Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

What a beautiful day this turned out to be. I had the turkey in the oven by 9:51 and everything was finished at the same time and on the table in time! We even were able to eat before the kids woke up from their extended naps! Bonus! Everything was fantastic, if I do say so myself, and the turkey was the most tender it has ever been. The kids woke up around 3:40-ish and came down to eat. Not a lot was consumed, but Figgy did devour my turkey. Not bad for a self-imposed vegetarian who was eating tofu this time last year. :) I even managed to clean as I was cooking, so there wasn't much to do after dinner. Of course, I didn't have to do any of the post-dinner cleaning. That's the best part of doing all that cooking. I did, however, curl up on the couch and curse myself for eating too much. I seem to have forgotten (momentary lapse in judgement) that I can't eat as much anymore. Something about a baby in your belly that does that to ya...

I have to tell you, I had a small knot in my tummy all day because I knew we'd be venturing up to have dessert at the in-laws. I'm always on edge when it comes to them because we really don't get along, but they took care of it for me. We were supposed to be there around 5:00...these people are NEVER on-time for anything, remember that? So, they call to see if we're still coming and we tell them we are. They ask if we can come at 5:30, instead. No problem; it just means they spend 30 minutes less with their grandkids. It's a 35-40 minute drive (maybe longer on a holiday), so we figure we'll head out at 5:00. As we're getting ready to walk out the door, I check the phone and see that they called us. Excuses, excuses, excuses galore...and they want to know if we'll come closer to 6:00. Of course, we both look at each other and know that there is no way in hell they'll be done with their dinner by 6:00. They never are; the one Thanksgiving they've hosted since Jason and I have been together, they were almost an hour and a half late with dinner. So, the decision was made that we were not going to waste our time, putting the kids in the car only to drive 40 minutes and spend 45 minutes with them. It's just not worth it to either of us. Talk about relief! I'm so glad that they messed up again and it wasn't me being the bad guy and bailing out on them. So, since we were all ready to go outside anyway, we loaded the kids into the stroller, grabbed the dog, and went for a nice long walk. It was a wonderful way to spend the evening! When we got home, we unloaded and got the kids their milk, settled down to watch tv and in walks my brother and his family. It was such a great way to end the day and the kids were rubbing their eyes and ready for bed by 7:45.

Once everyone was in bed, I curled up on the couch with Jason and fell asleep as he rubbed my back. It was warm in the house, my tummy was full, the baby was kicking, kids were asleep and I was safe and sound in my husband's arms. What more could a girl ask for, really? I let the dog out just a few minutes ago and walked the trash up the driveway. I looked up and the sky was clear, the stars were shining, and I swear I saw a shooting star.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

I'm sure I'll have more tonight, but I wanted to express my disappointment...

So, normally I don't watch this but decided to join my husband and the kids to see what all the hype was about. I'm not a big parade sort of person, but it's really the only thing on tv, it's important to Jason, and I'm busy with the turkey. (Taking a break to shower and check e-mail!) Now, I should also start this off by saying I am normally NOT like this. I'm one of those sorts of people that says, "If you don't like it, turn it off...don't read it...blah, blah, blah." That said, I do feel like there is way too much leeway in television programming these days. I didn't get the big deal about Janet Jackson's wardrobe "malfunction" during the Super Bowl.

But, when I'm sitting down to watch a HOLIDAY parade that everyone knows is going to be watched by young families around the country, I expect it to be tasteful. I expect the songs to be geared towards the holiday or children. I do not expect to hear the only black recording artist talking about slipping out of her lingerie and into nothing but her boyfriend's t-shirt. I do not expect to watch her sliding her hand down her leg, near her private area. What in the hell is that all about?!?! Is that all the black recording artists today can sing about? All of those artists that I grew up listening to (Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin...) never resorted to that. It disgusts me. It's inappropriate on a program such as this one and I'm extremely disappointed in the parade organizers.

And, did anyone else notice that the ONLY singer on the floats that sang live was none other than my favorite? James Taylor... The rest of 'em can't sing a live song to save their stinkin' lives. Ugh. What happened to the decent music I grew up listening to?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday, Monday...

What a crazy day! Figgy was out of her mind this afternoon and had all of us laughing at dinner. She has decided that she likes to have one arm out of her shirt so that it sits at an angle across her shoulders. On top of that, she found one of her old infant headbands that was stretchy and put it around her neck. It has a bow on it. She looked like a little exotic dancer. And to top it all off? She climbed up on the dining room table and started dancing.

I nearly spit out my soup.

