Friday, April 29, 2011

Here Come The Brides...

Hopeless romantic or some kind of deranged fool; call me what you will, but I was one of the um-teen billion people watching the Royal nuptials this morning. I didn't get up to watch, mind you. I'm far too lazy for that. Instead I took the more common approach of DVRing the event so I could peruse it at my leisure.

 And fast forward through all the boring bits.

Having dropped the girls off at school and making a quick stop at Panera, I was ready to begin; seated in a comfy chair with the required "Royal Wedding Observation Refreshments" of scones and tea at hand. I hit play and off I went on a magical journey that had absolutely nothing to do with me at all.

The funny thing about weddings for me is that I experience them so differently now that I'm parent. Before having my own brood, weddings held all the romance and ooey-gooey-huggy-kissy stuff that dreams are made of. It was all about The Dress! The Music! The Ceremony! The Reception!

I would get caught up in all the little details of someone else's big day, and that would be enough to pull me back into the memories of my own wedding.

But once I became Mom, that all changed.

Now I view these blissful events as previews for the time when I'll be watching our girls stand at an alter and "pledge her troth" to (what we pray) will be two amazing men. Where I used to focus on the bride, my eye now wanders to her parents: how are they holding up? Is Mom crying?; finding myself wondering what I'll do when I'm in that place.

I know they won't be marrying a prince. We're praying for a priceless man, nonetheless.

And I wonder how I'll be able to let go.

I've never been sure how my parents did it. And I was so young! Days away from my 20th birthday; completely young and totally confident in the promise I was making that day. (Still confident in it, nearly 13 years later). hard to let go.

But I'll have to do it. Twice.

The girls talk about marrying twins, which is something that I secretly would love.

 They talk about a double wedding. (How fun would that be?)

They talk about wearing my dress...or fighting over it I suppose, in the case of the double wedding.

They talk about wanting to marry their daddy. (Can't say I blame them on that since he's a pretty stellar guy, if I do say so myself.)

But they also talk about having a trampoline there.

And having only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and lots of Jello at the reception.

And still living with Dan and I after the knot has been tied.

So I know we still have awhile to go before I have to start planning anything.

Or letting go.

So for now, I'll push that little thought under the rug.

Out of sight, out of mind.

For now, they are all mine.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I'm Watching.

In the annuls of Adventures In Twin Parenting, perhaps the most difficult task we've been faced with thus far has been this: teaching them to ride a bike.

I know what you're thinking. You don't have to say it. (But since I know you're still thinking it, I'll say it for you. "You think that's hard? Just wait until they're driving, or dating, or going to school"..etc, etc.) Please note I said, "Thus Far". Consider if you will, that includes pregnancy, twinfancy, and all toddler hood endeavors. THIS takes the cake.

The problem we've always faced is that neither of the girls cares one bit for getting from point A to B on anything other than the 2 feet God gave 'em. They'd rather walk, run, skip, or trot, and have always put their noses up at any other mode of personal transportation. In infancy, they disliked their swing. In toddler hood, they outgrew all their ride-alongs long before they actually "rode along" to anything. In preschool years, they avoided the Cozy Coup, then put the cabash on the tricycles.

We keep running into the same problem: their disinterest in riding bikes has always meant that they outgrow whatever device we have for them before they ever learn to ride it. We are currently on bike number 3 for them. Bike 1 was a 12 inch, then we upgraded to a 16 inch, and are now at a 21 inch.

And herein is our particular quandary: what do you do when your daughters' legs are too long for a bike that is more age (and ability-level) appropriate for her, neccesitating a larger bike clearly meant for kids who already know how to ride a bike?

Training wheels aren't meant for this size bike. At all. So we're attempting to teach turning skills (tricky for kids who've never cared about steering wheels) and balance to two very disinterested little ladies.

We're methodically plodding away, despite their moans of disapproval. "Again? I have to get on it again?" In short? Yes. You do. Let's go.

We each take a child. The helmet-clad lass is than lassoed with a large beach towel around her chest, which effectively holds her up on the bike. She pedals while her assigned parent attempts to walk beside the bike, holding tight to the towel as they travel.

