Saturday, October 31, 2009

Time for an Update

I am dusting off my keyboard (or rather, wiping off the banana and jelly stains which have accumulated from toddler usage) to add an entry to my blog. I know it's been awhile, and my mother, for one, has reminded me more than once. With Bruce's insane work hours (which I'm still convinced are not entirely legal,) I have been trying to settle into the role of single mom...which as my toddler demonstrated the other day with the phrase, "DAMMIT...I can't find my shirt!"... I'm not handling it very well. I could blog about the preteens' adventures in middle school (although I think the older girl would KILL me;) I could blog about Irelynn and her idea of decorating pumpkins, involving a Sharpie marker and a gooey pumpkin canvas, and her attempts to "help" her sister decorate her's....or I could blog about finding Owen under a bowl of Ramen noodle soup, with a huge grin, and noodles sliding down his head. However, I think the most interesting recent event was our trip up with five children...and no husband...on a four-hour drive.

I shall spare you the details of getting ready for the trip, which my sister could tell you was pure mayhem, and skip to the car ride up there. All was well until we stopped to eat at a Burger King. It wasn't a "real" Burger was one of those gas stations that had a fast food corner inside. They had one high chair. I had two babies who had been cooped up in a van for a couple of hours. Needless to say, this was not a pleasant dinner. Connor's food ended up on the floor. Owen's food ended up in Connor. My food...did I have food? I don't remember. My poor mother, who graciously rode with us, became the second high chair. Then we noticed an odd smell. It was a whopper...but not one that we ordered. Owen figured he would relieve himself while we were stopped. It would have been good timing....if the restroom had a changing table. We made do with the counter.

Back on the road...and into the rain...when my windshield wipers decided not to work. They got stuck in the "up" position. Brilliant. Luckily, they started up again, but now I see that part of the weather stripping on the bottom of the windshield has come loose. As we drive in the rain, with now cranky, screaming babies and two preteens that CANNOT get along, the little black rubber strip mocked me, flapping in front of my face. My mother, always the optimist, tried to cheer me up with her own version of the "suburban housewife" rap, pertaining to driving up north.

"We're going to have a Bud-weis-uh!"

The rubber strip, having not brought our spirits down sufficiently, entwined itself in the wipers, freezing them up the air. My mother gasped and fumbled for the cell phone to inform my stepfather that we had an emergency (he was driving behind us.) I told her it was ok, it wasn't a life or death situation, and we made it off the road into Zilwaukee. After fixing the problem (which meant yanking the dang strip from the window entirely,) we were back on the road with working windshield wipers once again.

Owen and Connor expressed their displeasure by alternating between crying, screaming, and yelling at us in what I believe was Klingon. My mother came up with another colorful verse to her rap, ending in the chorus:

"We're going to have a Bud-weis-uh....or two...."

I finally enlist the help of the older boy to quickly move the portable DVD player to the middle of the van and put in some Backyardigans...stat. we are almost there...quiet.

Once there, I was relieved for a moment. Until I realized where we would be staying. My older brother and sister-in-law were remodeling the main part of the house, so their massive garage had been converted into a livable space. It was huge, and had their couch and big-screen TV, a dining room table, and their fridge and stove with room to spare. was not baby-proof...and it was still a garage...meaning outside the "living room" was concrete. I have really under-appreciated having a gated, baby-proof room in my house. The entire weekend was spent baby wrangling. We attempted to block off dangerous areas with dog crates, ottomans, and my future brother-in-law's...well...I think it was a laundry bag, I'm not sure. We chased them around couches and tables. When I say "we," I am referring to my sister, my mother and I...and occasionally my future brother-in-law who was probably afraid that my sister would kick his arse if he didn't help out. The rest of the family pretty much ignored the rampaging toddlers, whose favorite activities became walking up to the big screen TV and banging on it (after the initial awe of witnessing "Micky Mouse Clubhouse" three times bigger than they are used to it.) Connor also found the box of empty beer cans...which he was determined to get into, not to mention the shelf of breakable items, and the nice Macbook that was precariously left out within their reach.

