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Monday, December 31, 2012

A little bit about Fasting

Ever been curious about fasting? Seeking God through discipline and denying oneself is the core principle.  Gotta say, I did a full fast for 3 days (no food, only water) followed by the Daniel Fast (only fruit, veggies, whole grains, and water) for 18 days in January 2010 and I prayed for blessings for my family, but specifically for my children.  A year later I was pregnant with twins. The pregnancy was without complications, the deliveries couldn't have been easier, and since birth they have been healthy, hearty little boys, thriving. I don't know if God rewarded me because of my fasting a year before, I don't know if God has kept sickness and disease away from my children because of my actions and fasting. But what if He has? What if He did? What if He is? All 4 of my children are beautiful, smart, funny, and healthy.

I'm going to go off track for a sec, to address the idea that fasting is just another crazy practice wacko spiritual people do to lose weight, hallucinate, see visions from God, hear voices, etc. I'll admit, fasting can sound extreme if you don't fully understand its purposes. But to understand it, or at least respect it, you have to understand other stuff too.

All of us, everyday we wake up, we make a decision, to either believe there is a great design to our lives, or there is no design at all. We decide whether we are haphazardly living, trying to make the best of what life throws at us, or we decide that everything thrown at us has purpose and reason, whether it's good or bad.

I think of Neo in The Matrix. Good ole Neo, remember?  Morpheus gave him the option of taking the blue pill, which would allow him to continue to view the world around him without the knowledge of the entire truth, or the red pill, which would open his eyes to see the world from an entirely different, not always beautiful, perspective.
If someone doesn't see life from a spiritual perspective, if they can't muster up enough faith to believe that there may be unseen forces at work, if they can't help but assume that all spiritual people are feeble minded and in need of a crutch to get through life, they have selected their pill.  Spiritually driven people have swallowed a different color pill. Both believe adamantly that they're right. We've all, as adults, chosen our pill, and now view our world with different lenses.

Back to fasting...
I believe God is good, and good things come from his hands. I believe He has amazing plans for 2013 for those who truly are seeking Him and are trying to understand His will.  So I want to be prepared to receive the blessings, I want to grow (spiritually--we all know there's no hope for me to get taller) and I want to know God's will for  my life. For these reasons, I'm considering starting a Daniel Fast on January 6th. I say considering because it takes a lot of planning and discipline and I will not commit if I can't give it my all. 
Besides spiritual awareness and maturity, there are great health benefits to this fasting stuff too. It's like a Vegan diet with a little more restriction. Check out the video if you're curious. Author Susan Gregory gives a pretty clear explanation of what the Daniel Fast is all about.

I feel very exposed when I blog about my personal thoughts.  It's safer to just write about other people.  I'll get back to that soon.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Some musings about Santa and December

I love December so much! Santa Claus comes to town, Jesus celebrates his birthday for the 2,000+ time, candles get lit, family gets together, and then the whole thing culminates in a goodbye to 2012.  Although yesterday marked the twins turning 15 months old, which is shocking and scary how fast life is going, I still consider December to be pretty fantastic. My birthday kicks it off, and even though I had to turn an ugly number I still enjoyed getting pampered and shown extra affection by my family and friends. Ryan even bought me a new laptop to mark this birthday. I haven't had a new computer since I was a freshman in college, and it was such a fond memory, getting my own room for the first time in my life, AND a new computer!  So this private treasure brings back fond memories and I'm in love with this thing.  It smells like scotch tape and the keyboard lets me just fly. (I like the smell of scotch tape--can't explain.)

December isn't without hardships, I know. Just last week my dad experienced loss of vision in his right eye, was admitted to the hospital for testing--they feared it was a brain tumor pushing against his optic nerve, or it was caused by a heartattack or stroke. Test results showed nothing like that, so he's going to follow up in Miami with a neuro eye specialist sometime soon. We don't have any answers, and his vision hasn't returned in that spot. Still, our family gets to experience peace that passes all understanding because we have a faith that God is in control of all areas of our lives for any who accept him as their lord (lord means master, boss, authority, fyi).So even in this scary situation, I just remember to look up and trust.  A Christian's life is no less problematic than any other's, we just try to respond in a way that would eventually produce perseverance and endurance.  And since this is a a blog about December, I feel compelled to share with any interested that God loves you and me equally, every nation, every background, every religious practice, every color, and every lifestyle, with a greater love than we can even understand. He gave his only son to us, the "reason for the season", and the story of Christmas is a beautiful, tragic, and triumphant thing. From a mother's perspective, the thought of giving my baby away to be ultimately tortured and killed is a horrific thought.

Anyway. That's another blog. 

December is fun because my siblings are all together at some point, we get to sing and harmonize and laugh together, ring the salvation army bell, I can share my babies with them, and it makes me all warm and fuzzy.  In Key West December is fun because we get to pretend like it's cold, and we can wear jeans without leaving butt sweat marks on them. We can bring northern smells like pine and cider and cinnamon into the house.  Palm trees, rooftops, and windows all over the island get lit up and even the ugliest houses and yards can look magical (from a distance). Conchtrains are decorated and twinkle with Christmas lights as they pass at night, bringing locals around to see the transformation and sing Christmas carols. Church attendance is up. People who don't usually think about Jesus at all have a chance to pause and reflect on his birth.  And I think that makes Jesus happy, so it makes me happy too.


Being a mom in December is super fun too. I get permission to buy toys and gifts for people, I get to send pictures of my gorgeous family out in the hopes that you will put us on your refridgerator, I get to pretend like magic has infiltrated our house and elves fly at night, reporting to Santa all of the doings of the day.   When we adopted our Elf on the Shelf two years ago, Luke named him Frisbee. Every morning it's the first thing Juliette says, still rubbing her eyes and letting them adjust to the lights in the hall, "Where's Fisbee?" And my two munchkins run up and down the house, helping each other , working together to find where he's hiding. He's not mischievious as some of your kooky elves are. Thankfully he doesn't knit or eat all of our food or toilet paper the bathroom. He's all business. And in case you don't know, the business of a scout elf is simply to fly to the north pole each night and report to Santa, then return home again, never talking to the family you live with or let them touch you, else your magic will diminish (Santa's rules).  If you haven't jumped on the elf wagon, I highly recommend it.


 Luke is in 1st grade. I've been thinking a lot the past few days about the Santa stuff. I know some parents who never kept up the fascade with their kids. When the kid asked, "Is Santa real?" the parents just told them the truth. The good parents will then warn and threaten their child with severe consequences if they run and tell the other children. And I really appreciate that, for my kids' sake.

My mother, on the other hand, lied. And lied. And lied. I had suspicion, reasonable doubt, and facts (like Toys R Us receipts, how tired my parents seemed every Christmas morning) but I didn't want to stop believing. When I asked my mom to please tell me the truth, she pulled me real close and said, "Ok, you're old enough to know the truth...the elves are not real. That's just silly stuff for little kids. But Santa definitely is real. He just gets toy donations from hundreds of stores to fill the requests."


