Swimming Solo and Revenge of the Baby Gear

Enjoying the peace and quiet of two sweetly sleeping little girls. . .and I got them there all by myself. . .talk about a victory!  I think it might even be something I’m more proud of than running my first marathon or surviving my first trip out of the house with the girls by myself (both major accomplishments in their own right).  I’ve been on my own since a little before 7:00 a.m. this morning, and somehow, we are all still alive and happy.

I feel like I should go to bed. . .read a book, watch t.v. without a baby on my lap or shoulder, go to sleep. . .but this peace and quiet is so wonderful and rare that I feel like I MUST do SOMETHING to savor it!

I set my standards VERY low for this first of three nights and days alone, and it was the right move.  In fact, I did nothing other than shower, feed babies, dress babies, change babies, bathe babies, feed dogs, feed myself, pick up just enough to keep from tripping and dying, play Angry Birds, watch terribly trashy reality t.v. and doze while watching this trashy t.v. with two sleeping little girls on my lap.  That was my day–nothing more!  I don’t think I even brushed my teeth until after lunch.  It was perfect!  I have decided that keeping myself relaxed and as stress-free as possible will put me in the optimum mindset to be patient and loving with my precious little munchkins for the 84 hours we’ll be alone (down to 70 now!).  If that means spending all day on the couch nursing babies, watching trash t.v. and playing Angry Birds, then I’m game.

Thank goodness this isn’t a permanent arrangement. . .I can’t imagine what kind of TLC documentary I’d become if I kept this up much longer than three days. . .

On another note, our baby clutter finally took its first casualty last week.  Dustin and I have been joking that our house looks like it was hit by a Babies-R-Us tornado, and somehow our baby gear seems to be multiplying like rabbits.  We have no less than two bouncy chairs, two high chairs, four double strollers, two car seats, one exersaucer, one jump-a-roo, one activity mat, one pack-n-play, two Bumbo seats, two Boppy pillows and a pile of blankets, burp rags and toys floating around OUTSIDE of the girls’ nursery. I know. . .it’s a little ridiculous.

So, the other night when I was on the couch nursing babies, I heard this terrible crash that sounded something like a combination of a 6’2″ man hitting the ground, a toy koala and monkey rattling and a cheerful rendition of “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider.”  Dustin, ever the comedian, yelled out, “Man down!” before laughing and moaning and limping to the living room to tell how the zoo-themed bouncy chair with the musical toy bar was in the middle of our dark bedroom.  It’s a wonder that it took almost 5 months to have our first mishap!

I always love to hear from you. . .any triumphant moments as a parent or terrible mishaps with baby gear?

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Crusty t-shirt or super-mom kind of day?

Lately I’m swinging between attempting to be super-mom with a clean house, a stylish outfit and washed AND fixed hair and make-up who is on time with two cuties in tow wearing coordinating onesies and adorable headbands (like this is even attainable!) and being a hermit who sleeps when the babies sleep, hasn’t made the beds or done laundry in a week and has been in the same spit-up encrusted t-shirt and ponytail for the past 72 hours. Today I’m leaning more to the hermit and slob end of the spectrum, but I woke up with full-intentions of staying on the super-mom end.

Sadly, this aspiration ended with epic failure.  I shouldn’t be surprised–setting your expectations too high always does, but this is a lesson I’m having to learn the hard way.  I attempted to go to a morning Bible study that started at 9:00, and somehow it slipped my mind when I signed up that getting all 3 of us dressed and out the door with smiles at this time of the day is next to impossible.  Somehow, I managed to leave by 9:05, which meant I’d only be 20 minutes late by the time I got both car seats and the diaper bag and my purse up the stairs to the study.  Granted, I was wearing a hat to hide the disaster that comes from sleeping with damp hair (BAD idea, but when babies fuss most of the evening, you count your blessings that you had time to shower!), but everything else was pulled together.  I had the girls in cute outfits with headbands, and I remembered pacifiers and my study book and even my cell phone.

