Scenes from a Monday

“Hey mom!  Um, my hair is feeling kind of dirty, so I think we need to take a bath.  But just a playing bath, not a washing hair bath, ok?  Does that sound good?”

I get a bath ready for my formerly bath-hating girls so they can splash around like mermaids for a bit.  I go to sit down and as soon as my butt hits the tile, “Um, mommy?  Can you go do some laundry or something?”

That’s kid-code for, “Please get out of the bathroom so we can splash like crazy and you won’t get mad.”

———-

“Oh!  Mommy!  I need to tell you a question about my birthday.  In five days it’s going to be my birthday and I’m going to be five years old so that means I’m growing up fast.  At my Strawberry Shortcake birthday it will be summer and it will be a party at our house not at dance class.  I think I’ll get green eyes for my birthday so I can be like Real Strawberry Shortcake.  And Wyatt is going to bring me a Real Pupcake and Real Custard that will make noise and move by themselves just like Rufus and Kaya.  And I think I’ll get a scooter like Strawberry Shortcake so I can drive to my cafe.  Actually, I think our house will turn into my cafe on my birthday.  Ok?  How does that sound?”

———-

The girls ask if they can watch The Little Mermaid, so I decide this is the perfect opportunity to work on a discussion post for my class.

“Mama, what are you doing on your ca-puter?”

“Homework.”

“What kind of homework?”

“I’m writing an answer to a question.”

“What question?”

“It’s a question about teaching kids who speak a different language.”

“MOM. I need you to tell me the words of the question.”

“Ummmm…what are the implications for Krashen’s hypotheses and Collier’s prism model?”

“Ok.  That sounds good.  Can you get me some fresh, cold water?”

No homework was completed during the course of this film.

———-

“Mooooooooooooommmmmmmmyyyyyyyyy!  We’re hungry!  We’re starving! Can we have chicken and couscous for dinner?”

I make dinner exactly as requested and set it on the table.

“So, how many bites do I have to take?”

———-

It’s time for our nightly dance party! Listening to our favorite song, “Blank Space”* by Taylor Swift, Charlotte announces that she now knows all the words.

“It’ll leave you breakfast! Or with a nasty car.”

“Gotta love all these blubbers, they’ll tell you I’m the same.”

“Boys only want love if it’s your turn.”

*Both girls think this song is about a baby called Blank Space Baby.  They frequently ask to write her name.

———-

The girls are in bed.  I should be using this time to work on that discussion post, but instead here I am writing about and missing those crazy, goofy, sweet ladies.

“MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM! I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MERMAIDS IN MY BED!”

On Four Years of Motherhood

Four years ago today I became a mom, but I didn’t know it yet.  It was our fourth IUI, but we were already looking ahead to IVF.  It would still be two weeks before I’d take a pregnancy test at home, expecting it to be negative, find it on the bathroom counter 15 minutes later and freak out.  It would still be two weeks until I’d get my blood drawn and spend the day at work with my stomach in my throat waiting for a phone call from my favorite nurse.  It would still be two weeks until that phone call came in the middle of my afternoon class and I found out I was pregnant standing in the hallway at school.  Yet another week until we would find out that we were having twins.

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Four years ago today I became a mom, but I had no idea what the future held.  I didn’t know there were two sweet, funny, crazy little girls just waiting to brighten each and every day.  I didn’t know that I would spend today playing Tinkerbell, making peanut butter sandwiches, and singing Anna & Elsa tunes at the top of my lungs.  I didn’t know that my house would be covered in costume glitter, tiny doll shoes, and piles of artwork from preschool.  I didn’t know that my days would be full of singing, dancing, fighting over blocks, potty training, and bargaining over bites of dinner.  I didn’t know that my life would become this crazy, hectic, magical balancing act, and that I’d love every second of it.

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Four years ago today I became a mom, but it feels like yesterday.  Four years ago, my life changed forever.  It was a long, hard road to get to that day four years ago.  There were so many times I lost hope and so many moments I felt like I would never get here.  Yet, somehow, here I am.  Four years ago today I became a mom, and I’ve spent every day since feeling like the luckiest woman alive.

