Wednesday, February 27, 2013

year one letters.

Dear Quinn,

I don't know if you know this, but you've healed me more than once. Your daddy used to joke that people would call you "Dr Quinn Medicine Woman" if we named you Quinn. I guess the shoe fits. When I struggle or hurt, particularly last summer when I struggled and hurt a lot, I would sit next to your crib and watch you sleep. In all the chaos of our lives, in all the darkness I felt, in all the screaming from John and tantrums from Carly, I sat and watched you and felt the presence of God. You healed me on those days, you made it so I could keep going just a little longer. When you were a newborn I joked that you were "my sanity". Turns out is was more than a little true.

Quinn, you are the sweetest thing I've ever known. You have a heavenly disposition. You are always squealing and laughing and smiling. Though, you are reserved for strangers and cameras. You are go-go-go, climbing and getting into things and exploring. You love kisses and clapping. You love love love "dada!" Your face scrunches when you smile and your hair is so soft, I still love to bury my face in it. 

I'll never be able to put into words exactly what you are, how you are. So I hope I never forget. 

Dear John,

If Quinn is my sanity, you are my insanity. You have this piercing scream not even a mother could love. You are needy and whiny. Me and daddy always joke that Quinny is sugar, Carly is spice, and you are red pepper flakes. But my boy, you've got these ears I love to nibble. And when I say "kiss", you wrap your little sausage arms around my head and plant a big open-mouthed juicy one right on me. And when you are happy, you are SO happy. You have this little nerdy chuckle I hope you keep forever. You love to play, you love to laugh, you love to wrestle, you love to be loved.

John, you're such a different creature from your sisters, and because of that you've thrown me for a loop more than once. You've taught me to be my very best self, and you've shown me how I can be my very worst self. You have challenged me, and that must be why I love you so. You have a most special place in my heart. 

You are a good boy, John. Such a stinking good boy.

My sweet babies,

You hear a lot of mothers say that their first child makes them a mother, and their second child makes them even more so. This could not be more true for me and you. You have taught me a greater selflessness than I knew I was capable of; a greater love than I knew I had capacity for. As I have struggled for you, I have a greater understanding of who I am and of God's love for all of us. 

My babies, you love each other. When John got his little surgery, he was out for the count on the first day, just sitting lethargically and in pain. Quinn looked like a lost puppy. She looked at you, John, wondering when you were going to join her. It broke my heart, but made my heart soar. For all your differences in personality, for all the times you make each other scream, steal each other's toys, and slam each others heads in the door, you two just love each other. And I love that. I call you the dynamic duo, and you most certainly are.

In the last year I have asked countless times why you both came at once. But now, a year later, I can't imagine it any other away. I guess that is why they say hindsight is 20/20.

Dear Carly,

This year hasn't only been a big one for the babies and me and daddy, and for you as well. You have one year of big sisterhood under your belt and I dare say you have succeeded beyond anything I could have expected. The way you love "your babies", and the way they love you is just about more than I can take. Not to say its perfect. There is screaming and pushing and tackling (though, that is often done in love) and fighting over toys. But there is a whole lot more laughing and playing and bouncing and sharing. The other day I was in the kitchen and I heard John giggling. I peeked around the corner to find him at the closed bathroom door. He would stick his fingers through the crack, and you would grab them and push them back out. Then I saw your little fingers come out, and he grabbed them, giggling all the while. It was the sweetest scene. You have recently started calling Quinn "my best friend" and you randomly tackle John with hugs and kisses and say "I gave John kisses because I love him!" You are so good to them.

You have such a good heart. You love being helpful. You take pride in your goodness, your love for your babies, and in big sisterhood. I'm repetitive when I say this, but I'm so grateful they have you and you have them. The three of you are the best of friends. 

Happy one year of big sisterhood, sweet girl. You survived it along with the rest of us.

Dear kids,

Daddy and I could do a lot of things if we didn't have you all around. We could go to dinner and movies, we could travel, we could keep our home clean and even sleep all night long. We'd never step on smashed banana or find chewed up crackers on our clothes. We could have quite the life. 

