Archive for the ‘OMG YAY!’ Category

  • Today, You’re Six

    Date: 2017.04.11 | Category: Birthday, Family, Home, Me, OMG YAY!, Sarah | Response: 8

    Sarah, today you are six. I know all parents say this, but it’s so hard to believe that my wide-eyed, dimpled baby is now a tall, lean, athletic, artistic six-year-old little girl.

    I remember, as a first child myself, my dad always calling me the “experimental child,” and I really didn’t grasp his full meaning until we had you. We are always trying to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing, if we’re doing the right thing, are you where you’re supposed to be, etc., but you make things extremely easy on us.

    Your spirit is such a delight. We always joke that you live in unicorn land, surrounded by fluffy clouds, rainbows and unicorn friends with names like “Starlight Glimmer” and “Sunshine Magic.” You have such a great attitude and a hunger to learn everything.

    I affectionately call you “my little weirdo,” because you love to “speak in unicorn” and, as you yourself put it, “I neigh a lot.” So much so that your entire kindergarten class (teachers included) call you “Neigh Neigh.”

    We have seen our fair share of challenges over the course of 5 to 6, trying to help you figure out how to overcome some personal battles. We want so much good for your life that it’s so hard as your parents to watch you struggle with some physical obstacles and anxiety. But, our prayers were answered in an unexpected way when an evaluation suggestion and a spot on the school soccer team lined up to give you a physical outlet for your stresses and a chance to work on coordination.

    And it turns out, you’re really stinkin’ good at soccer. I know all parents think that, but girl, you score at least one goal every game and by the end of this current season, your footwork, agility and determination were mind blowing. Your social anxieties have nearly evaporated, as have most of your other issues.

    You overcame intense fear of bike riding this year, attacked learning to read with a ferociousness that makes your book-nerd mom extremely proud, matured in your faith (aka you no longer see Mass as Mom and Dad looking for a way to bore you to death), go to children’s church without fear, show extreme kindness to your baby siblings, and even look to take care of your parents when we don’t feel well.

    Yes, you did some crazy things this year, like giving yourself one of the worst hair cuts I’ve ever seen in my life, drew intricate (and surprisingly beautiful) murals on all of your furniture, and wasted so much soap and lotion making concoctions in the bathroom, but you did it all in a spirit of curiosity and discovery, which I find hard to punish.

    You definitely honed your knack for fashion design, though you still enjoy playing alone, often telling your siblings that you “just need to be alone right now” (poor little introvert).

    .

    I am so grateful for you, my big six-year-old. Your childish wisdom, your creativity, your drive, YOU inspire me so much. I’m so glad that God knew what He was doing when he placed you in our lives. You, my darling unicorn, are an absolute treasure.

    Happy 6th Birthday, Sarah. We love you.

    P.S. I made this little video to celebrate her birthday. :)

    Sarah's 6th Birthday from Jessica Rinaudo on Vimeo.

  • Day 3 and Day 4

    Date: 2016.08.18 | Category: Family, Home, Life, Me, Norah, OMG YAY!, Sarah, School | Response: 0

    Imagine that you’re laying in your bed, having some weird dream about a politician trying to convince you to vote for them, when you distantly hear a scrambling and scuffling noise coming from your kitchen. You have two dogs though, so it’s not too out of the ordinary. Then comes the “pat pat pat” of little feet running down the hall, little arms and legs scrambling into your bed… and then a freezing cold, dripping fudgcicle is planted onto your nice, warm arm. HELLO 6AM!

    And that is how we began Day 3 of school.

    Me: “Norah, WHY do you have a popsicle at 6AM?!”
    Norah: “Mama, I can finish it after breakfast?”

    And her early wake-up was on the heels of us finding her in her sister’s bed at 10PM the night before, having moved her pillow, all her stuffed animals, and all of her sheets and blankets into the top bunk, on top of her sleeping sister, in an attempt to wake her up to play with her.

    Needless to say a morning started on sleep deprivation and sugar did not go well. There was more screaming and crying when it was time for Norah to go into her classroom that day, but it was over in less than 2 minutes – a new record!

    Though I very nearly ruined it. The school has Mass on Wednesday mornings. It just so happened that our bishop was saying Mass and so, in my work capacity, I was there to photograph it. I didn’t realize the K3 class was in the church until I turned the corner and saw Norah pressed up against the teacher, chattering away.

    I never knew I possessed an inner ninja and that I could move so efficiently or so quietly until I had to back peddle my way down the aisle and out of the church before she saw me and her screaming could halt the homily.