I forgot to take into consideration, though, that it was most definitely nap time for both babies.  My sweet Munchkin 2 is not a fan of her car seat, and she is very challenging to put to sleep without nursing or walking the floor for a bit when she is tired.  She also is not a fan of other people trying to put her to sleep or comfort her when she is upset.  In fact, she even went on a nursing strike two weeks ago after a 45 minute stretch of fussing and attempted soothing by other well-meaning friends.  I think we may have a future political activist on our hands. . .a nursing strike at 4 and a half months old is a sign of a passionate little girl!!  As I pulled up to the church after my precious girl fussed the entire way there, I decided to head on to pick up a frozen latte at Human Bean since it was double punch day and go back home for naps.  Poor baby fussed the whole way back home, and I have to say I felt somewhat defeated when I came through the door after getting us all ready for a coffee run.

Could I have easily gone ahead and done the study?  Absolutely, but I wasn’t willing to be the one in the back with the fussing baby the whole time.  Had I put her in the nursery, I know she would have only gotten worse–I’ve learned that from experience.  Would anyone have minded that I was late and had one (maybe two!) fussing babies?  Probably not.  I think everyone is sympathetic and understanding with mamas with little ones.  Would I have enjoyed it?  There’s the kicker–I decided the social interaction and enjoyment I’d get out of my hour and forty minutes out of the house would have been overshadowed by throwing off our nap schedule AND fighting with a tired baby the whole time.  It’s pretty tough to focus and learn much when you’re distracted!!

So here’s my struggle–do I chalk this up as a failure and wave the white flag, deciding to live on the hermit end of the spectrum in my sweats and crusty t-shirts forever?  Or do I simply accept that this wasn’t the best decision for the three of us at this point and find a way to be a semi-super mama who leaves the house and gets out when it’s more convenient for all of us?

I’m sure this is a struggle for all mamas with young kids, and I have a feeling it’s one that is always evolving.  Maybe we all just need to do our best every day and accept that there will be days when it’s okay to be a hermit with sleep in your eyes and babies dressed in last night’s onesies because it’s what’s best for everyone.  Enjoy those super-mom days when everything clicks and you have the energy to take on the world, and if they never happen, so be it.  There is no sense in stressing over attaining unrealistic expectations!

Here is my one success for the day:

Both sweet girls napping in their cribs listening to Pandora lullabies on my iPad. Love it!

Ha–someone woke up just as I added the picture!  Here’s to leaving my philosophical thoughts and returning back to a wonderful, spit-up encrusted t-shirt kind of day.  I am in my sweet spot!

PS  Here is what I found when I went to get the girls.  Someone most definitely kicked her sister in the head!

Why I love being awake at 2:00 a.m.

If you say something long enough with a big enough smile, you’ll finally take it to heart, right?  Of course I don’t love being awake at 2:00 in the morning. . .it’s actually quite painful on some occasions, but I’m on a quest to find the humor and the bright spots that come from this part of parenthood.

Let me preface my list by saying my girls were up every 3 hours or so last night to nurse.  Munchkin 2 has previously slept from 8:00 until 4:30 for several nights in a row, and Munchkin 1 has slept from 8:00 until 11:30 and then gone back to sleep to wake up to nurse with her sister around 4:30 am.  Dustin and I thought this little schedule was established, and as soon as we discussed the pattern, it went out the window.  I am convinced we jinxed it, so we no longer make predictions about what will happen from one night to the next.  Once you have a few nights of extra sleep, it’s insanely hard to go back to the waking-every-few-hours stage.  Maybe we should have seen the extra sleep nights as exceptions to the norm instead of the new norm. . .or maybe I’m over-analyzing this completely!!

We have learned the hard way not to ask other parents how long their baby is sleeping at night, because we inevitably hear, “10 to 12 hours–it’s great!”  We give each other a longing glance as our shoulders slump forward as we remember how tired we are.  “Oh, well, that must be nice!” is our forced reply through a fake smile, and I make a mental note to never ask anyone with an infant how long he or she sleeps ever again.

So, with a little history on the circumstances on the sleep patterns around our house, I give you my top 13 reasons why I LOVE being awake at 2:00 a.m.:

1.  I am almost always the first one to wish someone a happy birthday on Facebook.

2.  I have a new appreciation for my bed after sleeping on the nursery floor for a few hours.

3.  I get to sneak a few extra smiles and snuggles from the cutest babies in the world.

4.  I know without a doubt that I am needed and important!

5.  I am learning patience and building more character than I ever dreamed I’d need.  Especially when I crawl into my wonderful bed, snuggle down deep enough to warm up my spot, close my eyes and smile at the thought of the sleeping babies I just put down and am startled awake (if I had time to go back to sleep!) by a very sad cry on the baby monitor.

