Tuesday, December 21, 2010

this is what happens when you just. can't. stop.

Sometime before Thanksgiving I became mildly obsessed with yarn. This was quite baffling because a) I can't wear wool, b) I don't knit, or do any kind of crafting with yarn and c) I have NO idea what constitutes a good yarn, what would make for a bad yarn, or even where to GET yarn besides a box store. After doing some self analyzing, I now realize my yarn obsession started when I became slightly obsessed with wool dryer balls, which I didn't even own at the time. Until my awesome friend J made me some and now I am justifiably obsessed and in love with dryer balls. Holy crap, I need a life.

Anyway, the dryer balls inspired me, I believe. I had wanted to do something a bit different for Christmas decorations this year and wanted something fun, something easy and something that I hadn't really seen before. So I bought some yarn and some Styrofoam balls, and started wrapping. And wrapping. And wrapping. I couldn't stop. I went through more yarn than I should have. If you were a cat, and living in my house, you would have been in heaven because there were yarn balls EVERYWHERE. So many yarn balls that my kids started chasing them around the house, while acting like cats. Just what I needed, 4 over grown kittens.

I was so excited to find yarn that matched the colors of both my upstairs and downstairs rooms. I wanted the whole "crazy cat lady house" theme to carry through both floors for continuity, but varied the colors on each floor to provide for some visual interest (I really have no idea what the heck I am talking about right now... just hopin I sound like I do).

So, after 2 weeks of nightly yarn wrapping parties (yes, I am that lame) I finally ran out and here is how it all came together:


yarn ball wreath and the rest of the living room


The mantle



please forgive the super ugly, really noisy and badly colored picture above, and below/


the garland swags with yarn ball embellishments that hang over each large window downstairs


the swag thingamajigs with yarn ball embellishments that hang over the small windows and doorways downstairs



one of the gorgeous nativity scenes up this year and a few yarn ball ornaments on the tree


leading up the stairs


the most used room in the house







new art pieces of fabric cut into shapes and glued onto another piece of fabric


more yarn balls. lots and lotsa yarn balls

In addition to all of this, each of the kids' rooms have a little tree with ornaments to match their decor too. The only rooms that aren't overly done up and grandiose are my bedroom and the upstairs bathroom... and the garage. Even the downstairs bathroom got a helping of Christmas Joy. I'm just not 100% done with it yet (don't tell M!!) so pictures will have to wait. 

And that,  my friends, is what happens when you can't stop wrapping yarn and hanging garland. I think it is time I put my obsessions to good use and start knitting, or something. I really and truly cannot wait to figure out what I am going to do in the house we are in next year. Although, I'm pretty sure the theme will be "moving boxes and packing tape". Not exactly as pretty as this year's house, but very functional.

Monday, December 20, 2010

deckin my halls with glitter bombs and other fun things

Back when I was in college I had a dream that we won the war in Iraq by dropping a glitter bomb on the place. A glitter bomb. The war didn't end because everyone was suddenly happy and sparkly after it exploded. Instead,  everyone was completely pissed off and irritated that there was glitter in EVERYTHING and they couldn't do anything because the glitter made everything break. And that is what I feel like has happened in my house; a large glitter bomb has exploded and wreaked havoc on our playroom and slowly seeped through all of the crevasses and openings, completely infesting our home. I hate glitter for this very reason-- it is my WMD. But once a year I put aside my disdain and allow the glitter to shine and sparkle and make my kids happy.

I still have some more to do, or want to do, but M has put a moratorium on my decorating. I'm trying to convince him that there is a difference between my next project and "decorating" but he isn't buying it. Bah humbug.  Technically, it won't be me doing it... it would be the kids, under my guidance... so it would really be their decorating... we will see if we get around to it...


Yes, that is W's little head sticking out from under the train table. Apparently "GET OUT OF THE PICTURE" means, "run and hide and then stick your head out". 


Beaded garland + curling ribbon + Dollar Spot ornaments=  wannabe Mardi Gras


 Custom stocking holders, painted by me... yes, the "M" is an upside down "W".


The uber cheesy white tree. Love this thing. And the bald spots have been fixed... detailed pictures to come, maybe, if I get a chance.


Pictures colored by the kids and me. 


The wreath adorning the banister on the way up to the playroom.

The outside of our house is much less "in your face". I didn't even put up lights. Instead, I used a bunch of fresh garland and grapevines and sprigs of greens and pine cones collected by my wonderful husband and sent by our produce company. I didn't really have a plan for the outside... so I just bought some twine and some ribbon spent a very cold and very windy afternoon stringing garland and making bows. I like how it turned out. I love the organic feel of it and I love the way it smells as you are walking up to the front door. If only the inside smelled that delicious...





Still to come, the upstairs hallway/ laundry room and the living room/ kitchen. I have had SO much fun decorating this house this year. This is the first year we have been "settled" enough to do it and when I haven't been pregnant. Decorating for Christmas can be pretty awesome when you have energy and aren't throwing up ever 3.7 minutes. Who knew?? I'm just dreading taking it all down. It is ok to leave your Christmas decor up until February, right?

Monday, December 13, 2010

the last laugh

This month has been a whackadoo of a month. Thanksgiving came and went with vengeance. Our turkey may have marked my butt up six ways to Sunday before Thanksgiving, but I got my say and the last laugh on Thanksgiving when I kicked that turkey's butt and made it into something delicious. I've never prepared an entire Thanksgiving meal-- I've never made a Turkey for anything but meat to put in the freezer so a) it never mattered if it was pretty and b) it didn't have to be good because it was most likely going to be soup anyway. I was nervous. You can't just screw up the biggest part of the biggest meal of the year, know what I mean?

Despite all of my planning I didn't really have a menu nailed down until the night before. I did know that I wanted to make everything from scratch. There were not going to be any cans or boxes opened or premade mixes used in my Thanksgiving dinner. I wanted to do it right. Which meant that the chances of it being a horrid epic fail, the kind of fail where in 20 years the people who were there say, "Oh my goodness, remember that one year that Joanna totally screwed up Thanksgiving??" and then everyone proceeds to tell the story AGAIN and laughs hysterically on your behalf. Ugh... so much pressure...

But I did it. I cooked an amazing meal and didn't use any boxes or cans or mixes and I didn't even make anyone sick. We started the morning with pumpkin pancakes, made completely from scratch with warm cinnamon apples and fresh maple whipped cream. Since we were going to be eating, Lord willing, around 4, I didn't want to serve a huge lunch so we had cheese and crackers (ok, so I guess I did open a box!) and salami with cut veggies and dip.

Then it was time to dig in and really eat. We had turkey, herbed mashed potatoes, lemon-nut rice stuffing, pumpkin cornbread, fresh green beans cooked in bacon, shallots, garlic and a little lemon zest, green salad with smokey ranch dressing, cranberry- pear sauce and of course, pumpkin pie made from the pumpkin I roasted and pureed earlier this fall. It was soooooooo good I ate it for breakfast for the next 2 days and put everyone else on pumpkin pie rations so I could have more. I'm mean that way.


Pumpkin Cornbread


Cranberry- Pear Sauce


The whole meal. 

Don't laugh at my serving spoons... I'm in desperate need. We are moving up in the world though. For the first time ever, I have a set of 12 plates and a complete set of silverware with 12 pieces for each type of utensil. For the past 6 years we've only had 4 plates, and 4 forks, spoons and knives. Let me tell you how awesome it is not to have to wash the forks between dinner and dessert when we have people over to eat.

While we were all suffering from the meat sweats and turkey coma, we introduced the kids to the awesomeness that is "Elf" and had homemade hot chocolate. It couldn't have been a better day. The day after I started decorating for Christmas and I have finally finished that. This house now looks like Christmas threw up in it. Pictures coming soon, I promise. But here's a sneak peek in the meantime:)


EDITED: Shout out to my sister for making the deliciously scrumptious cornbread and taking the pictures of the food. And for not knowing what her travel plans were and leaving 2 days later than she thought she was, one day due to her thinking she left the day before and the other day due to weather.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

gobble gobble

This morning I went to the gym, came home, put the girls down for a nap, took a shower, got dressed, ate some lunch and then sat down to make my massive shopping list for Thanksgiving. I don't even know where to start with this list. There are items I need for multiple dishes, items I need for only one thing, and trying to keep track of  how much of what to buy and when and for what is making me a little crazy. I need like a spread sheet and power point or something because honestly, all of this cross referencing is going to make my brain explode soon. I need me a Monica Geller, STAT!

