Monday, December 23, 2013


I've had a couple of funny conversations come up lately.

The other day, while having dinner with a friend I hadn't seen in much too long, she asked me what has surprised me most about having twins.

My answer? Nothing, honestly. I don't know anything different. There was a family sitting at a table near us, and they were leaving as we were having this conversation. I pointed out the child with them, who was about the age of my kids, and told her that my "normal" is so normal to me that I'd had a nagging feeling all evening of, "where's the other one?" When they got up from the table and picked up the little boy to leave, I thought, "they're forgetting one!" My brain just works in twos now. As a great twin-book we got at a baby shower says, it's double-everything. Double diapers, double pajamas, double hugs, double cheese and macaroni. Or halves - I can't just make one lunch (as I discovered the other day when only taking one kid to Mothers Day Out) - then what would I do with the other half of the sandwich, the apple, the fig bar?

Mothers Day Out has been a great thing for them, and I'm so glad it's worked out that way. It took Steven a few days to adjust, but now I have to drag him out while he struggles to go give one more kiss, one more hug, one more "HI!!!" to a teacher next door. Half the time, when I get there to pick them up, they're holding hands and racing around the room - apparently they do that a lot. This never happens at home... I think they appreciate each other that much more when there are other kids around.

Or when they're cooped up inside
for days because of ice.

The other conversation came up when I was searching old chats for our lawn guy's phone number (exciting, I know) - I was scanning through a chat that came up in the search when I saw from my husband, "How are you feeling today? Pregnant? Not pregnant? Normal?" I answered, "Normal, I guess." And his reply? "Well, I guess we'll know for sure tomorrow."

We had NO idea that day that "tomorrow" our normal would change completely. We'd waited and waited for so long, we honestly didn't even dare to hope. That chat sent me down the rabbit hole of other chats about what we thought our life would be like once they came, and the day they were born, and the day after (we chat a lot) - bittersweet conversations about the first set of pictures he took in the delivery room, where we realized I hadn't actually ever seen either of my babies naked; more bittersweet conversations about tests being run and tubes being pulled; sweeter conversations about moving into the Special Care nursery where we'd be able to stay with them all the time. I had NO idea, no way of knowing, that this...

...would be our world, our life, our normal.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Where to start, where to start...

Where does one even start with a post about life with 19-month-olds? There's just so much going on, every minute, I don't even know where to begin documenting it.

They're into everything, all the time. They want to do everything, all the time (Steven's favorite phrase right now: "Do dat! Do dat!") They want to read all the books, play all the games, chase the dog, color all the paper, swing in the swing, eat all the snacks, drink up everything life has to give them.

This is a pretty typical pre-bedtime Eleanor - get into monkey pajamas and tiara, and go around giving mommy and daddy kisses (well, the kisses were new tonight, and amazingly sweet and fun) while experimenting with echoing siren sounds in a cup.

We've also gotten set up this week with some basic crafts - they've been enjoying coloring with crayons for a while now, so I thought it would be fun to introduce play-doh, pipe cleaners, and a few other things. It turns out play-doh is Steven's new favorite thing. He brings me the tub every chance he gets, and loves to see how he can change its shape and put it in different containers.

His sense of adventure cracks me up. Once he sets his mind to something, nothing's going to stand in his way. He has a bizarre fascination with my big straw cup, and one day when it was on my desk, I turned my back for just a minute, and turned back to find this little scene. The boy is determined!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fair Day!

This year, our day at the State Fair was the most fun I think I've ever had. Last year, the kids were only 6 months old, and to be honest, I think I spent the entire time looking for changing tables or nursing stations, and it was just sort of a fog of baby-ness. The year before, I was very newly pregnant and determined to fight through the ickiness and heat, and came home and was sick all night.

This year, I was a little iffy about going - I woke up with the beginnings of a migraine, and if it had been any warmer, I probably would have stayed home. But the forecast called for a crisp fall day, so I thought I might just be able to get away with being outside for a while. Sure enough, the beautiful weather blew my achiness away, and the kids started out the morning with pink noses and the excitement of riding the train to the fair.

My uncle and aunt met us at the entrance, which was a fun surprise - we haven't spent much time with them lately, so it was fun to get to hang out with them.

The DART Rail station is right outside the car-show buildings, so we went through one of those on the way to our first food stop (waffle-fried chocolate covered strawberries). The kids enjoyed pretending to drive (aka pushing all the buttons) and pretending to be chauffeured (aka bossing her cousin around).

Sadly, as much as Eleanor wanted to try a corn dog last year, she discovered she didn't really like them. Steven, on the other hand, was a huge fan as soon as I added a little ketchup. I took out the stick so he could tackle it on his own.

