Tuesday, October 30, 2012

this girl and this boy. eight months young.

 This girl.

At 8 months old, this girl is as sweet as they come. She talks loudly in this rhythmic chant sort of way. Maybe she is singing. She likes baby puffs a lot. She could probably survive on puffs alone.

This girl scrunches her face when she is particularly pleased with herself. She likes spitting and makes noises with her mouth. And when she is really excited she snuffs like an elephant.

This girl is petite. I feel like she is such a skinny mini, but I think that is because I am comparing her to her tank of a brother. She is dainty though. Oh, so feminine. She has the most beautiful eyes and one killer smile. And that fuzzy strawberry blonde hair is almost more than I can take.

This girl is a mover and a shaker. She still army crawls rather than getting up on her knees. But I doubt she has the motivation, because she army crawls at record speed. She also has a small obsession with going over things, and sometimes she ends up high-centered. She will tell you, planking is not as fun as they make it look.

Her brother isn't particularly fond of her planking, either.

This girl thinks she is so big. The other day I thought she was napping, and I came up to the room to put John in his bed, and lo and behold, she was standing in the crib, looking completely elated with herself, and snuffing like one super happy elephant. She looks so little, standing there. Who does she think she is?

Big sis thought it was as cool as can be. These two love each other, and the more Q can laugh and play, the more Carly eats her up.

This girl. She is starting to wave. We wave to her, and she'll lift up her little hand and swing it around. She is so yummy, I want to wrap her in a tortilla and eat her with guacamole. I know it is strictly forbidden as a mother to pick favorites, but as far as baby girls go, this one is on the top of my list. 


This boy.

This boy has exactly two moods: absolutely thrilled, and completely tortured. There is no in-between. Either life is the best its ever been, and his smile is bursting across his whole face so wide it my crack, or the world is falling apart and he has to high-pitch bloody-murder scream until someone does something for him. 

This boy is kept happy by 1) food, and 2) sleep. Such a man. He continues to like food a lot, and eyes our grown up food like nobody's business. He loves himself some waffles. And cheese sticks. And pizza. Though I probably shouldn't admit we gave him pizza. When he stares at you with those longing eyes, it is impossible to say no.

This boy still wakes up every night. I don't know how to make him stop. Every once in a while he will sleep all night, and I have no idea what makes the difference. I'm tired though. Eight months of waking up every night is a long time. Luckily he downs 8 oz and goes right back to sleep, on a typical night. But it would be nice not to wake up. Please, boy. Soon.

[adore this pic. i was trying to get Q to smile in her towel. she wouldn't, but J was all ears.]

This boy has 4 teeth. He is one miserable teether, screaming and sensitive, with swollen little gums and red eyes. He is pitiful. I don't blame him though. He just had his two front top teeth come in and they are about the size of hippo teeth in his little mouth. Breaks my heart, when its not frustrating the crap out of me.

This boy. He does a cackling villain/evil dictator laugh that is to die for. He hyperventilates when he is excited. He bites when he is hungry or tired. His only mode of transportation is rolling, and when he rolls watch out, its like a boulder coming through. He is a big dense kid. This boy is a bit of a mommy's boy, but when daddy gets home he is all smiles and can't wait to get rough and tumble. This boy's ears are my very favorite afternoon snack.  I know it is strictly forbidden as a mother to pick favorites, but as far as baby boys go, this one is on the top of my list.

This boy and this girl are 8 months old.
I can't believe it, but right now I'm ok with it.
Because they are so dang fun.
And I can't get over them.

Happy 8 months, Q and J.
We're glad you joined us.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

on twinning.

It was one year ago today that I went in for a routine doctors appointment and walked out with an explanation for my extreme sickness and extra-large baby belly. A whole year since I laid on that chair in the ultrasound room and watched two heads pop up on the screen. Two abdomens, four legs, four arms, 20 fingers, and 20 toes.

I get asked a lot of questions about having twins. Strangers and friends alike are curious about our duo. Not John and Quinn, but about life with twins. Its my life, its my normal, so I often forget that they are a novelty. So I thought on this twinaversary, I'd share how the C Family "twins" (yes, "twin" is a verb around here).


Do they sleep in the same crib?