6.  I can catch up on Words with Friends AND find 100 recipes I’ll never make to put on Pinterest.

7.  If I’m lucky enough to make it until 3:00 a.m., I can catch back-to-back episodes of Married with Children, a rare diamond-in-the-rough among hundreds of infomercials.  A little Al Bundy can be good for the soul!

8.  I have a new appreciation for my mammary glands.  They never have to be heated or run through the dishwasher, and they are truly a secret weapon in calming an unhappy baby.  In fact, I think Dustin would be all for replacing the trusty dog as man’s best friend and giving the title to the breastaurant.  They have saved him many hours of bottle feeding!!

9.  I don’t feel the least bit guilty for taking a nap or sleeping in with the girls on the rare occasion this actually happens.  I earned it!

10.  From now on when I fill out one of those ice breaker type activities that asks for one person you’d like to meet and why, I’ll forever answer with the inventor of the baby swing with the sound machine attached.  Whoever you are, you are my HERO!

11.  I have learned new uses for every day items.  For example, our $300 Dyson is an amazing sound machine and baby soother.  In fact, Dustin and I are considering going garage saleing just to find a really loud vacuum to keep in the nursery.  Who cares if it works or not as long as it’s nice and LOUD.

12.  I get to go through my beautiful t-shirt collection a little more quickly thanks to an extra round or two of spit up.

13.  I have more opportunities to laugh at myself.  For example, last night while sleeping on the nursery floor in front of a previously sad and now sleeping baby, I was awaken by a cry and sat up to start pushing a swing and singing the millionth round of “Amazing Grace.”  When the crying didn’t lessen, I opened my eyes to assess the situation and realized I was calming down the sleeping baby instead of the fussing one.

I am sure I will find many more reasons to love being awake at 2:00.  I must say, though, having these little girls around make it worth it to be a little sleepy.  I’d stay up all night every night to keep them smiling if I had to!

Parents out there, what humor have you found by being awake at all hours of the night?

If at first you don’t succeed. . .

Run to King Soopers and pick up the store-bought version of your kitchen disaster!  But hey, what kind of blogger would I be if I simply wrote about my trip to the grocery store?  So, I picked up a candy thermometer on Friday and decided to give this so-called “easy” fudge another try.  Turns out, a candy thermometer really is a crucial piece of any candy-making attempt. . .who knew!

Here’s the recipe from my grandmother’s cookbook:

Maybe it is easier than I originally thought. . .sorry for doubting you, Mama Ann!  I’ll send you an easy-to-read copy if you’d like.

Just four ingredients AND the secret weapon–the candy thermometer.

I had a sweet little girl on my shoulder the whole time.  This time it was Munchkin 2 who decided to help me in the kitchen.

aka, Julia the kitchen helper

Turns out, the time it takes to reach soft ball stage is also the same amount of time it takes a tired baby to fall asleep.

So watching the candy thermometer slowly creep up to the little “soft ball” mark was a little bit like watching the ball drop on New Year’s. . .except the temperature is rising and the ball is falling, and the temperature seems to go a little slower. . .so maybe it’s a terrible comparison, but the anticipation level was the same.  Here is what I saw in the pot when we hit the magic mark and after I stirred in the peanut butter:

A little prettier than “dirt clod” stage. . .

Believe it or not, this fudge actually came out of the pan–no chisel needed!  I found it was easier to spread in my greased, foil pan using a rubber spatula.  I put it in the freezer to cool when it was finished.

Peanut butter fudge.

It tasted great, too.  I feel like there is a Rachel Berry-esque gold star next to my name today.  I guess you’re never too old to learn!

P.S.  An over-night soak took out all of my previous fudge-tastrophe.

“Dirt clod” fudge and poop stains. . .why Martha Stewart doesn’t have to watch her back when I’m around!

So today I learned volumes. . .I apparently need to have a chisel, a candy thermometer and a huge stock pile of Oxyclean in my arsenal. . .and some sliced cheese and a pair of flip flops by the door. . .

