Archive for the ‘Vera’ Category

  • Two Two-Year-Olds

    Date: 2017.04.13 | Category: Birthday, Family, Home, Love, Luke, Mark, Me, Twins, Vera | Response: 10

    Sometimes, even now that you are both two-years-old, Mark and I look at each other and say with a touch of disbelief, “We have TWO babies.” Though I guess you’re not truly babies anymore.

    As I was making your birthday video (below), I realized that at this time a year ago, neither one of you were walking. And now? Not only are the two of you tearing through our house at top speed, but you dance, hop like bunnies and climb anything and everything.

    Having twins is so fascinating. You are each your own separate and truly beautiful and unique person, but there is a part of each of you that belongs to the other. If one of you wakes up before the other, the first thing you do is inquire where the other is. And if I don’t immediately go to your room when you first wake up, when I do finally wander in, I discover the two of you hopping like little rabbits, laughing at all the pillows and blankets you’ve thrown across the room at one another.

    At two, Vera, you have an amazing command of language. I’m constantly shocked by your ability to speak in full and (usually) understandable sentences, and your responses to things make me laugh. I asked you what you wanted for Easter, and without missing a beat you declared, “a chocolate bunny!”

    Meanwhile Luke is completely fascinated by anything and everything with wheels. The first word you really grasped after “mama” and “dada” was a loud and resounding version of “CAR!” You have since come to fully appreciate trucks, vans, planes and trains, zooming all of them over the floor, the couch and your sisters.

    I love to watch the two of you interact. If someone falls or gets hurt, the other runs over and says, “You ok?” while offering a kiss or pat on the back. In the tub, both of you delight in dumping water on the other’s head. Vera, you love to play with your sisters, dress up and color alongside Sarah, while Luke would much rather snuggle up on the couch with daddy and watch the most dull videos imaginable on everything from remote control 18-wheelers to squirrel hunting.

    I laugh all the time when I look up and see the three girls delighting in some game, while Luke is halfway across the room in his own world playing with cars. Though, Luke and Norah do so love to beat up on each other.

    Both of you love to dance, sing and play outside. Vera is ever my little social butterfly, going to anyone and everyone and rambling on about everything from “bo bo’s” to “bumble bee bites” and “lady bugs.” Luke, on the other hand, would much rather stick to mommy and daddy like glue and hide his head.

    Luke is such a Daddy’s boy, constantly hanging on his legs and going to him for comfort. I laugh a little and tell Daddy that he finally gets to see what it’s like to be the one who has to stop everything to take care of one tiny tyrant. Vera usually prefers Mommy and especially loves poking me in the eyes, ears, etc, while confidently identifying all said body parts.

    This past year has been one of so much growth, one of watching the two of you become your own person. It makes me both sad and proud to see you putting on your own shoes, pushing my hands out the way because “I do it.”

    People still tell me all the time that they don’t know how we do it. But you guys are the best and such wonderful little two-year-olds. Having a built in buddy, even with the occasional fight over a toy, makes all the difference. Yes, we have TWO babies, two toddlers. And while I still marvel at it, I am so glad I get to experience having both of you as my children and watching how you both find yourselves and help one another.

    Happy Second Birthday my little loves!

    Here’s a video of their past year!

    Vera and Luke's 2nd Birthday from Jessica Rinaudo on Vimeo.

  • Is it Monday Yet?

    Date: 2016.08.29 | Category: Family, Health, Home, Life, Luke, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah, Toddler Time, Twins, Vera | Response: 0

    This weekend was ROUGH. I mean, by the time it was over I was begging for Monday, dreaming of sitting at my desk in the peace and quiet for a few hours. I realize that probably makes me sound like a terrible mother, but, well, we all need a break sometimes.

    This cold I’ve managed to get has snuggled itself down into my chest and refuses to leave. I sound like a hacking, wheezing old woman most of the time and it hurts to raise my voice. And because the six of us are in such tight quarters, I was not surprised when everyone was snotty and hacking by Sunday.

    Let me back up. Friday night and Saturday were actually quite wonderful. The big girls stayed with their grandparents, Mark and I ordered Chinese food, without having to worry that no one else would eat it, and then the twins and I had a whole day together with just the three of us on Saturday.

    Vera was unusually fussy, but upon investigation, I saw that in addition to the two front teeth I knew were coming in, she was also actively dealing with four giant molars pushing their way through. I was shocked. She’s been physically behind her twin brother on everything, including teeth, and then she somehow leapfrogged him on this particular milestone.

