Monday, June 30, 2008

The mother of all tantrums...

Doesn't Bella look so sweet and happy in this picture? I took this yesterday morning when she decided that instead of dressing in a tank top and shorts, she'd rather wear one of her sparkly princess outfits. Fine with me...I've learned to pick my battles. And of course she had to drag her brand new Diving Barbie with her everywhere because "all princesses are best friends with Barbie" (come on, Mommy, you know THAT).
Princess Bella had a good day and even fell asleep watching ET (wow, doesn't that take me back in the day?? Man, I'm OLD) She and Cole love this movie...we discovered it was being played over and over one day on an ET Marathon on one of the cable channels and I DVR'd it so now they want to watch it all the time. They both love to stick their pointer finger in my face and say (in their best ET impression) "Mommy, phone home" was cute at first, now not so much. No, Mommy, doesn't want to phone about Mommy phoning a babysitter to come watch all of you so Mommy can go to a bar and drink herself into oblivion??
Anyway, where was I?? Oh yeah, so Princess Bella got a nice little nap, which should have put her in an awesome mood (or as Cole would say "a FANTASTIC mood"). Once the little twins woke up from their nap, Tim and I asked the kids if they wanted to go to the play area at the mall...Cole and Bella screamed "yes" and the little twins both ran for the garage door and started yelping "uh, uh, uh". After taking 30 minutes to get everyone ready (I'm not exaggerating about the 30 minutes.....try getting 2 babies changed into new diapers, getting shoes and socks on them, begging and pleading with 2 preschoolers to go potty threatening them by saying "the mall has NO bathrooms so you better go now", getting them to get their shoes and socks on, packing the diaper bag with extra diapers, wipes, extra clothes, snacks, sippy cups, pacifiers and getting everyone buckled into their I make it seem as fun as it sounds?), we finally head off to the mall.
Just by listening to the banter between Cole and Bella in the back of the mini-van, I should've known that things were about to erupt.
Bella: Cole...Hey Cole....Cole....Hey Cole....
Cole: *completely ignoring her*
Bella: Hey Cole, I'm talking to you....
Cole: *still in la-la land*
Bella: Mommy, Cole's ignoring me....
This continued the whole way to the mall. Good times?? Oh, it's about to get better. Once inside the play area, there were tons of kids there and thank goodness for that because that meant that Tim and I actually had a shot in the dark chance of sitting on our asses for maybe 5 minutes while all the kids played with one another and found some new friends to play with. Cole immediately found a little boy to play with and they spent the first 20 minutes chasing each other around the play area. Bella found a little girl to play with, whose older sister (probably around the age of 10) came up to me and said "what happened to her arm?" and I said "it's a birthmark called a hemangioma". She looked closer at Bella's arm and said "are you sure? That's a pretty big birthmark. Are you sure she wasn't in a fire because it looks like she got burnt up?"....I just smiled and said "She was not in a fire, I can assure you of that".
After awhile the play area started emptying out and there were only a few kids left but we still had about a good 25 minutes before we wanted to take the kids over to the food court for dinner. One of the kids Cole had played with had left and had given him a little red balloon that she had been playing with. So Cole was off playing with this balloon, throwing it up in the air and catching it. And Princess Bella wanted to play with him...she went over to him, said something to him and he said something back to her. Next thing I know, she explodes into tears and comes running over to me...."Cole, won't play with me!!" so I called Cole over and asked if he wanted to play with her and he said "No, I want to play by myself". This only made Princess Bella cry even harder. Full on tantrum mode at this point. But I can't say I blame her...her little feelings had been hurt and she even said so much. "Cole hurt my feelings"...she's very sensitive and always has been. Cole went back to playing by himself and I tried my best to explain to her that he had the right to play by himself if he wanted and she had to respect that. I asked her to give him a few more minutes and then try to see if he would play with her then. She waited, then asked again, he said "no" and she cried...and I'm talking hysterics to the point where her face is turning red and everyone's looking at us. She cried "Cole won't play with me and he won't talk to me either". Then Cole came up to her, stuck his finger in her face and said "I'll talk to you but I'm not playing with you, okay?"....she just cried even harder. Nothing I could say would console her...simply put, she was broken-hearted that her twin brother wanted nothing to do with her. All I could do was hold her on my lap while she cried, as she watched him play by himself.
This is the part of parenting that is the biggest challenge...what do I say?? I feel like the right words don't come to me at the exact point in time when I need them. I wanted Bella to feel better but I also understood Cole's need to play by himself. They are always together...they share a room, they share meals together, they take baths together....heck, they even go potty together. They are inseparable so I can see where she would be hurt that he needed some space. Looks like I'll be heading to the "parenting/education" section of Borders next time I visit. Why for God's sakes don't kids come with manuals?!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I can hear my own thoughts....

and no, it's not because I'm crazy (although I suppose that could be argued)!! The little twins are upstairs napping and Tim took the older twins to a birthday party!! I was originally supposed to take Cole and Bella to the party but I just ran out of energy (the Energizer Mummy can only run for so long) so I said to Tim, "Hey, why don't you take them?" and he hesitated and then said "okay" but I'm sure he was thinking "man, I hope I'm not the only dad at this party".

