The Ride of Our Lives

There is a post I need to finish writing. It’s the most difficult and soul-baring one I’ve done. I feel stuck, and haven’t been able to finish it yet. The crazy thing is that I have felt I couldn’t write another post until I finish that one. I know in my head that that’s silly. I guess I feel like I shouldn’t post anything that feels frivolous when I have this giant weight sitting on my chest. When I finally do post it, I imagine some people might shrug their shoulders and think, “Is this what she’s been on about? Puh-leese.” And I do understand that there are things that loom much larger in my head than what is probably reasonable.

So that’s quite a teaser, eh? In the meantime, I’m going to get over the posting block and just post. So there giant-looming-sitting-on-my-chest-thing!

One of my recent Facebook status updates was: Boom! Got my Cadillac!

Most people who know me knew exactly what that meant. I had the stroller of my dreams in my hot little hands.

Strollers.

There are 15 opinions for every 10 strollers. This seems particularly true for strollers built for two.

When I was pregnant I bought a used Graco Duoglider with two matching infant car seats for $125. The stroller alone, new, is about $150, and is a popular, relatively budget-friendly option.

I was excited about it because it seemed just perfect. Snap the car seats on when they are little and then use it as a regular stroller later. I’d heard that a tandem was a little hard to maneuver and turn, but figured a side-by-side would be all sorts of trouble in store aisles and so forth. As it turned out, the Graco is heavy and you have to disassemble part of it in order to fold it up. Then you have to put those pieces back on in order to use the feature that allows you to snap the car seats on it. Ugh.

Then I heard good things about the Snap-n-Go by Baby Trend. It is basically a frame onto which you can snap infant car seats. The double only weighs about 15 pounds and you don’t have to take anything off to fold it up. I bought one used for $30.  I have loved that thing. It has been one of the best purchases I’ve made. In fact, nine  months later I’m still using it, though not as much as before. The boys are at a point where they want to sit up and see what’s going on.

I decided it was time to start using the Graco but discovered pretty quickly that the Graco is a beast. I need both hands to push and steer it and it has a huge turning radius. I thought the slim width would make it easy to get through doors, but the darn thing is so long that getting a door open and getting through without someone getting bruised up is just about impossible! Oh – and try getting through a door-then-door situation. It’s also truly designed only for smooth, paved surfaces. It does not do very well over grass and certainly can’t handle unpaved trails.

I knew I needed something different and fell into the black hole of stroller reviews. Good grief. People seem to have a love/hate relationship with their strollers and if one person tells you that the Bob Jogger is the best out there, the next person will tell you it’s a piece of crap. After reading lots and lots and lots of opinions and test driving a few at Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby, I fell in love with the Bumbleride Indie Twin.

Oh, My Precious, My Precious!

Inflated tires and a suspension system for a smooth ride even over gravel, tree roots, mulch etc. Huge canopies for true coverage. Independently reclining seats that slide, so you can have them at any angle. Adjustable height handle so Tall Me won’t kick the back of the stroller while pushing it. Front tires that swivel, allowing it to turn on a dime. The ability to lock the front tires for jogging or rough trail usage. Adjustable foot rests. 29 inches wide, so it will fit through any standard doorway and aisles that are wide enough for wheelchairs (which all aisles should be, by the way). Yeh, it’s 34 pounds – as heavy as the Graco, but other than that there is no comparison.

The downside? It’s a $700 stroller. Gulp.

I felt like I couldn’t justify $700 for a stroller, even though OW told me to buy it if I wanted it (he’s so sweet like that). But I just couldn’t do it. I started stalking Craig’s List, but they hardly ever come up, so I didn’t hold out much hope. Then I saw one… I emailed immediately but someone had already snatched it up. I was despondent. Why so much emotion over a damn stroller? Still, I checked CL every day, hoping against hope that I’d find another one.

And then it happened.

A gorgeous, seagrass green 2009 model (yes, these strollers have model years) for $300. My hands were sweating as I emailed the owner. I tried to play it cool. When I went to meet her, I looked it over carefully and turned up my nose a bit as I touched this and that. She casually mentioned that she had the rain cover, foot muffs and liners, and matching diaper bag. Those items didn’t come with that model and together cost about $200.  I almost fainted. The thing was in wonderful condition. I took a deep breath and offered her $250. Her eyes got big and she said she really was firm at $300 and that these often sell for $400. I sniffed and said I’d found them for less than what she was asking but just hadn’t gotten to them first. The truth was that I would have bought it even if she’d upped the price to $350 right there in the parking lot, but I sighed and said, “Well, ok, I’ll take it.”

