Always Crazy, Always Fun, Always Love

Ray Romano once compared life with twins to living in a frat house. As he put it, "no one sleeps, there is a lot of noise and a lot of throwing up." I find this very true with 4 young children, including twins. However, though things are always crazy, we always try to have fun and, most certainly, always love each other.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Best of Times

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." or so says the opening line of A Tale of Two Cities.  I have not read this book before, but started reading it a few weeks ago when my neighbor suggested we start a book club of the classics.  Considering I have not read many classics, I thought it was a great idea.  However, 3 weeks later and 60 pages in...I am not sure I can do it.  I am finding it very difficult to read- maybe I have read "fluff" for so long, that I was just not prepared for the language. It is a challenge for sure.

However, I love this opening line and it got me thinking.  So many times, twin parents (singleton parents also) will talk about how tough a certain stage is.  Inevitably, another parent will say, "Oh, just wait till such-and-such age and it will definitely be better/worse."  If a parent should complain about the cost of diapers, another parent will inevitably say "Oh, that is nothing compared to the cost of extra-curriculars."  If a parent complains about a screaming toddler, someone will say, "Oh, just wait till they are teenagers and you will want to scream."  And so on. 

Well, I think I have figured out when is the best time to be a parent of twins.  I believe my girls have reached that stage- age 5!  Here is why having 5 year old twins is awesome:

--Two words- no diapers.

--they sleep all night, unless they are sick.  If they have to go potty during the night, they get up and go!

--they can buckle themselves into their seat belts.

--they are each other's best friend and entertain each other very well.  This right here is definitely a benefit to having twins. 

--they can sit and feed themselves. 

--when we go somewhere, there is no need to struggle with a double stroller and remembering to pack a diaper bag.  They walk everywhere now.  It makes it so nice on days like today when I can decide on a whim to go to the zoo (on a rare 60 degree day in January).  We just went! No need to pack anything!




(these pictures include Ellen and Meghan, and also their friend Annie who came with us!)

--Along with that, they are young enough to still lay down for an afternoon rest time if they (or I) need it, but old enough that I am not chained to my house in the afternoon. If we need or want to do something in the afternoon, we can!

--when walking across a parking lot, I will hold their hands but otherwise don't have to worry to much about them staying close.  It is not like they are toddlers and will dart across the road unexpected causing extra stress, as it did this day.

--They are old enough for lots of dramatic play, sophisticated lego building and are learning how to read, yet they are still young and innocent enough to play like young children.  They are a joy to watch play.

--Similar to this, they are old enough to have a conversation with but young enough to have that childhood innocence in their words.

--they are old enough to tell me what is wrong and where it hurts,  but young enough to cuddle into my arms and let me hold them.

Here are some more thoughts as to why now is the perfect age- as opposed to the future.

--this time next year, they will be in school.  I will then have 4 children in school.  4 kid with homework to complete and the added chaos.

--with them being in school, they will no longer be home with me.  While I am sure I will come to enjoy the peace, I can't imagine what it will be like to not have them here with me.  I didn't imagine the time would come this fast that all of my children would be in school. 

--as they get older, they will have more extra-curricular activities.  It is already hard to manage the boys and their activities.  I can't imagine doubling it. 

--Teenage drama will be sure to kill me.  Especially with two girls the same age, in the same grade at school.  Boyfriend drama will surely be interesting.  We already had a preview of that when Ellie's "boyfriend" Hayden (from our home preschool group) declared he liked Meghan instead, Ellie was broken-hearted.


Now, don't take this wrong.  I love watching my children grow and I know I will enjoy something about each stage.  I love to see them grow and develop and mature.  As I have told other parents, I believe that there are positives and negatives to every age and stage.   Sure, when they were up crying and needing fed all....night...long, it was hard.  But I LOVED being a mother to those sweet newborns and holding them.   And, just as they will surely have difficult times as teenagers, I will be PROUD to be their mother and will love seeing them grow.  I have just been reflecting recently about how easy of a stage this is so far- for us anyway, the easiest stage so far.  So, to all of you multiples parents out there who's babies are still little- take heart and know that it REALLY does get better.  For all of you with older children than me, I would love to hear from you about what you have learned!!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

More Birthday Fun!!