I began my list by writing out each dish on a post-it note, so I could line everything up and see where I had duplicate ingredients. Green Beans, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce, Mashed Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts... the babies woke up... quick, write "Turkey" before we forget that altogether... and went upstairs to get the babies.

I got the babies up, changed, and fed, fed CB, got her dressed again, sat down at the computer to respond to an email really fast and to find a receipt for something I needed to return at Old Navy and then loaded everyone in the car to get W. Drove to W's school, got out, talked to a couple of parents, went and waited at the door for W to come out (while all of the other classes were getting out, tons of kids and parents around), repoed W, walked back to the car, went to Old Navy, walked around for awhile, returned what I needed to return, walked back to the car, and came home.

After the kids got settled I walked back to my desk with the intention of finishing my list, but I couldn't find the "Turkey" post-it. I figured maybe one of the babies had swiped it but they didn't have it and the other 2 hadn't been by my desk since we had been home. And then I saw something shiny and got distracted and went to do something else. A few minutes later, W started laughing and yelling TURKEY!! TURKEY!! GOBBLE GOBBLE GOBBLE!! Mommy, you're a turkey!! Um, EXCUSE ME?? No way are you going to be rude and call me a turkey. Knock it off! And then he came over to me, told me to turn around, and pulled the "Turkey" post-it off my @$$.

Yes, I had been walking around for the better part of 3 hours with a post-it that says "Turkey" on my butt. In public. At multiple places, during one of the busiest times of the day. Awesome. Now I know why the 6th graders were laughing and saying Turkey while I was waiting for W and why the 8 year old kid at Old Navy started laughing when they passed us from behind.

Why, oh why, didn't anyone tell me I had a turkey sign on my butt?? WHY?!? I bet you $5 that somewhere, there is a facebook status saying "haha, just passed an idiot with a post-it that says TURKEY on her butt!" and best of all, I might end up on peopleofwalmart. I am just very, VERY thankful I wore the jeans that make my butt look good today. Sigh.

Friday, November 12, 2010

we don't fart rainbows and sunshine, we poop sequins.

Last week W's teacher sent home a turkey cut out on cardstock with instructions to decorate it, as a family. You could use whatever you wanted, but the goal was to make it a family project. Uuuuuuuhhhhhhhh. Yeah. Because I am Mother of the Year, I stalled, and stalled, until the night before it was due. I had planned to use cereal and pasta and some finger paints and way more glue than necessary, but W wanted to make his turkey "fancy" and the babies really weren't into having their hands dipped in paint and pressed onto a piece of cardstock. MJ just looked at her hand like, "this is dumb" and A quickly discovered that orange paint didn't exactly taste like sweet potatoes. So we scrapped that idea and I dug through my massive craft box to find something, anything, we could use to make a turkey "fancy".

Good thing this mama's always got some tulle and sequins on hand and I happened to have some feathers and a couple of googly eyes. We also had a bag of torn construction paper left from a Thanksgiving project we had just done for our Thanksgiving Wall of Fun so we had to use that too. W got to gluing the construction paper while belting out Christmas songs (yo. could we please get done doing this THANKSGIVING turkey before we move on to Christmas??) and because it was a "family project", CB wanted to help too. And she helped by pouring out all of the sequins onto the table and the floor. And then the babies helped by putting the sequins I didn't get to right away in their mouths. It was awesome. And because it was close to dinnertime there were meltdowns and lots of crying from everyone, including me. We aren't really the "family project" kind of family, I guess.

We took a break, ate some dinner, and started in on the project again. This time it was just W and me as we had put the babies to bed and CB was only interested in sticking feathers in her ears, so she got sent to the playroom, far away from the ear drum perforation devices. W pretty much lost interest and told me that I needed to have his "super fancy turkey" done by the time he woke up in the morning, and then went to play. And then I had visions of what life was going to be life in 6 years when it was science fair time.



So it was me, some feathers, some sequins and a lot of glue. Since this was a "family project", W had wanted a picture of his family on the project. He is very literal. I kind of thought it was appropriate. I mean, really, where better to put a picture of a bunch of turkeys than on a turkey? I put the pictures of us on the belly of the turkey and then got to gluing. Soon that turkey started looking less like a turkey and more like a Vegas Showgirl with all of the feathers and sequins I had put on it. It was pretty gaudy, walking on a very fine line to tacky. So gaudy/ boarding on tacky that I half expected it to get up and start a kick line. But W got his wish, it was definitely fancy.



I was kind of embarrassed to have him turn it in, especially because anyone could tell who it belonged to with our big ol mugs pasted to it but he was really proud of it and was excited to show it off. I'm pretty sure I heard it scream, "I'm HEEEEEEEEEEERE!!" when we took it into the classroom. It was for sure the loudest and fluffiest and shiniest turkey of all the turkeys. Fitting, I guess.

I'm still cleaning up pieces of hot glue I pulled off my fingers before they were seared together and itty bitty feathers. Those feathers are nasty little things and infiltrate every crevice they can. Then this morning I realized I didn't do as good of a job cleaning up the spilled sequins as I thought I did. While I was changing MJ's poopy diaper, I noticed something shiny, and then saw another one. Low and behold, there were two silver sequins, in her diaper. The girl won't eat some real foods because of their texture, but she will eat, and swallow, sequins? I have to say though, it is pretty cool to have a real life confetti cannon at your disposal.

I think we will hold off on "family projects" for a little while. At least until we are past the "let's taste everything" stage. We tried. We had good intentions. But I really don't think it is an experience we need to relive for a couple of years.

Monday, November 1, 2010

"loads" of fun

I guess the "new hot thing" in houses is to have an upstairs laundry room. I'm not impressed by it, in fact I think it is dumb. I know it is great for some people and it cuts down on lugging laundry all over the house, but honestly, my thighs could use the workout I would have gotten having a laundry room on the main floor. There are a few reasons why I can't stand the upstairs laundry room, one of them being I tend to do all of our laundry late at night because I'm cheap and for some reason think that if I do it late at night, it will somehow be cheaper. I don't know if this is true, but I like to think it is... perhaps it comes from years of living through California's Rolling Blackouts.

Doing laundry at night in an upstairs laundry room sucks because it is So. Loud. while you are trying to sleep. Thump thump thump thump rattle thump bang rattle thump bang bang kerchunk kerchunk kerchunk thump thump thump. The Army makes my husband wear these uniforms and PTs that could probably be considered weapons in themselves. The zippers and clasps on those things sound like anvils rolling around in the dryer drum. Annoying. And if either the washer or dryer are slightly off balance, the entire house shakes like you're blasting off into the stratosphere. There's no point in trying to level pictures, you can only hope they will return to their normal position on the next spin cycle.

The other reason I don't like the upstairs laundry room is because it keeps me accountable and I HATE THAT. There's no hiding the massive pile of laundry that needs to be washed or folded. Every time I walk up the stairs it is like having two huge eyes staring me down saying, "HAHA! You thought you had a moment of peace! PSYCH!!" Bite me. And then there's that whole lint and dust thing. I really don't think it is healthy to have your bedrooms be connected to or near the laundry room, with all of the dryer lint flying around. Not to mention the occasional bleach fumes and toxic hazmat quality stank that can come from your husband's workout clothes that have been left in his car for 3 days during the summer... not that that has ever happened in this house...

Our laundry room isn't so much of a "laundry room" as it is a "laundry closet" that happens to reside directly at the top of the stairs. When we chose this house we didn't exactly measure to see if our washer and dryer would actually fit in the laundry closet. I thought it was just a given they would fit, but when you have 6 people in the house including 2 babies who are cloth diapered and a husband who changes his clothes 4 times a day, you need a mammoth size washer and dryer. And laundry closets don't come in mammoth size. I ended up with a laundry closet that had to have the doors opened at all times, because there was no room for them to close. And that meant that every time I walked up the stairs, there were those 2 big eyes staring at me and a plethora of neon colored bottles and boxes with HUGE BOLD brightly colored wordage SCREAMING at me. And that was not going to work.

I needed to do a laundry room makeover, and fast. So I made a plan and dragged M 3 hours away to IKEA and roughly $100 and some sewing and painting time later, I had a pretty awesome laundry closet that I was not scared to look at and that actually made me kind of *gasp* enjoy?? *gasp* doing the 2.5 loads of laundry I do each day.