Am I a bitch or what? I handed her the cash and loaded everything up into my van. As I drove away, I looked in the rear view mirror to make sure she wasn’t behind me, and then I did a goofy little chair dance and giggled wildly all the way home.

Oh the things that make me happy now that I’m a mom of young’ns again.

And yes, I LOVE my Bumbleride.

Next up: A fabulous Ju Ju Be, Petunia Picklebottom, or CoCaLo Couture diaper bag. Craig’s List, I’m watching you!

 

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

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The Twins’ First Christmas

The twins’ first Christmas was fun, but we made an effort not to go crazy with it. OW and I agreed not to buy them any presents. They really have everything they need right now, won’t remember it, and will get plenty of gifts from relatives. Unfortunately, OW couldn’t resist the urge and did buy them a few things. I did not and then I felt like a heel.

Santa brings a red wagon for the boys

Santa brings a red wagon for the boys

That aside, I’d been determined to enjoy this first Christmas with my all four of my boys, so OW and I made some decisions early on. We bought far fewer gifts this year, focusing on family and settling for sending cards to friends. OW and I decided to get ourselves a new TV for the bedroom and not buy any gifts for each other (OW reneged on that too, but only a little). We only went to one party. We decorated but didn’t pull out every single knick-knack from the boxes. I didn’t do any baking or fool myself into thinking I’d make lovely food gifts for all of my neighbors.

All of this really did make for a more peaceful holiday and I’m glad we did it. As the boys get older I’d like to incorporate them into activities like decorating and baking, but for now I’m happy to keep it very simple. We had a leisurely morning eating sausage balls and sticky buns, listening to Christmas music, and opening our relatively few presents. We went to OW’s mom’s house for dinner in the afternoon and that was the most stressful part of the day. The twins wouldn’t sleep and hardly ate and were miserable, cranky babies. I nearly put my foot down and refused to go because I knew what we were in for, but I also knew that would result in a war, so I acquiesced.

Do you celebrate something at this time of year? How did you spend your holiday?

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Outings with the Babes

I’ve managed outings alone with the twins two days in a row now. We have relatively short windows of opportunity in which to get things done while both boys are clean, fed and not in need of a nap. It seems to wear them out, so they often fall asleep in the car on the way home, which is a disaster. They won’t stay asleep in their car seats after we get home, but when I try to gently transfer them, they always wake up from their 10 or 15 minute nap ready to go. This means our regular napping schedule (I use the term loosely) gets messed up.

Truthfully, our lives would probably be easier if we never went out. Then I could keep them on a sleeping, eating, diaper changing, playing schedule. I’ve never been one for keeping children on a schedule but these guys do so much better when we have a solid routine.

Yesterday we tried sitting in the grocery cart for the first time. Neither Peanut Butter nor Jelly can sit very well on their own, but I was counting on the support they could give each other and the waist strap to keep them mostly upright. I also stuffed blankets on the side. I’m not 100% sure it was worth all the trouble. It takes about as long to do that as to put one up on my back. Still, it was fun to see them like that.

Jelly & Peanut Butter in a grocery cart for the first time

Today in the parking lot of a store, I was busily getting the boys sorted out in the cart. It’s in the low 50s F (11C) here and the boys and I were dressed in long pants, socks (well, I had shoes on) and long sleeved shirts. I didn’t bother with hats or coats or sweaters because we only needed to walk from our warm car to the warm store. A well-meaning old lady stopped to, er, help. She was convinced the boys were not dressed warmly enough, that I had the shopping cart too far into the lane of traffic, and that they were not comfortable in the cart. Sigh. I smiled and assured her that we were all fine. She was not at all convinced.

I hope I won’t be the sort of old lady who interferes with others’ parenting choices. I’ll just be condescending and judgmental in my head. J

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Feeling Incompetent

Today has been one of those days where I am pretty sure I just can’t do it. I feel completely inept at taking care of my children, my husband, the house and myself. The sleeping problems around here seem to be getting worse, not better, and I am exhausted.

I haven’t been to the supermarket in nearly two weeks. There are mountains of crap piled up on both the dining room and kitchen tables. The kitchen is only clean because Super-Husband cleans it, runs the dishwasher and empties the dishwasher every day. The floors – oh the floors. We have a sand pit in the area next to the dog door. Dog hair tumbleweeds drift across the living room. I can’t remember to do basic things like call the pediatrician for a refill on Jelly’s reflux medicine. Poor OW probably doesn’t remember what I look like naked. I’m so miserable and ashamed about how I’m neglecting him. I swore I wouldn’t.