Without a doubt, this is the question I get more than any other question. Not so much now that they are bigger, but when they were younger, everyone I talked to, people I know well or random strangers at the store, asked if they share a crib. I guess it is the every-day stuff people wonder about the most? For us, the answer is they once did, kind of. We only had one crib, so for the first two or three months they shared it. But John had nasal issues, and spent most of that time sleeping in a bouncer. They didn't do particularly well together. One morning I awoke to Quinn screaming and ran to find John with a fist full of her black hair (remember that hair? oh I loved it). At about 3 months we put Quinn in a pack-n-play until we managed to get and set up a second crib. They were never the kind of twins who "had to be together to sleep" like you hear stories about. We have always kept them next to each other so they stay used to each other's sounds. It will be a long time before they get separate rooms.

Do they wake each other up?

No! I mean, if one of them screams bloody murder for a long long time, yes. Or if John's piercing scream catches Quinn in a waking moment. But John will scream pretty loud and Quinn will sleep right through it. And Q will fuss and cry (she's not a screamer), and John will stay zonked out. They have slept next to each other their whole lives, so I'm assuming they are just used to it.

How far apart are they? Who is older?

I get this A LOT from strangers. In case you weren't around 8 months ago, or you don't recall, the answer is about a half an hour, and Quinn is older. The half an hour part throws people, because they are used to hearing 4 minutes. I can see their brains thinking it out, and the women are just dying to ask if I had a c section. I have only been asked by a total stranger once how I delivered. I try not to use the word "vaginally" in casual stranger conversation, so I just told her I was fortunate enough to avoid a c section.

Do they eat/sleep at the same time?

When they were newborns, no. They were all over the place, meaning I was spending most of the day feeding and putting to sleep. These days, they are on a pretty similar schedule in terms of eating solids and getting bottles. I feed them side-by-side in their highchairs, and still prop them in Boppys to simultaneously give them bottles. They are slowly getting on some sort of nap schedule. They usually fall asleep to bottles, and I take Quinn to bed first because she will just roll over and go to sleep, while John takes a little more effort sometimes. It is still a miracle when they both nap at the same time for an extended period, but we are getting better. Sometimes they end up WAY OFF from each other, if one sleeps in or wakes up early, and that results in a chaotic day of constant feedings and naps and Carly watching way too much tv.

How do you eat/shower/get ready/get out of the house?

I get asked this a lot by other moms, who undoubtedly feel overwhelmed without twins. The answer: the same way you do. I get up before them. Or I put on a show. Or I let them play (and fuss) while I do it. Or, more often than I'd like to admit, I just don't do it. Getting out of the house it a beast in and of it self, and sometimes it literally takes me two hours; that is, to have everyone fed dressed happy, bag packed, and everyone in the car. It is intense. Sunday mornings are especially crazy, and just about every Sunday Chris and I get into the car and sit for a second and think, And we haven't even gone to church yet! I think everything I do as a mother of twins is the same a mother of singletons . . . just a little bit more of whatever it is.

FSC (Frequently Stated Comments)

One of the craziest things for me is how having two babies apparently makes ok for a stranger to say anything they darn well please to you. It is really strange how people react sometimes. Here is what I get most often.

"My sister's boss's cousin has twins."

When someone tells me they have twins, I am happy to have a conversation with them; in fact, its nice to chat with someone who truly understands. Even if they are grandparents to twins, that works too. And there is a woman at story time who is a nanny and the woman she nannies for is expecting twins (the nanny is probably in her 60's and watches the two older kids too. I want to tell her to run) and we have nice conversations about the ins and outs of twins. But I get a whole lot of people telling me about some random distant person they know who has twins, and I just don't know what to say to them. "That's nice" is usually what comes out of my mouth. Because the person saying it doesn't have any real connection to the twins, they just a) think I'm interested in every set of twins in existence, or b) want to identify with me in some way. And they don't realize that neither of those things are working out for them.

"I know some twins, and they are nothing alike."

I remember the first time I got this and I literally just stood there silent. I had no idea what to say to that. My guess is that they are nothing alike because twins are, in fact, to separate human beings, but who knows, I could be way off. And why did you decide that was something you should even say to me? I thought the first person was strange, but I've gotten it now and then since, so I guess that is an important observation I should know about, in case I'm worried about my twins being too different (nevermind that my particular twins are opposite in just about every single way). 