The Hard is What Makes It Great

I have a horrible headache this evening, which really isn’t conducive to writing, but I also have this urge to write.  So, here I am at my computer.  I miss writing, so I’ve decided to write whenever I get the urge.  And in this case, I have very little clue what I’m going to write about.  So, here goes…

Ted and I have been very lucky in that, while we both work full time, we’ve managed not to spend most of our income on childcare.  When the girls were born, Ted was working for Borders.  Now he’s at Trader Joe’s.  Working in retail means that he doesn’t work a typical 9-5 week.  In fact, in our entire marriage, we’ve been lucky to have the occasional day off together.  Now that we have the girls, his flexible schedule means that we only need part time childcare, so we pay someone to come to the house.  When the girls were tiny, my younger sister watched them about 20 hours a week.  Currently, we have a babysitter that watches them 10 hours a week.  I feel so lucky that we are both able to have our careers AND the girls get to be with one of us virtually full time.  Mad props to you parents who have to get your kids ready for daycare before work.  I can barely get myself ready.

There are a lot of wonderful perks to one of us being with the girls, and I am so grateful that we are able to make this work, but it does come with it’s drawbacks.  For example, Ted and I rarely have days when we are both home all day.  We have family mornings or family evenings, but no real family days except in the summer.  Ted solos wake-up 5 days a week and getting the girls to school twice a week.  I solo bedtime 3 nights a week, wake-up 1 morning a week, and getting the girls ready for dance class.  Of course, these are all normal parenting things that many parents do on their own regularly.  But sometimes….it’s just so hard.  Sometimes you just want to drink a cup of coffee while it’s hot.  Or maybe you have a raging headache but there’s no one to read the Pigeon books over and over but you.  For us, the solo parenting is the norm, and it can be really exhausting.*  Sometimes, we just need a break, and it’s virtually impossible to get one with the way our schedules work.  There’s no one to tag in when you need a moment.

This is sounding very whiny.  I swear I’m not whining.  Yes, I wish that we could have more family time with all of us together, but I am so grateful that we have the arrangement we do have.  I’m just having one of those days where I was exhausted before the day even started, my head is pounding, and I miss my parenting partner.  Sometimes I just feel mopey about the time Ted and I miss out on for each other.  Sometimes I want to have dinner as a family.  Sometimes I just want someone else to put the girls to bed.

But then, even on the hardest days, when the house gets quiet, my heart swells with joy at the thought of my beautiful, goofy daughters.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not amazed that they are here and that I’m their mom.  And now I’m teary.  Clearly, this madness that is my life is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.  Yes, it’s hard…but it’s supposed to be hard, right?  The hard is what makes it great.**

 

*All parenting is exhausting.  I can only speak honestly about what my parenting life is like, though.

**Except when my head is throbbing and one child is screaming in her bed because the other child got out of bed and bit her.  Then, it’s not so great.

Is This Thing On?

My mind has been very full lately, and I’m sure this is what has lead to my recent itch to blog.  It’s been a while, huh?  Tonight, the desire was so strong that I just had to sit down and get some words out.  But then I got stuck…what should I write about?

Should I write about how much I’m learning at my new job?  How it’s crazy and fun and exhausting?  How it makes me wonder if I want to go back to the classroom?

Or should I write about my recently developed crush on Sir Ken Robinson and how I repeatedly watch videos of him on YouTube just to listen to him talk sexy about things like technology and transforming education?

Should I write about my voracious appetite for books and that I can’t stop reading?  Which of the 72 books I’ve read so far this year should I talk about?

Maybe I should write about how this boy said something to me in high school that I still think about regularly?

Or should I write about how my daughters are suddenly three YEARS old and sometimes my mommy heart can’t take how amazing they are?  Or about how sometimes they drive me batshit insane?

Should I write about my recent addiction to colored tights and coffee?

So, I pondered all of these writing possibilities and decided to take a bath instead of writing.  But then I got out of the tub and still wanted to write, so I just wrote all of this nonsense because sometimes you’ve just got to let the words out.

Maybe my next post will be more cohesive…

More? Maybe? Who Knows…

There comes a point after the birth of your first child(ren) that people start asking.  When are you going to have another one?  Do you want more children?

I really should just learn to say, “Maybe, someday…” and leave it at that, but I can’t seem to just give a simple answer to what, for me, is a very complex question.  So here’s the complex answer…

Right now, my family feels very complete, though that doesn’t mean I won’t change my mind in the future.

I know that I don’t want to have fertility treatments again, so I’d be willing to try and get pregnant naturally if I knew I could.  But since I don’t have a crystal ball, well, that’s setting myself up for a lot of heartache that I’m just not sure I can handle.  If we decided to have more kids, I don’t think I could just let it go if it didn’t work…and that would mean more surgeries and treatment.  In addition to the emotional aspects of it, I’m just not sure I want to put the time and money towards it.

Adoption is another option, but that process is lengthy, expensive, and emotional as well.  Again, we may think about that route in the future, but right now my heart and my wallet can’t handle it.