So I'm sitting here realizing the house is SO quiet that I can actually hear my own thoughts....I didn't realize that when the wind blows just slightly, that it makes a very subtle rattling sound against our front living room window. We've lived in this house for 6 years and I don't think I ever realized that. Or maybe I did, before we had kids, and I've just lost too many brain cells to remember. I also didn't realize that the clock we have above our entertainment center has a very nice tick-tock sound to it.

It's wierd to be on this side of the actually be enjoying the silence. There was a time that I would cry myself to sleep at night, wishing for the noisy voices of children. I would tell friends who already had children "oh I can't wait until I hear children screaming 'mommy, mommy, mommy' and they are actually screaming for ME". But now that I have 4 little ones who scream "mama, mama, mama" constantly, I can see why my friends craved silence. Even this morning, while taking the kids to Toys R Us (yes, just another one of my crazy adventures...hey, let's take all 4 kids to Toys R Us and empty our bank account), Cole and Bella were in the very back of the mini-van screaming "hey Mommy...." every 5 seconds. After awhile it got so tiring that I finally yelled back to them "I changed my name...I'm no longer Mommy", to which my smart-ass daughter said "are you Helene today?". One key piece of advice would be to NEVER tell your children your actual first name. From that point on, they were in Toys R Us screaming "Hey Helene...." over and over and over and over....

But sometimes I will just look at my kids and think "wow, these are MY kids". Does anyone else ever feel that way? I'll find myself just staring at these 4 little human beings and marveling at each of them and almost still not believing that they are all mine. And I can't help but wonder about what the future holds for each of them...what will they be when they grow up (Bella wants to be Barbie....don't we all?), who will they marry?, how many kids will they have?

But for now, perhaps I should just stay in the moment and relish the silence because it doesn't happen often and thank goodness for that!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Are we supposed to be quiet in the library? Ooops!

So I got this wild idea to take all the kids to the library today!! I've done it before but only when Garrett and Landon were little babies still in infant seats so they would just nap or people-watch while I helped Cole and Bella pick out books. I'm fortunate that all my kids love fact, recently, Landon will go get a book on his own and bring it to me and he says "uh" in his little caveman way, to be translated as "read this book to me NOW or I will make your life a living hell".

The library we usually go to is being remodeled so they set up shop temporarily at a little store outside the mall. So obviously I hadn't been to this temporary spot so I wasn't sure of the layout, etc. In the actual library, the kids area is pretty far away from the adult section and all the computers so the kids can actually talk in regular voices...not loud voices but nice, quiet inside voices.

This temporary spot is not the best set up at all. The whole room is very small and the adults were actually sitting in the kids section reading books.

Okay, so I walk in and I've got Garrett and Landon in the double stroller, happily subdued with sippy cups and vanilla wafers. Cole and Bella are skipping along delightfully because they are excited about finally getting to go to the library to get some books. We walk up and down the aisles to find books and they're both pulling books off the shelves faster than I can keep up. Finally after we had about 10 books, I said "okay, this is enough...we have more than enough books to read for the week". So then I got another crazy idea...hey, let's sit here on the little carpeted area and read some books that we might want to check out for next week....what the hell was I thinking??? Why didn't I just check out the 10 books we had settled on and get the hell out of dodge?? The only thing I can figure is that I've clearly lost all my marbles. Any grasp I had on sanity has escaped me. Yes, I realize this is often the theme of many of my blog entries but it's my stepfather would say, my driveway doesn't go all the way up to the house and/or I'm one egg short of a dozen.

So in this instance of temporary insanity, I unleash the boys from the double stroller...and when I say "unleash", that's exactly what it was like. They were both freaking out about even having to stay in their stroller in the first place...oh, they were happy campers as we walked into the library but then they turned into evil demon spawn after about 5 minutes of being in the place, when it was clear to them that I had no intention of springing them free from their bondage. I did feel bad for them and so as I started to get each of them out of the stroller and in their excitement about being set free, they got tangled up in the stroller belts and buckles, their sandals fell off and before I could even stand up straight, they both bolted in opposite directions. Garrett was easy to catch up to because he's got short little legs and he has this awfully bad habit of looking behind him to see if I'm coming after him, which he hasn't figured out that that actually slows him down. When I picked him up, he arched his back and screamed this horrible blood-curdling scream. Everyone in the library looked at me...I mean, EVERYONE. Then I managed to catch up to Landon, who by now had picked up about 10 books on CD and was scattering them around the library in various places. And if I thought Garrett screamed loud, oh man....Landon put Garrett to shame. He screamed the most ugliest, high pitch scream I've ever heard come out of a human being....the only time I remember hearing a scream like that was when my very first rabbit was being examined for a brain abscess and he was in so much pain, that he started screaming on the exam table and then finally collapsed and died. And rabbits DO NOT normally scream.....aren't I painting such a lovely picture?

At this point, the librarian comes up to me and reminds me that the library is a "quiet place". Yeah, I know....I'm sorry....I had a lapse in judgment thinking that bringing my young children to the library would be a fun adventure. Then she said "Have you considered bringing them in for our weekly story week?", which I took as my cue to pack up my shit and leave as quietly as I could and, in addition to that, definitely cross the library off my list of fun things to do with the kids.

We checked out our books and I walked out of there as fast as I could, with my tail between my legs. I don't know how I'll show my face in there when I return the books....maybe it's time to dig out that old baseball hat I have somewhere in my closet and borrow Tim's sunglasses and return the books incognito....

