Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Summertime Blues and an Update

When winter finally clears out and the weather warms up it is incredibly exciting for me/us! We spend most our time outside during that time. The warm temps give way to hot sweltering summer temps and we hit water activities to keep us busy. By mid August, however, I'm more than ready for a reprieve from the hot sticky temps.

The kids started preschool in Jan. Although they were too young technically, we sent them anyway since it was only half the year. It was a great experience for them and us. When summer came, I knew I would have a hard time filling five days a week with them. I thought about camp, but honestly, I think they should stay home and just enjoy being a kid as long as possible. There's lots of time for camp and summer activities away from home. They are only 2! Well, after having them home one full summer, I think next summer we'll sign them up for some kind of camp.

We've had a busy summer which included (almost) weekly trips to the zoo and tons of pool time among many other things. But, I'M DONE!!! We go out most days to do something. I simply cannot sit at home with them all day every day. But, I am over summer!  I'm tired of dragging them out into the heat to play outside in our yard even.

We have been having a lazy week and watching too much TV, but I just don't have the energy to keep the summer fun alive this week. They start school next week and I am very excited to get back into a routine of having some 'alone' time. I am tired of cramming everything into the weekends. Right now, grocery shopping, cleaning, lawn mowing and any house projects get crammed into the weekend. It makes for busy weekends and I'm honestly tired of it. It's impossibly to get any decent cleaning done when they are awake/home. They need attention, are fighting over a toy, crying over something ALL THE TIME. I have to run back and forth to play referee and it's impossible to get anything done.

So, I've hit the inevitable summer wall. I've had this summer wall thing happening since before kids. I'm not a fan of summers in the South at all. The rest of the year is amazing, but summers are just too hot!! School next week. Free time next week. It's happening so soon!!

Although we are still incredibly far behind in talking, we are slowly making progress. My theory for them being delayed in speech is that they are happy and content at home. They play with each other (and they don't need to talk to one another to come up with games), have a solid routine and know what to expect out of their day and simply don't have a real need to talk. There is no evidence or science to back this claim up. Maybe I came up with it just to make myself feel better. But, for whatever reason, talking has been SLLLLOW! Our favorite phrase, however, is "ME TURN." They have gotten much more competitive over toys and some days I feel like all they do is fight over who gets what. I make them share/take turns if they have something they both want. They each get it for about 2 minutes and then I tell them to share/give it to the other one. About half the time they will willingly give up the toy and share. The other half the time (usually Evan) will run away when it's time to share. He sometimes throws the toy or hides it and then runs off and screams/whines about having to share. If he gets really upset, he'll throw/knock over objects. That gets him a direct ticket to his room for 2 minutes. Putting them in their room for a time out is very effective. They hate it and scream 'noooooo!' as soon as you shut the door. They come out after screaming for 2 minutes suddenly calm and willing to cooperate.

They amaze me every day with the things they learn and are able to do. Evan loves to help unload the dishwasher and he even puts all the silverware back in their appropriate spots. We call him an elephant bc he never forgets. Example: we were upstairs playing with Ella's dollhouse. He opened the fridge and started pointing inside of it and saying 'uh oh.' There is some food that goes in the fridge that is maybe 1.5 x 1.5 in big. It's small. Seemingly insignificant. But, it belongs in the fridge and it wasn't there. He took off running downstairs. A few minutes later he was back with that food. He had the proudest look on his face. If he leaves something important outside or in the van he will remember it's out there and insist he goes to get it hours later when he decides he wants it again.  Ella is very much into arts and crafts.  She loves to paint, color and make things. She is quite and calm when she is being creative.  She is also so silly.  She loves to make us laugh at her.