It's not small feat either, let me tell you. There is no balance here. None. That Caedance stays up is more thanks to my holding fast to that towel than to her own inner equilibrium. Right now, anyways. Every once in awhile, we'll hit a stretch of maybe 8 feet where she'll get it. But in a blink it's gone, and I'm left tug-tug-tugging away on the towel again; hand cramping, lower leg scraped up from being bumped by the pedal, and just mostly praying my hand doesn't spontaneously open and drop the towel all together. How much would she like riding the bike then, I ask you?

But as I said, we're plugging away at it. Last night we took a quick run around the block. As has become custom, I was Caedance's Bike Runner/Towel Holding Coach. She had a few good runs where she had gotten her balance and was progressing at more or less a normal rate. I was proud of her.

Head straight forward, she said, "Look mom! Look at me!"

I wanted to say something like, "Look at you? Hon, I'm holding you up. I'm right here. I see you because I'm actually here with you. Right now. No need to ask me to look."

But I didn't.

I realized that she didn't want her Bike Runner Coach to see what she was doing; she wanted her Mommy to watch. Mom. Look at me. See me. See what I'm doing.

And I saw. Eyes wide open, I saw my little girl who's struggling to succeed at this activity that she couldn't care less about. But she trying. Not because she wants to, but because she sees it's important to her dad and to me. She sees that and so she's giving it her all. Right here. As I run beside her.

"Mom, look at me! Watch me!"

"I see you, heart. You're perfect."

In everything they do: I see.

I see you, my precious daughters. Your accomplishments do not go unnoticed by me. Ever.

I see you. Always.
And I'm so proud.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Adventures In Twin-Schooling..

As many of you know, we'll be attempting to do an on-line academy with the girls next year. This isn't a slight against public schools, nor is it us suggesting we can do it better; this is a choice that we've thought long and hard about. It's something that we've talked to the girls about in length. If they weren't fully on board, we wouldn't go forward. We are in this with the full understanding that if it doesn't work out, returning to school is always, always an option.

But I'm truly excited about it nonetheless.

I love talking about it. And I love that everyone who I do talk to seems to have an opinion about it. I'm not so closed minded as to feel like "I'm right, you're wrong. Come back when you see that and agree." Not at all.

But I do have to wonder at some of the comments that I hear, just the same.

Opinions seem to come in many shades of agreement or disagreement, varying in ways both subtle and blatant. But there does tend to be one comment that I hear more than others. One that is probably the first in the line-up of "disagreement". Perhaps you've even thought it yourself. It is this:

"There is no way I could do that. My kids drive me crazy. The time they're at school is my time to recapture my sanity."

First off, (and this is important, so please read with an open heart), I understand that comment. Absolutely. Completely. I'm right there with you.

But I feel like this statement does one of two things for me: it either makes me out to be some type of super-mom who is impervious to the devious nature of my children; whose whining somehow does not bother me; or who's misbehavior is just a-okay with my inhumanly high tolerance level.
Or, it suggests that my girls are simply perfect in every way; little Mary Poppins wannabes who strive daily for perfection and achieve it without breaking a sweat.

I wish I could go with both. Heck, just one of those would be stellar. But it wouldn't be true, so I wanted to set that record straight. Here and now.

I love my daughters. Muchly. Being home with them has been a privilege that I never knew I wanted; my highest honor that I almost didn't see due to my strong desire to return to work. I am so grateful for this Other Plan. Completely and  utterly grateful.

That being said, there are days when I want to pull my hair out. We have scores upon scores of "Those Days", racking them up, one by one. It's like they see all the hot button issues before I can even conceive of them, and dig, dig, dig away, managing to grate on my very last nerve.
 We have the days when I have to put myself into time out because I need a break and they need a more calm, collected mom than they've got at that moment. There are days when I struggle with letting go and seeing their independence for what it is and encouraging them to run with it.

The balance is true; there is good and there is bad. But there is so much in between!  So much love and understanding. So much joy and happiness and shared memories.

I feel that these struggles can make us stronger as a family. My reaction (or in some cases, non-reaction) to what they can dish out makes me a better mom. Likewise, they are learning what it is to be a part of our family; what their role in it is. We're all on this journey together, learning from one another as we go.

Keeping them at home next year will not be without frustrations. It will present the usual highs and lows that come with any new situation, but the glorious part is that we'll be seeing it through together. As a family. And we'll be stronger for it.