Jason and I got out of the house tonight for a few hours and it was heaven. We've decided to take a proactive approach to our marriage and started counseling tonight. We did a few sessions a few months ago, but decided it was time to find someone we both felt comfortable with. The last lady told us, after two sessions, that she didn't feel we needed counseling and that we were one of the more healthy couples that she had seen in ages. Well, we sort of disagree, so I found a new guy. Our insurance page states that he has an office here in town, so I called and made an appointment last week. Turns out he closed that office and opened one up in his home, which is about 20 minutes away, near the University. We LOVED him. My husband isn't one to just open up and start talking, but this guy made him feel comfortable and he just wouldn't stop talking. The one thing we really liked about him was that he got what we were trying to say to him - that we feel as though our marriage is #1 priority. While our kids are absolutely important to us, we're both pretty set on the idea that without us, there is no family. We want to be healthy for them and to give them a healthy example of what a family and a marriage is about. Neither of us had that example growing up. I mean, let's face it, his mom came right out and told us two months ago that she wouldn't marry his dad if she had it to do over again. So, you can only imagine the example that they set. My husband, unfortunately, is one that believes you stay together for the sake of the kids, no matter what. I, on the other hand, feel like the very best thing my parents ever did for us was to divorce. What I do know, though, is that I want my marriage to work out and sometimes I think you need a little help to get back on track and refocus. So, that's what we're doing. I think we've lost that sense of priority and we need some help getting it back. No, we're not on the verge of divorce. No, we're not on the verge of separation. No, we don't hate each other. As a matter of fact, we love each other very much and still spend each night cuddling and chatting. It's just a simple refresher course, so to speak.

Anyway, we love this guy, like I said. He gives good feedback and he's honest. He had us both pegged by the end of the evening - my husband is the fixer and needs to resolve everything immediately. I, on the other hand, can hold a grudge like the best of 'em and need to learn to let some things go. Who knew?!?! LOL!

Mom tells me that the kids were famously good for her (of course!). She gave them ice cream (only grandma does that) and, by the end of the evening, they would get a spoonful and go, "Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm!" Thanks, mom! LOL!

My gratitude for the day:

I'm so thankful that I have the ability to see that my marriage needs a refresher and that I'm not running for the hills, ready to give up. That's always been my m.o. and I thank God that he put someone in my life that I feel like fighting for and spending the rest of my life loving.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday...

I need to be reassured, here, because I'm beginning to feel like the only parent in the world who is experiencing this.

We seem to have hit a stage with the twins where it is impossible to take them to other peoples homes. First of all, unless we're going to a home with toddlers, I can't expect it to be childproof. The kids are into EVERYTHING now and can be destructive (normal, I'm thinking). After just an hour, they seem to be overwhelmed, overstimulated and exhausted. So, meltdowns occur and we excuse ourselves. On the way home, and for at least another 30 minutes, Ethan is in full force meltdown mode. I have found, thanks to my sleep journal for Ethan, that he ends up waking up several times in the middle of the night. Over stimulation, perhaps? I'm not sure... Is this just a phase? Is it solely my children? I'm bailing out of turkey day dessert with the in-laws because their home is nowhere near toddler friendly and I just can't handle it. We may even bail out of Christmas Eve festivities at my husband's aunt and uncle's home (an hour and a half away). Is this a normal thing?

I have to vent a little, too. We had that surprise party for a friend of mine this evening, who was turning 40. I checked ahead of time, before deciding to bring the kids, and made sure it was going to be a child friendly sort of thing. They were so excited that I was going to bring the kids and I was assured that it was kid friendly. Apparently my idea of child friendly and their idea of child friendly are two completely different things. We walked into a museum quality home. There were friggin knick-knacks everywhere. The hostess came into the living room, after we got there, and put a bunch of candles on the coffee table and began to light them. I promptly blew them out and explained that I didn't think it was such a good idea to have those lit at that level. Then, she brings out a big bowl of peanuts. I waited for her to leave the room and put them up higher, out of the line of sight. Then, she comes in with juice and hands it to the kids without asking me. I just handed them back and thanked her, to which she said, "Oh. You're one of those moms, huh?" I was like, "Excuse me? It's past 5:30 and we try not to give them any liquids after that." Obviously, I've never met this woman; she was a friend of the friend. So, then, she decides that the kids need toys and I was grateful for that because they were getting antsy. We had to put the harnesses on them early on because there was a large set of stairs within feet of this little living room that everyone was crammed into. She brings up little legos and Polly Pocket dolls. !?!?! I was like, "Um, thank you so much for the offer, but those really are too small for them to play with. We're just fine with what I have here." I mean, really? It was a disaster. She insisted, later, that I send the kids downstairs with her 8 year old so that she could keep an eye on them. So, we took that as our cue that it was probably time to leave. *sigh*

Ethan was miserable all the way home. We got home and he just screamed for 20 minutes. I put them in their jammies and brought them upstairs for bed, since it was 8:15 and well past bedtime. He screamed for 30 minutes. I'm quite certain that we'll be up at 2:00, as is usually the course.

I feel like, if a party is not going to be kid friendly, perhaps that should be revealed when the parent calls to check? I mean, when I called, I'd much rather be told that the house really isn't appropriate for little kids so that I could find alternative care for them. It would have been much more enjoyable for everyone involved if I left the kids at home.