But we'd never get little soggy kisses. We'd never have chubby fingers shoved in our mouths and exhausted little faces buried in our shoulders. We'd never hear baby giggles. We'd never have tickle fights. We'd never smell you fresh from heaven. We'd never witness first smiles, cheer on first steps, or encourage first words. 

You are our greatest adventure. 
We love you. 
We love you. 
We love you.

Love, Mom

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

two turn 1.

In a shocking development, Quinn and John turned 1 yesterday.
If I hadn't felt every. single. minute. of it, I wouldn't believe it.
What a funny thing time is . . . how it crawls painfully slow and flies painfully fast all at once.
This year has been long and hard.
But it has been short and sweet.
That is what having kids will do to you.

We started off our celebrations on birthday eve/Oscars night. We invited a few friends over for a "Look, We're All Still Alive!" dinner. I did the dinner to the theme "We Go Together". I asked my super talented friend to make a print that I could use at the dinner and later put in their room. She did awesome; I love it. We had food and treats, let the kids wear each other out, and caught a few glimpses of Oscar fashions. After everyone headed home and the kids were in bed, I wrapped half of the presents and brought out the birthday clown. Turns out having two birthdays on the same day and lots of loving family means A LOT of presents, so I just wrapped the ones that seemed like they'd be fun to open. And we didn't quite get their birthday clown "presents" done in time, so I had to improvise with some construction paper. But considering he had gone missing and it took forever to find him, we were all just thrilled he was there (especially Chris).

[the big one-year-olds on the morning of their birthday. its tradition.]

Chris managed to sneak away from school early on the big day, and we headed to a fun local pet store. It has a little stream with giant fish and a bridge, lots of aquariums, snakes, birds, hamsters; everything a tiny person could want. But not dogs or kitties. Thank goodness. Carly was convinced we were going to the pet store to get a puppy.

Carly loved looking at the animals, though the snakes and spiders were declared "creepy". I, personally, have parrot phobia and the giant red parrots gave me the heebie-jeebies. John stared wide-eyed, and tried to grab the fish and feed the parrots his chubby little fingers. And Quinn. Poor Quinn grasped Chris's shoulder and constantly darted her eyes around, totally unsure. She was just happy when we all made it out alive. It made me very excited for some warm sunshine and the zoo.

We headed home for dinner and on to presents! As it turns out, 1-year-olds don't particularly grasp the concept of presents. John just really wanted to play with my iPhone, and Quinn enjoyed perching on top of the large boxes. Carly swooped in and saved the day, teaching them the fine art of present opening. They were entirely too spoiled, and we now have a lifetime supply of toys.

Last but not least, the highlight of any 1st birthday celebration: cake. We sang and blew out candles to each baby individually. And Carly once again came to their aid, blowing out candles that they were both just trying to grab.

No surprise here: the cake was a hit. I remember Carly not wanting to get particularly messy on her 1st birthday. Such was not the case this time around. Quinn, in particular, is the queen of messy eating and did not disappoint. And I think it was the first time in ever that she out-ate John. They were both deliciously cute and thrilled. And while so much about twindom is hard, having two cake-covered babies at once just about made up for it.

We made it.
Year one is in the books.
We love these kids so much it hurts.

It was a beautiful mess of a year.
We are just really good at beautiful messes.

Happy Birthday, Q & J.
We're glad you joined us.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

love and other drugs.

We've had ourselves a February to remember.
Ambulance rides, sparkly shoes, and circumcisions have filled our days.
Its always a party in the C House.

About two and half weeks ago, the girls were sick. On a Thursday morning, Carly puked 4 times before 9:00. We were set to drop our kids off at a friend's house so Chris and I could attend the viewing and funeral of a sweet friend, our bishop's wife, together. Instead, Chris attended the viewing, and I was blessed to attend the beautiful funeral. At the end of the funeral, the queasiness I had been feeling turned to hot flashes, dizziness, and intense nausea. I thought I was going to have to get up to go throw up. I made it to the end, and rushed out (pretty classy . . . rushing out of a funeral). I got home, and thought I'd be ok, so Chris went off to campus. And for the next 5 hours, I puked and, you know, other things you do when you have a stomach virus. It was constant. I have never been so violently ill in my life. I could not keep anything in my body. I was texting Chris, and my first ones were calm . . . but my last one only read "Hurry". Angels watched my children for two hours while I rotated from bathroom to bed. Carly, that amazing girl, played with John (Quinn slept) so sweet. At one point she came to my door and called for me. "Carly, I'm so sick," I croaked. She closed the door and I heard her go use the bathroom all by herself without complaint. That is a big deal for her. I was so proud.