"Oh, how fun!"

I have to be honest, I often respond to this with sarcasm: "Yeah, something like that!" Because yes, twins are fun, but you know what? One baby is fun, too. I had one baby, and she was a blast. I will write about the fun part of having twins, but having two at once is so dang hard, and I don't think the people at the store who see nothing but the matching hats and the sweet smiles have any idea just how much work the fun requires.

"I always wanted twins."

I read a book when I was pregnant that said "People who say they want twins have never had them" and suggested a mother respond to this comment with "I hope you get some one day!" I am eternally blessed with three beautiful children, and I love each and every one of them individually and know I am blessed to have them. But if I could have had John 3 years after Quinn, that would have been ok with me (if we had John first, I probably would have stopped right there! ha!). Much like the "how fun!" comment, people who say they want twins have no idea the challenges it presents. But I know there are so many people who would do anything for one baby, let alone two, so I try to remember that my two-for-one is a blessing. And, twins are fun. They are. Now that they're older.

"You've got your hands full."

For crying out loud, you think I don't know that? You think I don't notice the cloud of insanity I've got floating around me? You think I call us "the crazy train" for kicks and giggles? No, total stranger, I am fully aware that I have my hands full because it took me two hours just to get out of my house and I'll probably only have time to grab milk and bread before all h-e-double-hockey-sticks breaks loose, so I don't need you to snidely remind me. But thanks anyway. As a friend said, if you think my hands are full, you should see my heart.

A few favorite interactions-with-strangers stories, because, in case you haven't noticed yet, dealing with strangers is one of the many things that makes having twins such a unique experience.

I was walking in our neighborhood with Carly, pushing the twins in the double stroller. A car comes to a stop in the middle of the road. The lady rolls down her window and shouts, "Do you have twins?!" I tell her I do, and we engage in a strange conversation, yelling from the sidewalk to the road. She yells, "Have you seen Jack and Jill?! I just watching it last night! Its an Adam Sandler movie. It has lots of twin stuff in there! You should watch it?!" Seriously, the woman saw my twins, and stopped her car in the middle of the road, to tell me I had to watch Jack and Jill. For reals.

We were at the nearby outdoor mall and Chris took the babies outside because he can only handle so much BabyGap. He said a woman came up and started freaking out about the twins: "Do you have twins?! Oh, my  *gosh* its twins!!" Then she shouts across the parking lot at her friend, "You have to come look! Its twins!" and the friend hurries all the way over to look at them. Chris hardly gets a word in the whole time.

I am joking a lot about interactions with people about the twins. To be honest, I have gotten a lot of tenderness and well-wishes from total strangers, and that is incredibly kind. I have gotten women who are generally interested, asking about their birth weights and how the are doing. There are so many kind people. And I can handle the "amazement" and the even the shock people openly display, and I can make twin chit-chat with the best of them. What I cannot handle is open disgust. I am not a person who gets offended easily, but one experience left me totally steamed.

I was at Lowe's and an employee came up to me. She stared at the babies in the stroller and then looked over at Carly. "Are they yours?" Yes. "And she is your too?" she says, pointing at Carly. Yep. "They are all yours?" Her voice was not interested, or kind, or even just surprised. She was downright indignant, maybe even disgusted. I felt my face flush and just walked away from her, heading down an isle. She called to a coworker, and I was halfway down the isle when I saw her point me out, and they both stared and I heard her say "Twins AND a little girl . . . " I was shocked that she felt ok with being openly hostile toward me. I wish now that I would have spoken up, that I would have defended my kids, but that kind of open criticism was not something I was expecting on my casual jaunt to Lowe's. A little girl AND twin babies? How dare I.

There is definitely something bittersweet about having two at once. Say you always thought you'd have 4 kids. Having 4 kids means you have like 4 years of babyhood as a mother, right? Well, having two at once means if I have 4 kids, I'll only have 3 years of babyhood. I am doubling up my baby time, which makes every passing month, every milestone, and every realization of just how fast they are growing a bit bitter along with the sweet. They will start nursery together (10 months! ha!), go to Kindergarten together, and leave the house at the same time. And with the age changes, maybe they'll even serve missions simultaneously. Kids grow up so fast, but I feel like these two will grow even faster than I am prepared for.

