Saturday, May 30, 2015

J and Q are three.

John and Quinn turned three. 
It was three months ago, but you win some, you lose some.
A birthday it too important to go without recording.

They were both very excited for the big day. The night before I decorated and set out their presents. As it turns out, that was a bit of a mistake because Quinn threw a fit over wanting to open presents right then. And in our house we typically do it after dinner. Poor Quinn. Its her birthday and she'll cry if she wants to.

I initially had the urge to throw a party, but Chris talked me out of it, and I'm glad he did. We had a really fun day as a family. John and Quinn love swimming, so we headed to the local aquatic center. We taught Carly the value of strategically "playing hooky", and she skipped school to come swimming. Its not our fault open swim hours are during school, am I right? They had a lot of fun, and Carly practiced diving for rings on the pool floor.

Chris taught a class that afternoon, so we went home and cleaned up, decorated cakes, and played "Pin the pocket on the Minion". 

The cakes were a fiasco all their own. Our oven had been broken for a month and we didn't quite have the funds to replace it. Luckily we headed over to our cousins house to use their oven. Since they already share a birthday, I feel strongly about making them each their own cake. Quinn requested a "pink ballerina cake with pink sparkles" and John asked for a "volcano cake with hot lava coming out." I'm no cake boss, but they were both thrilled the with results. Though, two cakes means twice as much to eat, and a great deal of it ended up in the garbage. Oops. Maybe we'll have to do a party next time, after all.

Quinn was as giddy as can be when we sang to her.

After dinner and cakes they opened way too many presents, and there was a massive mess in our living room for days. Now that's what birthdays are all about.

At the risk of jinxing myself, I have to say J and Q have been really fun three-year-olds. Carly was a hard three-year-old. She threw massive tantrums where she threw herself against walls. I was thinking about it the other day and it occurred to me: when Carly was three, the babies were new. That was a very hard time for all of us, and I occasionally felt like throwing myself against a wall. So she gets a pass, and we'll eat up the happy fun three-year-olds we've got going on now.

Not that is all sunshine and roses. Quinn, in particular, has discovered the are of over-reacting in a highly dramatic fashion. I'm constantly talking her down. "How about we calm down and talk in words so I know what you want?" But she is so sweet and funny and is the cutest. Like, she's really painfully cute. Carly will even say randomly "Quinny is just so cute!" Lately if she's really serious about something she'll point her finger at you. Chris sometimes runs after bedtime and she caught him in his running clothes. She narrowed her eyes and pointed to him, "Why you have shoes on?! You going to work?" Unrelated but still cute, one day she told me, "Me no like babies." I asked "You don't?" And she said, "Well, me no like human babies. Me just like horse babies." She loves to sing songs. She loved her dance class that ended up getting canceled. She was so sad, but talks about going to a big girl class in the fall. 

Quinn is obsessed with flowers. We've always joked she's our "flower child" because of her personality and love of nature, but now its getting literal. She brings me constant bouquets of dandelions. We had another wild flower grow in our yard and I wouldn't let her pick it. She stood there with her hands clenched and her knees bouncing: "But me want to pick it SO BAD." She also loves bugs, believe it or not. Whenever she sees an ant she stops in her tracks and says "Hey! Its my friend!" Her love extends to spiders. I have been seeing a certain kind of spider in the house that was thick and black so I caught one so we could investigate if it was dangerous (its not, but its called a Jumping Spider, and the name is right on --- totally terrifying). Anyway, she was completely infatuated with said spider. I jokingly said we should name it. She paused thoughtfully and said, "How about Sparkle!" We kept Sparkle for a few days, and then released him into the wild. Another time I went to kill a spider and she yelled "No! He's my friend!" How do you kill it after that? We released him into the wild, too. I hope they are grateful to have such an ally as her.

Quinn also has a particular passion for letters and mail. She likes to draw pictures and asks for an "en-ah-lope" so send it to the chosen recipient. She was burning through actual stamps so I started drawing stamps instead. She also writes herself letters and puts them next to her bed because I think she just really likes getting letters. She has a little penpal named Eliza that is a frequent topic of conversation. She drew a picture of our family that had 4 little people. I thought it was so sweet and said, "Oh! Is that our new baby? That's so nice." She said, "NO! That's Eliza." Of course.