Naptime and nighttime were excruciating. They did not want to nap. They wanted to cry. And bang on the TV. The pack n' play was set up in another room, with the creakiest floor imaginable. I spent hours trying to rock them asleep atop an exercise ball, and then figure out where each creaky part of the floor was located, and try to avoid it. I think most of my time was spent in that room. At night they woke up several times, and luckily a couple of times my sister or my mother would hear and come in to help. The first night, however, one of my brothers, who will remain anonymous, created a trying to get the twins to sleep. My sister was holding and shushing Owen. I was on top of the exercise ball, rocking Connor. And in stumbles...the anonymous brother...who was more than slightly intoxicated. He waddled into the room in a confused state....and I say "waddled" because his pants were halfway down, his hands gripping the sides of them, as I assume he was in search of a restroom. My jaw dropped as he stopped in front of me, and gazed down at Connor.

"Awwww...." He stared down at him...for at least a full minute.

I glance questioningly at my sister, who gives me the "I have no clue what to do right now" look, as we are exposed to much more of our brother than we ever wanted to see. Lets just say, we were "Chris"tened that evening. Finally, he comes to his senses (sort of,) and turns around to waddle his way toward the other bathroom....his pasty white butt hanging out in all it's glory. We hear my stepdad come downstairs a few moments later, knocking on the bathroom door, inquiring, loudly, if he fell asleep in there. My sister sets Owen down and decides she'd better help. She guided our brother back to the garage area and the couch. Needless to say, it was the favorite story told around the table the next day.

When it was finally time to head south, we had a new set of adventures awaiting us. A toddler having to go potty...right now...led us off an offramp that, while signs claimed they had gas, food and lodging, had pretty much nothing for miles, except for a lone DNR office. We finally decided to just turn around and see if the DNR place had a restroom....we pulled off onto a dirt driveway and turnaround....and found that apparently this turnaround was meant for jeeps and SUV's...not minivans. We got stuck in the mud. The kids found this quite funny, as I desparately spun the wheels to no avail. I, however, did not. In my sleep-deprived state, my sense of humor left me somewhere between the last chorus of my mother's rap and the boys' decision not to sleep. Luckily, my stepfather did have an SUV...and some rope. So, we finally got out...and stopped at the DNR office. After yanking my toddler out of the van, in her bright pink footed pj's and sneakers, running to the door and yanking on it....I realize that the sign in front of me states clearly that the DNR is closed on the weekend. Brilliant.

I set Irelynn down, and she walks next to me back to the van.

"It's ok, Mommy. I don't have to go anymore."

"You don't?"

"No...I already went in my pants back when we got stuck."


So, we get back on the freeway and about two miles down....see a rest area. Of course. So I stopped, and took out the toddler to put her in a new pull-up....and then realized we were out of pull-ups. Could this trip GET any better? So, I have my 3-year-old squeeze into a size 3 baby diaper (because I was not about to risk driving another few hours with her only in underwear,) and get back on the road.

Having had literally no sleep over the weekend, I began to feel drowsy...I was starting to imagine that I was in a submarine in search of mermaids...when I realized the babies were sleeping. So I asked Jay to please turn off the Backyardigans mermaid episode that we had now watched for the fifth time. We pulled over into a gas station, and as my mom stood there with the kids, I ran in and purchased a 32-ounce Mt. Dew, a 5-hour energy shot...and a bag of M&M's.

We made it home safely. My husband would not be coming home that night. Wonderful. I'm beginning to really hate his job. So, after several more feedings, and hours of rocking, the boys are down, I collapse onto the bed, and vaguely remember my husband arriving home sometime between 4 and 5am, just in time for Connor to wake up...again. Needless to say, I picked up Connor, handed him over to my husband with a bottle, and climbed back into bed.

