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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Silly fish, dancing pee-guins, and a new suit

...And other random “flowers” from the first day of our vacation…

With the car loaded a full day before our Friday departure, we were feeling pretty good about the evolution of our parenting travel skills. Starting to pack a week ahead of time really worked out quite well. Advanced preparation is my first travel tip.

Halfway to my parents’ house where we planned to get final hugs and kisses, we realized that we had scored a huge win by finding a replacement cord for the portable DVD player, but that win was cancelled out by the fact we forgot to bring any DVDs.

Thankfully, Aunt Kelly saved the day with Happy Feet, which three hours into the trip became otherwise known as the “dancing pee-guins.”

Around this same time, we also realized that Marty’s suit, which he needs for our Wednesday night dinner reservations, was still hanging out back at the house with the DVDs we didn’t remember.

Thanks to outlet malls and sales, Marty now owns a new suit. To cover the expense, maybe we’ll skip the wine on Wednesday night.

Who am I kidding?

Marty can just skip his entrée.

Our trip down also included 3 stops at CVS pharmacies because you know it’s not a MaMe vacation until someone gets sick. Both Emily and Drew have runny noses and Emily has a wheezy cough.

While obviously traveling with small kids, and particularly, two- year old twins is a lesson patience and flexibility, it is also a joy to see them notice everything—

-Drew and Emily squealing in delight every time we crossed a bridge or they saw water

-Drew cackling in laughter at the dancing pee-guins falling down

-Emily asking for the silly fish book--you know, Seuss’ One Fish, Two Fish.

Ironically, Emily and Drew haven’t yet seen the place we drove nine hours to find.

As we finally pulled into our resort, the Port Orleans Riverside, Drew was just falling asleep. He opened his eyes slightly as we saw Mickey on the entranceway sign. Emily waved to her “Minnie,” and was then out by the time we made it through check-in.

As I type this post, some three hours later, they are still out. Marty and I are both on our computers. If we’d packed the recliners, which might just be one of the few things we didn’t fit into the Highlander, well, it would be like most any other night at MaMe’s house.

The downtime has been just what we needed, though.

We’ve settled in. We’ve brought all of our bags in (finally).

Something tells me the Babies are going to love the room.

We’re in Alligator Bayou, and the rooms are super- cute: headboards of made of trees, lanterns above the beds, and a pull-down bed with a friendly alligator for the kids. The grounds are beautiful. We’re a short walk from the pool, the cane fishing pond, and the nightly campfire. We even have a message from Goofy welcoming us to Disney!

Once they’re up, we’re planning to scout out the rest of the place and ride the boat over to Downtown Disney for dinner.

Unless there’s a customary change in plans.

In which case, we’ll just roll with it.

Marty’ Disney Tip of the Day: Bring cash and use the bell boy to bring your bags to your room. There are no elevators here at Riverside.

Friday, September 28, 2012

For all our flowers...

The past couple of weeks have been rough ones for our family.

My mom underwent hernia surgery. We lost my great-aunt Estelle. Both of my dad's parents were taken to the hospital on the same day: one with GI bleeding, another with lung cancer, both in very serious condition. Two more relatives were hospitalized with serious illnesses.

Marty continued to log super-long hours for work, and as usual, my job kept me leaving too early, driving too long, and worrying too much.

Last Friday morning felt like a summation of the stress of the past couple of weeks. We overslept. Emily and Drew moved slowly, fighting everything from breakfast, to combing hair, to putting on their shoes.

Would we ever get it together?

As we finally rolled into the daycare drive, a good 45 minutes behind my schedule, I hurried to get them out of the car, while they continued to insist on doing it on their own with no help, while carrying every toy they could get their hands on.

Would we ever get it together?

On our way into the daycare, we always pass these beautiful flowers. On a less hectic day, we usually notice the flowers--pointing out the colors and answering the question, "Who made the flowers?"

To which Emily and Drew say, "Jesus made the flowers."

And then we say together, "Thank you, Jesus, for the flowers."

But not this day....got to get them in, get in the car, get to work, figure out how I am going to make time to spend the night at the hospital with my grandma like I promised her...

Emily and Drew again had other plans.

