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.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

To Imagine

Navigating childhood without an imagination made for a burden I couldn't shake.  I often watched my younger sister deliver Barbie story lines with a finesse that made me shrink with ineptitude.  There was little else in life that felt more futile to me than the sort of play which required dreaming up something that wasn't there. But it's not lava, but I'm not your daughter, but this rock is not a diamond my brain would retort.

I kept hitting my head against a wall where reality demanded none shall pass... or at least not Ashley Havin. And on the other side of that great wall, kids laughed at elaborate dreams detailed in color and exploding into the real life stage of the classroom or our basement floor. The turtles saved April.  The dragon burnt down the town. And I sat on the sidelines, totally stumped. I bumbled around my younger years feeling as if I would be found, an intruder foreign and all wrong, a child with no imagination like a person without a soul.

I'm pretending to drive my sister around. That's gotta count for something.
This is not to say my brain wasn't busy soaring other heights of grandeur, but my heights were often serious or deep, ill-fitting for an 8 year old.  When my parents were whispering secrets, probably about some family gossip or fun outing they were planning for the kids, I was sure they were keeping from me that next week on Tuesday the world would end.  I wasted much of my youth contemplating things like opposing perceptions, why marital affairs occur, and the anticipation of death when I should have been charming Ken with my high-pitched lines and flitting eyelashes. My inability to focus while playing "house" for more than 2 minutes before responding "huh?" to unfolding plot lines or bring with confidence a doll to my chest as if nursing were sure signs I was not equipped with the maternal instincts of my peers. That or I had some mental illness which hadn't yet been discovered.

Two decades later, I am a mom and still waiting on that mental illness diagnosis. Like a pilgrim arriving in America only to discover the ship brought him out of the frying pan and into the fire, I weaseled my way out of childhood sans imagination only to find it one of the most needed skills in motherhood.

First it was the great expanse of time I was gifted as mother to one. Mothering one means stepping in as some stand-in sibling because, last time you checked, there were none to push into the ring. I marveled at the first peek into Thomas's imagination in action, his cup offered to a stuffed animal tilting up and up as the creature stared blankly drinking it in and Thomas peering at me to see what he had done.  While the enchanting powers of my very son's brain on tap should've had me primed for all the "play" I had ever sadly missed during my own childhood, the last two years have offered an embarrassing number of encounters wherein Thomas asked to play with dinosaurs or in the fort or bring that bad guy to jail and I have all but begged him to read books with me instead.  I'm working on it.
B is for booger.
But secondly, and why I'm etching my imagine-less burden onto my blog, I've recently found that it's an imagination which offers joy within the tedious interplay of never ending shtuff of at-home-motherhood. I am my own boss.  I could aim for merely folding in each day with the quiet unpretentious flare of folding laundry. Day in, day out, and all the same. Dishes, meals, sleepless children passing in front of me like some cock-eyed conveyor belt that speeds up, slows down, or gets clogged but never stops. Or it could be that I dare to imagine.  And that's what I'm working on too.

I look outside and imagine a vision of my future herb garden to nudge that project higher on my to do list.  I tackle challenges like bringing all three boys with me out in public (one in the Moby, one in a pumpkin seat, and one two steps away from being run over by his mom) so I can unlock achievements in my imaginary video game wherein I'm addicted to boosting my gamer score. I pretend that today, just like my husband receiving praise for all his hard work with that Visa card and note of thanks that's still on our banister, someone cheered me on when I striped sheets at 3 am, shaved soap into the homemade detergent, and changed three poopy diapers in a row before nursing for an hour straight.

To imagine is to make real the unreal, to create from scratch, to stretch ourselves into foreign territories.  Shifting myself into mom of three and all the days to fill with housework and loving on littles and introducing one dinosaur to another with "Hey, how's your day?", I'm finding a little magic in the corners of my brain.  It might be that just like my flabby front, my imagination is not a lost cause. It's just been sorely neglected and is starved for attention. Maybe I can make-up in my adulthood what I lacked as a child, reigning in pretend time, marrying business with pleasure and finding ways to both laugh at the days and brighten them up with new visions.

Well, I'm off now to put this cause into practice.  And first up, I'll imagine I took a shower instead of writing this post.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Day O Shame

I can breathe.

BOTH babies are sleeping.  Thomas is in the bathtub (likely doing things which will make me bite and swallow my tongue in ten minutes but I'm ignoring right now). And I'm staring at the computer screen wrestling with my reflection of the day.  

Today was no taste of the rainbow.  There were lots of great things that happened, scattered like elusive bright sparks throughout an endless string of intense, stressful, sober minutes. But mainly it was tough.

