Archive for the Me talking about my kids Category
14
The very merriest birthday to you. To who?

Oh, Zoe. You’re two today. Two? Really? Already?

It seems like just yesterday I was riddled with the insufferable sufferings of the fiercest stomach bug ever to hit this household, and then you were all, “Quit vomiting for 5 minutes, woman, and get me outta here!” What a way to come into the world. I guess you were already trying to make sure that your sisters didn’t show you up with their fantastic birth story?

The last two years have literally flown by, and I’m in denial of how much you’ve grown. When your sisters were your age, they were “big girls!” but you remain just a baby to me with your porcelain skin, fine baby curls, and oh my God those cheeks. Fess up. You’re a baby doll come to life, aren’t you?

Never mind, that’s kinda creepy.

People always ask me if I could imagine my life had you never entered it. The truth? Yes, yes I can. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t cherish every moment that you’ve graced me with your presence. Most moments. The ones where you cry inconsolably for no reason I haven’t really cherished so much.

This past year has seen you grow leaps and bounds. You no longer sit back and calmly observe the insanity happen around you — you participate 110% and have shown me that yes, it is possible for me to be pulled in 7 different directions at once. It was a knife in the heart the day that I realized I could no longer take all three of you to Target and have you be content sitting in the cart playing with a scrap of paper while your sisters checked out the latest Buzz and Woody.

No, you are an equal opportunity toddler — you must do everything that they do, even if it’s your own little made up version. They’re sitting on the couch watching Sesame Street? You must sit there too. They’re getting tossed in the air by Daddy? You too. They get their bowls of applesauce refilled? Well, by all means, I must top yours off too, even though it’s still full because you don’t eat anything but crackers and waffles.

You are the true definition of sugar and spice. Salty and sweet. Like chocolate covered bacon, only without the extra cholesterol, although I’m not convinced that you’re not going give me a heart attack one of these days with your daredevil ways. Just today I caught you trying to stand on your rocking horse like a circus performer. I’m pretty sure it all started when you flew off the bed that one time.

You don’t take any crap from anyone, most definitely not your sisters. But oh my word do they love you, and they love to show you, even if it’s with a headlock and a body check. But you’re crazy about them too. You insist on giving them each a kiss before nap time (along with the dog and the cats…), and before you go to bed at night you go back and forth between their beds, sharing goodnight kisses and sweet sisterly giggles, sometimes taking a moment to crawl into bed with one of them for extra snuggles.

And you’re such a good snuggler. Did I ever tell you were only 4 months when you stopped letting me rock you? Yeah. I wasn’t ready for that. And you never let me sleep with you. But in the past couple of months, thanks to a lot of nap protesting, you’ve more than made up for it, and oh how I love it. You are ridiculously attached to some random, ratty blanket, but as soon as it’s placed across your back, you command me to “Sit!” and nestle your head into my neck. And there we sit and rock. Sometimes at the end of a long, napless day, your soft snores grace my ears like a whisper within minutes. Other times you lay your head on my shoulder, lean up for a kiss, point out my nose, eyes, and mouth, and then you bury into my chest and we cuddle some more. Sometimes you point to your crib and say, “Beh?” when you’ve gotten enough snuggles and are ready to lay down, and it’s always before I’m ready. When did you get so big?

When you were on the way I had a hard time imagining what you would be like, inside and out. With two older sisters with such distinct personalities, how in the world would a third personality present itself? You, my dear, are your own person, that is for damn sure. You’re a mommy’s girl through and through, requesting to be held 97% of the time, searching for me through the house when I’ve abandoned you to go to the bathroom of all things, and only wanting me when you’re wet and wrapped in your towel after a warm bath. But then you’re a daddy’s girl when it’s super rowdy play time or at the end of the day when the witching hour has just gotten to be too much!

You’re Zoe. You want what you want, when you want it, whether it’s a cookie or a kiss. There is no “wait.” There is no “not this time.” One of these days I’m going to have to stop letting you get away with murder because you’re “just a baby.”

But not today. Today you’re still my baby. Happy birthday, little one.

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16
The de-cribbing

This past weekend we decided to take a huge leap in taking the fronts off the twins’ cribs.

Yes they are almost four, and yes they have still been happily sleeping in cribs until now. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. We knew this day had to come, but like just about every other project we have on the list, it gets put off because we’re lazy like that. The back burner is our comfort zone.

It actually wasn’t my decision. I made the mistake of going to a baby shower, and I came back to find Christian mid de-cribbing. He does that, you know, jumps into things. I mean to draw up ideas and supply lists for a sandbox, then come home one day to find him digging a hole in the backyard with no real plan. I think about how to make the kids’ rooms more feng shui-ier, he just starts rearranging the furniture and hanging stuff on the walls, but still lacking the feng shui, and actually making me twitch sometimes. Let’s put it this way: I send him to the store for milk and bananas, he comes home with a $50 receipt and enough Cheez Its to feed a small army. I’m a planner. He’s a doer. Actually, no, he’s a starter. Doer indicates that things get finished. On that note I call us both guilty. With three small people and minimal free time, the last thing we want to do with time to ourselves is dig a hole in the backyard or sand 1/16 of an inch off of a door so that it will close properly.