The baskets were plain wicker looking and kind of yellow and it didn't really work with the yellow of the walls, so I painstakingly painted them using acrylic paint to match the washer and dryer. Then I decided that was kind of boring so I found some cute fabric incorporating the colors of the rest of the house and made some basket liners. Then because there wasn't enough going on, I decided to make some "pictures" for the frames because I couldn't find any prints that I liked. I wasn't sure what I wanted to make but I just kind of went with what came to me. I did the flowers first, using coordinating fabric to the basket liners. Then I decided I needed a tree and who doesn't love owls, right? So I made an owl too. Each piece is individually cut and then hand sewn onto flannel using embrodery floss. It was pretty easy, if I do say so myself. They aren't perfect, but I highly doubt anyone is going to be getting that intimate with my laundry area, except for me so no one will really ever see the flaws. 


One thing I knew for sure was that I didn't want to see any plastic bottles or scoops or sprayers. So I bought glass jars and bottles to hold all of the detergents and powders. I use a lot of different types of detergent, depending on what I'm washing. I wasn't comfortable putting the more potent chemicals into the glass so because I rarely use them, I put them under my bathroom sink. The extra powders, dryer sheets and stain sprays reside in the baskets on the top shelf and then tiny basket on the "counter" holds all of the junk that is found in pockets and what has become my secret cash stash.




If we weren't renting this house, I would have gotten a counter top that could be anchored to the wall but this will work for now. It is a table top from IKEA and cost like 30 bucks. I would have also put a wooden shelf above, instead of the wire shelf, but this works. It isn't gorgeous, but since it was already there, I have to use it. It is handy for hanging cloth diapers and other hang dry items though. And for that, I painted a bunch of clothes pins to match the baskets... thank you, insomnia, for giving me that kind of time. The only thing left to get are some wool dryer balls, which I am seriously coveting but can't quite justify getting, just yet. Even though I reeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally reeeeeeeaaaaaaaally want some... I must exhibit some kind of self control every now and then.

So there it is, my cute little laundry area. It is kind of excessive although potentially unimpressive comparatively, but it makes me smile and that is really all that matters, dontcha know?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

super cheesy goodness with a side of halloween

Halloween is something new for us, this is the first year we've actually done anything for it. I don't really like the spooky and scary aspect of it, ok, I don't like that part of it at all so I try to keep things light and fun. Last year I cleared out Target's Halloween section the day after Halloween so we'd have plenty of decorations and fun things to look at for years to come.

I bought plates and cups and silly straws and towels... The kids have been using the plates and cups for the past month and the towels, well, they got turned into a dress by CB so who knows where they are. Our new house has a rockin playroom and I really wanted to do that area up for Halloween but wasn't sure what exactly to do. Then I saw this little craft project from parents.com and was inspired. So, 6 black socks, 2 sets of leggings and 2 sets of baby socks from the Dollar Spot, a package of fluff, a bunch of pompoms, a whole lotta pipe cleaners and googly eyes and 16 sticks of hot glue later, I had a wall-o-fun.

W really wanted a "super silly haunted house" so I got some cheesy garland and lights and tried to outline a house. On a side note, can we please talk about those new stupid LED lights they are putting into light strands?? Putting those things up was almost deadly. Those lights are evil! I didn't realize they were the LED lights until I plugged them in and started to hang them up. My eyes started crossing and the headache hit instantly... I don't really care if they reduce energy consumption by 88% or whatever. If they are giving me a migraine and/ or a seizure every time I look at them, the lower energy consumption isn't really going to matter, ya know? I'll pay the extra $3 a month to light the regular ones! I keep having to tell the kids, "DON'T LOOK AT THE LIGHTS! YOU'LL BURN YOUR EYES OUT OF YOUR HEAD!"

If you're looking for aesthetically pleasing pictures of perfectly done little Halloween craft projects, you aren't going to find that here. My pictures are snapshots, at best, and the projects, well, I'll just say the kids helped, even though they didn't, it was all me... but it looks as if a 4 year old did them. And that is fine, it is all in good fun. Good, cheesy, Halloween fun. So cheesy... really, really cheesy.





In keeping with the festive spirit, we took the kids trick-or-treating for the first time. Rather, M took them while I stayed behind with MJ and passed out candy and made sure no one smashed our pumpkins or egged our house. This was the first time I've ever passed out candy and it was definitely interesting. I'm shocked our house wasn't egged or t-peed when we woke up, given the amount of times I told teenage girls to go home and put some clothes on. I asked one girl who was probably 14 if she borrowed her little sister's costume. That thing was so small, I'm pretty sure it was a 4T and she, well, was not.  As it got dark I kept seeing how there were all of these kids in pure black, without any kind of illumination or reflective fabric on them, so I broke out the glow sticks I had bought for my kids and started handing them out, thereby turning me into the over paranoid neighborhood safety patrol. I was half tempted to break into M's stash of reflective belts he wears for running and pass those out too. What are these people thinking, sending their kids out in all black on a dark night?? Hello!

I was well prepared for a barrage of greedy kids, but they were for the most part, polite and kind. Except for 1 kid who hit my house twice and was apparently pretty pissed off I only gave him 1 piece of candy the first time, so he decided to raid my candy bowl himself the next time. He was quick too! Little punk pulled like 15 pieces while I was sitting right next to the bowl, only stopping after I told him to get his grimy little paws out of my bowl or I'd take his entire bucket. You steal mine, I steal yours.  I'm already that scary cranky old lady that lives down the street and I'm only 28... No, I wouldn't really do that, but seriously? Where are your manners?

Overall, the day was a blast and I loved every second of it. It was the 2 year anniversary of M coming back from Iraq and coincidentally, I made the same exact meal I made the night he came home. We had a great time with some new friends and their little girl and the kids had a blast.

L, here is the recipe for the soup and crisp! :)

Minestrone Soup
1 medium onion
3 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 large carrot, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 large potato, peeled and cubed into bite size pieces (use 2 if you like a thicker soup)
1 zucchini, diced
1 yellow squashed, diced
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil
2 bay leaves
1, 28oz can diced tomatoes w/ juice
6 cups chicken stock
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 can great northern white beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
1/2 lb kale, washed and cut into small pieces

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over low heat in a large heavy pan. Add the onions and garlic and let cook until the onions are translucent. Add the carrots and celery and cook for a couple of minutes. Once those get soft, turn the heat to medium add the potatoes, zucchini and squash along with the dried spices and bay leaves and cook for about 5 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to a slow boil. Add the beans and cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. When the potatoes are soft, add the green beans and kale and cook for just a couple of minutes, until the green beans are bright green.

Serve with a good crusty bread and Parmesan cheese.

You can add a small pasta, like mini penne or shells and if you do, add about a cup when you add the beans.

Apple Cranberry Crisp

Happy Halloween! Be safe out there and don't forget your glow sticks! And don't dress like a ho, or I'll yell at you.

Monday, October 25, 2010

on becoming a morning person

I am far from being a morning person. My internal alarm clock doesn't start beeping until 7:30 am and that is only after I've had at least 2 cups of coffee in complete silence, after 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, and we all know how realistic that is. So when we moved to our new town, the first thing we made sure of was that we were central to W's school, so I wouldn't have to wake up at the butt crack of dawn to get all 4 kids out of the house and to the school by 8am.

Now really, whoever decided school should start at 8am needs to be smacked in the head. That is just cruel and nearly impossible to accomplish when you have 4 kids, 2 of whom are in diapers and 2 of whom can't tie they own shoes or button their own jeans. When we found a house that seemed perfect and was only 7.8 miles from the school, we took it. And then after we moved in we realized that there were 4 schools on the way to W's school, all starting before his school did, and that it could take 14 minutes to drive 3 blocks, and if you got stuck behind a bus, you were even more screwed. So it turned out we do, in fact, have to be up at the butt crack of dawn anyway.

The first few days of school went ok. I was full of optimism and drive and we were able to get out of the house, sit through traffic, a 6 minute long bus stop and then get to school on time. And then that momentum came to a screeching, crashing, slam into a tree halt and it was confirmed to me that being a morning person seriously sucked.

The main problem was that I was waking up when the kids were waking up and didn't have any time to actually wake up and get some nice serum in my veins to deal with the chaos of 4 kids in a calm and sane manner. And the other problem was that we were eating breakfast an hour before we left (if I even got breakfast at all), and then leaving an hour before school started, so by the time we got to school and myself to the gym, everyone was starving and cranky again. That had to change and the only solution was to wake up earlier, which seems counter productive, and stop eating cereal and yogurt for breakfast. We all need a high protein, hot breakfast to keep us full so we don't crash before our day even starts. So in essence, by trying to make my life easier, I've really made it a lot more difficult.

