Friday, September 30, 2011

Tell me it's not just me...

A conversation occurred in my home tonight, and I need to know some of you Mom's out there have had a similar one so I feel normal.

After the kids were in bed, David was showing me a few things he had changed on our laptop this afternoon while I was at work.

Me: "You got this done while the kids were up??"
David: "Yeah...?"
Me: "HOW?!?"
Him: "I just...did it...??"
Me: "They weren't climbing all over you and begging to turn the music on and dance???"
(the laptop sits next to our stereo)
Him: "They ask for it, but I just tell them 'not now'"
Me: "And then what?"
Him: "They go play with something else"
Me (incredulously): "they just go play with something else?!? Just like that?!?!"
Him: "Yeah"
Me: "You mean no fits? No crying? No pulling on your pant legs and whining for minutes on end resulting in inner dialogue on your part wondering if you should just give in in the name of Peace and Quiet, but you know you can't because giving into a tantrum this time will make things way harder next time??"
Him: "Um, no. I just tell them not now, and they just go do something else"
Me: "I kind of hate you right now"

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Then & Now

Aug 2010

Sept 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

18 months

Today our sweet babies turn 18 months old!

I stopped writing monthly letters to Luke and Abbey at a year, but 18 months seems like such a marker (halfway to TWO!!!) that I thought I'd write down a few things they're up to at this age so I can always look back and remember.

We've had a fun summer, filled with family and friends...

We had tons of fun, sunny days spent going for walks, bike rides, and playing at the park.

It's been a good summer =).

I must say I'm finding this age to be pretty fun! I always tell people it's hard for me to be too sad that my babies are growing up, because I seem to enjoy them more and more as they do.

There are some challenges to be sure, especially as they learn new ways to express emotions. We've introduced "Time Outs" here, which seem to be going well. Luke got sent there (the mat in front of the door in the living room) the other day for hitting and he had to be reminded several times to "sit on your bottom on the mat because you are in TimeOut". Twice he got up and tried to run away, only to be escorted back. Then at one point he stood up, picked up the mat, threw it a few feet, turned around and sat back down where it had been, as if to say "I'll sit in your time out, but I'm not sitting on your mat!" It was HARD to keep a straight face for that!

They are showing more passion for things they like lately (i.e, not into sharing) which sometimes we let them work it out on their own and sometimes we intervene. Yet at the same time they are consistently very considerate of each other. Abbey ALWAYS gets Luke's milk for him before getting her own. Luke RARELY puts up a fight (even though he's got at least 4 pounds on her) when Abbey steals something of his.

Speaking of milk, they both love it now. When we first introduced it right before I stopped breastfeeding, they were totally not interested. Then for a long time they'd drink a few sips as part of their bedtime and morning routine, but never really guzzle the stuff. Now they down it in seconds flat and almost always ask for more throughout the day!

More favorites around here include blueberries (especially for Luke, he devours them!) and cheesy eggs. And anything they get to "dip dip dip!" as they say =).

They are crazy for music. I mean CRAZY for it. They beg for it all day long. They make the cutest little dancing moves and point at the stereo if it's not on. And once it is they groove for awhile and then go about playing...but don't even think about turning it off - they notice right away! We attended our old Church back home last Sunday and both Luke and Abbey enjoyed dancing to the praise music, especially since it was Poppa leading the worship songs!

They are also super into singing songs with hand motions. Their current obsession is "Bringing Home a Baby Bumble Bee", but they also love "Row Row Row Your Boat", "Jesus Loves Me", "Itsy Bitsy Spider", and "This Little Light of Mine".

They both say "mooooo" whenever they see a cow. There is a little baby dressed up like a cow and a few real cows in the Praise Baby DVD we watch before nap time and it sounds like a barnyard in my living room when those scenes are on.

We've officially transitioned over to a one nap household. We made the cut while we were camping, and just kept it up when we got home. It was shockingly more seamless than I thought it would be. We had a few rough mornings where crankies set in but for the most part it wasn't at all what I had been dreading. And the best part is (**knocks on wood**) they've been sleeping later in the morning!

Bedtime is around 7:15pm and they've been getting up anywhere between 7:15-8:15am!! Can I get a Hallelujah!?!?!

To say it's been glorious would be an understatement.


Our days lately look something like this:

7:15-8:15am: wake up, milk
8:30-9:00am: breakfast
11:15-11:30am: lunch
11:30-noon: go down for nap
naps have only been about an hour to an hour and a half, but I'm not complaining since they are sleeping so long at night.
2:00-2:30pm: snack
5:30pm: dinner
6:15pm: bath
6:45pm jammies and playtime to get the wiggles out
7:15pm: Bible Story, prayer time, sing a few songs and off to sleep!