Ellen and Meghan have certainly been very spoiled as they crossed over into big kid world!  After our own little family celebration on their birthday Wednesday, we had a party with their friends on Saturday (the 7th) and with our whole family on Sunday (the 8th)!    But you only turn 5 once- it's a big one for sure so why not celebrate it big! :)  These girls are so special and sweet and good and they deserved every minute of it!

I had not planned on having a party with their friends.  I had parties for the boys when they were that age but stopped having them for a couple of reasons and so it never really occurred to me to throw the girls a party- but then they kept talking about all the friends they wanted to invite to their party and so I knew we needed to!  I threw it together in one weeks time- from deciding to do it, to sending invites, to planning and throwing it!  All in all, it was a big success.  I lost my camera, as mentioned before so my amazing friend Annie offered to take pictures for me.  She is very talented and took a lot of great pictures- and manipulated many of them to make them cooler. I wish I could post them all, but I will only post a few that are my favorites and that tell the story of the party best.  This is a very long post- but with the exception of these first paragraphs, the words are kept short.  The pictures are fun to look at!

We had a great turn out!  Including Ellen and Meghan, we had 12 kids ages 3-5 in our tiny house! I was excited they could all come (the group included their sunday school class, preschool group, neighbors they play with often and a few other best friends) but nervous how it would go.  Thankfully, it went very well- I kept it short- 1 1/2 hours- and kept them busy.


  We started with balloon play.  At first, they just tossed it in the air to keep it from touching the ground. When they bored with that, we did a follow the leader type game with them.
 
 
 
This shot shows most of the kids.  It is only missing Joy (who you can see in the balloon pic above and others- she was working the radio) and Sophia and Amelia- who were feeling to shy to play.  They played pass the crown- kind of like hot potato, but with a crown (the party had a mild princess theme, since the girls love princesses! )  Whoever was holding the crown when the music stopped got to control the music for the next round! Starting at the top of the picture and going around is the girls friend, Ellie- in the orange shirt then Annie, Meghan, Addie, Emma (Addie's cousin), Grayden, Zachary, Ellie and Clark.

We then did a fun- but easy and quick- art project!  They decorated princess wands (girls) or swords (boys)- that had been cut out of card board and wrapped in foil.  They loved it and did great!  I just bought the puffy glittery stickers for them to stick all over them.


Sophia working hard! Love this one of Amy (Sohpia's mom and my so very dear friend) helping her!


And here is her sister, Amelia- who will NOT smile for pictures.... Annie is lucky she got a picture of her!

Grayden is focused on making a great sword!

And here are some finished products:


Friend Ellie with her wand!

And Zachary with his sword!
 
Joy with her wand!

I love how unique they all were!

It was a mild day for January so we went outside for the next game.  It was a simple relay- scoop beans out of the bowl- run down and dump beans in a bag and run back.  They loved it!   Annie (the friend taking pictures) caught this picture before the game got organized:




Love how she made Annie E (yes, two Annie's in attendance- one adult, one kid!  And two Ellie's for that matter!)  stand out by making the rest black and white.  It makes her look like the leader of the pack- but really, she just happened to be standing there with the group watching her before we started!


Soon, we got the game organized....  I think it is obvious which of my girls is more competitive!  Ellie is focused and ready!

And here we find we were correct!  Ellie is off and running- Meghan just watching! ha!


I love this one of Grayden- I think he is excited it is his turn!

Yet as he plays, he is cool and confident!

Next was cake and ice cream.  I kept it simple- just cupcakes and ice cream.  I love it how Annie (with help from my friend Amy) made my simple cupcakes look so grand by arranging the wands and swords around them (which had not yet been decorated at this point....)!!