They are in a naked phase thing at bedtime. Evan is potty trained and took to it immediately. Ella on the other hand, is a mess. She doesn't want to wear diapers and will hold her pee. She will ask to use the potty and sits on it several times, but as soon as she sits on the potty she has to get off. She refuses to sit on any potty long enough to actually pee. She'll go ask for a diaper, pee in it, and then rip it off and ask for underwear. It's a disaster. We've tried everything. She is very stubborn and simply won't do it. Whatever, I have kind of given up on stressing about it. She's kind of trained? But the naked thing. They go to bed in a pull up for Evan and a diaper for Ella. Both of them take off their pull up/diaper at some point. We go to say goodnight to them before we go to bed (usually around 10-10:30) and there they are both naked form the waist down. Their beds are dry and sometimes Evan's pull up is wet, sometimes not. Ella's diaper is always wet. We put them back in a pull up/diaper, but first thing in the morning they will have them ripped off again. I know it's probably bc they don't want to be wet, but I am not ready to put them in underwear and change sheets/mattress protectors in the middle of the night. I like my sleep!

It seems like there is always something they are doing that I'm trying to fix/change. They always grow out of it in a few weeks. 

They are bound to be up from naps any minute now so I'm going to wrap this up. They are still great nappers! I hope I didn't jinx myself.... I know so many people who have problems with naps/kids that won't nap, but that has never been a problem. These two are so busy they are worn out and NEED a nap by 1:30. Some days Ella goes upstairs on her own and puts herself to bed she is so ready for a nap! Nap time is the best. I love a little break from the chaos.

Until next time!!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Twin Life

I had the brilliant idea of handing my team pens and papers at Target in an attempt to minimize screaming. It was a grocery list just like moms! It worked out beautifully for a while. They happily colored on their paper and proudly showed it to me. 
Things went array when I left the beast aka the double cart at the end of an aisle so I could walk the 4 feet to quickly grab dishwasher tablets and continue on. 
Both were laughing loudly and Evan was saying 'ow' in the 32 seconds it took me to grab the tabs and return. In that short time Ella starting stabbing her brother with a pen. Yes, she even drew blood. There is never an ordinary day with these two.... 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Balancing the Helicopter vs Free Range Mom Type

Have you ever been to the park and noticed the two ladies sitting on a bench chatting and not paying any attention to their kids? These moms drive me crazy.  They are in a deep conversation about what their husband did (or didn't do) last week and can't be bothered to stop their kids from throwing rocks.

We had an incident a few weeks ago where two ladies were doing just that and their kids were off hauling large rocks from the park landscaping around and throwing them on the grass. Throwing rocks looks like fun and guess whose kids wanted to join in?  MINE.  I'm sorry, but we are not throwing rocks around at the park.  It's not appropriate behavior for one and two, mine will drop a rock on their foot and then we'll have a new problem.  I had a hell of a time convincing my kids to not follow along in the rock throwing behavior.  We actually ended up leaving shortly after this incident because Evan got pissed he couldn't join in the rock throwing and threw a fit.  You throw a fit, won't listen to mom and act crazy at the park and we leave. I have a low tolerance for acting crazy in public...

I'm sure you have also seen the ladies who are terrified of everything their kids do. They are constantly saying 'be careful, watch your fingers, look where you are going, take your time, you're too little for that, let me help you etc.'  They drive me crazy too.  I think kids need to learn, play and explore.  They may fall down and get hurt, but isn't that how they learn?  When we spend time with my in-laws this is my number one complaint.  They are constantly worried about what the kids are doing that may hurt them.  Meanwhile, I'm watching them and have zero concern over their behavior.  Kids play rough.  They fall.  They get scratches.  To me, that's part of being a kid.

I like to play and interact with my kids when we are out.  Even if I am with someone, I cannot shut out what my kids are doing and focus on having an adult conversation.  My kids are wild and need my attention.  Evan is in a weird bullying state where he will run and play with older kids, but any younger kids he will try to block from climbing equipment.  I'm not going to just sit back and let our kids do whatever they want.  There are rules to follow and a certain standard of behavior I want them to learn to follow.  I don't want to be too involved though.  I want them to run and play independently.  I want them to explore the world without me hovering over them constantly.

When we are out I tend to try to stick close to them, but then I tell myself not to hover.  However, I can't get too far from them because they are 2 and need me to watch them.  I guess we lean more toward the free range parenting idea, but I am not about to let them walk to the grocery store by themselves so I have a little helicopter in me.  Does anyone else find this a struggle?