    But then it was time for the big girls to come home and you know what happens after 24 hours with the grandparents. That’s right, blowback.

    It turns out they had a rough night of sleep with their grandparents  and then Norah barely squeaked a nap in. So Sunday, on top of exhaustion, everyone had colds and we had to cancel all of our fun plans for the day, including a play date with one of Sarah’s best friends that left her in tears.

    With guilt riding heavy on my shoulders, I still attempted to make the day fun. We made Norah’s favorite muffins (pumpkin chocolate chip), and both the girls were very helpful with the baking. (Seriously! And I had predicted total disaster). But Norah, well that was probably her only good moment of the day.

    The girl refused to nap, and instead spent nearly two hours alternately running out of her room, or laying in her bed screaming at the top of her lungs, which also resulted in the babies being woken up early from their naps.

    And the throwing things and flushing them down the toilet compulsion has gotten out of hand. So much so, that Mark is now the proud owner of one of those plumbing snakes that he had to use at least three times over the weekend. (But hey, it does actually work to get things out!)

    Norah also felt compelled to dump all the toys we own onto the floor to make a “swimming pool.” Though at least that entertained her for a while and was easy for her to later clean up.

    Here’s a sample of a real conversation Mark and I had Sunday morning:

    Me: “Where are the Kleenex?”

    Him: “In the bathroom.”

    Me: “Why are they in the bathroom?”

    Him: “Because I needed somewhere to put them really quick and your coffee and toast were on the window ledge already.”

    Me: “That’s because I had to find a place to put them really quick where the babies couldn’t grab them because I caught Norah buck naked, covered in Boudreaux’s Butt Paste.

    Him: “Right and I went to the bathroom to make sure you didn’t kill her and took the Kleenex so the babies wouldn’t empty them out.”

    And oh the screaming. There was so much angry screaming on Sunday that Mark and I made the executive decision to have the twins in their beds at 6:45pm and the big girls in bed by 7:15pm. After they were down, I sprinted out of the house and to the grocery store, just to have some alone time for 45 minutes while I bought the week’s essentials. And you better believe I stopped by our stress eating outlet of choice on the way home: TCBY. I’ll take a giant Oreo filled frozen yogurt (so I don’t feel guilty, but really it’s ok because I forgot to eat lunch anyway) thing, thankyouverymuch.

  • One Whole Year with Twins

    Date: 2016.04.13 | Category: Baby, Birthday, Family, Luke, Mark, Me, Twins, Vera | Response: 0

    My twins, by babies, are one today.

    When I’ve mentioned their upcoming birthday to people, they stare at me in shock, “Noooo! There is no way! That went by so fast – well fast for me, it probably wasn’t fast for you.”

    But in truth, it was the fastest year of my life.

    I admit, when we first brought the twins home from the hospital, after the initial joyful rush of meeting my two new little people, the fear set in. Our first night home, Mark and I, seasoned parents, only got 45 minutes of sleep. “What has happened to us?” we wondered dismally. Enter the blur.

    I have a hard time remembering the first 4-6 months of their lives. There was trouble with nursing, supplements, trying to figure out how to manage two babies at once at night and somehow get them both back to sleep at the same time so we had a chance of rest. There were so many nights where I just stayed up with them, earbuds in, tearing through one audiobook after another, or watching shows on NatGeo about hermits living in remote places, listening to Scott Brick narrate Jurassic Park and Lost World.

    We struggled with both babies gaining enough weight in the beginning. I cried when I had to supplement them for the first time as I dealt with tough emotions of “not being enough” for them. They were small and Vera was behind on her milestones. We were adjusting from being parents of two to being parents of four.

    “Why?!” Mark and I often wondered. “Why were these two little souls entrusted to us?”

    And then something amazing started happening around the time they turned six months old. For one, they started sleeping stretches at night. Real, honest to goodness sleep. I tell you, if I have sleep, I can conquer the world! And I began to sleep as well. Instead of life being, “How in the world do I take care of them both at once?” It became, with a sense of awe, “Oh my goodness, I get to take care of two babies at once.”

    They began to notice one another, interact with each other, their sisters, us. They were happy, smiling, laughing. They developed fascinations with things and especially with one another. “What a blessing,” I thought, “to get to experience having twins.”

    Luke and Vera have such wonderful little personalities. They daycare teachers always tell us that even when everyone else is upset and crying, they remain happy (though I attribute that to them having to learn to self soothe very early on in life because there were only two of us and four of them).

