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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Birthdays & Blue Eyes & Other Beautiful Things

This past weekend, Emily and Drew attended a great birthday party (thanks,Kayla, for including us in your celebration!).

It was at a local science museum that had a wonderful inside play area for smaller kids, lots of interactive exhibits for the bigger kids, and a play area outside that was perfect for working off the sugar high from the yummy cupcakes (that would be the babies AND me)!

All the birthday fun reminded me that in just three short months, we will be celebrating Emily and Drew's SECOND birthday. Maybe if I throw myself into party planning it will distract me from obsessing over how quickly time is passing.

I've pinned a few ideas but haven't really committed to any one idea yet. Marty wants us We've decided to keep it a little smaller than last year's first birthday party.

We've talked about having a small party at the aquarium.It would likely just be our immediate family (and maybe some friends who'd be up for a little road trip)since it's located at the beach, about 2 hours from here.

If you have some ideas for party themes, please share!


Last Friday I completed my last of four photography classes. You know how they say teachers make the worst students? Well, it was true. I had a great teacher and I don't think I completed one homework assignment she gave. Despite the fact that I still take bad pictures, I learned quite a bit. I can now tell you that my picture's exposure is off. I know what the Rule of Thirds is, and that alone is a huge step for someone as mathematically (un)inclined as me.

I now know that my camera has a settings other than automatic and I have (occasionally) used them.

As I left class, I promised Shannon I would practice the next day when I went to the birthday party. Even though I can be a real slacker, I do like to keep my promises.

Taking the pictures was much harder than I thought it would be, but then again, I've learned that photography itself is much harder than it appears to be. I will never complain again about paying for quality photography again--it truly is an art.

The museum presented a unique challenge--It was dark, the light that was available was glaring, my kids are super pale and super blond...Most of the pictures came out over-exposed. I have lots of pretty shots of glowing kids.

Here are a couple I liked, if not for the technical quality, for the way they capture my babies--their personalities, their energy, and their beautiful blue eyes.








Notice how in both of these pictures, Emily and Drew are reaching towards the horse's ear. Since their horses at home have a button on the ear that makes the horse talk, they assume all horses have it. Too funny! Sorry, babies. This horse ain't made for talking!




Making music...


I wonder what he's thinking...



Tune in tomorrow for another installment of 12 in 2012 where I will recap February's focus on solitude and introduce a new value for March.

In case you missed the Facebook update, the decision was made. Drew's chullet will be chopped on Saturday. Tears and pictures will be forthcoming!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Chop the Chullet?

It's not like his hair looks like this:
Image Credit


Or that we would let it grow to this:
Image Credit

But, apparently, some of our friends and family have grown, um, concerned about Drew's chullet--you know, a child's mullet.

It's business in the front:

And a party in the back:

Uncle Jay put the extra hair in a pony tail recently. Aunt Kelly and Marty conspired to take him for a haircut without my approval. To hear them talk, you'd think we're just an inch of blond hair away from being featured HERE.


The first- time mommy in me is fighting the first haircut every snip of the way. I just can't bear the thought of cutting off those blond wisps of baby hair. Mentally, I had set the deadline for June, when they turn two. I had this whole mommy-dream going on about how I would take them both on their second birthday for their first haircuts at one of those places with cute airplane and pony chairs.

Because, of course, their hair would grow at equal rates. Because, of course, waiting until two wouldn't seem like I was rushing them out of the baby stage. Because, of course, I'd be emotionally ready by then...


But the pressure is getting intense. The chullet is taking on a life of its own.

We have family pictures coming up and a part of me says we should chop the chullet before the pictures. Marty's threatening no pictures unless we cut Drew's hair first (this coming from a man who had a mullet when he was old enough to know better).

Part of me says we should leave Drew's hair like it is for the pictures because it is so much a part of his look at this stage of his toddlerhood.

So what do you think? Chop the chullet or comb it and let it keep growing?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sweet!