And for the record, I will miss my "Me Time": going to the store and getting all my shopping done quickly, sitting and reading a book quietly, or heading off to a store just to ramble around with no real purpose. These have been precious luxuries for me during this past year; despite all the upheaval and struggles we've had with school, there was always those priceless hours I had just for me.

But I'm giving them up willingly, and with a full understanding of what we feel is a greater cause. I have no premonition of where this upcoming adventure will take us. No real sense of how it will all pan out in the end. But just knowing that it's something we're all in on makes it all the more sweet and exciting.

So there you have it. My full disclosure on the subject.
I'm not perfect.
And my girls have been known to have their taxing moments.
But together we make for one pretty stupendous team.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


My daughter prayed for me tonight.

Well, sort of.

We were playing a game of "Think of Something You're Thankful For". There are no rules of play for this little gem; just sit and think of things you're thankful for and then name them. We get the usual suspects of "Our House" and "Our Food" and "Our Pets" often enough, so tonight I imposed one simple guideline: Pick something different.

I was curious to see what they would come up with. On their own. Left to their own unusual devices.

Caedance impressed me by commenting that she's thankful for her twin. (A heartwarming thing for me to hear, making me proud of the very small part I played in that egg-splitting bit of wonder). She's also thankful for nail polish, wood floors, and herbs. (Herbs in general I would guess since I couldn't get her to pin down any specific herb that tickled her fancy). An interesting list, but she's a graciously unusal child.

Ashlyn, on the other hand, informed me that she was thankful for our family because we love "are-chother". (You're right if you guessed that to be kid-speak for 'each other'). I asked her if she wanted to send out a 'Thanks' to Jesus for the blessing of our family. She did. I sat back, in prayer mode, waiting for her to begin.

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for our family, and that we love 'are-chother' so much.
And thank you for Mommy 'cause she makes us dinner at night, and even
when it's not my favorite but I eat it anyways. 'Cause if I don't eat it, Jesus,
I don't get dessert and mommy's desserts always are good.

Well there it is then.
I'll take that.
(Although, in my defense, I only make Good Dinners).

Monday, April 18, 2011

When They're Together

Something I like:
  Last night the girls skipped up to their bedtime routine, arm in arm.

"Mommy?" came the quiet voice of my 'oldest', (by 6 very crucial minutes), "Can I sleep with my twin tonight?"

In that moment, my heart did a double thump in its cage.

Something I remember:
When the girls were younger, they were all about co-sleeping, and we had every arrangement in their bedrooms that can be imagined. When they had cribs, they were forever flip-flopping over from one crib to another; much to their mutual delight and our complete and utter horror. So we took off the front rails and turned the cribs in towards each other, creating one ginormous crib. Every morning I'd awaken to find them laying nearly atop one another. Arms linked, legs entangled; peaceful.
When they moved up to the toddler beds, we put them side by side, against each other. Despite the narrow gap and the short rails between the beds, they'd manage to attach some appendage or another together in their sleep.

Something I don't like:
We now have bunk beds, making that innate closeness utterly impossible. They sleep separate. Starkly unattached. I know it's just the way of things, but when you have two individuals (and yes, they are individuals) who are connected by a bond that defies explanation, it seems almost stunting in a way.

Something I love:
Last night we tucked both the girls in on the bottom bunk. Caedance snuggled at the head of the bed, while Ashlyn cozied up at the foot. They giggled at the renewed closeness, wiggling around to get a feel for each one's territory, memorizing the boundaries that would be kept, (almost certainly) even in sleep.
This morning I crept in to see them a few minutes before I had to wake them. Their sleeping forms created a nearly perfect Yin & Yang symbol, their wispy legs curled within each other. Their breathing was simultaneous, reaching my ears in short, gentle puffs. Their closed eyes were each twitching in the final moments of a REM cycle. The vision made me wonder if they were together in their dreams too.
When I woke them up, they sat up and smiled at each other; each girl happy to look at the other girl's face.

And I smiled too. (You know I did.)

"Mommy?" asked the still groggy voice of Ashlyn, "Can I sleep with twin again tonight?"

Oh, yes. I think so, my love. I do most certainly think so.

Paper or Plastic?

Today I had a personal achievement. Nothing grand and glorious by most standards, but pretty monumental for me.

I went to 3 stores for my weekly 'run-around-"how-could-this-store-not-have-this?! shoppapalooza', and did not use a single plastic bag. Not one. At all.