This week is going to be a super busy one! Tomorrow I have to hang new curtains in the kitchen (we got cafe-style so that it's easier to see outside) and do some laundry. I really do have to get the second dresser built, but my rheumatoid arthritis has kicked in to full force and it's hard to do it. Tuesday evening, my 8-year old neice is coming to spend the night. We love having her here; the kids are just mad about her and she is just as mad about them. :) Plus, she wears them out! LOL! (I hear they do the same to her, though.) She's a great "big sister" to them and we're lucky to have her.

Gratitude:
My friends, both IRL and cyber. I couldn't have ever made it through these years with the twins without the ladies I've met on-line. Your support has been invaluable.

Long-sleeved shirts and yoga pants. LOL! Goodness, I'd live in my yoga pants if I could.

Toe socks.

Snuggle time with my husband.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A fun weekend, so far.

On a spur of the moment sort of thing, we decided to hop in the car and head to Gravelly Point. This is my husband's favorite thing to do in DC, so he was eager and excited! :) We bundled the kids up and figured we'd run around the bike path and soccer field to keep them entertained. Luckily, there weren't too many planes taking off, so it wasn't too loud. The kids had a blast! Ethan, unfortunately, is just like me in some ways. We both have very poor circulation in our hands and feet, so it can become a miserable situation when it's bitter cold outside. Even with his little mittens on, his hands were raw and red by the time we got back in the car and he was just miserable. Part of that, of course, was because he was plumb tuckered out. Elizabeth, true to form, was raring to go and chattered all the way home. After about 30 minutes of sobbing, Ethan finally passed out. All of a sudden, out of the backseat, we heard him softly snoring away. Elizabeth said, "Nigh-nigh" as she pointed at Ethan and waved.


We lazed around most of the rest of the afternoon, after nap time. The kids are absolutely loving the Christmas decorations. I can't describe it, but this feels like it's going to be the best Christmas I can remember. I'm so excited to see their little faces every single time they come down from naps. They make such a big deal about snowmen (no-men, as Figgy says), Santa (ho-ho-ho, as Prof. says) and the lights. I can't wait for the neighborhood lights to start going up and we can drive around to see them. The neighborhood up the street (over 300 houses) all do luminaries from the entrance to their neighborhood, all the way through. The first time I saw that was when I was a little girl and we were in Albuquerque for Christmas. We were on our way to a new duty station and that's where we stopped for a few days. The hotel staff was fantastic with us and had a small, decorated tree waiting for us in our room (4-foot tree). It was probably the best Christmas I can remember as a child. Mom drove us around town on Christmas Eve to look at all the lights and luminaries along the roads. It was magical. :)

Tomorrow we have a busy day ahead of us. I have hospice duties in the morning and then shopping for turkey dinner. Every year, for the last five years, I've made the same few main dishes that are an absolute hit. Maple-Roasted Turkey with Sage Butter, Smoked Bacon and Cornbread stuffing. This year, I'm not making the cornbread stuffing. We'll do something different. Paula Deen's Green Bean Casserole. Yummy! And, Wayne's Cranberry Sauce. I substitute Sparkling Cider for the Grand Marnier.

Then, after naps, we've got a suprise party to go to in the early evening. None of these people have seen Figgy and The Professor since they were newborns, so it should be fun. :)

Oh...real quick. Last Sunday morning, before I headed out to see my patients, I got a call from my coordinator at hospice. She left a message for me because she wanted to warn me about what I'd find when I went to see my favorite patient. Well, nothing could have ever prepared me for what I found and I burst into tears when I saw her. She's a sweet little 96-year old Italian woman. Unfortunately, her family isn't very well off and they had to put her in the local state-run facility. It's a hell hole and I detest going to visit her there. The staff is horrible. It stinks, it's dirty and it's just...well, a hell hole. As I walked into the sunroom, where she was sitting in her wheelchair, I put my stuff down on the table like I normally do. I went to bend down in front of her to take her hands and tell her that I was here...her face was BLACK. She had a knot on her temple the size of a baseball (I kid you not!). Her eyes were swollen nearly shut. Someone had beaten her. I couldn't stop crying and had to remove myself from the room for a few minutes until I gathered my composure. When I went in, she was just not herself. Normally, I'll sit and chat with her for a few minutes and then she'll fall asleep holding my hand. I just sit there, quietly, and read while I hold her hand. This time, she wanted me to sit so close to her and hold both hands, with one arm around her for comfort. She kept saying, "She hates me. Help me." Nothing else made sense, which is not unusual for her. It was a very difficult visit for me and I called my coordinator in tears when I left the facility. We're in the process of an investigation and the family has contacted the state licensing board. We'll see what happens, but it just kills me that there are people in jobs like this that do these sorts of things.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Because I can't get enough of taking pictures! :)

If I could figure out how to post a video (I'll work on it), I'd share with you all a snippet of what our late afternoon was like. Remember, Ethan is operating on a minimum amount of sleep and took a 20 minute nap, followed by a bit of screaming, followed by a 15 minute nap. To say he is grumpy is an understatement. I caught a few seconds of him losing his temper with Elizabeth when she went over to play with him and their race track. Picture him screaming like a banshee and her running in the opposite direction, screaming and throwing herself on the floor. Funny!

