have napped by the pool, but it was air conditioned in our room. Does the fact that I would rather nap in my room rather than by the pool make me officially old?

The afternoon was spent with the babies on the Lido deck and the rest of the family—eating and talking—talking and eating. Eating truly becomes a hobby on a cruise ship.

Packing our bags actually wasn’t as hard as we anticipated. Maybe it was because we had the almost-empty suitcase that once held 120 diapers, 3 packs of wipes, and 2 bottles of Pedialyte.

One last dinner. One last sherbet. One last walk around the ship. One last night of maneuvering the double stroller through narrow halls. One last night of vacation…

Saturday, September 17
Our last day started at 5:30 with my mom and dad calling to see if we wanted to meet for coffee. Not quite.

We made it out of our room by 7:00. We had enough time to feed the babies a quick breakfast and to feed ourselves some coffee. By 7:45 our debarkation number was called, and ten hours later, we were home.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cruisin'-Part II

Monday, September 12
Monday was our first full day at sea, and we were up early for a great breakfast in The Gathering, the ship’s buffet. The babies loved the never-ending supply of fresh fruit!

From 8-10 on sea days, Camp Carnival is open for family playtime. Parents are welcome to bring their children and use the facilities free of charge. We took Emily and Drew and had a great time letting them run free. Drew learned to climb on the toy slide, and he had so much fun going up and down. He hasn’t stopped climbing since! Emily loved the giant foam Lego pieces and the various table toys. Grandma Vivian and Great Grandma Nettie joined us, and it was so good to see the babies being showered with their love and attention.

Since Drew was now a pro at sliding, we decided to take him down the kids’ slide. He loved it—almost as much as he loved just sitting in the water at the bottom of the slide.

After lunch, we returned to the room for naps, and I learned that even when on vacation with a room steward, there is housekeeping for mommy to do. In a room as small as ours, organization was critical. By Monday, it was time to straighten things up and help all the lost items find homes. Then there was a bit of baby laundry that just couldn’t wait until we got home. Even so, chores on vacation don’t seem quite so bad.

After naps, we headed out for a little Bingo on the Lido deck, a walk around the track, and some browsing in the ship’s shops.

Everywhere we went, we heard, “Twins!?” or “Oh, look. It’s the twins!” We were either famous or infamous--maybe both.

My sister took the babies back to her room for a few minutes to give me a break, which I felt was pretty safe since she didn’t have a Diet Pepsi with her. When I came to pick them up, I learned she had found a new way to be the over-indulgent aunt—she had painted Emily’s toenails. Her first pedicure—and I wasn’t even there.

At dinner, our fabulous waiters had the babies’ fruit waiting, and that night, the lady at the table above us finally smiled at us.

Now Camp Carnival groupies, we took two sleeping babies for another night of supervised sleeping while we joined the rest of our group at another late-night comedy show. But, not too late, though…tomorrow we docked in St. Thomas.

Tuesday, September 13

Due to a detour to avoid the storm, we arrived in St Thomas later than anticipated, so we didn’t get off the boat until 1:00. To compensate, the boat would stay three hours later, meaning we wouldn’t set sail until 11:00pm.

Right off the boat, we got a taxi to take us to Coki Beach. We enjoyed the open air cab ride through the winding, narrow roads (even if our driver seemed to be going a little too fast).

At the beach, we rented chairs, which did a great job of holding my stuff since I never had the chance to sit down.

The babies enjoyed the water and especially the sand. They ate so much sand we joked they would be pooping bricks by the next day.

We decided to rent jet skis for a 30 minute ride around the island. The babies stayed with the sand and three watchful grandmas while Marty and I acted like kids.

When we finished, the guy we rented them from was nice enough to let my dad take a free spin. Very cool…

After the beach, we browsed in the shops by the dock before deciding to take a ride on the Sky Lift. It was a little pricey, even with the kids riding free, but after making the ascent to the top, I can definitely say the view of St. Thomas at night was definitely worth the $28 ticket (which also included a tasty Bailey’s Bushwacker).

The bar was lively, the drinks plentiful, the view spectacular, and the entertainment, well, pretty entertaining if you like pirates eating and twirling fire.

We were back on the boat well before 11:00 and were pleasantly surprised to find our phones had service. Yay for the US Virgin Islands! A Facebook status update closed out a pretty perfect day.

Wednesday, September 14
As we walked out on deck Wednesday morning in St. Maartan, we were greeted by beautiful waters on one side of the boat and the biggest cruise ship in the world, the Oasis, on the other. Wow. And, I thought our boat was big!

We found a cab driver who would stay with us for the whole day and take us wherever we would like to go. Let’s go, Joe!

We started our trip with Joe with a narrated, air-conditioned tour of the island, complete with complimentary beer, rum punch, and water. Do we have to get out??

We toured the Dutch and French side of the island before stopping for a shopping break on the French side. Of course, I had to have an espresso even if I was wearing a swimsuit and sweating to the 80+ degree heat.

Our next stop was Orient Bay, a beautiful beach filled with restaurants, cheap beer, and lots of watersports. Oh, and a nude beach on the other side of the rocks…

The highlight of Orient Bay, though, was by far, the parasailing I did with my dad.

