Saturday, January 31, 2009

Hillary Clinton Was Right

Did you know that it takes a village to raise more than one baby? Holy moly it takes three or four villages. Really big ones.

Before you dive into twins, you can somewhat imagine what it is going to be like. Take what you know about caring for one baby and double it. Right? Oh, so very wrong. It's like taking caring of a small army that poops and eats a lot. You look at them and realize that their combined weight is only 17 pounds. How could something that weighs less than a big wheel require so much work? We are working ourselves silly over here, but look at what we get to see every day:

We have created quite the baby sweatshop. My girls now know how to feed, change, and jiggle just the right way to make a baby fall asleep. I'm thinking about hiring them out to build up their college funds.

Here is what I have realized over the last several weeks--I need to smell them. It's like crack. Babies just smell divine. Someone should figure out how to bottle and sell it. Babies also force you to slow your life down. They make you take time to sit and feed and just stare. And then you snuggle them while they sleep. Simple joy. Babies are magical. Especially those that require a village.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ties That Bind

A wonderful friend of mine had an anniversary today. One year ago her mother left this life to continue her living on the other side of the veil. A marked day full of weight and memories. I have thought about her today and I understand where her thoughts are. I have also thought about the person I know who is drowning in her life from the inside out. She can't seem to find her footing. I love and understand her and where her thoughts are.

What are the ties that bind us together? It may not always be a common bond of love or friendship. Maybe there is a stronger bond formed when we deeply understand another person's trial. Maybe we understand another's experience so well because we have been there ourselves. Traveling the same road, just at different times. This binds us together. We are united because we understand one another and uniquely resonate with each other's pain.

What about the person who feels inadequate or the mom who feels she is screwing it all up? We are tied. What about the mom who fights for the triumphs of a learning disabled child? I am bound to her. Or, what of all the women who struggle to find balance in all that they do? We are each connected.

Aren't we somehow all tethered together? Each fighting our own personal battles. Each trying in our own way to carry the weight of our struggles. But maybe the ties that bind us are also the ones that will carry us, and lift us....together. Never alone--always together.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bean N' Bacon

A special someone (whose name rhymes with Fancy) loves this chatterbox 6 yr. old enough to send her this:

Holy Canolly! This stuff really smells like bacon. Immediately after opening the package she slathered it on her lips. I thought she might actually eat them. I couldn't even sit by her on the couch because all I could smell was bacon. Addie just sat in the chair by herself and licked her lips. The slogan for this company is printed on the label--"Everything should taste like bacon." From now on, Addie's lips fit that criteria perfectly.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Is It Me?

Todd ran the show around the house yesterday. All day. It was a holiday, ya know. Kids home from school. Hence, I skeedaddled outta there and Todd managed the circus. I took babies to doctor visits. I held the twins, fed the twins, burped the twins and then started all over again. I just traded one show for another. This one is just sweeter and smells like baby lotion.

Throughout the day I would call to check on Todd and the status of the homefront. I got the same answer every time, "it's all good." Hmm. Not what I hoped for. At lunch time Todd told me that he had just made lemon chicken and noodles for everyone. What!? A couple of hours later he told me that five additional friends were over playing with my girls. Still the same answer, "it's all good."

What the crap! I wanted to call and hear Todd crying boo hoo tears of sadness that he couldn't take it anymore. I just knew that by the end of the day he would be in a fetal position clawing at his skin. He would then shower me with praises for doing this every day. Nope. "It's all good." How can that be? For reals, you made lemon chicken for lunch!? I thought that the popcorn combo at Target was pretty glamorous.

Maybe it's me. Do you think that's possible? Naw, it can't be that. Maybe it's Todd. He can be so....nice. It's grating. I mean, it's not normal to be patient and speak at a normal volume. He actually lets the kids have some freedom, like taking all the blankets outside to build a fort in the dirt. That's way weird. Who lets their offspring have that much fun? Ya, it's definitely not me. "It's all good."

Friday, January 16, 2009

Outside The Box

I wish I could gain insight into the workings of Makell's mind. It would solve oh so many problems if I could just grasp how and why she thinks the way she does. She is an 'out of the box' thinker. I'm in the box. WAY in the box. Makell looks at life from a different perspective. Exhibit A:

Who knew that you could lower your music stand to the ground and then sit on the floor to play your violin. Her teacher would have a coronary if she knew. Maybe when Makell grows up she can join an orchestra and convince all of them to sit on the ground as well. She'll ask the audience to stand instead.

Another one of her latest 'out-of-the-box' endeavors is writing backwards. Not the words themselves, but just the letters. Instead of writing each letter the way we are all taught--starting at the top of the letter, she is now doing the opposite. She will start at the bottom of each letter. The end results look the same, but the process is different. I have been watching her write over the last week--she starts at the end of a lowercase 'e' or the bottom of and 'h' or 't' and then forms/writes the letter in a backwards motion.