    Later – in what is quickly becoming my favorite part of the day – we had our usual after school driving home discussion. After Sarah carefully outlined both of the girls’ entire days, telling me how Norah cried all day, especially at recess, I took a deep breath and tried a different approach.  “So,” I said, “Can everyone tell me something happy that happened to them today?”

    Sarah immediately launched into a story of arts and crafts and the bishop visiting her class. She was so proud that when he asked if anyone knew his first name, she had the answer ready and waiting.  (Turns out having the bishop over for dinner at our house had a big impact on my kiddos).

    Then it was Norah’s turn. I asked her to tell me something happy that happened to her during the day. She sat quietly, pondering. And right as I started to repeat myself, she quietly murmured, “The bishop said ‘ello to me.” My heart melted and I started to get hopeful about school again.

    Norah with her two best friends: the bishop and Snoopy

    …..

    Last night we decided that we were going to do everything in our power to make Day 4 better – and that started with Norah going to sleep before 10PM. So, Mark and I took turns standing sentry outside her bedroom door. Every attempt to get out of bed was met with time out in the corner. An hour in, just as I was giving up all hope of it working, she caved and went to sleep. 9PM was  late, but it was still an hour earlier than she’s been keeping herself awake for.

    …..

    This morning’s wake up was notably better: No time-outs (and no fudgcicles for that matter). For the drive to school, we let Norah hold her stuffed buddy Snoopy and we put on dancing music. The protests still started when we turned onto the street our school is on, but we pressed on. It was starting to rain, so we quickly grabbed our backpacks and made a dash for the school, leaving Snoopy to wait patiently for his friend’s afterschool return in the car.

    As soon as we walked inside the school, the pleas continued. “Mama, I don’t want to go to Sarah’s school. Mama, I want to go home with you. Mama, hold me.” I braced myself for the moment when morning assembly was over and she would have to go to the classroom – the moment when the tantrums have started every day. We got her backpack and as she watched her classmates line up to leave, I saw something click in her brain.

    Suddenly she was dashing off towards her classmates, elbowing her way to the front of the line where she defiantly declared to her teacher, “I want you!” And then proceeded to, matter of factly and without tears, lead all of her classmates down the hall to their classroom.

    I think my dear child must have thought, “Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, lead ‘em.”

    And that, my friends, is my wild and strong girl in a nutshell.

    After she walked through the door, when I recovered from my initial shock, I danced in celebration right in the middle of the gym for everyone still filing out to see, high fiving my friend Stephanie and the assistant principal. By gosh my girl, we are going to get through this.

  • Nighttime Parties and a Giveaway!

    Date: 2015.10.28 | Category: Family, Halloween, Health, Home, Life, Me, Norah, OMG YAY!, Sarah, Toddler Time | Response: 0

    Over the past six months since the twins have come into our lives, I’ve struggled with ways to dedicate time to my older girls. Mark and I constantly “divide and conquer” though, and at night while he bathes and dresses the babies, the big girls and I move to the back of the house to begin their bed time routine – which is always a challenge as I constantly find myself physically wrestling an overtired two-year-old into the bath tub while her older sister screams, “SHE IS SPLASHING SOAP IN MY EYES AND HITTING ME!”

    One night Sarah asked me if we could have a “Halloween Party.” I was hesitant at first, because one more thing, but she looked at me pleadingly and melted my over-tired heart.  Her imagination is boundless and I knew that anything and everything could easily be transformed into a Halloween Party. I agreed and she cheered!

    I began to think of the things I could do to turn bath time into Halloween party time. What does any good party have? Music of course! So I turned on the Pandora “Halloween Party” station. Then I dimmed the lights, but that was a little too spooky, so I got a fall-scented candle and lit it in the bathroom. Perfect. Now as “Monster Mash” and tunes from The Nightmare Before Christmas flood our bathroom, we dance and laugh. Sometimes we add extra fun things like bath foam to make “costumes” or bath bombs to fizz and turn the water different colors (yellow, blue, red!).

    Now, when 7:00 rolls around, there are no more battles to get into the bathtub. Norah enthusiastically yells, “Tub time!” while Sarah says, “It’s time to party!”  and wiggles her hips. We rush to the bathroom, set up our party, shut the door to close out the babies, dance and play and they get mama’s full attention.

    It’s not elaborate, but it is fun and it’s the joyful time we all need together. Now I look forward to getting everyone ready for bed, and the only protesting that happens is when it’s time to get out of the tub (but even that is minor because we keep the music going while they dry off and get dressed).