I guess I have always known in my heart of hearts that I am not the next Rachel Ray. Sure, I can cook. I can follow a recipe and make quite a few decent dishes, and I actually enjoy baking every now and then. My mom, grandmother and sister-in-law are all amazing in the kitchen, though, and they enjoy it way more than I do. I seem to have more disasters than other chefs I know. . .maybe I am just more adventurous than my skill level, or maybe I am just not as good in the kitchen as I think I am. . .either way, today I think I outdid myself in epic proportions.

I just wanted a snack. . .a simple, easy snack. When the pantry is empty, what does every hungry domestic goddess do? Pull out a trusty cookbook, of course!! (I plan on filing one more complaint with cookbook companies, by the way–my mess was entirely preventable!). I found a four ingredient recipe in my grandmother’s cookbook for peanut butter fudge, and the recipe note read, “This is fast and easy! You can make it while popcorn is popping!”. I grabbed the sugar, cocoa and milk and pull down my Betty Crocker basics cookbook for a mini-lesson in candy making and to learn what this “soft ball stage” of candy making is all about. The cookbook says you can do it without a thermometer if you do a “cold water test” and drop some candy in it and feel it, so I jump right in. Why not?

Twenty minutes later, I’m sweating and holding a crying baby on the hip farthest from the stove (Munchkin 1 decided she was done watching from her bouncy chair and needed to help–she was as clueless as her mama, apparently!) and calling my mother to complain about the mistake in the family cookbook. “I could have popped 5 bags of popcorn by now!” I yelled as my chocolatey mess kept boiling. I dribbled some into the cold water like the cookbook said after I hung up, and it was crunchy. . .the first time I did the test, the liquid dissolved, so I figured I’d better wait a while. . .guess I waited too long! Not a nice soft ball like the picture showed at all, and when I pulled the pot off the burner, the boiling liquid quickly hardened to a consistency I’d describe as “dirt clod stage,” and no, adding peanut butter to it didn’t help. . .my snack ended up as scraping a little bit of peanut butter off the top of the “dirt clod” fudge. Apparently I dropped some on one of my burners, so my kitchen smells like burned sugar, and my pot is soaking in hopes that some of it will come out. A chisel might save the pot. . .maybe. . .but if I ever attempt this ridiculous candy making again, I guess I will invest in a candy thermometer. Who knew?!

After leaving the kitchen in defeat, I piled some clean laundry from the dryer and carefully placed Munchkin 1 on top of it so I could talk to her about my disaster on our way to the living room to fold the laundry. Did I mention it was white laundry? When I picked her up, the laundry, well, wasn’t so clean anymore. She left me a beautiful poop stain on top of some of her Daddy’s previously clean clothes. Once again, an epic fail at domestic goddess status. . .laundry re-do!

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I almost forgot to mention the event prior to the kitchen catastrophe. . .our yellow lab escaped when a cleaning sales person came to the door, and I had to run after him barefooted with a baby on my hip (I think it was Munchkin 1, poor child!) and a slice of cheese in my hand. Sadly, a neighbor just happened to drive by and witness the chaos. . .this stay-at-home mama business is definitely not for the faint of heart! And to think, yesterday I was worried I’d be bored and run out of things to blog about. . .I just hope the smell is gone before Dustin gets home. . .

Finally. . .

I have intended to start this blog since the last few weeks of my pregnancy in January.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve mentally blogged in the past months. . .every time something comical or unexpected or just plain crazy happens, I think about how much I’d enjoy blogging about it.  Even though my twin girls are a whopping four and a half months old, today is the first day since they’ve been born when I’ve had the energy and time to sit and finally give it a go.  Granted, my bed isn’t made, there are clean dishes in the dishwasher and a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, I haven’t washed my hair in two days AND my extra room downstairs could literally be featured in the promo to an episode of “Hoarders,” but  I just don’t care today–I am getting this started!!  I set up my account one-handed on my iPad while nursing the girls for the fourth time today if you don’t count our middle of the night feedings (not that I even remember how many of those we had last night!), and I’m praying I’ll have a few minutes while the girls are napping to get my first post written.

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 The Munchkins at 3 months. Love those smiles!

