Archive for April, 2017

  • Things That Go Bump in the Night

    Date: 2017.04.19 | Category: Family, Health, Home, Life, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah | Response: 19

    I swear, any time the phrase, “Wow, we’ve all been sleeping through the night for a while here lately,” stumbles through my brain, a tiny little ESP signal flashes into the brains of my children, triggering a great nighttime revolt.

    The morning of Easter Sunday was glorious. My first child didn’t wake up until 7am, and then, being the studious oldest that she is, she merely crawled into bed with us to snuggle until the others woke up close to 8am. I was feeling so thrilled, so happy and rather pleased with everything.

    But oh dear sense of self-contentment, what a fleeting stranger you are.

    We played hard on Easter. We went to Mark’s family’s farm and the kids ran around outside in the sunshine all day long. “Oh,” I thought, “They are going to sleep SO GOOD tonight,” as I fantasized about laying in bed until possibly even 7:30am!

    But… I didn’t even think about all the Easter chocolate, cookies, cupcakes and red dye 40 they were shoving in their faces all day. They did go to sleep rather easily, but at 4am, the sugar monsters came to life in the form of… nightmares. Sarah had a terrible one. One that was so terrifying that she wouldn’t even tell me what it was about, instead yanking her terrified, shaking little body into my bed. She pressed up against me, heart pounding. I soothed her and let her stay there (which is rare in our house – we are firmly of the “no kids in our bed” kind of people). Well that lasted about 20 minutes. She kept kicking me every time I’d start to doze. I moved her back to her bed, yet some version of “my throats hurts,” “there’s a ghost outside my window,” “it’s just impossible to go to sleep” re-awoke me every time I started to doze off again. Finally at 6am I caved and let her watch TV so I could sleep for 30 minutes. My husband somehow managed to sleep through all of this, I might add.

    Monday, I thought, would be much better, despite chugging along on only a few hours of sleep. We played hard Monday – visiting friends, playing in water outside, and I put them all to bed early. “I did everything right!” I thought, “Good night, stinkers!”

    Cue this 4am gem: “Maaaaammmmmmaaaaa! My bed is soaking wet!” Norah, this time. She pointed to her soaking wet panties on the floor. I felt her bed – it was drenched. Let me pause to say that since Norah decided she was ready to potty train, she has never once wet the bed. However, she has started lying to us out of spite? Contrariness? I don’t know. But she insisted to me that she had gone to the potty before going to bed that night, and that, it turns out was a GIANT LIE. So, off went the sheets, the mattress cover, her blanket. I re-made the bed. I finally got her all settled and went back to bed, only to have my mind start making a huge deal out of not-huge-deal-things because it was 4am. Also my husband was snoring. I finally dozed off, only to be re-awoken.

    Norah: “MOM! There’s a FLY in my room!”

    Me: “What is going on?! A fly?! Are you kidding me?! BACK TO BED!”

    She angrily stomped back to bed. Of course when my alarm went off that morning, I was the only one who could pull my exhausted self out of bed. I went to wake the girls and discovered the following: a sippy cup, a half eaten pile of graham crackers and chocolate wrappers. It seems that in order to pass the time from 4 to 5am, Miss Norah prepared herself some delicious snacks in the wee hours of the morning while I slept. But of course when it was time for school, she could not be persuaded to budge from under her cover cave of wonders, which resulted in anguished crying on both our parts.

    #overit

    As we finally got them all into bed last night, I looked at Mark and said, “If ANY of them wake up in the middle of the night, I’m kicking you until you get up and take care of it.”

    So, of course, that night everyone slept like soundless baby angels.

    Someone pour me up another cup of coffee, please. Or, better yet, I’ll take a glass of wine (or three).

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The Aftermath

    Date: 2017.04.09 | Category: Birthday, Family, Food, Home, Leela Fish, Life, Me, Norah | Response: 26

    April is the birthday season in our home. Out of the six of us, four have April birthdays (as does one of my nephews). And with Easter falling right in the middle of the month, creating the birthday party schedule proved to be a bit crazy.

    Once I got it all figured out, I looked at Mark and said, “You’re going to kill me.”
    “Whyyyyy?” he asked.
    “Because I’m having back-to-back weekend birthday parties … at our house.”

    Now, anyone who has children knows how much work it is to clean house on a good day, so getting the house “party ready” requires a lot of work on our part. Still though, we powered through it and the parties were both a great success.

    But as with any sort of fun, it seems like we always have to pay the piper the next day. As one of my favorite lines from Hamilton says, “Can I be real a second, for just a millisecond?”

    The morning after the twins’ party, I heard the big girls wake up and start moving around. They usually go in the living room and play, or ask one of us to put on the TV for them. I probably should have known by the quiet and extra 30 minutes of sleep they gave me that all was not well. When I finally got out of bed, I wandered into the girls’ room and both turned around to look at me, exposing their very blue lips and teeth. Sarah and Norah: 2, Cupcakes: 0.

    The resulting mess was all over our kitchen. Turns out blue food dye does not easily come out of, well, anything. After the kitchen mess was scrubbed, I went to use the restroom when I noticed a very strong smell of smoked brisket wafting from the girls’ room. I stopped, walked inside and looked around, thinking Norah had surely made a well-rounded breakfast, adding leftover brisket from the party to her cupcake. But, alas, my inspection yielded something much worse. There, on the lone patch of carpet not covered in toys and clothes, sat a giant pile of brisket grease infused dog vomit.

    “Ugh! WHY?!” I yelled as I got some scooping cardboard and the Bissell green machine out and got to work. It took a long while to get most of it up. (And over a week later it still smells like smoked brisket when I walk in that room, despite liberal treatments of everything from chemicals to vinegar and baking soda. It has to be the grease.). I had no idea how the dog got into it. I had put up all the extra food and taken out the trash the night before. Finally, Mark sheepishly walked into the house from the backyard, holding a now-clean brisket drip pan that Leela saw fit to clean out entirely.

    I went in the room again a bit later and it still smelled terrible. Sarah, amidst her poking around said, “Mama, COME HERE.” She was standing in her closet, pointing to another pile of the brisket vomit.. and it was touching several pieces of clothing that had fallen off hangars. Cue more cursing.

    Not to be outdone, later that day I was picking up their room. When I lifted up a blanket I discovered what can only be described as a “cookie monster crime scene.” There was blue frosting EVERYWHERE, and even a couple of candy eyeballs scattered about. Honestly, I was so tired from scrubbing up dog vomit that I didn’t even make an attempt to get it up. I need to. Still. Really, I should. I mean blue spotted carpet probably isn’t an acceptable home decorating accessory, right?

    And Norah’s mouth and face were stained completely blue. All attempts at scrubbing just left her looking bruised, like she had taken several hits to the face. So that’s how she appeared when I drove through the tornado storm to get to my sister’s fancy bridal tea later that day.
    ****
    Yesterday was Sarah’s birthday party. Again we woke up to another quiet morning, that is until Sarah came running into our room, yelling that Norah was painting her brand new My Little Pony orange… I came tearing out of bed to find that yes, she was indeed painting said pony orange, while sitting in the middle of a giant pile of sprinkles she had decided to decorate our floor with.

    Oh, and she had also found the only set of non-washable markers in our house and decided to give herself warpaint with it. So this time for Palm Sunday Mass, instead of looking bruised and battered, she merely looked like she had some kind of terrible rash going on.

    At least for the second birthday party I had wised up. We had cupcakes with white frosting only, and I made sure they were all gone by the party’s end. Sprinkles, as it turns out, are much easier to clean up the day after. Scented semi-permanent markers though? Not so much.