Now I get up at 5, get my coffee, and in a blurry eyed stupor check the email and try to catch up on what all of my West Coast Peeps did while I was asleep and by the time I'm finally waking up, it is 6:30 and the kids are up and asking for seventeen thousand things at once. They got their dad's annoying "morning person" gene so they don't need a 2 hour jumpstart on the day like I do. Once they are up I make breakfast, unload the dishwasher, clean up breakfast, get W's lunch ready, pull the snacks for the girls and get the diaper bag packed. Then I get W and CB dressed, hair and teeth brushed and throw them in the car with some books while I get the babies up, changed, dressed and put in their car seats. Then I get the babies bottles, put everything in the car, and start the stupid drive to school. Drop W off, go to the gym, work out for an hour and a half, shower, pick up the girls, get everyone in the car, and make the dumb drive home. And then I make a second pot of coffee, effectively negating all of the work I have just done at the gym and proceed to pass out on the floor while playing with the babies, only to be woken up by a dirty diaper to the face or a toy stethoscope to the head. It doesn't work.

I just can't get this "morning person" thing down! Even if I don't go to the gym after dropping W off I still find myself falling asleep at 10am while the babies pull all of the DVDs out of the cabinet and CB finds movies to watch on my phone (dang Netflix App). And I'm not talking about taking a little "cat nap", I'm talking full on mascara smeared across the face, ring indentation in the forehead, drool in the ear kind of passing out. If I sleep in later, the chaos abounds. And if I try to make everything a little simpler don't do all that I do in the morning, I end up really far behind during the day and nothing gets done. I already prep everything for breakfast, W's lunch and the girls' snacks at night. I have my gym bag ready to go by morning... but am I never going to be able to start the day with a good attitude and be like, "OH YAY!! I get to wake up and unload the dishwasher!! What a GREAT start to the day!! I am SO blessed." And before you say there aren't really people out there like that, so calm down, there really ARE people out there like that, I've met them. I'm related to them, believe me, they exist.

So tell me, please, what do you do to wake up in the morning? What is your "elixir" that gets you going? How do you manage not to be cranky and be productive before the sun comes up? What is your secret to a good start to the day? I need to know. I need to figure this out. My husband and children thank you in advance.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

changes

It is totally that time of year again-- MY new year. Fall is always my season of change and when life seems to "revamp". 4 years ago I was getting ready to move to Germany, 3 years ago we were getting ready to move back to the States, 2 years ago I had just moved back to Germany and was getting ready for M to come back from Iraq and last year I was finally starting to settle into my new life with 4 kids.

This year is no different, we're settling into a new house, had a slight change in career, the babies are becoming real toddlers (*snif*), we're changing the way we spend our money and the way we eat and live and we're trying to get used to our new routines. While all of that seems kind of mundane and seemingly simple, there has really been a true lifestyle change and it feels kind of drastic at times.

I'm hoping I can get to the point where I feel like I've got it together, soon. But last time I said I felt like I had it together, BOOM!, I got pregnant with twins. Sooooooo, I'm not really thinkin I really ever want to say I've got it together again because I know God would be like, "really?? That's what you think!! Let's see what you do with this" and then BOOM! something else life jarring and altering would happen. But I would like to be able to just sit back and enjoy life, instead of constantly feeling 1 step behind. And we're getting there, we really are, although I have been saying that for over a year now.

I plan on sharing more over the next couple of months, including what is going on here and doing some major series pieces on baby gear, diapering, including a huge diaper review of my all time favorite diapers, reviews on our strollers (which I've been meaning to get to for the past year), what I've been doing around the house and some other things, which may or may not include a wicked awesome giveaway. I know you guys are all super stoked to learn all about cloth diapers and strollers, I really do. There will be some fun stuff thrown in between, I promise :)

PS. Please let me know if any part of the new page design doesn't load for you-- I haven't been able to test it out on IE or Opera yet. I still can't even decide if I like the design or not...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

a whole new world

A couple of weeks before we moved we made the 8 hour drive to the new area to find a house to rent and get W into kindergarten. I wanted to be able to move directly into a house instead of having to stay in a hotel for awhile as living the hotel life with 4 young kids seriously blows. On our way up I fell asleep and when I woke up, we were pretty close to the new town.

Everyone had always told me how awesome the area was and how much I was going to love it there because they had loved it so when I woke up and saw the surroundings, I asked Mark why we were lost and where he had taken a wrong turn. And then he gave me the devastating news that we were not in fact lost, but we were right where we were supposed to be. WHAT?! No, seriously. WHAT?! This was not at all what I was expecting.

For real, it was like the city planner had no idea what to do with the area so he was like, "I have a GREAT idea!! Lets give my 18 month old a box of crayons and a piece of paper and we will turn whatever he scribbles down into the road map for the city. Then I'll have my 3 year old play Monopoly and we will use her gameboard as the plan for where we will put our buildings." Because really, only here could it take you 25 minutes and 15 left turns onto side streets to get to a bigger street which will change names 6 times and then turn into a 1 lane gravel road that you have to take to get to the next bigger street. And only here can you find a Holiday Inn Express next to a Korean church that is between a Wendy's and a tobacco shop, which are located in the same strip mall as a day care and a health food store which are a less than a block away from a trailer park straight out of 1973 and brand new apartment complex.

And let us not forget the Super Walmart, which can be found approximately every 2.3 miles. Super Walmart, I'm coming to find, is this area's version of Starbucks. There is one on every corner and it is where everyone congregates. I should have known this was not the place for me when I realized that Super Walmart was the nicest grocery store in the area. Yes, I am a snob. I'll admit it, I'll own it, I'll wear a t-shirt that says it. I hate Walmart. HATE IT. I don't DO Walmart.

We've all seen that website peopleofwalmart.com. Hours of fun. But I was always like, whatever, that is staged, these people don't exist. Oh no. No, no no. They do exist and they ALL live in my town and go to the Walmarts I have to go to. Whenever I go I have to spend the day working up to it. By the time I have the courage to go, it is late and potentially dangerous because here, all of the weirdos come out at 8pm.

When we moved here M made a rule that no one goes out past 8-- he didn't feel it was safe and I was like, Ok, whatever. Holy overreact much. But this time, he was right. One night I had to go to Walmart and it was 8:13. And he told me not to go, just wait, go in the morning, but me being the stubborn freak that I am was like, no, I'll be fine. Seriously, what is the worst that could happen? HA!

Yo. When I got there there was a drunk guy too drunk to open the refrigerated beer case and spent a good 3 minutes cussing the fridge out and banging on the doors before he realized he had to PULL them open, instead of slide them open. That in addition to the load of screaming kids who were pulling juice bottles off the shelves and running around while their parents screamed at them to stop doing that and come back, but who didn't bother to actually GO GET THEM. And everyone was just mean, in bad moods and seriously rude.

It took me nearly 2 hours to navigate through the madness while I tried to decipher if what I was seeing was actually real or not. It was like entering an entirely different world and all the while I contemplated if I should get a permit to carry a concealed weapon. These people were crazy, and not crazy in a legitimate way where you know they need help and feel bad for them, but crazy in a way where you are like, "Hey, didn't I see you on COPS last week? We're you the one beating the crap out of your ex-husband's car with a crowbar? Or were you the one who was calling the cops because you hit on your neighbor's boyfriend and she proceeded to beat the crap out of you? Or were you the one who called the cops because your dealer "stole" 20 bucks from you after your "transaction" and it made you mad and you wanted him arrested, while forgetting you still had drugs on you and got arrested yourself"?

When I finally got to the checkout after waiting the requisite 35 minutes in line, I made small talk with the checker and found she wasn't from "around here" either and thought as highly of the place as I did. And then directly in front of us, in the Customer Service area, we heard a commotion brewing. There was a woman there demanding to see the manager. She was clearly unhappy, evidenced by the fact that every other word she said was a swear word. The manager came up and she proceeded to lay into him with her complaints. He was trying to calm her down but she just kept on, and on, and on, and on, and on... Her chief complaint? "I COME HERE EVERY TUESDAY NIGHT AND WHEN I GET HERE THERE IS NOTHING ON THE SHELVES AND THE AISLES ARE FILLED WITH PALLETS AND BOXES". Um, ok. Well, common sense would tell you that if there was nothing on the shelves and there were boxes and pallets filling the aisles, maybe you should come the next day, after they have restocked the shelves with the contents of the pallets and boxes??? Maybe?? Yeah...