Even though Alistair & Emerick are one month old, today was only my 4th day alone with all three boys and it ran smack into the beginning of the twins' 2nd growth spurt. Twin growth spurts are super intense. Just nursing twins is intense to begin with.  Just trust me on this. Intense.

By the end of the day, nursing every two hours had me feeling like a wilted flower, one strong gust of wind separating me from death.  Listening to the babies cry for food several times before my body was ready meant that numb kind of mild agony where you just feel like throwing up the white flag. Alright. Enough. I surrender!

Highlights of the day included the following: Thomas asking to make a card for Nana and being happily preoccupied by the project for over 20 minutes, putting together that jumbo puzzle of the USA so that we could talk about Daddy going to Canada today, eating leftovers that were nutritious and deemed edible by Thomas, and sleeping in thanks to Paul's foresight that I might not make it through today without some help in that department.

Serious face for a serious letter to Nana.
Not so great notes of the day included the following: Finding irony in that I interrupted my spiritual reading (about surrendering to God per living fully in each moment) to growl-talk to Thomas about making that sound, scarfing down dinner while both babies cried for food (felt like I was eating shame, couldn't even taste the steak...much), not showering, and having to send Thomas to his room for the following offenses which were individually silly and collectively awful: whining, crowding Emerick, and spitting on that card he poured out all his love and stickers on for Nana.

Oh, also, my little nugget o shame I have saved for last.  I am no Attached Parent. I'm an attached parent, just not with the capitals A and P.  So when it came to "wearing" Thomas I bought a sling and a Moby wrap and that's as far as I made it. It was like lacing up my shoes for a run and then sitting on the couch. I'm that mom.  

Last week I watched videos on how to wrap up both babies in the Moby.  Thomas watched me fumble and fiddle with the wrap while I nervously laughed on the outside (and cried tears for another lesson in late-blooming Ashley strikes again) and he watched on in pity.  After gnawing on my humiliation for a few days for not crossing this off my list of must-have tricks for surviving twins, reality nudged me in backing up and just trying with one kiddo.  

Today, with all the seriousness I could muster, I studied (AGAIN!) youtube videos and practiced, practiced, practiced the wrap with one of the twins. You're right. I didn't practice that much.  I tried once and was tangled up and awkward.  I tried a second time and it came loose.  I tried a third time, grabbing whichever newborn victim was closest to me at the time and felt pretty good about the snug way his body fit.  Or I did for about three minutes before the sensation bore itself on me that we were both sinking in quick sand but him a little faster.  I went about the house pretending I had finally figured this wrap business out, flipping through a cookbook, ignoring Thomas disassembling his car seat, humming a little diddy.  But no, failure. Failure and shame.  I can not flipping figure out that wrap.  There. I said it.  Those things drive me crazy. Crazy! I feel like I'm one wrong step away from my baby falling out and that's if he hasn't latched onto my clothes / flesh with some invisible teeth he's bobbing around on my chest with because my babies are out to suck until the well runs dry, dry, dry. Dry, I tell you!

There's tomorrow. Tomorrow wherein Thomas goes to day care and I return to living life according to a to do list... and more youtube videos of criss-crossing and knotting a simple piece of cloth.

Worth all the milk and the madness!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Alistair & Emerick - 1 Month Update

Woohoo. We've done it. We made it to that one month mark.  We got over four weeks of TLC take-on under our belt for our tiny duo.  Here's a little status update.

Nursing: Since less than 24 hours post birth, it's all been tandem nursing for us (minus a couple feedings where I thought it would be "fun" to nurse one at a time and quickly realized how misguided I was).  The boys eat every 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours during the day, initiated by whomever is ready first, and offer only a tad bit longer intervals during the night, sometimes stretching to a whopping 4 hour stint.  At night, I wake to cries (not my own yet), carry babies to living room, unswaddle on top of Brest Friend twin nursing pillow, latch both boys, start timers on best favoritest app in the world that all twin mommies need (Baby Connect), fall asleep one hundred times in 15 minutes, and then burp, diaper, and swaddle both babies before tucking all three of us back into each of our beds... so no biggie. 

The boys reach out for me or the other while nursing. It's adorable.
Sanity Walks: I take a walk each night.  As you might have surmised from above, I rock those wild and crazy nights primarily solo, except for those occasions when Paul, in a fatigued stupor and 9/10ths asleep proclaims he's following me out to the couch to help and I end up getting to stare at him sleep while doing the routine and debating with myself whether I will yell, "Paul... Paul... Paul...Paul... PAULWAKEUPANDSWADDLETHISBABY" or just do it myself.  Okay, anyway, back to the sanity walks.  I need them so I take them.  This is one of the hundred ways Paul has been of big help to either his credit for insisting I treat myself or my insistence that there are no other options really.  I lace up and tuck my beloved headphones into my ears and head out into the neighborhood for the bliss of breathing fresh air and hitting the sidewalk to explicit hip hop lyrics for 30 minutes, an effort that undoubtedly balances out the abundance of mature goodness and motherly instincts I've exhausted throughout the day.