As they knelt down and sniffed the "pretty flowers," I found myself jolted by how two two-year olds had just given me such a powerful object lesson.

By literally stopping to smell the flowers, my sweet, innocent babies reminded me of the importance of smelling life's more figurative flowers.

I snapped a picture to capture the moment and then I bent down beside them and agreed that those were indeed some beautiful flowers.

As we walked in, I asked them who made the flowers.

"Jesus!"

Yes.

And, thank you, Jesus, for all our flowers.

My grandpa passed away yesterday, and I will always remember him as a man who frequently stopped to smell the flowers. Grandpa never met a stranger, and he often greeted family and friends with an affectionate title of “son” or “shug.” Slow to anger and not one to worry, Champ, as he was known to his friends, lived a “dog-bited” good life.

Thank you Jesus for all our flowers.

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to help me slow down and savor all of the sweet flowers of motherhood. Next week, we'll be at Disney for our much-anticipated vacation to Mickey's Park (as Em and Drew like to say). Please bear with me, as I might not get to read and respond much during this time. I am, however, committing to blogging each day about our trip so I will have a record of the sweet fragrance of fun times with my family.



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Owl off the Shelf

Something tells me the Elf on the Shelf won't stand a chance...






Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Emily's First Haircut

You may recall how hard it was for me to finally agree to chop Drew's chullet. If not, you can click here for a reminder.

Seven months later, we faced another toddler hair situation with Emily. No, not the fem-mullet...

Something that looked more like...
Image Credit

Yes, an adorable baby version of Cousin It.



It's been said that the first cut is the deepest, and when it comes to cutting my babies' hair, I found it to be true. As hard as it was for me to decide to cut Drew's hair, the decision to cut Emily's was surprisingly easy. I didn't even shed a tear.

Emily was just as brave. She walked proudly to the police car chair and sat calmly as the stylist put the drape on her.

Her compliance lasted about one minute, at which point, she decided she didn't want to wear the drape anymore.

From there, she was all smiles.

Until it was time for her souvenir photo.

Mommy knew just how to cheer her up--pedicures!

Although it was Emily's first pedicure, it didn't take her long to figure out what to do.

Relax!

Cute piggies!





Monday, September 17, 2012

Just Keeping It Real

Even though I don't do Zumba, I could totally relate to this:

Perception can sometimes be so far from reality.

Nowhere is this truth more apparent than in the world of social media.

How many times do you find yourself looking at status updates, pictures, or blog posts, comparing your reality to someone else's projection of reality?


So, when Julia of Pontifications of a Twin Mom suggested that we share our real lives--our real messes--for this week's Mama Loves, well, I was more than happy to oblige. Maybe because I have so many real messes to share.

Be forewarned, though...

Photo lines I made for the Babies' second birthday party (from 3 months ago) that I just took down that have finally have made it as far as the kitchen table

Leftovers from tonight's dinner. Meal Plan, 0. Eating Out, 1.

Remnants of a Pinterest project

Story time gone awry because both of them wanted to hold the book

Beige recliners purchased before children when light- colored furniture seemed like a good idea

Unfolded laundry hidden in the guest bedroom

Dead geranium still hanging on the back porch

Trash that will not walk itself outside

Bath tub that would need to be cleaned before Calgon could take me away

Aerial view of tonight's destruction

Thanks, Julia, for encouraging us to keep it real! It felt good to come clean (bad pun intended)!
Manic Mother










Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Summer in Our City: Museums

I know. I know.

With the passing of Labor Day, most of us have left summer behind, packing away the white and bringing out the harvest wreaths. I even saw a yard the other day completely decorated for Halloween!

We're still trying to squeeze every bit of summer we can get (or at least get the last of the summer pictures up on the blog before Christmas)!

Several weeks ago, we took a break from our summer travels and stayed around home to enjoy the fun right here in our town. After the concert on Friday and then a lazy Saturday with family on Saturday, we spent Sunday exploring our state capital and the nearby free museums.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cooking for the Non-Cooker

If you've been following MaMe Musings' Facebook page status updates recently, you might have sensed something was amiss.




What happened to MaMe Musings, that little place on the WWW where a neurotic twin mom rambles about her parenting ups and downs while sprinkling in generous helpings of cute kid pictures?