He tried explaining that to her, which made her more mad, then she started laying into him about how they never have what she wants and they used to have what she wants but they don't now and they should know what she wants... and the manager tried telling her that it wasn't that simple and that things weren't how they used to be and things had changed, to which she responded, "YEAH?! WELL MY MONEY HASN'T CHANGED YOU DUMB@$$." Yeah...

So she started moving closer to me, and I'm thinking, no, you don't need to be closer to me, and oh dang, how am I going to get out of here? This situation is escalating and she's getting more mad. Meanwhile my checker is looking on the belt for anything sharp I may have bought so she can use it in her defense. It was time for me to leave and she was showing no signs of letting up and moving closer to me, so I calmly put my hands up and said, "Ma'am, go home. Just, go home. We've all heard your complaints, we understand them, just, go home before you get into trouble. It isn't worth it, just go home." And OH MY GOODNESS did all hell break loose. She came at me and put her fingers in my face and screamed at me like I have never been screamed at before. "YOU GO HOME YOU DUMB B!TC4!! YOU GO HOME! THIS IS A FREE COUNTRY AND I CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT!! YOU GO HOME!!!." Yeah...

Well, 1) I'm trying to go home, but you are in my way 2) Did you really just pull the "free country" card with me? I mean really, by doing so you've just given me a full deck to play from, including the "what have you done for our country lately to ensure your freedoms and blah blah blah" card and 3) Are you really saying "free country" in Walmart? The symbol of oppression and everything that ISN'T "free" in America? Yeah, ok. Whatever lady, move along.

But she was relentless and would not stop. Calling me names over and over, following me, screaming at me to go home. I kept calm, told her I was trying to go home and that maybe she should walk out with me and go to her car so she could go home too... it was ridiculous. The entire time the manager had this look in his eyes like "Oh no. We didn't go over this in my training, what do I do??" He ended up having someone stay with the out of control lady while he ushered me out of the store. He was legitimately scared. He asked me where my car was, told me he wasn't going to leave until I had left and I kept assuring him I was fine, that I could take her if she came at me and that he should probably call the cops because the only way she was going to be leaving that night was in handcuffs, or on a gurney after someone tazed her or knocked her out.

Should I have gotten involved? Probably not. But I had to leave, she was right in my way. There was no way I was going to get out of there because she wasn't going anywhere and there was no way I was going to be sticking around to wait for her to be done. And Mr. Manager really had no idea what he was doing so the situation wasn't showing any signs of diffusing. I've worked with plenty of "questionable" people before... but dang. This was an entirely new experience.

So while I didn't get into trouble or really do anything malicious, I can officially say I have been escorted out of Walmart by the manager after getting into an altercation with another customer. I believe I am now a stereotype.

Friday, September 17, 2010

the whirlwind that was this summer

Oy. Just, Oy. What a summer this has been. I'm pretty sure the kids spent more time sleeping in their carseats and hotel rooms than they did in their own beds. We drove well over 9000 miles this summer, traveled through 15 different states, most of them twice, packed up a house, unpacked another, completed my 11th move in 6 years, W's 9th before he turned 5 (all cross country or across state lines or across the world), I gained 10 pounds, A started walking, MJ figured out how to unscrew bottle caps (not beer caps, I promise), W started kindergarten and CB, well, let's just say she's come a LONG way this summer. And to top it all off, I got escorted out of Walmart by the manager after getting into an altercation with another customer. Yes, yes I did. I can die happy now. I think my life is complete.

This is the first time I've had a chance to sit down at the computer in over 2 weeks. Actually, I don't think I've really sat down at all in the past 3 weeks, except maybe to sleep and I'm not sure that even counts given the number of nights we were sleeping on an air mattress. Thankfully, the house is unpacked and relatively organized, just please, whatever you do, DO NOT open any of the closets. I can't be held liable for anything that may fall on your head. The closets will have to come later, I need a break.

The freezer is full again after a marathon 3 day cooking stint-- 12 dozen turkey and quinoa meatballs (egg, wheat and dairy free), 64 cups of chicken broth, 6 batches of chicken and rice soup, 6 batches of my really awesome chili, 4 whole chickens worth of shredded chicken and a serious amount of homemade spaghetti sauce. That all should last us like, a week. Ok, maybe 5. Dang, this family can eat. And after cooking through 6 pounds of onions and 12 heads of garlic in less than 3 days I can officially say that my house, and my hair, reek.

Now I'm on to making and freezing a bunch of muffins, waffles and pie crust and pureeing and freezing my own pumpkin because we all know how much I love the pumpkin... I plan on going through at LEAST a pound a week of that stuff this fall. Speaking of which, I actually got to taste my first Pumpkin Spice Latte last week. I know, right?? My first?! Yes, my first. I can't believe it has taken me this long. But in my defense, the first year they had them I was on the elimination diet for CB, the second year they had them I was in Germany and last year I was on the elimination diet for the twins so I've never had the chance to try it. But oh my, was that thing delicious. If I wasn't on a mission to not eat out AT ALL for at least a month, I'd probably be partaking of one right now.

Even though we are (mostly) settled, there still isn't much time for rest. I have 9 voice mails to listen to, over 1300 messages in my inbox to go through, a billion facebook messages to respond to and a ton of phone calls to make, and no, I am not exaggerating, at all. Plus, I need to get my butt to the gym to work off my 10 pound love handles so I can fit into my winter clothes once it finally cools down-- I am WAY too cheap to buy new clothes this year. But first I am going to finish my coffee and sit here and savor the silence in the house as W is at school and M has taken all of the girls for a run. This is the first time I have been completely alone in like a decade and I'm going to try to savor it because Lord only knows when that will happen again...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

angry birds

Have you guys played this game? If you haven't, you need to get yourself to the app store and download the free version and once you beat that you need to suck it up and pay the 99 cents for the paid version because, it will CHANGE YOUR LIFE. If you are behind the times and don't have an iPhone then you need to get your butt down to AT&T and get a phone and data plan and before you so much as make a call on that phone, you need to download this game. Or at least get yourself an iTouch.

Good Lord this game is awesome. And addicting. I have lost all of the men in my life to this game. My father, husband, son... all victims of the angry bird. And I may or may not have stayed up until 1:13 am playing it last night, but I really only did it for the sake of my son. I NEEDED to beat the harder levels so he wouldn't get frustrated when he tried. I'm just taking one for the team and doing my part to keep the peace.

Angry Birds is kind of like the most awesome game you've ever played (like Snood or Dr. Mario), but with birds, that you sling shot across the screen and smash into things in hopes of knocking over rocks and blocks and killing pigs. On a scale of 1 to Awesome, Angry Birds is somewhere around The Most Awesomerestness of Awesome. But child please, don't tell me you don't remember what Snood is because that was the single greatest game in the history of games of the early 2000's. That game got me through college. And if they ever make it into an iPhone app, I'm screwed.

You know though, I have to say I'm thankful that there weren't any iPhones or smartphones invented when I was in college because I would have NEVER gotten anything done or paid any attention in class. I hardly paid attention without smart phones, it would have been so UGLY if I had Angry Birds or Face Book or my email right at my finger tips. I don't think I would have graduated. I don't know how kids these days are getting through college with all of the distractions of laptops and phones... kind of makes me nervous for the quality of doctors and lawyers and teachers we are going to have in the next 20 years.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

word, say word to the father

I don't talk about my husband much, and that really is too bad because he is pretty cool. Although, if I did talk about half the stuff I wanted to talk about, I'd have to kill you. I so wish I was kidding. I tend to roll my eyes at him a little more than I should-- don't want him to get an ego, but the truth is, he really deserves to have an ego because he is a better father than I am a mother and a much better husband than I am a wife. That, and he's pretty much GI Joe and could render your husband unconscious with one swift flick of the wrist. Not that I'm bragging or anything.

He has been the one to potty train W and CB, I don't have the patience. He comes home from work and plays with them, takes care of them, does all the diaper changes and most nights does their baths and puts them all to bed and then he does the dishes. Seriously.