So I went on another year or two hoping she wasn't a liar.   I was afraid to ask her again, and afraid to ask my friends because I knew what their answer would be, and I really wanted Santa to be real.  I went back and forth, but by 6th grade I was ready to let him go into the fantasy graveyard, where he now rests peacefully between the graves of the toothfairy and Peter Cottontail. It was hard to comes to terms with the fact that my mother lied straight to my face, without a blink. I know, 6th grade is old. You must think me the foolish little girl who dreamed that it could happen. But I'd like to think it wasn't foolish so much as hopeful. And for many years after, I was secretly disappointed in my mom. She was supposed to be one of the most trustworthy adults in my life. And you may still be chuckling that I was in 6th grade when I let it all go, but the laugh is on you, because my Christmas's were more magical because of my delusion. I was also blessed to experience many many more years of his magic because I had 4 younger siblings. 


As a mother now, entering the "santa years", I can appreciate my mother's reasons. For her it marked the end of a sweet area of our childhood, and she didn't want it to happen. Watching your babies grow is beautiful, but bittersweet.  It's hard to swallow that Luke is 6 and reading chapter books, and doesn't need me to read them to him anymore. Little Juliette, barely 4, tells me not to worry, when she's married she and her husband will still visit me. Jackson and Lincoln are 15 months, walking, eating pizza, laughing at my antics, and trying to communicate in some crazy toddler speak. And I don't think I want them to grow anymore. I would like to freeze their ages and hear Juliette say things like, "can I wayor the pink sess? it's adoeeyble" and "mommy's favit colo is feen" and "I see a "wed fyo fuk (fire truck..."r's"and consonant blending difficulties)  When the day comes that Luke asks me about the ugly Santa truth, I'll probably evade the question, I will redirect, I will try to keep the magic alive, but if he asks me point blank, I'll also respect him enough to tell him the truth--I think.  Someday.  For now, in this December, I'll try really hard to focus on the present-- the beautiful moments I get to live each day with my family and these adorable kids.  And while the magic lasts, I will soak it up, bottle it up, and keep it safe until next December.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Giving Brevity a Chance, Giving FB a Break

It's been brought to my attention that my blogs are long.  I will be making efforts to rectify this in future posts, starting now.

During last election day I was in the hospital having Juliette. (Yes, I voted early.) Like many, I'm really over reading facebook statuses that only involve this election. I know it's super important. I know dialogue about issues can open lines of communication and perhaps education. But for many, our minds are made up early on and your status isn't going to sway that.  It's nice to feel like your opinions are being heard. I suppose that's why we can't help but write about them. But I feel so uncomfortable during these divisive times. Truly, I want us all to work together for good. And it is hard for me and probably you, to look past snarky disrespectful political posts and comments. You vote, I'll vote, and then let's work together.
I will pray for our elected officials, as always, no matter the outcome.

And if you've posted on facebook about your political views but don't see the outcome you were hoping for tonight, maybe you should skip your next post and just talk to God about what's on your heart.  You may get better results.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Here comes 30

Times they are a changin.

I'm 29 for only about another month, and then I'll be that other age. Sometimes I think about that other age and really have no qualms with it.  All of my friends have hit that number or are right behind me. I don't want to be associated with those who don't know who Urkel is anyway-- those who never knew the thrill of playing Oregon Trail on the only computer in the classroom.  Sorry, you have lost all your cattle in the river and will soon die of dysentery. Those kids who don't know what a Popple or Wuzzle is. How sad for them. But on the other hand I am having a really hard time letting go of some things, and I don't enjoy being shocked into being old. 
For example. I heard on the radio a new coffee place was opening, and the young adult scene was welcome to come hang out specifically on a certain night and time. How fun! I keep listening for the details. " come on out all you young adults, ages 18-23, Friday nights!"

Um. I am not invited to the young adults coffee scene. And most likely if you're reading my blog, you're not invited either. 
Thanks a lot stupid coffee place.  Am I invited to the old adults bucci mixer? The middle age coffee social? How dare they broadcast all over the radio waves that young adults are 18-23!  Whatever. I only just started liking coffee, and I wasn't going to go anyway, thankyouverymuch-you agediscriminatingjerks.
When I went into Forever 21 this weekend for the first time in 2 years (not by choice-but by geographical hardship) I'm overthrown by the taller than me middle school and high school girls looking like they just came off a Japanese music video.  I like the store, but the Saturday mall thing was never fun to me at any age. I'm not a black friday, clearance fighter sort. Still, I try my best to enjoy the moment. I pick up some great costume jewelry for myself, a quartz and faux pearl necklace and another great chunky gold necklace, and think, "These would go great with tons of my clothes--super wearable. Church, downtown, everyday. And Juliette will love these too!" 

Juliette is my 3 year old daughter. Awkward thought, but fleeting. I pay for the jewelry and zip out of the mall, already overwhelmed by the first store experience. I text Ryan to come pick me up, I'm ready to go. Vieja. 
To ease my transition, I will start using the number 30 in my everyday.  But if 30 means I am looked at strangely for painting my toes glittery gold, then yeah. I have a problem with 30. Is it ok to share jewelry and hair bows with Juliette when I turn 30? (There are those who would say it was never ok, but we aren't friends.) Once I passed that 10 year high school reunion mark, I knew things started to shift.  And I know how to count, and that 30 has been in the works for awhile. But we all know, it's not exactly as exciting as 18 or 21, or even 25. Is there any age left that people look forward to? Please share if so. I'd love to look at a birthday in my future and not grimace. 

Times they are a changin.  Not so long ago I studied for exams and paid sorority dues. Not so long after I got married. I was the mom of 1. But now I have a 6 year old who plays soccer and goes to boyscouts, a daughter who takes dance lessons, and my babies are officially toddlers now and we've stopped breastfeeding.  (For you nonbreastfeeders, that means my breasts have now returned to prepubescent size, and it kinda sucks.) I will do a lot less swaddling in my life now, and a lot more chauffeuring. Life flies. I bet 40 will come for me faster than 30, and Luke will be driving himself around. 

I have a slightly older sister and a slightly older cousin who will always make my birthday seem not so bad.  Maybe it'll be like the Three Billy Goats Gruff for us. I will be the last goat, pass over last, I will have to butt the ugly, warty, hairy 30 year-old troll off the bridge, but once I cross I will find all my other goat friends already enjoying the good life of green fields and dandelions. Maybe! But I already have issues with this allegory because in it, no matter where we find ourselves, we're getting older, fatter, and we're still goats. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Breastfeeding Twins -- In the Beginning

The first two
To be honest, it was not as hard as I expected.  I nursed my other two until 11 months, and experience was a big factor in helping me to know that I could succeed. I was nervous while pregnant, not sure how it would work. I had 3 different twin breastfeeding pillows, not sure which would help the most. I read every blog, pamphlet, and book I got my hands on.  I thought I wouldn't get any sleep, or I'd be too busy nursing to care for my 3 and 5 year old. But once the babies came, it was really much easier than I anticipated and came very naturally to the 3 of us.

We had a great delivery, both born vaginally at 37 weeks 1 day via induction (I was BEYOND ready. I couldn't move, breathe, sit, stand, bend, hurry, sleep--you get the idea), 8 minutes apart. I had my epidural (thank you God) and didn't feel much. When baby A (Jackson) came out (6lbs 9oz), we were all pretty flustered with excitement,  but soon got focused on Baby B (Lincoln), who upon Jackson's exit decided to flip around, never before had he experienced so much room in the womb. My fantastic OB, skilled at this sort of thing, simply said, "Ok, he's I'm going to do something you don't see very often..." She reached inside me, grabbed Lincoln by his little legs,and eased him out, feet and butt first. Very strange to see his legs and butt outside of my body, but not his torso or head. It was a scene fit for a SCI-FI alien movie. Just a few minutes later, and Baby B was with us. I don't remember much (no drugs, just horrible mommy memory. See Ryan for details) but they were both healthy and we immediately went to a room together, where I soon started the nursing journey with twins. We were clear with the nurses that we would be exclusively bf-ing.  Jackson latched on well, but Lincoln I felt was more easily frustrated and I couldn't tell if he was getting any colostrum. I mentioned my concern to the nurse (big mistake), who promptly suggested I give him formula to supplement. "That way we can guarantee he's eating"...she says. "The lactation consultant who comes tomorrow will suggest the same thing"...she says. This upset me, because I really wanted supportive, adamant people around me, telling me I could DO THIS. Ryan was enough to sway me...we would not give Lincoln the formula, we'd just see how he fared in the night. 

Thankfully we stuck to our guns. They were nursing champs, I just needed to give Lincoln a chance. Mommies, if you are in this situation please don't be discouraged at the first, second, third, or even fourth trial with breastfeeding! Over the course of their first year, I had tons of issues, and I still was able to stick it out.  If you have your mind set up that you want to try breastfeeding, then give it a REAL chance. Don't let others with different experiences try to sway you. Talk to a lactation consultant (good to know of one before baby arrives) about your concerns, not just some schmo who feels they know more about your baby or your boobs than you do. 

When we got home 2 days later, the pain started to set in. For me, this was typical of my bf experience. The nipples take about 7-10 days to "toughen up", but with some Lanolin and a great determination to get through it, the pain subsides and breastfeeding becomes the beautiful experience we all want. 
HOWEVER. When breastfeeding infant twins, there is very little downtime in between feedings, therefore the nipple cracks and fissures took what felt like twice as long to heal. When I fed them in the beginning, I experienced incredible pain. These boys were GREAT nursers, they sucked so hard they would empty the breast in minutes.  But with great suckers, come great scabs. The scabs could not heal quickly because the next baby was ready to eat, and just a bit later the other was hungry again. My toes clenched, my teeth clenched, and as I furiously tapped my hand onto the closest object, I'd count the seconds it took before my nipple went totally numb with the pain. After they'd unlatch, the pain would set in again, the temperature of the room would cause my nipples to contract, sending me into another bout of torture. 

Still, we stuck to it. The pain did eventually go away (I can't remember, maybe 15-16 days of that?) and I was suuuuper proud to tell people I was breastfeeding them exclusively. Most often in the beginning I would cradle hold them or lay beside them and feed one at a time. This was my favorite because I could fall asleep at night.  But as their neck muscles strengthened, we were able to double feed using the football hold. I'd put pillows on either side of me, and get both babies within arms reach on the bed. Then I'd latch Jackson on first (he seemed to be able to hold the latch better while I got L set up). I'd pull Lincoln on the other side, and voila. Double breastfeeding. Time saver? Yes. Mom ego booster? Yes. Proud enough to take a picture of them while double nursing? Yep--But that's not for this blog. In the moment, I sent the pic to my sister (who is also a bf mom) in a text, who wrote back along the lines of "Wow crazy! But now delete this, and don't ever text me pics of your boobs again".  Sorry about that Brandi. Lesson learned. No one wants to see that but me and my proud husband who took to calling me Wonder Woman after I sent him the same text. Was double feeding easier than one at a time? Heck no. Unless we were late to go somewhere, I would always opt for single servings. 

When they were about 3 months old, I tried to give them a bottle of formula, to see if they'd take it and allow for Ryan and I to have a date--No good. Jackson was semi interested, but Lincoln hated it. He would struggle with the bottle nipple, then he actually vomited after he took some down. I then discovered that formula can expire (sorry, very little experience with formula) and the formula in question was a few days expired...but Jackson didn't get sick so we weren't sure.  After buying 1 can of NEW formula, different brand, same thing happened. Jackson took a few sips, but Lincoln ended up vomiting. 
So the date nights had to wait. If I wanted alone time for more than 2 hours, I'd have to pump (the pump and me, not always compadres).  

So there you have it. With the babies' cribs in our bedroom, my night became a blur of bringing the 1st baby to cry to the bed, pass out immediately while he nursed, hear the second baby later, bring him to the bed, squeeze in between Ryan and the first baby , nurse baby #2, and immediately fall asleep again. Ryan was squished to a sliver of the bed, and I just flopped left and right all night long. The babies and I nursed, and nursed, and nursed. I didn't know if they were hungry or not. I didn't know who was who, who was crying or why. I just nursed--and it was the magical mute button. I got fragmented sleep all night, but it was still sleep. I'd breastfeed them at the slightest meow they'd make, and Ryan for the most part slept on. If both babies tag teamed me, crying at the same time, Ryan would hold one until the other passed out from nursing (5-6 nursers).  Sometimes they needed a diaper, but most times, they wanted the liquid gold.  

I know everyone has their own breastfeeding experience, but I felt since breastfeeding twins varies slightly from breastfeeding one baby, I wanted to share with other interested moms and dads about the process we went through.  I wanted to record what I could remember from the early months of their lives, now a year ago, and to encourage others (or scare others--whatever your perspective).  We made adjustments and had setbacks later into the year, but that's another story, for another post. 

Monday, September 24, 2012


Now that the school year has started we've got a pretty sweet schedule going, and the twins take a consistent nap every morning for about 1-2 hours while Juliette and Luke are at school. During that time I make some yummy ice coffee and settle into the horribly uncomfortable wooden computer chair no one in their sane mind would ever purchase, we probably found on the side of the road years ago. I check my facebook page and get caught up on the happenings of my peeps, I send some emails usually focused around my church responsibilities, do some calendar checking/planning, etc. Sometimes there's nothing very engaging so I get up and do more productive things, like picking up rocks and pins and hairballs and marbles all over the house that will find their way into my babies' hands, then mouths. But today I was engaged. I fell headfirst into reading mommy blogs.

I became connected with another mom pregnant with twins a few months earlier in her pregnancy than I was, living in SC and also scared to death about suddenly being the mom of 4. We connected online, I wrote encouraging and sympathetic notes to her about how it will all work out, that God wouldn't give us something we couldn't handle. We shared diaper coupons. It was nice.
But then she found out her identical twin girls were diagnosed with Twin-to-Twin Transfusion (TTTS), and after a scary battle for a healthy pregnancy and delivery, her babies were born at 30 weeks 5 days via Csection. Baby Kathryn weighed 4lbs 5 oz, mostly due to the excess fluids built up in her tiny body, and was   not breathing. Baby Charis weighed only 1lb 10oz but was breathing on her own.  After only 2 days, Kathryn died.  Charis spent 84 days in the NICU before being strong enough to go home, where I'm happy to say is living a beautiful life with her awesome family, who still grieve terribly for Kathryn, while raising awareness for the life-robbing condition known as TTTS.  Please visit her blog and read about Kathryn, Charis, and their sweet family, and how you can help.   No Holding Back

So I sat down with my iced coffee this morning, and her blog No Holding Back was linked to Top Mommy Blogs. I then spiraled into almost 2 hours of crying and laughing along with some of the funniest, bravest women you'll ever know or read about. Some of these blogs are simply fun and capture the essence of motherhood from unique perspectives, ie mother of triplets, the crafty mom, the I clean poop but I am still fabulous mom, etc. But others are the heart-wrenching stories of mothers who have and are suffering to watch their babies and children try to live their lives with cancer, tumors, and skin diseases that cause unimaginable pain.
I read of a beautiful boy who did not live to be 4 because of his stage 4 cancer, and the lessons he still teaches his family from another place. Rockstar Ronan
I read of a mother who spent everyday for almost 3 years taking care of her son, diagnosed with EB, a painful skin disease that causes the skin to blister and tear at the slightest touch. Babies are nicknamed "Butterfly Babies" due to the fragile state of their skin. The blisters can be internal as well, and most babies diagnosed don't live past their 1st birthday.  Some of the most severe cases are kept on a concoction of tylenol and morphine to ease the babies life, while he is shakes and screams from the pain of simply changing his diaper, or trying to suck a pacifier.  "EB"ing a Mommy
A friend on facebook had a link about EB, someone in her family was going through it. I knew I was supposed to be praying for this baby boy Easton, but didn't ever click on the link to find out why. But since I read on "EB"ing a Mommy" what EB was all about, and while I still couldn't catch my breath from crying through all of these horrific blogs that just make me want to fall on my knees and thank God for sparing me, and my 4 children, from these things, and while the tears were still splashing freely from my eyes, pouring down my cheeks and chin, I follow the link to read about Easton.

Please don't be a grumpy nasty person, you have no right. Please don't neglect to thank God for EVERY person and moment in your life. And for these children's sake, don't you DARE waste a minute complaining about your life. You are lucky to have a life where every morning, you wake up.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Don't be Tardy for the Batty Party

I really want to write about the chaos that lead up to my little sister #4's wedding night and the postwedding nonsense, but it only happened 2 days ago so I feel it's a little t0o fresh to write about just yet. If I never get the good vibration that it's acceptable to blog on the subject, just know that YOU HAVE NO IDEA what efforts were put into the wedding before and after. You have no clue how hard Samantha tried to keep everyone's best interests (financial and emotional) in mind as she planned. You don't know the names of everyone that prepared the shrimp you ate, the cake laborers, the water bottle labelers, the name card printers, the flower arrangers, the research assistants, the clean up crew, the breakdown crew (one in the same), the painters, the gluers, the hot sauce team, the salad mixers--let me just stop. But a gorgeous wedding with such beautiful details doesn't just happen, and without Samantha's vision and research, and a whole lot of family and friends, and a few sleepless nights, July 28 simply would not have been all that it was. Let me take this opportunity to say thank you, on behalf of Samantha and Nick, to every person that found themselves willingly or unwillingly assisting and helping make their fairytale wedding a reality.

July 28 was Ryan's 29th birthday.  I knew there would be no time for Ryan the day of the wedding, so I gave him the day off a week before to checkout the new cable park in Grassy Key. It was sort of a lame present, seeing as how all I really gave him was a day to himself, but I kept thinking how much I would love a day to myself. Even though he couldn't unwrap his gift, for a dad of 4, a Saturday to yourself is a beautiful thing. So on the day of the wedding, his actual birthday, I snuck away with the twins at 6am to pick up some of his favorite breakfast items in an effort to make the day about him, at least until the night became all about Samantha and Nick.  Samantha wanted her 4 sisters and mom to to a relaxing breakfast with her that morning at Blue Heaven, which I thought was very sweet and special since we hadn't had a lot of sister time with up to this point. I know she was stressed and still dealing with table seating assignments and a whole slew of other unresolved issues, but I also know time with us helped her relax, even for just the breakfast hour.

Back at the house, with cousins in town, aunts, uncles and grandparents stopping by to say hello, and the regular babies squeeling, it was quite a warzone. What started out as a calm morning quickly spun into a frantic dash to get to the wedding on time. I started to get Juliette prepared to be a beautiful flowergirl around 2:30, knowing she had to be at the photoshoot by 3:45. But suddenly there was no time. The curlers I needed to do her hair were snatched up by another cousin, and I had to patiently wait until they were out. (They were the guests after all.)  My dad, DJ, and my mom were running in and out of the house picking up food, equipment, and other wedding items forgotten.  When I was finally ready to take Juliette downtown, less than a mile away, it was after 4pm. In the end, after Ryan and I finished running out to GFS for a final pick up of 20 gallons of water and 500 more cups, we ran back to the house and threw on our party clothes, dressed the babies and drove downtown as fast as we could, but we were only able to catch "I would like to present to you Mr. and Mrs. Batty!"....But hey. We were on time for the party. 


There's Love in the Licorice

Why do I enjoy crafting, planning, and putting together these kids' parties?? Let's work this out: I am not very innovative. I am good at borrowing ideas from the internet. I am semi creative, but not crafty.  I like to organize the people around me, but don't really organize my own life very well. I wonder if living here at the crazy bin has given me the excuse that I can't be organized because of my circumstances, when in reality I just can't be organized because I'm not wired that way. I like to be in charge. I suppose I like the sound of my voice. If I were you, I would listen to me. I would follow me.  I would want to be on my team.  So how can I get the validation that my soul desires if I can't act out these urges for control and power as a stay-at-home mother?  Ah ha! I will invite 2 dozen children to be my "guests" at a party and force organized fun upon them all...

I just ordered 2.5 lbs of green apple licorice sticks from have spent the last 2 weeks creating invitations, gluing coffee filters, folding and cutting tissue paper, soaking and scrubbing baby food jars, stringing banners, and creating party hats for the twins' first birthday party in 11 days. They actually don't turn 1 for another 16 days but we party early and hard 'round these parts. I've chosen a simple theme and am pretty excited about all the DIY crap I've made these last few nights. After this party, I'll add some pictures to satisfy your insatiable desire to see my handiwork.

(Here are some pics from the party! posted 2/22/13)


I know I'm not crafty. I have always been embarrassed of my lack of artistic ability and have shied away from crafty things since as far as I can remember. But in recent years I feel like I've been transforming into a new crafting creature. Most likely due to the internet, Pinterest and other shared ideas, I feel empowered to try new things and get crafty when it comes to my offspring and their birthday parties.  It's sort of a sick addiction at this point...I've learned that simple is best, but I can't seem to say no to a good cheap idea, and I end up committing myself and others to these unnecessary tasks of gluing, cutting, and hanging. In the end we're all exhausted but still, I can't stop myself. (I have to add that getting crafty isn't so hard when your critics will be under the age of 6. How can I go wrong?)

Pirate Party, cake by Julie Parker

I think it started last year when Luke turned 5. We had a huge pirate party for him and his cousin Jake...and for that I trapped Ryan into making driftwood pirate signs, a full size plank, and 3ft pirate ship replicas. We had family members tie up 30 redblack and white balloons around the park and fill waterballoons for a pirate battle. I turned wipe containers into treasure boxes, made 20 small cardboard islands for games, created riddles and rhymes for a treasure hunt, put together a tattoo parlor and dressup table, and was 6 months pregnant with twins. Two months after the twins were born we threw a "Tangled" party for Juliette's 3rd. I braided yellow tablecloths to create a 30 ft braid to hang outside of the party from the high balcony, precut green craft foam into chameleon features for the craft, filled old baby bottles with paints for a gallery corner, and convinced Ryan to build a 10 ft rapunzel tower, including a pickaboo window at the top for a picture opp. We opted out of the traditional cake and stacked a dozen donuts on a dowel, topped it with an upside-down waffle cone, and piped vines and flowers around it to make a tower...

Rapunzel's Donut Tower

"Tangled" Tower and desserts

When Luke turned 6 we gave him a "Pokemon" party, and I won't go into details but it was another scene of   craftiness. And now, as the babies get ready to not be babies, we're at it again. But in my defense, I'm a stay at home mom. I'm a professional mother. I don't wake up and get dressed to go take over the world at 8am, I wake up and feed babies, help bring structure to my children's lives, and keep them safe and thriving intellectually, spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Right now, they're all I think about. They are my job. When Ryan comes home from work I tell him about my job, and he tells me about his. We are measured the same. He is as important to this equation as I am (so he says).  For other moms, there are work deadlines, promotions, projects, and planning meetings to juggle. There are online classes, exams, and papers. There are degrees to earn and bills to pay. But for me, for now, my children are what it's all about. (Hokey pokey, step aside). So yes, I may go overboard on birthday parties. I may waste too much time deciding between the green apple gumballs or the green apple licorice sticks. But at the end of the day, at the end of this year, at the end of all the years, when Juliette finishes her first and last ballet class, and Luke grows another inch, and Jackson & Lincoln start walking/talking, and even graduate high school, I have to know I did my best as their professional mom, to give them a unique and special experience that only I could have provided them.  Did I sing enough lullabies? Did I correct enough grammar? Was I silly and serious at the appropriate moments? Did I demand manners and respect? Did I show passion and creativity and warmth and love? Even in the little things? Even in the licorice sticks? I want to be able to say yes. Yes I did.  And so my friends, for those reasons, we craft onward!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Short Flights, Short Wedding, Long Blog: Traveling with Twin Babies

Stop. This blog is not funny, or an easy quick read. This is merely a documentation of the traveling and events of May 30-June 3 2012 from my perspective. For other much funnier anecdotes and differing perspectives of this trip, see Janell Shirk, Brandi Goldstein, or Sylvia Gonzalez. I know each would have lovely things to say. Furthermore, you may notice this blog entry is written in both past and present tense. I am aware. I could not make up my mind. Please disregard.

When I finally stopped procrastinating and decided I needed to really focus on packing for the big trip to Maryland, it was the day before our flight. I can only efficiently pack when there aren't any babies on my hips, so when they finally went down for a nap that morning I quickly ran to the fridge to get a small snack before the heavy duty packing commenced, and as I opened the fridge door, 11 eggs came crashing down on me. Some fool didn't push the tray back all the way that morning. So I spent 20 minutes cleaning egg yolk, all the while thinking this was some ominous sign that our trip was doomed. But I'd say overall I'd give the trip, flying with the kids, sleeping in new places, and some illness, a B-.


Packing Notes: We flew Southwest so each ticket got to check 2 bags.  I checked the largest piece of luggage and it held my clothes, bridesmaid dress, Ryan's suit, all of my shoes and Ryan's dress shoes, a Bumbo, random baby toys, and a door frame jumperoo. (I use the Bumbo for baths since they still need support sitting up, as well as feedings if we attempted solids on the trip. The jumperoo collapses easily and they love it, so it got packed up too.)   Ryan checked his small luggage piece for his clothes, and one pack 'n' play. Luke and Juliette shared a medium size suitcase for their clothes and shoes, and we had to check a small duffel with toiletries, and the 2 infant carseats (the babies weigh in at about 20 lbs each now, so they have maybe another month in those seats).  Lincoln/Jackson would be lap babies, so we didn't buy them plane tickets.
Ryan and I each had backpacks for our carryons, filled with diapers, wipes, butt paste, 2 toys each, disposable bags for dirty diapers, an empty bottle (for water if they needed to swallow for popped ears, I can only nurse one at a time on a plane!), and spare clothes.
Luke and Juliette had backpacks too, filled with favorite little toys from home, Luke's DS with the new Pokemon game bought especially for this trip, Juliette's Leapster Explorer with newly purchased game and UmiZoomi videos, and some new-to-them books.
We checked everything but the backpacks, carseats, and double Snap and Go stroller. Stroller and seats we checked at the gate right before boarding. We rented a high chair, a bouncer, and an exercauser from a baby rental company in MD, so we had more options.

Travel Log, May 30, 4:45am: We set the alarm for 4:15am, and didnt hear it until 4:50am, just enough time to throw the kids (Luke almost 6, Juliette 3, Jackson/Lincoln 8 months) in the car and drive to Ft Laudy to catch our flight at 11:45am, factoring in time for traffic in Miami, diaper catastrophes, and other mishaps.  The drive isnt so bad, I squeeze inbetween the carseats to nurse as needed (judge not), and we changed diapers when we stopped to get gas and doughnuts. Older two are pretty good, just anxious to get to the airport where we'll be meeting up with sister #1 Brandi, her husband Ashby, and her three children (Rebecca 5, Jake almost 4, and Caroline 18 m). Also driving up from Key West with us, to fly out with us, are sister #4 Samantha, fiance Nick, and #6 brother DJ--extra hands for the impending flight. 

Flight Log, May 30, 11:45am: Just in case you lost count, that's 3 babes under two, 4 kids under five, and 7 adults.  2 babies can't sit on laps in one row because there aren't enough oxygen masks to cover all 5 people in the row, so we passed babies back and forth so I could nurse whoever was hungry or fussy. I was so nervous about the babies on the flight I didn't get to enjoy watching my older two as they experienced flying for the first time, but they had their cousins and tias and tios, so they were fine and very happy. We got a lot of big eyes from the already seated passengers as we boarded, those poor people counted the children with little nods from their heads and their eyes grew bigger and bigger. Their sighs of relief as we passed them and the empty seats around them was not discreet. I especially enjoyed watching 3 college girls with PINK sweatpants, tiny spaghetti strapped camis and oversized sunglasses in their perfectly straightened hair exclaim, "hooooly sh*t..." as our company boarded and walked by them. They pulled their sunglasses down over their eyes and exchanged disgruntled whispers with each other while we walked by. :)
When we finally made camp in the back, I just prayed for a fast flight with no disgusting blowout diapers. The young woman sitting next to Ryan was a good sport, she ordered some strong drinks for herself but smiled throughout the flight. Babies were great though, Caroline was fiesty and squirmy but she's almost 2 and it's hard to explain to a 2 year old that she's not allowed to walk around for 2.5 hours.
My mom rented a beautiful 7 bedroom/5 bathroom house for her children and their respective families (18 of us?) while in MD, but we had to stay at a hotel for one night before we got the keys to the big house. I don't know why I brought the packnplay. The babies sleep with me because we still wake up every 2 hours to nurse, and I'm too dead tired to pick them up after feeding and put them back in the packnplay. Lincoln started a fever around this time in the trip, and was irritable for the next 2 days. Ryan Luke and Jbelle slept in the other bed at the hotel. Sleeping arrangements at the big house were tight, Ryan ended up sleeping on the floor with the big kids each night. He probably slept better there though, than he would have with me and the babies.