This has been on my mind as we are spending a lot of time at parks lately.  Last week they played with a 3.5 year old for almost 45 minutes at the park.  The three of them ran around and played games together.  It was a beautiful thing.  I did something I have never done before at the park, I sat on a bench! I sat next to the little boy's mom and we chatted while the kids ran and played.  It felt incredibly wrong to just sit there, but incredibly liberating at the same time.  I guess I am struggling with where my parental involvement should be at this age.  They obviously need me, but they are growing more independent and want to run and play on their own.  I guess I'll keep flip flopping between the two extremes for the time being.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Mom Friends

Years ago when I was walking around with two babies growing in my belly I had fantasized what life would be like after their arrival. Before babies I was working full time nights as a Respiratory Therapist. I was giving up my FT night hours to stay home with the babies. I was ecstatic about the transition! I pictured endless play dates with new mom friends.  I thought I'd be running errands without makeup, my hair up and two littles in tow. I could foresee coffee dates and gossip about mom life with my fellow mom friends. I pictured an easy transition to staying home and thought it was going to be the best thing ever!

Well, here we are 2.5 years post the twins arrival. Reality has set it. I am still staying home with the twins, but the stay at home mom life is not as glorious as I pictured it to be. I have a few mom friends, but none that I would call best friends. I couldn't call them up and be comfortable having them over to my messy house at any time. I am certainly not out breezily running errands or chatting up friends at a coffee shop. 

Taking the kids on a play date means I have to keep a close eye on Evan because he is in a 'does not share well with others' phase. Both of my kids are energetic. VERY energetic. They are always the wild kids. ALWAYS. I have always left play dates feeling frustrated from my kid's behavior. These two have a zest for life. I love it most of the time, but taking them out places alone can be challenging. They are always the most energetic kids in group settings and I always feel the other moms are judging me. Come on, they are 2!

All of this being said, I do not sit at home with them. We go out all the time. I have made plans with friends and met them out, but honestly, I'm so busy chasing my kids around I barely have time to chat with the other moms. I find it is much easier to just head out on an adventure with the 3 of us. I can chat a little with other moms that are out, but I don't feel the need to talk the entire time we are out. I find this frustrating, but I haven't found any moms I've really connected with who also stay home with their kids.

Was I dreaming too much about how wonderful mom life would be? Whenever we go out, it seems there are always groups of moms hanging out chatting. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one in some of these places without a friend. I guess I feel lonely sometimes staying home. I thought we'd be out hanging out with other moms more. Maybe I'm putting too much emphasis on this. Maybe it is something that will happen as the kids grow up and need less of my attention. 

Whenever I should have 20 minutes to myself it never fails, one of the kids will wake up early from a nap... ah!!! I've been trying to write this for over a week, so although it's not really finished I'm going to go ahead and hit publish!!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Midwest Trip '15

Our first trip with the twins to the Midwest happened when the twins were 9 months old. It was a disaster. We were exhausted. They didn't know what the hell was going on. We swore we would not travel again for a LOOONG time. Well, we've made several trips back since the initial trip. Every time we have said 'what the hell were we thinking?' The kids went through a terrible stranger danger phase and screamed at everyone who wanted to see them. They have NEVER slept on these trips. We have needed 2 weeks to get back home, get everything in order and feel somewhat recovered in the past. Despite all of this, we agreed to meet up with family in Wisconsin Dells in early March at a water park hotel. Yes, apparently I'm a glutton for punishment.

I packed everything for the kids and myself. We ended up easily fitting in the Subaru. Typically we are bursting at the seams to fit everything in (we NEED a van!!!). We have traveled at night (most people tell me their kids sleep when they travel at night thus making night travel the easiest), but our kids did not sleep at night when we have travelled. We have found that leaving by 4 am works best for us. The Duo goes to sleep for a while in the car and we can get a good 4 hours of driving in before needing to stop for breakfast. That's what we did on this latest trip. 