Hopefully now that I have gotten some semblance of sleep since this event, I will have time to update my blog a little more often. Hopefully.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Life With Twins

It is amazing that I have not lost weight by now...I mean alot of weight. I feel as though I am constantly on the move. It must be those late night know, a bite of cinnamon cake as I heat up a bottle at 3am, a shot of Redi Whip as I put the milk back in the fridge. Not great, but short of brewing a pot of coffee in the middle of the night, I do all that I can to make sure I don't accidentally give the boys soda or rum in my sleep-deprived state. Which leads me to the first, and actually, most difficult part of having twins. You learn quickly to live on no sleep.

Anyone who has a baby will say, "yeah, so? We've all been there." It is not the same. Trust me. Take what you have been through...and multiply it by two. And crying it out is not an option when babies are sharing a room. Not unless you want two screaming babies...and eventually a toddler waking up wondering what all the noise is...and another cup of water.

We have it down to a routine at night. As soon as a baby cries, I jump out of bed and grab him, shushing him, in hopes to not wake the other baby. I bring him to my groggy husband, along with a diaper, and he begins to change him while I go out to prepare a bottle. Or two, depending on whether or not the other baby is also awake. We do it this way, because if my husband were responsible for getting up to get the baby...well, it might never happen. He will take about three minutes just to sit up and get his bearings...then, eventually stumble out of the room. The entire house would be awake by the time he got there. And so...this is my responsibility. Hence the late night foraging on my part. We then feed the babies (or take turns if it is only one at a time,) and put them back to bed....only to repeat the routine a couple of hours later. I have learned that rocking them back to sleep does not work well...unless you want to be rocking for a good hour, and then have to stay up because the next baby is up after that. An hour of sleep is still an hour of sleep.

Then, during the day, after several cups of coffee, I commence damage control. Has anyone seen the movie, Shrek the 3rd? There is a scene in it where Shrek is dreaming about coming home to find not one, but several little ogre babies...they are all going in different directions, and he is running around like crazy trying to scoop them up before some dangerous peril befalls them. That is a fairly accurate description of my day.

I have them pretty much locked in the living room, which, for the most part, is fairly well baby-proofed. However, they find ways of getting into things they shouldn't. Don't ask me how....they just do. For example, we have a computer out there. They can't get to the cords, but they have managed to pry open the computer case. As I pull Owen away from the now open computer, I hear a squeal behind me. Connor has climbed into the infant seat I had sitting out to take to a Mom 2 Mom sale...he is standing up in it, holding onto the handle, and rocking it back and forth while squealing with joy. I set Owen down to go grab Connor and put the infant seat on the other side of the gate.


I whirl around to find Owen shoving the external hard drive back behind the entertainment center. He opens the DVD drive on the DVD player and pulls out a disc...licks it...and tries to put it back. Meanwhile, Connor has found the remote, and has switched the channel.

"Look Mommy! It's Obama!"

Irelynn is trying to help me do damage control by yanking away any item she thinks they shouldn't have, but is momentarily stunned by her idol on the television. Connor sees his chance, and takes her juice...which is not spill proof.

This is why I am exhausted by the end of the day.

Last night I ran out to the store, leaving a reluctant husband behind with the kids. As I searched the coffee aisle for some pumpkin spice cappuccino (I will have to ask my mother-in-law where she finds hers,) I see a woman scanning the coffee shelves. She has a baby in her arms, and she is trying to console her. I look down to see another baby in an infant seat, fussing in her cart. The woman looks tired. I smile.


She smiles and nods.

"How old are they?"

"Two months."

I smile down at the babies.

"I recently celebrated my twin boys' first birthday."

Her eyes got wide and she smiled.

"It does get easier."