Chris finally arrived. He brought me soup and Gatorade. I drank a few sips of Gatorade and immediately threw it up. I went upstairs while he watched the kids. I was standing in the upstairs bathroom when I realized I had absolutely nothing left. My body was done. My head started going fuzzy, and I laid down on the floor before I collapsed. I could hardly move, and my vision was fading. Our bathroom cabinets have no padding on them, and when you slam them they make a really loud noise, a trick I learned from the twins. I reached out and slammed the cabinets over and over so Chris could hear me. He came up the stairs, and found me laying there. I couldn't move, I could hardly talk, and I was fading. He called a few people. He asked if I needed help, and all I could croak was "Yes". I knew I did. I could not move my body; I was telling it to move, I was telling it to speak, but it wouldn't. Chris decided to call 911, and I felt relief.

The EMT guys came and tried to get me to wake up. I kept humming at them so they knew I could hear them. It was crazy, because I could hear everything, and my mind was thinking, but I couldn't use my body. It was a very scary feeling. They wrapped me up and carried me down the stairs in a tarp, then put me on a stretcher. I could hear the babies screaming. I managed to open my eyes and saw Carly jumping on the couch. She looked totally excited. "Can I watch? Can I help them? Can I go in the big truck?" Luckily the sight was not traumatizing her at all. Great friends helped with the kids, and Chris bounced back and forth from hospital to home.

The ambulance took me to the hospital and I was in the ER for 4 hours while they pumped me full of IV fluids. Everything they gave me, I lost, and every time they stood me up, I went fuzzy and nearly passed out. On the third try, I did pass out, and the doctor decided to admit me. Thanks to Zofran and Imodium they got my symptoms to stop by the time I went upstairs; now I needed to be re-hydrated  During the first 24 hours of my stay I received 11 liters of IV fluid. They took me off the IV my second night, and I was sure glad to get rid of the little robot that followed me around and beeped at me whenever it didn't like the position of my arm. 

I dare say the worst part of my stay was the fact that they admitted me to the cardiac area. They were concerned about the impact the dehydration and fainting had on my heart, so they kept a monitor on me. But the Cardiac floor . . . people, eat healthy and exercise so you never have heart problems. I wasn't allowed to shower, and my diet was the "cardiac diet" meaning no sodium or taste or goodness. Plus, it was gluten free. I could not eat the dry plain meats and mushy veggies they brought me. There was no way I was going to recover without food, so Chris may have sneaked me a few things. But when you have a baby it is like this wonderful world of happy pink nurses and endless chocolate milkshakes. The cardiac area is NOT. My second day was spent making sure I was good to go, watching Vampire Diaries, and waiting around for a doctor to release me. I was weak and nauseous for about 5 days after my release, and my mother-in-law, who came up right away to watch the kids, stayed a few extra days until I got my feet under me. Unfortunately, both she and Chris had their own dance with the same sickness, and it was a little wild. For the record, we have no idea what it was. The doctor thought it was possibly the norovirus, but we never received word and don't think we will. But reading about the norovirus, and how it is fast and furious, makes me think there is a good chance that is exactly what it was.

In the week following my release, Chris and I both felt a lot of fear and anxiety. I had trouble sleeping; he  had trouble leaving (which he had to do overnight to a conference). I felt so fragile. In the wake of our friend's passing, I had told Chris I was feeling very mortal. When you are young, years are long and your whole life is ahead of you, but now I feel the years flying, my babies growing, and my body aging. I know I'm young, but I'm not as young as I once was. And this experience showed me just how fragile we can be. It took a lot of prayer and talking for us to start to feel normal again, and we are still working on being fully at peace.