They've been really into stirring things lately, and one of their favorite activities is getting out mixing bowls and wooden spoons and stirring their blocks around. They've also gotten really good at stacking and want to stack different things every day...

They are growing like crazy these days. Luke is wearing 12 -18 month pants, and 18-24 month shirts. Abbey is still a peanut -but growing!- she is in 12 month pants mostly (with a few pairs of 18 months) and 12-18 month tops.

Their verbal comprehension is daily growing. We can give them fairly complex directions and they know what we are saying. The other day Luke came up to David and both said and signed "poop", and sure enough...he wasn't lying =).

Most of all it's just been fun to continue to watch their personalities emerge...

This boy is always exploring. Checking out how things work. Twisting caps off things. Closing lids. Seeing what fits where.

He loves to play with balls...

And is ALWAYS up for an adventure...

Everyday getting braver and braver to do more by himself...

While still being plenty silly...

...and smiley...

...and downright adorable...

He is such a joy. David and I have both commented lately how intent he is on eye contact, and how much he seems to understand.

He's been a real Daddy's boy lately. David recently gave him a haircut (his 3rd) and I told him when it was done that he looked just like Daddy. For the rest of the day he pointed at his hair and said "Daddy!" and smiled widely.

He's a good boy who LOVES to assist and takes pride in being praised for being helpful. He may only be 18 months old, but he loves to feel like a big boy =)

And Little Miss has been a lot of fun too!

She's super into dressing up lately...

...and has been a GREAT little eater...

...content to play by herself...
(for Daddy that is, never for Momma!)

Sis LOVES dogs...

...and is a pretty good little adventurer as well...

She's not quite as obsessed with Daddy as her brother is (she's still a Momma's girl) but she agrees he's pretty great...

Abigail is also crazy about her brother. Sure, he steals toys sometimes or wants to play alone, but she still just idolizes him. She thinks he is so funny, and whatever he is playing with is most interesting to her as well =). She's also fiercely loyal to him, one day even choosing to sit in Time Out with him even though she knew she didn't need to be there.

I pray they are always loyal friends.

Happy 18 months my sweet, sweet babies. I love you more than ever.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fun on the Farm!

Today we went on a field trip with my Moms of Multiples group to a Farm.

They had a petting zoo with goats and llamas and bunnies. This is about as close as either of our children would get to any animal there...

So the animals weren't a huge hit for our Littles.

This, on the other hand was...

That my friends is a giant box of corn kernels. And my son was in HEAVEN with all that sensory stimulation, trucks to move, dump trucks to fill, and shovels to dig with.

Finally we pried them (and by them I mean Luke) out of that box and tried to look at more animals...

This farm had "exotic" animals, which included lions. Yes, LIONS. Here are my three beloveds checking out the lions...this was as close as I would let them get!

(you'll note Abigail's 12 month shorts are still hanging off her. She sure did not inherit her Momma's birthing hips)

We took a little train ride out into some fields and saw horses and donkeys. Contrary to their expressions here, Luke and Abbey both loved the train ride.

Luke signed "train" about 1,000 times after this.

We went down a giant inflatable slide a few times, on which Abbey shrieked and giggled with joy, while Luke just kinda looked confused.

Then they braved the bouncy castle...

Then we found our second favorite spot of the day (next to the corn kernels, naturally)

The Ball Pit!!

Yup- they were both fans!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Marriage advice in the Operating Room

So. Awhile back I got to stand in and observe a fancy new procedure two of the doctors I work for are currently preforming. It was very interesting and I enjoyed the whole process. But what stood out to me the most from that day was a conversation I had with the charge nurse before the procedure began.

She was inquiring how I was able to be there the entire day (I normally only work afternoons), and I told her David was able to be home with the twins. I then explained how we work opposite schedules so Luke and Abbey always have one of us home with them.

"That's great, but be careful" she cautioned.

She went on to explain that she and her husband had done the same thing for 15+ years as their children were small. And then the kids got into high school, the changed their shifts around and were able to spend more time together as a couple.
And they realized they didn't know how to.

Something about the way she spoke made me take heed. I've had many, many people tell me not to neglect my marriage and that it's important for us to make time for each other, but it's always gotten shuffled to the back of my mind, as we've just been knee-deep in trying to survive infanthood and toddlerhood with two little ones.

But this time, I listened. I knew she was right. (In retrospect, maybe it was just the fact that we were wearing surgical masks so her eyes seemed so much more prominent and pouring... =) )

It's interesting the opinions and advice you get on such a matter. I've had many people tell me I needed to leave my babies overnight much sooner, as that will help them with separation anxiety and teach them other people are safe and "good" at caring for them as well. On the flip side, I've had people advise me not to leave them overnight until they are "much" older.

The research -as is so often the case with research- you can pretty much make say anything you want it to say.