I love how Meghan is so serious about her ice cream!  She made sure to scrape every last bit out and was fully focused- totally like her!
This is Addie- a new friend who just moved into our ward (church) boundaries- the girls love her!  So fun to make new friends (and for me too- her mom is pretty awesome too!)
 
And these were my FAVORITE pictures..... no explanation needed....

 
(I seriously wish I had Annie's eyes for pictures!)
And of course.... presents!  I think present time got a little overwhelming- there were so many kids who were so excited to see what they got and crowding them and I think the attention got to them a bit and they acted up some here, but I think they did okay being two 5 year olds.   I love the expressions on their faces in this one:

 
Katie (Grayden's mom) made awesome tutus for both girls- pink for Meghan and purple for Ellie. Very impressive for a mom of 3 boys!  The girls just LOVED them.  Meghan didn't understand why I wouldn't let her wear hers to church the next day.

So, they were happy and tired at the end of their party!  I am so thankful that they are surrounded by so many sweet little friends!

Sunday was more fun!  Only a few pictures for this one, but it was a great day!  They got to spend some time with 4 out of their 6 grandparents,  a few Aunts and Uncles and cousins!! My mom snapped this one of the sweet girls:
This picture was actually not hard to get- they didn't make it easy on her!
And of course, more presents!! The big thing this year for their birthday was the girl legos!


 (Meghan kept hiding under the table to open her presents- I think she was a little shy from all the attention!


 Ignore the dirty face in this one!  Pretty cute/ classic kid though.  My sister Julie got them these adorable head bands with clips.  She is always good about that sort of thing.  Good thing because I am not that good at it.  I love for them to have these cute sort of things, but rarely think about it. I don't know why- probably just one more thing to think about....

So, we have celebrated this milestone more than enough and I think my girls are very happy!  After all this- and of course all of this happening right after the Christmas rush- I think they might go through withdrawal now that they haven't opened any presents in a week!  Ha!  And now that their birthday  is over, they don't get more presents until Christmas!  They got all their fun all over with at the same time every year. 

I love these girls so much.  I could not imagine our family or my life without them.  What an incredible blessing they are.  Usually in the course of one day they will make me laugh, frustrate me, teach me, perplex me and make my heart grow more.  I thank God every day for all 4 of my babies!!!  Life is good!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Through the Eyes of a Young Child

Today we were at my sister's (Julie) house.  She watched my girls for me for a couple hours while I ran an errand and we were visiting for a bit when I returned.  As usual, we were marveling over her sweet little baby girl, now two months old!

It made Julie want to look at the baby pictures of her other nieces and nephews and compare them to baby Claire.

While looking through the book, we also saw her wedding pictures when she married Jorge in November 2000.   As many may remember, in November of 2009, her world came crumbling down and the rest of us felt our world strongly shaken when Jorge announced he was having an affair and was leaving the marriage.  What a horrible time that was for everyone, but so very dark for Julie.    The girls adored Jorge- he was truly a favorite for them.  They were just about 3 at the time and asked for him often, wondering where he had gone. I did my best to explain in simple terms, but they really missed him.

Of course, the story has a happy ending-  Julie found true love again and married Shawn, a very welcome addition to our family.  November 2011, they welcomed sweet Baby Claire.  Jorge may have shattered her world, but she has since built a much better, much happier world.  We have all said good riddance to him.  I have not talked to him since before the split and I hope I never run into him.

So, back to today.  When Ellen and Meghan saw the wedding pictures, they kept asking why Shawn wasn't in the pictures.  Julie explained that these pictures were when she married Jorge.  Julie said, "You remember Jorge don't you?"  The girls both said no, they did not.  They had no idea who he was.  It then occurred to me that- being not quite 3 when he left, that enough time had passed in their little lives that he had disappeared from it completely. 

Jorge really seemed to love my girls and they adored him.  But, that is another loss from him! Too bad, so sad- Good-bye and Good-riddance!  Even the girls no longer remember you, you are through!