    One of my favorite parts of all this are the things we use to create our party. The only thing I love more than shopping local is buying things that I know are safe and healthy for my family. My friend Kate owns Zombee Candle and Coven Co., and sells both products at her new store in Shreveport, The Sleepy Hollow: Books & Gifts. For our tub time parties, I’ve been lighting up seasonally appropriate fall scents – L’Automne and Bitches Brew (though the girls call it Witches Brew). Bitches Brew is purple and smells like apple cider, so it usually gets Sarah’s vote for party time. The candles are made with soy and don’t release any kind of nasty toxins into the air.

    Coven Co., is a line of natural and organic beauty products, including bath bombs and body butter (and the body butter even comes in the falltastic Hocus Pocus scent). The girls love waiting to see what color their bath bomb is going to release when we toss them in the tub.

    I am so excited to have the opportunity to share a little bit of our Halloween party joy with my readers! I’m teaming up with Kate during the week of Halloween to giveaway some of these locally made products from The Sleepy Hollow: Books & Gifts.

    You can win this awesome little bundle of healthy, Halloween goodness which includes:

    • 3 x small Coven Co. Aura Bombe bath bombs in Grove [lemon & sage] or Mandarin Royale [vanilla & orange]
    • 1 x 14oz Midi Zombee in your choice of Bitches Brew [mulled apple cider], L’Automne [orange, clove, black tea], Hocus Pocus [vanilla & pumpkin], or Hallowed Ground [tobacco, patchouli, cedarwood].

    Here’s what you have to do to enter. Make sure you complete all the steps – we’ll check!

    1. LIKE The Sleepy Hollow: Books & Gifts on Facebook.
    2. SHARE this post with your friends.
    3. TAG a friend in the comments.
    4. PROMISE to have your own personal Halloween Party, even if it’s just lighting up a spooky scent and relaxing in the tub with your very own bath bomb.

    The last day to enter is this Saturday, HALLOWEEN! We will announce a winner on Saturday. Good luck!

  • The Twins: A Birth Story

    Date: 2015.04.22 | Category: Baby, Birthday, Family, Health, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Norah, OMG YAY!, Pregnancy, Sarah, Twins | Response: 2

    Most twins don’t make it to term for delivery. The mother’s body runs out of room, or her uterus gets too big and gets confused and labors early, or or or… So many things in twin pregnancies mean an early delivery, which is why when we found out we were expecting two babies, we immediately had to start seeing a high risk OB in addition to our regular OB.

    I quickly learned that I was one of the lucky ones. I was tall, relatively young and in good health and my babies were fraternal, not sharing a placenta. We monitored them as the weeks went on and watched as our Baby B got bigger and bigger. He was above average in size, while his sister paced along hitting her slightly below average milestones. Baby B was also awash in fluid, swimming in what Mark dubbed his “pent house.” As the time grew closer, they recommended that we deliver between 36 and 37 weeks.

    I was huge, very uncomfortable and often in a lot of pain, but I really wanted to make it to 37 weeks for the health of the babies. My regular OB agreed that we could try for 37 weeks and we tentatively scheduled their delivery date for April 13, right on the nose of 37 weeks. I hoped and prayed we would make it. My OB was going out of town the whole week before and she and I have been through a lot together. I really wanted her to be the one who delivered them.

    My body though, started to get other ideas. At 36 weeks I started having regular contractions. I was monitored and eventually put on medicine to slow the contractions. Over the course of the week I battled the contractions and several times we nearly went to the hospital when they got strong and regular. But, by a lot of prayers and miracles, we made it to 37 weeks and showed up for our scheduled c-section. When they hooked me up to the monitors upon our arrival at the hospital, I was having contractions every 5-7 minutes. It was baby day whether we wanted it to be or not, which eased my guilt about scheduling their delivery too soon.

    I was nervous about the c-section, despite my previous one. There’s something so creepy about being awake during surgery. I had a great anesthesiologist though, and he really attended to me and how I felt. Because there was so much weight and pressure on my body with two near-term babies, their placentas and all the extra fluid in my body, when I was on the operating table, they had to keep rotating the table side to side to keep me from passing out. The spinal block was particularly tough this time. It made me feel so sick and I just wanted to quit and not do it once it was started, but, as these things go, I had no choice. I tried to control the shakes and nausea and was so happy when Mark was finally allowed into the OR.

    The surgery itself was quick. The same doctor team who delivered Norah was there to deliver our twins. Mark even video recorded this delivery (and without much gore!) so I could watch our babies be delivered later.

