Monday, January 28, 2013

impossible. 11 months young.

One short month until the big ONE.

At 11 months old, Quinn . . .

-loves to climb, and it quite good at it. I have on more than one occasion walked into a room to find her standing on the couch or perched on top of a big diaper box.

-is a lousy, frustrating, messy eater. I think it is a texture thing, but nowadays when you bring food toward her mouth she whips away like you are trying to give her poison. She does, however, like applesauce, cheesesticks, yogurt, yogurt bites, pancakes, and Ritz crackers.

-makes the cutest sounds ever in history. She has this little squeal that sounds like "Yeah!" so it is cute when you ask her something and is sounds like she is responding excitedly. 

-is getting longer, thicker hair. It no longer stands up like it used to, and can hardly be described as fuzzy anymore, though it is still so soft. I love burying my face in it. And, it is now a lovely shade of strawberry blonde.

-has started standing on her own for seconds at a time. It was making her nervous, but today she was sitting on her knees and just popped up on her feet like no big deal. Who does she think she is?

-she likes to carry things around in her hand as she crawls around causing havoc: toy cooking utensils, toy thermometer, a little mallet . . . anything that resembles a scepter. 

-is sweet as sugar. She loves giving kisses, and gets a big grin on her face and snuffs excitedly after she does. She has the sweetest little smile. She snuggles up on my shoulder, something Carly never really did. When I lay on the ground she will come up and snuggle up by my neck and chest, and she does the same thing to Chris when he gets home at night. I cannot express what a wonderful little spirit she is. Chris and I just marvel at her.


At 11 months old, John . . .

-sleeps like a 2-month-old. He is driving us kind of crazy, as he as been waking up 1-3 times a night lately. Then he is exhausted and cranky all day. He did have 2 new teeth break through (8 teeth now!). But I'm thinking it is getting to the point where I want to let him "cry it out" a little, so we are contemplating putting the girls together and giving him his own room to sleep train in. Then maybe they could all go in together and Chris and I may have a room again? Dreams.

-can actually be a very pleasant boy. He has a very cute laugh. He loves to play with his big sis, and obviously loves Quinn. He gives the best kisses. He pretty much just makes out with you, with his little mouth wide open and all slobbery. When I lay on the ground sometimes he does his speedy little army crawl over to me and lays a whole bunch of juicy ones on me. Sweetest.

-loves balls. He likes to put balls through "hoops", which is anything: bottoms of chairs, crib slats, buckets, my criss-crossed legs. It is stinking cute. He also loves to chase balls around. We got this little toy where he puts the ball in, and hit the giraffe's head, and the ball pops out across the room. He army crawls after it with impressive speed, and brings it right back and puts it in the toy to do it again. It is hilarious. He also loves swinging doors, and poor Quinn's head has been a victim of that hobby on more than one occasion.

-is getting impressively mobile. He pulls up on things, though he often pulls up and then freaks out because he  doesn't know how to get back down smoothly. He just started crawling up on his hands and knees and it is so dang cute, because he is actually slower, but he is way more excited. He seems to be trimming up a bit with his mobility. He has reddish dirty blonde hair, and it is so course compared to Q's, like his is boy hair and hers is girl hair. He is pretty chatty too, and his favorite sound is "Gah!".

-loves. to. eat. This is not new. He likes pretty much all food. I'm trying to think of a favorite. Meat, perhaps. And cheese. You'll put food on his tray and turn around 30 seconds later and it is all gone and his mouth is full. And he is smiling.

-is such a baby. He whines and screams when things get taken away from him (which is a lot with Quinn around). But he is also sweet and good. He loves playing with Carly, and thinks she is just the coolest. He laughs and smiles a lot. When he is on his tummy and is excited, he bounces his whole body and squeals. He is such an interesting kid, because he can be so perfectly wonderful, and so terribly irritating, all in the space of 15 seconds. He is just so frustratingly loud, but so insanely adorable.

Eleven months old and these kids are still on a very vague routine. Carly was clockwork by 4 months, but she was the only one I had to worry about. Having two babies, and a big sister, means I have to be flexible, and I am coming to terms with that. I was feeling like a "bad mom" not having scheduled naps or meal times, but I finally decided I can just do what I can do. They get all their meals and they sleep when they need to. The last few weeks, though, they have often both been taking a long early afternoon nap, and it is nice for me to have something predictable.