So that was my adventure for the day....on the way home from these fun little excursions that I attempt with the kids on an almost weekly basis, I actually laugh at myself. If I don't laugh, I might cry...and I may never stop crying....

Well, on that note....I thought I'd post some recent pics of the kiddos....

Here's Landon playing with these funky magnet toys that my mom and stepdad bought for Christmas. The magnets are on the inside of the toy so there's no way he can swallow them. He LOVES this toy...he will sit for a good 30 minutes constructing different things with these magnets.

This is Garrett sporting a mohawk. There's something about a mohawk that just makes this kid look ultra-cool.

Here's Landon petting kitty...he loves kitty. Kitty does not love him but she does tolerate him. After this picture was taken, she bolted for the door and I promptly let her out. I think I heard her whisper "thank God".

But poor kitty couldn't escape the wrath of my kids for long...she ventured back into the house later and was greeted by these 3. You just know this cat is thinking " I only have 1 life left"

Here's Cole with Garrett...."here brother, let me press you against me as hard as I can while Mommy takes a picture....try to look happy"....

Oh, here's another "bright idea" I had today....I attempted to teach Cole and Bella our phone number. I really think preschool teachers need to be paid a hell of a lot more do they have the patience for this stuff???

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What does it take for a marriage to survive?

When Tim and I were planning our wedding, the advice we received from many people was "if your relationship can survive the planning of your wedding, your relationship can survive anything". At the time, we thought that was pretty sound advice and it made sense. Fortunately, Tim and I both have similar taste and we wanted a very simple and small wedding. We survived....but then again, it only took us 3 months to plan our wedding. Got engaged in May 2002 and got married in August 2002 (after 7 years of dating, I just wanted to get the show on the road...well, that and my ovaries were rotting, as my eggs had started to lose hope of ever becoming fertilized).

As we ventured into the first few months of our marriage, some of the advice we received was "if your marriage can survive the first year, then your marriage can survive anything". I wasn't so sure about that advice though because I had been married before and that marriage survived the first year. It was in the second year that it went to hell in a handbasket. But I was willing to give that advice the benefit of the doubt, this time around. At the beginning of our marriage, we decided to sell my condo (it wasn't exactly "our" condo since I had bought it the last time we had broken up and I saw no hope of us ever rekindling our relationship again). We started looking at new homes, while we got my condo in good shape to be sold. A former co-worker of mine, who I felt was very wise and always had great advice, told me "if you can paint a room with your husband and not kill each other, then your marriage can survive anything....oh, and don't even attempt to wallpaper together because that will definitely be the end of your marriage". I had no idea how true that was until Tim and I painted the kitchen in my condo. We were at each other's throats constantly because we each had a different way of doing things. But we managed to muddle throught that and got my condo sold and moved into our beautiful new home, which we left completely unpainted on the inside and it still is to this day. I don't think either of us is ready to deal with that little adventure again. So we survived the first year of marriage...barely.....

During our first year of marriage, we decided to start a family but unfortunately we were not having any success and finally had to turn to infertility treatments. At the time, a few people who knew we were dealing with infertility gave us some advice, "if your marriage can survive infertility, your marriage can survive anything". When we first began infertility treatments, we seemed to be closer than ever...we were on the same page, willing to do almost anything it took to have children. But soon enough, with the stress of the treatments and the financial strain, we started to drift away from each other. There were times we'd be sitting in the same room but I'd feel a million miles away from him. I lived and breathed IVF but Tim didn't get it. I remember one time in particular when I was crying (yet again) about how unfair this all was and I said "I'm just so tired of the fight", referring to the fight it was taking to becoming parents. And he looked completely irritated and screamed at me "what fight? what are you talking about?" He just didn't get it. There were so many times I fantasized about sneaking up on him in the middle of the night and stabbing him in the ass with a 22-gauge needle, while laughing hysterically as he writhed in pain.

Finally, we became parents....I was thinking "wow, we've been through a lot and our marriage has survived. We can make it through anything". But the first month of parenthood was anything but easy. Our twins were in the NICU for the first 3 weeks of their lives, which would often leave me in tears after returning home from a NICU visit and Tim shaking his head, not knowing what to say anymore to console me. And then there was the huge fight over breastfeeding. I wanted to breastfeed more than anything but because of a breast reduction I had had several years earlier, I wasn't able to produce very much milk. But I pumped and pumped round the clock to give them what I could, even if it was 2 oz within a 24 hour period. Tim didn't think it was worth it. I'd cry to him about the responsiblity I felt to provide breast milk for my babies and he just didn't get it (again). He'd say "I don't know what the big deal is....they'll be fine on formula".

Then the babies were finally home with us and Bella's hemangioma began to ulcerate and we would experience periods where it would bleed profusely, which scared the living daylights out of us. We were fortunate to have an amazing pediatrician, who also doubled as a dermatologist. During one of the visits in which I took Bella by myself, Dr A asked "so how are you and Tim holding up?" and I couldn't help but start sobbing. I told him about our huge fight over breast feeding and how I just felt like we were at each other's throats constantly, mainly due to severe sleep deprivation. Nothing, and I mean, nothing can prepare you for life with newborn twins....everyone can give you all the advice they want but until you've lived it, you just can't appreciate it. Dr A then confided in me that he and his wife (who have 4 children) almost divorced during their first year of parenthood. He said it was the toughest year of their marriage by far. Then he said "if your marriage can survive the first year of parenthood, your marriage can survive anything". I didn't know whether to laugh or cry...every time I thought we had gotten through a rough stage of marriage, here was another person telling me "oh, you ain't seen nothing yet until you've gone through _____(fill in the blank)".