For a majority of Makell's life, I have looked at what she does and thought, ".....I wonder why?" Why does she write backwards, why does she slather her body with vaseline, why does she put a stool on top of the stove and stand on it, why does she throw everything in her room out the window, why does she cut her pants with scissors at school? Occasionally I'll ask her "why....?" She just shrugs her shoulders and responds, "because I want to."

It can be exasperrating raising an out-of-the-box child. I reprimand her far more than I should, mostly out of sheer frustration. But yet, there are times when I look at this girl and realize that one of the purposes of her life is to teach me to broaden my view from inside my rigid box. Sometimes as I am asking her, "why are you doing that!?", I am also wondering, "well, why not?" She has made me stretch the boundaries of my box. Her free-spirit nature is fascinating. While I wish I could find a way to manage that spirit, at the same time I find such delight in watching Makell be.....Makell. Maybe writing backwards is the forward way of thinking. Maybe sitting on the floor to practice is way better than standing. And maybe, just maybe, having an out-of-the box child is a priceless gift from heaven.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Back Where She Belongs

Riley came home today. Endless joy. Her medicine is stabilized and she has reached the 6 pound mark. Still a long road ahead, but each small blessing seems more like a miracle.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Toe Jam

Reason #348 NOT. TO. BITE. YOUR. TOENAILS!-- You will receive a strong reprimand from the doctor when she explains that incessant toenail biting causes PUSS INFECTED ingrown toenails.

Do you think it's a reflection on me that I have a 6 yr. old who feverishly gnaws at her fingernails and toenails like an addict? I mean, that couldn't possibly be her natural response to the environment she lives in, right? Right!? Just because she hides behind the chair so I can't see her biting doesn't mean anything. I just assume she's back there saying a prayer. Maybe she is asking to be saved from this family. That'd be weird. The waiting list to get in here is pretty long, so I'm not sure why she would chew her fingers down to stubs just to get out. Straight bliss in this house. Just ask Addie.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Is Genius Hereditary?

Addie: "Mom, if they made bacon chapstick, I would rub it all over my lips and then lick 'em."


Makell: "Hey mama, if I stick my hand in a cow's mouth, will he chew off my fingers?"


I'm thinking that maybe my kids are a 'special' kind of genius. One that should be studied. By a professional. And just an item of note--Makell REALLY wants to know the answer to her question. She has asked us several times just in case we secretly know what will happen to her fingers and we aren't telling her. It makes me curious as to what she plans to do once she receives her answer. Again I repeat, a 'special' kind of genius.

Friday, January 9, 2009

If You Show Me Your Lists, I'll Show You Mine

I am a lists person. I actually have quite an obsession with them. The lists keep me organized and I find immeasurable joy in the check off. They work for me. They don't work for everyone. I love to hear how other people keep their lists, how they use them, how they organize. I suck every piece of list knowledge out of random strangers. I want to know how you schedule your day, your kids day, how you keep track of homework, chores, groceries, blah, blah, blah.

So, I decided to share how I organize my weekly schedule, meal planning and grocery shopping. I have tried many different book/systems over the years and none of them worked for me, so years ago I made my own.

Having a daily list of to-do's makes me crazy. I work by weeks. I have a notebook that I keep track of EVERYTHING. At the beginning of the year, I sit down with my new notebook and write down week intervals. Each week is titled at the top of the page. Once I have written in the entire year, I go back and write in birthdays. I will also put a reminder on the week before to send a card, etc. If there is something I want to remember to do next Christmas, I write it on the first week of December, etc.

My to-do list functions by what I need to get done/remember for the week. I keep a running list on the left hand side of the page of what I need to accomplish. If it is not done this week, I'll move it to the next. On the right hand side of the page, I keep miscellaneous notes. I'll write down phone #s, messages, information from school, etc. Never, never, never keep random bits of post-its. I write everything here.

On the bottom left of the page I write down the meals I have planned for the week. These are the meals I know I will have groceries for. Each day, deciding on time and schedules, I'll decide which of the meals I want to cook. And of course, I plan out my desserts as well.

On the bottom right of the page I keep a list of anything I need to get at the grocery store. When I run out of honey, butter, eggs, I write it down. My kids and Todd know that if they need to request something from the store, they write it here.

The only other schedule tracker I use is a massive calendar that is the size of Ohio. It's posted in the kitchen.

I went through my 2008 notebook and wrote down every meal, side dish, dessert I made. I then compiled this list that I use as a quick guide to plan my weakly menu:

I also went through and wrote down all of the items that I had made a note to buy at the grocery store. This is a master list of the most common things I buy:

This is how I write my grocery list. This is exactly how my mother always made her list when I was growing up (I know, creepy). It's ingenious. Fold a regular sheet of paper in a fan. Each fan section is used to list an isle/section in the grocery store in the same order that you shop them. I always start in the produce and then work my way down the isles. I just follow my list in order.

If I discover that any of you are going about your daily life just willy-nilly, no lists involved, I'll go bazerk. I'm not kidding. Life can not be lived without a list. If you don't have a list, get one. Now. Otherwise, I'll be forced to make you talk to Addie on the phone. For an hour. I promise, she won't even take a breath. I'd start that list if I were you.....

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Jealous Of Me?

The daily life of a mother just overflows with self-esteem building moments. Ridiculous amounts of them. Don't you just lay in bed at night and review all the good things that were said to you during the day? Oh, I know I do. Warm fuzzies just ooze out of my pours from all the goodness that is flying around here. Two recent examples:
  • My sister and I were sitting on the couch with all my kids. So I asked them, "Do you think auntie Emily or mommy will be a really fun grandma?" They all just sat there looking from me to Emily, and back again. Sam then said, "well, Emily of course! (then looking at me) You know, you are just.....so....you know.....there.....you're just like...in a box." ....pause for warm fuzzy feeling...wait, maybe it's more of a scorching burn.
  • On Sunday, Sam attended her first sunday school class. No more primary classes. Now just teenage classes. Weird. She related to Todd and I that her new teacher was trying to figure out who her parents were. As Sam tried to describe us, her teacher exclaims, "Oh I know who your mom is, she's the one who looks like Olive Oil." What the? For real? I raised my eyebrows and looked at Todd, whose response to me was, "Well, at least Popeye thought she was pretty." What the? Honestly? ...pause for more of that scorching burn self-esteem building feeling.
I know you're jealous of all my self confidence. Who wouldn't be? I'm Olive Oil--in a box.

Monday, January 5, 2009

List Of Demands, I Mean, Preferences

The NICU is a fascinating place. I don't have any idea how the nurses get anything accomplished. There is just so much to look at and so many sweet (and sick) babies to hold. But, while I was checking things out in Riley's pod, I noticed a sign posted off to the side of her bassinet. It was laminated so the nurses could write on it. It listed five things with a space to write in the answer to each: 1. I like.... 2. When I'm stressed I.... 3. I don't like.... 4. I can be calmed with..... 5. Could you please try.....
Oh my brilliantness! I realized then and there that I need to get me one of those signs. If it works for a premiee baby, why can't it work for me? I've started a rough draft. Here is what I have so far:
  1. I like....when everyone goes to school.
  2. When I'm stressed I....think about the kids going to school.
  3. I don't like....when the kids are home from school.
  4. I can be calmed with...thoughts of school being held during the summer.
  5. Could you please try....extending the school day.
What do you think? It's still a work in progress, but I'm almost there. I might fast and pray about it for another day or two, but I'm pretty positive my answers won't change. I'm going to print it on cardstock and laminate it. Just like in the NICU. I think I'll make several copies and put them in various places--by my bed, inside my scriptures, in my closet where I hide from the kids, etc. I am slightly concerned that Todd will snatch this idea and make his own list....one that involves the volume of my voice when I talk/yell (just so you know, it sounds angelic). Feel free to steal the idea for yourself. Instead of having a happy place, we can all just have a happy list. Just make sure it involves school year round.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Chilly Texans

A day at the ice skating rink.
It's just about the only ice you can find around here.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Queen Of Hearts

Things have been a little crazy, stressful and did I mention crazy, around here.
For those of you who don't have access to my sister's blog, I thought I would post an update on Riley (the smaller twin):

Monday night Riley was admitted to Texas Children's Hospital. Tests revealed that she has Dilated Cardiomyopathy. The most simple explanation is that the left ventrical of her heart is damaged and this causes her heart not to work properly. This damage is permanent. Right now the doctors are trying to determine if this damage is genetic or was caused by a virus. She is considered in heart failure. All that being said, she is doing extremely well. The doctors have said they are amazed at how well she is doing. Most babies with this condition are not eating or breathing on their own. Riley is doing both.
So far, Riley is responding well to the treatment. If she continues to do well, the prognosis is a normal life but she won't be able to participate in any sports. If she does not respond well to the treatment, the only option is a heart transplant. Because she has done well thus far, doctors are very optimistic. Please keep Riley in your prayers.

Those of us not at the hospital are taking care of Keagan. I told my sister that I just might have to keep her. I don't see why that would be a problem. She has an extra. Like a buy one get one free. So I just get to keep the free one. When Riley comes home, I might consider a swap option. But if I agree to that, I think I will keep both babies and swap her Addie. Sweet.