Three-year-old John is a really great kid. He has always been such a man's man, and that continues. He loves "yard work" with dad. Or just watching dad. Chris has been trimming trees and John is fascinated by that saw. He has his own little toy lawn mower and almost daily says, "Mom! Me need to mow the yawn!" But he calls his lawn mower a "mower cycle" and I WON'T EVER CORRECT HIM. It will be so sad when that stops. He still loves diggers, but I've noticed a shift to bigger boy things, like motorcycles, fire, robots, and weapons (great).

Just this month John finally joined the potty-trained club. It was a full six months after Quinn, which is right on schedule with so many other milestones. He was more than ready, since I had intended to try earlier but being sick made it impossible. But he picked it right up in about a week, and by week two was staying dry through the night. It is bizarre to have no diapers to change, but I'm not complaining. We have 5 months to enjoy.

John is a wild man. He loves wrestling, and fortunately has a big sister that loves it too. John and Carly can regularly be found running around and tackling each other while Quinn is sitting and looking at a book (not an exaggeration). He loves to be outside and find sticks. It is a regular afternoon activity for him and Quinn to be out climbing our terraces looking for sticks and flowers and ants. He is so sweet with his sisters. When he sees a puppy he runs to tell Quinn and show her because he knows she loves puppies. When we pick Carly up from school he runs and gives her a big hug: "Sissy!" I can already tell it will be hard for both of them to have her gone all day in the Fall. 

We often say John has a heart of gold. He is a genuine and loving kid, without a great deal of the manipulation his sisters seem to be experts at. When he does something "wrong", he often looks genuinely surprised, like "Why can't I drive my scratchy metal trucks along the wall?" or "I was just swinging my arm around, I didn't know it would hit her."

He says funny things too, and as I write this post I'm making a new commitment to writing them down. But one of my favorites: During dinner one night Carly ended up throwing a huge tantrum. It was kind of crazy and she had to be forced into her bedroom. I noticed John laughing about it. I said, "John, it isn't funny!" And he replied, "Ummm, its a little bit funny." Ha ha! I still laugh about that. He was right. It was a little bit funny (after he said that, anyway).

John and Quinn's relationship has really blossomed in the last few months. All three of the kids are great friends and have so much fun together. But Carly can have an intense and type-A personality, which leads to conflict. When Carly is at school, John and Quinn play together absolutely flawlessly. I think they are at two far ends of the personality spectrum, and Carly falls right between them. J and Q very rarely conflict with each other, but constantly make each other giggle and like to have fun together. Then if they choose to play on their own, neither is offended. It is so fun to watch them and listen to them. I love that they have each other.

So cheers to two at three. I'd say I can't believe it, but I can. Sometimes I see photos or videos of two cute babies and it makes my heart hurt. They really do grow and change so fast. But its just so fun right now. I love right now. It is so much harder to think that three and five years old won't last forever. Because I often wish it would.

Happy third birthday, J and Q. 
We're glad you joined us.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

the story of Four.

We're having a baby. I'll call him/her Four, because he/she is, after all, number four. And if it is a boy there is a chance he will actually be called Four or Kid or Boy because Chris likes Bruce and Clark and Kent (sensing a trend, super-fans?), and I just can't go there. Anyway. We're having a baby in mid October. I'll be 17 weeks pregnant tomorrow and I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that we're having a baby. Nausea and vomiting and exhaustion and ultrasounds and heartbeats and blood tests and feeling wiggles all have yet to fully convince me. I think it is because I have become so very accustomed and in love with our family of 5, it is hard to place number 6. But I have no doubt there is a missing piece to our little puzzle.

