Tuesday, November 26, 2013

All Those Things to Say

When I grab some time and write some words and then step away and go back to the kids, my head feels just a little bit cleaner. Tidied up, in a British voice kind of way. It's on these trips of sneaking up on my computer that I want to wax eloquent.

Today, I pecked my way, baby squirming on my lap, one tenth of the way through a post about Christmas which opened with this preface about why I don't write about my tucked-up-inside-my-heart Christian faith. I was fumbling before I even started. I mean...baby on lap, so...

Posts I've eeked out recently were about my bleeding heart and babies and babies and how crappy a wife I've been since the babies.

But let's get real.

What the goodness gracious am I doing here trying on this serious face? Hello! I'm Ashley and I've got big important things to say. Never mind that I just stepped in the office after I scraped poop out of my son's underwear right into the toilet (because apparently a child who has been potty trained for nearly the whole of 2013 can revert months after his baby brothers have arrived), figuring oh, I'll tend to this later along with every other crack, crevice, surface, nook, and cranny in this house. And after this post about Christmas. Post-it on brain: clean rest of poop mess before husband comes home and decides I'm unfit to stay at home and Thomas is unfit to grow up.

I would love to feel smart(er) like I used to when I was working. Students raised their hands to pick at my brain.  With colleagues, I'd throw in my quota of weighty opinions or witty lines. I read this in a book last week.  I smiled curious and proud at students and their teeming brilliance (and of course, any stupidity they dared to share as well).  I wore dresses that zipped up the back and I stacked papers and I followed a schedule and lived in a world bound by answers.

And now I'm staring deep into the screen, trying to remember if that's the right way to spell brain.

All my answers are in my actions. Nothing to pencil, edit, scrawl, and type wisdom into when I'm too busy with the physical.

Nurse. Read to myself. Read to kids. Prompt Thomas for manners. Make silly faces at babies. Switch Alistair to floor. Turn kettle on. Press coffee into the cup. Hand Thomas scissors. Stuff diapers. Scroll facebook. Take photos.  Sing songs. Nurse. Text husband. Prep lunch. Put laundry in. Turn music up. Move Emerick to chair. Make weird baby-ish noises at babies and wonder if anyone has done brain scans of SAHM brains to track deterioration. Seal envelope. Nurse. Comfort baby. "Let's put our food down and our hands together." Make a production out of Green Eggs and Ham. Dance with kids. Read a book about a whale. Sing silly songs as a whale. And a rabbit. And a skunk. And a whale again. Wipe counters. Drink coffee. Listen to podcast. Wash dishes. Make plans in head. Write notes. Tidy. Swear to myself I'm quitting facebook for Advent. Read blog posts. Watch youtube video. Wonder how I got on youtube. Nurse. Reply to email. Wipe butts. Smile as he says "aliver us from ebil".  Nurse. Make the bed. Read to the boys. "Space!" "Too much!" "Space!" "Volume!" "Aw, that's very thoughtful of you to do for him." "Too rough. Too rough!" "Space!"

It's good sometimes to have nothing to add to so much noise online.

Because oh the Noise, Noise, Noise, Noise! (Grinch fans, anyone?)

10 reasons I failed in my marriage
How to make Advent sacred and sane
27 ways to involve your toddler in charitable works
5 reasons you should get off facebook
7 reasons facebook will enhance your life
The three words you should stop saying to your toddler
What you should start doing for your marriage every day
18 uses for used toilet paper rolls 
20 photos that will blow your mind
Drop everything and read this post right now about productivity
Getting off-line and 5 reasons it made me a better person than everybody else

All I've got to say today is that my voice at home is quieted just a bit. Little faces interrupt my thoughts over and over again. With cries. And coos. And that lively conversation about Why did that bird die and land on our back porch? Well, maybe an eagle punched it in the air, mommy, acuz it got in his way.

Kids are great.  Their little constant needs are like water rushing over my rock of a heart, wearing down all those craggy edges which want to be heard and validated.  It's a tough job reigning in the ordinary. But it's the first time I've, by way of being pulled away a million times to feed these children of mine, seen what it means to really shut up and listen.

Humility, be mine. Humor, take me the rest of the way. 

And I think I had some other way to really knock this post into shape. You know, end with a bang. But there's a baby crying in the other room. Time to fly!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Life after the postpartum

Oh the things waiting to be discovered in our own home! Last week it was the office I tidied which had been littered with a string of dustish hairballs in the space where I used to write. A couple days ago I gawked at the dirt under the couch pillows. Today it was the master bedroom that sounded the Jaws theme across my eyeballs.

The twins will be six months old in just a couple weeks. Despite all I had braced myself for, I just couldn't have imagined how hard I would fall for them. And really all of this motherly experience, this round the clock and no escaping it version.

Cooking. Reading books. Nursing bug-eyed sweet things. Answering questions about "uhmerica" and God and if he's correct and what kind of a cat is that.  Home is where my heart is. I've landed here full force and have been finding great joy in the work of motherhood.

But there's more to my story than motherhood. I wish I was all the things all the time but I haven't been and I guess I won't be. Bummer. The past six months has been a heavy hand of loving littles.  I knew there was more (and that the dust was collecting) but I figured it could wait.

So, yes, I've got some re-balancing to do. Some straightening up and catching up and finding a place to hang all of my priorities.  Not just singing poorly constructed songs to the tune of Somewhere Over the Rainbow at my babies all day long.

None of us do it all. We have trade offs and should sometimes admit so in light of encouraging each other.

 And that has me wondering about what I'm willing to let go and what I should intentionally pull closer to me.

Today, the master bedroom had its two cents to throw in. No, seriously, I found two pennies. And one dime. A quarter. And a few other things. Two airplane pillows, one lazily spilling out a small pool of its white beady filling under the bed. A print-out of some nutritional information. Three hair ties and two dozen thousand bobby pins. And my breast pump, tubes and all, sprawled out all pompous and proud of how effectively nursing two babies has taken over a pretty hefty slice of the pie these past six months

 I wiped off dust which layered the grooves on the backs of our doors.  I rubbed polish into the wood. A secondhand flower decoration, yellowed and stiff went in the trash. An empty potpourri container seemed a haunting echo of good intentions forgotten.

With each thing tidied, so also my heart. 

I climbed atop our bed, ever frowning at the clash of colors our room has happened to stay: happy yellow walls, a vibrant gold comforter, rich brown furniture. I pulled up the wooden blinds and light flooded the room, making the mess of unfinished work, laundry unsorted, vacuum parked, and a clutter of junk on a bed stand seem even worse than I feared.

Sometimes there's an itch in our heart. Sometimes we just know there's that place to be cleaned. That demon to tackle. That call to make. That stiff and yellowed thing to let go.

Today, I smiled at the days when it was just Paul and I and for the days when it will be just us again. I whispered my wedding vows into the white of the baseboards. I took in the lemon of the shining dresser and looked around at all the crap and thanked God that I have a husband that has given and given and waited and encouraged and let me be all the mom things: the zombie mom, the learning mom, the fresh cookies for my family mom, and the singing and dancing and laughing and glowing mom.

And today I smiled because I remembered. I'm me first and I'm wife next and after those two things I'm a mom. And on a good day and somewhere over the rainbow, I get to be a few more things too.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Few Tips for my Fellow Introverts (that you might already know)

If there was some kind of Olympics for being an extrovert, my husband would qualify.  He is like the king of the extroverts. And being that I love extroverted people, I married him, among many reasons, because my subconscious thought we would work together well as extrovert + introvert.  That has become the case, but it wasn't at first. It has taken us a while to figure out how to take our differences and magically mesh them. (And we still have a few kinks in the system to work on, so I'm far from expert.)