It wasn't a lie. It wasn't the complete truth...but I remember those days. Those are the days that you really wonder if you will ever get through it....the days you are scared out of your mind. In that way, it does get easier as time passes. You learn that this, too, shall pass. You are stronger than you think...and that life may be difficult, but it isn't without wonder, amusement, and a whole lot of humor. Someday she'll look back and think that it wasn't so bad. Or she'll blog about of the two.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Trying To Go With The Flow...

"Irelynn...get your pants on!"

"I am!" She is zoning out while Mickey Mouse starts singing the "Hot Dog" song.

I am frantically running around, putting together the diaper bag, looking for Connor's missing shoe, and trying to locate the directions to the apple orchard. It was Irelynn's field trip day at her preschool. I run back to the bathroom, thinking I'd better go one last time. Great...a kid forgot to flush. I flushed the toilet...and instantly regretted it.

The brown water began to rise. I quickly grabbed the plunger and desperately tried to unclog the toilet...with no luck. The water continued to rise, spilling over the top.


I glance around at our bathroom floor, littered with tub toys, clothes, and a pair of Irelynn's shoes. I picked up a shoe and set it on the side of the bathtub while continuing to plunge.

"NO NO NO NO!!!!" The water is still spilling out, now covering the floor and making it's way to the hallway.

The three younger ones, trapped in the living room by a baby gate, are getting concerned. Owen starts shaking the bars, calling "mamamamama...."

Connor starts crying.

Irelynn tries her best to keep me calm.

"It's okay, Mommy! Mommy...everything is okay...Mommy, listen to is ALRIGHT!"

I grab the phone and frantically call my husband, who is riding in the back of a jeep across the state for a project he has to do for work.

"THE TOILET IS OVERFLOWING!!!! I CAN'T MAKE IT STOP!!! I don't know what to doooooo....."

He calmly tells me to turn the water off at the pipe. Oh. Duh.

"Mommy....everything is okay!"

I turn the water off, and grab the carpet cleaner and begin sucking up poop water from the floor. My mom arrives. It's time to go.

Luckily, the apple orchard trip was fun...and incident-free. But then I had to come home.

As the older children arrived home from school, I informed them that the one bathroom was out of commission. It starts off okay. Jaylond, the thoughtful child that he is, took an excruciatingly long time announcing that he was going to be occupying the bathroom for awhile, so if anyone else had to go, now was the time. He asked every member of the family, multiple times, if they had to go. Finally, slightly irritated, I snapped.

"JUST GO!" I took a deep breath. "Sorry...but I think you're fine to use the bathroom...just go ahead."

I kid you not....thirty seconds later, the older girl is tattling on him. She decided she did, in fact, have to go...and he was "not hurrying up." I remind her that he offered plenty of chances before he got in for her to go. This apparently did not matter. She set up camp outside the bathroom and began a verbal assault until the boy had no choice but to surrender.

She apparently needed to do the same thing, because she spent a good 20-minutes occupying the bathroom. When she finished...right on cue...the toddler informs me that she, too, has to go.


I lead her to the working toilet...only to find out that it is no longer working. It, too, was now clogged.


"Mommy...I have to go poop."

Okay. Deep breath. I have the older girl retrieve the toddler potty from the other bathroom, and set it in the hall, so I can work on unclogging this toilet.

"But Mommy...I can't use this potty. It isn't clean."

"Irelynn...just use it right now. I can't do anything about it at the moment."

She finally condescends to using the dirty potty. I hear the babies start to cry in the living room. Owen is yelling for me, Connor is whining. Jaylond disappeared downstairs, and the older girl is whining about the fact that our house currently smells like a sewer.

"Mommy! Come wipe me!"

Bruce finally arrived home...looking a little scared.

"Are you okay?"

"It's been a pretty shitty day."

I love my husband. Truly. How many men would come home to that, go unclog multiple toilets, and scrub down a bathroom with bleach, and then have a beer with his exhausted wife?

Needless to say, our family then had a meeting regarding toilet paper usage and proper flushing technique.