But now here we were, the decision made, the de-cribbing completed, and taking the leap into big girl land. I have a mind to make them twin sized beds by altering this tutorial from Design Mom, but didn’t you just read the part above about the projects and the back burner and the laziness and such?

I’ve actually looked forward to this day. Leaning over their cribs to scratch backs, stroke hair, and change sheets is awfully uncomfortable on my ribcage, so naturally I avoided the latter as much as possible. I fantasized about being able to snuggle up in bed with them under blankets, reading our favorite stories and talking about their days as they relaxed into my comfort. But I think we still have a ways to go because our bedtimes are still hella chaotic around here what with the hair brushing, jammy dressing, and pre-bedtime psychotic energy surges. And when will I remember to brush their teeth on a consistent basis?

So as far as the weekend went, we had a great first night with no back to bed reminders and only 2 out of bed rollers for Rachel, who was quite sad to find herself startled awake on the floor. And? They didn’t even get out of bed when they woke up in the morning, opting for their usual “Mommyyyyy? Daaaaaad!” At 7:15. I feigned complete ignorance and sudden deafness and may have even kicked their father out of the bed to tend to them.

Night two was a little trickier, as they weren’t very sleepy thanks to a 10 minute cat nap in the car. Lots of giggling and cackling, and I finally went in to find them laying side by side in Rachel’s bed, covered up, and sharing some sort of wacky, hilarious moment. I didn’t have the heart to split them up, but by the 9th time of going in there, the moment had lost its adorable factor and it was “Get in bed, put your head down, and go. to. sleep. or no Valentine’s party at school tomorrow don’t you know that I will tell your teacher and she will cancel the whole thing and all of your classmates will be disappointed and no one will play with you and then all of the frustration I spent trying to get you to write your name on your valentines is wasted!”

Alas, there really was no special secret. I just had to wait for them to poop out, and they did, like an hour and a half after we put them to bed. And after I removed their Busy Zoo from the room because bead mazes are just so much more fun in the dark.

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14
Toddler Smackdown: Costco Style

Like any good smackdown, it happened on a Wednesday.

Let me tell you something about Zoe. This girl is a charmer. At home? Total terror. In public? Instant sweetheart, people magnet, and reason women say their ovaries are exploding. Strangers flock to her like moths to a flame. bees to honey, Kardashians to a flashbulb. She says her cute little hi to every moving object within 10 feet, and if you deliberately ignore her, I’ll kick you in the teeth. In my mind.

On this particular Wednesday, due to a case of increasing fatigue (mine) and depleting blood sugar (hers), the charm started to wear off. She tried to stand in the cart. I semi successfully tried to coax her back down. She begged me to hold her. I told her that the accessory of “toddler hanging from my neck” didn’t quite go with my outfit. She wasn’t having it.

Then I did the unthinkable.

I put a 2 lb block of cheddar cheese in my cart.

I’ll give that time to sink in.

The world was starting to fade at her increasing hunger (cue the “breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” memo), but not enough that she didn’t start feverishly demanding that I hand her the cheese.

So I handed her the cheese. Problem solved. And I waited for my adorable toddler to come back and shower me with affection and all of the onlookers to bask in my mothering skills.

But instead she was all, “Open this damn cheese, woman!”

And in my best motherly, sing songy, please-don’t-embarrass-me-in-public voice, I was all, “Zoe, I can’t open the cheese here, honey. We’ll just have to wait until we get home! Mkay? Mkay! ”

So then she was all, “NOOOOOOOO! Sslkngdvegnlkaslknelh!” Which loosely translates to “Open this motherbleeping cheese right now or I will cut you with the fingernails you have neglected to trim for weeks!” It’s true. I rarely remember to trim any of my kids’ nails until one of them claws me in the face.

I did my best to ignore her pleas in the most motherly of fashions: by giving her a good old pat on the head, followed by a sympathetic “Oh, honey,” as I continued pushing the cart. But inside I was begging for her to just forget about the damn cheese.

Can I also mention that we were at Costco on the one day when the only samples in sight are beef jerky and some stank French cheese that even the cheese lover herself wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole? I should have told them we were coming so they could prepare the goldfish crackers.

So I walked on with my cart, my cheese, and my inconsolable tiny dictator down the aisle to the milk that I buy four gallons at a time.

While Zoe continued to think I was just being a bitch about the cheese, I stood waiting for another mom to grab her own bulk milk. Her daughter, trying to figure out why she was thrashing about the cart, incredulously looked Zoe up and down.

This, my friends, was a bad idea. There she sat, sucking on her drink, smugly eating her snacks. Like a blonde, blue eyed instigator, staring at my child who already thought that the entire food related world was against her.