    Our girl, Vera Margaret, was head down and delivered first. She arrived into the world with a squeaky little scream and weighed in at 5 pounds and 10 ounces. Her brother, Luke Anthony, was not so accommodating. He was lodged up high in the right side of my ribs and breech. It took one doctor pulling on his feet and another shoving him from the top of my ribs to get him out. My doctor knocked the breath out of me in the process, but as soon as he was out, I could breathe again. His cry was much more gurgly, and I barely got to see him before they whisked him away. Mark followed and recorded them being weighed and cleaned up for me while I was being stitched up. Luke weighed in at a whopping 7lbs and 6oz – huge for a twin or even a singleton, especially at 37 weeks! As my pediatrician said, he was stealing all her groceries.

    They quickly discovered that Luke was having trouble “transitioning.” They put both babies skin-to-skin on me, but when Luke’s oxygen levels wouldn’t regulate, he had to be whisked away to the nursery and put under an oxygen hood.

    My tiny Vera was right as rain though, and got to stay with me.

    It was hard not having my son with me that first day. It was very surreal – after all it had always just been me and one baby girl after delivery before and there I was again in the same situation. I missed him though, bone deep. I don’t know what I would have done without his sister to hold on to and keep me stable. The nursery was great though and called down every hour or so to give me updates. My family and husband went to the nursery regularly to check on him, and bring me pictures and updates. Our pediatrician even texted me photos of him.

    We went through a “wait and see” period with him all day. Finally and miraculously, that evening they were able to bring him to me.

    Vera is a petite little pixie with huge eyes. We got to spend a whole day bonding together, just the two of us, mostly skin to skin.

    Luke was a big boy who seemed to favor his mother in looks and was (and still is) most content in his mama’s arms.

    The thing that was most spectacular about having twins was watching them together. They shared a bassinet in the hospital, and when one would get inconsolable, we could lay them next to the other and they would immediately quiet down.

    And Sarah was so keen on meeting her new siblings that she faked an ear infection and pain at school, had the front office call me in the hospital and got out of after school play practice. When mom picked her up and asked her about her ear, she informed mom that it really didn’t hurt that bad after all, it was just was a little warm. When she got to the hospital, I still only had Vera with me, and Sarah was so concerned and kept asking me where her brother was. She was (and still is) so so so good to her siblings. She climbed into bed with Vera and me, snuggled up to her sister and said, “Oh, you’re so cute like an itty bitty unicorn.”

    And she immediately did the same with her brother when we finally got to have him in our room.

    Norah, however, did not know what to think about mom holding a new baby. She wouldn’t come anywhere near me until I handed Vera off to someone else, then she immediately climbed into bed with me and held on for dear life.

    Mark was a champ throughout the whole day. He stayed strong, watched after our Luke man and took care of all of us despite battling off a sinus infection and having to sleep on that awful hospital couch.

    And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how amazing the hospital staff was that day and every day we were there. Everyone from the doctors and nurses to the team who worked and checked on Luke to the lactation consultants made everything so much easier and less stressful.

    The rest of our hospital stay was kind of crazy, especially as Vera started to run into her own set of troubles, but that’s a story for another post.

    Their birthday was eventful, and sometimes scary, but beautiful in its own right. I am so very thankful that we were able to make it to 37 weeks, a milestone most twin moms don’t get to reach, and that we got to have them with us in our hospital room most of the time. Happy birthday my sweet sweet Vera and Luke.

  • The Retreat

    Date: 2015.01.12 | Category: Family, Health, Holidays, Life, Love, Mark, Me, OMG YAY!, Travel | Response: 2

    My husband is notoriously difficult to shop for.  He likes tools… none of which I could even begin to pick out.

    Leading up to Christmas this year, we were beginning to prepare our three bedroom house for the addition of two more people. We have been cleaning out and purging what we can to make room. Everything has been attacked: from the girls’ rooms, to our closet, to our garage and office. We still have a way to go, but we are making room.

    So, for Christmas this year, I decided to do a little something different for Mark. I had read several blog posts and talked to a few people about the importance of setting aside time specifically for you and your spouse. It’s so incredibly hard to do with small children. Their needs always come first, and with both of us working full time, we feel like we should spend all of our free time with our children. And by the time bedtime rolls around, we are either both working some more, or retreating to our own selfish creature comforts.

    So, this year for Christmas, I decided to give Mark a retreat: a night away from everything dedicated to just the two of us. I made sure the girls would have a place to stay overnight with their Nana, then I booked a night at a Bed and Breakfast in Natchitoches. It was far enough out of town where we would be going away, but close enough that we could easily get back home if we needed to.

    I put a lot of research into where we would stay and eat during our short getaway, and even wrote and illustrated (with crayons!) a poem to give to him on Christmas Eve.