We have also recently had a change in bedtime. Ever since they had a "bedtime", I have been propping them in Boppys and feeding them at the same time while Chris puts Carly down. It was relatively time-effective, and very smooth. As they have gotten progressively mobile, however, they won't stay in the Boppy. They won't even lay there and drink a bottle like they do during the day. They kept escaping and creating problems, so we decided to put them down one at a time. John gets insane when he is tired, so I take him in first and feed him a bottle and rock him, while Q reads books and plays with Carly and Chris. Then I give Q her bottle. It is a long process, but they go to bed, and that is what I care about. And it has been very sweet. I have always fed them in their pillows, so this time I have rocking them is so wonderful. It struck me that in these 11 months, I have not gotten to rock them like this very often, simply because there are two of them. In no time they will be toddlers who no longer require bottles and rocking, so I am loving this chance to have some one-on-one time while I put them to bed.

John and Quinn are developing a very cute and funny relationship. They move around in a little pack, Quinn leading the way and John excitedly keeping up. Quinn causes the trouble and John follows suit. They now cause quite a bit of chaos, but they are also so much fun. There is a lot of real play going on these days, and when I ask Carly to do something, she often respond "But mom, I'm playing with the babies!"

Quinn is the bossy one in the twin set. She can be a bit of a bully toward John, but I think it is because she is more mobile and determined, and he is just kind of a cry baby. I have seen her use him as a stool on more than one occasion. But they obviously love each other. They greet each other every morning with big smiles and squeals. The other day we gave John a haircut, and the poor kid was screaming in terror. His sisters both stood outside the baby gate with worried looks, Quinn staring and crying. It was very sweet, though very loud.

Oh, my goodness, these children. They never cease to be completely exhausting. But they are just so cool. Have I mentioned yet that I finally decided I actually like having twins? It only took 11 months, but I have to say, I'm a fan.

Happy 11 months, J and Q.
We're glad you joined us.

Friday, January 25, 2013

a little faith.

I have to tell you, I read an article earlier this week. It is called "Why I Raise My Children Without God." I saw it in a news story, and they were just going on about how objective and fair the woman who wrote it was. How she had so many perfect points. Well, I was excited. I am always interested in others' beliefs, and if they are making objective and meaningful arguments, count me in. Then I read the article, and I did not find it nearly as wonderful as I was led to believe. That being said, my head hasn't let go of the issue.

I thought I'd share a few thoughts, just me and my simple perspective as a mother and as a member of the Church of Jesus-Christ off Latter-Day Saints.


She said bad things happen, so there can't be a God. She said God is a bad parent, because He allows bad things to happen. We believe in "free agency", meaning God gave us the right to make choices, good and bad.

“He has given us free will,” you say? Our children have free will, but we still step in and guide them.

 One time, Carly was jumping on the couch. Chris told her over and over to get down. He told her she would fall and get hurt. He physically removed her from the couch; she climbed back up and kept jumping. And, wouldn't you know it, she went flipping off the couch, and cried and cried because it hurt and scared her. You can guide kids as much as you want. You can grab them with your arms and you can look them in the eye and tell them EXACTLY what is going to happen. But the thing is, kids don't always listen. God guides us. He gave us scripture, commandments, and now He speaks to us through a modern prophet, but the thing is, kids don't always listen.

We also believe there is supposed to be "an opposition in all things" because that helps us enjoy and appreciate the good more. If I never got 45 mintues of sleep at a time (when the twins were born), I would never know just how blissful 4 straight hours could be. If people were never sick, they wouldn't fully understand what it meant to be healthy. If no one ever hurt, it would be harder to appreciate love.

It is almost as if the author expects no pain, hurt, sickness, or bad things of any kind. Wouldn't that make this life . . . . heaven? Is her plan to follow her kids around and never let them fail a test, get a broken heart, lose a job, or make a mistake? How would they learn anything? How would they grow?

I'm not going to sit here and say that makes pain easier. The author talks about Newtown. I will never say I understand God's purpose in events like that. Yes, he won't take away agency, and yes, we have to face pain, but on that day, I was asking why would God let something like that happen. But sometimes there are no answers. Sometimes faith just requires . . . faith.

God is not fair.

 Wrong. Life is not fair. Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people and sometimes everything just sucks. But that is why this life is not the end. I was reading through the comments (if you read this article, do not read through the comments) and one person said "I believe in God because things aren't fair. Things have to be made fair in some way, so it must happen after this life." Where would justice be if this life were the end? If so many people didn't get "what they deserved". But in the same breath, where would mercy be if this life were the end? I am far from perfect, so, to tell you the truth, I don't want "what I deserve". I'm grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who won't give me what is "fair", but will forgive me and grant me mercy. And as for those who commit unspeakable crimes? They go to jail and die, or get the death penalty, or get away with it, and that's it? This life isn't fair, but in the next one, through the power of the Savior's atonement, God is fair and merciful.

