Hello, poor little neglected blog.

Despite our best intentions, we’ve fallen waaaaaaay behind on our little family blog. I don’t know why it’s so hard for us to keep up here: when we’re together, we do nothing but talk about our children. It should be fairly easy to sit down and write about them rather than talk about them. But alas, at heart, we are both lazy, lazy people. It wasn’t until my friend Shannon said, “But Zero to Twins is supposed to be their baby book!” that the guilt took over and I made an October Resolution: starting on the 1st, I would make an effort to write SOMETHING, even if it’s just a line or two, about what we did that day, and post a photo or two. The days are just slipping away and already, I am forgetting the cute things they say or the boring routine of everyday life.  I’m going to make an effort to record at least some of it so their entire childhood is not just a blur.

First, to catch up on what’s been going on: we are all adjusting to living in the “new house,” as the kids call it, often while we’re pulling in or out of the driveway (“Hello, new house! Goodbye, new house!”). Owning a house has not been that easy a transition. I miss being able to pick up the phone and call the landlord anytime something goes wrong. Keeping up with the lawn is a constant struggle — there’s always something that needs to be cut, or pruned, or watered. The backyard is very buggy and mosquito-y in the heat of the summer. BUT. It is ours, and we can decorate and change what we want, and we know we will be here a while, which is a relief. I don’t think the kids could have stood too much more discord and chaos in their home lives. I haven’t done a lot of big changes yet but am saving for having several of the rooms painted. The twins’ room is not very attractive right now, but I plan on painting after we — GASP — move them into their big-kid beds, which I expect will be coming sooner rather than later. They’ve been amazingly tentative about climbing out of their cribs — each of them have done it at least once in the past year, but only that once, so we’re going to ride the crib train until we absolutely cannot ride it any further. I can’t even imagine what that bedroom will be like once they are both in twin beds. As it is, it sounds like a rock concert starts shortly after we turn out the lights and close the door. Last night, at one point, I listened to the monitor, turned to Mom, and asked, “”how many people are in that room?”

We started potty training over the July 4th weekend. If you’ve read all of this blog, you know the first six months were incredibly difficult with the twins. I’m going to go on record as saying potty training was WORSE. We did the three-day method, where you let them run around without pants for a weekend, running them to the potty every time urine or feces makes a surprise appearance. I say the three-day method, but it was more like the three-week method for Jack and the three-wait-we’re-still-working-on-it method for Emme. Jack really did take to it pretty quickly, despite an initial reluctance to even sit on the potty — Justin started the process on a Saturday morning, when I slept in, and when I got up around 9 Justin was looking quite harried and green around the gills. Jack was peeing every fifteen minutes or so and doing it in a sneaky, elusive manner so that Justin would come upon him only after a puddle had formed at his feet. As I have previously reported, I have OCD tendencies. I cannot properly express to you the feeling I had knowing that urine was being tracked throughout the house multiple times that day. We persevered, and the next day, for Jack, was slightly better; by the third day, he had managed to make the potty for urine every time but was still waiting for his diaper to poop. Emme was not really consistent on either function.

During this period of potty training, we were rewarding with M and Ms and letting them sit in front of the TV while they were sitting on the potties. Both turned out not to be such good ideas. Pretty soon, Jack was peeing every five minutes for an M and M and — sorry if you’re squeamish because this is kind of gross — parceling out his feces in shifts in order to maximize his M and M rewards. Clever, huh? Emme, meanwhile, had learned to weaponize her feces and urine; if she were put in time out for an offense, we would come two minutes later to let her out only to find her standing in a puddle of her own urine or with poop in her under wear. Neither were reliably making it to the potty for pooping. (I never thought I would write the word “poop” so many times in my life.) We finally took them to the store and let them pick out a big toy, put the toys on the kitchen counter, and told them as soon as they could poop in the potty they could have their reward. It worked almost right away with Jack, and at that point — about two weeks in — he was done. He stopped wearing diapers during naps and though he still wears a diaper at night, it’s nearly dry in the mornings. Emme, however, took weeks to claim her prize, went a few days being consistent, then started waiting for her naptime diaper to have a bowel movement. So we took the diaper away and she started pooping in her panties. Every. Single. Nap. It’s only been in the last two days that she seems to have been making some progress forward — two days without an accident — so we’re hoping that this may be the home stretch. But, yeah. So NOT the three day process we so foolishly had hoped for. I do recommend the process, though, just as long as you expect for that first three-day boot camp to be the introduction to potty training, not necessarily the end of potty training. Also, don’t reward with food. We slowly switched over to a sticker reward system which worked fine, then slowly dropped that as well. And my only other recommendation would be to plan to stay close to home for a long while after starting the training and to not EVER go backwards — once you start, don’t put those diapers on again for anything. There was a point in the thick of it when I wanted to give up and start it again at a later date and I’m so glad Justin talked me out of it. I think it would have been so confusing for them and all of the hard work we had put in at the beginning would have been lost.

So that’s the big developmental thing that’s happened around here. The other big news is that we had a visit from our beloved and adored Chicago nanny about two weeks ago. She flew down to Arkansas just to see the babies and let me tell you, the babies were THRILLED to see her.

She flew into Tulsa on a Friday — flying into Fayetteville’s airport is ridiculously expensive, and Tulsa is only a couple of hours away. They have a nice zoo there, and we spent the afternoon there after leaving the airport. It was a lovely afternoon — cool and cloudy, and the zoo was practically deserted. On Saturday, Will, my nephew, had his birthday party, which was centered around Bikes, Blues, and Barbecue, a festival that Fayetteville is famous for. The main draw was the train ride that we took down to the center of the rally. Will is a huge Thomas fan.