But, I did catch a few fun moments of peace and playfulness...

The sleep saga continues...

I am going to lose my mind. Ethan has continued to wake up every night. Yesterday, naps lasted all of 50 minutes. He was a nasty bear by 4:00. This morning it was 5:45 and he had no interest in going back to bed. Great. He was nasty to be around all day. Nap? 2o minutes. He proceeds to wake his sister up, who was sound asleep. He has now gone back to sleep after 30 minutes of screaming and left her awake and pissed off. I honestly don't know what to do anymore. I've tried putting my pillow case in with him and he throws it out because it's not blankie and that's all he wants in his crib. I haven't changed ANYTHING else, other than the sheet, and that gets changed all the time. I cannot continue down this path. I'm frustrated and ready to jump out the bedroom window right now.

Does it make me a mean, terrible mother if I leave them in there until 3:00, when they would normally get up? I can't find my sleep bible! Dr. Weissbluth, what would you say???

:(

Digging out the holiday decorations!

Okay, so I'm a dweeb (and a kid at heart). I had to start decorating the house for Christmas. It gives the kids something new to entertain them and it puts me in the festive spirit. Don't worry, I'm holding off as looooooong as I can to put the tree up. :) We'll do that, as we normally do, the weekend after turkey day. I'm having a blast watching their reactions to everything this year. Last year, they were only 11 months old, so it was much different. Now they squeal and ooh whenever I pull something out or turn on the lights.

Today, one of the boxes had our Winnie-the-Pooh Santa hat in it. Figgy is having a blast with that and likes to put it on and pull it down over her eyes and wander around bumping into things. She laughs hysterically, with The Professor following closely behind her. Of course, as it seems to be the case in my life, I was seconds too late with the camera. This is a picture of her in the process of playing peek-a-boo with me (pulling the hat down, then back up).



My gratitude...
Simplicity.
Cloudy days.
Nap time.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Where we spend a few hours once a week...

Now that the weather is cooler, I've been trying to keep the kids entertained while still getting out of the house. There are a few places I want to check out but, in the meantime, this is a great outing! At the end of the runway at Reagan National Airport, there is a park called Gravelly Point. It's nestled along the river and overlooks the entire skyline. Across the river is Bolling and the Navy base. We don't get out of the car because it's just way too loud for the kids right now, but I pack a bag of snacks and drinks and we hang out in the front seat watching the planes take off and land. It's a great time killer and the kids have so much fun! When they get older, we'll be able to take picnics and play soccer and such. :)

Anyway, this is our day, today and the views.



I so desperately need a new camera. :(

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bedtime anxiety

I don't know what to do. I'll admit it, right now, we've been extremely fortunate with our kids and bedtime. We have our nightly routine and that involves milk, jammies, and then the 5-minute warning. Depending on the status of naps, bedtime ranges from 7:30-8:00, but never later. When it is time for bed, we announce it and the kids jump up from whatever it is they're doing and head for the gate. They climb the stairs and go straight to their rooms and we don't normally hear from them until 7:30 the next morning.

Well, two days ago, we had some issues arise. Figgy wanted extra mommy time on Saturday night and I snuggled with her for a bit. The Professor has taken to screaming fits where he can, and will, make himself hysterical and start gagging. Both nights I have gone in to find him standing in the corner of his crib, closest to the bedroom door, clutching his blankie as tight as can be, reaching for me. His face is covered in baby snot (sorry, tmi!) and he has tears streaming down his face. Last night, I snuggled with him for about 30 minutes before bringing him back to his own bed, where he was fine. While in bed with me, he chatted about all of the words he knows.

He is at it, again, tonight. This time, however, we tried something new and snuggled for 10 minutes BEFORE bedtime. That didn't cut it, apparently. He has been near hysterics for 30 minutes, now, and I'm so torn about what to do. If I continue to go to him, I'm terrified that I will start a pattern of behavior that will be impossible to stop. If I don't go to him, I'm afraid he'll make himself sick or feel abandoned.

Wait...silence...shhhh....maybe he gave up???

Damn. Nope.

Any thoughts about what course of action I should take? Nothing new has changed. The bedroom is still the same. I did change the sheets on Saturday night...would that do this? No, it couldn't, could it?

You know, I think he stops every few minutes to listen. Is that even possible?

My gratitude for the day is for short, 5 minute cat naps on the couch when dinner is cooking and my husband is home.

Time and love.