I was up at 3 and showered. The husband showered next. We grabbed the kids, changed diapers and put them in the car with confused looks on their faces. They went to bed healthy, but I swear the minute we put Ella in her car seat she started coughing. I think she coughed all the way to the Kentucky boarder before finally falling asleep. We stopped for breakfast as planned around 8. We stopped at a Burger King; I had brought bagels, juice and fruit along for the Duo. They were in great moods and ate a decent amount. Ella hit the cream cheese a little hard, but I figured as long as she was eating I didn't care what her cream cheese to  bagel ratio was. We hit the road again after breakfast and about 15 min down the road Ella started coughing and whining. Collin turned around to see what he could do to make her happy (I was driving) and he told me Ella was puking. I swore (I don't remember really, but I'm sure I did). About 30 seconds later, Evan started puking. The husband was in a panic. I told him to grab some wipes and clean it as best as he could until I could pull over. I swore a lot at that point. We were in the middle of nowhere Kentucky. I hit the gas and pulled off at the next exit. There was NOTHING at this exit. Just some snow and roads. I pulled over and Ella puked again. We cleaned up the best we could with wipes. We got the kids out and laid them on the front seat where we changed them. It was freezing cold out. The kids were crying. I remember saying over and over 'we need a van.' Collin sat up front with the kids while I finished cleaning as best I could. Ella's vomit made me gag. Let's just say there is no way anyone in this house is eating strawberry cream cheese anytime soon! We must have looked desperate because a car that had pulled off stopped and asked us if we needed help. I only had one plastic shopping bag in the car so I tossed the puked covered clothes in the bag. I was a terrible person an littered the puke covered baby wipes on the side of the road. I had no where to put them. I feel terrible about this, but I didn't know what to do!

After this disaster, we started wondering if they were sick and we should turn around and head home. No one had a fever. No one seemed ill. They were in good spirits post puke and warm up so we kept driving.

The drive was uneventful until we stopped for lunch. We pulled into a parking spot, got out of the car and Ella puked again! We did the whole clean up thing again!! I had to dig through the suitcase in the bag because I was not prepared to have to change clothes TWICE. We went in and they ate lunch fine. They were both kind of a hot mess from needing a nap, but they seemed ok. We stopped at a pharmacy and grabbed some Dramamine after lunch because we thought they had car sickness. My husband had horrible car sickness as a kid. We also picked up some air freshener because the car STUNK!!! Ugh. You know the smell. Vomit. It hangs in your nostrils. It's unavoidable. It sticks with you.

After that extended stop we hit the road again only to go by a Indiana State Trooper 5 min down the road and have him pull us over. There was more cursing at this point. He came to the passenger side of the car and asked for a license. I of course, appologized for any puke smell coming from the back and told him our twins had been puking all morning. I figured I may as well use the puking twins as a possible way to get out of the ticket perhaps. Feel sorry for me!! Our car smells like puke! We are on a loooong road trip with 2 year olds!  The officer looked at my husband's license and asked how we like Knoxville. Um. What? We were both confused by the question and responded with some generalized answers of liking the town. He asked where we were from and where we were going. He then told us he went to the University of Tennessee and since we lived in Knox he would let us off with a warning. We had stopped in Lafayette for lunch and apparently the speed limit goes down to 65 as you pass through the town instead of 70 like the rest of IN. So, we had gotten on the interstate and the husband thought the speed limit was 70 and set the cruise at 76. It was an honest mistake, but thankfully the guy was very kind and let us off with a warning. When we went back to the car to issue the warning all I could do was laugh hysterically. Puking kids. Pulled over. What next?! He came back and did tell us he was very pleased to see kids properly secured in car seats. He told us we were responsible parents. At least we had that going for us.

We made it to our destination (my parents house) in WI without anything else out of the ordinary occurring. We celebrated my Grandpa's 81st birthday that night with my brother, SIL, their two kids, my parents and grandparents. It was fun having the kids play together. Evan got into a wrestling match with his 4 year old cousin Ezra. Evan can sure hold his own against a 4 year old... 