While MaMe was on vacation a few weeks ago, our little ole' blog was getting all kinds of sweet attention from the best bloggy friends in the whole wide world.

First, we received the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award not once, but TWICE!

Jen of We're Living a Full Life gave us one of them, and I consider it a true honor because Jen is, well, one of the sweetest bloggers I know (and a mighty fine photographer, too)!

Then, like icing on the cake, Awn of Imperfection Personified served up another slice of nice by giving us another Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award. A fellow hockey fan and now a fellow Southerner, Awn is as sweet as the sugar cookies she loves to bake.

Part of accepting the award requires that I tell seven things about myself that my readers may not know before passing along the award to (10) other blogs I love.

I sincerely apologize to these ladies for the delay in me properly accepting this award. Coming back from vacation has been a rough transition. The cliche, "You play. You Pay" has certainly rung true for us. Speaking of work and play, I decided to use both as the basis for my random facts about me...

Work

1. My first job was being a cashier and then lay-away clerk at K-Mart. I met my first boyfriend, a cart pusher, while working there.

2. In college, I worked at another K-Mart for a while before leaving to take a job at Eddie Bauer in the mall. This job didn’t last long. I ended up quitting because I didn’t want to deal with the holiday mall traffic. If you think it’s bad trying to shop in the mess, try having to ride a shuttle to your car because the mall makes the workers park so far away. Not worth it.

3. I was a RA in my dorm during my junior year, which is hilarious in hindsight given the fact that I was not always the most rule-abiding resident.

4. My first job out of college was teaching seventh grade language arts. The next year I moved to a high school where I taught English for four years. These five years made me the educator I am today, and I get nostalgic thinking about it. But, things change, and…

5. I left teaching for six months and worked as an Education Specialist for the Department of Corrections where I planned educational program offerings for inmates in the state prison system. In addition to visiting prison facilities on a regular basis, I once gave a commencement speech at a men’s prison.

6. I went back to teaching high school English for three and a half more years where I earned my National Board Certification.

7. June will mark five years since I left teaching to become an instructional coach. While it’s certainly not the same as working with students, I do love the satisfaction I get from working with adults. Two years ago, I completed coursework for my license in School Administration, but I have no desire at this point in my career to be a principal.

Play

1. I played tennis one season in high school. In college, I took tennis as one of my PE classes. My teacher said I had a solid back-hand and would be a pretty good player if I would just learn to run to hit the ball. (I hated running even then).

2. I also took snow skiing as a PE class in college. It was the first time I ever went skiing. I passed, and I am happy to report that skiing is one physical activity I do enjoy. We haven’t been since before the babies are born, but I look forward to a winter not too far from now when we can all go. It may be the babies’ first chance to see snow.

3. I can also water-ski.

4. I can roller skate (I grew up in the 80s after all) and ice skate.

5. I prefer more passive hobbies—reading, napping, shopping, crafting. I don’t like to sweat.

6. I refuse to join another gym because I have wasted too much money in the past on unused/underused memberships. The last time I joined, I never went back after my first session with the personal trainer. I think it was because I walked like a monkey for three days following the session.

7. This past week I started training for a 5K using the Couch to 5K plan. I want to run a 5K in April for Little Pink Houses of Hope. Previously, I have walked a 5K, but I really want to be able to run this one. As much as I hate exercise and sweating, I love my friend Jeanine more.

I am passing this award along to some other sweet blogs that I know you'll love...
Senner2 + 2
TwinSane Asylum
My Twintopia
Deuces Wild & an Ace in the Hole
It's the Little Things
Happiness Is
I Need a Sugar Fix


We were also tagged--twice. I haven't forgotten. With all the running, though, it's just taking me a while to catch my (blogging) breath. Bear with me, Les and Janice!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

App Gap

As a finally pregnant woman and then as a new parent, I was petrified cautious and insecure obedient.

I read the books. I listened to all the recommendations from the experts—you know, the internet.