My take? Every kid is different. Mine were born on the same day and are being raised at the same time by the same parents, and they are very different. You've gotta do what works for your family. What I've learned so far is I can't push my kids. Especially Abbey. Around 10 months she became a real Momma's girl and remains so today. She doesn't like to be far from me and if I'm around she's usually in my lap.
And I don't push her. The few times that I've tried, she's become much clingier as a result. Sure, we have our times where she needs to be outside of her comfort zone, simply because it's what needs to happen at the time, but they are few and far between. She simply hasn't been ready for me to be gone for an extended period of time before. Luke has his clingy moments, but isn't as serious about it as his sister. I wouldn't say he's been really ready before either, although he's probably been more ready than Abbey.

But I also haven't been ready. I never even missed a bedtime until they were 14 months old, and Dave and I went out for our anniversary and Auntie Natalie put them to bed. And guess what? The twins didn't miss a beat. They went to sleep just fine for their Auntie and slept great. We've been gone for bedtime one other time (Natalie sat again) and it went off without a hitch as well. But I've never been gone overnight before. Dave's been away overnight a (small) handful of times, and he's offered for me to get a chance to do the same, but I just haven't felt ready.

Which brings me to my next point. I don't want to project my separation anxiety onto my kids.

I have a penchant to hover and I'm already fighting Helicopter Mom tendencies. I personally think at 17.5 months my kids are still young enough to need me A LOT so I don't sweat these tendencies too much just yet, but I'm aware of them and know at some point I'll have to pay more attention to them.

I worry about my babies. Like, a lot. I do best when they are with me. But I don't necessarily want them to know that =)

But back to the advice.

I put this kind, wise woman's words into the forefront of my mind and began to keep an eye out for a good time to carve out some time for my marriage.

Towards the end of the summer, Abbey started to become more and more independent, and comfortable faster in new environments.

I could attribute this new confidence and independence to a lot of could be because of the hard work we put in her first year+ of making sure she is properly attached to us. It could be because I don't push her, and so she's finally feeling comfortable knowing that she won't be forced to do something she isn't ready to. Or it could have very little to do with our parenting and simply be a natural progression at this age.

Whatever the case, I began to feel like she was ready to be without both Daddy and I for a night.

I felt like Luke would be able to handle it fine too.

Then the perfect scenario for babysitters appeared. I knew I would not be willing to leave my babies anywhere but our house, so whoever watched them would need to come here. Well, my sister Emily stayed with us for 12 days (so Abbey and Luke were already used to having her around the house and a daily part of their lives) and my sister Natalie was more than willing to sacrifice a night of freedom to come have a sleepover with her niece and nephew. (Yes, I know I am ridiculously blessed with wonderful extended family!!) I was beginning to have confidence my kids would be okay for a night...but would I? That's where the real hang up lingered.

The main reason I finally decided to go away for the night is my marriage. My marriage needed it. Dave and I needed it.
Fear not, Worriers, our marriage is fine, but it could be better. For the last 17.5 months we've operated on the idea that neither of us is going anywhere and we are no doubt in this together, but we've often been two ships passing in the night. Our conversations our often reduced to cliff notes. We are Luke and Abbey's parents, and that involves wonderful things like sharing the mutual joy when they do something adorable and fun, both our hearts swelling with pride when they learn something new, and the absolute unexplainable feeling of seeing your spouses features or mannerisms in your child. But there are other components to co-parenting that aren't as wonderful for our arguing about discipline, and sleep deprivation (which can put even the kindest people at their worst), and financial stresses, and being pulled in two more directions than we were previously. Yes, we are Luke and Abbey's parents - and we are beyond BLESSED to have such roles- but we are also Dave and Kendra. A couple that existed for 6 years prior to Luke and Abbey's birth. And that relationship needs some nourishment.

I also firmly believe that one of the best gifts we can give our children is the gift of parents who have a strong, healthy marriage.

And a strong healthy marriage isn't going to just happen.

David and I are friends, and we have fun together. And honestly (and sadly) it can be easy to forget that in the daily grind.

Natalie told me about this smokin' deal, and we were able to go away and do our entire trip for under $125. Room, meals, a movie, everything! Amazing! For a family on a tight budget this was a huge blessing.

So, we went away.
For 26 hours.
And we had a blast.

And guess what??? Our kiddos had a blast too! In their very own environment with one on one interaction from a loving auntie.

Our room was adorable...

The view off our deck...

The happy couple...

It was a wonderful time away.

It was also a little strange...

I keep reading articles about how around this age my children are fighting a strange brew of wanting to be independent and yet still very much drawn to be with me. I can't help too. For nearly 10 months they were a part of my body, and then for another 13 more as we breastfed they remained a part of me. That's nearly 2 years where we were practically inseparable.