Let me tell you: Zoe has two older sisters. Also known as: She doesn’t take any shit.

“NO!” She screamed, pointing an accusatory finger at Blondie.

In stepped Gentle, Loving Intervention Mom (that’s me), “Zoe, calm down…she’s not doing anything to you. Oooh look at the pen! Want to play with Mommy’s phone? Here! Let’s –”

“NO!”

“Zoe! Stop that.”

“Phhhhhhhhttttthhhhhhh!”

I turned around just in time to see Blondie pulling her nasty, germ ridden, and probably forked tongue back into her mouth while simultaneously giving my daughter the stink eye.

Oh hell no she did not just do the preschool spit at my child. Sitting there nicely, shoving your good behavior in our faces while eating your delectable treats in front of my starving child wasn’t enough, huh?

As Zoe screamed more at the insult, I chucked my 2lb block of cheese at Blondie’s head and shook those adorable pigtails loose. In my mind.

I told Zoe to calm down as I made eye contact with Blondie’s mom (who was not a Blondie herself) and gave her my best “I’m a mom, you’re a mom, hey aren’t these kids just so silly???” look.

The woman looked right through me and pushed her cart on down the aisle. Her nose was so high in the air, I’m sure she could have gotten down that pallet of bottled water from the top shelf.

What the hell? I don’t know about you, but I expect a little camaraderie from moms with similar aged kids, especially when they do things that are so ridiculous and just plain little kid like. You may think less of me for having a child that points and screams NO at your child (which she learned from her sisters, but your kid did kind of have a creepy stare. Whatever), but at least I didn’t disregard her spitting at another adorable, albeit equally instigating little girl. And don’t tell me you didn’t hear it. Come on. I think the people over in the bulk electronics heard that, dear.

I finally made it to the snack area where I tore open a box of organic, all natural fruit leather faster than you can say “organic, all natural fruit leather” and handed it over to Zoe, who was wasting away before my very eyes. All was well, and she was able to turn the charm back on long enough for us to check out and book it to the car.

And who do I see loading up her bulk snobbery into her own car, parked right next to mine, but Blondie and her non Blondie mom, who of course still ignored me, but whatever. My child was happy again, and I was feeling friendly. Generous even. Maybe if I caught her eye I could give her another smile, mention how silly these darn kids are. I mean, what’s the point in harboring this hostility towards one another?

But then she took her cart, walked it a few feet, and parked it next to the curb, in the middle of the parking lot.

As I walked my cart back to that wacky and apparently invisible  ”Cart Return,” I knew I had to let it go. It wasn’t meant to be. I now knew that she just plain lacked common decency.

And I may have stuck my tongue out at her as I drove past. In my mind.

*sigh* Charming the crowds is oh so exhausting and hunger inducing.

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12
I was THAT mom. And that one. And that one.

I always hear women refer to themselves as “that mom.” Usually in a negative context and likely taking their impressions from behaviors they’ve seen in others that they don’t really wish to emulate. Like “I was that mom who had to drag my three kids kicking and screaming out of the library in the middle of story time and THEN I was that mom who yelled ferociously at them in the car because they ruined everything!”

Not that I would know. Ahem.

Being “that mom” doesn’t have to be a negative thing. Before Christmas there was a day when I was lucky enough to be several moms — moms that I had been before, and many I had not.

 

I was that mom who had her hands full out shopping by herself with two rambunctious 3.5 year olds. I know I had my hands full because at least 7 people stopped to tell me that.

Two minutes in I was that mom who threatened to “turn around and leave this store right now if you don’t put that back and stay with me!” …Target and your dollar section, I curse you. But also I kinda love you? It’s a complicated relationship.

I was that mom who bribed her kids with the opportunity to unshelve the entire toy section if they would just stay put and let her look at the kids’ shoes for 2 minutes please!

Yes, I was that mom whose voice everyone constantly heard calling out “Claaaaairrrrre! Raaachellllll!” Then in a frantic half-whisper because you don’t want to yell, but yeah you kinda really want to yell, “Get over here!!!” when the bribing didn’t work.

I was that mom who actually survived lunch in a busy restaurant with two 3.5 year olds. And actually got to eat. And actually enjoyed it.

And I was that mom who saw the couple next to her, juggling not even one year old twins, an older child, and all the gear that comes with and yearned to tell them that it gets easier.

But instead I was that mom who smiled but held her tongue because really? It doesn’t get that much easier. It just gets different. Less crap to carry, more crap to deal with, really.

And for a moment I was that mom who kind of liked being someone’s “See? It won’t always be this hard.”

Then I was that mom who dragged her kids to another store with no cart in which to put them, and prayed that they wouldn’t disappear or break anything.

And yeah, I was that mom who yawned and tweeted on her phone while her kids were engrossed in God knows what.

But then I was that mom who had to go back into that store after her kids were half buckled in their seats because she had that kid who insisted on taking that stuffed puppy into the store and promptly abandoned him in favor of that shiny Lightening McQueen display.