We wandered through a big greenhouse on the Midway to look at the trains, and came across a little area with free pumpkin decorating for the kids. They had fun with that, and while they were working on their masterpieces, a 10-foot-tall walking, talking TREE came up and said hi. Eleanor was mesmerized. When we left the greenhouse, we were getting ready to go on the big carousel when the kids discovered that the big "rocks" in front of the greenhouse were made of foam, so they spent a while bouncing on those before we got in line for the carousel.

My mom had Steven, while I had Eleanor - she wasn't really sure what was going on, and when the carousel started moving, she thought it was fun, then a little scary, then fun again. They liked watching for Grandpa and Uncle Dane and Aunt Abbey waving outside.

I figured they'd be getting tired and ready to head out, but they were cheerful and happy still, so we changed clothes (casualties of pumpkin-decorating sharpies and ketchup) and kept going to the petting zoo. Eleanor went NUTS for the baby goats.

It was very crowded, but she waited patiently to pet one, and another little girl let her hold some food to tempt one over.

We regrouped with the family after the petting zoo, and while we were doing that, the kids dozed off. Right as they were both really settling, we walked past the big concert stage, where a band was playing a pretty hard-driving, bass-heavy song. Mom turned around and said, "Good luck getting past here with them still asleep..." and right as she said it, they switched to a very soft hymn, which they continued playing until we were well past.

We figured that was a good end to a really sweet, fun day at the fair.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Twins at 18 Months

So. A year and a half.

We spent the day before the kids' half-birthday at a reunion carnival that their NICU puts on each year. It was such a neat time to think back on how far they've come, and to see the other happy kids that have come through similar experiences, tossing beanbags and eating cotton candy. 

I was thinking about personality today. People ask a lot about what each of them is "like" - how they're different, what their personalities are like. I have a very hard time answering - to me, they're completely distinct little people, but not in ways that are easy to categorize. They both chatter like magpies, in an identical mix of babble and real words (and frequently I realize that something I thought was babble is actually a real word I just wasn't understanding); they're both increasingly adventurous (but still pretty cautious) when it comes to climbing around playgrounds; they're both starting to pay a lot of attention to music and dancing and singing; they spend a lot of time involved in games that involve a lot of laughing and a lot of improvising.

The "twin" thing is something that fascinates me every day. Obviously, I have no personal frame of reference for it, and I'm really enjoying learning about it firsthand. I wonder how it's going to play out in the rest of their lives. They're not completely joined at the hip - in fact, in some ways, I think they're more independent than a singleton their age might be, because they always have the confidence that the other is still there, somewhere. 

It's like they're little planets that orbit around each other. Maybe they're not always together, maybe they can't always see each other, but their unseen, unspoken gravity always brings them back together, if only in passing.

I'm really looking forward to seeing what the next six months will bring. Health-wise, they're amazing - definitely caught up on the growth charts and both tall for their age - and they're both just the sweetest people you could know.

It's certainly been a week of milestones! 10 years married, 18 months parents. Somehow it still feels like just the beginning, and I couldn't be happier about that.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Some people have expressed doubt that my kids ever talk - they do get quiet at church and in crowds, so only family has really witnessed the constancy of their chatter.

Welcome to a little taste of my day:

Monday, September 23, 2013

Saying Goodbye

My kids' first "name" words, besides Daddy and Mommy, were Sadie and the name of their beloved foster cousin.

Do they miss Sadie? I honestly don't know. I think they noticed that she's not here any more, but she didn't interact with them much, and I'm not sure that it's really affected them in any way.

Their cousin, though... he was one of the first people they really noticed. He was small, like them, but even less mobile and had awesome hair. They've always been fascinated with his hair - when they were first starting to crawl, they'd make a beeline for wherever he was so they could touch his hair. I mean, it's not like they had much (any) of their own...

They loved seeing him so much that I made a little quest of finding them a soft, cuddly doll with his coloring and, especially, similar hair. We called him Baby until one day Eleanor proclaimed him to be named after Little Man.

She loves her "Baby Little Man" almost as much as the real one - their cousin is their little buddy and partner in crime in every way. I think sometimes it's hard for twins to integrate another child into their way of playing - I guess that's probably true of all toddlers, but sometimes it's more surprising of twins, since they're so used to playing with each other. But a lot of the time, if we add another friend to the mix, they just don't know what to do with them. Even the things they do together every day are just different when they try to do them with someone else.

Not with Little Man, though - he's their third amigo, their third musketeer. They do things together, and don't get mad at each other, and every time they see him, or a picture of him, or his namesake doll, they shout his name gleefully. I frequently wake up to hear them over the baby monitor, having lengthy conversations with each other and imaginary Little Man.