Today, since this lovely has been circulating facebook, I thought I would chime in on how to enjoy life as a weird introvert. I kid. Mostly. 

These tips do not come without a history of learning them the hard way. And lest you doubt my melodrama, I once cried myself to sleep in our walk-in closet while guests were staying in our home. Yeah, I'm that introverted. And if you have no idea why good, kind, gracious guests would drive an otherwise relatively normal person to cry in her closet, well, you may not be an introvert. But feel free to keep reading to marvel at my weirdness.

1. Layer silence and solitude into your schedule. I realized I was an introvert my fourth year of teaching (only a few years ago---I was in denial for a very long time because I'm entirely convinced extroverts are the. best.). I was crazy busy. Taught an extra class during my prep time. Did extracurriculars. Tutored kids. Had a kid myself. And my husband was busier and busier with his job too. Oh and he traveled a lot.  Despite exhaustion and being immeasurably behind around the house, the strangest thing happened. I started waking an hour before I needed to. I would read or write or just sip on coffee and listen to the birds lift the darkness on the other side of my sun room windows. I didn't plan for it or set my alarm for it. I needed quiet so desperately, my body was willing it. And I found so much peace because of that time.  

If I know I have several social priorities in a week, I have to consciously schedule snippets of time to be by myself. I draw so much from this. And if I don't fill back up this way, I end up cranky and discourteous with others which makes me so very sad.

This brings me to my next point...

2. Develop some sort of plan.
Every time we host a group at our house, my husband and I know I have to have a lot of quiet before and after. Sounds crazy, right? Well, it's that or I'm just a horrible person.  I'm so grateful the misunderstandings about our different personalities are, for the most part, behind us.  He respects my need for space. I try my best to say yes to his desire to be out and about with people. It works because we remember we're different and that's okay.

You know the demands on you.  Figure out little tricks to refuel. You know that satisfying sense of the gas tank filling up? You should shoot for that feeling. If you are missing that as an introvert or an extrovert try some tweaks here or there. I know it's not all about "I", but if we are to serve and love others, we really need to know how to be our best selves first. If that means the indulgence of closing the door to your bedroom for 15 minutes so you can reclaim sanity--do it!

But you don't have to go big or go home. Some small ways I refuel: write, claim kid-free spaces and times, wake early, take just 5 minutes to sit outside and stare at leaves, clean, put cell phone far away, go for a 15 minute walk, take a drive, go say hello to nature, journal, make something pretty.

It doesn't take much, but you want to refuel before you are empty. It's not like you can silence life on demand. Grab those quiet moments when you can.

3. Know your boundaries. None of us get to pull the "no thanks, I'm an introvert" card and just opt out of all social engagements we don't feel like going to, but it is important to know when something is too much.  You can always engage but take small breaks that no one could care less about.  My husband is the oldest of ten and so family get togethers are pretty crazy. And I love them.  But I also know my boundaries.  When I can feel myself getting irritated I go to a room with less people, take a walk with Paul, or just hide in my room for a few minutes with a book. These small breaks make a world of difference.  I always return once again feeling like every soul around me is wonderful, wonderful!

4. Love on others. A danger I've found in being an introvert is that our relationships with others feel a bit taxing and then we can, in a long and winding journey of events, perceive it as just not worth the effort and oops, fade out of the picture. Oh my gosh. I know that just sounds like the worst. I don't know a nicer way to say that it takes us a lot to stick around and play nice.  And you know what, I'll go out on a limb and just say that it is okay sometimes.  If someone I meet is superficial, catty, petty, gossip-y or just generally angry, the chances of me investing in them are about nill.  I just can't. Big time energy suck. I don't know if that's the worst thing ever.

But the worst is when you are so in love with being alone you start just not wanting to be around anyone.  Then something is off. It's not right.  Relationships are worth the work.  Our connections with others really is what life is all about! (Or so said me.) So get your butt out there and work on 'em even when you just feel like reading on the couch until you shrivel and die...or you run out of cookies and milk, whichever comes first.

I'm so grateful Paul is my built in kick-me-in-the-pants assistant. When he sees me slip into the loner look, he sets me straight.  Thank goodness. Because with all the flour, sugar, chocolate chips, butter and eggs I buy in my once a week outings to Sam's... I could read on the couch for a very, very long time.

So, what do you think? Which side of the fence are you on? Have any tips or tricks of your own? Any questions from the extrovert crowd? 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Those Baby Days

I don't know if more babies, or even another baby, are in the cards for my life.  I put my trust in God that the path I'm on, whatever that turns out to be, is more than okay.  In all things, joy. However, the absolute heartache to hold my babies and imagine this as the last set of firsts--the weight sometimes feels too much.

I felt this way with Thomas too.  I would rock him in the dark of our 1st home, with that eager blue paint of the nursery's walls closing me up. I would touch the fat of his arm, the curve of his cheek, the wisps of hair on his head as he nursed. And it was then with the still of the night, I felt if I just thought willfully and squeezed my heart in just the right way I would freeze that moment forever.  Please, God. Don't ever let me forget.

Now that he's three I know some of those moments stayed and some, sadly, have faded into a fog of happiness that ties that season together.  Despite the challenges of being a new mommy, I delighted in the purity of a baby and the joy he brought to a home to hope and see the world in new, unexpected ways.  I savored the little coos and the babbles and him reaching for a toy. I looked at him over and over again in awe. A perfect gift to treasure, to love and be loved.

But there was a tiny voice in my head nagging me to enjoy.  Fear of missing out seemed to lurk at every turn. For every joy for something new he learned to do, a ping of pain for that just finished baby stage packed up and boxed along with the clothes that no longer fit his growing body.

And now I'm here with Alistair and Emerick.  I've been able to hold them as small ones even longer.  They are at five months the weight Thomas was at two months.  Their premature bodies a token of lingering joy, something to savor amid the double duty fatigue of caring for twins. And I've got the great expanse of time with which stay-at-homes are paid too. I can't afford dining out or new jeans, but yesterday Alistair and I just sat with no agenda whatsoever but to look out the back of our home at the wet fall leaves swaying in the wind. Crimson. Bright orange. Yellow burned over the brunt of fall. And a baby content to sit on momma's thigh, happy to rest his hand in momma's palm.

And yet, all the showers missed, the dishes that have waited, the countless hours I've done nothing but "enjoy every moment" (as all young mommies are too often told), there's still a sense I've not pulled it off quite perfectly. Or it is, what I mean to say, that there is no way to freeze the loving of a baby and thaw it years later.

I think it is all too easy to look back to babyful days and sweep the sleepless nights under the memory of our hearts, the way wanting to jump in the shower or heck, just to be in the bathroom for a moment by yourself, has you practically begging for God's miraculous intervention with the ceaseless needs of little ones who want nothing less than to tug at your hands and chest all the live long day.

I twitch with a nudge of resentment when a wise woman, seasoned with baby days long past, stops in her tracks to remind me to enjoy every moment, as if to say "watch out! you're probably, most likely doing it wrong".

I think most of us are doing it right more than we think.  We take a long pause before placing our baby back in her crib, soaking in the silence and the solitude of the night's offering. We take many untold moments, phone stashed away, to stare into blue eyes, to tickle, to trace the lines of their little features so as to never, ever forget.  Please, God. Don't let me ever forget. 