Here are just a few of the many things I obsessed about recommendations:

No sushi. No sleeping on my back. No cat litter. No deli meat. No unncessary medicine. No alcohol. No coffee. Back to sleep-- Tummy to play. No solids until 4 months. One new food at a time. No eggs, peanut butter, whole milk, or ice cream until one year. Organic when possible.

Please don’t take any of these examples as proof of what a good parent I was. Quite the contrary, I was a neurotic mess. I worried more than I ever thought possible. I did most of these things because I was convinced something bad would happen if I didn’t.

Most of those things have either ceased to be a worry or have become less so over time.

For example, I learned my parents gave Emily and Drew McDonald’s chicken nuggets and I didn’t freak and my kids didn’t break out in hives. (Apparently, Drew responded with a great, big “mmmmm.”) If you have experienced my neuroticism know me, then you know this is a big step.

There is one recommendation, though, that Marty and I have done a pretty decent job of following: no TV before the age of two.

It’s not that we thought they would turn into little Mike Teavees overnight. Nor did we think that no TV would make our kids better than other kids or magically make us better than other parents.

We had various reasons for trying to hold the line and delay the introduction of TV--all of which you’ve probably heard before.

Our “do as I say, not as I do” parenting has worked fairly well so far. While we watch TV, play Words with Friends, post on Facebook, Twitter, and Blogger, send emails, and download apps, the babies play, seemingly oblivious to most of it.

My sister and I caught, red-handed, while on vacation with our Facebook machines


Until recently.

I’ve noticed them noticing the TV.

One of their favorite toys is their “poo-tar.”

Emily and Drew with their poo-tars.


They know how to unlock the i-phone and activate Siri.

When they see the furry red Sesame Street monster, they say “El- MO!”

All of this noticing has me wondering how much longer before we join the ranks of parents who hate watching Yo-Gabba-Gabba for the 15th time.

Then, there is the question of other forms of screen time. How and when should I let Emily and Drew use apps on our phone?

I read an article (online) recently about the increasing amounts of screen time in children. Not shocking. It also discussed the increasing gap between kids who have access to apps and those who don’t—the app gap.

This question of what happens to kids on either side of that gap got me thinking.

Sure. We know the dangers of too much TV, and it’s not difficult to extrapolate that too much app time is probably equally detrimental.

But what about the educational benefits of apps (and even TV)? Am I inadvertently putting Emily and Drew at a disadvantage by withholding my old i-phone? Will I one day look upon the recommendation of no screen time before 2 with the same ambivalence I have about bottle propping and rice cereal?

In moderation, would Emily and Drew benefit from a little _____(help me…I don’t know the names of many cartoons)?

In moderation, would Emily and Drew benefit from a little __________(help me….I don’t know the names of many educational toddler apps)?

What say you, dear Internet experts friends?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

System Re-boot

Do you ever have one of those mornings where it all comes together?

The alarm clock goes off at just the right volume.

You get up without hitting snooze seven times.

You walk downstairs to find the coffee pot already ready from your advanced preparation the night before.

You have just enough time to enjoy your coffee and favorite social media.

You make breakfast with ease and have it waiting as the kids wake up—happy and well-rested.

Everyone eats without smearing too much all over their bodies.

The kids allow you to dress them in the outfits you laid out the night before.

The kids cooperate as you change diapers, wipe their faces, put on their shoes, and comb their hair.

Your lunch is packed.

Your car has gas.

Your keys and purse are where you left them.

Your cell phone is charged.

The kids kiss you bye as if to say “Thank you, mommy, for going to work today so we can eat and wear cute clothes.”

You remember to kiss your husband bye and wish him a good day.

You hit every light just right, and arrive safely at work, ready to begin again another day.


Today was not one of those mornings.

Not even close.

If the above is the ideal, we created its antithesis this morning.

That is not to say that we haven’t had mornings where things run pretty smoothly. We are not really "schedule" people but we do like a solid routine.