W is a very curious child and likes to know everything, much like his father. About 7 months ago W randomly counted to 100, something I certainly never taught him to do. I asked where he learned it and he told me daddy taught him on the way to school. Oh. Then one day he asked me to make a paper airplane, and then informed me that I had failed because I didn't meet the 3 basic components to make it fly: lift, drag and thrust. Well, crap. W and I were reading a couple of days ago and he was explaining the rules to me, what words make what sounds and why, what letters make other letters have certain sounds. Yep, daddy taught him. I just barely learned the I before E rule like 3 years ago and have no idea what the "real" reading rules are. Most days I can't even use effect and affect properly.

I stick M with the kids all the time and I never hear him complain about how hard it is or how much energy it takes, he actually seems to like it. There are very few men on this planet who would be willing to take care of four kids, ages four and under, for a few hours at a time while their wife goes to the gym, or to the grocery store or sleeps. Since I have been down for the count more than I have been useful lately, M has picked up most of my slack. Last Saturday I woke up at 9:30 and the kitchen was spotless and the living room was picked up, all 4 kids were fed and playing and the babies diapers were dry. You know how long it has been since I got to sleep in until 9:30? Like 6 years. It was bliss.

One thing I know for sure is that this man knows what is important and has his priorities right. There are a lot of people out there who could take a lesson or two from him. Because he spends so little time with us through the year, he makes every second count when he's home and that in itself is an amazing example for our kids. Yes, daddy is gone, a lot, but I don't think they will remember the times he's away as much as they will remember the times he is home because he makes sure he smothers them in a thousand kisses and reads to them and never tells them he's too busy to do something with them. Even if he was home all the time I have no doubt in my mind that he would be just as involved in their lives and just as attentive to me. My kids and I are so lucky, and so blessed and I promise you we will never, ever, take that for granted.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

now you are family.

We've been home from the West Coast for about a week and a half now and I must be getting old, or something, because I'm not bouncing back as awesomely as I used to when I did stupid stupid insane ridiculously irresponsible road trips... like the time my friend J and I drove from CA to WA (about 900 miles in my ghetto car that had the bumper duct taped on because I had crashed it into a pole a few weeks earlier) after working a full day, only to get there in the morning, go to a wedding in the afternoon and turn around and leave to drive home that night and then went back to school and work that next day. Yeah, that was dumb. But we were 19 and knew everything so it didn't matter

Man, we flippin rocked that road trip. Good times, "resting" at the rest stop between Shasta and the Oregon border, and then again at the rest stop by the Sacramento airport... because that is a really really safe for 2, 19 year olds to do. Pretty sure that's how horror movies start. But if I'm remembering correctly, this was all during midterms and I still managed to ace an exam 2 days after we got back. AND my car got broken into the day of that midterm and not only did the jerkfaces go through my CD's individually and pick and choose which ones they wanted (apparently they weren't country fans) but they also took my stereo and my text books AND had the nerve to go through and look at the pictures we had taken at the wedding, as it was way back in the day when film was the method of taking pictures and digital cameras were only for the wealthy. The cops ended up taking the pictures into "evidence" so we don't have any pictures from that trip, except for a couple of the shady bathroom we stopped at in the middle of Oregon. That bathroom was seriously so shady I'm pretty sure we got herpes just by opening the door. My goodness, that was a trip.

This last road trip was hardly eventful. We made it home without breaking down (both the car, and our mental states), without any notable events and we only went $8 over our allotted "food, gas, Starbucks and hotel" budget. I was proud. But for some reason, I'm spent. I haven't had the energy to do anything and the suitcases are still in a heap on the floor. I've been rewashing and wearing the same 4 outfits we all wore on the drive home because I am just too lazy to unpack the rest of the clothes. It's not worth the effort...

Soon after we got home I started feeling sick and figured it was just from all of the travel, or maybe the fact that there was a disgusting layer of mold covering everything that we kept in our storage room (including, but not limited to my 4 of my 5 favorite strollers, but that is for a different post) and that it had seeped into our house and my body. Then I started to feel a lump in my neck and jaw area and figured it must be because my quack dentist did a quack crown on my tooth in December and now I needed a quack root canal, but then I got another lump where my leg meets my pelvis, in my groin area (um, that's gross and TMI, I know) so I stopped thinking it was because my quack dentist sucked and I needed a quack root canal. After the third day of zombie-dom and not being able to complete even half of my workout or any household task, I went to the doctor.

She was like, "Oh, you're fine. I don't see anything. I'll just give you some decongestants and you'll be fine." Yeah, I'm not thinking that you're really understanding what I'm saying. There is a GOLF BALL size LUMP in my NECK AREA and GROIN right now-- that aint right. And she was like, "I'm sure there's not a lump in your groin, it's probably just an ingrown hair" Yeah, no. That would be one seriously nasty hair (really that is GROSS! Someone stop me) It's INTERNAL. And she was like, "Well, I'll take a look at it but I really don't think it's anything." And then she felt it, and her eyes got big and she was like, "So I'm gonna order a CBC and a BlahBlahBlah and a WhatchaMaCallIt and a ThingAMaBob and put you on some heavy duty antibiotics and if it isn't better in 10 days, we're going to biopsy that". Hold the phone. My short answer would be, No. My long answer would be, HECK NO. No WAY are you going to biopsy something in my neck. You will have to knock me out cold before that happens. Those are long needles and That. Is. Gross.

Holy "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". Knowing me, if they biopsy that crap they'll probably find teeth and a spinal cord



and that it is really my twin that my body has finally decided to expel. Or in my case, triplet because of the additional one. See, multiples really do run in my family.

I'm sure I'm fine and it's my body's way of telling me to SLOW DOWN or it is just some freak infection... even though I don't have a fever or any other "infections symptoms". The one in my neck is feeling a little better so that is a plus, the other one though, is really annoying and I could totally do without. This will certainly be one round of antibiotics I will finish. No way in you know where are they coming at my neck with a needle. No way, no how.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

flying with infant twins... alone.

Ok, boring title, I know. Forgive me as my creative brain seems to be taking a summer ciesta. Jerk. The twins and I flew back from Alaska, reunited with the other hellions children, and are now making the looooooooong @$$ trip back to the East Coast. Awesome. I have officially scarred W for life. Every time he gets in the car he asks if it is going to be a 1 movie drive, or a 2 sleeps drive. Either way he hates it and demands compensation for me ruining his life. A trip into town makes him freak the freak out, espeically if I don't have an arsenol of snacks and things for him to do. Hunny Pie, it's only a 25 minute drive, pretty sure you can survive without a DVD. Now stop kicking your sister before I PULL THIS CAR OVER. I swear...

ANYWAY. Onto the point of this post, I promise. Flying with twins. Yes. Ok, so the key is to be uber organized. Like, more organized than you think you need to be, and over prepare. And then think about how you are going to do what you are going to do before you do it. And then take those scenarios, and blow them out of the water and then run your mind's eye through how you are going to handle your baby's diaper exploding while the other one projectile vomits onto the person next to you while you spill the bottle you prepared 4 seconds ago to calm the poopy butt baby down. What are you going to do when you are all covered in vomit and poop and formula that smells like rotten white cheddar cheese? What are you going to do...? Cry. Pretty much just cry.

Ok, I swear there is a point to this. So really, how do you do this? First, plan your flights for their nap times. If they are napping 2x a day, plan the first flight for their first nap time and then take a layover until their second nap time. Or take a red eye. Chances are good they will fall asleep during takeoff because of the white noise and g-forces and maybe, just MAYBE, you might be able to read a magazine for the first time since before they were born. Maybe.

Second, the diaper bag. Pack only the essentials. Everything else can be improvised. Daytime flights can be a bit more tricky because you have to pack more food, if they are eating solids, but if your kids don't have huge food issues like mine do, that won't be as hard as I make it out to be. So here's what I would pack for a 10 hour day of travel, if I were you:
  • 8 diapers per baby
  • 1 pack of wipes
  • Changing pad
  • 2 bottles (I like the Playtex Drop Ins for travel because you only need 2 bottles and then can pack the extra liners and extra nipples-- takes up a lot less room)
  • Formula
  • Change of clothes for each baby
  • Bows to match those change of clothes so people don't ask if they are boys (optional)
  • An extra shirt for you
  • Baby crackers
  • Baby food in squeeze containers or plastic containers (if applicable)
  • Bibs
  • Spoons (if needed)
  • Gas drops (or gripe water-- you'll have to pour it into a 3oz container for the flight though)
  • Infant Tylenol
  • A magazine for you
  • A cliff bar or 2 and some candy
  • DumDum suckers for the babies (sometimes desperation beats out "good mommyhood")
  • Your wallet
  • Cell phone
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • A flask (kidding... kinda)
  • Ziploc bags, of all sizes (more on that later)
  • A sling
Yes, all of that fits in one bag, and fits nicely if you pack it right. Be sure to have all of your liquids put together and on top of all of your other crap so you can pull it out easily to go through security.