    This past Friday was the big day. After a week back of trying to get the girls back into their post-Christmas routine, we were ready. We counted down the days, then the hours.

    At go time, we drove down to Natchitoches to Queen Anne Bed and Breakfast.

    This place was AMAZING. It was an old house owned by a Civil War veteran. After being handed down to family members through the years, the couple who own it now bought it and completely renovated it. There are several gorgeous rooms to stay in, each with their own unique and beautiful features. I opted for the Garden Room with the giant bed and jacuzzi tub (of course). Because it was their off season, we were the only ones there, and we had the whole place to ourselves.

    After bringing our bag in, we headed out to dinner. I polled Facebook, and learned that one of the newer restaurants, Maglieaux’s on the Cane, was supposed to be delicious. Mark put all the planning in my hands, and we were both so pleased with our candlelit Louisiana seafood dinner. We had crawfish cornbread, Caesar salads, seafood stuffed mushrooms and chicken, and white chocolate bread pudding. Every single course was perfect. And, best of all, we got to sit and eat without having to feed anyone else or cut anyone’s food up. Win!

    Being the old homebodies that we are, we left dinner and went straight back to our room (after stopping by their kitchen for a couple of complimentary drinks). You know how most of the time staying in a bed besides your own isn’t all that great? Well this bed was lush. King-sized, pillow-topped, with tons of pillows. And that jacuzzi tub! I don’t think I would have gotten out of it ever if we didn’t have a check out time.

    I was so thrilled that I could stay up as late as I wanted with no repercussions… but fell asleep at 10:30 anyway, because that bed.

    We slept until 7:30 the next morning and got to wake up, lounge around and talk without anyone crawling in between us or digging their cold little toenails into our legs.

    Breakfast was served in the dining room at 8:30, and we wandered down to the kindest lady who was prepping a huge breakfast just for the two of us. The china was finely set, the coffee and juice were amazing, and oh. that. food.


    Raspberry croissant bread pudding for first course breakfast? Yes, please!

    The second course was Southwestern style and included eggs, grits, tomatoes and an English muffin. Later, when I asked Mark what his favorite part of the getaway was, he immediately and without hesitation said BREAKFAST.

    Following breakfast we checked out and strolled a little down by the Cane River and through downtown before heading back.

    That trip was more than I hoped it would be. We (mostly) put away technology, and just spent time completely relaxing and enjoying ourselves together as a married couple. We talked and laughed and sat in comfortable silence. We felt recharged and rested. It was good for our souls and our sanity.

    Immediately we started talking about when we could do it again. Who knows? Maybe we can divide up our four children for our anniversary and slip away in the fall. If not, I already know what I want Santa to put in my stocking next year – and next time it will be for two nights.

    If you live in the area, I can not recommend Queen Anne Bed and Breakfast enough. It’s extremely affordable and beautiful. The food is delicious and the hospitality exquisite. And even if you’re not in the area, I can’t recommend taking a retreat for you and your spouse enough. We love our children with all our hearts, but sometimes it is best to put one another first.

  • The Biloxi Adventure

    Date: 2015.01.04 | Category: Baby, Family, Food, Friends, Holidays, Life, Mark, Me, Norah, OMG YAY!, Pregnancy, Sarah, Travel | Response: 2

    Adulthood friendships are unique. Chances are if we are friends as adults, then we have common values. With our friendship time limited due to family and work, it takes a special bond and sometimes quite an effort to keep a strong friendship alive. I am so blessed to have several women in my life who I count among my close friends, who keep me sane in times of stress and who blow me away with their generosity.

    So for me, the part of the holidays I was looking forward to the most was the opportunity to spend four days with my very best friend in Biloxi. Susan and I were roommates for three years in college, and when we hang out there are no obligations or expectations. We eat what we feel like, watch our girls play and no one complains when we wind down for bed at 8:00 p.m.

    This trip was especially important, because due to life and work circumstances, we likely won’t see each other again until a couple months after the twins arrive. I’m not going to dwell on that right now because it makes me too sad. So, on with the happy!

    Our trip to Biloxi was perfect (well mostly perfect – the four of us did have mild colds, but we pushed through them).

    Susan’s daughter was forced to share all of her new Christmas toys with my girls, and, for the most part, did pretty well with it. They all wanted to be in costume the whole time, which was fun.

    Our first full day there, Susan and I got to spend the morning together, kid-free. We were mostly running errands, but then we stopped at a local coffee shop and got to just sit and catch up without anyone demanding our attention. It was so cathartic, and I think we both needed it.

    We ate a lot of delicious food and had a great time taking the girls on a “nature walk” and to the park. It was just a little “froggy” out, as Sarah would say.