You know how they say the Universe (or God or Allah or Goddess – take your pick) doesn’t give you more than you can handle? That’s a flat-out lie. It’s a lie. People regularly get more than they can handle. The fact that folks live, physically, through hard times does not mean they “handled” it. People freak out, retreat, end up in psych units, drink, drug and lots of other things.

I’m not drinking (much anyway), drugging, near being committed or anything like that. I am freaking out and retreating. We ARE given more than we can handle sometimes. Now is one of those times for me. There is a voice in the back of my head that whispers, “They will grow out of this. This isn’t forever. You will sleep again. You will be able to vacuum the floor again. You will shave your legs again. You will be able to make time for your husband again.” But I don’t believe her.  I’m having a really hard time seeing past the sleep deprivation; past the endless, miserable days when the boys simply will not sleep.

I made a decision last week that was really, really hard for me, and I’m still not sure I’m doing the right thing. I think that’s adding to the stress I’m feeling. I’m not good at making decisions, which is why I married a man who is great at it, and I am nearly always happy to defer to his judgement. But this was a decision only I could make and no one could or can really help me with it.

I come back all the time to the nagging worry that I will not make good decisions and that my poor decisions will negatively impact my children and haunt them into adulthood. I know this is a possibility because I see the results of my bad decisions in my two adult children. The regret I live with is crushing and makes me feel nearly paralyzed when it comes to making certain decisions about the kids in Parenting Part II. I KNOW that I am inept in some ways. Not in every way, I’ll give myself that, but in ways that count. I didn’t think I would have to revisit my shortcomings in this area again. Now here they are, bright and shining in my face like an interrogation lamp.

Maybe I’ll be able to see things more clearly once I’ve had a few days of decent sleep, but I don’t know when that will be. In the meantime,  I am desperately treading water, trying to stop the waves from pushing me under. Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to just stop kicking, but I know I can’t. And I won’t.

But damn, my legs are tired.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

First Day-Trip with the Twins

We went to the 4th annual Seagrove Pottery Festival this weekend. This was our first all-day trip out with the twins and I was scared to death. They are 7 months old and we’d never taken a day trip! It was a two-hour drive each way. We thought we’d drive out, spend a couple of hours there and then drive back. Instead, we left the house at 9:30 a.m. and didn’t return until 6:30 p.m. They boys did so much better than I thought they would, but I attribute that almost entirely to the fact that we wore them the entire time. No stroller whatsoever. After wearing them at the State Fair last month, I think OW realized what a good idea it really is.

This was at the Farmers Market a couple of months ago.

We took them off only a couple of times to change diapers and nurse. On every aisle we were stopped over and over by people expressing astonishment at the fact that we had twins and were wearing them. Ha! It is such a strange thing to me that it is strange. I pitied the folks trying to navigate a stroller through the maze of very expensive, very fragile pottery.

We ended up spending way more than we’d planned on, but isn’t that the way it is? These are pieces that will appreciate in value and things we love. We even won a gorgeous piece in a silent auction. There is a very well-known potter named Boyd Owens who was so friendly and kind to us. He gave us two Noah’s Ark themed mugs for the boys and it made my heart flutter!

Some of the pieces we bought.

The boys started crying when we were about 15 minutes from the house, which was difficult, but they were calm the rest of the evening. We were triumphant in our victory, but we celebrated too soon. Peanut Butter and Jelly did not sleep well at all that night, and we thought we’d lose our minds before sunrise. Was it a coincidence or punishment for our gall?

The success of this trip is making me think that maybe we’re starting to turn a corner. I’m finding a bit easier to have a predictable routine, I can plan little errands out of the house without it causing a meltdown for all of us, and the boys can play and entertain themselves for a little while at a time. I’m afraid to be too optimistic but I don’t want to have a negative attitude that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy either.

Now if we could just get this sleep thing worked out…

Funky piggy banks for the boys. Check out the teeth on the blue one and the tusks on the green one!

When did you attempt your first day trip out with your newborn? I’m especially interested in hearing from you if you have twins.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Running Around in Circles

If I could add one thing to my daily routine, it would be exercise.

Ok, ok, pick yourself up off of the floor. It wasn’t that funny.

I do want/need to exercise. I’m a thin couch potato and it’s starting to catch up to me. My blood pressure seems to go up and down a good deal more than it ought to; I have ridiculous aches and pains for someone my age; I don’t have the stamina to keep up with twin toddlers; and I’m at my pre-pregnancy weight yet I’m a blob of jello.