He is not here. Telling our children to love a person they cannot see, smell, touch or hear does not make sense.

Wrong again. He is here. I see Him in snowflakes and sunshine and my childrens' shining perfect innocent eyes. And as a mother, I have never felt closer to God then when I welcomed three of His little spirits to this Earth, knowing He trusted me with them, knowing they had been with Him moments before they were with me. But this doesn't mean anything to someone who doesn't believe, I understand that. So we'll call that a draw. 
God Does Not Teach Children to Be Good
     A child should make moral choices for the right reasons. Telling him that he must behave because God is watching means that his morality will be externally focused rather than internally structured. It’s like telling a child to behave or Santa won’t bring presents. When we take God out of the picture, we place responsibility of doing the right thing onto the shoulders of our children. No, they won’t go to heaven or rule their own planets when they die, but they can sleep better at night. They will make their family proud. They will feel better about who they are. They will be decent people.
I agree with her, 80%. I don't want to teach my children to do the right thing because God is watching. But what I will teach my children, is why do you feel better about who you are when you do good? What is making you feel good? I will teach them that we feel better when we do good because the spirit of God (the "Holy Ghost" as we call it), testifies to our hearts that we did good. I don't say to Carly "be nice because Jesus wants us to" (ok, maybe on occassion I turn to that one :) but I try to teach her to be nice because it makes others feel good when we are nice. And when someone is mean to her, I take the opportunity to teach her, "See, it hurts our hearts when people are mean. That is why you need to always be nice." And when she feels good about doing good, I can then show her it is because Heavenly Father is happy when we are good, and His Spirit makes us feel good inside. 
God Teaches Narcissism
I have to say, this one caught be totally off-guard. Teaching a child of God's love, telling them how special they are to their Heavenly Father will make them self centered? Does she not tell her children how much she loves them? Does she not tell them they are smart and talented and wonderful and perfect? Maybe she doesn't; maybe that will make them narcissistic. I do not, for one second, believe making a child feel loved and special will ever make them a selfish person. Giving them every single thing they want, catering to their every whim, not disciplining or setting boundaries, not teaching the value of work, not teaching the importance of serving others . . . those will make for a selfish person. But how is a child to know how much God loves her friend, her neighbor, if she doesn't realize how much God loves her? And why is it so wrong that a child feel love, from her not just her family, but from a source that can be with her at her darkest, loneliest times. There have been times in my life where I felt like I had literally no one but God. What if I thought I was all alone? I want my kids to know they are cherished. I want them to know they are the most important precious things to me and Chris. I want them to be so loved, they are embarrassed by it. And I want them to know Heavenly Father loves them too. I don't think I understood God's love for me until I became a parent. Now I am in awe of it.
Then there is one of the central themes of not just Christianity, but all different faiths, which is service. Loving and helping your fellow man. Religion teaches us to look outside ourselves and love and help everyone, because we are all children of God and we are all in need. Service-oriented faith is far from narcissism. 
When we raise kids without God, we tell them the truth—we are no more special than the next creature. We are just a very, very small part of a big, big machine–whether that machine is nature or society–the influence we have is minuscule.
I don't want my children thinking they are insignificant. I want them to know their goodness can change people's lives. Even if it is helping one person one time on one day, they can make a difference. Their lives have meaning, which is why it is important to learn and improve and become a good productive educated person. You are a piece to a puzzle, yes, but no puzzle can be complete without every piece.  
I am very grateful for the knowledge I have, and for the opportunity I have to teach my children the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for them to know why they are here and where they are going and just how loved they are.

Tonight in the hustle and bustle of dinner time, Carly called out, "Mom! Dad! Wait! We forgot to say a prayer!" And so she prayed, thanking her Heavenly Father for her dinner, for her family, and praying for people who are hurting. And then she had a big smile on her face as she said "Amen" and started eating. And we all felt good. No "logic", no "reason", no "sense" can replace that.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

the tenth.

Carly was born on Monday the 10th.
She was due on the 12th, and scheduled to be induced on the 17th.
But there she was, on the afternoon of the 10th at 12:53, surprising us all.
Even now, a 10th does not go by where I don't think of the day I became a mother.