You know, if I had a dime for every time I'm asked the same question, I'd be able to put a large dent in our student loans. "Do you think you'll have enough to give to another baby?" Of course, sometimes it's phrased differently, but you get the idea. I guess the people asking have never struggled with fertility and the idea that they'd never be able to have a family of their own because this thought has never entered my mind. I have more than enough love to go around. I'm also asked how I think the kids will respond and if it worries me. You know, I've never really even thought about it. Much like the dog issue, it's just not a concern. When I was pregnant with the twins, EVERYONE asked me when we were getting rid of our dog. ??? What, since we're now ready to add to our family, we have to get rid of another family member? How does that work, exactly? I adopted Bay (rather, she picked me out) and it was never a question of what we would do with her. I've always said, "The babies will learn to adjust to having a dog." Not the other way around. They have to learn to deal with her and be nice to her. And, at some point, they'll have to learn that she is in charge of them and, when she tells them that she's had enough playing, they'll have to learn to stop.

I'm confident that the kids will adjust to having a new sibling and I'll learn to adjust to splitting myself between the three. I've learned to adjust to life as a mom of twins, so I'm capable of anything.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Virginia State Twin Legislation Bill

Please sign it! It should be our right, as parents, to decide whether to split our children up in school - not the state's right.

http://www.petitiononline.com/vatwins/petition.html

Making up...

I've got some making up to do on my gratitude list!

I'm grateful for my ability to hear. I was walking the dog this morning and realized what a neat sound the rain makes when it hits the maple leaves that are all over the sidewalks and grass. And, in the woods next to our house...the sounds that the rain makes as it hits all the trees and water. It's an amazing thing.

I'm grateful for rainbows. In the midst of the gloomy day, the sky opened up and an enormous rainbow appeared, making everything look beautiful.

I'm grateful for extra-strength, fast acting Tylenol. LOL!

Every night, when I collapse, I thank my husband for letting us get a new bed a few years ago. It's like sleeping on a cloud.

And, finally, my dog. I'm thankful that she picked me at that adoption fair four years ago.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Guinness Book of World Records!

I am going to enter my daughter into the GBoWR. I am convinced that she broke a world record today.

Figgy: (ALL. DAY. LONG.) MOM! Moooooooooom! Mom, mom, mom, mom, mooooom, mom, momma!

Me: (making breakfast in the kitchen) Yes, Figgy?

Figgy: *runs off, giggling*

*5 minutes later*

Figgy: MOOOOOOOOOM! Momma! Momma, come! Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom!

Me: (running out of the bathroom) What, honey? What's wrong?

Figgy: *giggles*

No complaints here, though. I waited my entire life to hear those words. (Check back with me in another week.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How do you deal with your in-laws?

I'm really at a loss, here. I think most of you that read this know the history with my in-laws. It was a year of pure hell, really, with a huge blow-up at the kid's first birthday party. My mother-in-law picked a fight with me in the cul-de-sac and I drew the line and cut off all contact. I pushed my husband to continue his relationship with them, but made it clear that, until they could respect our marriage and the fact that we are adults and make our own decisions - and until they could respect ME, then there would be no contact with myself or the kids. Several marriage counseling sessions later, my husband understood where I was coming from and we started working towards telling his parents what exactly we had issues with and working towards setting boundaries with them. In September, we agreed to meet them for dinner. At this point, it had been 9 months since we had spoken. As expected, the in-laws were defensive and immediately told us that they didn't do anything wrong and that we were blowing everything out of proportion. The only thing they admitted to being disrespectful was constantly being late. (We're not talking 15 minutes here and there, we're talking hours. On one occassion, they were 2.5 hours late for dinner.) My mother-in-law also made it very clear that I broke her heart, that she would never forgive me (touche) and that she never did and never will trust me. All of this, of course, I knew and had always told my husband. So, at the end of all of this, I agreed to give them another chance and to let them see the kids. That occurred about a month later and, true to form, they were 45 minutes late. They showed up carrying gifts for the kids and stayed about 2 hours. It was an incredibly uncomfortable situation, but I did my best. I made them come to us because I wanted it to be on our terms and to do what was best for the kids (their home, their comfort zone). It has been over a month and a half and we haven't heard from them. I should say, they live 35 minutes away. In all, my stepmom in Oregon has seen them more than they have.

To say that I am a stubborn woman is putting it mildly. When I am hurt like they hurt me, my first instinct is (and always has been) to close people off. I have no problems with shutting them out of our lives. I grew up with no contact with my grandparents and it didn't even dawn on me that other kids had regular contact with their grandparents. I grew up with an extended military family, so I have always felt like blood isn't necessarily thicker than water. My kids are surrounded by numerous people that love and support them, so I feel like they're going to be well adjusted.