Who replaced this self-doubting, over-tired, first-time mom with an over-sharing, meal planning, measuring, sauteing, simmering cooking machine?

She's still here. She's just trying to deal with one pesky, little problem:

Why? Why? Why?

Without a doubt, cooking is one of the hardest parts of my life to manage.

I don't...
  • have time to cook.
  • know what to cook.
  • enjoy cooking.
  • like grocery shopping.
  • want to do dishes.
However, I do...
  • love to eat.
  • want to eat better.
  • need to save money.
  • expect my kids to eat healthy.
  • like to prove my husband wrong pleasantly surprise my husband.
I know I can't be the only culinarily-challenged mom out there-- short on time, ideas, and patience. If you often find yourself one ingredient short of a full meal, then maybe these tips will be helpful to you. If you are higher up on the cooking food chain, please leave a comment with your helpful cooking suggestions/recipes/short-cuts!
    Meal Planning
In my quest to conquer meal planning, I have tried various meal planning sites. One we used with moderate success is e-meals. With E-Meals, you choose a type of plan (store-specific, diet-specific) and for $5 a month, you get a week's worth of meal plans complete with recipes, directions, and shopping lists.

One major positive of using E-Meals for us was that it made us more intentional about what we were buying at the grocery store. We shopped from the list. I will admit that also made grocery shopping more like a scavenger hunt since I often spent too much time hunting down that elusive box of orzo.

While we no longer subscribe, we do use some of the recipes we tried from the plan, and we also have kept with the idea of planning our meals in advance.

Just this week, I discovered another online meal planning site called Food on the Table. This site also builds meal plans that use items that are on sale at your local grocery stores. With an accompanying smart phone app, this tool might just be worth a second click.

    Our Basic Rotation
While I liked the variety of the meal plan suggestions, I often found the recipes required too many ingredients and steps, thereby increasing the likelihood I would call it quits and head for our local diner. On the weeks we do the best with eating at home, I have found this basic plan works:
  • meat, green, healthy starch (ex. chicken, broccoli, long grain rice/roasted potatoes)
  • crock pot (salsa chicken, buffalo chicken, pot roast and veggies, chili)
  • casserole
  • wok (stirfry and brown rice)
  • fish (baked salmon, tuna, fish tacos)
  • meatless meal (veggie lasagne, bean burgers)
Notice I didn't really include recipes above. What simplified things for me was not finding new recipes (Google makes that part easy). It was coming up with the basic overall structure and cooking method. On my best weeks, I add something new--a new crock pot idea, a new vegetarian option. On most week, I just recycle the recipes that I have used before that I know work (see above).
Some Basic Changes
I am a firm believer in making small changes over the long haul. Here are some changes we've made that we haven't noticed/missed/minded:
  • Less meat and more veggies
  • More ground turkey and less ground beef
  • More whole grains (brown rice, whole grain pasta)
  • More garlic (and spices, in general)
  • More MUFAs(avocados, canola/olive oil, nuts)
  • Less fat by using apple sauce and/or greek yogurt in place of oil/shortening/butter when baking
One More Morsel
If you spent too much time reading this super-long post and now just have time to check out one more site, make it this one: Skinny Mom (I LIKE the Facebook page and really use the ideas posted in the daily updates).
Last one--really
Have dirty pots and pans with baked-on food? Soak in warm water with a dryer sheet or two for easy clean-up!
Linking up with two of my favorite blogs today-- Time Out for Mom
and Pontifications of a Twin Mom
Manic Mother

Oh, one more thing--I was in no way paid or sponsored by any site mentioned here!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mommy's Bed

I confess: before I became a parent there were many things I vowed never to do. One of them was to let my kids routinely sleep in the bed with us.

I confess: before the Babies were born, I was obsessed about where they would sleep because, well, they weren’t sleeping in the bed with us. And, of course, they had to be able to sleep together because that’s what twins do, right?
Photograph by Lifelong Impressions

I confess: several well-meaning relatives suggested some cost-saving measures to solve the sleeping situation. For example:
Image Credit

and
Image Credit

I confess: I insisted on buying matching cherry sleigh cribs when I was just six months pregnant because (1) I was finally ready to fulfill a lifelong desire to decorate a nursery, and (2) In the throes of my extreme nesting mode, I needed to feel prepared in case the babies came early because, clearly, cribs would be oh-so-important in the event of early delivery.