It’s hard for me to think about growing my family because it would involve so much sacrifice for all four of us.  It would be hard to pay for dance lessons and preschool while paying for an IUI or IVF.  It would mean vacations get put on the back burner while we wait and hope for another child.  Please don’t get me wrong, I think another child would be worth all the sacrifice, but right now I have a hard time thinking about not giving everything I have to the two beautiful daughters I already have.

Part of me thinks that we made these fantastic little humans, and surely we should make some more to populate the earth.  Another part of me just feels so blessed to have two when so many are still waiting for one.  Asking if we want more just leads to more and more questions in my mind.  For right now, though, it’s not a pressing issue for us.

Right now, our family feels complete.  I feel whole and content with the two amazing, sweet, funny, goofy, ridiculous, and awesome daughters that I’ve been blessed to have.  I’m happy with where we are as a family, and I’m not looking to change that any time soon.  Though, I fully reserve the right to change my mind in the future.

Does that answer your question?

Never Let It Drop — Thoughts on Being a Working Mom

Before I start, I want to say that I am fully aware that all moms work.  I work just as hard during the summer months when I’m home as I do when I’m at school.  It’s just a different kind of work.  This is just me talking about my experiences as a mom who also has a paying job.

When I tell people that I have twins, people almost always comment on how busy I am.  When I tell them that I also have 15 other children that I dedicate my life too, they wonder how I can possibly get anything done.

I am a mom to twins.  I’m also a teacher.  To say I have a lot on my plate is an understatement…but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

What’s life as a working mom like?  Well, I can’t speak for everyone, so I’ll just tell you how it is for me…

Being a working mom means that it took me two years to complete the girls’ baby books.

It means that I only give 100% when I’m at work, instead of the 150% I used to give.

It means lists, and lists, and lists, and more lists.  I have lists on my phone, lists in my kitchen, lists on my computer, lists on my desk…and that’s just at home.  There are dozens of lists at work too.  I have long-term lists, lists for this week, and even a list for this nap time.  This blog post has been on a list for over a year.

It means getting up and getting dressed in something other than a t-shirt and jeans.  Wearing actual clothes and doing my hair makes me feel amazing, even if I’m half asleep.

It means saying no, which isn’t always easy for me to do.  I want to do all of the things, but I often have to say no because there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

It means letting things go.  Sometimes I just can’t do it all.  It’s ok that I didn’t get a blog post up on my classroom blog this week.  It’s ok that it took me 4 days to reply to your email.  It’s ok that I haven’t cleaned off the kitchen counter in weeks.  It’s ok.

It means spending the occasional nap time watching Pretty Little Liars instead of cleaning because I desperately need a break.

It means feeling fulfilled intellectually, emotionally, and professionally.  It means getting to feel like an adult for a few hours each day.

It means forgetting things constantly.  Hence, the lists.  If I don’t write it down, I’m sure to forget it.  I can’t keep track of upcoming IEP meetings & dentist appointments while also putting puppy tails in my daughters’ hair.  My mind is constantly on overdrive, and things just get forgotten.

It means we have money to pay our bills, to put into savings, and to pay for fun things like ballet classes and colored skinny jeans.

It means I haven’t opened my Google Reader in months.  Is there even still such a thing?  I want to read blogs and keep up with people, but I can barely find the time to read my own blog!  Twitter is the name of this working mom’s game.

It means doing what’s important.  What needs to be done right now?  What can I move to tomorrow’s list?  Do I really need to fold the laundry, or is taking the time to read a book more important?

It means sometimes I’m not my best self at work because I’ve had a hard day at home.  It means sometimes I’m not my best self at home because I’ve had a hard day at work.

It means that I get to be constantly amazed by children, both at home and at work.  It’s helped me to be a better parent by showing me just how lucky I am.  It’s helped me to be a better teacher by seeing the world through a mother’s eyes.

It means that sometimes I feel on the verge of drowning at any second.  There is so much to do that I constantly feel like I’m treading water.  One thing goes wrong and my whole day can fall apart.  It’s a constant juggling act.  I’m just trying to keep my hackey sack in the air.

It means that sometimes I put on Signing Time or Tangled just so I can have some quiet snuggles with my girls.

It means being proud of myself for doing as much as I can for my girls and for my students.

It means that I feel guilty a lot.  Guilty that I left my girls at home.  Guilty that I didn’t get enough done for my students at school.  Guilty that I’m not a more attentive wife or a better housekeeper.