With the holidays coming up, I have put my suit of armor on and readied myself. We were discluded from Easter celebrations at my husband's aunt and uncle's house because of the rift. I normally do Thanksgiving celebration at our place. This year, being pregnant and with money the way it is, I asked my husband if we could possibly just do a small Thanksgiving dinner here at the house and then, if he wanted to, we could go to his folks house for dessert. He was good with that, of course, until he spoke with his mom. Apparently, she wants us to come up for dinner so bad (not caring or having a clue how difficult it would be for us) that she told him she would cook dinner whenever we wanted her to. Now, I have been with my husband for just over five years. Not ONCE has his parents EVER been on-time with anything. A few years ago, the last time we went to there house for Thanksgiving dinner, they were (can you guess?) two hours late. I'm not about to count on them to be on-time. Not to mention the fact that there house is not at all child-proof. Hell, OUR house isn't even 100% child-proof (I can't even figure out how to do that). Add to that everything we'd have to take up there, it's insane. Baby gates, high chairs, our large diaper bag, a box of toys... She doesn't even realize how much child-proofing would need to be done just to get us through dinner time. She, of course, told my husband that they would do whatever we needed to get the house child-proofed. She's not thinking of all the things I am, obviously, because I know she'd not accept us gating off her kitchen, two sets of stairs, the dining room...then you have 10 of us in a 10x10 room? No thanks. I'm really making an effort, here, by saying we could go up for an hour or two for dessert. After everything that has happened over the course of 5 years, I need (and this was agreed to by the counselor and my husband) to make baby steps with them. Four hours over turkey dinner is NOT baby steps, in my opinion. Really, I'm feeling like I've been backed into a corner with this phone call and I'm ready to come out swinging. I don't like these people, they don't like me, and they have not made one single effort to have a relationship with our kids. THAT makes me feel like a momma bear that needs to protect her cubs. Do you know they showed up late for the birth of our twins? In the first year, they came to see them twice. It was always expected we'd come up there. With newborn twins. To their house. With all of our stuff. No phone calls to see what new milestones...and they're only 35 minutes away! No RSVP to their 1st birthday.

Ah. I have to stop. I'm making myself more upset, instead of the intended calming down. I think his parents are slowly driving a wedge between us. I think that's been his mom's intentions from day one. I've heard her negative remarks to my brother-in-law's girlfriend (one conversation AT MY BABY SHOWER was about his brother (B). She told his girlfriend, "B is a liar, he will lie to your face and you won't even know it..."). Who does that? What mother doesn't want her sons to be happy?

Bah. :(

Overheard at our house this morning.

Ethan: MOM!

Me: Yes, Ethan?

Ethan: *grunting*

Me: Ethan, are you pooping?

Ethan: Huh? *grunt*

Me: Are you pooping?

Ethan: Yes.

I love my kids. LOL!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday

Simple gratitude today...I'm grateful for any help I receive when dealing with the twins. My mom had off today so we headed to the mall (my LEAST favorite place in the world) for her to do some shopping. After a little bit of shopping, we headed down to the indoor play area. Normally, I hit this super early in the morning after a mall walking stint (before the mall opens) because there isn't anyone else there and I don't have to stress out about watching two little ones in a sea of children. Today, however, it was nearing lunch time and there must have been 50 little kids. Do you have any idea how easy it was with another set of eyes?!?! When the twins were first born, I was adamant about not accepting help because I wanted to do it all on my own and get myself into a routine. Now? Puh-lease! Help me! LOL! So, yeah. My gratitude for the day is the help I receive from family.

And a quick few pics of our leaf playing this weekend...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday

Is it really only 9:12?!?! It feels like midnight!

So, I have a pretty weird family layout. My folks divorced (thank you!) when I was in the 4th grade and, though it felt like the end of the world at the time, it turned out to be the best thing that could have ever happened to us. I rebelled against my mom, however, and ended up moving with my dad and his new wife for several years. Mom and I just didn't see eye to eye and had some serious issues between us. I was so blessed, however, that this wonderful woman that had been a part of my dad's life stepped up to the plate. I remember the conversation we had one evening where she sat across from me and said, "I am not here to replace your mom. We only have one mother in our lives and she loves you the best way she knows how. I am here to be whatever you want me to be and I hope that is your friend." I fought her tooth and nail for so many years. I was cruel to her. I hated her. But, you know what? She saved my life and taught me that it is possible to love someone even if they're not your biological child. Her family welcomed us with open arms, as well. It was the first time in my life that I can remember feeling unconditional love. As a matter of fact, it was one of her brothers that walked me down the aisle a few years ago (with my middle brother on the other side). She helped me to see that my own mother had made a lot of changes in her life. She forced me to open my eyes and look at her in a different light so that I was able to see that my mom had, in fact, changed. And, in return, I had to change. It took me a good 6 years to do that, but here I am. I am a better person because I have two mothers who loved me, nurtured me, and taught me the lessons of life.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Gratitude

What a wonderful day we had! Elizabeth woke up at the crack of dawn, which makes me feel like I'm incredibly old because there were the days when I could party until 6 am, come home, shower and head to work for the day and still function. I was in bed by 1:00, albeit with Ethan laying next to me chatting, but sound asleep by 1:30, I think. Elizabeth woke at 7:30 and I thought I was going to die. The sleep crusties were sealing my eyes shut and I think I walked around this morning with partially open eyes. By 10:30, I loaded Ethan up in the car and headed to BJ's for diapers. Daddy and Elizabeth stayed here and took a nice walk around the neighborhood. Can I just say, though, that toting one child around while running errands is a piece of CAKE! One child? Ha!