After a couple more years, our marriage was finally getting back on stable ground and then Garrett and Landon came along and surprised us (our therapist likes to refer to them as our "disastrous miracle"). Initially, we were shocked, then excited and then we both kinda got stuck in the "oh shit" phase, where we realized how close to the breaking point we became after our 1st set of twins. What would happen after the 2nd set of twins? I don't think we've ever come out of the "oh shit" phase...we kinda got stuck here. Although we don't take ourselves as seriously as we used to when Cole and Bella were first born. There was one day specifically where before Cole and Bella were potty trained and we had all 4 kids in diapers, it seemed like we were running an assembly line, changing diapers every hour. I knew it was bad when we were actually trying to out-do each other with "I changed 4 poopy diapers in the last hour" and "oh yeah? how fast were you? I changed 4 poopy diapers in 10 minutes yesterday...and got puked on 10 different times, to boot...can you top that??"

I guess it's good that we still have our humor....I'm sure we would've killed each other by now without it. Of course I still have days where I find myself looking at real estate online to see what I could afford if I were to split with all 4 kids...and I know it's bad when I think of Tim's brother and his wife who share custody of her son with her ex-husband and Tim and I say "they have it totally made...they have every other week off from childcare responsibilities".

I was talking to a good friend the other day on the phone and venting to her about something Tim did and she said "well, considering everything you've both been through together, it's amazing you've gotten this far".....and with that, I had to agree.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

My kids say the cutest things!

But then again I might be a bit biased. I remember in my pre-kid days (yes, I actually can still remember those days quite clearly but I can't remember what I ate for lunch yesterday...wait, did I eat lunch?) I would babysit my niece and nephew quite a bit and I would laugh for hours over some of the things they'd say. Probably the funniest thing my nephew ever said to me was when Tim and I kept them overnight one particular time and we promised to take him and his sister to a movie if they behaved and in all seriousness my nephew said "we're only bad for our parents, but not for other people". Now if that's not honesty straight from a babe's mouth I don't know what is. I couldn't wait to have my own kids and laugh for hours over some of the things they would say.

Well, that day has finally come...or maybe I should say that phase has finally come. Literally almost everything that comes out of Cole and Bella's mouth cracks me up (and some of the stuff makes me wanna cringe when they repeat a cuss word or two that I've said when I thought they weren't listening).

Cole has this new thing he says when I ask him if he wants something, he'll respond with such enthusiasm "I sure do". It's not really WHAT he says, but HOW he says it that makes me laugh. And then he now describes everything he likes with such enthusiasm, such as if he sees a commercial for a toy he might like he says "Mommy, that toy is's freakin AMAZING...I want it". He says it was such ooomph that I have to laugh.

And Bella is suddenly very interested in looking at pictures. It all started the other day when we were standing at our front door looking at a birds' nest that a family of swallows built right above our front door. This same family comes back every year for the last 5 cool is that? So we get to watch the mama bird build the nest back up again and then watch her guard the eggs and then finally the babies hatch and we get to observe the little babies chirping (endlessly for can get annoying) and watching the mama and daddy birds bring food back for the babies. Well, yesterday, we actually got to watch the one of the babies take flight for the first time. Were Cole and Bella completely amazed by this? No, they were more interested in the fact that before the baby bird took flight, he hung his bird ass out over the next and crapped all over our front porch (poor Tim keeps power spraying the same area over and over and over but the birds keep eating and pooping...horrible cycle). I said "Oh My Gosh, you guys, that baby is gonna try to fly for the first time and we get to see it...isn't that amazing?". Cole said "The baby bird just pooped all over the ground...that's AMAZING". Then of course they had to examine the poop, much to my disgust, and observe how it's white with specks of gray in it and "Mommy, how come it doesn't look like our poop?" and "why do we poop in toilets but birds poop on the ground?". I was hoping more for an interesting discussion on birds flying and stuff like that but no, they were intrigued by the poop and wanted the low-down on that.

Anyway, I digress....our huge wedding picture happens to be framed right by the front door and Bella loves to look at it but she never really says anything about it. But the other day, she finally said "Mommy, I like your look really cute". So I told her it was my wedding dress and how I have it saved upstairs for her to wear someday at her wedding...her eyes opened wide and she said "for me at my wedding? Wow"...Cole would've said "wow, that's freakin stupendous". Then I said "Do you wanna look at some old pictures of Mommy and Daddy?" and she said yes and Cole ran over, very interested too. They loved our wedding pictures and they were very upset that there was no wedding cake for them to eat...."Why didn't you save us some wedding cake?", because you didn't exist yet. But they didn't get that part...they kept saying "where were we?", well, um....hmmmm, um....hey do you guys wanna see pictures of Mommy and Daddy swimming with dolphins??

They loved those pics too....I had totally forgotten that Tim and I did that back in 2003 when we were in the midst of our 1st IVF cycle. Stimming in, that's the life. I would stab myself in the belly with my stims and then run off to the beach...shouldn't all IVF cycles start off like that? But Cole had to ruin the moment by asking "Did the dolphin poop in the water?" and I said "probably" and he said "eeeewww, and you and Daddy were swimming with dolphin poop". Yeah, son, isn't that freakin AMAZING?