I have gone on and on on this blog about how crazy and hard having twins is. I don't think I've done justice on just how much fun and just how sweet it can be too. The C twins adore each other. Every morning they wake up and see each other and get huge smiles on their faces and squeal and laugh and catch up on the night's events. John especially loves his sister, and she makes him smile all the time. They are hilarious to watch, as they pick at each other's eyeballs, get their legs all tangled up, and pull each other's hair. There is no doubt they have a special bond, and I know they always will.

I have 4 cheeks to kiss, 20 toes to nibble, 2 tummies to blow raspberries on. I love hearing two distinct laughs, and recognizing two distinct cries. I love walking into a room and finding two babies rolling around (though it still catches me off-guard sometimes!). I love how being twins makes them who they are. And while I said I would take them separately, that really was a lie, because coming together makes them them. And I just love them.

But you want to know the very best part about having twins? You know when you take your baby out of the bath and you wrap him/her up in a soft warm towel and hold him close and you sniff his freshly shampooed hair and hold him up and you smile at each other on the mirror and he squeals and you just melt into a puddle?

Every night, I get to do that twice.

Monday, October 22, 2012

what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Prepare yourselves, folks.
I'm about to go all Oprah Winfrey Show on you.

It has been a long 15 months. My pregnancy took every bit of physical and emotional strength I had. The babies birth and the 10 days of bouncing back and forth from hospital to home for John, that took my reserves. Then there was the impossible weeks of having two newborns, of Chris still being in school full-time, of being asked to do so much all by myself. It was supposed to get easier. But it just never did.

Summer was filled with sunshine and smiling photographs, but my days were dark. This new and very unique role I suddenly had was a greater challenge than I expected. I felt alone, and I was consumed by anger and sadness and hopelessness. I was without love and patience and joy. Then Fall came, and I pulled myself out of the darkness, boosted by my ever-heroic husband and my ever-loving Heavenly Father. Today I look at my kids with complete pride, abounding joy, and explosive love. I grieve over those lost months. But as we know, sometimes it takes the darkness to truly see just how bright life is.

Along with the changing leaves and changing life came a running routine. Chris gave me time to go running several times a week, and that was one of the things that helped me heal: time away from the chaos, the beauty of God's creations, and making my body work like it didn't know it could work. One of my goals at the beginning of the year was to run a 5k. I decided to challenge myself just a little bit more, and signed up for a 10k instead.

As my race approached, everything was falling apart at the seams. Chris got busy, and I didn't run for a whole week. The temperatures dropped. The race was moved to an hour earlier to avoid football traffic, making it more complicated to take the kids. But as often the case, things were stitched up. Chris's sister came to town and stayed with the babies so we didn't have to take them. Carly bundled up, and during my race she and daddy went to Panera for a delicious warm breakfast. And my months of running made up for the week I missed.

The night before the race I "carbo loaded" on homemade pizza and a Steak n' Shake milkshake. That counts, right? I iced up my lame knees and tried to get to bed early. Chris was good enough to take the 3 am John feeding, though since he was up all night doing homework, that meant he got a whopping 3 hours of sleep that night.

At 6 am we were up and off. Or we were supposed to be. We didn't actually leave until 6:30, which meant I stretched in the car and was still pinning my number on when the race began. But I was there. And I felt good. And it wasn't raining.

It ended up being a very small, slightly po-dunk event. It was up a dirt road that was muddy from the night's rain. There was a mob of half-marathoners, but only 15 people running the 10k. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful run.

I run to music, and had spent the night before compiling the perfect playlist with the songs in the perfect order. It worked pretty well actually, and [edited] Eminem and Rihanna got me up a particularly long hill at mile 4. 

At mile 5.5, Kelly Clarkson reminded me that "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Thirty-five weeks of miserable pregnancy, though I thought more than once that I wouldn't survive, made me stronger. It made me more grateful for a body that sits on the ground for hours doing puzzles, reading stories, changing diapers, and coaxing smiles. It made me appreciate eating a meal and keeping it down, and turning over in bed without my husband's help. It made me more grateful for a body that can run 1 mile, let alone 6.

Having two newborns didn't kill me either, though Chris and I look back and wonder how on Earth we made it through. Those days and nights are a blur. But those weeks taught me to be the most selfless I've ever been. Waking up 6, 7, 8 times a night will certainly teach you a thing or two about sacrifice. Washing 24 bottles and changing 24 diapers and spending any second where the babies are both asleep giving your firstborn attention, that will teach you to put others first.

And, thank heavens, my dark summer didn't kill me either. It taught me I needed to turn more to my Heavenly Father. It taught me that I'm not supposed to do this motherhood thing by myself. All those days I felt so alone, so isolated . . . I wasn't alone at all, and it would have been so much better if I had let Him in. It taught me to never take for granted what joy feels like, to always soak in every little miraculous thing my children do, and to never feel apathetic toward them again. It taught me that I can walk through darkness, that I can pass through hard times, and come out on the other end having learned hard lessons and survived hard things.

And, it turns out, the 10k didn't kill me either. On the contrary, at the end I blew right past Mr. FiveFingers and ended up being the second female finisher. Now, if you remember that there were only 15 racers to begin with, you'll know that is not especially impressive. But I like the sound of it. 

As I climbed the hill toward the finish line, Kelly's song blared and tears stung my eyes (and made my throat swell! That doesn't help when you're running). This year didn't kill me. It made me afraid to ever get pregnant again (ha!), it left an impressive array of stretch marks, it gave me memories that are hard to swallow, and threw in dark circles under my eyes that might never go away. But it left me stronger.

The finish line came into view and there was Carly in her bright blue coat, cheering for me with her megaphone. I yanked my earphones out and heard "Go, mommy! Go, mommy!" Chris smiled and clapped, and that smile and the sacrifices those hands made are to credit for my success. He has walked every step of this year with me, and he gave me the strength to run every stride of that race. They were a beautiful sight. I finished and Carly put the medal around my neck and said "You won, mommy! You won!"

She was 100% right.
I totally won.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

a first time for everything.

One of the true perks of parenthood is a hypersensitive appreciation for "firsts". It doesn't matter how many people have peed in a potty, drawn a stick figure, sat upright on their own, or slept through the night; when your kid does it for the first time, it is monumental.

This can also be said for us and life with the duo. Things with two babies instead of one are exponentially trickier, and every time I accomplish a "normal" task for the first time, I feel incredibly accomplished, like a door that was closed to me was opened up again.

On one of Chris's later days this week, I took the kids to the library in the late afternoon. Anything to pass the time. On the way home there was a wreck, so I had to reroute and ended up driving through the Bob Evans parking lot. "Are we going to a restaurant?!" Carly asked, her eyes wide and excited. A quick phone call to Chris, and we were, indeed, going to a restaurant. For the first time ever, the C Family of 5 went out to dinner. The host was kind enough to seat us in a back corner with no one around us, and we only spilled 1 glass of water and handled a little bit of screaming. But considering how it could have gone, it was a huge success. Carly dominated her pancakes and John ate half of Chris's (whole wheat, no syrup, don't you worry). And the best part? No dishes to wash when we got home.

Another big first for me? I did a big grocery shopping trip with all three amigos. Chris usually does the grocery shopping early Saturday mornings, and if I end up going with the kids during the week, it is in and out as fast as possible, grabbing milk and formula at warp speed. Well, poor Chris is a bit busy these days, and our fridge was downright barren. So I strapped John to my chest, locked Quinn in the child seat, and put Rapunzel to work (I wasn't going to fight her on that . . . ). We were there for almost two hours. And it worked. I looked insane, and got all sorts of sideways glances and "You've got your hands full"s, but it worked. I was walking out of the store with a full cart and three still-happy kids and I felt pretty good about myself, even if I was flushed and sweating and my back was snapped in half because John weighs 80 lbs. Then I remembered I forgot mayo. And cream cheese. What can you do?