    Luke has always been our physical child. The first to roll, sit, crawl, eat, pull up. Vera is our introspective child, always taking in the world around her, and she’s much more verbal. She says a host of syllables and clicks her tongue and lets out the short little “he he’s” when she laughs. Luke is our chuckler, who lets out great big belly laughs. Where Vera daintily eats her food and hardly makes a mess, Luke dives in fists first and shovels everything in his mouth at once, making sure to cover his face, hair and ears in the process. Where Vera is our blue eyed blondie, Luke is our olive skinned boy with dark hair and dark eyes. His hands and feet are twice the size of hers.

    Watching them together is one of my greatest joys. They are so funny together. Just the other day they were holding onto a chair next to me. Luke was trying to get my attention, when Vera reached over and pulled his hair. He turned and swatted her, screeched at her and then turned back to me. Vera promptly let out her “he he” and did it again.

    Life with twins is certainly no joke… or maybe it is and the joke’s on us. Luke and Vera were such unexpected, surprise additions to our lives, but they have brought with them so much heart, so much laughter and so much joy.

    They are great little people and somehow, together, we’ve all managed to survive the first year.

    Happy First Birthday Vera. Happy First Birthday Luke.

    We did it.

    P.S. We also finally got the hang of tandem nursing after the first 6 weeks and we were able to stop supplementing then, too. This mama has now successfully nursed twins for a whole year. And I think it’s ok to be a little proud of that. <3

  • Why It’s an Ordeal

    Date: 2016.02.26 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Life, Love, Luke, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah, Toddler Time, Twins, Vera | Response: 0

    Our lives are super crazy. Of course they are – you can’t manage four children four and under without some chaos. And in the 10+months Mark and I have been juggling it all, things have gotten better and, in some ways, easier.

    I have very sweet people tell me all the time that I “make it look easy,” but most of the time it’s really not.

    I also have so many very sweet and well meaning friends and family who want me to occasionally “do things” outside the house – to get away or be present for some event. And while the intention is always good, I find myself clenching internally at the prospect. How do I explain to them why this is a big deal without sounding whiny?

    Most kids have a “witching hour,” that time in the evening where they sort or lose their minds in some form or fashion and it makes everything a little more difficult. That time usually falls around dinner/bath/bed, at least in our home. Everyone starts to get hungry and reacts in different ways. At our house, the babies start getting fussy. They scream, crawl to wherever I am, pull up on my legs and scream some more. Norah makes trouble. She steals toys, dumps out bags of pretzels on the floor, dumps dog food into the water bowl, colors all over herself with markers, etc. Sarah, for the most part is pretty good. But when she’s really tired and hungry, she will start crying over things like, “I don’t ever want to move out of this house,” or “Mama, you said four days ago that I could wear my pink jacket and you didn’t let me.”

    And then there are the physical mechanics of getting everyone to use the bathroom, changing diapers, washing hands, cooking dinner, cutting it up, serving it up, getting drinks, bibs, spoons, baby food and everyone into their seats and eating. It’s tough with one kid, but with four it’s a juggling act. At least the babies can’t crawl out of their high chairs yet, right?

    Anyway, then there is the feeding of babies while we try to scarf down our food between screaming and ordering the big girls not to leave their seats or that they need at least TRY what they’ve been served. Then, when it’s all over, there’s the dishes and putting up of things and getting pajamas out and towels, wash cloths, diapers, etc. while four very mobile children continue to be very tired and run amok. There is bathing (we’ve finally figured out to get them on alternating schedules so only two are bathed any given night), the dressing, the teeth brushing, the nursing, the book reading, and the “DO NOT GET OUT OF THAT BED AGAIN” routine that starts.

    When all that is finally over sometime around 8:15, we move onto finishing the dishes, prepping bottles, stuffing diapers, signing folders and trying to get extra work done before we crash into bed and end up staying up until 11pm to cram in some much needed self and couple time.

    What I’m saying is, that evenings at our house are very much a two-person job. Mark and I have a pact not to leave the other alone during that time of the day without recruiting an extra set of helping hands.  Now I know some parents have to do this alone all the time and they have my UTMOST respect, but there is a reason we have a pact on this, and it’s mostly so that if one of us crumbles under the pressure, the other person can pick up the pieces and keep everyone moving. Or, someone can tame the babies while they scream and the other gets bed things out. Or, someone can clean up whatever mess Norah has made while the other keeps everyone “out of it, get out!”

    And so one of us just leaving the house between 5-8 is not possible without help. It’s just not. I know that we have to take care of ourselves (no lecture needed there), but that usually happens between 9pm and 11pm. I would love to throw my hands up some nights and say, “Sorry! Not tonight! Mommy is taking her wine to the back porch,” but Mark would cut me with the daggers he threw from his eyes, and honestly I would do the same to him if he tried such a move.