That night, Bella said to me "I don't want Daddy to get married"...just out of the blue. And I said "Daddy's already me" and she said "yeah, but I don't want him to be married" and I said "but if Daddy wasn't married, you wouldn't be here"....SO stupid of me to say'd think I'd learn from the conversation I had had with them earlier in regards to the wedding cake. She said "why not?" so I tried to explain in the simplest of terms..."well, in order to have kids, you have to be married first so if Daddy and Mommy weren't married, you wouldn't be here". She thought about it for a second and then said "oh, okay". I was thanking my lucky stars that that's as far as the conversation went. Then she wanted to look at her baby pictures and she was so interested in them but she wasn't happy about the fact that her skin was too pink at birth. She wanted to know why I let her get sunburnt.

Yesterday I asked Bella "who's your twin?" and she said Cole. I asked her who Garrett's twin was and she said "Landon" and I asked "does everyone have a twin?" and she said "yes". It's funny to me that since all we have is twins in our family she thinks everyone is a twin. Anytime she sees someone who's pregnant, she loves to go up to them and ask how many babies they have in their belly. I just try to smile politely and say "I'm so sorry...she's very nosy".

Speaking of Garrett and Landon, they are getting cuter and cuter by the day. Not just in terms of physical appearance but in terms of personality too. Garrett is a smart lil guy...I only have to show him something once and he catches on so quickly. Yesterday, I showed him that if says "awwwww" and pats his hand over his mouth quickly, that it makes a funny sound. Now he runs around doing it constantly. I also taught him how to blow kisses, which is cuter than heck to watch. I taught him to point to his nose and anytime I say "Garrett, where is your nose?" ....he points to his nose (or sometimes his cheek but the right intention was there).

Landon is funny too...he doesn't catch on to things as quickly as Garrett but he's very skilled with his hands and loves to build things. He could sit for hours building something with legos or constructing a huge train track to put Cole's trains on.

I'd love to write more but Bella is crawling all over me naked and saying to Cole "you can't get me"....I sense another smack down between those about two happen if I don't get stop typing...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

He opened his mouth and he sounded like ME!

I'm sitting here drinking some OJ and trying to down my 2 horse-size capsules of Omega 3's (gotta fight the depression every way I can these days) and the little boys started fighting over a pretend microphone that goes with Bella's princess karaoke box (yeah, yeah, yeah, my kids are spoiled rotten but if they're happy, I'm happy). I'm trying to take the new route with G & L by not jumping in too soon when they fight (unless someone's spewing blood from somewhere) because I want them to learn how to work out disagreements. I jumped in way too soon with C & B and now at almost 4 years old, they can't solve a problem together to save their lives. They would rather scratch each other's eyes out than try to get along sometimes.

So anyway back to the little boys with the microphone...I was just kinda sitting here keeping an eye on them to make sure they'd figure out someway they could both play with the microphone and be happy but Cole jumped in before I could say anything. And Oh My Gosh...he's a little Mini-me...I guess he IS listening when I discpline's what he said:

Cole: If you guys can't share the microphone, then no one gets the microphone. Understand?

G & L: No response, they just look at him totally confused like "That's something Mommy would say, but you're not Mommy"

Cole: Did you hear me? Either take turns with the microphone or I'm gonna have to take it away from you guys, okay?

G & L: Still fighting over the microphone

Cole: Okay, I'll tell you what...I'll set the timer and one of you can have it for 2 minutes and then the other one can have it for 2 minutes. You like that choice better?

G & L: Still no response and still looking at him completely confused

Cole: Oh, you don't want to answer me? one gets the microphone. Give me that (proceeds to rip the microphone away from both of them)

G & L: Waaaahhhhhh (as high pitched as possible so all the windows in the house actually rattle)

Cole: You were go find something else to play with.

Oh My Gosh....I almost died laughing, listening to all this go down. Then Cole came up to me and handed me the microphone and said "Here Mommy, I took care of the problem for you...what do you say?" and of course I said "thank you" and he walked off as if he had just solved all the world's problems.

I told Cole and Bella I'd take them to a bounce house place today and I'm having a babysitter come stay with the babies so I don't have to drag them with me (not to mention they're both sick AGAIN!!!) Bella just came up to me and said "I told the babies they have to be good for Julie or they'll get a time-out when we come home".

Awww, I'm so proud of my little discplinarians....

Friday, June 13, 2008

Transitions suck!

Why does it seem that as soon as I get a perfect routine with the kids something screws it up? Am I the only one with this kind of luck? The transition we just got through fixing was Cole and Bella skipping their nap. Ugh! I knew the time was coming when they were taking naps and staying up until 10:00 pm, well past my bedtime. So I slowly phased out their nap....the one good thing (really trying hard here to focus on the 'glass is half full' analogy) is that they go to bed at night with very little fuss (and at a decent hour!).