Now, though, it looks like it'll soon be time to say goodbye. I'm not sure how to do that. I'm not sure how to do it for me, as an adult, much less how to prepare or explain it to my babies. A part of me wishes that they had a little more language comprehension, so I could explain it, but another part of me thinks... I don't even have the language to explain it yet. As they get older, I know I'm going to have to find a way to help them understand fostering, and why their cousins might come and go, and why we love them just as much whether they're here for now or here forever. I do wish they had the language (and who knows, maybe they do and we'll find out) to let us know that they miss him. Will they miss him? Yeah, I really think they will. They'll have other cousins and other foster cousins, and other best buds, but for right now, for this season, it'll be incredibly hard for all of us to say goodbye.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Knock, knock...

Who's there?

A kid who's learned to tell the first part of a knock-knock joke, that's who.

I don't think he knows it's a joke yet, though.

The kids are both just blowing me away these days with their newfound language skills. For a lot of things, we only have to say a word once and they can repeat it back, even days later.

Case in point: Nump! Nump!

That, by the way, turned into the first official sentence - he ran up to Daddy, held up his arms, and said, "Nump me! Nump me!"

They can both point to most of their body parts if you ask, although we have some confusion regarding ears and eyes. See, they picked up early on that people answer the phone by saying "Hi!" - except they heard and repeated it as "Eye!" and would go around picking up anything vaguely electronic or remotely shaped like a phone, or just their hand, hold it up to their ear, and say, "Eye!"

They've got "fingers," "hand," and "mouth"
down pretty well, though...

So you can understand the confusion when we started telling them that the part they were doing that with is called an "ear," and that there's another part called "eye," which is close to the ear, but isn't the ear. But you still say "Hi" when you answer the phone.

Their imaginations are just going a mile a minute, and I have so much fun watching them play pretend and find new uses for old toys.

They come up with incredibly creative ways to use their newfound language and to communicate in other ways, too. "Bye-bye" was an early acquisition, but recently they've started using it not just to say goodbye when someone leaves, but to indicate that they want to "go bye-bye" from wherever we are. They use it as a question if we're in the playroom and they want to go in the kitchen or back yard, they use it if we're at someone's house and they want to know if we're going to be leaving or if someone else might be, they use it to ask where we're going if they see me start to get the diaper bag together.

They're also learning quickly how to be gentle and play with dogs. Our older dog, Sadie, got sick very suddenly last week (or at least, it seemed more sudden to us than it was - the vet said she hid it very well) and we had to make the awful choice to let her go. Our younger dog Miles hasn't been quite sure what to do with himself without her around, but he and the kids are learning to play together and be gentle with each other. 

We're also dog-sitting a sweet girl with a very different personality from Sadie, and she's very sweet with the kids, which is giving Miles and the kids a different model of how to interact than they're all used to. She actually sits patiently and waits for the kids to approach, and brings them toys to throw, and doesn't run away when they come running, and they seem to be really enjoying this different way to treat a dog. I think Miles has always been inclined to be friendlier with the kids, and now he's seeing a model of how it works. It seems like the dog-sitting came along at a really good time as we're all figuring out how to deal with the Sadie-shaped hole in our family.

It is a pretty big hole, though.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Adventure Time

After about two weeks of being cooped up inside for various reasons, the kids were going a little nuts this morning, so we went to the playground. It ended up being a good morning for it - not too terribly hot, and the park is nice and shady.

It's been a month or two since we've played at a playground, and the twins have gained so much mobility and confidence in that time. It was fun to watch them exploring in a whole new way and testing out their new balance skills. The last time we went, they were just about comfortable walking on ramps, and this time they were climbing up on bridges (like the picture above), and crawling through the tube, and stepping carefully off of steps, and climbing the slide.

For the first time, they weren't that excited about the swings. They both wanted to swing for a minute or two, then were ready to move on to something else.

I was really impressed with how brave they were - some of the things they climbed onto and off of were different than anything they've done before, and whenever they fell, they'd just dust themselves off (or, in the case of Eleanor, wave her hands frantically to try to magic the woodchips off...) and try it again.

I love that this park has such a nice, fenced toddler area - it means I can let them explore and test their independence without being right on top of them all the time.

Always having a buddy to explore with helps, too.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

But... what about the children?

Oh, right. Those kids that I use all the diapers and changing tables for. What are they up to these days?

Well, growing like the weeds in our yard, for starters. Which is to say, we don't just get your average little dandelions and such, we get entire oak saplings that are half my height before I know it. I've started buying 24-month and 2T clothes for them (I know there has to be some difference there, but to be honest, I'm lost. At this point, I say, whatever fits works.), and although they're partly a size ahead because of their bulkier diapers, they're also just tall.

I mean, how did we get from this itty sockless baby... this giant sockless boy?
(And no, we didn't know he could reach that plug - it was moved as soon as the picture was taken.)
They've started really playing together, rather than playing side-by-side - there's always been an awareness of the other, but it's only recently that they've started making up games together and including each other when they play. Their favorite game is tickling - they tackle each other and say "tickle tickle tickle." It actually took me a while to figure out that word, because Eleanor uses it all the time for everything, and it sounds more like "d'ga, d'ga, d'ga."