It’s a lot, this working mom gig.  It’s not easy, and some days it’s downright impossible…but other days it’s amazing.  I get to be the mom to these funny, sweet, fantastic girls of mine.  I also get to be a part of all these other families who need my support.  I’m lucky to have a job that means to much to me.  Even though there are days that I feel crazy and out of control, I know that what I do at work and at home are important.  It’s worth the crazy to me.

Being a working mom is all about finding balance.  It’s a constant battle of priorities.  Some days, I fall flat on my face…and I’m slowly learning to be ok with that.  I get to try again tomorrow.

Two

Dear Charlotte and Evelyn,

You just turned two.  TWO.  My tiny little babies are two years old.  How is that even possible?  Certainly you were just born, so there’s just no way you can be two.  Yet, it seems you are!

You have changed so much over the past year.  This time last year you were standing up and holding onto things.  Charlotte was just starting to walk, and it would still be a few months before Evelyn started walking.  You both said a few words and signed a couple of signs.  You had just the tiniest smidge of a toddler mullet.

Now?  You are walking, running, dancing, climbing, and jumping (or trying to) all over the place.  You climb up the stairs standing up.  You eat with forks and spoons.  You talk and talk and talk and talk.  I love the way your little toddler minds think of things to say.  You both frequently talk in the third person now that you’ve finally learned your names, and it is so charming and adorable.  Your hair is getting so long.  I love putting it up in pigtails or a pony tail…you call them “puppy tails.”  So sweet.

You both love colors, so we had a rainbow-themed party for your birthday.  You are always telling us the colors of everything.  You also love letters and counting.  It amazes me how much you pick up on without us teaching your directly!  It seems like you only have to see or hear something once before you pick up on it.  Sadly, this includes bad words that mama & daddy say.  Oops!

Charlotte

Charlotte, you are so sweet and goofy.  You still suck your thumb and forefinger, and now you do it while twirling your hair.  You are mama’s sensitive girl.  You aren’t a fan of baths or having your bare feet touch the cold floor.  You also talk in this silly, deep voice sometimes when you are talking to yourself.  Frequently it’s to tell yourself, “S’ok now,”  Adorable.  You are a big fan of yelling at the dogs.  “Kaya QUIET!”  You love taking your baby for a walk in the stroller and cuddling up to listen to a story.

Evelyn

Evelyn you are so smart and sassy.  You definitely think that you are the boss in this house, and you like to order us all around.  You also love to snuggle and give amazing hugs.  I love how you announce what color shirt I am wearing when I come into your room in the morning. “Mommy blue shirt?”  You also love to talk about who took which car where.  “Daddy blue car work?”  Lately, you love building with blocks.  It’s amazing how just a few months ago you really didn’t do much with them, and now you are so creative with how you build!

You both have so much fun together.  It’s so fun to watch you learn to play with each other.  Running around the kitchen and screaming is a current favorite sister game.  You get along pretty well most of the time, but there are definitely fights over toys.  Even when we have two of the exact same thing, you seem to be able to tell which one is superior and fights erupt.  Still, even with the fisticuffs over toys, you seem to adore each other.  I love watching you be sisters.

Bears, I think that this upcoming year is going to be crazy and a tad exasperating.  I also think it’s going to be a fun and amazing adventure.  Thank you for letting me be your mama.  I love you more and more each day.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think to myself that I am the luckiest mama that ever lived.  You are truly the best thing I will ever do with my life.

Love you always and forever,

Mama

 

All of the beautiful photos in this post were taken by the lovely and talented Beth at BethLaurren Photography.

Monday Musings

I can’t believe that summer is almost over.  Today is the first day of my last week of break.  Summer just flew by!  I can’t really complain though.  I got to do quite a bit of reading & relaxing…and I got a ton of things done around the house.  My photos are organized, I made the girls a gorgeous baby book, I cleaned out/organized my closet, the girls’ closet, the linen closet, the bathroom cabinet, the mugs, and the DVDs, I got some decorating done, and I’m in the middle of planning a second birthday party.  Plus, I got to spend tons of time with my girls and Ted.  All in all, a good summer.

My hair is getting better!  Thanks to all of your advice, my hair isn’t a super-dry, sticky, gross mess anymore.  I changed shampoos, added a light spray conditioner, and even tried that Moroccan oil you are all addicted to.  It’s not perfect, but I feel like I’m on my way to better hair.  At the very least, it feels soft again, and that’s huge.  Next steps are to get it cut and to invest in some quality styling tools.  Favorite blow dryers, straighteners, and hot rollers?