Most of all, I want to be a good role model for the boys. Their dad has a big weight problem and I am just terrified of passing along bad habits to them. We eat well at home – I see to that – but neither of us exercises and Daddy doesn’t practice any sort of portion control whatsoever.

I’m already going to be one of the older moms in the carpool line at school. I don’t want to be the decrepit one too.

I started by say that if I could add one thing… but the truth is that it’s not a matter of can or can’t. It’s a matter of will I or won’t I. So far, I won’t. And I am not sure why.

My excuses:

  1. I am not a morning person, and the idea of getting up at the crack of dawn to exercise after having had little and often disrupted sleep just horrifies me.
  2. There isn’t a stretch of uninterrupted time during the day to do much. If I’m not directly dealing with the babies I’m generally doing laundry, vacuuming, folding clothes, washing dishes, preparing dinner and so forth.
  3. OW gets home from work between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m. every night. After we eat, clean up the kitchen, get everything ready for the next day and get the boys to sleep, it’s 11:00 p.m. and off to bed we go.

I keep picturing myself outside, running laps around my neighborhood, feeling strong and healthy. My wiggly jiggly baby fat begins to firm up, the muffin top over my jeans disappears. I can chase the babies, do laundry, cook a meal and still have enough energy to, ahem, help out my poor, long-suffering husband.

Am I living in la-la land? Is there some sort of tipping point that will give me the push I need to get started?

Do you exercise? How did you start? What motivates you to keep going? How are you able to make it a priority?

 

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Thankful #1

It seems my blogs are frequently morose and whiny. Maybe whiny is too strong a word. I have things inside that need to come out and I guess it’s not surprising that the darker things tend to force their way to the front. And it’s true that I’m frequently overwhelmed and sometimes downright depressed. But there are also good times; sweet times; times I want to last forever.

It’s popular in November for United State-ians to talk about what they’re thankful for. I usually try to avoid doing what everyone else is doing (I’m still rebellious like that), but it occurs to me that being thankful is not trite. I think if I spent more time being thankful, I’d spend less time feeling sorry for myself.

Today has been a good day, so I feel more able to come up with a list of things I’m thankful for. I know that I really need to do this exercise on a day when I’m feeling crappy. Some of these might seem strange, but I include them because I have experienced the opposite of what I’ve listed.

  1. My pre-pregnancy jeans fit
  2. I am, on the whole, healthy
  3. I have four wonderful, healthy, gorgeous children
  4. My unexpected child turned out to be two, and they will always have each other
  5. I have, truly, the best husband any woman could ask for
  6. And he really loves me – he really does and it amazes me
  7. The sun shines into my living room every day
  8. I have a fairly large extended family living close by
  9. I live in a 1st world country
  10. I never worry about where my next meal will come from
  11. I not only have adequate shelter, I have a beautiful, safe, warm place to live
  12. Careful budgeting allows me to be at home with my precious babies
  13. I have a dishwasher
  14. I apparently don’t (yet) look like I was rode hard and put up wet
  15. My twins will grow up with cousins and friends and dogs and love
  16. I can relax enough to write, “What are you thankful for?” instead of “For what are you thankful?”

What is one big thing and one little thing you’re thankful for?

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Just Write, #2

Linking up with Just Write

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The babies wake up happy, as usual. We nurse and smile and talk to Daddy and the dogs. Diapers are changed, laundry is started, the Today show keeps me company in the background. I’m hungry and cross my fingers, hoping they’ll stay happy long enough for me to scramble an egg.

They don’t, and I have to turn off the stove halfway through the process. Peanut Butter is extra hungry and Jelly isn’t far behind. I don’t want to start the day with formula. I won’t start the day with formula. We’ll nurse every 30 minutes if we need to. I’ll put off giving them formula until at least noon. I am determined.

But so are they. I give in and decide that 2 ounces will be enough to take off the edge and we will resume our nursing non-schedule. Jelly is happy enough and plays with his toes. Peanut Butter is not. He is still hungry, so I pick him up and nuzzle him into my breast. He screams and arches his back, over and over. I prop him on my shoulder and pat his back, trying to whisper calming and encouraging things to him. I try again, he screams louder. I am struggling to hold in my growing anger.

Maybe he’s not hungry. Maybe he needs to be distracted by a toy. This doesn’t work and he continues to scream. We try the breast again and the rejection is tearing at my heart. I sob and shout out and pound on the arm of the couch. There is milk there! Why won’t you take it! Why are you rejecting me?