Those who know my dad know he is a walking medical miracle. Part of me wants to tell him he shouldn’t jet ski, zip line, or parasail. Another part of me knows it is all of these things that keep him vibrant, full of life. He isn’t afraid to live his life—fully. I am so lucky to be here for the ride.

We shopped during our last few hours on the island, and for the first time during the whole trip, I actually bought something--a sandwich, a Christmas ornament, and a bracelet for my mom. Parasailing with my dad and hugs from my mom—those were the best gifts of the day.

Come back tomorrow for the last installment of Cruisin'.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cruisin'-Part I

Thursday, September 8
Although our sick-cation was not over by any means, Thursday marked the official beginning of our VA-cation. With our tummies still rolling, we packed our bags, complete with a week’s worth of diapers, and took off for Port Canaveral around noon.

Before twins, we could usually make the trip in just around 9 hours. With sick twins, sick parents, and one brave grandma, the trip took right at 12 hours. By the time we unloaded the car at the hotel, any thought I’ve ever had of having more children had been left behind at one of the 57 rest stops we visited along the way.

Marty held out hope that Friday would bring better health and renewed energy for his much-anticipated visit to Universal. I just hoped we would all recover before the boat set sail on Saturday.

Friday, September 9
Friday morning found us all a little more rested but still not feeling theme-park ready. We made the call to scratch the trip to Orlando for a day of rest.

After breakfast, the babies went down easily for a nap. I used nap time to sanitize all of our belongings once more.

We survived a high-chair free lunch at a great local deli. Back at the hotel, since none of us felt up to enjoying the pool, we did our best to entertain the babies with the toys we had packed and with occasional walks outside.

The rest of the family arrived around noon, but most of them avoided our room like we had an awful stomach bug. Oh, wait. We did.

We didn’t take it personally, and we gladly offered a squirt of hand sanitizer to all who entered.

On Friday evening, we enjoyed some shopping in Cocoa Beach before having pizza for dinner.

We turned in early, hoping to bank some extra sleep for the next day’s big embarkation.

Saturday, September 10
While I worked to get everyone packed and out of the room, Marty and the babies took the new camera and headed out to catch the Delta 2 rocket launch.
Around noon, we met to wait for the shuttle to the port. After a long wait, a short ride, and another long line, we were finally inside the terminal where the babies walked through a metal detector all by themselves for the first time ever.

From that point on, boarding went pretty smoothly, as we strapped the babies back in and rolled on board to our new home for the next seven days.

During boarding we learned that, due to Tropical Storm Maria, our itinerary was being changed from the Eastern Caribbean to the Western Caribbean. While it was somewhat disappointing, we were just grateful to be on vacation and to be feeling almost well—finally.

After taking in the spectacular view from the Atrium, we cruised the Lido deck before heading to our room.

Our room was small, especially with the added crib, but the babies didn’t waste any time discovering every nook and cranny, including the door stop, the closets, drawers, and most dangerously-- the mini bar.
After settling in, we were relieved to learn that the muster drill did not include putting on the life jackets and standing out on deck. Instead we gathered in the disco for safety instructions where the babies proceeded to chew off their identification bands.

Around this time, we received another important update from the cruise director. Due to the ever-changing weather situation, we were now clear to proceed with our original itinerary to the Eastern Caribbean. Great news!

We napped a bit before heading to dinner in the dining room. As we walked towards the waiting high chairs, I pretended to ignore some sideways glances from several child-wary diners seated near us. “Yes, we paid full price for them, so, yes, they will be eating in the main dining room every evening. And, no, they will not be eating chicken nuggets.”

They enjoyed trying foods off of the big people menu—fresh fruit, grilled chicken, steamed veggies, more fresh fruit, and a special treat—orange sherbet.

They loved it.

Marty had his dessert later—a late night of Blackjack in the casino—while the babies and I went to bed early.

Sunday, September 11

As we walked onto the Lido deck Sunday morning, an unusual somberness pervaded the otherwise noisy crowd. The jumbo screen played news shows with September 11 remembrances. My mind traveled back to ten years earlier, and with tears in my eyes, I hugged my family extra tightly.

With a renewed sense of patience, patriotism, gratefulness, and zest for life, I walked off the boat in Nassau so thankful for my many blessings.

While the babies didn’t love the glass bottom boat ride as much as I had envisioned, I enjoyed holding them and taking in the beautiful scenery and nearly perfect weather.

As our tour guide pointed out the vacation homes of celebrities such as Oprah and Michael Jordan, I decided that I could retire on an island and just live in one of their garages.
After our tour, we strolled down the main shopping street in Nassau before returning to the boat for lunch and naps.

We were up in time to dress for the first formal night, and Drew and Emily were a hit in their coordinating black and white outfits. Drew loved his suit so much that he didn’t want to take it off when it was time to go to bed.

We eventually wrestled him into his pajamas and were able to get both babies nice and asleep before carrying them down to Camp Carnival for a little late-night babysitting service.

As a mom who has just been able to leave her babies at daycare, I have to say I was very impressed with Camp Carnival and its staff. With a camp cell phone in hand, we headed to the adult comedy show and then the casino before going back to retrieve our still-sleeping babies.

Before going to sleep, I hugged them tightly once more.

Stay tuned for Cruisin'-Part II.
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