I was that mom who had to drag her kids out of the store because apparently they thought we came back in to play with more toys.

I was that mom who went home frustrated because I was that mom who waited until the last minute to try and find simple black dress shoes for her kids at Christmas time. But in that mom’s defense, getting out and going shopping isn’t the easiest or most enticing thing to do with three kids, especially during the holidays.

But I was that mom who braved the ridiculous holiday shopping with her two crazy girls, had a fantastic lunch, didn’t lose any kids, and lived to tell about it. And actually enjoyed it.

If by enjoy you mean “I only went 2 places but damn I feel like we ran all over town because I am freaking exhausted.”

So then I was that mom who put on a Strawberry Shortcake DVD so she could put her feet up a while.

Did I find any shoes? No. So I may be that mom who sends her kids to school in their Christmas best with their dingy old Stride Rites on their feet.*

What mom are you?

*After coming home, taking a break from shopping, and recharging our batteries, we piled everyone back into the car for a family shoe seeking excursion. And found shoes at the first place I ran into. No one else even got out of the car. What. The. Hell.

eating out with twins chipotle

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25
On the separation issue

When I entered the girls’ MDO to drop off some books for their Christmas book exchange later that day, the director caught me in the hallway.

“Can I run something by you real quick?”

“Sure,” I answered, feeling much less apprehensive than the last time she asked to talk to me. The girls have been doing well in school, they love their teacher, and no one’s come home with any notes pinned to their shirts informing me that they gave little Billy their best left hook. I mean, I don’t even think either of them is left handed, much to my dismay.

“The other day…when you brought them to school separately,” she started, referencing one day in which Claire stayed home sick and another in which Rachel was throwing the tantrum of the century and I had no choice but to leave her home with her father while I took Claire to school, “…they’re really different when they’re not together!”

I nodded in agreement and told her that yes, I do notice the difference when I have one without the other, and honestly, I was thrilled that the school noticed. It doesn’t happen often, but taking them on separate errands is one of my favorite things to do. Each one of them flourishes as her own person, talking to me, and paying attention to her surroundings instead of her sister. She has me all to herself and lets me further into that vibrant personality that I know is there, but is so often masked by the “unit” that is a set of identical twins.

As a twin parent, I love seeing that their teacher can distinguish between the two of them, not just by what they’re wearing, but by the small nuances in their looks and the vast differences in their personalities.

And I knew what she was going to say next.

“What would you think about putting them in separate classes?”

I fumbled for an answer to bury the “Whatchoo talking ’bout, Willis!” that immediately tried to escape my lips. I knew she must have valid reasons, and I prayed that those reasons didn’t involve fist fulls of hair my girls were pulling out of each other.

The issue with my girls is that they do just about everything together. They sleep in the same room. They wake up together, eat meals together, play together, bathe together, and now they go to school together. Even when they’re not getting along, I can’t get them to give each other some space and engage in separate activities. They always want to do what the other is doing, and they’re so comfortable with one another that they have absolutely no qualms about fighting, taking toys, or stabbing each other in the eye with a crayon.

But that wasn’t the issue here. Although she told me that they do fight occasionally, the problem is that they often have trouble transitioning from play time to learning time, which isn’t that hard to deal with when it’s just one kid. But in their case, Rachel might stall sitting in the circle by pulling out toys or abandon an art project in favor of riffling through the cabinets, and then Claire is often tempted to do the same. So instead of having to coax one child back into the activity, the teacher and her aide are wrangling both of them.

Welcome to my world. Here let me thrown in a 23 month old so you can really get a feel for it. Ahem.

The director explained that she felt each girl would really flourish individually not having her sister to distract her. Instead of modeling each other’s behavior, they would start to model that of the other kids. (The ones who actually do what they’re told, I presume.) “Just a thought,” she said, and encouraged me to talk it over with Christian.

Man, few things will make you feel like a bad mom more than a suggestion from your kid’s teacher, director, or principal. Over the (agonizingly long) Christmas break I emailed some questions to their teacher. She told me that yes, they fight, but not every day. Sometimes they get physical with each other, but never the other children (whew!). They play together in class, but don’t shut out other kids, and on the playground they usually go off and do their own separate thing. She explained that Rachel started out as more boisterous than Claire, but recently Claire has been doing her share of swiping toys, hitting, or pulling hair, again just between the two of them, thankfully. But the main issue seems to be that they are a distraction to each other. And this is where she and the director feel that they would benefit being apart, so they can model the other children as opposed to each other.

And I know she’s right. I know that Rachel and Claire can seem like completely different kids, in a good way, when without their other half. I know that their behavior, good and bad, is often led by one of them. I know they would benefit from time apart. I actually complain that they need time apart, and school is the only chance for them to really get it on a regular basis.

And yet still I hesitate. My first instinct is to say, “No. Keep them together.” But why? Why, when I know this will be a good thing for them, do I resist it?