This is the only thing I can give you that is truly unique. Anyone can bathe you. Anyone can hold you. Anyone and smile at you and play with you. Anyone can give you a bottle with that wretched liquid in it. Your rejection feels so personal and it fills me with an irrational rage. I’m angry with my body, and myself and even you. I’m angry at myself for being angry with you. You’re an infant, telling me what you need in the only way you know how.

But every drop you take from that bottle is a drop you don’t take from me. Every drop is a reminder of my failure to provide for you. If I can’t take care of you in this most basic way, how will I be able to be a good mother to you in the rest of your life? These thoughts are ridiculous, I know. But they are so big and so real and sometimes, often even, I want to just give up. I want to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head and leave the rearing of you both to someone who can do a better job.

I resign myself to giving you a 4 ounce bottle. Drink what you want of it. I’m obviously unable to give you what you need and want. Six ounces is more than half of my daily goal of keeping the supplementation at or below 10 ounces. I know that the more formula you drink, the less I will produce and I am filled with dread and sadness at the prospect of you weaning early, but I can’t leave you hungry.

All is quiet now. Your brother is having his morning nap and you, satiated, roll across the floor and giggle at the dog. I cry and wonder what sort of monster I am to project my own feelings of inadequacy on a helpless child.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

On Blogging, Part 2

A while back I posted on the pressure I put on myself to blog three times a week. It was making me sort of sick to my stomach and causing me some stress, so I decided to just post as I wanted to, whether that be one time, three times, or even five times a week.

You can see the results of that. I haven’t posted in nearly two weeks. It’s not that I don’t have subjects in mind or even that I need to sit down and hash something out. I have many posts pre-written in my head. The problem is that now that I don’t have the pressure to perform, I simply don’t perform. I don’t make time for it and that bothers me.

I’d like to find a balance between putting some pressure on myself to post, and having a sense of forgiveness for myself as well. I’m a person of extremes, so I don’t know how to do that.

Right now time seems to be slipping away from me. The house is a mess, I often forget to start dinner until it’s almost too late to bother, My personal grooming habits have, uh, deteriorated somewhat and my kids sometimes wear the same footie pajamas 24 hours a day for two or three days in a row. What am I doing with my time? I never seem to stop moving so I don’t understand why nothing is getting done, including writing. I’m beginning to become really overwhelmed. I know I would feel better if I got the house under control and wrote several blog posts to have in the coffers but I just don’t know where or how I’ll find the time.

How do you find (make) time to write and take care of all of your other duties too?

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

OW and the Fluish Weekend

OW and I had big plans for this past weekend. We had men’s night/women’s night out with his church (I’m not a member but they graciously welcome me to all of their events). We had his law school reunion picnic Saturday morning, and we planned to go to the state fair Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, OW woke up Friday morning with a fever and body aches. Our whole weekend was shot.

I felt badly for him, and tried to take care of him, as much as he let me, but I feel an odd sort of resentment. It’s not resentment directed toward him, exactly. It’s just that I was really looking forward to having some family fun time. Ever since the babies were born six months ago, it seems like every weekend involves doing work around the house (the nursery still isn’t done) or OW either wanting to do nothing but vegetate or having to go in to the office. I was really excited about doing real family stuff. The kind of stuff real families do.

Instead, I spent the weekend bringing him Tylenol and trying to convince him to eat and drink plenty of fluids (neither of which he did). And I sort of resent it.

Because

I TOLD him to get the flu shot. I TOLD him he had to do it now that we have the babies. I TOLD him to do it at the beginning of September.

All-mighty, All-knowing OW rolled his eyes at me. And now we’ve had a ruined weekend that we can’t get back.

Whew. That just sort of burst out.

So I guess my resentment is directed toward him more than I thought it was. I shouldn’t be so petty, but I’m alone with the twins for a minimum of 12 hours a day, every day and it’s hard. I know he works really hard but he gets to eat lunch every day. He can eat alone if he wants to, or with friends, or at a park, or in a restaurant. He speaks to grownups every day and doesn’t walk around soaked in someone else’s bodily fluids.

He’s really helpful in the mornings and evenings on weekdays. It’s the weekends I really hate. I often get the feeling he thinks he should have the weekend off. Well, me too Buddy.

I know all of this is the age-old gripe that moms have. I can’t write about it in a new, fresh, witty way. I’m just annoyed and wanted to hang my dirty laundry right out on the Internet’s clothesline. So there!

P.S. On this day, exactly six months ago, I gave birth to two beautiful, tiny, human beings. Sometimes I can’t believe it’s only been six months, and sometimes I can’t believe it’s only been six months.

Jelly & Peanut Butter

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.