Travel Log, May 31, Rehearsal Day and Dinner: We had to pack up the hotel situation (now20 people thick) bags and all and commute over to the "New House" as Juliette calls it, 30 minutes away. My parents rented a 12 passenger van and a compact car for the week. We jammed ALL the luggage we could into the cars and took off, Tia Estela had to come back for the remaining luggage that didn't fit. The bridal party then ran off, leaving the kids with Ryan and Brandi's husband Ashby, Nick, and Brian.   Ashby and Brian then went to the grocery store, leaving all the kids with Nick and Ryan for awhile...
Let me just say here that if it weren't for Ryan, this trip wouldn't have happened. As one of the bridesmaids I had to be away from him and kids for a good chunk of the trip, and be absent almost the whole wedding day.  He's the most compliant, easygoing, goodnatured, patient, tolerant father and husband you or I know, and I'll bet you on it. No one that I know can even compare because no one that I know has to live at Georgia St with his kids, twin babies, and the crazies. So just to be clear, if you think you know a candidate that might be even more of a superdad or husband than Ryan, just trust me. There is no such person.
Sorry for going off on a tangent. Rehearsal was straightforward, chapel and grounds were gorgeous, weddings at the Naval Academy Chapel are scheduled back to back, so we actually met 2 other wedding parties for a "group" rehearsal.  I don't know how things were back at the "new house", but when we got back a few hours later the backup had arrived (More tias). Everything was fine.
I had to run to Burlington Baby Depot to find clothes for the babies and Luke for the wedding, so before the rehearsal dinner Brandi and I ran out to grab those few items we needed for our kids.  Dad needed to get some grocery items for dinner so we all drove out together in the rental car, and he hopped out of the driver seat at the store, and let Brandi and I continue to Burlington.  We were cutting it close with time but Burlington was only a few miles down the road so we figured we'd have enough time...except we didnt factor in that as my dad hopped out of the stupid "keyless" car, he'd take the stupid "not-a-key" with him in his pocket. So after our 20 minutes running through Burlington, we have about 15minutes to get back in the car, drive home, change for dinner, help dress our kids, etc, we get in the car and realize he's got the stupid piece of technology in his pocket and we can't start the car. Brandi didn't have her cell phone, (she had given it to my dad because his was dead), and my phone was also almost dead, like, very near death. We decided to have Ryan and folks bring us makeup and clothes to the restaurant to save time.
If you know my dad, you know he does not like to be late, and he doesn't like to be made to look like a fool. In this case both happened.  We then got lost for a few extra minutes before finding the dinner location. The van of crazies and kids showed up with my wardrobe change, but as I pulled my dress on over my head and stepped out of the van, and saw Ryan's eyes pop out a bit, I remembered that this lowcut dress only fit presentably AFTER I nursed. Before I nurse, I become my alterego Super Tetas, and the lace on the dress doesn't cover nearly enough skin. I hold a baby closely to my chest, to compensate for my sexiness, and slip into the backdoor of the private room where the rehearsal dinner is already starting.
After 2 glasses of wine, a few hours of bouncing babies, nursing in the bathroom stalls, and passing babies around the table so we can eat, the dinner is over and it's time to move into the nighttime routine (bath babies, nurse babies, change babies, make cake balls for wedding favors, have a bubble foot soak with the other maids, a little more vino, sleep, nurse babies, sleep, nurse babies, sleep, nurse babies...)

Travel Log, June 1, Wedding Day whirlwind: Hair dresser arrives, starts on me first, makes my hair look presentable, and moves on to the other bridesmaids. Makeup lady comes, does some makeup for a special select of maids, mother, and bride. Blowdriers, Pandora, female banter, babies laughing, screaming, and crying, kids running in between your legs, all in all a very calm prewedding experience for sister #5 Kimmie. We run up and down the stairs of this huge house, calves burning, suddenly running late (how did that happen?), doing each other's makeup, getting kids dressed, nursing again, fixing Juliette up in her flowergirl get up, helping Ryan if I can, taking pictures when we can. Photographer arrives, starts with Kimmie upstairs, more family arrive to hang out and be part of the commotion, helping with babies/kids if possible. Limo arrives, and I leave Ryan again for the umpteenth time.
It goes without saying that Kimmie is gorgeous, she looks stunning as we take our pics, all of us tearing up every few minutes at the sight of her. The wedding was brief and beautiful, Michael and groomsmen look sharp in their uniforms, and the 72 yards Kimmie and Dad walked down that huge chapel seemed to be crossed in seconds. When the final vow was spoken, and the kiss sealed the deal, we filed out and then watched Mr and Mrs Labrada come down the front steps, walking through the tunnel of swords Michael's brothers-in-arms held high above them. At each step down, two opposing swords dropped to block their way, and one officer says "The right of passage is a kiss", and so it followed. At the last step, after the last kiss, one officer spanked Kimmie with the flat of his sword and says quietly, "Welcome to the Navy, Ma'am."
How cute is that.
We took a gazillion pictures, and poor Ryan with all of our children, was waiting for us to arrive at the reception 25 minutes away. Then the rain came down down down.  It started to pour, and the blisters started to burn on all of the bridesmaids toes and heels from our fabulous nude peeptoe 3 1/2 inch pumps.  At about 8pm the babies and kids had had enough, so we stayed another hour to really get them good and miserable. The party was great though, the guests had a great time and Kimmie and Michael were topnotch, mingling with guests, smiling for more pics, and cutting the cake with one of those fancy Navy swords.  The tribe with babies (us and Brandi's fam) left before the sparklers and the big sendoff, but eh. We had to cut our losses and take the exhausted children back to the house.

Travel Log, June 2, Cookout: I'm getting tired of typing, and Lincoln already woke up from his nap. It's only a matter of time before Jackson follows, so I have to be brief. The "new house" was able to accommodate tons of family with it's huge backyard and patio furniture, so we got to spend time with those family members that we don't see very often from all over the east coast. There was a cornhole competition, Nick and Samantha remained the undeafeated champions, corn on the cob, bbq chicken, baked potatoes, and we even squeezed in a birthday cake for the cousins (JJ, Luke, and Jake) who had upcoming birthdays on June 8, 9, and 10, respectively. Ryan and Ashby "volunteered" to take the big kids to the pool down the block, but those Florida kids couldn't hack the water temp, and they came back bluelipped and with seizure shakes.  That night the cool kids (over 21, under 25) went out for some drinks, and the Party Pooper Parents had to stay back for obvious reasons. To be honest, we were exhausted, but weren't going to admit that.

Travel Log, June 3, Home Again:  We checked out the downtown scene of Annapolis, got to see where Michael proposed at the docks, got some ice cream and walked the grounds of the Naval Academy, before we had to head over to the airport for the return flight.