Outings: I've ventured out into public with the twins in tow. However, our car seats are not of the portable sort, so this means one momma on the loose with two babies atop each other in her arms while she searches for a bottle of wine or a last minute card.  When I took the babies to their 2nd doctor's appointment a couple weeks ago, the crowded waiting room inched closer and closer while we waited, asking nearly every question conceivable (minus the fertility treatment question) regarding twins.  Fish bowl it was.  And apparently Super Woman I am (I'm not) for toting around the two on my own.  General reaction out in public is "Aw, how cute, a baby.... (wait for it, wait for it)... OH. TWO!"  I feel like the boys' agent rather than mommy.  Alistair & Emerick's first true outing, our first outing together as the whole family, was Americafest at my sister's house.  As you can see below, the boys were out of control. 

The Vessel:  My body is one hot mess.  I first noticed a major problem on my  hands  hips when I studied YouTube videos a week ago to take my measurements.  I studied the videos. Okay, no problem. Let's do this. I went back to my room, took a look in the mirror at my exposed and vulnerable flesh, and realized my body shape in no way resembled what each and every video told me to expect. My body is no hourglass.  It's jello. It's flabby.  It's a few more curves than I bargained for and all in the wrong places.  And according to my sister's brother-in-law, it's also a temptation for others to ask "Are you pregnant?"  So yeah, if I wasn't already fiddling around with the idea of becoming that weird obsessive exercising personality type for a couple months while I shed this shape, there's no fiddling now. I'm getting full on freak to lose the last 15 lbs.

Differences: Pointing out differences in the boys sends me into a bit of nail biting.  I have to be careful not to label or make lesser.  So I'll only tell you the two notable differences we've found in the boys (still not enough to actually tell them apart without help from the toe nail polish).  Alistair appears to have notes of yellow in his skin and Emerick tends to have fairer skin and get fairly red when he's upset.  And then there's this, and I get that it sounds silly to note but it really is notable: Emerick toots a lot.  If I hear a baby fill his diaper or let some gas in the funny honktastic squeak newborns love to make, I check the toes and almost always see green.

Balancing:  The transition / regression / the-fuzzy-period-we're-working-hard-to-forget is largely over, but learning to balance it all is something I will be working on forever and always.  I can have a whole string of minutes that are peaceful and relaxed. Maybe Thomas is outside rousing neighbors' suspicions while he goes to town with nothing but a bucket and a hose while his mommy grins from inside or maybe Thomas happens to find intrigue in a forgotten toy for a good chunk of time while I'm nursing.  But there are other times I've got a whole queue of needs lining up that range from critical to urgent to important and I'm the only adult around to assist the littles in their cries for help or, in the case of the time I was stranded on the couch tandem nursing and Thomas announced he had to poop and I about crapped my pants myself, cries for "more toilet paper pleeeeeeease!"

Baby Blues:  I think they might have passed me by this time.  In fact, I think I got whammied with the opposite.  I was on an overdrive of joy for the first two weeks and shifted slowly into a more human range of emotions the 2nd half of the month.  I did have a good cry ten days in because I didn't want the boys to get any older (feeling the same way about Thomas as well), but I was able to let go of that brand new baby stage somehow.  I credit how well things have gone this time to a great many things: help from others (and me saying yes to it), frozen food, two books (Seven Habits & Baby Wise--just a little), showering, a sheer refusal to complain or welcome negativity, the nursing, those walks, and God's grace.  (This is absolutely not to say these things guarantee success for others, just simply my experience.)

Travel:  Paul travels a lot.  People have tossed me their sympathy from time to time for it and I've tossed it right back because really, his travels have 90% of the time been a piece of cake. International travel is a little dicey, but in house stuff is no big deal.  However, I will tackle my 1st stint of his travel and me home alone with the babes next week.  I'm a tiny bit nervous. I might take to Twitter or Facebook for solace from the clamoring of boys. And maybe some sympathy too.

What will I do without this kind of help?
Look What We Can Do: Emerick has rolled over twice from belly to back, in a fit of baby rage, and the boys have considerable head control, just like their brother Thomas did.  Both boys started cooing a few days ago and my heart melts something fierce every time.  Both boys track faces and sounds well and it's fun to watch them do so.  Both boys, but often Alistair, smile a lot after nursing.  Also, both boys have learned five sign language words. Just kidding. They've learned ten. No really, that's a joke. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sister Mary Ashley

On Friday I celebrated five years of marriage.  Paul took off from work and we enjoyed simple pleasures like a lunch of bruschetta, crustinis, and wine, swapping gifts, listening to our wedding song, and escaping, thanks to my sister and her boyfriend, for a wild date night of shopping for new dinnerware in between nursing sessions.