Getting ahead of myself. Ok, so you unload the car, and go to check in. Take someone with you for this. It is almost impossible to pull all of your luggage on one of those carts while pushing a double stroller. Don't ask me how I know. When you check in, suck it up and pay the oversize baggage fees, or have a REALLY good sob story that will cause the ticket agent to wave not only the oversize fees but also the fee for an entire bag... not that I've done that... ever...

Your bags are now checked in and it is time to go through security. You are SO going to rock this and look good doing it. You're wearing slip on shoes, don't have anything in your pockets and you have the pacifier clipped to the baby's shirt because once that binkie is in that bin, you can't get it back until they "clear" you. So here's how you do security:
  1. Put the car seats upsidedown on the x-ray belt
  2. Take off your shoes and put them in a bin
  3. Take the liquids out of your bag and put them in a bin
  4. Put all of the blankets and "loose" items in another bin
  5. Put your bag in a bin
  6. Send it aaaaaaaall down the roller things into the x-ray machine.  
  7. Push the stroller near the x-ray so the TSA agent can come and get it
  8. Pick up your babies, one in each arm, and walk through the metal detector
Here's where you can get creative. You can either wait for the stroller to be done getting swabbed by the TSA agent while holding the babies or you can ask (very nicely) if they will put the carseats on the ground for you so you can put the babies in them and you can collect your things.

Now keep in mind that I don't have a stroller that holds our infant seats, so you will have to modify what you do to accommodate for your travel system. I pushed the stroller with both babies in it and carried the car seats and diaper bag. If you can, take the infant seats on your trip, if your babies still fit in them. They are so much lighter and easier to carry than a convertible car seat. If they don't fit into the infant seats and you need to take convertible seats, consider buying a PacBack to help you get through the airport.

Anyway, after you gather all of your crap and get the babies situated back in the stroller, go to your gate and get a gate check ticket for your stroller (and extra car seat if you don't have 2 seats for the babies-- try not to ever check a car seat as luggage. Chances are it will be damaged by the time you get to your destination and/ or it may be lost. If you gate check it it is less likely to be damaged or lost and if there's an extra seat on the plane, they will sometimes let you have it for the baby, so you'd be able to use the car seat). Then let the babies out to stretch and move around. Yes, on the floor of the airport. I know, disgusting, but believe me, they will touch dirtier things by the time they are 2. Yes, they will. Make sure you are by the jetway so you can preboard first and be sure to do a round of diaper changes before you get on the plane.

When they call for preboarding, either have 1 baby in a sling and 1 still in the stroller or put both babies in the stroller. After you field all of the, "OH MY GAH! Are you flying ALONE with them?!" questions, make your way down the jetway with confidence and class. You've got this! Once at the bottom, if only one baby has a seat put that baby in the car seat, the other in the sling, if not already in there, and then collapse the stroller. Typically at this point the flight attendants will either be standing at the entrance of the plane, taking bets on how long you are going to last or they will be jumping at the chance to help you because they KNOW there is no way you are going to be able to do all of this by yourself. And they are right. It simply isn't possible to get both babies plus a car seat or 2 plus a diaper bag on the plane and to your seats by yourself. You're good, but you aren't that good.

Now, when you booked your flight you had a few decisions to make besides when you were going to leave and come back. Do you bite the bullet and get a seat for each baby or do you go the cheaper route and only buy 1 ticket for 1 baby and have the other baby be a lap baby. My recommendation is to buy 2 tickets. Not only is it safer for both babies to be in car seats, but if both of them are in seats they are more likely to fall asleep and it will make it so you have an extra place to put the "extra" baby if needed. It just makes life easier, really. It is possible to do just 1 purchased seat for a baby but it will be a challenge and not the best flight you are ever going to take.

Then you have to make the "where do I sit" decision. Now, there are really 3 options: the front of the plane, no, not first class, you aren't THAT classy! I mean after row 6, the middle of the plane and the back of the plane.

Pros for the front of the plane:
  • you don't have to walk as far when you are boarding and exiting. It is hard to get those infant seats down the aisle! 
  • the bulkhead will provide extra room
Cons for the front of the plane:
  • you are really far away from the bathroom because you aren't cool enough to use the first class bathroom
  • people will gawk and make a lot of comments while you are sitting there waiting for the rest of the flight to board and get off the plane
  • if you are in the bulkhead you can't put your bag under the seat so you have to put it in the overhead bin which can really suck when you need something out of it but can't get out of your seat
Pros for the middle of the plane:
  • ?????
  • uuuuuuuuuuummmm
  • you don't have to wait as long for drinks as you would if you were in the back of the plane?
Cons for the middle of the plane:
  • you are still pretty far from the bathroom
  • still have gawkers
  • you get stuck when you get up while the flight attendants are doing the drink service and you have to get back to your seat
Pros for the back of the plane:
  • the bathroom is RIGHT THERE
  • the flight attendants are RIGHT THERE and almost always willing to hold a baby while you change the other baby's diaper
  • the galley is RIGHT THERE if you need water for a bottle
  • there aren't many people to judge you if you have to change a diaper in your seat, with the baby on your lap. Not that I've ever done that either... ever... 
Cons for the back of the plane:
  • the bathroom is RIGHT THERE and people LOOOOOOOVE to talk to you while they are waiting to pee. 
  • it takes forever to walk to your seat and chances are good your baby might have whiplash from being banged against every other seat on your way there. 
  • you will finally get your complimentary beverage approximately 2.5 minutes before the Captain asks the flight attendants to prepare the cabin for landing. 
Once you get to your seat, you are going to buckle the car seats in, get the crying baby out to appease her, ask the flight attendants for water for the bottles, prepare their bottles for take off and pull out your magazine and a snack so you don't have to rummage around your bag later if a baby is asleep in your arms. And then you are going to promise all of the people who are glaring at you and your crying baby that they will not in fact cry for the entire flight. And then you'll wonder why you are trying to satisfy all of these people and realize they can just bite you. Who cares if your baby is crying? BABIES CRY. Oh wait, getting off topic again...

So it is time for take off now and you're getting nervous. Once that door shuts, you're committed. Put the babies back in their seats, give them their bottles, some tylenol if needed, gas meds if necessary, give them their soothie (blanket, binkie, whatever) and then PRAY HARD that your evil plan works and they do fall asleep. If they fall asleep, you're golden for at least an hour. Pat yourself on the back! But then prepare for when they wake up. Have their snacks ready if they are eating solid foods, pull a diaper or 2, the wipes and changing pad out so they are ready to go when needed, and get their toys ready to be played with.

But wait... you didn't pack any toys for them! Why did that stupid girl on that stupid blog not put any toys on that stupid diaper bag packing list?? Oh young Jedi, because you don't need them. Everything you need to entertain your babies is already on the plane. Cups, stir sticks, packets of sugar,  plastic spoons, barf bags, those really annoying papers that say "SUBSCRIBE FOR ONLY $.75 AN ISSUE" that fall out of your magazine, your cell phone, club card for Safeway, your bracelet, a baby wipe, the wrapper from your Cliff Bar, a bottle nipple... the possibilities are endless.

And then there are the ziploc bags. Why did you bring those? Not only do those provide a nice, smell proof place to put nasty clothes but they provide for entertainment too. Ask the flight attendant for some ice and a tiny bit of water and put them in one, zip it up and give it to a baby. They will have fun squishing it around. Throw some cherrios in there and let them go nuts, just make sure they don't bite through the plastic. And if that ziploc magic doesn't work, pull out the dumdums and let them lick away. No, I'm not kidding, it really works. Mother of the Year here, people. Mother of the Year.


So the flight is going relatively well but now it's time for a diaper change. Crap. Literally. You pretty much have three options: Change the baby in your lap, which I would not do if it were a poopy diaper, ask a flight attendant to come and sit with the other baby while you go to the bathroom and change the dirty one or put the clean baby in the sling and carry the dirty one to the bathroom. I typically go with option number 3, unless the clean baby is sleeping. Then I go with option number 2 (no pun intended).