Flight Log, June 3, 6:30pm takeoff: Return flight was not so great, all because Lincoln wanted to screech and squeal and cry for the first hour. I was so embarrassed, I wanted to cry. Jackson slept the whole flight, but Lincoln was so tired and frustrated he wouldn't pipe down. I finally decided to do the walk of shame and go through the entire plane to the bathroom for a changing table, but the bathroom was occupied and I wasn't allowed to "form a line", so I had to walk back to my seat with Lincoln over my shoulder, trying to avoid meeting anyone's eyes as I walked back with my little nugget of joy.  That was about the time that I started to feel the tears filling my eyes. I squeezed back into my window seat (I asked for window for nursing modesty) and continued to bounce him up and down, change positions, try to nurse, etc. I changed him on my lap a few minutes later but he didnt really need to be changed.  My biceps and triceps burned as I tried to keep Lincoln happy. He finally fell asleep in Ryan's arms a few minutes later and things calmed down again, for the remainder of the flight. I took Lincoln back into my arms because he started to stir right before landing, and he fell back asleep again. When we got off, the stewardess made a point to compliment the older kids on their great behavior. She did not make direct eye contact with me though, or make any comment about the spectacular passenger in my arms.
When we landed in Ft Laudy at around 9pm, and after saying our goodbyes to the Goldsteins and sharing Children's Advil with little Caroline who was running a fever, we wandered around the airport for 30 minutes trying to find where we parked. We eventually arrived back in Key West around 1:30am.



I don't think we'll be flying anywhere anytime soon, thankfully. But overall the trip was exciting and lively, and we wouldn't have missed Kimmie's wedding for anything. Not for extraneous plane ticket prices, or multiple babies, or blisters, or coughs and fevers...not for anything. :) Congrats Kimmie! And Michael, welcome to this crazy family.  There's no backin out now.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Blog Post Brew Babies

Be forewarned: is different than my  The former has a teenager, her last post was in 2011, and she admits to hating her son and frequently having to suppress the urge to slap his snarky face. She's pretty funny though, so if you have teenagers and you're wanting to feel better about your parenting skills and patience levels, you should read an entry of hers.

But more about me.  This morning I find myself enjoying some quiet time while the almost 8 month old babies are taking a nap at the same time, and Juliette re-acquaints herself with cable television (just reconnected yesterday after having quit Comcast, then gone running back to them with tail between legs because Abuela is a miserable being without Dancing with the Stars). I started regularly drinking coffee last week after having realized that I actually do enjoy the taste, I just didn't enjoy that hell-hot temperature most people like to put down their throats. Ice and Splenda and now I'm hooked. So now my mind is all jazzed up and I feel like a grownup, drinking coffee with the best of you.

Ryan and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary last week. 5 years and 4 kids later, our marriage is pretty much the easiest relationship I've ever been in, thank you Jesus. Ryan is too cool and levelheaded for fights and nonsense, so he makes me raise the bar for myself.  I may be a mediocre mom, but I have a stellar marriage. Only downside is I feel like our happiness has to be kept secret because so many others have such crappy moments in their marriages. Maybe our crappy moments are coming, maybe they're like cell phone minutes and are rolling over until one day 10 years down the road we have the biggest blowout screaming match you've ever heard, and we recognize our irreconcilable differences and start being really annoyed with each other.
Won't happen, but I wanted to throw that out there so people don't think I'm naive. Our church is hosting a marriage conference in a week or so, I really want to go with Ryan because I know even the healthiest marriages need nurturing and attention, but that depends on whether there will be reliable childcare. It looks so well done I don't want to miss it. Check it out, maybe there's one in your area. Interestingly, my #1 sister's church is also hosting a marriage conference this month in Vero Beach Fl, I believe it's a message about strengthening your marriage with comedy infused throughout...I hope there's some laughing at our event too. If there's anything I know about successful marriage, it's that being able to laugh at each other and your situation without anyone taking offense is vital.

This month is a little more chaotic than normal for us. I will spare you the details, but my calendar is full. And to culminate the chaos, we will be packing up our little familia and flying up to Maryland for sister #5's wedding at the end of May.  I'm sure traveling with twins is no big deal. But it seems daunting to me at this moment. I will most certainly blog all about it later this summer, so in case you ever find yourself flying with a 5 year old, a 3 year old, and baby twins, you'll know what to do, and not to do.
And I'm trying not to get stressed about school letting out in June. Abuela will be home more, and depending on your perspective, that can be humorous or horrifying. (Please do not share this statement with her, it is intended for my trusted readers and I prefer to blog behind her back and not answer for my rudeness at any point in the future) Luke will be home too. To be fair, Luke is the easiest kid I have, but with him home from Kindergarten the dynamics change. Juliette has someone to provoke, and I have the added pressure of entertaining Luke as well as the other three.  We also have these lovely goals of getting Luke and Jbelle to master the art of swimming and bike riding in the months ahead. I know they're overdue for a 5-almost 6 year-old, but please remember the name of my blog before you judge. Anyway, he excels at other reading. He received his Super Reader award from the superintendent for reading like a champ, and he'll co-represent his class this week at the school spelling bee. His other skills include telling me how beautiful I am and how he has the best parents ever, and being an overall adorable blue-eyed boy.

And so this blog comes to a close.  Babies are awake. My yummy coffee is gone. Do I ignore the crying long enough to let the Keurig make me another delish drinkie?  I think yes.  Blog, Post, Brew, then Babies. (I truly should squeeze Bathroom into this agenda, you wouldn't believe how hard it is to peacefully relieve yourself with a baby on your hip and one screaming from the other room.)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Nuthouse

Blogs are very exposing. I am finding that everything I want to write about concerns other people, and I can't very well point out your flaws and complain about annoying types of people if those people end up reading this. I pride myself on being a great diplomat, working well with all different personalities, striking compromises, reaching common ground, making peace, yada yada. But if all of you find out that I'm really just suppressing my grievances under my smile, it's not going to work out for us. So again. I'm having a hard time finding topics that aren't going to ruffle feathers.

I suppose it's safe to start close to home when one is pointing out flaws. Some of you lovely friends of mine are new friends, or long distance friends, or just really smart friends, and you've never been to my house. Let me paint a picture for you, of all that you're missing.
Those closest to me know I live in a very, how shall I say this--eccentric house.  Currently there are only 10 family members living here, and this is the lowest number in years, I think since 1994. We have two bathrooms for us all to share. You can see the back of the house from the frontdoor, as the years went by the patriarchs added one room at a time to accommodate everyone. At the end of the long hallway you'll see the kitchen. In total we have 6 "bedrooms" now.   I could describe only one room of this place and those unfamiliar would make sure to never ask to come over. The great mystery lies in the fact that those who do know the unkempt mess of this house continue to come over, and some in fact try to make it their second home.
For years no one owned a key to the front door, because it was never, ever locked. I grew up with it always open, and it pretty much remains that way today. You should see the panic on someone's face when they come up to the house and the door is closed. They think they missed a mandatory hurricane evacuation.  The familiar faces of family and friends (and the unfamiliar faces of strangers) can always find the front door open, and they just sort of waltz right in the house, as if it were their own.  Maybe they're coming to get a reality check--to remind themselves that their place in life really isn't as bad as they make it out to be. Maybe they come to get a good laugh. Maybe they come because there are NO judgements made here, and they could come in bathrobe and fit right in. But I believe the truth of it is this place is a circus, with crazy characters and performances 24/7.  They come to be entertained. This place is like Peewee's playhouse, a junkyard, your tacky grandmother's house, Luna Lovegood's home, and a dormitory/hostel/orphanage rolled up into one. Do you need an afro wig or a costume for your school play? Come on down. How about a Mother Mary wall clock to finish off that Roman Catholic room in your home? Please come take ours...please. If you misplaced your record player, take your pick. We have two.  And don't mind the 15 baby bouncers, excersaucers, strollers, and jumperoos on your way in. I have twins remember. And please watch your step coming through the front door, we have a big demented brown dog that pretends to be invisible when someone needs to pass by her. Please get your tetanus shots up to date before arriving. Also, if you have small children, we do not take responsibility for their wellbeing while they are here. Luke and Juliette and cousins already know they cannot touch the exposed electrical outlets in the kitchen, but your children may not know that. And I would keep your shoes on the entire duration of your visit, for your own safety.
On the up side, the people that hang around here are pretty fantastic, and the food here is delicious. There will always be a big pot of something on the stove for you to dig into, and what's ours is yours (in all truth, it probably was yours at some point).  The kitchen is the hotspot in the house. Literally, it's super hot, (Grandpa Dave is working on fixing that central ac we were teased with last year) and we often find ourselves shouting above a big industrial fan that is blowing directly into the kitchen from the sidedoor. But it's also the hotspot because that's where everyone hangs out. There aren't enough chairs around the table to fit even the tenants of the house, but we seem to cram people in. Some sit on upturned coolers. Others are lucky enough to grab a real chair, but others get smart and bring in the computer chair from the living room. The unlucky finds themselves on the shower bench from the bathroom.
We don't have ac, the place is a disaster, you may fear the noises of the family of rats in the ceiling, you can't hear yourself over the fans and loud volume that most Cuban descendants use to speak, you may lose your children in the backyard, you may see a scorpion scuttle across the bathroom as you tend to your personal business, you may have to sit on laundry baskets for dinner, but you'll love every minute of it.
And you'll be back.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sparkly and Young