I confess: I still wasn’t satisfied. The cribs seemed so big, so far away from our room.

I confess: against the protests of my husband, I bought a pricey co-sleeper because I was convinced it was necessary in order to have the babies close to me for feeding but not so close that they were actually sleeping with us. It also had to be big enough to accommodate two babies because twin infants sleep together, right? It was supposed to look idyllic--something like this:
Image Credit

I confess:
gulp-- My husband was right. We didn’t need the co-sleeper. After a couple of nights of trying to climb in and out of the bed around the massive co-sleeper while holding my c-section incision, I decided to ditch it.

Plus…

I confess: the babies didn’t like it either. In fact, in a moment of desperation that first night, we put them in one of these:

And one of these:

And then one of these:

And finally, hallelujah , TWO of these, where they happily slept APART for nine months or so until they were big enough to crawl out, at which point, we finally used the nursery and its cribs for its intended purpose.


I confess: I (sometimes smugly) bragged about how well the Babies did in their cribs. Sure, we’ve had our moments (See exhibits A, B, and C). But,

I confess: my Babies loved their cribs.

Until…

I confess: I couldn’t resist letting their sweet little toddler selves climb in the bed for some snuggling, which led to some sweet sleeping, which led to something like this, but worse, because there were two.
Image Credit

I confess: it continued because I just couldn’t say no when one of them (1) said “I want to sleep in mommy’s bed--please.” (2) climbed in the bed with a pillow and blanket and looked up at me with those big blue eyes (3) screamed at increasingly deafening levels when we tried to put them back in the cribs, yelling “MOMMY, DADDY!!” over and over and over…

I confess: it hasn’t helped matters that other factors have complicated the sleeping routine such as vacations and changing daycare classes.

I confess: we had to draw the line, starting with the line between our room and their room.

I confess: we completed night 2 of the transition back to our cribs. We now have two babies back in their cribs. Kind of…Emily insists on sleeping in Drew’s crib. With Drew. Finally, two years later, it looks like I have twins who actually share a crib.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hot Diggity Dog!

I am not one to rush holidays and the change of seasons nor I am one to prepare much in advance.

After all, the photo lines from the Babies' second birthday party (in June) are still hanging in the dining room. I am still carrying a white purse, the ceramic pumpkin is still stashed in the hall closet from last year, and if it were Christmas Eve, I'd still be shopping.

Still...

I was thrilled when I saw Multiples and More's Question of the Week:

Do you coordinate your multiples Halloween costumes or do you let them do their own thing? What are some of your favorite costume combos?

It was a great reason to get an early start on planning this year's costume selection (and possibly avoid the last-minute panic trip to Target).

Do we coordinate?

You bet your candy corn we do!

Do you let them do their own thing?

Nope. Not yet! This is one area where they have yet to form an opinion, so I plan on taking full advantage of their indifference while I can. I do consider their interests, though. (See below). Does that count?

What are some of your favorite costume combos?

For their first Halloween, we used their nicknames as inspiration for their costumes: Drew Bear and Emi-Bee.

Last year, we used clothes we already owned to pull together a coordinating look to pay homage to Marty's favorite hockey team, the Carolina Hurricanes. Drew was a hockey player and Emily was a Storm Squad cheerleader (minus the fake tan and belly button ring).

This year, they love Mickey Mouse Clubhouse! (Yes, we finally caved). We are also going on vacation to Disney World during the first week of October. Together, the choice was so easy that I didn't even need Toodles or a Mouseketool to help me pick this year's duo:

Mickey and Minnie Mouse!


Add in a sick day for mommy where all she felt like doing was sleeping and surfing the Internet, and

Meeska Mooska....

Image Credit

Just needs some black tights, sparkly red shoes, and maybe some bigger ears with a bow from Minnie's Bow-tique!!


Mickey needs a little more work--I am not really digging these (creepy) ears and shoes.

I'd love to hear your answers to the Question of the Week, your favorite Halloween costumes, or even your tips for sprucing up Mickey.

I am ALL EARS!


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