Tuesday, September 23, 2014

life on the Palouse.

We've been in our new home for about a month a half now. I dare say  maybe we are settling. Maybe things are even a teeny weeny bit . . . normal.

We've been having fun. On Labor Day Friday we planned to go camping, but I called ahead to the nearby national forest and they said their campground were full. So we did the next best thing: we set up the tent in our backyard and roasted marshmallows over hot coals. The kids thought it was all sorts of fun but the 5-man-tent was in no way fit for 5 people, even with three of them being small, and Chris and I ended up shoved in the corners. But when I woke up way too early and saw my whole world all in one tent, it was pretty sweet. We also hit an Idaho Vandals volleyball game. Chris's cousin Alyssa plays on the team and it was so fun to go cheer her on. This past Saturday Chris took the kids on the city bus (all of which have Washington State Cougars painted on them, so the kids call them "Cougar Bus") up to spend some time on campus and get ice cream. Quinn will tell you all about "me sissy daddy John-boy red cougar bus mama stay paint door blue." She's a story teller, that one. Carly also got invited to a birthday party for a friend at school. They welcomed John and Quinn and all three got to dress up like pirates and go on a treasure hunt. Its a simple life, but its the kind of simple we've been looking forward too.

Carly found her groove at school. Just like last year, she had a rough beginning. It takes her a bit to warm up to situations and people and places. There were tears for the first two weeks, and one day was so bad her teacher and I had to pretty much drag her in. She told me she hated school. It really isn't in Carly's character to hate school, so I tried to casually discuss what was happening at school. One thing that Montessori does is self-led learning. The children choose what they want to work on. One day Carly just let her problems out: "There are SO MANY fun things to do! I don't know which one to do so I just stand there!" Hating school? Not in Carly's character. Being overwhelmed by choices? Bingo. We made a plan that she'd start at the first thing on the first shelf and work around the room. I think just talking it out eased her worry, and she has been great ever since. Another issue was feeling out friends. Who knew 5 year old girls could be so dramatic? That has since smoothed itself out, too. A week or so ago her teacher said, "So I don't think we have to worry about the friend thing any more. She has a lot of them." She has given me a list of girls she wants to invite over for a party, and when we went to "Lunch Bunch" (where kids from her school have a picnic lunch after AM school and before PM), it was so fun to see her running around and giggling with her friends. She also had her first dance class last week. She's been asking for quite a while, and after mediocre interest in soccer or t-ball, we decided to give it a go. Its a tap/ballet/tumbling combo, and its safe to say that after one class, she's in love.

Chris's job is pretty great. The university has really treated him so well and he works with a positive and enthusiastic group of people. His classes are going well, though he didn't have as much time to put it together as he would have liked. As part of his job and contract he was given funding to start a kinesiology lab. It has been a lot of work for him, but it has been really exciting work. His lab has a "Bod Pod", which measures body fat percentage, and I got to be the guinea pig. He got a lot of experience working in the lab at Michigan State, so now he is bringing that experience in starting his own. Its a really great and exciting thing, and it will be exciting to see how it grows in the coming years.

I'm plugging along. To tell the perfect truth, I have had a hard time. I really loved Lansing, and I had a group of friends there like I don't think I've ever really had. The most surprising part for me about moving was how intensely alone I felt. I have been meeting people. Our ward is incredibly friendly. I go to a D&C class on Tuesday mornings and joined the book club. We went to playgroup when it was still going on. And it has really been great. But real friendships take time, a lot of time. And I have found myself really missing that. Pullman has been an adjustment too. A month and a half later, I feel good about this new place we call home. It is small, but there is something refreshing about that small-town feel. Last night Chris went to the well-loved drive-in in town to get us shakes, and the girl who made them asked for extra credit. Ha! He's going to have to start making sure he is well-dressed on milkshake runs if he's going to be running into students all over. But I am learning to love it here. And I hardly even have to use my GPS anymore. If I'm not sure where I am, the best thing to do is go down whatever hill I'm on and it will take me to the one main road (ha!).

Our house it coming along nicely. We had a painter paint the main living area. He was nice and painted almost at cost, but he was completely undependable. When the project was over it was nice to not be stressing about it anymore! But he did paint over the awful mint green in our kitchen for free, which was awesome. He took pity on me when I mentioned how much I hated it. We also got new wide faux wood blinds for the living room. They are so beautiful. Our old ones were bent and ugly. Really, a person shouldn't love blinds as much as I love mine. When Chris put them up Carly walked in and he asked her if she liked them. "They look exactly like our old ones," she answered. Ha! Wrong, child, very wrong. I've also been painting the front door. The intent was a nice bright navy blue but instead it came out BLUE. I think I might love it, though, It is kind of fun. That being said, I reserve the right to paint it darker, once I'm willing to look at a paint brush again. We love our yard. It is a total wreck, really, but its going to be beautiful when we get done with it. . . in a few years. We have a tree that we thought grew crab apples, but no, its a real apple tree. They are tart but really fresh and crisp. I ate some today with caramel dip and it was so good. It is so fun to walk out your door and pick apples off your tree. Legit Washingtonians, right here. So we are setting in, and really loving it. The other day Quinn called it "my new house" and Carly said, "Its not really our new house anymore. Its just our house." That sums it up perfectly.