Bedtime is typically the biggest concern for us when traveling. Getting the kids to go to sleep can be a nightmare. Although I am very strict with their schedules, I decided to be more lax on this trip. Everyone slept okay the first night, but Ella was up for almost 2 hours coughing in the middle of the night. We each slept with one of the kids. I had Ella so I was off to an exhausting start to the trip.

We went to the Dells the next day and the kids had a lot of fun playing in the water and going on slides. I was worried about how they would react to the water since we have not been in a pool since September. They were awesome though! They loved the kids areas and splashed in the waves of the wave pool. By that evening Ella spiked a fever. No one slept much the second night and by the 3rd day they were sick, exhausted and over the water park. They were clingy toward us and cranky. When my kids are cranky it is very difficult for me to be in a good mood. Both had fevers, were coughing and had a constant flow of snot dripping. Ella was coughing so much she made herself vomit a few times. I started remembering why we should not travel with twins....

One story I don't want to forget about the water park: one of the slides was busy at one point and Ella was in line to go down it. This was on the second day at the water park and she was not feeling well at all. She got out of line and just stood there and started to cry. Evan went up on the slide and stood with her. He stuck out his bottom lip and patted her arms. The look of concern on his face was priceless. The moment they had up on the slide together was the best moment I have seen between the two of them. It was beautiful. 

Anyway, we packed up to leave the next day only to find our DVD player would not turn on. We stopped by a Walmart only to find they do not sell portable DVD players anymore. We were going to swing by Best Buy in Madison, but were going to be heading by it an hour before the store opened. SO, we stopped in Rockford, IL for a DVD player at Best Buy. A DVD player is a must on long road trips. Plus, every time we gave Ella something to play with that involved looking down, she would puke. SO, looking up at the TV was necessary to avoid car sickness

The drive home was fine all things considered. We had two exhausted kids who had a fever and terrible colds. We didn't make it home until 11:30 at night; it ended up being almost a 14 hour drive because of the extra stops for the DVD player and fussy sick kids. They honestly were champs and barely fussed on the way home though. I started to feel sick toward the end of the drive. We walked in the door at 11:30 exhausted yet happy to be home and see our pets. Ella was petting the dog when she turned started whining and puked all over the floor. Welcome home indeed.

Evan and Ella were sick for a week. We ended up taking them in to the doctor on day 4 of Ella's fever. Evan was up the night before with a cough that bordered on croup. Ella had an ear infection and Evan a sinus infection. We got some steroids to prevent croup and antibiotics. They were sick a full week and barely ate anything that week. I had terrible congestion and a fever and missed a night of work. On day 10 of my sickness I finally went to the doctor to get antibiotics. Both Collin and I were sick for almost 2 weeks.

We are finally home, unpacked and healthy. A 'quick' trip to Wisconsin had lingering affects that kept us all sick and exhausted for a few weeks. I keep trying to figure out why we do these things to ourselves... It was a fun and fantastic trip, but horribly rotten at the same time. I think that's how life tends to go when you have kids.

If you need travel tips, I have some great toys that helped keep everyone entertained! I can share if you want:)
Also, if anyone wants to see pics of the kids, look me up on Instagram. My name is AmberDS. I doubt I will be posting many pics on here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Past Month

I cannot believe March is nearing its end. The past month has gone by excruciatingly slow and yet extremely fast at the same time. We had a lot of snow and ice storms from the middle of Feb to the end, so the team did not go to school for two weeks straight. We then went to Wisconsin for a long weekend (that deserves an entire post) and got a horrible upper respiratory infection that kept us all sick for a week. I finally went to the doctor on day 10 to get antibiotics because mine turned into a sinus infection I could not kick nor get sleep while battling. The Duo missed school from our vacation and being sick and they then had a week off for spring break. SO, in a month, we sent the kids to school for one day. That one day of school that lasts for 3 hours ended up costing us $250. Sigh.... Not only did they miss all that school, but we had to register for next years preschool which includes a $100 registration fee per child. I feel like I am absolutely bent over grabbing my ankles when it comes to this whole preschool thing. There is NO REFUND for having school cancelled 2 weeks straight. What is most frustrating is that on a lot of those days the roads were clear and the kids could have easily gone to school! These Southern people freak out about any amount of snow.

When you get used to your kids going to school you learn to quickly rely on that 'me time'/break you get from them. I was bouncing off the walls a lot of those days we didn't have school!! I love having 3 hours to grocery shop, clean, get organized etc. Our 'to do' list is never ending. I'm just glad it is over. It felt amazing to drop the kids off today and head to Target and Old Navy ALONE.

The E's also turned 2.5 years old in March. The talking is coming along oh so very slowly. They should be learning words daily, but we are on a learning words weekly rate. Evan is going to speech therapy for an hour a week. Is it helping? Eh. I can't say one way or another. I do know I thought they would have the word explosion everyone keeps talking about. It's frustrating, but they are communicating and slowly learning.

The in-laws were talking about coming to visit in April. We started talking about a possible getaway while they were here while we were out on a day date. It was a 'wouldn't it be nice' conversation. More of a dreaming kind of thing. Well, we turned it into reality. We are heading to NYC for 4 days at the end of April. Our first time away from the Duo for more than 2 nights. I am excited but nervous. All of a sudden we have to plan a will just in case....

People keep asking if we are having another baby. I look at people that ask this with a look of complete disgust. Do you not see the dark circles under my eyes?! We ended up with very energetic kids. There is NO WAY I need to do this again any time soon. Plus, there is no telling I could even get pregnant again. Two kids seems like enough most days. 

This ended up being a lot of random thoughts. I guess that's what happens when it takes 2.5 days to actually get this finished. I am so happy it is spring! Being able to play outside in the yard and at parks makes for happy kids!! Happy kids make a happy mom. Until next time!!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Pinterest and All the Pressure

The E's have a Valentine's Day party today at school.  It's their first school party.  Once I got the newsletter and read parents were invited I panicked a bit.  I really don't know any of the other parents.  We've chatted while coming or going, but that's all.  I know all but 1-2 of the kids are stay at home kids. I am worried their moms/dads are going to come up with amazing handmade Valentines and treats. 

Whoever created Pinterest should get punched in the bush.  Sure, there are wonderful tutorials and do it yourself ideas, but it puts so much pressure on parents!!  Homemade is all the rage. Damn it, I don't have time to be crafty all the time.  I feel like I'm under a lot of pressure to make amazing homemade everything for the twins, entertain them with crafty activities all day and throw amazing parties thanks to Pinterest.  I hate it.

I don't have the time or energy to create homemade Valentines this year.  Sorry, Evan and Ella. So we went to Target and picked out Valentines. Evan picked out Minion valentines and Ella picked out Frozen. Big surprise! We got some Valentine themed pretzels to pair with them.  I got all those assembled yesterday and decided it was too plain.  I quickly made up some cute bags to put them in.

Now the most tricky part, the snack!  I was worried about the treat we are supposed to bring.  Are these parents health freaks?  Will they be all judgey if I don't make something from scratch?  I know, I know, I shouldn't care, but I do.  I'm the person who cares what other people think.  We are mostly healthy with our food choices for the E's, but I'm okay with them having a cookie now and then. Would other moms feel this way?  Well, it turns out finding a healthy treat that a 2 year old can eat is not easy.  This is what I came up with: sugar cookies topped with strawberry Greek yogurt and fruit.  Geeze these things were tedious to make.  These two year olds will eat these cookies.  I will make them after what I went through to make them.

Anyway, I picked up a shift at work tonight and I am fighting some kind of sinus thing.  I have a headache and some congestion in my sinuses.  I thought it might be some early allergies, but I'm afraid I'm fighting off a sinus infection.  Great.  I'm not at all in the mood to go deal with a room of wild toddlers, the wildest who will be mine.  Thankfully, the husband is coming to their party too.  He works across the street from their school.  It will be a huge help to have someone else there to help me manage the Duo.  They are making floats and a craft and snacking.  Maybe we'll make it out without being covered in paint and soaked from a float.

I need to get myself together and go celebrate Valentine's Day!  Let's hope these are decent non-judgey parents!!