    The great thing about having a friend who lives on the Gulf Coast is the proximity to beaches and the nice temperature increase. It was about 10 degrees warmer than home, with temps in the low 70’s most of the time. That meant getting our feet wet wasn’t out of the question.

    And building sand castles is always fun.

    Though Norah did get royally pissed off after she made a break for the ocean, face-planted into the cold water and was forced to get out despite the fact she thought she could swim just fine by herself.

    Oh, and Mark was there, too.  We had to tag team chasing down the baby.

    Our last night there, the three grown ups went to The Half Shell, a nice New Orleans style restaurant, and enjoyed ourselves so much. I, of course, couldn’t drink, so I volunteered to be DD. The seafood was outstanding and the key lime pie some of the best I’ve ever had (it’s not good, after all, unless it makes your mouth clench up a little from the tartness).

    And while we had our share of mishaps on the trip with the kids (Susan’s daughter stole my toothbrush and ate Mark’s toothpaste at one point and Norah decided the toilet was an excellent place to play), overall the trip was so nice and so much fun. I’m so thankful we got to do it before it gets too uncomfortable for me to travel.

    And I think it’s safe to say the girls had a great time, too. You know they did when at least one of them does this as soon as we hit the road to drive home.

  • Dear Santa

    Date: 2014.12.17 | Category: Baby, Family, Holidays, Home, Leela Fish, Life, Me, Norah, OMG YAY!, Sarah | Response: 0

    Before I had children, one of the things I got most excited about when I thought about having them in my life was celebrating the holidays with them. And for all the craziness that kids bring into our lives, that aspect does not disappoint.

    Suddenly we’re out on the streets on Halloween trick-or-treating again – watching them don their costumes and excitedly (or sometimes warily) approach each house to ask for candy. We get to put them in beautiful spring dresses for Easter and church, and then afterwards watch them slide under bushes and scamper up trees to reach hidden eggs.

    I feel like having children has totally brought back the magic of Christmas. I smiled with joy as Sarah begged me to “get out Jesus’ house (the nativity scene) and set it up.” I watched with exhausted delight as she pulled up her step stool to put the breakable ornaments high up on the tree so Norah couldn’t break them. And her enthusiasm at helping me bake has made the kitchen a mostly better place (we’ll just gloss over that flour disaster).

    But perhaps one of my favorite moments this year is having Sarah dictate her letter to Santa for me to write and send. She carefully picked out a pink piece of paper, brought it to me with a pen, and then told me exactly what to write. Here’s the result:

    I told her she could tell Santa five things she wanted. And despite the fact that she’s been a “good, fancy, princess girl,” it turns out filling Santa’s shoes is sometimes a tall order.

    Some things were easy. A crown? Easy and cheap. Check! The requested Alexa Barbie doll even happened to be on an Amazon lightening deal. Score! Cinderella was a little tricky, but it turns out that Little People makes a pretty convincing set, albeit without Cinderella actually holding the pony. Now that Elsa doll though – turns out it is the hit toy of the Christmas season.

    Thinking to get an early jump on my shopping this year, I decided to go ahead and order her off the internet about two weeks before Thanksgiving… except that she was sold out everywhere online… except Amazon who wanted $65 for her. Um, no. So we started our ground quest for Elsa. Mark and I visited several local big box stores, only to see that they were also sold out. I admit at this point my inner Grinch started to rear its ugly head. So this is why parents get mad at Christmas… I sort of get it now. But then I checked myself. Elsa dolls are not what Christmas is all about and I hated how materialistic my focus was becoming. Still though, it was the one toy she repeatedly asked for and I decided to just sit, wait and watch. Mark called his mom and she visited a Wal-Mart near her house and low and behold, there were exactly TWO singing Elsa dolls left – all for the great low price of $28. Done and done!

    Now about that last requested item: Star dancer shoes. Just what are star dancer shoes , you say? Well that is a very good question. I asked Sarah very pointed questions about these shoes. We looked at pictures of shoes online, but nothing was matching her description of “shoes that are pink with stars and sparkly that you can dance in.” I came to the conclusion that she had made these shoes up, which presented a small problem. I briefly considered Converse shoes, but didn’t want to drop the money on them if they weren’t the right thing (plus, let’s face it, she’ll outgrow them in six months). I finally found some that sort of matched her description at Target for $7. I guess we’ll soon find out how well honed Santa’s intuition is.

    And Norah? Well Norah just likes her creature comforts. I’m pretty sure she would think it was the best day of her life if we gave her an ice cream sandwich and a satin pillowcase. We did get the pillowcase and a beanbag so she, Sarah and Leela can stop fighting over the one we already have.