I’ve been a little stressed out with the girls lately.  Evelyn has been super-clingy lately.  Like, hanging around my neck for hours at a time clingy.  I’ll be holding her and she’s still trying to get closer to me while screaming, “MAMA BIG HUG,” in my ear.  It’s…exhausting.  I’m hoping it’s just a phase and that it doesn’t get worse when I go back to work next week.  Oh, and Charlotte suddenly hates walking on the floor with bare feet.  Fun!

I’m signing the girls up for their first dance class, and today we are off to a dance store to get them fitted for shoes.  Cross your fingers we can find shoes that fit!  The smallest I could find online was a size 5.5, and they are barely in a size 5.  Dainty, dainty feet.

Yesterday, I bought purple skinny jeans.  I realize that many of you buy fun clothes all the time, but I am not a daring fashion person.  I buy sensible, cheap clothes.  I have an entire closet full of camis and cardigans…and I’m bored.  So, I’ve decided to break out of my shell a little bit and try some new things.  Hence, the purple skinny jeans.  But…what do I wear with them???

Don’t forget, this is the last week for my Summer Reading Challenge!  I admit that my reading has slowed a bit over the past few weeks, but I’m hoping to get at least one more book in before the 20th.

So Lucky

There is something about twins that fascinates people.  As the parent of twins, you learn this quickly.  People constantly stop us at the grocery store, the library, the park to ask us about our twins.  Sometimes, it’s almost comical.  Have people never seen twins before?

Naturally, as well-seasoned parents of adorable twin girls, we were prepared for people on the cruise to ask us about our twins.  At least, we thought we were prepared.  I am not exagerating when I say that we could take a walk around the deck of the ship and have 20-30 people stop us or comment about our twins.  It was non-stop for the whole cruise.  I’ve chalked it up to the fact that cruise people are generally a chatty, social bunch…and that a lot of people on the cruise were grandparent-types who just liked cute kids in general.

But something stood out to me in the comments we received, and it’s stuck with me.  From most passengers we got the usual comments…

  • Twins? So cute!
  • You’ve got your hands full.
  • Wow.  Twins, huh?  Good luck with that!
  • Better you than me!
  • Twins?  Mom and dad sure are busy.

And, let’s not forget the woman who sat down at our table for breakfast and preceded to ask me about how I got pregnant, when did I know I was having twins, how early were they born, and you don’t work do you?  Oh you do?  Who raises your kids then?  Oh yes.  She was my favorite.  But I digress.

The comments we got from the crew members — many of whom were Filipino, Indian, Chinese, and a whole host of non-Western nationalities —  were different.  Decidedly different…

  • Twins?  So lucky!
  • You are a very lucky mama!
  • Twice blessed!
  • Two princesses!  So lucky!
  • How lucky you are!

So lucky?  What a difference from the usual comments we hear about how tough our life is and how tired we must be!  How refreshing to have people see our family as we see it!  Yes, we are tired and some of our days are really tough, but that’s not our general feeling about having twins.  There is not a day that goes by that Ted and I don’t talk about how amazing our life is and how blessed and lucky we are to have our girls.  When I see twins in public, my first thought isn’t about how hard that mom must have it, but about how lucky she is to have twins in her life.  People talk to us constantly about our twins, but it’s so rare for them to make a truly positive comment about twins.  Those positive comments on our cruise are one of my favorite vacation memories.  I will keep them in my heart always.

So lucky?

The luckiest.

Leaving On a Jet Plane…With Two Toddlers

On Saturday, we’re about to take our first foray into family travel, and boy are we doing it up right.  We’ll be leaving the house at 5 a.m. with our luggage and two toddlers in tow to board a 4+ hour flight to Seattle.  Then, it’s a 7-day cruise to Alaska.  Go big or go home, right?

I’m actually very excited about the vacation part, and we’ll have a ton of family members around to help, but the flight terrifies me.  I’m so worried I’m going to be that lady with two screaming toddlers on a plane.  Let’s be clear, though.  I think that kids have just as much right to be on a plane as every overly chatty lady with horrible body odor and every sleazy dude with rotten breath.  If I have to put up with those people, you can put up with my kids.

Still…I want to be prepared so that things go as smoothly as possible for the girls (and for Ted and I).  So, here’s what I’m packing in my carry on bag…

  • Snacks, and lots of them.
  • New coloring books and triangle crayons that won’t roll away.
  • New board books
  • New baby dolls
  • New MagnaDoodles
  • Two iPads loaded up with toddler apps
  • All the foofs and lovies
  • Advil for mommy

Anything else I should be bringing?  Have you ever flown with toddlers before?  I’ll gladly accept any last minute advice!