Jack was mesmerized and delighted, but Emme later told Grandma that the train made her “nervous.” (I am getting more and more concerned that she has inherited her mother’s anxiety issues.) On Sunday, we went to Lake Fayetteville, and around 2 pm, the kids, Justin, and Jessica loaded up the car and headed back to Tulsa. I stayed home because I didn’t want to make a scene at the airport, sobbing as we waved goodbye. It was so nice to have her here, and felt just like old times. It’s such a tribute to the bond that she has with these kids that they never skipped a beat — it was just as if she had been spending every day with us, just as she had in Chicago. We are lucky to have her in our lives.

The kids and I have fallen into a routine of sorts during the weekdays. Being a stay at home mom is still not coming that easily to me, but the routine helps all of us, I think, adjust to the change. There have been days, I’m not going to lie, when I’ve thought that I was not going to be able to do this one more day. I’ve thought a lot about what makes this so hard in general, and what makes it hard specifically for me. It’s not physically hard. Sure, lifting the kids into the car ten times a day is tiring but it’s not hard. When I worked in the high school, on any given day I could expect to be hauling xerox paper boxes around my office, or running up three flights of stairs to try and catch a kid before the bell rang, or chasing down truants who were running out of the building down the block, or breaking up fights and pulling big boys off of each other. That was physically hard. It’s not mentally hard. I mean, they’re two.  While it’s annoying to be asked, fourteen times in a row, “What that sound, Mommy? What that sound? What that sound, Mommy?” it’s not hard to answer the question. And, truthfully, much of your dialogue becomes so routine that you don’t even have to think about it. “Say please. Pick that toy up. It’s naptime. Stop screaming. It’s not okay to pull your sister’s hair. It’s not okay to punch your brother in the kidney.” I’m not struggling to come up with witty repartee, is what I’m saying. But it’s lonely. We go out more than we used to — I will usually take them to the park or to the store three days out of five — but five minute interactions with adults who are strangers don’t really make you feel like you’re part of a community. When they do something crazy, there’s no one to marvel over it with. There’s no one there to diffuse either yours or their temper, when one or all of you start getting on each other’s nerves. And I never, ever, ever feel like I’m doing a good job. Not so in my previous position. I had good days, I had bad days. But on those good days, I felt confident that I was doing a good job. I had evidence to support that fact. I had reassurance from my students, from my co-workers, from my boss. I had job evaluations and annual reviews. But in this “position”, I just always, always, always, feel like I’m not doing enough. I lose my patience, yell, and feel terrible about it until the next time I lose my patience and yell again. It’s an endless cycle. At least six times a day, I promise myself that I will have more patience, I will take more time, I won’t yell. And twice as many times, I lose the battle. If I were telling you this in person, you would say, you’re doing a fine job. Every parent feels this way. But inside, I would be thinking, no, I’m worse, though. Sure every parent feels this way but underneath it all, they’re good parents. I’m not. And you will never convince me otherwise.

Welcome to parenthood, right?

BUT. Regardless of the perils and pitfalls of the job, we manage to have a pretty good time, despite the yelling (from me and from them). The routine is stable — all three of us wake up kind of slowly; I get them out of their cribs around 8 and, depending on how the potty training is going, they each get a ten-minute stint on the iPad (when one is playing, the other is watching). Then they sit down for breakfast in front of the TV (yes, I’m horrible) and watch two half-hour shows while I check e-mail and take a shower. Then we’ll either go out and do something — we’ve been hitting the library at least once a week, and we’ve found a park that works for us — or I’ll do laundry and/or housework while they play (Emme is NUTS about puzzles right now and can spend a lot of time working on those). Lunch is between noon and one and naptime is usually around 1:30. They’re napping pretty well, still, on average around two hours, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter (and Emme still has days when she doesn’t nap at all; the only good thing I have to say about that is that she has no problem staying in bed for around two hours, despite being awake). After nap we do another stint of iPad time and then either go outside or play indoors. I need to do better at playing with them but I’m going to make a terrible confession: I am so bored by it. Justin can play with them for hours and makes up all kinds of games to play with them but it’s harder for me. I’ve bookmarked a bunch of things on Pinterest and need to get better about planning activities, because soon it’s going to start getting cooler and playing outside won’t be an option. But now that we’re in Arkansas, we have at least until mid- to late-November before weather starts being an issue. I hope that doing the same thing every day doesn’t turn them into kids who can’t handle a change in the routine. GREAT. Something new to worry about. 🙂

Look at that face.

Okay, so on to my October Resolution: here’s what we did today. Mom was here (she left around 2 pm to go back home). She was down here to watch the kids while I worked the Farm Fresh Vintage Market last weekend. We went to Lake Fayetteville  to show Mom the big bridge.

Then, even more excitingly, we went to the Cupcake Cafe to pick out cupcakes since Emme has had good luck on the potty for two days now! Hooray!

Two TINY cupcakes for nearly $7. Potty training is expensive, yo. Then it was home for lunch, to say bye to Gam, and to take a nap, only Emme had one of her “resting periods” instead of a nap and Jack, who woke up way before 7 am this morning, barely slept more than an hour. Hello, sugar. Your effect on my children is most unwelcome. Halloween, I am not looking forward to you.

Tomorrow: more daily news and a picture. I made a resolution. Surely I can carry it off for two or three days, right?

Janie Hightower - October 1, 2013 - 10:23 pm

I love that the Thomas tattoos show up in the cupcake photo. Loved all that you wrote.

stasia - October 2, 2013 - 5:45 am

Welcome back! I have missed you so…keep up the resolution; I truly appreciate your posts 🙂

Shannon - October 3, 2013 - 7:22 pm

So glad you’re back up and running! Missed hearing about the kids on here! 🙂

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