    All this to say, I’m sorry, really I am, that I can’t hang out in the evenings right now (or really do anything until after 8:30p.m., including talk on the phone). And unless I can bring at least two kids with me, even daytime breakaways are tough. Eventually things will get better as everyone grows up and becomes more self-reliant, but right now we all need each other most of the time, especially in the evenings. The babies are still nursing and Norah and Sarah need that extra little bit of mom and dad time after they go to bed. I love my family and I’ve learned to embrace the chaos in a way my mostly-introverted self never thought possible. I’m so grateful for their sweet faces and nighttime hugs and kisses, but there is always a whirlwind of chaos and Mark and I are in together. So really, it’s not you, it’s me. It’s us. And I’m ok with that.

  • Those First Unknown Moments

    Date: 2016.02.19 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Life, Luke, Me, Pregnancy, Twins, Vera | Response: 0

    In January I had good intentions of doing a post reflecting on the madness that was 2015, but illness invaded our house, taking down one with strep, another with croup and the other two with RSV, followed by some necessary ear tubes and a lip tie correction procedure. There was also a quick care visit to remove a piece of Styrofoam out of Norah’s ear and an ER trip thrown in there for good measure. And in the midst of all the madness, I forgot about everything except trying to get my babies well and somehow finishing the magazine on deadline.

    Now that the babies’ procedure is over, I’m sitting here feeling kind of dazed and dumbfounded. I honestly have trouble remembering much of the past 10+ months.

    A friend and coworker of mine is expecting twins, and together we chatted about my twins’ birth and I mentioned that Mark had recorded the c-section from a discreet non-gory angle, but that I’d never actually sat down and watched it all the way through. So over the weekend I decided to do just that.

    It really is amazing and beautiful what modern medicine is capable of. I sat there in awe as I watched little V first slip out, and then as it took two doctors to physically shove and tug my breech boy out of my ribs together. And then I watched as Mark followed the babies back to a little room off the OR to be weighed, measured and cleaned – or at least that’s what I always thought they did. In these 10+ months, I never actually knew what happened after they were delivered.

    I watched the video on bated breath as both babies were immediately put on CPAP machines in an attempt to get them to breathe on their own, or “make the transition,” as I heard them say. I watched as oxygen masks were placed on my tiny babies, tubes slid down into their bellies and nurses counted off numbers and percentages. I heard them say, “She will probably have to go up to the nursery for more oxygen,” as people hovered around, making sure they were ok.  And then, after a few minutes, a mask came off and, “She did it!” was exclaimed as little Vera made the transition on her own, breathing in that life-giving air without anymore struggling, while Luke continued on the machine.

    I had no idea any of this was going on while I was being stitched up, and I’m sort of relieved I didn’t.

    The next thing I knew, I was being rolled out of the OR. They handed me Vera, put Luke briefly on my chest for skin-to-skin, monitored him, then whisked him away for oxygen in the nursery.

    I remember sitting stunned in recovery, holding my tiny 5 pound baby girl, receiving sweet phone call updates from the nursery about my son and not feeling like any of it was real. After all, my other two deliveries went quickly and smoothly, and I ended up with a baby girl after it was all over. It was so strange to think about this other baby boy of mine somewhere out there, supported in his hours-old life by oxygen and a team of nurses that I had only caught the briefest glimpse of.

    I was lucky and incredibly blessed though, for my little man finally made “the transition” later that same day and I was slapped in the face with reality as they brought my second infant to me to hold, comfort and nurse.

    And now, nearly 10 months later, I sit here and still can’t believe that was all real, or that we have two babies sometimes. All those early struggles feel so stretched and blurred as I chase my now two incredibly mobile and beautiful babies around the house, digging paper and hair and toys out of their hands before they can stuff them in their mouths. I get to revel in their very different and very distinct personalities and truly get to know them.

    And just now, all this time later, I realize truly what a miracle, gift and blessing those first few days were and how much I truly owe the nursing staff at the hospital. It’s hard to believe my now 16 and 19 pound babies were ever those scrawny little 5 and 7 pounds newborns in the video.

  • “How Do You Do It?”

    Date: 2015.11.09 | Category: Family, Home, Life, Luke, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah, Toddler Time, Twins, Vera | Response: 0

    Next to, “You have your hands full!” And “Are they twins?”, “How do you do it?” is probably the most common thing people say to me. And my most common response is, “I don’t know!”