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Big Day for Two Big Girls!!!

On Wednesday, January 4th, my sweet "baby" girls turned 5.  I just can't believe it!  The last 5 years just flew by!  Sometimes I still find myself in shock that I got two babies.....and now they are 5!!  We had a very good day on Wednesday- the day was almost entirely about them!   I had to babysit for the choir as usual for Wednesday mornings.  But, after that, we met my dad for lunch!  These girls absolutely adore their grandpa!
 
(I don't know why this picture turned out so little....)

After that was an event they had been waiting for since Christmas!  When Aaron's mom was in town, "Grandma Janet" as the kids know her by- gave them gift cards to "Build-A-Bear" for their birthday!  So we went on their birthday! They were so excited- they had heard of it but had never been.  It was a very fun experience.

First they got to pick the style of bear they wanted.  Ellie wanted the brown bunny and Meghan wanted the Hello Kitty.  We then went to the stuffing station where they were filled with stuffing!  Very cool how it works- a machine shoots it in through a pipe in a matter of seconds and then the worker just has to pull and tie some strings to complete the sew. 
 
(this is at the stuffing station)

They also got to pick a heart to put inside it. Meghan insisted her kitty needed two hearts.  The lady was so nice to humor her.

Then it was on to the "washing station"  It looked like a tub, but air blows out and they brush their bears:

Ellie washing her bunny

Meghan washing her kitty.

Then they got to pick out an outfit (they picked matching outfits) and then on to pay for them.  Let's just say I am glad they had a gift card.... wow- sticker shock! ha!  But their smiles were totally worth it.

Here they are showing off their dressed bears, that share the same birthday they do!

For dinner, I made exactly what they requested: Meatloaf and macaroni and cheese (and I added green beans).  Yes, my 5 year olds both requested meatloaf!!  Thankfully they both wanted the same thing so I didn't have to cook two dinners!  I always make what the kids want for dinner- so it should be no different just because the girls share a birthday!

After dinner is cake!  Ellie wanted vanilla cake with strawberries and Meghan wanted apple cake.  I got smart and just made cupcakes so I could save what we didn't need- instead of having two whole cakes sitting around here.  Though the apple cake recipe didn't transfer well into cupcakes...they were okay, but I didn't save the extra of those....


Of course, they have their build-a-bears!!  They have been inseparable from those bears ever since!!!
 
Ellie blows out 5 candles!!

Meghan blows out 5 candles!!

And then of course, PRESENTS!!!

I just took a picture of everything they got. Some was Ellie's, some Meghan's and some both. They got barbies, barbie clothes, playdoh, goggles and girl legos!  They have been asking for "girl legos" for sometime (meaning pink and purple) so they could start their own collection.  (Aaron calls them chick-gos) I have been hesitant because the boys ALWAYS have legos around, but I figured they are only little so long- if they want legos, the should have them!

I LOVE this picture-

After opening the presents, the girls were so excited about the legos that they couldn't wait to put them together.  So, Aaron very happily agreed to help them.  He has never outgrown legos! I love how all three of them are bent over and focused!

What a fun-filled day it was!  And, this weekend- there is more!  We are having a party for some of their friends on Saturday and then a party with our family on Sunday.  Needless to say, I will be exhausted by Sunday night, but it will be worth it. You only turn 5 once, right?

My little girls have grown so fast.  I am already having heart palpitations about sending them to Kindergarten this fall!  They can't possibly be old enough- yet they are!  They are so bright and have such sweet friendly dispositions.  They add such a fun dynamic to our family.  As I have said before, I never knew I wanted twins.  These two are so completely different yet best friends.  They were meant to come here together. 

They compliment each other.  Ellie is outgoing, yet sweet and a cuddle bug.  She reaches out to others easily.  She is very quick to learn academics.  Meghan is more reserved to those she doesn't know but opens up quickly once she feels she can trust the person.  She is spunky and active and quick to gain physical talents.    They are smart, happy, energetic girls that are a blessing in every way.