Just as I'm finally getting used to the whole "no nap" thing for them (and I'm telling ya, if you haven't gone through it yet, you will miss that 1-2 hours of nap time like you miss chocolate on a diet), Garrett and Landon seem like they're ready to give up their morning nap. They do get tired and fussy about 3 hours after they've woken in the morning but getting them down for a nap now is pure torture. A friend of mine assured me that once they give up the morning nap, they'll sleep for a good 3 hours in the afternoon, which made me laugh for a good 10 minutes because this same friend had assured me way back when Cole and Bella went through this same transition that they would sleep 3 hours in the afternoon and they DID NOT! My kids have never been one to sleep 3 hours straight for a nap, unless they're drugged up on Motrin because they're deathly ill.

Call me selfish but I see the phasing out of any nap as less "me time" for myself. I should be happy that it means I get to do more fun things with them and spend more time out of the house but all I can seem to focus on is "geez, when am I gonna have time to bond with my internet buddies?" and when will I ever get to read that darn Michael Connolly book I've been trying to finish for weeks now. Even if I only get to read 2 pages at a time, at least it's a mini-mental vacation for me while the kids napped. Yesterday afternoon while the babies napped, I pleaded with Cole and Bella to watch a DVD so I could read just ONE chapter of the book, I could tell it just wasn't gonna happen....I stared longingly at my book, laying on the kitchen counter calling out to me "read me, read me, read me". Goodbye, lover, maybe we'll meet again in, say, 4 years when all the kids are in school.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Pregnancy has definitely cost me more than a few brain cells!

The saying goes that when you're pregnant, you actually lose brain cells. I never really believed it...well, until recently. I have seemed to have lost all common sense in the last 4 years...with each twin pregnancy, I've become stupider and stupider. Can I blame it on lack of sleep or "working" 15 hour days, 7 days a week??? I'd love to but I really do think I kissed some heavily relied upon brain cells goodbye with each c-section. Let me give a few examples...

The other day Bella wanted a sandwich but I knew she wouldn't eat a whole sandwich so I asked Cole if he wanted half of her sandwich but he didn't. So I sat there hemming and hawing over it, just knowing she'd waste half the sandwich but I was going to make a whole one for anyway. Then Tim said "why don't you just take 1 piece of bread and fold it over". OMG!!! Why didn't I think of that??

I was talking to my sister the other day and I was complaining about how disappointed I've been that transitioning the kids to eating healthier foods wasn't going as well as I had hoped. So she said "well, why don't you just mix half of the healthy stuff with half of the crappy stuff so their taste buds get used to it and then slowly phase the crappy stuff out?"....her main example was the natural maple syrup which they HATE (Tim only makes things worse when he says the natural stuff tastes like crap but he did love the natural Canadian syrup that our Canadian friend, Sandra, sent us years ago...go figure) . They'd much rather eat the fake crap syrup by Mrs Butterworth. Also mixing the natural peanut butter with the crap peanut butter. And none of them seem to even fact, the other day, after I mixed the natural syrup in with the crap syrup, Cole dipped his french toast in it and said "YUM". I really wanted to laugh out loud but I held it in. I also fought back laughter the day he saw me grating zucchini and carrots to mix into the meatloaf and proclaimed "eeew, I don't like those veggies, I'm not eating that"...I said "fine, you don't have to". After he took a couple bites of the meatloaf (with the zucchini and carrots finely hidden inside), he said "YUM" and actually ate the whole piece and asked for another piece. I've been making meatloaf for the last year with ground turkey, which apparently Tim didn't even realize. He's a total red meat and potatoes guy so I think he was shocked to see I had been making the meatloaf (and also the meatballs I make with spagetti) out of ground turkey...he said "wow, I didn't even realize it...I actually like it". But all these little tricks I have learned from other's not like I came up with the ideas on my own...again, I say I've lost all common sense.

And finally my last example of losing all common sense - I took all 4 kids to the toddler pool on Thursday BY MYSELF. The plan originally was to go to the water park, which just opened up next to the neighborhood pool. Cole and Bella have been talking about it since we saw it going up, every time we'd drive by it. Finally, it was supposed to open Memorial Day. It was hot on Thursday and all the kids are finally healthy (knock on wood) so I thought "I can handle taking them all to the water park", actually figuring that maybe I could lay back on the beach towel and melt in the sun while they all ran around the spraying water. The whole area is enclosed by a gate so no chances of escapees (unless someone left the gate open). So I take a whole hour to apply sunscreen to all their little bodies (or as Cole and Bella call it "sunscream"), pack the diaper bag with extra clothes, snacks, sippy cups, etc, etc, put everyone in their bathing suits, get everyone loaded up in the car....I was already worn out by then but I kept reminding myself that I would be able to lounge in the sun for a good hour while they all played...that alone was worth the trouble.

We get there and the freakin water park is CLOSED....NOT WORKING!! What the hell??? But of course since we were already there, Cole and Bella wanted to go swimming...I told them since Daddy wasn't there that Mommy could not handle all 4 of them in the pool (besides the fact that our damn HOA apparently voted on not allowing babies in the pool b/c of leaky diapers....I'm beyond annoyed with our HOA...who brings their baby to a pool while the baby has diarrhea??)...anyway, so Bella says "we can go in the toddler pool". Oh okay, well, I'm glad my daughter has such faith in me that I can handle all 4 of them in the toddler pool. After taking a whole hour to prep them for the water park, there was no way I was gonna just turn around and go home and listen to them all whine for the next hour. So I sucked it up and headed over to the toddler pool....let me just say, I aged 10 years in just that 30 minutes alone. It was SO stressful....Cole and Bella actually were fine in the pool but the babies, who actually are tall enough now to stand up and not have their heads in the water, kept wanting to go under water, which was freaking me out. I wasn't even in a bathing suit but I stood in the toddler pool with them, holding each of their hands to prevent them from going under the water. And did I mention I had on a white tank top??? Good times....