There’s just this thing with twins that makes us think that they need to be together. They’re a set, a unit, both in our minds and in front of our eyes, we often fear that we’re taking something away from them by splitting them up, even for a few hours a day, when in reality, we could be doing them a disservice by insisting that they stay together.

I know several twin moms who have separated their kids in school, and many who have chosen to keep them together. Here in Texas, the parent gets the final word on whether or not to separate. Maybe one twin willingly takes a backseat to the other, so separation will help him come out of his shell and build his confidence. Maybe the twins fight constantly, and separate classes give them a much needed break from each other, along with the satisfaction of having their own friends and teachers. Or maybe one twin relies heavily on the other, and separating them at this point would be truly traumatic for him. We fall in none of these categories, meaning I needed to rely on my mom instincts, which I often admit I am mostly without.

When they were babies, Claire was the leader, the front runner, the spunky, outgoing one, while Rachel was the quiet, shy, sensitive one. In the past year that’s changed. Rachel talks to every single person she sees, asking them what they’re doing, where they’re going, and whether or not they have to go potty. She’s gained a bit of confidence and no longer relents to what Claire wants to do all the time. She doesn’t give in as willingly anymore. On the other hand, Claire’s turned inwards a bit. She’s still a feisty, fun loving kid, but she no longer dominates play time like she used to. Her mood and emotions are determined largely in part by whether or not she’s getting along with Rachel. Now she’s the one who hides her face in my leg when among strangers, and she’s the one that often misses her sister more when they’re apart.

In separating them, I worried that they would miss each other, that one of them would have to leave her comfortable surroundings and acclimate to a new class, new teacher, new room. In keeping them together, I worried about the strain it would place on the teacher and the class aide. I was afraid that they would be burdened by having to focus on my girls so much. My good friend Vanessa, twin mom to boys 4 days older than my girls, assured me that I was raising strong willed and confident girls who would each do well in their own environment if I chose to separate them. My good friend Reba, an elementary school assistant principal, spoke from an administrative standpoint. She reminded me, “This is their job. This is what they are paid to do. Don’t worry about them. If you want your girls together, keep them together, that’s all there is to it.”

I had three long weeks to weigh my options, but from the get go I knew what I was going to do. I knew separating them would have its benefits, that they would still have plenty of togetherness at home, and that a separation could even encourage them to appreciate that togetherness. Yet a part of me was still sad. They’ve already changed classes once this year. They both absolutely adore their teacher. But mainly…well, I’m just not ready. Again, just like last time, it’s me, not them.

I’m not ready to separate them. I want them together. They’re little, only three. They’re each other’s best friend (and worst enemy, but we’ll stick with friend for now). They have plenty of years to follow their own distinct paths, and that may very well begin next fall if I grow some balls. But this year, their first year at school, they’re together. And I need to know that they’re there for each other. Even if it’s just for confidence’s sake. Even if it’s just to have someone to play cars with. Even if it is just to take each other’s toys.

The comforts of home, right?

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19
SOPA, the circus, and oh yeah, I have a job!
What is SOPA?

I wanted to get this up Tuesday night, since Wednesday was the day everyone was protesting, but as usual, I’m late to the party. Things just weren’t working in my favor yesterday, mainly the hands on the clock. But this is important information to have, so here you go!

Have you heard of SOPA? If you’re a blogger, techie, or communications person, you probably have, and you’re probably not happy. Basically, the Stop Online Piracy Act is “a pending bill geared toward preempting U.S. property theft by promoting creativity and innovation (techopedia) .” While putting an end to online piracy is good, the bill leaves a lot of room for interpretation, which could open the door for a lot of online censorship, causing a lot of sites, particularly social media and sharing sites, to more heavily police their content. Sites like YouTube and Reddit would definitely suffer, if not shut down completely.

What can I do?

First and foremost, educate yourself on the issue. You can then contact your congressman and urge them to vote against SOPA by either calling or sending them an email. You can also send a prepared message through americancensorship.org. Don’t let the government censor the internet!

 

Okay, on to more cheerful topics.

Saturday we went to the Shriner’s Circus. I have no idea who the Shriners are, but they wear funny hats and put on a show that’s great for the kiddos. I hadn’t been to the circus since I was a kid myself, and my friend Heidi (more about her in a little bit) got us some killer seats to the show. R&C knew what a circus was, so they were pretty excited to see clowns, elephants, and of course cows. Aren’t there cows at the circus?

Shriner Circus 1

Those cows are huge! And my kids refuse to make normal faces at the camera. That's if they both look at the same time at all.

Shriner Circus 3

What's the best part of an elephant? Their butt. Naturally.

We ended up having to split at intermission. Claire was getting a little nervous that the lights went out and never came back on, and she kept asking to go home. Christian took her out of the main arena, causing pure pandemonium from Zoe, and Rachel was quickly starting to lose it. It was close to lunch, so we called it a day. I sometimes have to remind myself that we’ll have plenty more years to enjoy things like this — where they’ll hopefully last more than halfway through.