I told you it wasn't anything super-amazing. So don't get all, "Seriously? I'm reading this for that? What a joke." Because you were warned, after all.

I don't know about you, but we've been trying to do the whole "Go Green" thing here. But it's been proving a lot harder than I thought. I mean, I like the idea and all. I do. Saving the Earth for my daughters' daughters' daughters' sons is a valiant thing, indeed. But when we get right down it, I like paper plates. I like plastic bags. I like soap that smells like a garden of flowers. Giving them up has not been easy, so we've been taking baby steps.

Teeny-tiny-tiptoe steps that are adding up to a whole lot of bigger somethings.

For example, take my success of the day: No Plastic Bags Used.
Several years ago I went around the house collecting all of my reusable canvas bags. Being a teacher, I have what I consider to be a disproportionate amount of these bags. From every class, every conference, every new school year. A brand spankin' new bag. I've gotten them for placing orders and for sometimes just showing up. "Oh look! You've come. Here, have a bag." Apparently the predominate belief is that educators are either a form of load bearing mammal, ("Lets load 'em up with bags and see how big of a load they can carry");  or a breed of hoarders ("Look at all that crap she's got with her! Better give her a bag to tote it with before she drops it all and makes a mighty mess.")

But I am not one to turn down a free bag. No, indeed not.

So there I was with all these bags. I was completely set for my biggest of shopping runs. Except for one thing.

The one fly in the ointment.

Scores of reusable bags are not very useful when you can't remember to bring them into the store. Unless standing at the checkout lane smacking yourself in the forehead with the heel of your hand because you forgot to bring them in counts as 'green', that is. (Does it? Because if it does, than I'm much further along on this initiative than I previously thought).

After a year of looking at my supply of Save The Earth bags tucked neatly in the back of the van as I loaded up all my Kill The Earth plastic bags, I decided to make a clever change that has made all the difference. I have moved all the canvas bags up to the front of the van, stashing them in the narrow space between the passenger seat and the front console. Rolled up and secured with a rubber band, they stack perfectly and are ready for me to use them.

When I leave to go to a store, I grab a few bags, and carry them in. When I unpack them at home, I immediately re-roll them, secure each with the rubber band that was sporting around my wrist, and get them back out to the car. Ready to go for next time.

This all sounds silly, I know. But it's working.

My name is Amanda and I'm 7 days clean of Plastic Bags. 7 days of shopping and not carrying out plastic. 7 days when I am not part of that problem. And that feels pretty good, actually.

On the heels of this success, we'll continue to make changes around here: making our own laundry and dishwasher soaps, using energy saving light bulbs, and watching water usage. Maybe nothing major, but changes in the right directions nonetheless.

 I don't know if we'll ever be completely "Green", (though I'd sure like to be), but maybe we can achieve a shade of it. There's nothing wrong with "Spring Green". Or "Sage".

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Do you like having twins?

I was asked an interesting question today as I was out with the girls:

"Do you like having twins?"

Hmmm. Interesting question. But how to answer?

What really are my choices in answering this question that I get every once in awhile?

I mean, this is my family. This is what I have been blessed with. That it happens to include twins is not something I could control; however, I feel all the more luckier for it. And it's obviously all that I know. I have twins. End of story. What can I compare that to? I don't have some other family with a grouping of singletons stashed away somewhere. Some alternative reality by which I could compare Having Twins with Not Having Twins.

When I get this question, it's usually from people whom I suspect feel the need to talk to me about having twins. Maybe the question comes across wrong, but since I get it every once in awhile, I'm thinking it's meant the way it comes out. I've even wondered if I'm just taking it wrong, but I'm not quite sure in what context someone asking you if you like your kids (which is what it boils down to) is okay.

I don't know.

I file it under the "Wacky Questions People Ask When They're Not Sure What Else To Say" and leave it at that. It's right by, "Oh, they're twins. Did you have them both yourself?" and "Are they both boys, then?" ( this one asked after seeing my pink clothed daughters with bows in their hair). Little gems I like to recall from time to time, and that always make me smile.

But I digress....

"Do you like having twins?"
"Yep. Yep, I sure do. Quite a bit, actually. Thanks for asking."

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mama & The Angry Sprites.