Two weeks after (to the day) my hospital adventure, John was scheduled for one of his own. His little boy part is unique, shall we say, and when he was born the OB could not circumcise him. He needed to be fixed a bit and circumcised by a urologist. It would not be a typical circumcision and would require general anesthesia.  We had two visits with the urologist, and set up the surgery for Valentine's Day. Isn't that special?

In a blessing I can not be more thankful for, the whole experience went off without a problem. He had food restrictions, and he actually handled it really well, not freaking out until right before surgery. That was a big deal for a kid who gets mad when breakfast is late. I was able to rock him to sleep right before they came to take him away, so he didn't scream and reach for us; they just rolled him away peacefully. That was a huge tender mercy for me, as I was already shedding tears when the OR nurses came to get him. They ended up giving him a "baby epidural", which only effected his hip area. I was nervous about this, but the doctors said it would mean they wouldn't have to use narcotics. The urologist loved it for babies, so we went for it, even though it added to my anxiety. But I sure loved my epidurals, so I thought I'd give that gift to John, too. Ha! 

We waited in the surgical lounge, and our beeper went off once with an update phone call from a nurse in the ER. About 45 minutes later, the urologist came to tell us how everything went just perfectly. And shortly after that, our boy was waking up. When we got to him, he was fussy and disoriented from the anesthesia.  I took him and calmed him and he fell asleep. He slept for a while in recovery, and after they saw that he could hold liquids without vomiting, they sent us home. His recovery has been so much better than expected. He didn't move too much the day of the surgery, but these two days following he has been crawling and playing like nothing happened. Then once in a while he will scream out in pain, poor kid. But he is healing quickly, and after all the worry and anxiety we felt about the whole experience, we are thankful to have it behind us and to have had it go so well. 

John's surgery took us back to the hospital where he and Quinn were born almost exactly a year before. I parked in that same garage and walked through that same lobby over and over again as I went to see, rock, and feed that sweet teeny tiny boy with the feeding tube in his nose. He wouldn't stop sleeping to eat; now we won't stop eating to sleep. My heart was full and my emotions on the surface. We are so very blessed to have children so healthy that these relatively minor experiences scare me so much.


In the middle of all this craziness came the season of love. I do love myself a holiday, and I have a particular fondness for the smaller ones (St Patrick's Day is my super favorite; I'm so excited!). Despite our special brand of turmoil, we celebrated Valentine's to the fullest. We made Valentine's for uncles, aunts, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Carly cut them out herself and wrote letters on all of them. She even wrote out the entirety of "Mimi", a simple word, but her first full word other than her name. She also licked all the envelopes and placed the stamps. We had lots of cute matching sister outfits, 5 days of Valentine's prizes, yummy treats, a preschool party and a playgroup party (both put on by yours truly . . . have I mentioned I love myself a holiday?), and heart covered doors telling our kids just what we love most about them. I do love our three amigos quite a bit. They are beautiful, amazing, fun kids, and while they bring a whole lot of chaos to our lives, they also bring a whole lot of perfection. And my baby daddy? Well, he has cleaned more of my puke than any man ought to have to clean for anyone. If that's not true love, I'm not sure what is. I'm forever grateful for my best friend; God blessed me with the best.

In January we had a little photo shoot for the Valentines we were going to send out. And I was reminded why we don't pay for professional photography in our current phase of life. 

But after deciding to keep it "real life", and a little PicMonkey magic, we found a winner.

It's been a wild and wacky February, to say the least.
Chris and I attended the temple today, and in the car we talked about how we would just like a bit of calm.
Normal and boring would be really nice.
I'm not sure the C House does normal and boring, but if nothing else . . . 
here's to no more hospitals.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

silver white winters.