That pain? That heartache? It's not a sign we didn't do our very best with the tricky balance of loving that sweet little gift...and also making sure our family didn't slide into a steady diet of fast food vs. whatever happens to be in the fridge. It's not a sign you just didn't still your heart, silence the distractions, and welcome the slow, steady special outpouring of love a slobbering chubby mini-me leaves around the house like an obstacle course leading straight to the meaning of life dressed up in the deceitful simplicity of a baby that knows nothing else but to smile back at his momma.

The passing of baby days, the looking back to what was, and even in the heartache, as is mine, of feeling it slip right through your fingers, it's painful because it is so good. It is so very good.

The pain is the flipside. The pain is the mirror. The pain is the small price for experiencing something so strikingly beautiful.

Our hearts remember little toes and lips that suck when asleep and our hearts cry out to what it was all about. I was so unworthy, but you came.  I was so clueless, but you came.  I was such a mess, but you were designed to love me anyway. 

No number of hours loving babies will ever help me recover such a loss as my unworthiness disregarded.  No amount of staring into my sons' eyes will help me overcome my gratitude for gifts not asked for, gifts unknown, gifts delivered right into the heart of my home.

Monday, October 21, 2013

First Comes Love

A great light flooded my world the day Alistair and Emerick were born.  Two tiny cries. Two babies to hear my voice. Two sets of eyes to lose myself in over and over again forever. I fell in love hard that day. 

While there has been a great deal of happiness in this season of caring for baby twins, I've had a particularly difficult time pulling it all back together. There's that place when fresh slates were wrapped in swaddling blankets and laid in my arms to nurse for the first time and then there's reality. The reality of three kids, not just two babies. Laundry that does not jump in the washer and clean itself.  A three year old who whines, grunts and baby talks, desperate for my attention.  Waking my husband up at 2 am with an avalanche of naughty words to describe my feelings on night time rounds with two babies for the 5th month of never-ending nights in a row. 

This time last year I was adjusting to a new job, teaching at a new location after five years at a rural school.  It took me too long to realize those students cared little who I was or what I could do or how much I said they mattered.  Success skidded on minimum even when I crafted perfect plans, stayed stupid late or poured myself over new ways to reach them.  Here's what mattered. One thing. If and when I sincerely cared. The rest took second place.  There's no cheap trick to convince kids you care. They can see right through the guise. They won't buy in or sign up for the rest of the program.

And just the same, as I'm coming back to life here at home I'm making sense of what's important first. I'm chomping at the bit to do it all. The projects. The organization. The routine that's starting to unfold. The friends I'm making. The lists. The skills I want to teach the boys.

But first, there's love. Long hugs. Highs and lows at the dinner table. Spontaneously getting into the car to chuck bread at ducks. Pretending the one million pieces of paper my spitfire cut up at the table are money that we found at the park and need to grab RIGHT NOW! 

I've got one broken-hearted boy who feels lost among baby cries and a mommy who seems to always be nursing or changing diapers.  I'm trying so hard to reach him. Countless days I've hung my head and wrenched my hands in pain that I haven't got his world pieced back together for him. 

Some of it is coming together. A lot of it is two steps forward, one step back. By way of force, I'm learning to chill out a bit. Clean the kitchen if I can. Get all the laundry put away if I can. Touch up the paint and sketch the garden plans and print off that resource and stuff those diapers if I can.  But love, I must. Be patient, I must. Listen, I must.

No one will see these things.  These little tiny choices of love I'm seeing now, at 28, I really need to daily, hourly re-commit myself to. In fact, they'll see them less than the thankless window wiping and cabinet scrubbing I thought I was signing up for. 

But I will know it in my heart. And hopefully, maybe, if I'm really lucky my sons will know it too. 

That is when I remember to not scream "SPACE!! SPACE!!" and walk over to put his hands in theirs instead. When I remember, friends. Please, Lord, help me remember!

Excuse me. I tooted.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Seven Quick Takes

Escape pow wow.
I've taken notes on everything I've done since 6 am.  I thought maybe I would turn it into one of those A Day in the Life posts.  Maybe. Maybe not.  But I have noticed a couple things:

1. I'm much too hard on myself.  I do a lot and think I should be doing about five times more than I'm doing.  

2. I'm even more the introvert than I realized.  So far, the bulk of what I felt compelled to note was what I experienced internally like mental notes, feelings when playing with my kids, and the contrast between what I thought would happen and what actually did. What I experience in my mind seems to take on much more weight than what I actually do. I shouldn't be surprised by this, but I am.

Paul left this morning for a 4 day backpacking trip with a friend.  I'll be a tad more exhausted taking care of everything on my own, but I'm so excited for him to get a break.  I'm sure every wife is convinced her husband works the hardest so I won't even try to put my two cents in there, but seriously--he deserves every minute of a reprieve he can afford.

And no, I am no hero or liar when I write as if him being gone is no big deal.  Other than an emergency situation which would put me into full-on freak out mode, I am pretty much fine.  I'll miss him but knowing he's definitely not here is much easier than those nights he has to work late unexpectedly.  Plus, if you haven't heard me say one million kajillion times, I'm as introverted as they come.  Once I make it to 8 pm and all the boys are asleep and the house is quiet, I will be internally proclaiming over and over and over again that I'm experiencing the closest thing to heaven on Earth.   

I deleted the Facebook app from my phone last week sometime.  This Monday I went off coffee. Next week I might buy a dog and then we will all know I have completely lost my mind. 

Just kidding about the dog.  Never. Ever. Just 20 minutes ago, corralling 3 littles and myself into UPS I threatened urged Thomas to stay rightbymyside and poor kid ran right into a car's side view mirror.  That is to say: perfect illustration we are barely making it on standard errands and I consider showering an accomplishment.  I'm not about to add to the mix anything dependent on my care.

I'm happy it's October.  My favorite season, summer, got swapped out for fall sometime in my 20s.  I'm every bit the cliche swooning American on all things fall. Unsolicited photos of colorful leaves. Excessive baking of pumpkin bread. And a slow burning of my, from a purchase many moons ago, candles that only fall can claim--pumpkin pie, sticky cinnamon buns...okay, basically just more food I would like to be eating.  But there is one corner of life fall and I don't agree on: football.  I'll play it (granted anyone invites me to amateur hour), but you won't find me watching it on la t.v. It kind of goes against everything I believe in, that is being awestruck by someone else's dedication to the point of axing off whole days to revel in it. I would much, much rather be doing something and doing a super crappy job and all that comes with trying your hand at anything... than oogling at someone else doing that thing.  I'm just un-American like that.  Unless there's food. Then I'll be there.

Speaking of doing something myself even if I'm dong a "super crappy job", I made my 1st pizza crust a couple Sundays ago and again this past Sunday.  Other than pumpkin bread, because it's a quick bread and therefore totally doesn't count, I'm the world's worst baker.  Out of desperation for entertainment, I baked French bread during a blizzard a couple years ago and the result was something akin to the Lampoon's Christmas scene where they slice into the what-was turkey and find their fare to be little else than some extreme crust.  In college, I chucked zucchini bread off my apartment balcony into the sink hole below out of abject horror at my baking failure.  Sweet hubby put my hand under warm water, demonstrating temps which won't murder yeast, after coming face to face with a pizza this past Sunday that should have been advertised as The World's 1st Transparent Crust! 
Messy. Just like me.

Okay, that's all the time Magic School Bus had to offer. Check back with Jen for more and to wish her a happy ten more! 

* Just realized I was not totally truthful about #6. I watch MasterChef....so hypocrite I am. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Quick Takes - Mmm. Milk.