In a month, Carly will be 3 and a half. I feel like these 6 months have brought so much change and so much growth. But they are also presenting challenges.

Carly has been hard lately. You hear people say "The 3's are so much worse than the terrible 2's!". Carly was a most wonderful 2-year-old, so maybe that is the case? She is testing her boundaries, feeling around for what is right and wrong. But most of all, she is the least patient person I have ever met. And now that impatience errupts into dramatic fits and tears every single time I don't comply to her demands instantly. In all fairness, the problem has worsened since our Christmas vacation, where she was constantly catered to and entertained. And she does seem to be coming off that cloud, but we still struggle.

Bedtime, which was once seamless, is a drawn-out battle. She fights every step of the way, either throwing a fit, or running away and gleefully refusing to participate. And when Chris finally gets her in bed, she fights him over how many books to read, and how many kisses and hugs to give. It is a delay tactic, even if it is a sweet one.

We are finding that patience, patience, patience is key. Explaining things to her. She is a logical, smart girl, and often when I explain why I am saying what I am saying, she will go along with it. And then sometimes you just have to put her in the yellow chair in the corner and turn on the Scattergories timer and tell her to take a chill pill. We're all learning together.

Carly loves to dress up like princesses. We dress each other, first she is the dressmaker and I'm the princess, and then we switch. But sometimes I'm the prince, and John is Gus Gus (can you just see that for Halloween!?) and Quinn is the little old lady who came to the Ball. I don't mind spending my mornings in a tiara, that's for sure. Carly also loves to play "grocery shopping", pushing her little cart around and taking stuff from our pantry (because real food is more fun than fake, of course). She got a cash register for Christmas, and this greatly adds to the excitement, as she can play FOREVER. Like I don't have to grocery shop enough in my life. She got a LeapPad for Christmas too, and I'm amazed to watch her figure it out without help. She loves to "dance to the princess music on mommy's phone". She truly loves books. She is rarely seen without a little stack of her favorites. She loves interaction and imagination. She is not good at playing on her own, a hazard of being firstborn, I suppose. She is a social people-person, and not typically shy, something I hope she holds on to, as I was a very shy kid and still have quite a bit of shyness in me. She loves. She loves her stuffed animals and her towel. She loves her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousin. She loves our little family. She loves and shows love, and that is a wonderful gift.

I'm beating a dead horse with this one, but Carly is smart. She is extremely communicative, to the point where she will talk your head off. She correctly uses words like "perhaps" and "obviously". She remembers directions to different locations. She freaks out when I turn right on a red light (how do you explain that law to a 3-year-old?! Even a smart one?!). She makes connections. Chris reads picture scriptures with her every night. We were watching Sleeping Beauty and at the beginning all those people are riding the horses and singing the Princess Aurora song. She asked "Are those the Lamanites?" And there is a character in The Testaments (her Sunday movie of choice) named Jacob: "He is Jacob just like in my picture scriptures!" And I swear, she never forgets anything. She amazes me.

Carly is truly an amazing big sister. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, she was made to be the big sister of twins. Once on Facebook someone said we knew what we were doing when we had Carly first, but I had to say it wasn't us; God knew what He was doing, because we definitely questioned it as it all went down, unsure of how successfully it would play out. Now, as the babies approach their birthday, their love for Carly and her love for them is one of the greatest things I have ever witnessed. She makes them laugh like no one else. She can entertain them like no one else. She can also lose patience with them like perhaps only me. She loves to make them laugh. She loves to play with them in the bath, particularly John, who recently just thinks she is the bee's knees. She loves to read them stories. And lately, when I am in the kitchen, I will check on them in the living room to find them all together on the floor, she is showing them how to play with a toy, or playing with them. And my heart melts, and I am grateful for the Lord's omnipotence, because He knew they would need her, and she would need them.

Carly has enjoyed preschool, and learns a lot. I do hope to get her into an actual preschool in the fall (if we can find one we can afford! what the . . . ?). I only want her to go twice a week, but she excels in new and challenging situations, and she just loves to learn new things and talk to new people. I think she will be ready for preschool in the fall. And, heaven forbid, Kindergarten the following fall? Her August birthday makes it tricky, to be old or to be young? I suppose we will cross that bridge when we get there.

But in light of that love of learning, and the fact that it is winter and we can only take so much of our little home, we signed Carly up for swimming lessons. They are pretty simple little lessons, teaching water basics. Tonight was her first one. She LOVED it. Like, really really loved it. When it was over, she didn't want to leave, and we sat and watched the older kids for a while. I finally pried her away, and she cried the whole way home, and after we got home, that she "Doesn't want to leave my swimming lessons!" She even brought up the idea that maybe Santa Claus could bring her a swimming pool for her house. It was sad but very sweet. I'm glad it was a hit. It will be a nice thing for these hardest weeks of winter.

Speaking of growing way too fast, and new and exciting adventures, this past Sunday, Carly became a Sunbeam. In our church, kids aged 3-11 go to "Primary", where they learn all the basic and simple doctrines of our Church, everything from "Jesus loves me" to scripture stories, the importance of temples, and eternal families. It is a great organization that I have the privilege of working in. Carly is 3 at the turn of the new year, so she moves up to the youngest Primary class, called "Sunbeams". The kids spend 45 minutes all together, getting a lesson and singing songs, then they move into individual classrooms by age-group and get another 45 minute lesson. It is very structured, and much different from the "nursery" where she had been going (ages 18 mo-3 years). 

She was very apprehensive at first, and I could see tears brimming in her eyes. I took her into the Primary room and showed her where she would sit. She met her teachers, who are wonderful, and then all her friends she was used to from nursery came in, and the big kids came in, and her interest was piqued. She did amazing, as did her whole class. I was split between bursting with pride and bursting with tears as I watched her, being a good and reverent and enthralled little Sunbeam. After church, she said she didn't want to leave, she loved it so much. We were literally one of the last cars out of the parking lot, and I had to tell her the doors were locked and the lights were off. I'm grateful she has a passion, not just for leaning, but for the Savior and for the Gospel.

There is a Primary song called "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam."
It is Carly's favorite.
It says:

Jesus wants me for a sunbeam
To shine for Him each day
In every way try to please Him
At home, at school, at play

A sunbeam, a sunbeam
Jesus wants me for a sunbeam
A sunbeam, a sunbeam
I'll be a sunbeam for Him

This is most perfectly our Carly.

She is our little sunbeam, full of light and life and beauty, along with a whole lot of personality, spunk, and willpower. She is so good down to the core. I want to be just like her some day.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

the clock strikes twelve.

On New Year's Eve, I was totally exhausted.
We had just got home from our trip and had two sick babies who weren't sleeping.
(Was that past tense? It is still going on . . . )
We had family in town which was fun, and we had the T Family traditional finger foods buffet.
I love New Year's Eve.
But this year, I wasn't feeling it.

Both babies were up, and Chris and I were up in their dark room trying to get them down.
Quinn went down, and I left and sat on the top step.
Chris followed me soon after.
We sat on that top step, both drained.
2012 has been a long year for us.
A blessed year, but, oh, so long.
And hard.
Hard in a blessed way.
But hard.

We listened to our babies moan and whine, and in that moment there was not a single thing I wanted more in the entire world than for them to go to sleep so I could go to sleep.
In the midst of the whining, we heard fireworks.

"Is it midnight?" I asked.
"I think so," Chris replied.
We looked at each other, and leaned in for our midnight kiss.
No sparkly dresses or fancy parties.
Not even a glass of Martinelli's.
It was a New Year's Eve that perfectly fit our year: we were tired, we were worn, but we were together.

2012 taught me a lot, but more than anything, it taught me I married the right man.
And I'm sure glad we're on the same team.

And even though I wonder sometimes why on Earth anyone ever has kids, I sure do love ours.
Even if I don't always like them.

[this is the best I could get: the C kids on the last day of 2012.]

Now its 2013.
I do love a chance to look ahead, and try a little harder to be a little better.

When I was in high school, my dad kept nicknaming years, like "The Year of Adventure" and so forth. Well, I have dubbed 2013 "The Year of Enrichment". I feel like 2012 was about change, chaos, and survival. So this year is about enjoying, improving, and enriching our lives.

I've got a few goals:
-read Les Miserables (4 pages a day, and I can finish by 2014)
-keep an index card journal (as seen on Pinterest)
-run a half marathon
-reduce the amount of tv we watch and increase play

Chris wants to work out more, now that his schedule may actually allow for it. 
And he wants to be a 100% home teacher (!).

We have family goals too, the biggest one of which may be to be on time to church. 
It is so dang hard for us. I don't understand why.

I explained to Carly what a goal is: "Something you want to do, or get better at." 
So Carly's 2013 resolution?
"A puzzle!"
We will be getting her a new puzzle.

So here's to 2012, the blessings it brought and the lessons it taught.

Happy 2013.