Notes on January:

  • Chris and I didn't exchange Christmas gifts this year, but instead had a 24-hour getaway to Ann Arbor. We went to Ikea, we ate, we sat and watched an entire movie, we slept through the night. The best part was waking up to silence, not to an alarm or someone screaming through the monitor. We ate at the Melting Pot, which was yummy and a fun experience. The next day for lunch we went to a famous deli, Zingerman's, where we had incredible sandwiches (best GF bread I've ever tasted), awesome soda you mix yourself (black cherry + cola was my fav), and divine potato salad. I'd drive to Ann Arbor just to go to lunch. Yum. 
  • We came home from Ann Arbor to a hot little boy. Chris's family, who had watched the kids for us (thank you!) headed home, and I took John's temperature. I'm not the kind of mom that jumps to take her kids to the doctor, especially the ER, but John's 104 degree temperature sent us out the door. Five hours, and way too much waiting, later we headed home with a prescription for antibiotics and a vague diagnosis. His temp maxed out at 104.5 the following day, the largest number I've ever seen on a thermometer, but steadily declined. However, the antibiotics tortured the poor boy, and after 5 days I called the pediatrician and he gave me permission to stop early. Instantly, I tell you, he was happy John again. Not sure how we are going to deal with that issue in the future.
[sick John; happy Quinn]
  • Quinn got a hand-me-down coat from a friend in the ward. It is gold, and the hood has white "fur" trim. And it is so cute it hurts inside. Especially when she crawls around in it. I die. We call her the Snow Princess.
  • John got a haircut, as previously mentioned. He looks really old, and seriously handsome. That boy. Carly got a haircut of her own. Her tangled ends were causing quite the problem when we brushed her hair, so we needed them gone. Sadly, her beautiful baby curls went with them. Her hair is still beautiful, just looks so much shorter, and it hurts my mama's heart that those baby curls are gone.

  • Carly doesn't nap anymore. I always said I'd make her nap until Kindergarten. Surprise, surprise, she had different plans. During our Christmas trip we didn't really enforce naps, so she fell out of the routine. She really does fine without them, and bedtime has been moving earlier while she still wakes up at the same time in the morning. I am trying to do "quiet time" with her, but am finding it difficult since she sees it as a punishment. So I'm flexible. I'll take the time to read with her or do a little craft or something that is hard to do with the babies around. And when I'm tired I will tell her it is time to rest. Sometimes she lies on the couch; sometimes she kisses me on the cheek and tells me to "sleep good". Both work for me.
[clockwise: babies love Wheel of Fortune, hydrating, John playing with golf balls, snug sleeping babes.]
  • I have a miracle to share with you. On Tuesday afternoon after the babies' naps I thought we'd run to Target. Carly has been a little rough with the babies and I came out of the bathroom to find her, I kid you not, with both babies in headlocks, pushing their faces into the floor. She was trying to play, it just wasn't working well. And they were screaming. I had repeatedly warned her against tackling them in any form, so she needed to go to time out. Instead of going relatively peacefully, she freaked out. So I took her to her room for some personal time. I was down with the babies 10 minutes later and heard her playing happily, so I thought we'd go. Quinn crawls over to me whining and clingy. She had been clingy all day. She climbs up me and . . . pukes. Over and over and over. Puke fountain, people. I just sat there and let it come. It was a huge ordeal to get it all cleaned up, especially since John was extremely interested in eating it (I gagged over that one) . . . But the point is: if Carly hadn't had thrown a tantrum, Quinn would have puked ALL OVER Target. I've never been so grateful for the "terrible 3's".
[Q showing her standing skills, sweet Q worried about the Beast, full couch during tv time, splashing in puddles.]
  • The little chalkboard in our kitchen currently reads "Silver White Winters that Melt into Springs". Did you even know that was a line from "A Few of My Favorite Things"? I didn't until recently. It is my new favorite. I'm not a fan of cold or winter, but it has its beauty. And I particularly love when it melts away into spring. January is typically hard. I usually struggle as the days crawl, the dark evenings come early, and we all feel cabin fever. But this January has been rather nice. It helps that the weather has not been too bad, a few cold spells, a little snow. But not too bad at all. It also helps that we have a nice little routine: preschool and library on Tuesday, playgroup on Wednesday, swimming lessons Thursday evening, with Monday and Friday free to stay at home and not worry about anything. All the sudden we're at February, a new favorite month of mine, where we have Valentine's and the twins' birthday to look forward to.
[Carly loves swim lessons: "I'm like Ariel!"]

Life is good in the C House.
Granted, I actually wrote this post 4 days ago, and I just got home from the hospital after a 911 call and a 2-day stay, but that is another story for another time. We are all back under one roof, and I couldn't feel more blessed.