    They should know Leela always wins.

  • Your Burning Questions

    Date: 2014.11.11 | Category: Baby, Family, Friends, Life, Mark, Me, OMG YAY!, Pregnancy | Response: 4

    I have to admit, even through the shock and tears of finding out we were unexpectedly expecting twins, I have loved sharing our news with people and watching their reactions. People almost always fell into two camps: 1) They were overjoyed and extremely excited, or 2) They were vaguely horrified. The second camp was hilarious because I often found myself reassuring these folks that, no really, we were going to be ok. Everyone has been just as shocked as we are though, and their expressions and physical reactions have been hilarious. From yelling out obscenities to nearly choking, it’s been pretty entertaining.

    I’ve also found myself answering a few of the same questions over and over, so for those who are dying to know, here they are in no certain order.

    1)   Do you know if they are identical?

    We do know that they are not identical – they are fraternal. That has to do with their yolk sacs and the number of placentas. Plus, we just found out that they are a boy and a girl, so no chance of being identical there!

    2)   Do twins run in your family?

    Yes, there are lots in Mark’s family, but there are none in mine. Which is crazy, because fraternal twins come from the mother. Oh well, got to start somewhere I suppose!

    3)   How old are your girls?!

    When the babies are born, our oldest will be turning four and our baby will be 18 months. Yes, I know, it will be insane.

    4)   Are you going to move?

    Nope! We love our house and our neighborhood and we have way too many stressful things going on right now to be worried about trying to sell/buy a house and keep our house clean for people to look at. If we need to in a few years, we will look into it. In the mean time, I’m taking the advice of my good friend Katie and stacking those kids up.

    5)   When are they due?

    Well, that’s kind of complicated. Their 40week due date is May 4, but with twins they won’t let you go past 38 weeks, so the latest we would have them is April 20. In all likelihood though, we are going to do our best to make it to 36 weeks and hopefully have April babies.

    6)   Why did you wait so long to let people know you were expecting twins?

    I was very emotional and unsure of everything for a while and I had to come to terms things and arm myself with some of the comments I knew people would make so I wouldn’t take them to heart.

    7)   What do you mean? What kinds of things would people say?

    In no particular order: “Again?! Or Already?!”;  “You know how that happens don’t you?” (Me: Why yes, I have a very happy marriage, thankyouverymuch); “Your life is going to be insane.” Plus there’s always those looks from people who are obviously thinking, “Glad it’s not me!” Note: I know almost all of these people meant nothing mean or hurtful by their comments, but when a girl is already stressed and worried, sometimes she just needs to think happy thoughts.

    8)   But you look like you’ve lost weight!

    Hey thanks! Some of that I can take credit for. I dropped nearly 20 pounds before I got pregnant, and then once I got pregnant I dropped another 13 or so (not on purpose). Thanks morning sickness. I’ve been really struggling to put on any weight this pregnancy at all (and I NEVER thought that would be a problem, especially with two on board!)

    9)   What’s been different about this pregnancy compared to your others?

    Well, we’re still pretty early into this whole thing but there are some biggies: 1) Morning sickness. I had it with both girls, but never lost a significant amount of weight with it. It’s been more like all day and all night sickness this time and it’s lasting much longer. 2) Fatigue! But that is more than likely from taking care of two on the inside and two on the outside. 3) All the ultrasounds and doctor appointments have spoiled me this time. Instead of every four weeks, we go to the OB every two, plus a high risk appointment thrown in there so that I go to a doctor and have an ultrasound 2 or 3 out of 4 weeks of the month. It’s pretty amazing.

    10)  Are you ok?

    I really appreciate people’s concern, but I’m happy to let you know that, Yes! I really am ok and very happy and excited now. People have been private messaging me and calling me and offering to help in a variety of ways: from hand-me-downs to bringing food once they are born to throwing a diaper shower to coming to visit just to stay and help around the house while we adjust. I am constantly overwhelmed by the amount of love and support in our lives. We are more than ok, we are excited to welcome and meet the two new members of our family in the spring, and can’t wait for you to meet them, too!

    P.S. If you like this sort of thing, here is their most recent “picture.” Baby A is on top and is the girl, Baby B, the boy, is being crushed on the bottom. Poor little guy.

  • Norah is One

    Date: 2014.09.23 | Category: Baby, Birthday, Family, Home, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Norah, OMG YAY!, Sarah | Response: 3

    Norah’s first birthday was Saturday.

    My baby is one.

    There, I said it.