After diaper changes, it's time for feeding. Again, no problem, you've prepared well. Bibs are on to minimize the mess and you feed them in their car seats... which, sorry to say, will make a mess no matter how hard you try to prevent it. Just remember, car seat covers are washable. Be sure to follow the manufacturers instructions for care and use. And be sure to make the feeding time fun. If you have ferocious eaters like I do you will have to act fast which can be tricky but smiles and songs seem to help take the edge off of the wait while the other baby gets her bite.

Once the babies are dry and fed they will either fall back asleep or want to play and by then, it's pretty much time to land. If possible, keep them both in their car seats during landing as this is prime time for injury for a lap baby. Because you are smart, you've built in a lot of extra time into your itenerary so there is no need to rush off the plane. You will always get off last. Always. Not only is it the polite thing to do, but it is the practical thing to do because a) the flight attendants will help you off the plane and b) you won't have a big ol line of angry people up your butt while you try to get the stroller set up and the babies put in it.

Now make your way to the poor soul who is going to pick you up and give yourself a HUGE pat on the back because you just rocked the whole flying with twins thing. Congrats!

Ok, I know it doesn't always happen that easily but it really doesn't have to be a huge event. Just remember to be flexible, have a good attitude and don't get upset over stupid stuff and you'll be fine. The nicer and more sane you seem, the more people will be willing to accomodate you and help you out. And if anything, you'll be making memories and that always makes it worth it, right?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

nostalgic

My babies are almost 1. Sigh. One year ago right now I was in early labor, so tired of contractions and thought my babies would never come. Just 1 year ago... It is almost surreal.

I recently came across an email I sent to some doula friends in the weeks before the girls were born and in it I was completely freaking out about pretty much everything, as usual. Reading it brought back all of those feelings of anxiety and stress and anticipation and fear... I can still feel exactly how I felt during that time. I knew life was going to be different but I really had no idea one year ago just how different it was going to be.

These babies have done something to me. Maybe it's the fact that we went through so much hell for 5 months that I can pretty much handle anything at this point... maybe it's because they have forced me to be organized, who knows, but I feel so much better about life now than I ever have before. There are so many things that I used to stress about that just don't matter anymore. I never would have thought these babies would make me sane. Never. Of course the teething and "oh &$*% she ate something with wheat and now she's going to be up all night screaming" days and endless diapers can wear on me but there is really so much joy in my life it is almost nauseating.

A and MJ are such funny babies. Just recently they have really started to interact with each other. They love to play together, even trading toys when they get bored with what they are playing with. The hold hands while they are in the stroller and while they eat, if you put them close enough. Of course, that is between A stealing bites of food off of MJ's plate. MJ really needs to learn to eat faster, before A takes all of it and she ends up being the runt for the rest of her life.

When MJ wants to get A's attention, she will fake cough and then they will have a complete conversation. No clue as to what they are saying... probably something along the lines of, "holy crap, she had to put another one of these ridiculous bows on us AGAIN?! Does she not see they are literally bigger than our heads? This is annoying. That woman has flipped her lid". And then when MJ gets distracted by a shiny object, A will fake cough to get her attention and they will finish out their conversation.

What is most interesting is that they have no interest in other babies, except for each other. If you put them in front of a mirror, they won't look at their own reflection, they will look directly at each other's reflection. If you put just one of them in front of a mirror, she will look at the person holding her, instead of her reflection. But they do love their brother and sister, that's for sure. They are all smiles when W and CB walk in the room. It is so sweet to watch all of them together... I just hope it lasts...

They both are growing leaps and bounds. Just in the past 2 months they have become mobile and quick. While neither of them are very close to walking, they each have their own unique way of getting around. A crawls like she's swimming. She looks just like she's doing the breaststroke. And MJ crawls like she's been shot and is dragging herself to safety.  She keeps her left arm under her chest and drags her left leg, propelling herself with her right arm and right leg... maybe we should get that checked...

MJ is definitely the jokester, like we've always known she would be. She plays peek-a-boo and loves to make noise and laugh. She has such a good temperament and is generally willing to just hang out. A is more of the diva princess, for sure. She very much prefers for you to do things for her. She'll crawl all the way down the hallway to get to you and then stop 3 feet from where you are and will sit up and SCREAM until you come and get her. She simply cannot be bothered to crawl the rest of the way. She makes me smile.

It has been a long year. One filled with so many ups and downs, laughter and tears, freak outs and realizations, sleepless nights, character building, humbling experiences, and learning... and yet it seems to have gone by in an instant.

They say it takes a village to raise a child and that is really true for us. We would have not made it through this year with our sanity intact if it weren't for our family and friends who have stood by us and at times literally held us up. Those who came and held my babies so I could take a shower, who stopped by or made me go to lunch so I could have some adult interaction, who took care of W and CB so I could make it through the day with the babies, who just sat and listened when I was at my breaking point and who have come to our rescue in time of need have a huge place in my heart. I don't know where we would have been without all of you.

And to my angel-- the wonderful wonderful woman who so graciously and willingly sacrificed so much by taking everything delicious out of her diet to provide milk for my babies so they could thrive when I couldn't do it: I've told you before what that has meant to me but I really can't say it enough. You helped give my babies life and made them grow. Without you they wouldn't have been as happy or healthy and that is something that is truly invaluable to me. What you did was so selfless and amazing, I only wish I could do something half as wonderful for someone one day. You are a true example of kindness and generosity and we are so blessed to know you. Thank you so much for what you did for us and for my babies. It means the world to me.

So here's to another year-- Happy birthday sweet babies. I love you.

Monday, June 14, 2010

riddle me this:

I know not everyone is as addicted to coffee as I am, or is as irresponsible as I am to actually go out and buy a $5 cup of coffee on a near daily basis, but I figure there are some people out there who are and will have insight on this very perplexing situation.

A few days ago we went to Starbucks and ordered the following: Grande, Light Ice, Upside Down, Caramel Macchiato. Now yeah, the caramel macchiato is kind of a confusing drink in itself-- I mean, the flavoring is vanilla and not caramel like you'd think it would be, so when you throw the "upside down" in there you are pretty much asking for trouble. But this barista, unlike the one the day before, knew that upside down essentially means you make it in the reverse order that you normally would-- coffee and caramel on the bottom, milk goes in after. The other barista was like, "Um, y'all? So do you like, want the caramel on top? or on the bottom...?" and then she ended up not putting it in at all. Whatever. Some things are just hard for people, ok?

Reminds me of the time way back in the day when I went and ordered a Venti, 2%, Extra Hot, Toffee Nut Latte. And the girl made it with half and half. And when I asked her if she made it with half and half, she told me she made it with 2%. But I saw her make it with half and half and when I said that, she said that half and half is the same thing as 2%. What? How? Because half and half is half whole milk and half non fat, so it's half and half. Um, no. Close, kinda, but no. But good try. 'A' for effort! Now if you would please remake my drink with 2% so it literally does not go straight to my butt and stick to my arteries, I'd appreciate it.

ANYWAY! The upside down thing didn't trip up this barista, the request for light ice did. When he brought our drinks to the counter, they were hot. But we asked for iced drinks. And when I said I had asked for them to be cold he gave me an annoyed sigh and a 'tude and told me that, "around here, 'light ice' means that you want the drink hot with a little bit of room for ice at the top to cool it down." Do what now? First of all, "around here"? Where "around here"? Like, on this block? In this state? Do I look like a tourist and that's why you are saying "around here"? Cause I'm driving a car with Alaska plates... my California accent must have given it away that I'm not from "around here", right?

I've drank coffee in 19 states and 9 countries and I'm pretty sure I've never heard that before. I'm pretty sure that "light ice" universally means "don't put so much freaking ice in my drink that it is coffee flavored water by the time I take 2 sips, por favor". So don't make me look the fool when I clearly asked for an iced drink and you brought me a hot one.

Am I wrong? Baristas and coffee lovers, please correct me if I am and I'll go back to that Starbucks (that is actually located right next door to a sleep clinic-- no lie. Irony.) and apologize to the guy for asking him to correct his mistake. I know it's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but let's face it, I don't want to be driving across the country looking like an idiot who doesn't know how to order a drink! I really don't mean to be difficult but if I'm going to drop 5 bucks for a drink, I want to like it and be how I like it. Maybe I should change my tastes and ask for something less complicated? No, I don't "do" regular coffee. Hey, at least I'm not this guy: