Tuesday, March 26, 2013

marching on.

As it does all too well, time is marching on here in the C House.
March has been busy but relatively free of major chaotic events, so we're feeling good.

Carly is a puzzle I continue to solve daily. She is so Dr Jekyll/Miss Hyde that I never know what I'm going to get. There is sweetness, fun, and humor. And there is anger, moodiness, rudeness, and throw-herself-against-the-wall tantrums. Whenever I feel especially challenged by her, I hear a voice in my head saying, "Patience . . . patience . . . patience." I have found (knock on wood), the best way to help Miss Hyde Carly is to treat her like a ticking time-bomb. Whether it is punishment or not getting her way, its like talking her off a cliff sometimes. But it has worked, and it has been a few weeks since one of her truly intense tantrums. Add crisis negotiator to my repertoire of daily tasks.

But Dr Jekyll Carly is as fun as they come. She is getting good at writing all her letters, recently learned to write and recognize the numbers 11-20, and we even broached the subject of addition using M&Ms. She loves art. She LOVES books, and our weekly library visits are always looked forward to. A current favorite of hers these days is Fancy Nancy. She likes asking me how to say things in French (though my 2 years of high school French can only take us so far), and she makes up words and says, "That's fancy for _____." The other day she asked Chris "Is there a fancy way to say Bob Evans?" Obviously we go there a bit too often. She even found an Easter hat at Target's dollar spot and had to have it, because "It's so fancy!"

Along with the fun is some growing up. One day she was frustrated and said to me "I'm going to kill you." I reacted a bit harshly, and she looked shocked. It was obvious to me she had no idea what it really meant. I explained it to her in child terms and she looked very sad. "I'm sorry," she said. "Mom, I promise, I will never kill you." That was comforting, to be sure.

99% of the time this girl is a barrel of laughs and my BFF.
I'm awfully glad I have her.

[Olivia event at our library.]

Oh, Quinn. Quinn celebrated her first birthday and promptly decided it was time to be a toddler. She walks like a boss, throws herself on the ground for tantrums, and does all sorts of funny cute toddler things. Like her sister before her, she is developing a huge personality. She prefers to be elevated whenever possible, and its causing me some stress. Her very favorite thing in the whole world is to stand on our tall bathroom stool and rummage through the drawers while chewing on her toothbrush. I want to sit up there and see how long she'd do it, but her brother has his own fascination with the toilet. Q also loves accessories. Princess crowns, headbands, necklaces, sunglasses, purses . . . you name it. Sunglasses just may be her favorite, though, and she brings them to me to put on her, walks around with her head tilted back and her mouth wide open to keep them on, and brings them back when they do inevitably fall off again. The calm baby I appreciated so much is gone, but the sweetness remains, and I can't get enough of her.

And then there is John. To his everlasting credit, John is always just John. But there are perks to having one predictable child. If John is cranky he wants to 1) eat, 2) sleep, or 3) be entertained. Usually it is 3. He would have made a perfect first child. John has always been a few months behind Quinn mobility-wise, and that continues to prove true. He is only now starting to stand on his own for a few seconds at a time. He is also very clingy and loves snuggles and love. Right now it feels very much like I have a dramatic child, a overly curious toddler, and a needy baby. John loves books, like Carly, (these days Quinn doesn't have the patience for them) and sits with his eyes glued while you read to him and laughs and smiles. He also loves when I pull the couch out from the wall and he can go behind it like a tunnel fort. Such a boy. He is an all around lovable guy despite his hobby of high-pitched screaming. But his ears don't seem to be going anywhere. The other day Carly informed Chris out of the blue, "The problem, daddy, is that John's ears stick out." That is, indeed, the problem.

This duo of ours is magically delicious. They had their 1 year appointment in early March and checked out perfect. J is 22 lbs 10 oz, 31 inches tall. Q is 19 lbs 3 oz, 29 inches tall. She is gaining on him, since she decided she would actually start eating, and he decided he would actually start moving.

Our biggest going-on around here? Chris's comprehensive exams are coming right up. Comps are the last major step before going "ABD" (all but dissertation). He has a board of 4 professors from his field and related to his field, and they each give him a big scary test. His first one is a take home to be taken over the first week of April, and the other three will all be taken the second week of April. Two weeks later he enjoys "oral comps", where he stands in a room and his board fires questions at him. The week following oral comps he takes finals, since he is, after all, still taking a full load of classes and teaching his 400-level undergraduate class. He has been working long stressful days and staying up light nights to study. This man of mine doesn't get a lot of space on this blog, but he sure is a good one. I'm grateful for the work he puts in so that soon he will have a career he loves and a way to support our family. I'm grateful he is such a good daddy, the only person on earth who can calm Q down and rock her to sleep. I'm grateful that through all the stress, he still manages to make emergency ice cream runs for his wife and listen to her tales of long days with crazy kids. This guy is a catch, and we are both looking in the distance to our oasis: a no-kids trip to Chicago we are planning in June. Send your comps-passing mojo his way in the coming weeks.

As for me: I deal with my stress with the help of Ben & Jerry, I have laugh-filled lunches with a three-year-old, get mobbed by slobbery kisses from a big-eared boy, and pull a soft-haired beauty off the most recent mountain she managed to climb. We keep busy, with outings and story time and playgroup, and we look out the window every snowy morning and pray for spring, because these cabin-fevered kids can't wait to soak up some Vitamin D.

And so much lately, I have been thinking about time. 
Thinking about how our time here in Michigan is getting shorter.
Thinking about how these kids just keep getting bigger.
Thinking about how time continues to march on.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

the wearing of the green.

I've always had a thing for St Patrick's Day.
Maybe its because my name means "Ireland" in Gaelic.
Maybe its because I have red hair.
Maybe its because I just like Irish things in my own ever-nerdy way, like my tween obsession with the Kennedys.
I pretty much married Chris just to get an Irish last name . . . and because he's cute.
I just think its a little mischief and a little magic.
And now that I have a kid old enough to play along, its even more fun.

Our St Paddy's week was filled with some festive decor, a "R is for Rainbow" preschool at our house, a few simple crafts (glue on paper . . . stick on Fruit Loop), lots of festive books thanks to Amazon Prime, and the appearance of Lucky Liam. 

Liam showed up in all his glory, promising treasure on St Patrick's Day if the kids were "kind and jolly". I think he is a little bit adorable. I decided to try out the "Elf on the Shelf" concept, since it seemed fun, but Christmas has so much going on I don't want to add something else. And holy smokes, if you do Elf on a Shelf all December long, you are some sort of saint. I did it 4 nights, and on the 5th just decided to skip it. Ha! But the real issue was Carly. She is way too smart and logical for such childish games, apparently. The first morning he was upside down wrapped up in toilet paper. She asked how he got there and I told her he was causing mischief and she replied, "But he can't walk. He is just pretend." The next morning he had built a tower, and she said "But mom, his arms aren't even long enough to reach it." Serenity now, child.

The day for the wearing of the green arrived, and Liam made good on his word. Carly awoke to another scroll, and clues on how to find a series of mini scrolls to lead her to the conveniently baby-gated kitchen to find the treasure at the end of the rainbow. My rhyming skills were extremely impressive, and I made up clues like "Finding treasure is so groovy . . . this is where you watch a movie!" and "You're getting closer, and that's good news . . . this is where you keep your shoes!" It worked for her though, because she raced up and down the stairs excitedly until she finally got "Solve this last clue, and you're a winner . . . this is where you eat your dinner!" And off she ran to the kitchen, where Liam was waiting with a pot of dollar store treasure, and a little stuffed friend for each kid. Carly adores her new purple kitty, brilliantly named "Purple".

The rest of the day was spent enjoying Lucky Charms and avoiding the green milk, looking adorable in our green at church (I got those dresses for $4 a piece at Target's end-of-summer clearance this past fall; I was proud all over again taking the tags off to wash them), playing with green balloons, wearing Irish princess crowns, and, of course, eating corned beef and cabbage. In a shocking turn of events, all three of my little leprechauns enjoyed corn beef. John probably would have eaten the entire brisket himself. 

We had fun, but more than anything, it was just a really nice Sunday with our not-so-little little family.

I grew up listening to this set of kids songs about holidays, and my parents got us all our own copy. The St Paddy's Day song is a personal favorite. Its a little Irish jig sung by an over-the-top Irish leprechaun voice. Some of it goes something like this:

Today is the day for the wearing of the green
Today is St Patrick's Day, so if you're Irish me lads
Come join the celebratin' for the finest time to be had

Saints be praised, I must admit, you all look Irish to me

Saturday, March 9, 2013

let her be little.

Last Sunday Carly gave her first Primary talk. One of the things I have grown to love about our Church is how we all teach each other, and the teaching starts young. Three years old and we already have the kids up there teaching their peers the gospel. 

Carly's talk subject was "Jesus Christ taught the Gospel and set an example for us." I sat down to write Carly's talk, which I knew would only be a few sentences, and drew a blank. Chris suggested I have Carly help. I sat her next to me and asked, "What did Jesus teach?" I couldn't keep up with how fast she responded.

"To do the rightness.
About the scriptures.
The Holy Ghost.
He loves us . . ."

And just like that, Carly's talk came together, authored by me, ideas by Carly. We practiced a few times the night before, and when she gave the talk she was very calm and articulate, even if she was a tad too close to the microphone at times. She is three, after all.

The full transcript: 

When Jesus Christ came to Earth, He taught the Gospel to those around him. He taught people to love one another, to obey His commandments, and to pray. He taught them from the scriptures. He taught them about the Holy Spirit. He taught them about Heavenly Father and how much He loves them. He taught them if they did what was right, they could get blessings. This is a great example for us. We can tell our friends about Jesus and Heavenly Father. We can make good choices and have the Spirit with us. We can obey the commandments and get blessings. I love Jesus and I am grateful for the Gospel.

At the end, I told her she could add what she wanted, a sort of "baring her testimony", I suppose. She boldly declared: "Jesus loves the people!"
So true, sister. So true.

This girl has preoccupied so much of my thoughts and worries as of late. She is growing so fast, and yet she is still so little. She has been having some behavior and physical issues, and we are actually getting her tested for Celiac disease in a week or so. But she is so good. She has a good heart and such a sweet and faithful spirit. Her spirit just shines.

We have been having a lot of adventures lately, she and I. These last weeks of winter are always akin to torture, but I've been trying to keep things a little exciting. We went to "the beach" and dug in "the sand" (aka rice; I was finding it all over my house for days afterwards). One morning she woke up and said "I'm going to put on my adventure clothes so we can go on an adventure!" We ended up using her $1 butterfly net, made all sorts of paper bugs, and went on bug hunt after bug hunt. We ride off into the sunset in the wild wild west and draw, color, and paint lots of pictures, including her first ever portrait of our family of 5. We all have hair and hats, and she was even kind enough to include my black eyelashes (she prefers them black; when I go without makeup she asks when I'm going to color my eyelashes).

Mixed in the adventure we try to include some education. We practice writing numbers and letters (in our swimwear on the best days), do a little yoga, play learning games, and brush up on our geography. Carly is a pro at her map. She knows her house goes "on the mitten" and once I put the camel in Egypt and she corrected me and placed it in Saudi Arabia. She is just so smart.

It is that loves-to-learn little brain of hers that has had me all flustered as of late. Preschool applications are coming right up, and I have been wondering what to do with her. I have been stressing over what would be best for her and our family. My preferred option, a twice-a-week schedule in the little town just south of us, is expensive, and we are technically "out of district" (across the street!) so she'd be the last to be let in, and that has added to my worry.  I was able to learn more about my options through very helpful friends, but soon my worry reached its peak. I knelt in prayer, turning to Heavenly Father for answers, which I should have done much earlier.

The following morning, as I swept breakfast off the floor, I flood of thoughts rushed into my mind. The primary thought was, "Let her be little."

Let her spend her days stretching her imagination, playing with her babies, going on adventures, and learning from her mother. Let her go to library story time, enjoy long walks in the sunshine, and  play at the park. Before you know it, she will be gone. She'll be at school all day every day, and these few precious years that you have to teach her to be strong, teach her to be good, they will be over. Keep her with you a little while longer.

If we can get Carly into the two mornings a week option, and if we can find a way to afford it, that will be wonderful. She loves people, she loves new experiences, and it will be so good for her. I want that for her. But whether she goes to preschool or not, the place she will learn the most is within the walls of our home. As my ever-supportive husband reminded me, "The best place for her to learn right now is here with you."

I didn't realize it at the time, but my thoughts as I swept the floor that morning were the answers to my prayers. My worry is gone; I feel at peace. I look at Carly and want to hold on to her and just let her be little a little while longer.

Friday, March 1, 2013

here we are. 12 months young.

You hear a lot in the twin world that you've "just got to make it through the first year." 
Here we are.
But having had a kid already, I know that while many things get easier in year two, many things also get more difficult. So maybe getting "here" isn't really getting anywhere. But we still feel like we've reached a milestone, crossed some sort of finish line. And as Chris rightly put it, "Can anything honestly be worse than when they were newborns?" True dat.