When we first found out we were having twins, my OB lovingly told my husband and me:  “Oh boy, you two are jumping into the deep end of the pool for sure!  This is some serious business!”  Dustin and I would politely laugh and then roll our eyes on the way out of the exam room, thinking the OB was just a little off his rocker.  After about three weeks at home with our babies, though, it suddenly clicked.  We were both holding a screaming baby at about 11:30 at night, and all of the family who had come to help us had left.  Neither of us had slept more than an hour and a half at once since the girls were born, and we had only left the house with them for absolutely necessary trips to the pediatrician and one epically disastrous trip to Babies-R-Us.  I remember staring at Dustin and shaking my head as we both walked the floor for the hundredth time with our designated daughter, saying, “Dr. A was right.  We are swimming in the deep end of the pool–this is crazy!”  Dustin nodded back, and we talked about all of the trips and adventures of our friends and family with one baby and how having two really does change everything.  We wouldn’t trade it for the world, though!

Our daughters are nothing less than miraculous!  We went down a long journey of infertility and heartbreak before I found out I was pregnant in June of 2011, and they are truly blessings from God.  My pregnancy was amazingly uneventful, and I carried the girls to 37 and a half weeks and delivered them perfectly healthy and strong at the end of January in 2012. I think I could write a thousand blog posts about infertility, but that’s definitely not for today.

Before my sleeping beauties awake and interrupt my few minutes of precious blogging time, I have to share the humor that was floating in my head for my very first blog idea back at the end of my pregnancy.  Here are the top 10 things no one tells you about being pregnant with twins:

1.  You will never see your ankles nor feet again, including those tiny little delicate bones in your feet.  The swelling and giant belly will change them forever. . .or at least until the fluid from the c-section and pregnancy disappears a month after giving birth).

2.  Everyone else is an expert in the size of a person carrying twins.  I know people were well-meaning, but I can’t tell you how many times I’d hear, “You are too small to be carrying twins!”  I’d just smile and bite my tongue and then tell them how many weeks ahead I’d measured at my last appointment.  I seriously had someone tell me this the day I delivered, and I had 11 pounds of baby on board and was measuring a whopping 46 weeks. . .too small for twins?  You have to be kidding me!!

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Me only 2.5 days before the girls were born. I measured 46 weeks (meaning this is how big I’d be expected to be if I were 6 weeks over-due with one baby).

3.  When people declare you are too small, they will sometimes explain themselves in interesting and somewhat insulting ways.  I had a co-worker of my husband’s (who, granted, may have been slightly intoxicated at the time) who told me:  “Wow, you look great.  I mean, I hate to say it, but I thought you’d be huge.  Like, really, really, huge.  Even your face looks great.  I just thought you’d be HUGE!”  So I think she complimented me while also telling me she was expecting me to be Shamu in a Christmas party dress. . .

4.  That weird line on your belly that some of us lucky ones get will keep growing with your belly. . .and growing. . .and growing. . .

5.  The veins on the belly don’t do much to hide the line.  Not that I expected them to work together or anything, but wow. . .nothing says sexy like having a blue road map on your abs.

6.  Wearing flip flops in January in Northern Colorado won’t seem unusual at all, even if there’s snow on the ground.  And a coat?  Who needs it!!

7.  A leaky bladder and your water breaking are two very similar events, so just pray you have a mother close by who can sniff your wet sweat pants and tell the difference.  I wish I could say I was kidding. . .I love you, Mama!

8.  You might remember the last time you barfed with morning sickness (the stupidity of that name could be another LONG blog!) because it happened to be after your anniversary dinner.

9.  You might end up knowing all of the nurses in labor and delivery by name after making FOUR trips to triage. . .

10.  You may have to beg your husband to paint your toenails just once so that you can wear cute sandals to a wedding in Arizona.  If he agrees, be prepared to teach “Toenail Painting 101” to make sure you don’t end up with nails that look like they were finger painted.

And a bonus number eleven. . .forget all of the grand ideas of working out and being that cute little pregnant lady at the gym or running down the street.  Nausea and exhaustion will kick in way before any desire to exercise!

I’ve had a baby in my lap since item number six. . .I love life in the deep end!  What other items would you add to the list of things no one told you about pregnancy?