    Emotionally, I’ve had a little bit of a tough time with her birthday. Sure, she’s not technically different from one day to the next, but it is so hard for me to believe that it’s been a full year since the day she was born – a day that feels like a few months ago.

    Norah’s first year of life started out crazy. In the weeks before she was born I was in a car accident that landed my 9-month-pregnant self in the hospital. We were both ok, fortunately, but that was our first time getting to know the labor and delivery staff.  False labor provided us with a second opportunity to meet the staff,  and then real labor three days before my scheduled c-section sent us back in a third time.

    Norah came roaring into the world, and, as we soon discovered, it was a premonition of things to come.

    Norah’s first 3+ months of life were extremely difficult. While she napped well during the day, at 9pm every night she roared to life in a state of unabated fury until sometime around 3am. Mark and I were miserable, sleep-deprived, angry human beings. Sarah asked for “quiet” for Christmas. I didn’t think we’d survive… until Norah found her thumb and then the heavens opened and the angels burst forth singing. Our baby started to sleep.

    In the following months, we saw that she continued to have a very hot and cold personality. She’s either the most glowing, relaxed happy baby, or she is a screaming, angry beast. We lovingly refer to her as Jekyll and Hyde. Nighttime continues to be a problem. She will still wake up for short periods of time most nights, but she’s learned to self soothe and go back to sleep pretty quickly.

    Despite all that though, she has an amazing and beautiful joyful side.

    Our baby girl is up for almost anything (except maybe extended, tight hugs from her sister). She continues to be a great eater and always has an easy and contagious smile and  cackle.

    The day before she turned one, she decided it was high time to put her legs to good use and started walking in small spurts around the house. She still prefers to crawl, but if she has food in her hands, you better believe she’s not going to get it dirty by crawling with it.

    At one year Norah is our prankster. She will fake choke at the dinner table to get attention. And when I say fake choke, I mean full on holding breath and turning purple business until I start to panic and then she bursts out laughing.

    At one she will play with her sister. Just this past weekend I was laid up on the couch not feeling well and both girls wandered off into Sarah’s room. I heard lots of laughter from both girls and asked Mark to go investigate. They were both in Sarah’s princess pop-up castle tent, alternately playing peek-a-boo and sharing toys, absolutely delighted by each other’s company.

    Norah’s favorite thing on the planet (besides ice cream) is being on the trampoline. When we put her on there, she hurls her little body all over the place, even doing flips, and laughing while she flies into the air.

    Mark, Sarah and I all love to do things to get her to laugh, and she always loves and rewards our efforts. Whenever she smiles, her little nose scrunches up and she bares all 9.5 of her little teeth in a huge grin. Her smile reminds me so much of my little sister Shannon.

    Norah is a spectacular little person, and despite our rough start, she has more than made up for it with her sparkling and silly personality.

    We all love her so very much, and having her in our lives this past year has been an amazing blessing.

    Happy Birthday sweet Norah bean! We love you!

  • Toughing it Out

    Date: 2014.09.05 | Category: Family, Health, Life, Me, OMG YAY! | Response: 0

    My extreme lack of blogging lately is due entirely to the fact that 1) I’ve been consumed with our new family transforming routine and 2) The kids and I have been facing a few health issues that have been dragging me way down and causing me to limp along exhausted most days the past couple of weeks.

    But, despite all that, I want to do an update on my fitness. A few months ago, I decided it was time to really fight to get the last of my pregnancy weight off – something I didn’t have to do the first go round.

    I started attending 3-4 gym classes weekly and completely overhauled my diet. Gone are 85% of our processed foods. We are doing a lot of whole eating and the whole family is adjusting pretty well.

    Three months in, I’m seeing results. As of today, I am down 13 pounds, less than 5 pounds to go before I hit my pre-pregnancy weight. And even though the weight loss hasn’t been insanely quick, the most exciting part is the drastic changes my body is going through.

    I’m getting strong. I can tell when I lift my children easier and haul grocery store bags. I can tell when I pull myself up on to things, or most recently, do repeated side lunges while holding my baby to get her to calm down at the pediatrician’s office. I can tell when I go to my classes. I went from being unable to do a standard plank at all, to doing them and adding on other exercises while I hold them. And I can tell when I look at my shoulder muscles finally starting to take shape. And you know what? It feels amazing.

    I’ve dropped two inches in my waist and hips respectively.

    And perhaps in the most exciting moment for me so far, I discovered that my high cholesterol level I use to have to be medicated for has dropped down to a safe, normal, healthy level just through diet and exercise. It’s truly amazing what three months of living a healthy lifestyle have done for me.

    Lifestyle and routine changes are so tough, but it has been so rewarding.