We had good naps that lasted from about 1:20 until 3:50 and, when we woke up, my brother and sister-in-law were here with my niece. They were on the front porch, waiting for us to wake up. My brother came in briefly to get the dog and take her outside to play. Thanks, Matt! We spent an hour with the kids out front, jumping in the leaves and having fun. The neighbors came outside and by the time we left, there were 6 kids under the age of 4 playing out front. At 5:00, we headed to dinner for my mom's birthday and, much to everyone's surprise, the kids behaved wonderfully! Yay! We were home by 7:30, got the kids in the bathtub, and had them in their jammies and in bed by 8:15. Thank you, honey, for bathing them!

My gratitude today is for the beautiful weather we've been having the last few days. The temperature has been cool, yet not too cool. It allowed for a beautiful night outside last night in Annapolis. I was able to run around today in long-sleeves and jeans with my flip-flops! :) I do adore this time of year, though, when I let the dog out at night and take in the crisp fall air mixed with the scent of fireplaces in the neighborhood.

That midnight meltdown.

So, that midnight meltdown that Ethan had? He was standing in his crib, hysterical and waiting for someone to open his door. The moment I picked him up, he snuggled into me and held on for dear life. As I crawled back into bed with him (I know, don't judge...I was tired), all he wanted to do was chat. The ceiling fan was on in our room and, though it was pitch black, he could see it. So, he laid there whispering, "Fan. Round, round, round, round...mommy...fan...round, round, round." I think that's all he wanted, just to make sure mommy was home and to tell me about his night. I laid there with him for about 15 minutes and Jason took him back to his room. Once there, he put up a fuss for about 5 minutes and drifted back to dreamland.

Too bad his sister doesn't get the value of sleeping in! :)

A little late...

My gratitude today is for my mother. We spent many, many years estranged but after a lot of hard work, she is a major part of my life and the lives of my children. She is my best friend. She is my confidant. (I am blessed to have two mothers, by the way.) Without her, we wouldn't have a roof over our heads and the understanding of just what unconditional love and acceptance is about. She is a strong woman and I only hope to be 1/2 the woman she is someday.

I cried like a baby tonight; they were tears of joy. Jason and I were heading out the door to go to Annapolis to meet up with our dear friends at the local pub to listen to live music, something we try to do every few months. It's hard because it's a good hour and a half up there on a Friday night and traffic can be a bear. Anyway, it has been three months since our last get together. As I've mentioned the past few days, Elizabeth has been increasingly affectionate. Up until tonight, when she wanted to tell you that she loved you, she said, "I do, I do." Well, as we were heading out the door, I said, "Bye guys! I love you!" Elizabeth looked up at me and said, "Bye-bye, momma! Love you!" I started squealing and cheering and the tears just flowed. There is nothing else in this world that has ever made me feel the way I felt tonight.

It's now 12:43 in the morning and Ethan is having a midnight meltdown. I can't tell if it's because he threw his blankie out of his crib or if he can tell that I'm home. 5 more minutes and I'll go rescue him.

Good night everyone!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Struggling (and my daily gratification).

I'm really struggling right now. We are so deep in a hole, financially, that we will never get out of it. And, when I say that, I truly mean it. Sure, we'll be debt free as far as credit cards and car payments in a few years, but the student loans are there for 30 years and it is impossible to meet those payments. Right now, our monthly payment is more than 50% of our monthly income. The phone is ringing off the hook from Sallie Mae. I've made small payments (huge for us, but nowhere near what they want), but it's not good enough. We've had 12 months of forbearances, total. We're entitled to 12 more. The girl that called tonight (one of 8) sent me another forbearance application. We have to pay $50 to get that taken care of. We can't continue to do this; interest racks up each month and we now owe the equivalent of a home. I lay in bed every night tossing and turning because I just don't see an end to this. I've told my husband many times that I secretly wish something awful would happen to me because they'd be so much better off without me. The life insurance would take care of it all and allow them a comfortable cushion. Obviously, I'm not talking suicide as they'd not get a penny and would be worse off. I just honestly don't see a way out of it. I am so lost and feel like I'm struggling to keep my head above the water. We're going to get to a point where they garnish our wages, I'm afraid. And, if that happens and they actually get 50%? We won't be able to raise the kids... I've talked to an attorney and it's impossible to file bankruptcy on student loans since they changed the laws a few years back. And, we don't qualify for bankruptcy on the other stuff because we aren't that much in debt. Seriously, we have one credit card and a car loan. The other two loans are medical stuff from what insurance refused to cover. It makes me sick to my stomach. :(

On a positive note, since I said I'd do it, I do have my gratitude for the day. Sorry for the bummer above, but I need a place to get it out and since I have family and close friends that read this, I know I'll have some support, which I need right now.