And on General Conference Saturday, the kids had their first bath all together. We have been splitting the labor, I bathe the babies and Chris does Carly, but I had to do it on my own with Priesthood session. Now we do it every night, and that means they all get pjs at the same time and enables us to read scriptures, say prayers, and read some bedtime stories all as a family. It has been nice for the most part, thought there are many nights when 1 or 2 (or 3) of them are throwing a fit and it makes scriptures interesting. I just have to remind myself of the David A Bednar talk where he said sometimes all the matters is that you do it.

Another first that took place during General Conference . . . . Carly's first real drawing of a person. Her drawings usually come out pretty abstract, but she said she wanted to draw President Monson, and she sure did! She even added a striped tie for good measure.

And last of all?

Miss Carly made her first visit to the dentist's chair. I have to admit, this one got me a little emotional. Going to the dentist is such a big kid thing to do. We talked it up for quite a while before she went, and when we got there she did so good to be calm and happy and keep her mouth open wide. She really was excellent. When she was done and got her baggy with toothpaste and toothbrush, she said "Thank you, dentist!" The dentist did suggest that the sooner she stops sucking her thumb the better (she only does at night and when she's nervous, now). It is going to be a hard habit to break, but I think it helps that the directive came from a professional because I tell her "Remember, the dentist said not to suck your finger!" I'll have to come up with some sort of reward, but as we learned with potty training, rewards only go so far with this girl.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

insta adorable.

We do a lot of things well in the C House.
We make a whole lot of messy diapers.
We consume baby food in bulk (literally).
We go potty and wash our hands all by ourselves.
We dance to Disney music like there is no tomorrow.

And we be adorable.

There was a time when I blogged about all this adorableness a lot more often then I do now. I miss it, and at some point I'm sure when the day ends, I'll feel motivated to blog rather than collapse on the couch and sit incapacitated and watch Parenthood. But for now, the couch and Parenthood seem to be winning. Thank goodness for Instagram, or grandparents wouldn't be seeing these cute grandkids of theirs at all.

Without further ado, recent life according to my iPhone:

Carly has been back on a princess kick, meaning Tangled is back in the blu-ray player, Quinn was dressed up "like a baby princess!", and we may have gone to the grocery store dressed like Rapunzel. You win some, you lose some. Rapunzel also jumped ahead as favorite possible Halloween costume, though I'm not committing to anything until she does. So she may end up being a Rapunzel cowgirl cat. Stay tuned.

[Princesses wear red lipstick.]

The babies are huge and amazing. They are finally sitting and it makes life a little easier. But they also move, which makes life a whole lot harder. Quinn is the fastest army crawler in the Mitten and it is a little disconcerting how many times a day I ask Carly, "Where's Quinn?"

[Big sis tells the best bedtime stories.]

I have also finally begun trying to spruce up the twins' room a little. See in the above picture the curtains are not trimmed, and in the below they are? #winning

And yes, its ok if you scream out loud at their cuteness.

Quinn falls asleep in weird ways.
Its because she won't stop moving until she is literally completely asleep.

Chris's PhD adviser and his wife are incredibly kind and so good at spoiling our kids. This week I was searching online for winter hats with ears (I'm a sucker for ears), and couldn't quite find some I loved. The next day Chris comes home with presents for the kids. Low and behold, adorable eared hats. Thanks Jim and Linda!

 ["Hey, nice hat."]

These sisters really really adore each other.
It is too sweet.
I have no sister experience, but watching these two is making up for anything I may have missed.

Carly is one fabulous big sister. She loves her babies, and has grown to be protective of them (to a fault, sometimes) and really loves making them smile and laugh and playing with them.

She often says "The babies love me!"
or "Look I'm making them laugh!"
or "John is watching me!"
or "Quinn is smiling at me!"

Its so fun to watch them interact, and I know it is only going to get better.

We have loved the fall weather, enjoying walks and leaves and cool crisp air.

[Cutest boys in all the land.]

I started giving the babies little bits of table food. Maybe a little early, but they started baby food earlier than Carly too. I think since they are on formula I'm a little less sensitive about giving them things than I was with breastfed Carly. Or maybe its because its my second rodeo and I'm not following the rules as closely as the first time. Either way, John loves food and he loves chewing and he is really really happy when he gets something other than baby food.

Quinn has fuzzy hair and I want to eat her every day.

That's us in a nutshell.
Because we're nuts.

yay for being adorable.