Today I had the supreme privilege of shopping on my own, without my groupies. As I strolled quite leisurely through the aisles at my "reserved-for-when-the-girls-are-in-school" slow pace, I observed several other mothers who were toting their blessings around. Most of the kids were younger than mine are, and a few were not the "Happy Shoppers" that we've been overjoyed to see ours become.

The screams.
The angry, red faces.
The fury at being strapped into a cart; stuck.
It brought back so many memories.

Anytime you have to put "Kids" and "Shopping List" into one sentence, it can become an almost insurmountable effort. Trying to get through a list is taxing alone, when you're not playing referee to the fighting and or squabbling siblings that you must bring with you.

Mine had a knack of being perfect angels right up until we'd hit the "bought air" of a store. The doors would open and "whoosh", my sweet, happy mannered little
Dan-clones would turn into feral creatures, itching to unleash a reign of terror. It would happen so instantaneously that I'd almost look around to see if I could catch a glimpse of their formerly happy selves high tailing out to the parking lot.

And there I'd be, alone with Them. (Not the nice 'Them' that so lovingly and cooperatively went into the stroller and sang as I pushed them into the store; no, it was now the 'Other Them' who snarled and whined and hit).

With a smile, I'd press on. I had shopping to do. A list to tackle. Pushing the stroller in front of me and pulling the cart behind, I'd alternate between referring to my list (crossing off found items with whatever crayon happened to be in my pocket at the time), and acting as "Mad Cap Entertainer" to my stroller-bound captives.

They'd cry in the Produce section, but never fear! "Listen to the celery sing a song, my children!" And just like that, a performance worthy of many awards spilled forth. (You really should have been there.)

They'd fight in the Dairy department; the Girl In Back snagging a handful of the Girl In Front's hair and giving a hard yank. But never fear, dear children! "Watch Mommy do a happy cheese dance!" (Let's just say, Michael Flatley ain't got nothin' on me.)

By the time we reached the household supply areas, both kids were through with mommy's antics and no amount of my particular brand of product-based entertaining could sustain them. As I perused the paper towels and plastic bags, I'd usually be alternating between holding one crying baby to another, still pulling the cart behind me, and now using my hip to shove the stroller forward a few inches at a time. "Shush, shush, shush, my Heart," I'd cluck, "look at these pretty toilet brushes". After plopping that now-quieted offspring back into her seat holding a pristine Johnny Mop, I'd pick up the still-crying other one and attempt to interest her in the fascinating world of toothpaste and toothbrushes.

What seemed like a short list nevertheless managed to take up quite a bit of time and energy, leaving me ragged, on edge, and (quite frankly), in need of chocolate. Ready to be done with our outing, I'd always manage to pick the most ill-chosen check out line possible. You know the one, it 'seems' to be moving along 'just fine'. Then all the sudden, you find it has stopped and you are not moving forward at all. And you are faced with the choice of "Should I Stay" or "Should I Switch Lanes", only you're so worn out and bedraggled by the escapades of your children as you 'shopped' for the few things you needed and now your brain will explode if you have to make one more choice. And it no longer matters at that point because every other line is backed up and nearly as long. No matter how you look at it, you're stuck.

You know. THAT line.

When I did finally manage to break free from the grasp of retail hell, I'd have two much displeased and unhappy children; the extra long wait in the check out line having undone all my calming, and angering them anew. I'd set out for the doors at a near run, anticipating, nay....almost feeling...that moment of escape that awaited me just through those big, beautiful doors.


Two crying girls calmed down, instantly shushed by the outside world around them. Two happy girls, sitting in car seats and pleasantly babbling as we made our way home.

One very tired, very worn out mama, looking very much forward to the next big event in our day: Nap Time.

For everyone.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Camping Out

My children have slept on the floor for 8 days straight. Eight days. On the floor. They think it's fun. I think it looks terribly uncomfortable. They think it's a "real special treat", while I get a stiff neck just looking at their sleeping bags on the floor.

Now, I'll somewhat begrudgingly admit that as I 'grow wiser' (that's my euphemism for my accumulating turns around the sun. Which in turn is another euphemism for the growing number of birthdays I'm collecting), my definition of "Fun" and "Special Treat" is changing a bit. I am now at the point where a thin pallet tossed on a carpeted floor just does nothing for me, except make me cringe at the prospect of waking with aching knees, elbows, and shoulders.

But I'm okay with that.