    And I feel like that often, especially on mornings like today when we’ve been battling back-to-back illnesses with the kids, repeated 4a.m. wake ups, coughs, kid nightmares and my own lingering congestion I can’t quite kick because I can never get enough rest.

    But, the truth is that we do manage to “do it” most days, thanks in large part to the following:

    1. Coffee. I mean a lot of coffee. One morning I made coffee and Mark actually said to me without joking, “Why did you only make six cups?!” The struggle is real.
    2. Consistent early bed times. I have finally learned that Norah needs to go to bed early so she has enough time to settle and go to sleep before Sarah joins her in the room for bed. That means bed time routine starts at 7p.m. And I’m strict about it. We can hedge a little on the weekends, but if we get off by too much, everyone has a melt down at the same time, including me.
    3. Preparation. After everyone goes to bed at night, I set about getting ready for the next day. Bottles are made, folders are signed, snacks and pump bottles are loaded into the car, diapers are stuffed and folded. I learned the hard way that trying to do this while all the little people are awake takes roughly three times as long and adds an hour to our morning routine.
    4. Learn to let some things go. My house is a disaster. I felt terrible about this for a really long time and I still try to fight it from time to time. Here’s what we manage to accomplish most days: dishes, trash, some laundry and picking up one area of the house. Here’s what we fail at: keeping the bedrooms picked up, SOCKS, wiping down things, organized closets, cluttered vehicles and dog hair in general. This past weekend I spent time cleaning our hallways, laundry room and living room. Norah and Sarah destroyed most of my work in under 10 minutes.

    5. The village. People ask me all the time, “Who helps you?” Mark and I do a lot ourselves – we have perfected the two person juggling act it takes to keep things rolling along. But, we also have our families in town who help with watching the kids, and an amazing nanny who helps on afternoons and Fridays while Mark and I work, and a long list of  amazing mom friends I text and call on a regular basis for moral support.
    6. Patience and understanding from other people. I work for an amazing place – a place that has been flexible with my schedule with my children and has always allowed me to be where I need to be for them. I know this isn’t always easy, but I am thankful for it every single day. I don’t sleep much and forget things all the time. When I dropped the kids off at school this morning, I had forgotten a number of things and the teachers quickly reassured me not to worry, they would make it work. Bless you people!
    7. The grace of God. I pray for patience and strength and to be a good mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, co-worker and person every day. I fail a lot, but I keep on trying.
    8. A strong marriage. Mark and I have been handed a lot. Our children are amazing blessings, but they demand a lot from us. It’s so easy to lash out at one another – and it happens, especially when we’re exhausted and frustrated. But being able to realize that it is just the frustration and exhaustion talking helps us overcome these things quickly, and we remind one another that “united we stand, divided we fall.” I really could not do this without him.

    Despite all these things, we still have a lot of pitfalls. Just this morning we couldn’t find anyone’s shoes; Sarah’s uniform sweatshirt disappeared into some dark corner of our house and has yet to resurface; Norah put up a great and mighty protest against wearing pants and hurled a plastic shoe at my head that found its mark; I forgot the diapers and had to turn around once we left the house; I discovered that several ounces of my preciously pumped milk had spilled when we got to school; I realized that I forgot wet bags for the diapers when we got to school; we forgot to get juice when it was our turn to bring snacks for school; oh, and I’ve been awake since 4am with a little boy who is adjusting to his new crib and room and a 4 year old who accidentally saw part of daddy’s zombie show last night and had nightmares and panicked the rest of the morning until we talked about snow angels and unicorns.

    Life is crazy. I feel like every day I must look like someone dragged me behind their car. But, despite all of this, I am really and truly happy. I love my kids. I love my husband and we all manage to make it work.

    This past Friday the director of our kids’ school said another parent came up to her and asked who that mom is who pushes the twins in the stroller and carries a toddler on her back every day (ha!) She told her who I was and the mom said that my kids are always happy and I always have a smile on my face and I inspire her every day. Wow! Talk about humbling. That was exactly what I needed to hear. We ARE happy and, really, that’s the crux of how we’re “making it.”

  • Half a Year and Counting

    Date: 2015.10.16 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Life, Luke, Me, Twins, Vera | Response: 0

    These babies are halfway through their first year of life.

    After saying that, can I just take a moment to give Mark and I a little pat on the back. Man this first six months has been rough. Beautiful, joyful, adorable, but rough. I mean this whole no sleep thing with twins, jeez. I just had no idea. I’m kind of glad I had no idea, but… whew.