And when I asked them what they’re favorite part was? “Kai- Lan!” Of course. Because who doesn’t come to the circus to get a blow up Kai-Lan toy. That deflates before you even get home.

Shriner Circus 2

In hindsight, it may not have been the best idea to have everyone look into the glaring sun. But be jealous of our mild winter!

I’m gainfully employed! Since the beginning of the year (you know, like less than three weeks ago), I’ve been helping my friend Heidi with her website Free Fun in Austin. If you live in or around Austin, you know this site and you know it well. What started out as a way for her to keep herself accountable for getting out of the house with her four kids has now turned into the go to source for family activities around town. And now she’s all big time, speaking at a conference, and she was on the newsTwice. She’s a rockstar.

So while she concentrates on the businessy end of things, I’m doing my best to help her out and take a little of the every day posting off of her shoulders. It’s a perfect fit for me: posting on a blog platform that I’m familiar with, working at home, with a super cool boss lady. If I miss a beat here and there on my blog, then that’s why. Because I spend the entire day making meals, pushing swings, wrangling kids, and being a parent and all, I only have between the hours of 7:30ish and whenever I start to fall asleep at my desk to do anything, so some things have to give. But I’m thrilled to have the chance to help her out and make a little money doing something I love.

So now that we’re all caught up, what’s going on in your life?

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14
2011… in mediocre pictures

2011 wasn’t as brutal as 2010. And I learned to take better photos this year, so instead of a year in really bad photos, you get a year in mediocre photos. Maybe 2012 will be the year of the slightly above average photo? Shoot for the stars, friends. Here we go!

In January, someone started standing all on her own. Look at that little peanut, so proud of herself. I can’t believe that’s the same little kid who now says, “Wash dis, Mama!” when she’s about to dive head first off the couch or who screams at the top of her lungs to display her disapproval of my computer usage.

Fave post of the month: Fewer clowns, but just as much crazy, where I basically make you feel better about your life.

February brought the great Snowpocalypse of 2011. I’m telling you, we get a quarter of an inch of snow in this place and the whole city shuts down. Remember Y2k? That’s how people prepare for a little frozen precipitation around here. But we lived!

Snow in Austin, Texas

AND….Zoe turned one! What a ham, that girl.

Fave post of the month: I have a BS in motherhood {which was also syndicated on BlogHer!} Please excuse the shoddy formatting. It was originally posted on my blogger blog, and when I moved to WP things got a little wonky.

March is one of the best months in Austin. It was all about the big girls turning three and getting to spend more and more time outside before the real Texas heat kicked in.

Fave post of the month: Crazy, but true, where I laugh at people who say they want twins, but then reflect in the beauty in m girls’ growing relationship.

sisters

In April we got smacked with a heat wave the likes of which I have never seen in my 14 years living here. We actually busted out the water toys and spent many a day outside. We also had our very first experience with the flu, and I’m grateful that we made it that long. But we all got it, Rachel and Zoe twice. Me? Half a day. What a crock.

Fave post of the month: Don’t mix the play doh, a little guest post for Mom Went Crazy that talks about what brings out the neurotic in me.

April

May cooled off a little. We participated in our 3rd March if Dimes March for Babies, for which we raised a whopping $515! And completely unrelated, I migrated from Blogger to WordPress! And now you have this fancy site that you see before your very eyes.

Fave post of the month: I get to pick two…Why I March, which I repost every year before the March for Babies walk, and You’re a jerk, but I love you, which continues to get hits from Google searches. Who knew that so many people Google “I’m in love with a jerk,” or “My brother in law is a jerk?” Seriously.

Play Me I'm Yours

June meant summer, and the heat, was in full swing. We traveled to Dallas for my niece’s birthday party and spent a lot of time in the water. This photo pretty much sums up what we did just about every day. I love the tender moment they’re sharing. I have no idea where their sister is.

Fave post of the month: I make excuses NOT to potty train.

June

In July we finished up a visit from Grandma and Aunt Jessie. We hit the zoo, the splash park, and the San Antonio Riverwalk. It was a blast, and we were so sad to see them go home. Mainly because that meant I had to start potty training.

Fave post of the month: I had a lot of really fun posts in July, but my favorite has to be Naptime, Interrupted. Kind of. A tale of sexy embarrassment. Kind of.

August. By this time we pretty much think we’re going to die from the heat. The water we didn’t use to quench our lawn we used in the kiddie pool or the sprinkler.

Fave post of the month: Progress reports. In my head. Imaginary feedback from our upcoming preschool days.

In September Rachel and Claire started Mother’s Day Out! I think I was kind of sad for a minute before I rejoiced in my newfound freedom, then remembered I still had a kid with me. Bygones. I also traveled away from the family for the first time ever, to go visit Christian’s aunts and cousins in Iowa. It was a blast, and the photo below was my view as I sat with my morning coffee.

Fave post of the month: Fighting the ridiculous fights, where I again make you feel better about your life.