Okay, well maybe that last little diddy wasn't exactly proof of lost common sense but it's sure as hell proof of loss of sanity, am I right? I dunno, it's loss of something because who in their ever-loving mind would take 4 children, ages 3 and under to the toddler pool by themselves and actually think "hey, what the hell...what have I got to lose?"...the answer to that would be 4 kids, ages 3 and under OR my sanity, which I believe was shot a long time ago....

So those are just but a few examples of proof that I surely have lost all common sense. I must have at least 1-2 smack-myself-in-the-head moments a day, where I think "I can't believe I never thought of that" could be something so simple, so obvious to the average person but not to me. Well, I suppose it's a toss least I didn't end up with stretch marks from the pregnancies....repeat, the glass is half full, the glass if half full, the glass if half full....

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I've been jinxed...

So was it just the other day that I posted that Garrett and Landon NEVER fight?! I should've known the minute I hit "publish post", the shit would hit the fan....they've been fighting like cats and dogs within the last few days. And now they're biting each other...and ME!! And the more I try to "discipline" them (how does one discipline a 14 month old child anyway?), they just laugh like little devils and go about their business.

Today, I decided to finally put together a little riding toy my mom and stepdad had gotten them for Christmas (let's just say we're running 7 months behind on everything). So I get the damn riding toy all set up and the fighting began...I ran out back where I knew we had one of Cole and Bella's old riding toys and managed to find it buried amongst Tim's junk pile by the garbage. I brought it in and cleaned it off (total yuck!) and said, in the most excited voice I could manage, "Look guys...Mommy found ANOTHER cool riding toy"....they both looked at me for a minute and then went back to fighting over the new one. Garrett is my screamer....Landon is my biter (although Garrett does bite but his preferred method is to scream as loud and as shrill as he can to get the attention of everyone in the neighborhood to let them know that a serious crime has just been committed against him). Oh and Garrett can throw some pretty mean tantrums now....he'll stomp his feet as hard as he can, ball his hands into tiny fists and scream until his face turns a lovely shade of purple. And then to further emphasize how pissed off he is, he starts banging his head on the nearest, he fell to the floor and started banging his head on the floor. I would think this would hurt him but it didn't seem to phase him. He was trying to get his point across that he was not happy....okay, point please stop banging your head against the floor before I'm convinced that you're gonna be brain damaged and have to repeat the 1st grade over and over and over.

I took Cole and Bella to a free trial gymnastics class yesterday afternoon...late afternoon (witching hour), I might add. I had to drag Garrett and Landon with me....and when I say drag, I literally mean drag because all of a sudden they hate their carseats. I'll say "let's go bye bye" and they both run to the garage door all excited but as soon as they see me open the van doors, they start freaking out and running away. Then I have to fight with them to stop wrestling with me and get in their seats....I've even said "fine, then we're not going anywhere until you get in your seat"...and yes I actually waited as if they were gonna completely understand me and get in their seats without any further complications. Cole and Bella just stared at me like I was higher than a kite....THEY don't even get in their carseats just because I threaten them and they CAN understand every word I say.

I finally get everyone in their carseats, which is a 20 minute process, and head over to the gymnastics place. I get the babies loaded up in the stroller and walk in the place and the place was so crowded, there was no way I was gonna be able to even get the stroller in there. And if that's not bad enough, I felt like everyone was staring at first, I just FELT that way but then I realized that yes, everyone was actually staring at me. And even worse, I could hear some people whispering "does she have 2 sets of twins?" if having 2 sets of twins was like having a 3rd eye smack in the middle of your face and you had to be discreet in mentioning it to the person sitting next to you. The lady at the front desk said "oh, I don't think you're gonna be able to get that stroller in here" I get the babies out of the stroller and they take off on me and I'm trying to fold the stroller and push it off to the side, all the while Cole and Bella are whining "where's our class? we wanna go do gymnastics". I was sweating...literally sweating...I just knew my face was all red and I really just wanted to walk out of there and never show my face again. And then as I was walking the folded-up stroller off to the corner, I accidentally hit some lady's leg with the stroller and she looked at me as if I was the rudest person on earth. I wanted to scream at her "give me a f*****g break, lady" but I smiled politely and said "I'm so sorry". No freakin sympathy, no "here, let me help you" from one person in that, they all preferred to stare at me in shock that I would actually attempt such a feat. In the meantime, I have no idea where my 2 toddlers have run off to and at some point during all this, Cole and Bella figured out where their class was and they took off.

I managed to find Garrett and Landon and basically spent the whole 45 minutes of Cole and Bella's class chasing them around, with the exception of the 10 minutes I attempted to put them in the enclosed area which is meant for little ones whose siblings are in gym class. The toys were completely dirty and none of the toys worked....that's not bad enough. Apparently, parents actually LEAVE their children in this tiny enclosed area and go watch their other kids do their class....these other kids were running in and out of the area repeatedly and leaving the gate open at various times, which my little ones saw as a perfect opportunity to escape. After "babysitting" 6 other children, in addition to my own, I said "screw it"....I took Garrett and Landon out of the cage...I mean, enclosed area, and took them over to where Cole and Bella were doing their class and let them run around in a small area. People still staring at me....people still whispering "I think she has 2 sets of twins"....

Of course Cole and Bella loved the class but I felt like crying when Bella said to me "Mommy, I kept screaming at you to watch me but you didn't"....I said "I saw you but you probably didn't see me watching you". I felt like God was gonna shoot me down with lightening right there on the spot....I'm up for the Horrible Mom of the Year Award for the 4th year in a row. I did see her do a couple somersaults and I did see Cole jump into the ball pit once in the whole 45 minutes of the class...does that count??

Awww, such is life....what am I gonna do? I keep telling myself this is just a phase....I'm telling myself that a lot lately in the hopes that someday I'll actually believe it.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Count our family in that 2%!

I finally have an answer for when people ask me what the chances are having 2 sets of twins, which is almost inevitably asked by every stranger we encounter. My niece gave the kids her National Geographic for Kids magazine (it was from 2005...she's a little behind on the hand-me-downs) and I was flipping through it and found an interesting article on twins, called "Are Twins Mind Readers?" and the article talks about the twin connection in terms that little kids can understand obviously. In one section, it mentions a family who has 2 sets of twins and says "The Breen brood - representing just 2 percent of families who have 2 sets of twins...."

When people hear we have 2 sets of twins, they almost always say "wow, what are the chances of that?" and I always shrug and say "I don't know" and then of course they say "that's pretty rare, isn't it?"....again, I just shrug (but thank you for making me feel like a freak of nature). Well, now I have my answer....we are part of the 2% of families who have 2 sets of twins.

Honestly, I think what intrigues most people is how we ended up with 2 sets of twins. Sometimes if they really wanna know, I'll tell them the whole story....our 1st set were conceived on our 3rd IVF cycle...and our 2nd set were a God-given miracle. We were told we'd only have a 1-3% chance of conceiving a take-home baby without medical assistance....who'da thought, right? My cycle buddies sometimes ask if I've ever contacted our RE to show him pictures of my 1-3% chance (Garrett and Landon) and I actually never have.

I also can't count the number of times people have said "you should write a book"....what, about having 2 sets of twins? Personally I think Kate Gosselin with her 2 sets of multiples is more interesting. Just when I think "I don't know how I'm gonna keep up today", I think of her and think if she can do it, I can do it....but then again, I don't have 10 volunteers doing my laundry, cooking meals and watching my kids for me every single day. Trust me, I'd look totally different if that were the hair wouldn't be almost down to my ass because I haven't cut it in 3 years and it also wouldn't be up in a ponytail every single day because I'd have time to style it (funny story...I wore my hair down the other day just for a change of pace and the babies looked at me as if I were a total stranger), I'd wear make-up all the time....right now it's all about powder, bronzer and mascara. Oh and I'd also have stylish clothes because I'd have time in the morning to select clean clothes that match. Right now, I just grab what I assume is clean clothes out of the laundry basket that sits on our bedroom floor and I'm lucky if the clothes match and I'm even luckier if all the stains have washed out. This morning I'm sitting in a white t-shirt (yeah, call me crazy for wearing white with 4 children, all 3 and under) with an old blood stain that never completely washed out from when Garrett got a fat, bloody lip at the park because some big bully kid ran him over...and I have on a skort that I bought ages ago (I guess I should be happy that it still fits). Tim loves to come home from work every day and comment on all the stains on my shirts....I keep telling myself this is just a phase. There will be a time when I can get through a day without getting someone's snot, boogers, puke, or someone's meal on my clothes. The day will come, I'm sure.

So writing a book...maybe someday. I've kept a journal from our very first IVF cycle all the way up until now...I've included all the details of our TTC journey (and I mean, ALL the details...even the nitty-gritty stuff). And every once in awhile I go back and read through it and I find myself laughing out loud at certain times and I find myself actually crying real tears, especially when I read an entry where I remember my heart was so broken that I never thought I'd be able to breathe again. I felt it all...the anger, the desperation, the sadness, the heartbreak, the denial. And I also felt the good parts...the joy, the happiness, the being on Cloud 9 feeling. I'd do it all over again too if I had to, if it meant I'd be where I am today. Honestly, I would.

We took the kids to Marine World yesterday (just Cole and Bella) and we ran into a couple who had identical 2 yr old twins. The mom asked "so does it get easier when they turn 3?" totally reminded me of when my kids were younger and I'd see other twin parents out there with older twins and I'd ask out of desperation "does it get easier?". I remember when Cole and Bella were about 8 months old and we took them to the State Fair and we ran into a lady who had 8-yr old twins and when I asked if it ever got easier, she actually snorted when she laughed as she said "oh the first 5 years are pure hell". Yeah, thanks, lady....way to encourage a newbie twin mom! So now I be sure to keep that in mind when other twin parents ask me that same question...I always say "it doesn't necessarily get easier but it gets different....there are definitely lots of pros to get them getting older and more independent". When I say that, I usually see what I think is a gleam of hope in their eyes. I'm sure the same gleam of hope that was in my eyes when I was at that stage.

I figure that if the children are alive when my husband gets home at the end of the day, I've done my job.

----Roseanne Barr

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