Climbing anything and everything is also a favorite.

They also like to answer everything. Phones, remote controls, baby monitors, thermometers, GameBoys, you name it - they'll hold it up and cheerfully say "Hi!" That is, unless there's actually someone on the other end wanting to hear from them - then they both act like they have no idea what this crazy contraption is that you're holding up for them.

Entirely too big for his britches.
They're getting to the age that they get frustrated because they want to communicate but don't have the words - unfortunately, that means a lot of whining, but we're working on "please" and pointing to at least get the general idea across. They enjoy swimming, and are getting increasingly comfortable with the water - I think the general goal is to have them comfortable putting their faces under by the end of the summer. They've each figured out how to blow bubbles, but don't do it very consistently.

And of course, being escorted around the pool like a princess isn't half bad, either.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A De-Cluttering Success

I got a wild hair this weekend to do some de-cluttering and childproofing, and realized that the vortex of clutter in my house has been a pass-through from the playroom/office to the kitchen, where I've been arranging all the things I've taken out of the changing table as the kids have gotten more able to reach them. Thus, I had an empty changing table (which was also less stable, since there wasn't anything on the shelves to weigh it down) next to a crammed pass-through windowsill covered in wipes boxes, sticker books, an ugly Huggies box full of shoes, various toiletries, usually a half-package of nighttime disposable diapers... and all of that visible from both of the rooms we use most in the house. I would post a "before" picture, but (I think understandably) I never took any.

You can get some idea of the cluttery mess here:

Empty shelves that they can climb on, random stuff shoved down behind it in hopes that they wouldn't get into it, diapers thrown on the floor whenever they could reach, basket liners untied because they can't keep their hands off of them...

And what I realized was that we had another changing table upstairs, with drawers that close, completely empty because we'd moved most of our changing activities downstairs.

We switched the tables, clearing up some nice space in the nursery since the open table is much smaller, and my sweet dad put child-locks and a wall tether on the drawer unit.

He did have some help.

Now, everything is contained.

The playroom looks so much neater, as does the kitchen - I can't remember seeing the passthrough this clear since the kids were born, and that black-hole corner is empty and vacuumed for once.

Diapers, pajamas, trash, and shoes are all stashed away in drawers where little hands can't reach them, and wipes and toiletries are easy to reach for me but harder for the kids to try to kick over. And I can have a Scentsy warmer set up where they can't pull it down (the cord is far enough behind the table) but I can actually use it - there wasn't room with the old table.

Such a huge improvement! I was a little nervous to wrestle this beast down the stairs, in case it wasn't worth it, but it really was.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Cloth diaper discovery

I realize this post will be of interest to a fairly limited audience, but I wanted to put the word out there for those who are using cloth diapers or who might be interested in it.

We have a TON of different types, brands, and styles of diapers. But I have one that's absolutely my favorite. It's well made, it's super soft and comfortable, it fits well no matter what, and it's remarkably unstained considering what we put our diapers through in this house.

I picked it up at the local diaper store, and had been keeping an eye out for similar ones there, but hadn't seen any since. Then I noticed a little tag on it with a website, and looked it up.

It turns out, it's a group of Americans living in China who work with abandoned babies and orphans, and sell diapers and diaper-making supplies to help support the kids they work with. And the diapers are super cute AND super cheap! Honestly, if I saw diapers this inexpensive without having already bought one (at a markup, but I'm totally okay with that to support a local business), I'd assume they were crap quality and skip them.

So if you're thinking about starting cloth diapers, go here and order a dozen or so. Can you believe how cute those are? The one we have that's my favorite is the Dino print.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The ________ One

I'm asked frequently which of my kids is "the ____ one." The adventurous one, the smart one, the cuddler. Or, as happened the other day, I'm told by someone: "Oh, s/he got all the personality, didn't s/he?"

Yes. Because my other child, who's sitting right here (and, I might add, who just woke up from a nap and is still trying to figure out who you are), has no personality at all.

The truth of it is, while my kids have very different personalities, they can't be summed up in superlatives. They're both the "independent" one. They're both mama's and daddy's boy/girl. They're both super snuggly, they just pick different times of day or circumstances to do it.

They're both good eaters, except when they're not, and then they usually trade plates because they're picky about different foods. Eleanor has been the first to crawl and walk, and is more intrepid about exploring new places, and Steven is bold around water - we took them to a splash pad today, and she wanted nothing to do with even the little mist sprinklers, while he took off on his own to explore all the different ways the water would spray.

They take turns not-napping and keeping each other up, they both love to dance, and they both love books more than anything.

So really, the answer to "which is the ____ one" is:

I have the smart two. The independent two. The full-of-personality two. The mellow two. The utterly unique two.