The leaves are changing, the air is cooling, and life on the Palouse is good.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Quinn and John are two and a half.

Two and a half. The thought makes my head spin. This is how old Carly was when I had the twins. What? They are still babies! Right?

Quinn would disagree. I took her to the doctor just before we left Lansing and they measured her and the doctor told her how big she was. She took this as a professional medical opinion and has since often reminded me "Me big!" When I hold her and call her my baby she says, "No, me big."

First haircut in July.

We call Quinny my little koala baby. She's a mama's girl and I'm not even mad about it (most of the time). She likes to be by me, like if I leave the room she whines, "Maaaammmm!" She likes me to carry her, and when I pick her up she grins and wraps her arms around my head and presses her cheek to mine. It is my favorite, I have to admit. She also grabs my chin and turns it toward her when she wants my undivided attention, and will put her face so close to mine when she talks to me that I can only see her eyes. But sometimes it does get a little out of control, and I have to sneak away and lock the door just to use the restroom. She is so sweet. Figuratively and literally. She has a sweet demeanor, and somehow she always manages to smell like dessert. It probably has to do with the chapstick she rubs into her cheeks all the time.

Things Q loves: bows and blankies, swings, brushing her teeth even when I don't know she's doing it, wearing bandaids even when she doesn't have an injury.

Quinn loves to swing: "High! High! Me high!" She loves sweet treats. She has recently started to care a lot about what she wears, meaning she looks crazy a lot of the time. She also has strong opinions on her shoes, and prefers sparkly ones whenever possible. Quinn likes to do what her sister is doing, whether it is groaning about the injustice of bedtime, flying like a super hero, or tending to their flock of stuffed animals. Quinn also like to boss her bigger little brother: "John-boy, no!" But she is just as quick to give him an unexpected hug or laugh at his endless antics.

Quinn's favorite thing right now is Minnie-rella, or "Minnie Mouse ball" as she calls it. She gets a little smirk as she watches it, it brings her so much joy. Lately she refuses to wear anything but a dress, and calls them her "Minnie mouse ball dress." Her favorite is the blue one (above, left) and she wears it at least 4 times a week. My mom even bought her a pink dress with Minnie on it, and she still can't be swayed from the blue one: "NO! Blue Minnie Mouse ball dress!"

Quinn has followed in her sister's footsteps of loving stuffed animals. She has a few favorites, including her little red elephant, "Baby E" and puppy "Jojo". She also got a tiny pink unicorn in a happy meal. I mean, this thing was the size of her fist. She absolutely loved Baby Neigh, as she called it, but she lost it ALL THE TIME. And it was so small, it was hard to keep track of. I spent way too much of my life looking for Baby Neigh this summer. When we came to Washington, we accidentally left it in Idaho. My dad drove 9 hours just to bring it to her (oh, and the car load of our stuff . . . and he had a meeting in C'oeur d'Alene). A few days after that, Baby Neigh was lost again. We found a bigger, prettier version with rainbow hair at a store, so we bought it. She now has a larger Baby Neigh, and I still spend way too much time looking for it.

Quinn is REALLY good at falling asleep.

Quinn is starting to prove that she is super smart. It is hard to tell, because she and John continue to be behind verbally compared to an average kid, and way behind their super communicative older sister. Once I was picking up craft fuzz balls off the floor and she proceeded to count them . . . all the way to ten. I didn't even know she could could to three, let alone 10. She has also been identifying a lot of letters, which I haven't been teaching them, and the other day she was looking at our FHE board and could identify each name. After Chris mixed them up, she still knew who was who. She's a bright girl, and it has been so fun to see more of that as she learns more and more words and combines them into more phrases.


The other morning I spent way too long with Carly and Quinn dealing with drama over what they wanted to wear. I've started letting them pick, more or less, but certain lines have to be drawn. And Carly sometimes just can't decide. I was losing my mind and realized I had no idea where John was. I came out to the living room to find him, already dressed, driving an army of trucks around and making loud truck noises. That is John for you. He's a man's man.

A "chochate dodut" is John's favorite.

John likes chocolate, diggers/fire trucks/trains/cars/airplanes, the "ninna tuttles" (ninja turtles; I die.), going on adventures with Carly outside, choo-choo and dig dig books, and boy things. I say "boy" things because I think having sisters has made him embrace his boyness. Or maybe he just got an extra shot of boyness on his way to earth because he is such a boy. He would drive my gender professor, who claimed gendered behaviors are taught rather than inborn, absolutely insane. At my brothers wedding he was going to wear a bow tie. I called it a bow tie in front of him and he screamed, refusing to let me put it on him. Obviously, because boys don't wear bows. So I said, "No, John, its a boy tie." And he smiled and let me put it right on and looked as proud as a peacock over how handsome he was.