I lamented on IG this week about investigation work necessary to eliminate whatever toxic substance in my milk is making the boys, at random moments and typically right as I've gone to work at a task, writhe in pain.  

In reality this simpleton's research, since I'm not the most disciplined person and would more so be defined as easily distracted, looks a lot like this: Me proclaiming to my husband "It's soda. I know it's soda. I can go off soda. That's easy. I hardly even like soda!" but the next day "It's dairy. It's always been dairy. It's that ice cream I've been eating. Why was I eating ice cream again?" and the next day "No! You know what it is?! It's those lemon bars. Totally the lemons bars. I don't know why I didn't think of the lemon bars"

Everything in my pantry has now taken on the feel of a foreign invader out to destroy all peace in my home.  Because do you know what it's like to take care of TWO gas-fighting bebes? If you guessed Hades on Earth---ding, ding, ding---ba-ingo!

In between being able to sleep decently through the night and feeling guilt for consuming pretty much any of the food available in my home, I predict shriveling into a prune of a woman in no time. But with post-pregnancy pudge clinging to my front side. So like a prune kangaroo thingy. Hot mama!

I don't know why I'm writing this as quick takes because, really, this is just a story.  As long as I've established this and you're fine with it, let's move on.

Yesterday, I decided to make good use of the milk that I was not about to drink.  I made some into buttermilk, whipped them into some impromptu halfway whole wheat pancake mix (dude, there's whole wheat flour in my pantry that's going to go bad in 3 months. Sister's on a budget so I figured, it's pancakes! who cares!) and made some Pinerest-y bacon pancake log things as text pic suggested from my workingroundtheclock husband.  Of course, 3 boys constantly crying/calling/goo-ing for my attention, I decided to skip reading any instructions beyond the process of eye-ing the picture which was enough to send me into lingering bouts of laughter and my son asking "what's wrong now, mama?".  Plus, I kind of have a hate-hate relationship with Pinterest. So there's that.
I bet it takes you one guess to figure out which one was my 1st try.

If any of you were wondering if I was smart enough to utilize the milk for pancakes but dumb enough to end up eating those pancakes, maybe because of the eternal allure of bacon or the violent appetite of a mom nursing twins... you would be on the money... again.  But hey, I didn't drink milk with the buttermilk pancakes so my brain was still working a little.

Earlier that day I tried to have Thomas drink the milk but he said no, thank you to my subtle nudge for him to operate as our human garbage disposal before the two days from now expiration date.  See, he is what some might call a strong-willed child (even though that label makes me cringe and I 99% of the time buck using, saying, or claiming it).  Regardless--The kid will come up with the most elaborate excuses for anything. Caught throwing rocks at day care? He told the director he was showing the other kids what not to do? Caught hitting a baby? The baby needed burping.  So when he claimed yesterday that the milk was "no good", I chuckled to myself that I heard 1001 of interesting excuses and maybe I should just go write myself a book titled Toddler Excuses & The Good Rebuttals You Shouldn't Use.  I held my ground and firmly told him it was that or nothing. And of course, Stubborn had nothing to do with it.

And I also made the 5th mental note of the day that was just vaguely: more parenting failure, Ash

I ambled into the kitchen this morning and to my sheer delight found a bacon pancake log waiting for me. After questioning the crew, yes, yes, it was left for me! There were golden rays beaming from where it rested on the counter.  I felt as if I had awoken to an explosive rainbow of confetti thrown into the air celebrating Friday, Friday, Good morning, it's Friday! And I thought, what the heck, I'll just drink a gulp of milk with this... you can't have pancakes without milk...that's basically a sin. 

My guilt for voluntarily, probably maybe, poisoning my babies had me pouring that milk so quick and putting it back in the fridge so quick and throwing it back like a shot so quick....

Isn't milk just the best?

But no! Because my brain went on red alert--vomit now, Ashey! Vinegar. Death. Milk. Water. More death. What is this stufffffff? 

Because I don't know what in the world of all things natural happened, but that milk is bad with a capital B. Well, was bad, before I spewed it out and sent the rest down the actual garbage disposal.

And there at the counter was my son looking at me with eyebrows raised.

"See. I told you it was no good. Member. Member, I said that. It's bad. It turned into juice!"

"Right, juice. Something like that. Eat your pancakes." 

We're waiting to see how long it takes her to realize it's the peanut butter. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


It's obvious why I've blogged infrequently this summer. With the new babies and nursing and diapering and such this is how things go, staring at toes and echoing back "goo, gaa, yes, yes, I love you!".  That, and many of you have heard me all but beg for sleep. Any sleep. And you can't really complain about not sleeping and then be blogging about the intricacies of homemade soup.

But when I used to daydream about the possibility of staying at home rather than teaching I, without question, assumed an increase in blogging would be natural.  However, my inclination to share with the world has found a lull lately and it has little to do with losing sleep to hangry babies.  

Leaving the classroom and putting down my work roots at home has catapulted me into an experience just as intense, challenging, and exhausting I had ever known as a teacher. And before you start with well, duh! you just had babies--two babies, Ash!, that's not exactly what I mean.  Taking care of the twins has been its own beautiful and unique experience but it has not swallowed whole all the other facets of my life. Needs are surfacing which were waiting for some attention all along. Needs like how to negotiate medical bills or curb a toddler's whining or how to connect, un-distracted, with my husband after dinner and tucking children into bed and finally catching our breaths from our separate but equally craptastic days. I have lots to learn and knowing I have lots to learn leaves me feeling like I have not much to say.

Being at home means a lot of quiet time to think.  Even when the dishwasher's running, a baby is crying, and my son's singing "He's got the whooooole word in his hands. He's got the itty bitty babies in his hands"--even then, the home takes on a different kind of quiet I wasn't accustomed to for as long as I had been a mother.  And that space and isolation and hum of the computer when littles are asleep, there's a lot of opportunity there. It's all a door to anxiety and grief and depression. Or a door to questioning, learning, humbling myself to consider a lot of new things.  

Being here amid the laundry and the chipped wine cabinet and the spider web under the t.v. console I just eyed a minute ago when nursing has my mind expanding in new directions, directions that need some water and sun and nudging before they blossom here on my blog.  

But above all else, my heart is crying out for me to show up and be present. I want carefree time with my husband to laugh and listen and work through some things that maybe we weren't allowing ourselves time or energy for before. I want time to read with a lingering spirit to Thomas and let his questions do the leading as he learns how letters make words. I want time to smile at Alistair & Emerick and babble with them "goo, gaa, yes, yes, I love you!"

And while I say all this and mean it about blogging, it doesn't change how I feel about writing and that is this: Writing helps me make sense of things, it cleans up my brain.  It fills my cup and is always worth the work.  Even though I don't feel I have much time or much to say, I'll still be drooling out my words here because I need to hear that other mothers were also embarrassed when they figured out they were doing ___________ ALL WRONG!! or at least to laugh at/with me when I reveal I have.

Plus, the hum of the computer can make me feel I'm going a little ca-razy some days.  If all this blahg turns out to be is a humble scroll of my cliche and totally ordinary mommy-ness (so I can connect with other mommies saving themselves from isolation the same way), I'm totally cool with that. 

Those of you who do read---which I guess would be you right now--thanks for stopping by, saying hello, and reminding me I've got a few people to share with when I've yet again managed to get baby poop on my cami. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Alistair & Emerick - 3 Months

Um, hello 3 months!! We are so happy to see you.

I always anticipated relief at the three month mark because 90% of the tales of twin-rearing woe I read while pregnant concerned the gauntlet that is (as of today!) the rode behind us. Anticipation affirmed. I feel huge relief.

You know that whole idea about rock bottom and hitting it? Yeah, well, that totally happened this month.  Smarter women than me who are aren't so bent on being independent and avoiding help bypass rock bottom and say hello to sunshiny days earlier in this journey. Humility and vulnerability have never been my strengths, so I can't blame anyone but myself for going weeks on end so fatigued I functioned like a zombie overdosing on testosterone.

But my zombie days are over, friends, as you'll read in a sec, and I'm feeling alive! and happy! and myself! and let me say it one more time... alive!

Let's get on with this month's tid-bits shall we:

Nursing: I stopped feeling sorry for myself (in wanting to nurse one sweet baby at a time so badly) and returned to tandem nursing full time. First during the day and then at night.  I'm in love with caring for twins, but it has been difficult to shift to a different nursing relationship than what I experienced with my first. But how can I say no to nursing babies who grab each others' hands and stroke each others' faces?! So sweet. Also, they are big enough now that I can nurse hands free and therefore bulk up babies and encourage my reading addiction simultaneously. I feel very grateful that I've afforded the opportunity to nurse twins full time. It has its own set of challenges but is wonderful and beautiful.
* For my own amusement I would also like to note interesting places I tandem nursed this month including but not limited to: a funeral parlor, my parents' van and a rocking chair in an empty church nursery  (where I had to contort the babies legs in awkward positions...sorry bebes)--all with no props save some gumption and a prayer no one would walk in. 

Sleep Baby Wise: Having twins has converted me into a big believer in the method found in On Becoming Baby Wise.  I was late to implement one super important factor--babies always sleeping in the same place and that being their crib/s--but otherwise found enormous success in following the eat, wake, sleep method and even read On Becoming Preschool Wise this month which has proved a very beneficial resource for improving my relationship with Thomas. The boys are now sleeping 12 hours at night with one feeding in the middle (and Emerick skipped that feeding last night). This would have been possible much sooner had I not let myself get so freaked out about their reflux and therefore avoid the crib at all costs (all costs = sanity). Oh well. Live, learn, move on.

Tripped Out: Paul left for two business trips this month. Or three. I honestly can't remember. We also drove to my parents' house two different times and to my sister-in-law's place to check out our brand new nephew, Everette. 36 hours ago we were thinking Paul was headed, by possible last minute plans, from CT to Chicago and straight to China... and I would have handled it okay. But he's here! So reprieve for me.

The Situation: (a note to twin mommy-to-be's) I would like to say for the record that taking care of twins is not particularly difficult. And it's a lot of fun! However, each person has his/her unique situation, as is life, so DO NOT feel bad if either you find yourself thinking a.) Hey, this is so much easier than I thought it would be...What's all the fuss about? or b.) Woah. What the what?! I'm drowning here. Suriously! I'm dying! Okay, maybe that last one was a bit dramatic but you get the point.  At the moment my situation's difficulty is served up by way of the following factors: 1. transitioning to SAHM 2. attention starved three year old due to tandem nursing, no older/talking siblings to play with, and 3 years of flying the kid ship solo 3. a husband who works a lot.  So, when people want to know how difficult it is to have twins, I feel like scratching my head. There's no good way to answer that question. I think we're all trying our best and also feel maxed out in a lot of ways most the time. One kid. Ten kids. Three jobs. Whatever it is. I would like to think other mothers of multiples would agree with me when I say this: You will rise to what your situation needs. You will do your best! And you'll see a ton or fruit from your labor. But you may also find that you are not enough (are we ever?) and will find ways to cut back, slow down, welcome help, work smarter, lower expectations, and at the end of the day know that with a little work and a lot of love all is okay and that is good enough. Speech over. Like I should be giving speeches. Dude. Blind leading the blind here.

Nicknames: I'm so sorry guys. I don't know what has possessed me to call you my "cutie wooties" but I can't un-say it now. I'll work up something much cooler, but you can't have the one I bestowed on Thomas: Little Foot. That's his. We'll think of something else for you guys.

Joyful, Joyful: Alistair & Emerick are very easy, happy babies. They are quickly becoming tons of fun. They "talk" to us a lot, especially right after I nurse them, and they go crazy when Thomas passes by. Considering Thomas's track record of excessive kissing and experimental prodding, they have every right to be terrified of him, maybe play 'possum as some innate survival instinct but no, they do whatever they can to get his attention.  Their faces light up instantly at the sight of him. Daddy can get them to smile the most and he talks to them one on one and they love it. Oh, and today Alistair squeed at me. Like a happy shriek/squeel thing. It took me by surprise. Very happy babies.

Hey, You There: Dare I say they're starting to interact with each other. They'll stare at each other and break into smiles, goo and gaa in this really cute swapping manner as if they're taking turns, and two nights ago as I was giving Emerick a bath he was overtaken by Alistair's crying and his lips started quivering even though I know he was perfectly pleased with his bath.  I had a talking to with the boys this month. I told them that it's really cool that they have each other, that that's called having a twin, and that most of us don't get a twin and that I'm pretty stoked about this enterprise they've got going.  They seemed to think I was being silly.

I probably had a lot more to say about this month but I can't remember at the moment. My stolen time has been made possible by Thomas staring at the t.v. Mommy guilt is setting in...

It's Friday baby and the Andersons are raising our glasses tonight to a packed to the brim, overflowing with joy journey with these cute dudes.

Thank you once again to family and friends that have helped us out!! We are ever and always grateful of all your love and support!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Alistair & Emerick - 2 Months

Oh boy.  The 2nd month.  I survived. It was a marathon of a month and I crossed the finish line, sweating and drooling. I wish I had more of a glowing report for twin mommies to be. Maybe that will be the case in a few months.  For now, the bags under my eyes tell a different story, one of epic sleep loss and desperation.

I wish there was a way to detail all the trials and tribulations and yet spare you of the urge to pity me, but I don't have the necessary brain power to pull that off. It's being spent on baby survival essentials. And I think the fact that this post is 8 days late is all the illustration any of us could ever need to understand just how trying things have been.

Nursing: The first month was all perfect, perfect as is my wont. I tandem nursed and recorded every minute of it. Neat. Tidy. Smart. I scoffed at the idea of nursing one baby at a time. Who would do such a wasteful, lazy thing? ... I'll tell you who! Me! About a thousand times this month. I did it first so I could semi-sleep through nursing one night. Gateway drug. Then I did it because my nerves were shot to hades in a handbasket when Thomas would hover and touch and add to the already overstimulating experience.  Bless his heart. The 2nd month was a month of experimentation and frantic nursing: one baby, then this baby, then both babies because we have to go to that thing and I need both babies fed.  I keep telling myself I'm going to return to full tandem nursing and never look back. After just one more solo session.
*I could write an entire book about twin nursing alone. Ok, not really but I feel like it.  But I'll sum it up this way: Tandem nursing is efficient. Solo nursing is lovely. Either way, I get to share it with two little souls staring up at me so win-win.

Sleep: I slept 5 hours in a row one night this month.  Everything else has been in one to three hours (and three hours very, very rare) increments.  I know I should get more sleep and insist on it and so forth but I'm so tired I forget to do so.  I know that sounds like one of the dumbest things you've ever read, but it's entirely true.  I'm sitting here typing this and blinking my way through remembrance of the past sleepless month.

Outings: After seeing my shortcomings this month in nursing and sleep management, I'll say a bit about getting out of the house to boost my morale. This month we managed to get out of the house often for programs, for "me time", or just to pick up groceries.  We've started going to the library for story time every Monday, just me, the boys, the Eddie Bauer (affectionately referred to as Eddie) and lots of prayers that we make it there and back again.  We've also started going to programs at the Nature Center.  These are great things for Thomas to enjoy with his peer group and me to enjoy in the sense that it forces me to shower, look decent, and talk to adults who are not my husband.  I refuse to think taking the boys out by myself is a big deal.  I don't want us to miss out on fun stuff just because it takes me something like 3 hours to prepare us to get in the car.

Growth: At the one month check-up the doctor announced the boys were at the 23rd and 28th percentile for weight...on the preemie chart. Now we've made it to the regular chart! I worked darn hard for those 1st and 3rd percentiles. Alistair weighs 9.13 lbs and Emerick weighs 9.10 lbs. It's bizarre to think some babies are born this big. When we're out people exclaim "newborns!" Mm. Not so much. But they are right about the size. The boys are just barely still fitting in newborn clothes, a size Thomas wore for maybe a week of his life.

New Tricks: Alistair & Emerick ----> smiling (it takes a bit of work...but they're adorable)
                      Me ------> herding all three boys in the same direction
                      Thomas -------> toothpaste art in the bathroom sink when mommy is busy tandem nursing

A Day in the Life: Wonder how things are with twins? (Well, and a toddler).  It's like this... It's really not a big deal. I'm just like everyone else in any other situation. The boys are fun. There's extra work. The washing machine gets just as little rest as me. But it's all good...until it's not.  And this probably has just as much to do with bigger families as it has to do with twins but there can be extremely intense periods where multiple needs are being thrown my way and it's particularly stressful.  Sometimes it only lasts 10 minutes. Other times, things won't settle for 3 hours. I'm talking non-stop go, go, go. The trick is repeating to myself: this will pass, this will pass, I love my kids, this will pass.  And it does. And then I smile because I feel pretty awesome for answering the call to love and somehow not breaking down into a puddle of tears.

Cloth Diapers: We use bumGenius 4.0s. We love them. I need more in the worst way.

Happy Holy Baptism!: The boys were baptized during this month and we hosted family for the celebration. Alistair & Emerick are so blessed to not only have my sister, Andrea, and my brother-in-law, Josh, as their godparents but so many aunts and uncles (just counted... as of today, 17!) to watch over them and guide them.  The boys just don't know how good they've got it. But Paul and I do, and we're so appreciative!

I'm raising my mug of coffee to surviving that 2nd month and hoping big that the 3rd month is just a tad easier! 

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Trip to the Library

If you knew the trouble I went to this morning so that Thomas could sit with his peers during story time at the library, you would be scratching your head. I mean, it's not like they're handing out cash prizes or anything, so what would possess someone to throw all her energies into a 45 minute program which could be just as well pulled off at home with a high pitched voice and some extra juice in mommy's coffee to put into play the I'm-crazy-big-eyed-and-enthusiastically-into-kids effect those librarians are so keen on?

First, a run down of what I did to prep.

I closed Thomas into his room after breakfast and reminded him not to leave until I was done with my shower and had told him so. Just another episode of mommy having alone time in the bathroom but praying every second that one, or all of her kids, aren't maimed as victim to one of Thomas's stunts, maybe climbing furniture or throwing things in the directions of the twins (like this morning when I overheard him say "catch 'em Emerick" and looked over to see two binkies fly into Emerick's lap).  Momma was not leaving this house without a shower.  My prayers worked. Thomas did not die. He stayed in his room and managed to keep his body at ground level, or so I'm letting myself believe.

A super early dressing of Thomas, frantic cleaning of the kitchen, poorly timed nursing of the twins, two sets of diaper changes and a collecting of enough bags it appeared we were headed out to someplace way more fun than the library, we loaded in the Vue and had time to spare. I caught my breath and smiled as we made our way through the neighborhood and to the library which is just a hop, step, and a jump away from our borders.

I was feeling pretty good about myself until I opened up the rear door and saw that the carrier I wanted was not with us.  Fearing I might not be able to adjust this carrier by myself, ultimately leading to a baby slipping out and me catching it by the arm right as everyone turned to see that woman put her child's life in danger just so she could escape her home and not lose her mind, I made a split-second decision to jump back in the car, reverse our hop, step, jump and drive, and quickly grab the carrier that is somewhat less likely to send DFS my way.

Now back at the library I awkwardly make my way into the building: one baby on the carrier I just retrieved from the laundry room, one baby in a pumpkin seat I buckled him in once parked because the babies don't actually travel in pumpkin seats, and Thomas in front of me graciously putting his button pressing skills into action so his mommy can bring da brudders in wit her. I'm not sure he knows what chivalry is yet, but I'll take it.

And this story arc fumbles here. It's a cold stop where would be an awesome climax of shrieking babies and a toddler whose said something awkward just at that moment everyone can hear like "Does her have one boob?" (no, that comment is claimed by yesterday at Orange Leaf--no red face making comments today). The chaos actually came later when a library director asked to tape me check out books and exit the library with my clan to show the community proof we need a drive-thru window at Brentwood Library (which inevitably led to setting up the camera, and taking the shot, and retaking the shot, and what's that?, my baby is sweating because this is taking too long... but just one more shot please ma'am, thanks, *smile*).

No, story time itself was a breeze.  I swayed both babies in my arms, imagining my biceps bulging from the straining position I held Emerick in on top of his strapped in brother as he silently tooted his way through the reading of four books, singing of 3 songs and the happy dance through activity stations, all of which had Thomas so captivated and sweet and polite but happy to be participating, he had his laboring momma eager to venture out into public, halflings in tow, again and again in the name of remembering there are life forms outside our home and they talk in lovely voices.

We love lovely voices. And books. And babies. And a toddler who sheepishly approached the high-pitched and enthusiastic librarian with his hands nervously clasped so he could quietly ask to look at the bubble gum book she just read as if he had found a treasure.  Heck yes, my son.  You grab that book and say thank you and read your heart out so I can swoon and swoon and whip myself up into madness transforming four peoples into normalcy within an inordinate amount of time and eek back in here next week to head, shoulders, knees and toes our smiling, sweaty selves all over again!

Unrelated picture of a mommy-son post-Mass date (no sweaty babies).

Friday, July 26, 2013

Quick Takes

I signed up for Fulwiler's charge to blog every day for a week.  Yesterday I failed to post anything. Here's why.  Everything aligned for me to hand off the boys to Paul after dinner clean-up so that he could stay up for the late night feeding and I could sleep through until the middle of the night feeding.  As the time for me to slip under those beloved covers approached, I became giddy with excitement. I practically skipped down the hallway (after double, triple, quadruple checking details of the plan with Paul).  I fell asleep at 9:10 and woke to cries. I picked up my phone---1:54 a.m. Success! 

When we decided to try the tag team method I just described I envisioned waking up at 2 or 3 in the morning and being so radically rested (in constrast to the very, very little sleep I've been getting) that I wouldn't be able to fall back asleep, that I would instead want to get started on all my stuff for the day.  Nope. I was pleasantly awake at 2 am but had no problem at all falling right back asleep after attending to the boys. When I woke this morning, I felt a spring in my step. I felt like me again. I was talking sweet nonsense to my boys and showering them with unwarranted kisses.  I was excited to greet the day.  However, I did have to temper my happiness somewhat considering Paul somehow slept through his alarm and was in a particularly grumpy mood.  Weak sauce. [Just kidding, babe. Love you!]

On Wednesday, I realized a few truths about how things are going to operate for the time being.  I forgot to add another truth that's maybe not applicable for everyone but it is 100% with me. My house must be clean. It's just the way it is.  The difference between my reasoning skills and general will to live in a disordered home compared to a orderly one is unconscionable. And to great extent, it's because lack of cleanliness and organization adds to the great deal of tension I can feel when I'm already at my max. I was attempting to soothe a baby last night and groped around the floor for a binkie.  Just as I was putting it in the baby's whimpering mouth, it struck me that the paci felt a bit large. A squint in the dark revealed I was holding Mr. Potato Head's shoes.  See, we just can't afford these near death experiences around here.

Thomas asked me at lunch to take a picture of him to send to daddy who is actually at work today.  Paul has been working from home more lately and while he spends 95% of the day locked up in the office being important, Thomas and I both find it a comfort for him to be with us here.  I thought it was sweet Thomas missed him.  I miss him too.

I put on my first non-maternity shorts since the boys were born.  Immediately after I sent my mom text after text of frantic despair.  I was feeling pretty good about my progress until I saw how the cut of those shorts really brought out the dough-like quality of my thighs. Nothing good comes easy, or something like that, right?!

I've had more time to read lately and I've really been enjoying it. The twins have reflux and so I try to keep them upright for some time after feeding; this experience often offers more hand mobility than tandem nursing but not enough for being at the computer.  I finished Mere Christianity yesterday and I'm looking forward to reading more of Lewis soon.  This book definitely falls under the category of books I'm embarrassed I hadn't yet read.  Have you read it? He covered more ground than I anticipated and there were several chapters that were simple but much needed reminders about the nature of Christianity.

I don't know what I was going to put for my 7th quick take but it doesn't matter much now since there is a baby shrieking in the background like he hasn't been fed in days.  Toodle-oo. I'll just be on my nursing way. 

Have a great weekend! Check out some other quick takes more impressive than mine at Jen's blog.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


She's over there with that other boy again.

You can tell by the title this is going to be one impressive post.

Or not.

I promised to blog each day this week thanks to Jen's challenge and I'm two hours and one more glass of wine away from complete failure.

And even if I keep adding words to this post, a coherent thought it does not make, so I'll just say that I had a really uber poopy crappy frowny face look on life 13 hours ago and I don't so much now.

Last night's post was funny in my mind until I read it again today and thought *insert naughty curse word of your preference*, Ashley, you got one baditude! Get it together gurl.

Then I realized my SAHM or whatever gig as mommy to three gets some new rules of life tacked to it (picture nails and a hammer and me securing the nail via hammer into some super important, everybody stops in their tracks to read it, document):

#1. Yep. Paul will never understand the physical, emotional, psycological and blah, blah, blah toll on me. Neither will my mother, sister, or that sweet cashier who oohed and ahhed over the boys.  That's okay, because we humans seem to be just enough adept at understanding our own problems and only marginally, and pathetically so, capable of understanding others'. Also, just as much, Paul might not ever comprehend my desperate need to MAKE BABIES! *Ok, not the making but the carrying and caring for and going crazy for loving, loving, loving as if it's the air I breathe.

#2.  There is no down time with 3 under 4.  None. None. Zippo. Zilch. Unless you count commenting on blog posts and facebook on my phone with the one halfway free hand I've got while tandem nursing and simultaneously pressing threats onto my toddler to "wipe your hands!" and "hurry, go poop!" and "get away from THAT or I'll put you in TIME OUUUUUTT!".  This is just to say I faced the cold and hard fact that when I've a moment to myself I better get moving because no free moments
 are guaranteed in this life.

I woke up with Alistair with this fitting gift (la monkey) from no doubt escaping his nap Thomas.
#3. There's a season to be super mom and right now is probably not it.  An hour (cough, cough... or two...cough, cough) on Where's my Water and Cut the Rope (or whatever they're called) is not going to be the ruination of my son.  I'm fairly certain my twin mommies would agree I'm in the death valley of that rough patch we commoners call NO SLEEP FOR WEEKS ON END!  If I can finish the day smiling at everyone, we'll call it a good day for a few more weeks here.

#4.  These kids are worth it.  I'm honestly careful to edit out some of my gushing over the boys.  I mean, who wants to me that mom obsessed with her kids?? Who am I kidding?! I do! These boys are great.  The twins are cuddly and sweet and do smell pretty good with a little Johnson and Johnson suds time. And Thomas says funny stuff pretty much every time he opens his mouth... like this morning when he stepped on a UFO (unidentified floor object) [which was one of those nursing pads you stuff into your bra because your chest is clueless about the stops and starts of it all] and said "what is this? a sticker or something?" and, it stuck to the bottom of his foot, marched his way around the sun room before flinging it off in crinkly nose irritation.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Plans vs. Reality

Reality sucks. Or blows. Too tired to remember what he was doing here.
I find myself often disconnected from reality.  There's a certain dreaminess in my mind.  There's my ideals, my ideas, my sketched out plans.  Then there's reality. Enjoy

Paul and I have been salivating in front of the t.v. at our new streaming find: Master Chef.  We're no strangers to food but this show has us saying stupid stuff like, "Oh my gosh, yeah, we should totally become foodies!" or "Well, I know what my new hobby is; I'm all over this! I'm gonna like start reading about food and everything!"

Today, in throwing together a bit of left-overs alongside a couple quick edible finds, I haphazardly hit up lunch with a fit of flare a la some green beans I tossed in soy sauce and balsamic vinegar plus some other stuffs I was too speedy (and hangry) to notice or remember in the name of love for myself and my working-from-home-husband.  Paul approached the kitchen, eyeing over our fare.  He questioned my green bean concoction and upon closer inspection, both of us now hovering over the stove top, the sizzling pan confirmed our suspicions that Ashley had burnt what was green lovelies into limp, wrinkled imps of food.  I'll hold off on my Master Chef application.

Yesterday, Paul was hit with a supernatural suspicion I was having an uber crappy day... And I was! It was that or the twins and I on an ever-revolving outfit display of sweats and onesies was a sign he needed to rescue me. He insisted I take a night to myself. 

I was thrilled and sprinted around the house doing all that I could amid crying babies and a toddler capable of capturing every not so spare moment so that I could feel okay about fleeing the house after dinner.  I was on the couch nursing the babes when Paul's car door shut.  My heart leapt, no lie.  He walked into the entryway and straight into his office after a grim hello.  Some work need had him shut up in there for a couple hours, every minute of which I had a Gollum-like internal dialogue about how selfish I was hating that I could see my freedom slip, slip, slip away into darkness.  When Paul surfaced I asked him if he was okay, darn proud I wasn't a puddle of tears.

Don't feel sorry for me.  I made it out of the house yesterday.  I went to Walmart in search of one thing only-- a pool for my toddler. The kid's form of outside entertainment this summer has been limited to whatever a three year old can dream up with a hose and a bucket. Not much.  

I came home with a pool and water guns and black peppercorns and a can opener and baby shampoo and Avengers bubble bath and one of those shopping lists you slap on your fridge and cheeze nips for Thomas and you guessed it, way more things than only a pool because I tip-toe into Wally World on a rare basis and when inside find myself grabbing for so many things much cheaper than at Target. Also, I think was avoiding the inevitable return to the cave.

On my "mother's rule" schedule of sorts the boys' bedtime routine outlines baths for all boys followed up with Thomas's time with a parent to read and talk and pray.