But between vacations and sick babies, we have gotten out of our routine.

Drew slept with us last night because he wasn’t feeling well= we didn’t sleep well.

We didn’t sleep well= we hit snooze a few too many times.

And, on and on…

So, as I drove to work this morning, I started thinking about ways we could get back on our routine.

  • We need a consistent wake-up time regardless of which one of us is taking them to daycare. Usually if I am heading in that direction for work, I take them, which means we leave earlier. Marty works from home so he can take them later.

  • We need to plan ahead to decide who’s taking and who’s picking up so it’s not a last-minute fight discussion.

  • I need to wake up 30 minutes earlier just for “me” time. (BTW, I am failing miserably with this month’s focus on solitude, but that’s a story for another post).

  • We need to get back into the habit of putting things where they belong. A lost hairbrush, set of keys, cell phone/charger, water bottle can derail the morning.

  • I need to teach Marty how to do Emily’s hair so the entire responsibility for her coiffure doesn’t fall on me.

  • At night, we need to get back to our routine. A full’s night sleep makes us all better prepared to deal with the next morning.

As I am making my mental list, Marty calls.

My heart sinks a little. Marty never calls this time of morning. Something must be wrong (see how my mind works).

“Hey, I just dropped the babies off.”

Uh-huh.

“As I was getting ready to walk out of their classroom, I asked Emily, ‘How is your
shirt already dirty?’”

Uh-huh.

“That’s when I realized she was still in her pajama shirt. I never put on her shirt this morning.”

Uh-huh.

Definitely time for a morning re-boot.

Monday, February 20, 2012

One February Later...

Every now and then, I like to take a look back into the MaMe Musings' archives to see what we were doing 6 months or a year ago--to see how much we've grown, learned, or forgotten...

Any guess what we were talking about almost a year ago to the day?

(tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock)

Time's up.

If you guessed BEING SICK, then you win!

A year later, not so surprisingly, the theme is still the same: battling our way through cold season.

Sure, the babies are bigger and their immune systems supposedly stronger, but they are still no match for the germ incubator known as daycare.

So, one year later, the current twin-festation includes an ear infection for each of them.

It's bad, but this February, we know we'll make it.

I still hate to see them sick, don't get me wrong, but it's so much different now.

I no longer freak out over every sniffle. We have become pretty good at spotting the signs of an ear infection (I still remember the shame I felt the first time they were diagnosed--we had no clue what was going on).

I know the proper dosage for tylenol and ibuprofen by heart.

We own two humidifiers and stock in boogie wipes.

I am older, wiser, stronger.

Last night I earned some more twin mommy stripes as I held a clingy, sickly Drew with one arm and put lotion, a diaper, and pajamas on Emily with the other.

And, when I run out of arms or energy? Well, one good thing about having twins? There's always a baby to help out.

Here is our future bossypants, nurse, kindergarten teacher, mommy, anything-she-wants-to-be... in training!







When not being chased by the boogie wiper, Drew enjoys playing with the train set at the pediatrician's office (aka the germ train). Given how much he loves this train, I think we'll get him one for his birthday-- one that doesn't have the extra snot and bacteria and one that he can play with between $25 co-pays.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Pajama Party

This sign hangs in our kitchen:


This sign could also hang in our kitchen:


Or this one:


This weekend, I decided that Marty shouldn't be the only one to have a little fun. While Marty enjoyed poker night, the babies and I would have pajama party, complete with our first sensory box, music, tents, and homemade PIZZA! Here's a run-down of the action (both the planned and unplanned).

5:00 Pajamas on! Here's a picture of me in my new pajamas to prove I really was at the party. It's the only picture of me from the whole night.


5:00-5:30 Free play...notice ALL the toys in the living room. Later, this mess will be important to the time line.


5:30 Started making our first sensory box. The babies loved helping me pour the beans, rice, and pasta into the tub. I had to remind them several times that we shouldn't eat the stuff in the tub. "YUCKY!"