John has a good heart. He really never acts out of malice or manipulation (the same can't be said for his cute sisters). The other day he requested crackers before dinner. That request is always denied in our house, but Chris sneaked him some in the kitchen. John ran out to his sisters and when Carly asked for one, he handed it right over. At the park Carly asked/told him to get her a granola bar. He came to me to get one for her, then came running back to get one for Quinn. She didn't ask him to, he just thought of her. (Sounds like he has learned the way to a woman's heart is through her stomach). He is rather a softy for his twin sister, and worries about her if she isn't where he expects her to be. He calls Quinn "Nnnn" (he has mastered the last sound in her name, apparently), and will come to me and say "Uh oh, Nnnn!" if he's worried about her. He's like a little Lassie, and will tell me, "Mama, Sissy help!" If Carly asks Quinn to get me to help, Quinn will totally space it and end up requesting milk or twirling.

Our Lansing grocery store was under construction and John loved to watch the "dig digs".
John is really good at "being a brother." I grew up with three brothers, so I know all about this. He likes to put his feet in his sisters faces, or sit on them, or giggle when he toots by them, or any other form of brother pestering. I'm amazed he has mastered it so young. Sometimes I yank him off his sisters and laugh and say, "You're such a brother!" But he has also mastered the sweet part of being a brother. When his sisters wear a pretty dress, they run to show him. They will twirl for him and he says "Ooo, sissy!" or "Ooo, Nnn!" It's his way of calling them beautiful, and it gives me fuzzies every time. He loves these girls he is surrounded by.

John is also the court jester around here. He can get both girls giggling pretty good just by being a total goof. He dances around crazy making crazy noises. He bounces, or jumps, or flops on the ground. He does silly things with toys. And the girls eat it up. "Again!" they laugh. He loves being a goof, and he loves making them laugh.

John loves to work and help. Since we've moved in there has been constant things to build, install, and fix. John has a little felt tool belt with tools and wants to help daddy. We were trying to hang our new temple print, which is big and heavy, and were having a hard time. We stopped to evaluate and I looked over to see John up on the couch hammering right where we had been working. It was so cute. He was also fascinated by Chris mowing the lawn. For the next few days he walked around with his hands out like they were on the lawn mower and would say "dada, vroooooommmmm!" He loves his daddy. John was a hard baby, but as he becomes a really great kid I can see him and Chris having a special man bond. They are, after all, in this together.


These two are growing up fast. They had their first trip to the dentist, and were quite skilled at "opening wide." They also switched to toddler beds. I would have left them in their cribs for a lot longer, but we didn't want to bring both cribs in the move. I had the toddler beds sent to my parents house, so when we left Lansing for good they'd think they were leaving their cribs behind. I'm not sure that many transitions at once was the best idea, but it went somewhat well. My mom took the brunt of the transition, because when Quinn would wake up anywhere from 2 to 5 am, she'd go to her room: "Mimi all done night-night!" It took about a week of adjustment, and who knows how much of that was a new place and new time zone. A perk to toddler beds is they would kind of slink right out instead of falling with a thud.

John and Quinn are both learning to say prayers. Chris or me or Carly will help them with what to say, and usually they repeat the last word: "Father . . . day . . . play . . . eat . . . night-night . . . Amen." It is sweet. It is really sweet when they add something on their own, like family members or the other day John added the "park."

They seem to know they come in a pair. They use the phrase "two babies" a lot. If they both want to be carried, which is a challenge for me at this point, and I tell them I can only carry one, they say, "No, two babies!" And when we're at the grocery store and they both want to ride in the seat they agree on "two babies" meaning they each have to put both legs through a single leg hole (not easy for John). And I love to hug one in each arm and say "I have two babies!" Sometimes they giggle, but sometimes they correct me: "No, me big!" Stinkers.

John and Quinn are so funny together. They are such a little duo and are hilarious to watch. At dinner last night Quinn grabbed a fist full of her veggies to offer them to John and he leaned over and ate right out of her hand like a puppy. After any sort of absence from each other, upon being reunited they squeal "Nnnn!" "John-boy!" and run to hug. They are little friends they are each protective of the other. I hope it always stays that way. They look out for each other, and I hope they always do.

My swaddled babies.
Has it really been two and half years? Has it really only been two and a half years? I recently joked with someone who said something about two sets of twins that I like to think of mine as a "once in a lifetime opportunity." These two and a half years have been long and hard, but the last year has been pretty great. They are fun and smart and cute and totally crazy. But we love them, and as I always think whenever I wonder why two came at once: we just wouldn't be complete without both.