    Ok, back to our six month update.

    At six months our babies laugh and smile and light up the room. Luke smiles and laughs easily, but Vera makes you work for it a bit more. But when they both get to smiling it changes the whole mood of our house for the better.

    At six months, Luke is right on track with his milestones. He’s rolling both ways, attempting to sit up (if he can stop rocking himself long enough), and even getting up on his knees and attempting to push himself forward. Oh help me when these twins get mobile, for it is game over.

    V on the other hand really has no interest in any of those things. She can roll front to back (I’ve seen her do it a few times), and she can nearly go back to front, but the thing is, she would really rather you just hold her. Sitting up? No thanks unless she’s in a bumbo chair. Crawling? You’ve got to be kidding her.

    We tried solids a few days ago and while Luke was very interested and then very excited, Vera made the most awful face and choked and gagged. No thanks, Ma.

    At 16 pounds, little man is chunking up nicely, while my little lady is holding her own at 12lbs.

    Both babies  will stand if you help hold them up, and absolutely love all people. That’s probably a by-product of being babies #3 and #4, but it makes things easy! They love their new school and their teachers. We always get great reports, though when Luke gets mad, he can out scream even Norah.

    Vera loves it when I put clothes on her, laughing when the shirt comes down over her face. She also laughs when I kiss the spot between her eyes on her forehead.

    Luke loves it when I smile at him and say, “Hi” in a goofy voice. He smiles back in a way that looks so much like my grandfather who passed away earlier this year. It melts my heart.

    Luke hates his car seat and screams as soon as we put him in it. Vera could care less and seems to generally enjoy the car.

    Vera continues to be our better night time sleeper, and Luke our better day time sleeper, but we are trying to make them both good at day and night.

    At 6 months they are beginning to mimic some of our facial expressions, sticking their tongues out and smiling wide.

    Luke sucks his thumb and Vera sucks two fingers on her right hand. Luke loves chewing on blankets to soothe as well. Both babies love being pulled up next to the dinner table as well as watching their crazy sisters sing and dance.

    I’m starting to see one of the very best things about twins now: they are both constantly reaching for each other. When I tandem nurse them, they hold hands. When I lay them down next to each other, they find each other’s hands (though Luke does occasionally gnaw on his sister’s head).

    I am so proud of my little pumpkins and how well they are growing and developing. Yes, V is still a little behind, but she’s holding her own and we will get there. They wear us out, but they are such a joy and bring just the right amount of crazy to our house.

    Happy Half-Year my little loves.

    P.S. Totally forgot to do their 5 month post or to even take photos that day, but I did take this one on their 5 month celebration!

  • Four Months

    Date: 2015.08.27 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Life, Luke, Me, Twins, Vera | Response: 1

    Ok, so it’s been a while since the twins turned four months, but I did snap their pictures on that day!

    I love four-month-olds. They are so engaging. They laugh and smile and watch everything around them, especially their goofy, dancing sisters. Plus, they aren’t quite mobile yet, which makes things easier on mom and dad!

    Luke, however, desperately wants to be mobile. He’s got the rolling from tummy to back thing down, and can even inchworm across the floor and bed. When we put him in his bumbo chair, he works as hard as he can to get out of it. When we hold him, he loves to stand while clutching our fingers. I do believe the boy would run off if he could.

    Vera, on the other hand, is much more reserved in her movements. Opposite of her brother, she loathes tummy time and any time we make her do it, it is met with much screaming and protest. I have been worried about her not meeting her milestones like brother, but she is managing to push through. The day after her four-month doctor appointment, where we discussed developmental concerns, she totally surprised me by finally rolling over! Yes, she’s only done it once, but now I know that little stinker can do it.

    V also has some head and neck problems, but we have been able to do stretches at home so far, and they seem to be working. Of course, as her mama I can’t help but worry about her, but so far she’s showing me that she can do it!

    Also opposite of brother, V loves her bumbo chair and will sit in it quite contently and observe the world around her. She doesn’t mind staying still, which is probably a good thing with all the chaos in our house.

    Sleep has been interesting. For two nights in a row, right as they turned four months old, they slept through the night. But, it was fleeting. Since then, Luke has been waking up at least twice a night, rolling over. I know there is a four month sleep regression, but V and I do not appreciate the nightly wake ups. We are powering through though. In a way, it’s good, because V still needs the extra nightly calories, so Luke forces me to get up and dream feed her.

    At four months they weighed in at 14 pounds and 10 pounds, nearly doubling their birth weights.