Iowa in September

October. This time it was Christian’s turn to leave me with the kids while he traveled to North Carolina, then to Virginia to take part in the Tough Mudder. Such a badass. Oh, and it was Halloween.

Fave post of the month: I documented an entire week in my life, which was extremely eye opening and challenging. But my favorite has to be Stay here, where I tell my kids to stop growing up, dammit!

tough mudder

November meant Thanksgiving! Nomnomnom. I love this photo of my girls and their cousin because it’s so candid. Shit literally went down right after I snapped it, and I regret not having the good sense to just keep on with the clicking to capture the drama.

Fave post of the month: Lamenting the loss of the nap. I still miss him.

December has been cold and rainy, ending with some brilliant sunny days that have us playing outside a LOT. It’s glorious. The big girls were way into Christmas and Santa this year, and we had an wonderful Christmas and a lovely visit from Nana, Grandpa, Aunt Lori, and our cousin Cheyenne.

Fave post of the month: This is why I should just not talk to people. It’s true.

Have a very safe and happy New Year, everyone! See you in 2012!

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10
A Christmas mixup

Last week my family came from Dallas to visit for a little pre Christmas celebration. We opened gifts, had a marvelous Christmas dinner {cooked by ME}, and went downtown to view the huge tree of lights at Zilker Park, where we promptly froze our asses off and barely stayed long enough to snap a photo and snag a bag of freshly popped kettle corn. And the kettle corn? WORTH IT.

Zilker Park tree of lights

The view from inside the tree

My three girls and their 2.5 year old cousin had a blast opening gifts while the five adults screamed obscenities like, “Oh! What did you GET?!” or “WOW! Look at THAT!!!” and “Isn’t this FUN?!?!”

In a rare moment of free hands, I grabbed my camera to document the magic of Christmas. Or the magic of my kids’ heads since no one ever looks at me for a photo EVER.

So in the midst of “Open THIS one!” and “Hey, finish opening this one before you reach for another…oh hell, who cares?” there was me.

“Rachel! Raaaachelllll! Rachel! Look at Mommy!”

The kids continued with their paper tearing, toy viewing, general ignoring the woman with the camera.

“Rachelllllllll…..show me your happy face! Happy face, Rachel! HAPPY FAAAAAAAACE!!!!!!!!!” By now I’ve turned into some kind of crazed paparazzi like stage mom coaxing her kid to “Smile, dammit!”

“Hellooooooooooooo……Rachel! Look at me! Lookatme! Lookatme! Happy face!”

I glanced away from the camera viewing screen and stared at the band of kids below me. There sat Claire, Zoe, our cousin Cheyenne…all ignoring me.

All but Rachel. Who was sitting at my feet, giving me a happy face so big it lit up like a Christmas tree. Waiting patiently for me to STOP barking at her sister and take her picture like I keep saying I will.

So the next time you feel bad because you can’t tell someone’s twins apart, don’t. Because apparently even I can’t tell my own apart.

twins walking red coats

You're turn...which one's which? {Pssst! I don't even know.}

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18
Unwrapping Christmas

If you’re reading this, then you and I must have survived Christmas. Cheers!

Christmas this year was pretty magical. Rachel and Claire wholly believed in the tale of Santa, and they were so very excited about what Christmas day would bring. For about a week Rachel asked me every single day if it was Christmas and of we could open presents. Ideally I don’t want my kids to think that Christmas is all about “What did I get???” But to be honest with you, we haven’t broached the topic of the religious side of the holiday very much. At this point and time, we’re not church go-ers, mainly because we haven’t taken the steps to agree on a potential church (more complicated than I care to go into here and now). Or maybe we’re just lazy.

Until then, what we are trying to instill in them is the notion that Christmas is about family, caring, and giving, with receiving being a part of the giving. For a few years Christian and I didn’t exchange gifts because we wanted to save our money for the kids, but I believe that our kids need to see us exchange gifts, even if it’s something so simple as touch screen friendly gloves or a pair of slippers. It means “I’m thinking of you.”

Every Christmas we’re bombarded with toys that we want to get the girls. Of course we can’t get them everything, but this year I felt we got them enough. We didn’t regret getting them too much crap for the sake of getting them something, only to have it be lost or overlooked later, and I really can’t think of anything that we were dying to get them that we couldn’t. Except a racetrack for all of their cars, but that’s the benefit of having a birthday in a few more months, right?

So without further ado, here are the winners of this year’s Christmas “it’s not all about the swag” swag.

Cars, cars, and more cars. If you read anything I put on Facebook or on this blog, you’ll know that my little girls are crazy about Lightening McQueen. The eat, sleep, and breathe Radiator Springs and the World Grand Prix. When it was all said and done and they had opened presents from us, Grandma, Nana & Grandpa, and Aunt Doreene, we had a total of seven McQueens. Also popular was Mater, Finn McMissile, Holly, and Francesco, who just might be Claire’s new crush.