Now we are entering a phase where we are all able to be a little more independent. And it's both exciting and something I am slightly mourning.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It's a good thing I don't work more...

...or I would have some seriously spoiled children.

There is a month between Summer and Fall terms in which David only teaches one class Tuesday and Thursday mornings. It's great for the family time, but not so great for the paycheck. So in order to help supplement, I try and take on as many hours as I can at my job.

Twice in the last month I've had 36 hour work weeks.

I know that is nothing compared to many of you who work 40+, but for me it's more than I've worked in the past 20 months. And it was hard to be away from my babies so much! They were beyond fine - having a blast at home with Daddy, but I missed them. And I missed being at home and staying on top of things here.

Don't get me wrong, there were a few benefits to working so much (hello, wonderful long lunch break to read my book, or something more educational, or just stare at the wall in blissful silence, and lots of adult interaction). But really it just proved to me how much I am meant to be at home as much as I am. I feel so much more settled this way. 15 hours a week seems to be the perfect balance.

So the spoiled part. Because I was only home two mornings last week, I found myself straying from any and all forms of discipline. Even when one of my sweet cherubs took a swat at me...I let it go. Why? Because I wanted our minimal amount of time together to be happy, and good. I felt guilty for being away so much (at work! It's not like I was out shopping or at the movies all week!) and I didn't want any of my precious time with them tarnished with harshness or tears.

It was a good thing to realize about myself (you gotta know where your penchants lie, good and bad), and even better to know I shouldn't need to work weeks like that again for a long time.

Here's to knowing your limits.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Yogurt Pancakes

When I was pregnant with the twins my sweet friend Amy - who is an incredible cook- sent me a bunch of healthy, hearty recipes.

One of them that I frequented during pregnancy was a recipe for Yogurt Pancakes. I started making them for Luke and Abbey around 12 months, and they LOVED them! We average them about once a week around here. Whats so great about them (besides being tasty) is they reheat gloriously in the toaster, so I always make extra and it's breakfast for a few days.

Every time we have a house guest that tries them they always comment on how good they are, so I thought I'd share the recipe here. Maybe your family will love them as much as ours does.

-1 Cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1 Cup Yogurt (I use Tillamook Vanilla Bean)
-1/2 Cup milk
- 1 Egg
- 1 tablespoon melted butter

Whip up all ingredients and cook on hot skillet.

Enjoy! =)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Have you all seen this?


So the language is wildly inappropriate. Like, Hangover style.

But a friend brought this book for me to read today, and I laughed so hard coffee came out my nose.

Again, language warning. But seriously, all you parents who have ever begged your little ones to puh-lease fall asleep, read this book.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Camping Trip!

For the last 5 years, we've gotten together with David's family for a Labor Day Getaway. This year, we went camping!

Dave and I have always loved tent camping, but I was not ready to brave tent camping with toddlers. We had a little cabin instead =). Tent camping will come in the future.

My two greatest fears about this trip were 1. the campfire 2. sleeping troubles

I am beyond pleased to report neither were a problem! Of course we had far more adults than kids so we were all able to keep an eye out while the campfire was going. That was SO helpful. And when we first got there, before the fire was even going, we took the twins over near it and explained it was a "no-no". After that whenever Abbey or Luke got even within 4 feet of it, they'd wag their pointer finger back and forth and shake their heads!

As for sleep, mercifully, both kids slept through the night both nights. Abbey had a hard time going to sleep both nights, but we (and by "we" I mean David) remained patient and just stayed with her until she was comfortable since it was a new place.

We stuck to their bedtime routine as close as possible, but also added in an evening stroll in jammies to help "settle in"...=)

Pretty sweet digs...(complete with blankets covering the windows, I do whatever needs to be done to insure good sleep! =) )

During the day we stayed busy playing with family.

Luke giving Grandma some love...

David playing Badminton with his niece and nephew (and Luke on his back)...

Abigail and Poppa reading books fireside...

Daddy loaning his baby girl his beanie on a cold morning...

Something else I was nervous about was ALL THE DIRT. I kept telling myself to just embrace it. Let 'em get as dirty as they want. And boy did they.

Abbey gifting Grandma handfuls of dirt...


Luke getting some lovin' from Poppa...

Lucas and his cousin playing IN THE DIRT...

My kids were beyond THRILLED to get to explore so much...

I have fewer pictures of Luke than I do his sister because he was on the go the entire time we were there. He just ran around like crazy! I've told you before, his Love Language is FREEDOM!!!

Bundled up and ready to head to Uncle Tony's camping spot (where the coffee is) for breakfast...

The cousins had such a great time playing together. It made me so happy to watch!

Fun was had by all...

Our first camping trip was a SUCCESS!!! Hooray!