I also finished updating a sorely neglected anniversary memory book.  The task required pilfering Facebook for photos and details from our past.  Writing about each year was taxing.  I had to condense a great deal of events into a fairly small space, avoid repetition (even though our lives, upon reflection, proved a testament of gravitation toward familiarity), and grapple with so much discarded by memory loss. How is it I could how forgotten about fearing I couldn't get pregnant or how Paul's makeshift 5 ft x 5 ft office space in the corner of our living room made us laugh when his tax documents had no option for noting so small a square for business purposes?

Paul and I have big hopes and plans for the next five years.  While the first five thrust itself upon us, we'd like to think we are taking the reigns a bit more in the years to come, putting 1st our core values, protecting most each other's hearts, and working harder each day to fulfill readily the exponentially increasing needs of our family.

To sit across the table with him and listen to him talk of where we've been and where he would like to see us reach, I smiled to think of how cobbled together our love was at first.  Others can profess of walking down the aisle to a happily ever after just as pitch perfect as they ever imagined, but Paul and I would be the first to raise an eyebrow or laugh at that.  I walked down the aisle and said yes to a life of finding selflessness in the folds of a laundered shirt, the Skype call of a far away spouse, a pee filled pregnancy stick, the ladling of soup and the grasp of a hand ... in the guise of some noble abstract vows. I did sign up for that fairy tale too, often marveling at the gift of both a constant best friend and a hunky husband at my reach, but sometimes the fairy tale gets interrupted by the blare of another story, the call to do the opposite of feeling the sun on one's face: the call of touching darkness, knowing pain, finding the need for selflessness thrust upon us.

I almost quit college. I almost became a nun.  I hesitated for some time at the intersection of Loneliness crosses Religious Life.  It was in the first or second week after my sophomore year that I spent four days within the walls of the convent of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George.  It was there and then that I took further consideration into what I felt was a call which could be responded with, on my part, a relatively easy answer: yes!

The closing door there came quick by way of the Mother Superior's wish that, even though a seemingly happy fit for me, I should instead chase after my initial desire of being married.  How awful I felt for months afterward! It was the knows-no-boundaries-joy that I experienced at the convent that left me feeling so sad. I couldn't imagine ever finding a place, a relationship that would ever allow me such joy.

Even though I timidly wanted to be married 7 years ago in Mother Superior's office, I could not have been more wrong about what marriage meant.  It's place as a vocation is just as prominent, beautiful, and noble as religious life.  To my greatest surprise, there's just as much joy in marriage as anyone could ever want. Lest you think that's synonymous for Paul and I are in total bliss, it's not.  That just to say it's available for purchase through a steady stream of sacrifices. 

My favorite wedding photo because it captures a very ordinary moment.

If I think of the distinct difference between the Paul and Ashley of five years ago and the Paul and Ashley of today, it's in what I think is our understanding of sacrifice.  While our younger selves couldn't grasp how much was necessary in truly loving another (plus three), our current selves can see it in lucid glimpses and are ready, on most days, to answer the call. 

Marriage is no cheap trick.  It will be the most difficult endeavor I will have said yes to when it's all said and done.  I was given no manual.  I know no promises by way of fate or luck or free will.  I have searched all the books and only found a fraction of the answers.  And on top of it all, the impression that marriage is here to fuel the fires of happiness is only true in light of the work, work, work, and more work that gets us there.
It didn't take getting married for me to figure out that I made the right choice in not turning left at Religious Life.  The only right choices I've ever made were in loving others as Christ loves me and I hardly ever get that right.  Those opportunities could have been in the convent or out of it.  I'm very happy that I bumbled my way into donning the white dress and taking on the Anderson name.  It's in that I've found endless opportunities to love as Christ did which is a pretty way of saying I've been in pain a stupid amount of times because of selfishness. The sacrifice of growing up, letting go, and giving to others has surprised me over and over again, often in what initially feels like some sick joke, and it is with this I've come to know a joy which pierces my heart and makes me feel free.

And to be honest, we all did worry I would pull a Sound of Music on the life of contemplation.  While all the Sisters would be working selflessly on their path to joy scrubbing dishes, polishing pews, and teaching children, I'd be found sneaking off for solo dancing sessions in the corners of the convent.  Everybody knows Sister Mary Ashley likes to bust a move!