The girls seem to love it. Any "Non-School Night" will find them, camped out in various rooms of our house, both of them filled with a sense of glee at the idea of a new place to sleep. New noises. New light patterns thrown on the wall. They seem to enjoy the nightly shake-up.

Have Nightlight, Will Travel.

They've enjoyed a full week of these little camping excursions, since they've been on Spring Break. As a special treat, last night we let them set up camp in our bedroom. They were over the moon excited about it. Tucking them into their bags and reading the last nighttime story took on a whole new dimension for them since they were in Mom and Dad's room. On the floor. At the foot of the bed. Wow.

Remember when it was those simple things that filled your life with unabashed joy?

I have to confess it was nice listening to the soft sounds of their sleep: the gentle puffs of breath, the slight stirs under the covers, the tiny sounds of dreams passing through their closed eyes. It took me back to the days when their bassinets were in our bedroom, or when they'd sleep in our bed after having a bad dream. Good memories, all.

We were awoken this morning by two little faces peeking over the foot board of the bed, only two sets of eyes and two pert noses visible. Two little voices spoke to us from their slightly hidden vantage point. "I love you Mommy. I love you Daddy. I love you." Soft whispers to wake up to. Soft words with big, heart melting meaning in them.

They are growing up. Everyday I can see changes in them that take them further away from the babies they were (and sometimes still are in my mind's eye), and tracking them closer to the ladies they'll become. But there is always this: their hearts. The essence of these two precious little girls stays the same. Big hearts. Open arms. Beautiful words.

They are a daily reminder to me of Love is. And how full life can be when my arms are wrapped around them tight. They may be growing up, but I'm blessed to be here to see it happen.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sleeping Beauties.

If given the choice, my daughters will sleep.

We're currently smack in the middle of our first true Spring Break, and every day this week, they've slept until around 10:00am. Every day. Ah, yes; I can smell the jealousy now.

Truth be told, if you had told me our twins would inherit what I consider to be the best trait Dan and I hold, I wouldn't have believed you. At all. In fact, I had pretty much figured "Adequate Sleep" was going to be filed under the "Life Before Children" section of my life.

I felt the first stirrings of the lives within me around the 14th week of pregnancy. Each week brought a new sense of wonder as those first subtle flutterings morphed into stronger kicks, then more forceful (and at times curiously malicious feeling) stabs.  As the months passed, and my waist went the way of the dodo bird (that is to say it was no more), those strange stabs grew ever more rambunctious and transitioned from being 'time-to-time' occurrences to constant flips, flops, and belly contorting acrobatic maneuvers. It felt like a troop of Riverdancers putting on a performance for an audience of my internal organs.

And of course, nighttime was the best time for the show.

However limited and curtailed, my daily lumberings seem to lull my on-board people during the daylight hours. They snoozed while I attempted to "nest" and went to multiple doctor appointments and weekly tests to confirm their collective health.  Then, just as I would turn and prop myself into some pitifully sad semblance of "Comfortable" at night, the house lights would go out and the shows would begin. Belly up. Belly down. Belly left. Belly right. "Enjoy the show, folks! We can do this all night!"

I looked with longing at my husband, who was sleeping soundly (and snoring loudly) beside me. Apparently he didn't get tickets for the show too.

The beauty of months of sleepless pregnant nights is that it makes for a rather easy transition into months of sleepless nights with preemie twinfants.

Every two hours. On the hour. They'd awake hungry, wet, and angry. The trifecta of primordial human emotions. Times two. Being preemies, both were struggling eaters in those first few months, and feeding each one the small amount of milk required took over 30 minutes per baby. And it was a two handed job; no simultaneous feeds at that point. Then I'd have to pump, which was a delightful past-time I took up when I endeavored to become the Human Milk Machine. 8 times a day I'd hook up to The Milker, feeling more bovine than homosapien at that point. So groggy and sleep deprived I found the repetitive rhythms of the pump to have a vocal quality to them. They spoke to me. I never answered back though; I found the conversation was often too snarky for my tastes. (And sometimes it was just plain rude. I mean, really.)

Even after getting through those sleep-deprived months with twinfants, there was still a sleepless road ahead. You probably didn't know this, but nighttime can be fun when you have a crib mate to entertain you; and even when you're in separate cribs, you can still flop from one to another all night long. Just for kicks and giggles. (And in case you weren't sure, the best times to pull these nocturnal shenanigans is between the hours of 1am and 7am).