    After doing some research, we have opted to wait and start solids at six months. Neither baby is showing any interest in our food yet and with V being so tiny, it feels like the right decision.

    Tandem nursing is nearly impossible for us now. They are so crunched in the football hold that they get fussy when I try to do it. Instead their feedings are now slightly staggered, which is good so mama can have some one on one time with them while they nurse and they can stretch out.

    They are much more content to sit and watch now, not always demanding to be held. Again, I think the constant amount of entertainment from their older sisters  contributes to that, but I’m not complaining.

    I can not believe my babies are four months already. It simultaneously feels like the days are so long sometimes, but the weeks and months are so short.

    Right now Luke looks just like mama and V looks just like my husband’s family. I think that is also a contributing factor to their size difference. My V is just petite!

    Sarah has affectionately nicknamed them “Little Buddy” and “Little Vivi,” and the names are sticking.

    I can honestly say that at four months in, things are better. We are finally finding our groove and getting use to our new normal. I love their smiles (Luke smiles with his whole face, while V gives me shy grins) and I love getting glimpses of their personalities.

    Happy (belated) Four Months to my littles!

  • Doubt

    Date: 2015.08.19 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Life, Luke, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah, Twins, Vera | Response: 1

    No one ever said being a parent was easy, and I know that. It requires strength, sacrifice, patience and a force of will I never knew I had. And as we’ve added more children to our family, I’ve found that all of those characteristics need to be amplified: patience, discipline and even a listening ear for four children, instead of just one, is much harder.

    I feel like so many days we are just surviving and it is so hard to actively do things for my kids. We react to what’s presented instead of proactively planning things and doing them. Most of the time, I’ve learned to relax and go with it, but then here lately, I feel like that’s not enough.

    I doubt myself all the time. At the twins’ four month check up, we went through the list of milestones they should be performing. When the nurse asked if they reach for toys placed in front of them, I paused and with great embarrassment said, “I don’t know, because we don’t really do that.” I felt guilty and immediately felt compelled to start explaining myself. “It’s not that we leave them unattended all day, but they are usually sitting in chairs and kicking at things attached to them, or laying on blankets while Sarah dances in front of them or being held and nursed.”

    I don’t consciously think, like I did with my first two, “Oh, I need to be presenting them with things so they can practice reaching and grabbing.” Most of the time, when I’m home, I’m trying to do dishes, pick up, fold laundry and attend to my two very active older girls who demand my attention, and so the babies just kind of hang out for the ride.

    Vera was also not rolling over yet and is having some head and neck problems that I didn’t even realize were going on. Yes, we take them to the doctor regularly, so she caught it, but I did not even realize it was going on. I felt like I was failing her. (On a positive side note, she did roll over the very next day after the appointment, despite her loud and screaming protests to tummy time).

    My doubts creep in with Sarah and Norah too. Norah watches Mark and I intently, and as soon as our attention deviates away from her, she makes a break for any and all forms of mischief: throwing things in toilets, grabbing and throwing cat litter, grabbing bags of food and emptying their contents onto the floor.  All these things make me feel like I only say negative words to her. “Norah!!! Why?!” I find myself saying all the time. And I know why. She’s an attention-starved almost-two-year-old who wants her mama’s attention.

    She has also put up the great and mighty protest against easily going to sleep in her new big girl bed. We can’t let Sarah in the room that they share while we let her go to sleep or Norah will scale our well-placed barricades for the bunk bed stairs and jump on her sister repeatedly, playing a game instead of sleeping. As such, Sarah is kept out of the room until her sister falls asleep, often keeping her up well past when she should be sleeping and making her exhausted for the school the following day. Another failure for Sarah.

    Between the four kids tag-teaming me throughout the course of the night, I have had exactly two decent night’s sleep in the past six months or so, and it’s taking it’s toll on my patience with my children and my husband. Instead of answering their questions with love, I feel like I bark out quick responses. I feel like I’m failing my family all the time and that they must only see me as a mean, grumpy monster.

    But then things will sneak through to make me realize that they don’t feel that way, at least not all the time. This morning, after being up most of the night with Luke, Sarah and Norah, my tiniest little Vera woke up well-rested and all smiles and coos and giggles. While the rest of the house finally slept, we had about 20 minutes together, just the two of us to laugh and smile and just be.

    Before I left for work, Norah yelled, “Mama! Mama!” “Yes, Bean,” I said exhaustedly. She looked at me and said, “Hug you,” and wrapped her little arms tightly around my neck.

    In the midst of the morning breakfast and getting ready chaos, Mark and I shared a look of exhaustion and I walked over to him and we wrapped our arms around each other in comfort and shared understanding.