The story of Four actually begins almost 3 years ago. The twins were four months old, and I was going to the temple for the first time in too long. I had just survived the twin pregnancy, with all the overwhelming sickness and pain that comes with it. We had just experienced the first 4 months of twin babies, including a colicky baby boy. I was so worn, emotionally, physically, spiritually. I had so very little left. I went to the temple looking for peace. Something else was happening within me, too. A feeling that three children was all I could, would, and wanted to do. A feeling of not imagining ever doing this again. It is not fair for me to sit here and say that, as I know we are fortunate to have the ability to plan our children, and to more or less have them when we try to, when so many others struggle and ache and wait and pray. But it was my reality; it was my own struggle.

I sat down in the temple and as the session began, the still small voice of reason and truth hit me so hard. You hear people use the expression "the Spirit pierced my soul" or something along those lines. This was that. Do not close your heart to another child. Tears came to my eyes. That wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but it was something I couldn't deny. I prayed for time, for peace from the chaos, for us to get through the many things that were ahead of us, and for my sanity. And I felt comfort in knowing time was something I could have.

The next three years held so much goodness, accomplishment, and joy. We survived the first year of twins, And then the second. And then approached the third. Our three kids became the three best friends you've ever seen. They are really the greatest trio. Chris passed comps and wrote a dissertation and earned a PhD. I experienced a summer of depression, followed by a physical and spiritual healing, that led to true happiness (and running a half marathon!). Chris got a job. We bought a house. We moved across the country. Those years of struggle and triumph and so much joy will always be most precious to me.

Upon our arrival in Pullman, I felt the clock ticking. We wanted to get settled, make friends, get into a routine, and enjoy the holidays. And so we did. And as we welcomed 2015, we felt it was time. I was never "baby hungry". I have come to a point where the reality of a baby strongly outweighs how cute they photograph. But having Carly and Quinn and John running around reminded me we weren't choosing to have a baby. We were choosing to welcome another person into our lives, home, family, and eternity. They are babies for a short, precious, snugly, exhausting period of time, but then they become people. And while babies are little pieces of heaven, I truly love the part when they become people.

Well, our next person was waiting, because while it usually takes time for a baby to come your way, Four took no time at all. I was so shocked I sent Chris a picture of the pregnancy test saying, "This has two lines." "Does that mean you're pregnant?" he asked. "I guess so," was my reply. All the while Quinn was pounding on the door screaming for me to come out of the bathroom. The experience was a far cry from holding hands, counting down the three minutes to find out Carly was on her way. But just as sweet.

Three days later, I began to bleed heavily. I was sure I was joining the ranks of women who experience the pain of miscarriage. We cried. Our hearts ached. I tried to tell myself that at 6 weeks it wasn't that bad. But it felt bad. The first ultrasound was inconclusive. I prayed the night before the follow-up ultrasound. I said I was sorry for being hesitant. I begged Heavenly Father to let me have this baby. Then the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, of all things, popped into my head. "But if not," I prayed, "I'll have faith in good things to come." The next day I found out the hormone levels in my blood had doubled as they would in an active pregnancy. The second ultrasound showed a sac, but they said there was no way to know if it was a viable pregnancy. Two weeks. I had to wait two weeks to know if I was really pregnant or not. And in the mean time, wait for more bleeding. 

Two weeks later, we found a healthy, wiggling baby-blob. I don't know why I walked out of that ultrasound room with tears of joy, while so many walk out in tears of sorrow. I don't know. But I'm very grateful. Shortly after that, the sickness came in full force. All order and structure in life fell apart. It has been hard and stressful and messy, and I ache over not being the mother I used to be. But it passes. I remember feeling this way when I was expecting the twins, and I have to remind myself it passes.

I have thought about Four from time to time over the years. Our glorious little tail-end singleton. While the idea of having another baby was never all that appealing, I didn't close my heart, just as I was told not to. In 5 short/long months, we pray, we'll be holding him or her in our arms. It will be so good to have all six of us together again, as I have no doubt it will not be for the first time. Shortly before I found out I was pregnant, all three kids had climbed into our bed, wrestling and tickling and snuggling. Out of the blue Carly said, "There is still room for one more! But it has to be a small person." Oh, my heart. She's right. There is still room for one more.