Then it happened.

When the girls turned 3, they started to sleep. Just like that. "Good night, darlings" and off they'd go. All night. And in the morning, they'd sleep. Which means we got to sleep. Which means for the first time in nearly 4 years, I got to sleep. Really sleep. The kind of sleep where no one was kicking me in the kidneys, or screaming with fury at my audacity to let them get hungry (and they'd have thought I would have learned since the last time I had let that happen, which happened to be a whole hour and a half ago).

Which leads us to Spring Break. And to sleeping. And to the glory of being able to do that 7 blissful days in a row.

And you know what? I'm worth it. Absolutely.

Sleep on, my friends. Sleep. On.

100th Entry of Fun

This is my 100th post.

100 assorted rants, questions, joys, and sorrows. Worries and praises. Happy and sad. All summed up with 100 little entries in this "Dear Public Domain" diary of mine.

Since 100 of almost anything usually calls for a special mention, I decided to take a moment to reflect; even if no one else thinks it's too much of a milestone.

I started this whole Spilling Of the Guts venture before the girls started school. It was an opportunity for me to think through what had become a very unsettled and worrisome time in my life. Looking back, it's clear to see that I did not eagerly await the first tolling of the school bell for my girls. I dreaded it with a passion that made me feel completely opposite of every other first time school-parent I knew. It felt lonely out there, on the plateau of Not Wanting To Let Go. Writing gave me an opportunity to think through what I was feeling and gain some perspective on it.

It still does.

So much has happened since the girls have started this school journey. Good things. Not so good things. It's been a learning experience (both literally and figuratively) for the girls and for Dan and I.

Of course, the 100 entries are not dedicated to school alone. There were also times of insanity (kids pulling off freckles!), assorted weirdness (kids sleeping with bake ware!), and excitement (kids saying just the darnedest things!), all dutifully chronicled for any who care to see. At times, it's also been a form of a soap box for me to shout from: dressing the girls alike (yes, indeed I do), and being okay with 2 kids (although I appreciate that so many others want us to make more). Even culinary highs and sad lows have made it into these pages.

The best part? I've got a lot more to write. L-I-F-E is fodder for the most fanciful tales of passion and woe, and I celebrate each moment that will find me just like this, clacking out the words that fill my present. My memories.

So here's looking back at 99 past entries of assorted Odds & Ends; giving a little "Hooray! for a 100th entry to put things into perspective; and thinking ahead to future things yet unknown.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Let's Stick Together. Yeah-Yeah-Yeah.

The girls are very into "Sameness". When given a choice, they'll most likely choose to wear the same clothes, eat the same thing, play with the same toys. Nearly always.

Most of the time we go along with these choices. They are making them. We're not forcing it. It's their relationship, we stand back a bit. Playing the role of interested observer in a different culture.

But we do offer and encourage difference between them, allowing them an opportunity to make different choices. If they want to. We do. Honestly.

Then there are the occasions where we will feel the need to make a choice of difference for them; to thrust difference in their laps without necessarily obtaining consent first.

Let me say this clearly: in our case, this almost always backfires. Gloriously. Leaving us in a state of sheer agitation, wondering why we ever tried to force a choice anyway.

Our current issue is with a toy bought over the Christmas holidays. A Clarice doe from Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer to be specific. In a moment of what we considered to be "Parental Knowing", we bought one Rudolph and one Clarice. I guess we figured, "Heck, they're both reindeer, and isn't the main character cooler than the side-cast? Surely the girls will enjoy having one of each.

Oh. We were wrong.

At the time, it all seemed to be okay. Ashlyn took to Clarice and Caedance had a begrudging acceptance of Rudolph, despite his not being tan and not having a bow on his head. Peace was maintained. (Of course, the threat of Santa skipping the houses of squabbling children may have helped).

Flash forward several months later and all pretense of accepting the clearly "sub par" reindeer (aka Rudolph) is gone. No amount of reasoning will convince Caedance that she doesn't want Clarice more than anything in the world. No amount of trickery or bribery on our part will make her stop fighting for it, attempting to pull it from her sister's vise grip. No amount. At all.