Cars2 Cars Christmas

Princesses in the house! It’s almost impossible NOT to buy little girls princess paraphernalia. Dress up princess costumes, little dolls that can change their outfits, and more have my girls re-entering the pretend world of “your majesty” and “I’m a princess!”

princesses Christmas

Fishing poles, dinosaurs, Uno Moo, tools, Leapfrog Fridge Farm, and OH YEAH BIKES. The ONE thing I wanted to make sure we got this year was bikes. Time to get these girls peddling. Only we were dumb about it. I was afraid that if we put them in front of the tree, they would be so excited about them and beg us to ride them {in the freezing drizzle} that it would become a battle. Little did my novice Christmas mind know that 1) the other presents would have been calling to them, begging to be unwrapped; and 2) they really weren’t going to care that much about the bikes anyway. THANKS SANTA!

bikes and more

Actually, they were excited and eager to get on them and start riding. Until they realized that there was pedaling and steering and OH MY GOD WHY CAN’T YOU JUST PUSH US LIKE YOU DO BABY ZOE? We weren’t halfway to the house next door before they ditched them for good old fashioned walking. But we will persevere. {By the way did you know that trying to teach 2 kids how to pedal and steer while also tending to the 22 month old who is shrieking because someone stopped pushing her tricycle is kinda hard?}

The bathtub fishing poles are the best $4 {er…$12} I ever spent, they all love the fridge farm, and Uno Moo is a super fun game as long as I only have to play it with one kid at a time {see the above note about the bikes…same applies with games. Family game nights are sure to be a blast around here.}. My awesome sister in law Michelle also made them each a wicked cool monster bag that I for some reason don’t have a photo of? More to come.

The sleeper hit of the day? The pair of moccasin like slippers that I gave Christian. I was afraid he would think it was such a “dad gift,” but he’s barely taken them off since. And I got a lovely new flat iron to replace the old crusty one I had been previously damaging my hair with. So now you will get less of this:

phil-spector-crazy-hair

And more of this:

straight hair

I know. I look nothing like my about me photo. Good lighting does a lot for a girl.

How was your Christmas? Hanukkah? Kwanzaa? Festivus for the rest of us? Did you have any favorite gifts? DO YOU LIKE MY HAIR????

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8
On the night before Christmas…

Christmas Eve is magical. Especially with young children.

We Skyped with Grandma and the rest of Christian’s family in North Carolina. The girls opened their lovely presents, thanked everyone gratefully, and went along their merry way playing with their new goodies.

{Um, actually the kids all went berzerk, crying about opening presents while Dad tried to get his mom’s Skype to work and Mom fratically threw goldfish crackers their way to suppress their whining. They tore through the presents, asked for more, then ran off to sling around their newest toys, narrowly missing each other’s heads in the process while Mom rubs her eyes in distress and fatigue.}

We had an idyllic family dinner of freshly steamed tamales, spicy Spanish rice, and black beans, in which everyone ate sufficiently and Christmas carols played softly in the background.

{Actually, Mom made turkey sandwiches and grapes. She had no idea how much they actually ate, because she checked out to lay on the couch and read Mockingjay, leaving their poor, defenseless father to tend to them. Plus she had filled up on kettle corn that afternoon.}

We took baths, got cozied up in our warmest jammies, and ran excitedly to the kitchen to put out cookies and milk for Santa.

{Yeah. It was damn near impossible to keep six little hands out of the cookies and milk, even though the big girls DID get the idea. Poor Zoe. She didn’t understand why she couldn’t have a cookie.}

Time for Christmas stories! We snuggled up around Mom and Dad, reading The Night Before Christmas and You Are My Miracle. Everyone gave copious hugs, kisses, snuggles, and “Merry Christmases” before settling down in bed, visions of sugar plus dancing in their heads. Mom and Dad

{More like Mom gave threats of going straight to bed if they didn’t sit down for the damn story, while Dad removed a hysterical and cookie crazed Zoe from the room. Halfway through The Night Before Christmas, Claire made to leave the room to “go do something.” She feigned looking for her McQueen car, but Mom knew she had cookies on the brain. More threats ensued. Mom hurriedly finished up the book, ignoring one “Whass he doing?” after another, and plopped them in bed with a “Santa won’t come unless you’re asleep” warning. It worked.}

Mom and Dad ate a little leftover ham for dinner, drank some hot cocoa and apple cider, built some bikes, folded some laundry, wrapped some presents, stuffed some stockings, and settled down to watch Elf and bask in the remaining few hours of pre Christmas cheer.

{Okay, so all that did actually happen. Throw in a rather intense discussion about how Santa actually makes his mark on a household and some last minute panicking that the stockings were a little lean. Then Mom got elated because a package containing stickers and candy has arrived from a certain wonderful friend, and she quickly decided this friend is now Santa.}

Mom and Dad giggle while eating Santa’s cookies, careful to leave some crumbs behind, and craft a letter from the big guy to his three biggest fans.

{We totally got to eat cookies.}

Santa cookies Christmas

 

Thank you all for your love, support, comments, shares, and friendship. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

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