At 12 months, Quinn . . . 

-claps. It is painfully adorable, because she does it really excitedly. She claps when I say "Yay!" The other day John did a good job brushing his teeth, and I said "Yay, John, good job!" and she gave him a round of applause. She also claps when Chris gets home. Like her big sis, she's a daddy's girl.

-shares. She gives something to you and you say "Thank you!" and she takes it back and gives it to someone else. Or back to you, if no one else is around. She also gives high fives, and thinks its awesome.

-wore her first pigtails recently. It was a battle to get them in, but oh, so worth it. They struck strait up in the air and I almost fainted from her cuteness every time I looked at her. She is something of a girly-girl, apparently, because if I put a headband or necklace on her and say "Pretty!" then she likes to keep it on.

-is the messiest eater. She has started chewing her food for a second, and then spitting it out everywhere. It is seriously so frustrating. I have to strip her down after every meal, and if I feed her in just a diaper, I pretty much have to give her a sponge bath afterwards.

-signs milk, and does so vigorously when she is tired and wants a bottle to go to sleep.

-says "dada" actually referring to Chris. She jabbers a lot, and it starting to sound more and more like talking.

-is OBSESSED with climbing things. I often walk into a room and find her on top of the back of the couch or standing on a chair or little play table. Its terrifying. 

-wears 12 month clothes, sometimes 18 month.

-continues to sleep through the night consistently, and now shares a room with big sis. After a lot of stressing on my part, the girls have made the transition seamlessly.

-gives sweet kisses, and will even slip you the tongue.

-AND [drum roll please] has started taking her first steps in the last few days. She gets so excited she starts bouncing and falls down. But she is taking more and more. Watching your kid take those first steps is such an amazing and beautiful thing.


At 12 months, John . . .

-is clingy. I couldn't figure out why he screamed all day, and then I realized it is because he want me. He wants to be held and played with and paid attention to all the time. And when he drinks a bottle, he wants me to sit right there so he can put his feet on me. I try to remember this is cute and sweet, not frustrating and inconvenient.

-has a frantic little speedy crawl, and when he wants to go somewhere, he'll put his head down and plow through any obstacle. He pulls up on things but doesn't stand on his own yet. My hope is he'll be walking by nursery.

-is currently enjoying "sleep training" if that is even a thing. We decided to let him 'cry it out' a bit, since he is one and waking up 1 or more times every single night and drinking like 2 oz and going right back to sleep. It is pure habit. He is in his own nerdy little man cave with maps, giant animals, and a Cubs Win flag. The first two night he slept all night without a peep. It was very strange. Last night he was up crying half the night; crying, then quiet, crying, then quiet. This morning I found his leg stuck between the slats of his crib. Number one mom award.

-is such a handsome little guy. We're wondering if his ears will eventually stop sticking out so far, but I just love them. He has such a great smile, beautiful blue eyes, and soft kissable lips. And when he comes at you with a kiss, it is open-mouthed and teeth-first.

-continues to love balls and stacking cups. A new favorite toy of his is the Little People stuff. We have lots of people and animals and a barn, airplane, and bus, and he just loves taking the little figures in and out and moving them around. It is so funny to watch him work. I always wonder what his little mind is thinking.

-still just loves to eat. He's such a boy that way.

-wears 12- 18 month clothes. His growing has actually started slowing down since he began crawling as well as he does. Q is catching up to him in size, though I doubt in weight. He is still rather dense, though not as thick as he used to be.

-loves to laugh at big sis. I mentioned his little nerdy chuckle. The other night I was putting Q down and he stood up in his crib and was watching us. I was dead silent, hoping he would just go to sleep, but then I hear "hee hee hee" . . . his little nerd laugh. He did it a few times before lying back down. It was so hard for me not to burst out laughing. Silly boy.

J and Q are as cool as they come. The love bottles (uh-oh), they hate snow. They have no sense of personal space. They love to brush their teeth, though sometimes I'll walk by and notice they have managed to switch toothbrushes with each other. They love to play, they love to laugh, they love to be snuggled, they love to give kisses. They are just so good. I hope I can be as good as them someday.

Here we are.
A year later. 

We're all getting more sleep, they are weighing more while I'm weighing less, they are a lot cuter than their initial preemie alien beginnings, and we are all healthy, happy, crazy, and blessed.

We've come a long way.

Happy 12 months, Q and J.
We're glad you joined us.