For Ashlyn's part, she's doing a fine job of rubbing it in too.
 "Oh, look at this soft tan reindeer." Batting her eyes.
 (Caedance: "I want a tan reindeer!").
"Look at her polka dot bow!" Gush. Gush. Gush.
 (Caedance: "I only want a toy with a polka dot bow!")
"See how this toy has a soft white belly?" Wink. Wink.
(Caedance: "I ONLY want toys with soft white bellies!")

Shooing them from the room only means they get louder. Walking away from the fighting/whining only means they'll follow you around; Ashlyn silently daring you to take action against her rightful claim on said toy, and Caedance quite vocally insisting that you do just that.

Ignoring them only works for so long before you begin seeing flames and clutching your hands.

The only thing to do is to deal with it. Head on.

"Caedance, Clarice belongs to Ashlyn. Go find another toy. Or go to Time Out."

"Ashlyn, stop antagonizing Caedance, or you're going to your room. Without Clarice."

End of story.

I wish I could say it is the end of the whining. But there has been some improvement. Caedance has decided rolled up socks make an adequate substitute for tan, white bellied, polka dot-bow-sporting reindeer. She has emptied out the sock drawer and is laying all their new, brightly colored socks out in order of preference.

Ashlyn has tired of trying to entice disobedience out of her twin, and has settled on playing "Steam Roller" with Clarice instead. Watching her lay the reindeer on the rug and then roll over her while saying, "Bye-Bye, Clarice" in a high pitched voice has a certain entertainment value.

And so with this temporary truce, Dan and I are left to question our judgments in light of our daughters' apparent preferences. They prefer "Sameness" right now. And maybe they will for awhile. Perhaps not all twins are like this, but at this moment, this is what we've got.

I could choose to be annoyed. But I'm not. I like dressing them alike. I like seeing two little clones prancing about. I do, and I'm not ashamed to say that. I doubt they'll always be like this. (And maybe some part of me wishes they could be). But right now I accept them just the way they are.

 Same. Different. It's all good.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Freckle: Part II

And now for the continuation of The Freckle...

As you may recall, the previously 'befreckled' Ashlyn opted to perform an act of self-surgery last week, partially removing the freckle on her cheek.  Due to the fact that said freckle had been undergoing some recent changes, our pediatrician agreed it should probably come the rest of the way off. Done by a professional this time. He referred us to a plastic surgeon.

There is something very "modern" about taking a 6 year old to a plastic surgeon. I know there's a lot of reasons kids go, but I naturally associate plastic surgeons with tummy tucks, nose jobs, and liposuction. "Hi there. I'm here to have my child's nose done. Maybe we can make it just a touch perkier then? Can we pull her brows back at all? She's starting to look a little tired..." Hey, you know someone somewhere is thinking it.

The girls were thrilled beyond belief to be there. They love all things medical and were anxious to see any doctoring paraphernalia that might be on exhibit. In the consultation room, they got very chatty with the doctor and his PA.

Ashlyn informed them that we were there to check out her freckle. "You can take if off now, Doctor, because I know that my freckle is not what makes me Ashlyn. I am Ashlyn in my head, not in my freckle. So, it's okay if you take it off." He smiled and said, "Well, thank you for that." She then continued on with, "I tried to take it off, but as you can see, I didn't do a really great job. I'll bet you can do better, anyway." He stared.

Caedance piped in with this gem: "So, are you a gynecologist, then?" This earned me a few surprised looks. The doctor then looked at her and asked how she knew about gynecologists. She shot him a look of incredulity before saying, "Sir, I am a lady. Ladies have a uterus and that means I'll have to go to a gynecologist." With this last, she scrutinized him with a squished up face, as if trying to determine what merit he could possibly have as a doctor when he clearly didn't know about gynecologists.

The appointment itself went well.

Much to their collective dismay, no scalpels, tweezers, or needles were taken out.

We have another appointment in a month to allow time for some of the redness on her cheek to die down a bit. We'll schedule a removal surgery after that.

Ashlyn is raring to go; ready for her shining moment as "Patient".

They've already begun to plot the adventures they'll have playing tricks on everyone when Ashlyn's freckle is gone.

"Mommy, no one will really know which one we are! We can play tricks."

"So true, my loves. So true." (Some might argue that's a right of passage for identical twins).

"Do you think we'll be able to fool you mommy?"

Hmmmmm.....let's see..(Ashlyn. Caedance. Ashlyn. Caedance. Ashlyn...? Caedance...?)

You know what? Probably.