At Walmart yesterday a couple just about tripped over themselves oogling at the boys.  I all but hid evidence of twins, one baby in a pumpkin seat in our very unanticipatedly (nope, not a word) full cart, until they made the discovery (OH MY GOSH, TWINS!) and I answered alllllll the twin questions.  Husband and wife were truly sweet so I didn't mind much that she swooped right into my personal space and bowed down for a sniff of Emerick.  The absence of declarations that she was pleased with her findings is proof positive I haven't exactly kept up with bathing the boys on a daily basis. Shoot me.  Add my embarrassment and sense of violation on the list of reasons to avoid Walmart, or maybe public in totality, until I've got myself a bit more together.

*     *     *     *     *

That's all for now.  I wouldn't want to overwhelm you with all the awesomeness happening in my life at the moment.

Monday, July 22, 2013

This is So Hard

The twin experience has been intense.  The boys are in their seventh week sans womb.  I knew I would be tired and I knew that there would be a lot of work.  I guess what I hadn't anticipated was the ways in which I would stretch and grow.  Even as we shift closer to a sense of normalcy, I still find myself moving from task to task amped up because I know, inevitably and whether or not I'm ready for it, each day I'm introduced to a new skill, a new insight, a new challenge, or, as is more accurate, a mixture of a couple dozen of all three of these.

However, that underlying pulse of excitement in all I do keeps company with exhaustion.  Not just an exhaustion from lack of sleep but from so much physicality.  And then there's exhaustion also from juggling life's priorities. When I shifted my focus from sleeping well to nursing comfortably everything became one big hot mess.  When I moved the schedule around priority uno, getting out of the house every evening for a walk, Thomas's nighttime routine vanished into thin air.  After making my 1st real meal, I couldn't catch back up with the dishes for what felt like a week.  It's laughable how much experimentation I've taken to each day in reaching for balance.

But any inclination to throw out a "this is so hard!" would need to be followed up with one of the greatest revelations I've had since finding out our one was two.  Our perception of how difficult our lives are is often based on the circumstances thrust upon us rather than the choices we make.  What we often mean by "this is so hard" is that it is difficult in a sense we didn't expect and maybe even don't care for.  I'm not necessarily working any harder within this new set of circumstances than I could have been working when I was mother to Thomas alone. And that has me wondering how much more I can stretch and grow if I set my sights on even greater heights, even more priorities, even more conflicts needing to be obliterated with my Super Woman skills.

And here we have a bit of neurosis.  It is terribly true that something strange is happening inside of me that's urging me to dip deep, really deep, but I will pull myself back for a moment in the recollection that women tend to do this.  We put so much on ourselves.  We live for the exhaustion.  Our heart beats as if to say yes to others' needs.

If anything is difficult for me, it's knowing when I should be selfish so that I can serve and love as I'm capable. Yesterday, I slipped out onto the porch to sit on the steps and drink my coffee.  I listened to the neighborhood wake up.  I played a bit of I spy squirrel.  I stared ahead at the peach-ish house opposite ours imagining how much better it could look with some new windows, darker roof, and a bit of landscaping (while telling all thoughts which bubbled up about our own unfortunate state of affairs to sit down and shut up).  Best of all, I breathed in and out over and over again.  I made myself slow down physically and mentally.  When I get so busy doing I can forget why it is that I'm doing it all.  For that ten minutes of quiet cool bliss, I refocused on not getting caught up in proving anything to anyone but instead to fill first and foremost my time with my family with touches of joy and patience and just fully being there instead of flitting in and out of vision to meet needs before flying off for the next thing.  Being gentle with myself, with that cup of coffee and some fresh air (my goodness, I hadn't been outside in more days than I care to count), made room for my gentleness with others.

Hard is what I make of it.  We, for the most part, can speed things up and slow them down when we wish to make room for breathing. I plan on a lot more sitting still and doing nothing to balance out a rush to be bigger, faster, stronger. Because if I'm not going to get it all done anyway, I might as well step outside to smile at the sun.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Quick Takes

I'm once again strung out on books. For every one I'm returning to the library, I'm picking up two more. Bad habits. Bad habits.  I'm almost finished with A Year of Biblical Womanhood and my shaking fists and eye rolls have subsided some since cracking it open.  However, I'm entirely burnt out on this backwards memoir concept: writer pitches experience to publisher; publisher gives a green light and throws some lettuce her way; and writer works tirelessly convincing us the fabricated journey means something genuine.  Since I can't answer the question How else could Evans capture our attention for the content she delivers?, I'll cut her some slack.  

Sometime last week I slid into a black hole of fatigue. Somewhere in between putting the milk in the cabinet and applying facial cleanser after my foundation was in place, it dawned on me that the epic loss of sleep caught up with my body, hacked its way through any reserves I had stored, and raised its crazy flag.  And there it goes that I decided to break my streak of constant tandem nursing for a nighttime party of one baby nursing on me at all times so I could feign some sleep and poorly track milk output.  This past week I went on a tandem nursing vacation, choosing instead the one hundred million times easier solo nursing sessions. As a consequence for my freedom loving chest, my house, my appearance, my schedule and my sanity disintegrated bit by bit into complete oblivion.  Sigh. Back to tandem nursing.  It's complicated. You don't need to worry yourselves with the details unless you're a twin mommy. And if you aren't, you are so very, very lucky to only nurse one.  Just trust me on this, me and a whole chorus of twin mommies who've been there and done that and lived to tell the tale of their house crumbling to complete loss.

I swear I dress the kid. I really do.  

Some notable tidbits from his rendition of the children's Bible (not pictured) he read to the babies (of which I've never read to him --- yes, mommy of the year, always):

[Genesis story] "See here the Earth was not yet completely formed and the moon was not completely formed."  Okay, sounds pretty good.

[The Flood] "And here Santa has all the animals get on the big boat."  Oh. Okay. We're a little off there, bud.

[Exodus out of Egypt] "And the people had all the water they could want!" Oh boy. I have totally failed the kid.

We've been tweaking some of our discipline here. I mean, those twins are just tyrants. Um, no. Thomas tries his hand at evil here and there.  I found him digging toe nail clippers into my deodorant a couple days ago.  I reprimanded him.  His response, amidst the most dramatic of cries and flails, "You're.... ruining my heart. You're ruining my heart, Mommy."   

I was reworking my "mother's rule" this morning. I really should explain or link that to an explanation but I'm just going to keep typing and roll with my laziness.... Anywho, I was adding a list of weekly cleaning tasks to my what is basically a glorified schedule, there I did it, and sought a list in my handy dandy homekeeping book which I nearly hug every time I pick it up.  I typed the suggested list into my document but laughed when I reached wash out and sanitize garbage cans. Yeah, I'm not doing that every week. If you do, please spare me the humiliation. 

Paul and I had "no tech time" on the couch last night so we could talk, talk, talk because he just begged me to. Lies. I'm the chatty Cathy, but you probably knew that already.  If your relationship is just overflowing with time to talk void of distractions, I applaud you.  I'm married to a man who's practically salivating at the chance to become half man, half robot, a manbot and I've taken to posting one billion baby photos to Facebook and Twitter and Instagram so there's that too. We could use a few more moments without a screen in such close proximity buzzing or beeping or lighting up.  Do you have screen rules at your house? I would love to hear about them!

I've been mulling over some thoughts about what my time with Thomas should like like, what resources I have to teach him, what values I would like to instill and so forth.  While I'm figuring it all out, I've started with the basics. Child labor.  The kid does laundry.  That should make up for the eye make-up remover I wasn't able to retrieve from the toilet last week.  Speed up kid. This laundry waits for no one.