I dropped J off at work today and headed down I95 to Woodbridge to go to Ikea. I needed to return something for my mom and get her birthday gift (my sil and I are going in on it together because we're all poor). Well, we got there at 9:20 and they don't open their doors until 9:30. So, the kids and I ran around and wasted a few minutes until the doors opened. Turns out, they open their doors, but you can't do anything! The top floor is open, but everything we needed was on the lower level. They don't open the registers, the return/exchange section, or the lower level for shopping until 10:00! We wandered the upper level for 5 minutes and I figured I'd get the kids breakfast in the cafe. As we were wandering, I had the kids in the cart. They were in the main basket (please don't crucify me for that; they don't have larger carts and I needed a cart for the stuff I bought). In the main basket, they were both standing and holding on to the edge, facing away from me. At one point, Ellie turned to Ethan and wrapped her arms around him and said, "I do, I do!" (Ellie's way of saying, "I love you." I always say, "I love you. I do, I do.") He looked at her and gave her a big smile. :) When we got to the cafe and sat down for breakfast, she proceeded to hug me 5 different times. Several people approached us and commented on how loving she was. Each time she wrapped her arms around me, she would pat my back and say, "I do, I do."

I am the luckiest woman in the world. I am grateful that I was blessed with these two magnificent children who, despite their firey tempers and willful personalities, are simply amazing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Stealing an idea from Lynn.

After a hellish hour with the kids that left me feeling like I was going to pull their hair out, along with all of mine, I decided to steal an idea that Lynn has started. For the next 25 days, I will post a gratitude post each day. No matter what goes on in our lives, there is ALWAYS a bright spot to be thankful for. Always.

Today, I am grateful for my kind, caring husband. I have never met any man more gentle than he is. His touch, his words, his entire demeanor...he is a gentle giant with me. He will curl up in bed with me and rub my head and back until I fall asleep. He knows how much I love to have the inside of my arms touched softly. And I love that he tells me how much he loves me each and every day. We may not have money or a home of our own, but we have each other and that's all I've ever wanted.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Explosion of words (and mom's belly!) this weekend.

I am simply amazed as I look at these two. Our room is covered in pictures of Figgy and The Professor and I lay in bed at night and have a hard time remembering those days so long (and not so long) ago. The picture above our desk is one of the two of them crawling towards the camera, smiling those "trouble" smiles. The one above our bed is their first professional portrait, black and white, at 6 weeks. They were our miracles - they are our miracles. I remember so clearly that cold, foggy winter day in January when we crawled into the car, anxious and bubbling with excitement and anticipation. We had no idea how much our lives were about to change, no matter how prepared we thought we were and how desperately we had wanted these babies. I remember laying in the prep room as the nurses tried (one last exhausting time!) to find their heartbeats and make them stay put for a moment to get a clear reading. It took 2 hours, as with every trip to L&D that we made. I remember the ease of the epidural, the comfort of the nurse that was holding me and talking to me as they stuck that ten foot long needle into my spine. (Yeah, I know it's not 10 feet, but it looked like it!) I long for those days when I could hold them both with such ease against my chest. They were so little, so dependent and so new.

And, now! Now...Figgy tells me no with the greatest of ease and emphasis. She looks at me with that grin in her eyes and smirk on her face as she does exactly what I've told her 100 times not to do. She bites. She hits. And then she throws herself into the dog bed with the dog and only wants love from Bayleigh. The Professor scratches his fingernails down the wall...across the glass...dragging his horse along the table as it makes a piercing screetch. He bites his daddy on the toosh - just because. And, after all those temper tantrums and streaks of independence, he throws himself into my arms and snuggles up; looking up at me and smiling while saying, "maaaama!"

The words were flowing this weekend like I've never heard them before! Bubbles! I'm sorry! Puppy! More! Please! And, Ethan has begun the early stages of preparing for potty training, I believe. He walks up to whomever is closest and, while tugging on the back of his pants, announces very proudly, "POOOOOP!" We're trying to get him to understand that he should tell us beforehand. But, it's a step in the right direction.

I feel like I popped overnight on Friday. All of a sudden, it is crystal clear (as though it hasn't been for weeks now) that I am pregnant. My belly is hard as a rock and I am feeling tons of movement. I understand that I will feel so much more with this pregnancy as it is a singleton.

Singleton, Lisa and Matt, not simpleton. :)

My heart aches as I realize my babies are no longer babies; they are growing into little people and that makes me sad.