5:40 Added marshmallows. Drew scooped up a marshmallow, took a big bite, and said “mmmmm.” So much for telling him the stuff in the box is YUCKY.




5:30-6:00 The babies LOVED the box. They dug. They scooped. They poured. They tossed...cupfuls over their shoulders. I admit that I stepped back from the play and swept several times (old habits die hard).




5:45 Emily found the Play-Doh. Where did she learn to open things with her teeth?? (Note to self--stop using my teeth to open things around the babies).


6:00 Kitchen officially demolished, but sensory box officially a hit!


6:00 Emily had a meltdown--not because I closed the sensory tub, but because I won't let her have my camera. Toddlers are greedy.


6:05 Started making homemade pizzas; babies did really well except for the fact that Drew tried to taste everything before we put it on the pizza!


6:30 Jammed to Toddler Tunes


6:30-7:15 Ate our pizza at the kid table (yes, without high chairs). I sat on the floor between getting more pizza and putting babies back into their chairs.


7:15 Party comes to a screeching halt when we receive a call we hadn't received in at least 6 months--a call from Centralized Showing Service asking us to accept a showing on our house for 10:30 tomorrow morning.
Image Credit


7:16 While I frantically call Marty to see if this is even humanly possible (after all, he has a tee time for 9:00 am), Emily and Drew decorate the beige walls with pizza sauce.


7:17 We temporarily lose touch with reality accept the showing. It's like the last pull on a slot machine or the last sip of wine--you can't resist. The lure is too strong--there's the chance that this showing will be the one.

7:25 Finally get both babies up the stairs to the bathroom where they suddenly decide they don’t like taking baths.

8:00 Finally get them out the bath. Took forever because they now LOVE taking baths. Toddlers are fickle.

8:05-8:25 Dressed in second set of PJs for the night, read 10 books, cuddled

8:25 Began trying to get them to go down while Emily cried Da-Dee! Da-Dee! I was hurt. Who planned this night of fun for you? Toddlers are apparently traitorous, too. I agreed, though. I wanted him here. Now. For totally different reasons. Reasons that involve a mop, a vacuum, and a pair of strong arms to carry massive amounts of toys upstairs.

8:45
Finally asleep! Sweet silence except from the lullaby CD playing in their room and the competing beat from Toddler Tunes that is still playing on the TV downstairs.

9:15 Upstairs finished!

9:20 Facebook status update


9:25 Discovered that long-neglected ball tent must have seen some party action tonight because there are balls everywhere. Contemplated taking picture as evidence for future bribery for posterity, but realized this would only slow me down and prolong much needed sleep.

9:26 Texted Marty for an ETA

9:26-11:15 Texting war ensues

9:26-feels like the end of eternity Cleaning spree continued

9:55 Ready to file for divorce and leave the country and take the kids to a country where toys and poker are banned

10:30 Finally gave in and had a bottle glass of wine.
Image Credit


11:15 House clean(er). Posted another Facebook status.



11:20
Picked up one last kidney bean from under the couch on my way up to bed

Today...


4:00 am Marty's home. Emily's awake, crying. Again. Da-Dee! Except she is clinging to me and refusing to go to him. Toddlers are weird.

7:30 am Marty wisely generously offers to cancel his tee time to help finish the last of the chores.

10:30 am-12:00 pm Strange people walked through our house, hopefully looking for a new home complete with stellar crown moulding, tomato handprints on the walls, and lots of storage space for toys

3:00 pm Finally ready to talk to my husband again.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Vacation. Home. And now leaving again...

Except this time, no packing is necessary.

Today MaMe Musings is taking a virtually trip to a beautiful,enchanting blog called Baxtron{Life}, where I am excited to be guest posting about finding out we were expecting twins.

So take a break--no packing or advanced planning needed. Just click on over and visit with us. I am sure you'll love Courtney and Baxtron{Life} as much as I do.

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