    On the way to school this morning Sarah chirped up, “Mama, I have something to tell you.” “Yes?” I inquired. “You’re so beautiful and I love you,” she said, before telling me all about her nightmare that woke up half the house at 4:30 this morning (it involved  unicorns, a prince and a pink potion that turned everyone into frogs).

    To be honest, I still don’t feel like I’m doing it all right. I forget things all the time and fly by the seat of my pants. But it is so nice in the midst of being so full of doubt that my family shows me and tells me how much they love me. I may not be doing it right all the time, but we do manage to laugh and smile and love one another, so we must be doing something right.

  • Back to Work

    Date: 2015.07.21 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Life, Luke, Me, Norah, Sarah, Twins, Vera, Work | Response: 1

    For the third time, I returned to work last week after being on maternity leave.

    Of course there was that inevitable sadness that comes with separation from your baby (or babies in this case), but this time, it was MUCH better.

    I am so thankful that I work in a place that is very supportive of families and has been very willing to be flexible with my schedule so I could enjoy three months home with my babies (three months, I might add, that were crucial to us being able to establish breastfeeding and allowing me to recover fully from my c-section.. *trying hard not to step on post partum recovery soapbox*).

    In the past, when it was time for me to return to work, I took the older girls to a daycare. It was a very good daycare, but it was still a place that wasn’t my home full of people I did not know well. And that absolutely crushed me to have to leave my baby with strangers in a strange place all day long. With Sarah, that sense of “awayness” was the worst. In addition to her being my first child, I had post partum depression and severe separation anxiety from my baby. I would go to work and sob every time I broke out the breast pump as I thought about strangers, albeit very capable and nurturing strangers, taking all my time I should have with her. It was a horrible, dark well of emptiness inside me that made me question if I was doing the right thing constantly. But, eventually, I got to know everyone at the daycare, recovered from PPD and saw how much fun she was having when we took her there and felt better that she was in capable hands and making friends, even though she got sick nonstop for nearly two years while she was there.

    With Norah, it was better. When I took her to daycare, I already knew everyone who worked there and, after watching them with Sarah over the years, had no worries about her being in good hands. But it was still hard. Again I felt like I was abandoning my baby to a strange place away from me where she couldn’t nurse and take comfort from her mother. I bounced back more quickly that time though and again got use to it as I watched my baby flourish and interact with her little friends.

    This time though, things were different.

    Putting four children in full time daycare was financially impossible for us, but so was me quitting my job. So we started on a quest to figure out something that would work. I lost so many nights of sleep and shed many a tear over what I was going to do with my babies when I had to return to work. I prayed over this issue repeatedly, and my prayers were answered. We managed to find someone we know and trust very well to come into our home to keep our children part time, at least until September. Then the youngest three will go to an amazing part-time place where my mom works and their caregiver will be at home with them the other part of the time. All of these puzzle pieces falling into place has been the biggest blessing. Mark and I are still having to juggle our work schedules to accommodate this scenario for now, but it’s working, and for that, I am so thankful.

    So when I had to go back to work again this time, I was able to leave my babies at home with someone I trusted, away from the sickness that permeates day cares, and in a place I knew they were comfortable in. I am so especially thankful for this scenario this time with my teeny tiny little Vera and my son who had oxygen problems initially. It’s such a gift to be able to keep them away from other small kiddos for a little while, at least until they chunk up and get a little older, a little bigger and a little healthier.

    And now I’m going to confess something else: I LOVE being back at work. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I was back in my office, doing a job that I love. I think my coworkers must worry that I’ve gone off the deep end because I tend to hole up, put my earbuds in and work. True, I have a LOT to catch up on, but I am also blissfully enjoying a little quiet and the time to focus on my work and stretch my creative arms again. It helps that we just won two pretty big awards for our magazine, and it also helps that it is undergoing a major design change and expansion (which thrills me!) Plus I’m getting a new Mac next week at work. Add that all together and I’m practically tap dancing into work every day.

    Do I miss my kids during the day? So much! I love those sweet little smiles and hugs and coos and snuggles. But I also love coming home every day and being inundated with hugs and shouts for “Mama!” My patience with everyone is infinitely better, and I think their patience with me is better too. And, when I tell them their nanny is coming in the morning, they cheer her name and shout, “Yay!”

    Going back to work this time has been better than I could have ever imagined. I am so thankful for answered prayers, both for my kiddos and for myself.

    And now I’m extra grateful for afternoon and night time snuggles.