When I look in the mirror I see the me I've always seen, perhaps altered by a few more smile lines than I remember when last I looked, and the debut of crows feet that have stamped their way onto my face when I wasn't paying attention.  But I don't look so different from 23 do I?  Am I in denial?  I know I'm dangerously close to 30, and to me, that IS old. I still am shocked that last summer I attended my 10 year high school reunion.  I am flabbergasted that the girls who are now pledging my sorority were born in 1995.  My baby sisters are done with college, one with her masters, and they're getting married. My parents (who don't look any different to me than they did 10 years ago, except maybe improved)  are grandparents 7x over.  I have 4 kids people. FOUR. Granted, I cheated a little and got a 2-4-1 deal, but still. I'm a grown up, a mother and a wife. I'm an adult. (I have to tell myself that regularly because I sometimes don't believe it.) 

I struggle with this. I love being a mom and wife, but I don't want to act my age sometimes. I don't want to become that lady who drives the minivan and totes her kids all around town, but I fear the transformation is already taking place, even through my desires to stay young. I still want to go out and dance until my legs feel like jelly.  I still want to wear feathered earrings and nylon hot pink skirts (not at the same time). I want to put sparkly eye shadow on and listen to Yellowcard too loudly (same time). 

Some people will read this and just harumph, because they're older than me and they'll be thinking, "I wish I were 29 again."  Others will read it and click their teeth in disappointment because I'm not able to appreciate the here and now. And still the younger ones will read it and be scared that this will someday happen to them. 
I am a forever juxtaposed mind. I can be totally happy and content with what I'm doing and the age I am. The next day I can feel unfulfilled, as if I'm not meeting the full potential God gave me.
Today is the latter kind of day.  I just can't believe the years are slipping by so quickly. It's true what the old people say: Every year speeds up and flies by faster--the older you are, the faster you age.

I told Ryan I'd change his name in my blog to protect his innocence. So his name is now Bryan.

Bryan and I dropped Luke and Juliette off at church Saturday night for a "Parents Night Out" fundraiser. We would've dropped the babies off too, but the church peeps weren't equipped for baby babies, so we took them with.
We went down to Conch Farm for a cold beer and to walk the docks. It was a COLD night for Key West, especially with the sun already sunk and the breeze coming off the water. Bryan ran up to the bar to get us drinks, and as I stood by the double stroller, rocking it with one hand and the other dug deep into my jacket pocket for warmth, I watched people watching me. They walked by and saw me, alone outside of the restaurant, my 5foot frame, my adorable faux leather black little jacket from Ross, my skinny jeans, and my twins. I tried hard to read each mind as they came by. "What is she doing out with those babies in this weather!?" or "Where is the father?" or "TWINS! so glad that's not me..." or "What a hot mom!" or "She's too young to have babies". (I knew no one was really thinking the last two, but I hoped for it.)
But one group of women didn't make me guess. They were tipsy, beautiful women in their late forties, out in Key West to relive some old memories and make some new ones. One of them saw me and came right over, talking too loudly to be sober. She smiled and said seeing me brought back great memories. Her twins are 23 now, and she laughed as she mentioned their age. She asked, "Can you believe it? I don't look that old do I?"
I assured her she looked beautiful, and as her and her girlfriends paused in their revelry to look down at my babies, I knew they were jealous of me, just as at that same moment, I was jealous of them. I told her I look forward to the day I can go out with my girls again, when my little ones don't rely on me for their everything. The twin mom gave me a quick encouraging hug, smiled knowingly, and they all scampered off down the docks.  But even as I watched them leave I knew I didn't speak the entire truth. I DO look forward to my future freedom, but I know the day my babies don't need me anymore I will be devastated. (See what I mean by my juxtaposed mind? I can't pick a perspective and stick to it. The seaweed is always greener.)
Then Bryan returns, my real life knight, with a smile and two drinks, and I'm back to loving every aspect of our crazy lives.  Right then I don't care that I'm in the last year of my twenties. Or that Bryan is and will always be 8 months younger than me (punk). Or that when I smile, my eyes crinkle a bit. Being around him always brings me back to 23.

So I've decided. Today, inside my mind I'm sparkly and young. Tomorrow though, I'll have to start looking for gray hairs. I don't want those to sneak up on me too.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Like I have time for this...

I'm pretty standard, I have no real skills or specialized education that will enhance your life if you follow this blog, and I probably won't be disciplined enough to add posts on a regular basis. But everyone has a blog, and frankly I'm sort of jealous. And like the title reads, I'm just mediocre at everything I do, not especially great anything, but I have to believe at least some part of me is blog-worthy. I'll probably just use this as a way to document my life and the lives of my children, since my memory is so poor I can't tell you what I wore yesterday, let alone the weights, times, lengths, Apgars, etc, that so many mommies can spit out so easily.  I can't remember first words, funny kid-isms, or what you do to soothe a teething baby, although at this point I've had 4.

I used to keep diaries as a kid, and by the time I was in high school I had finished my 4th. So this should be cake--except now I'm 29, I live in a crazy house with a dog, a cat, 10 relatives representing 4 generations, I have a 5 year old son, a 3 year old daughter, and twin sons hitting 5 months next week. I really, really don't have time for a blog. The free time I do have is usually devoted to brushing my teeth or sweeping the dog hair and dirt that has accumulated and collected itself into balls and rolls around the house like tumbleweeds.  In fact my son pointed at one and said, "Look mom! The wild wild west!".  If I have only one baby awake I like to bounce him on my lap and check facebook. I love to look at my "friends" and their pages/posts, learning who is pregnant, who is engaged, who is promoted, who is traveling, who is too vile and crass to really be my friend in real life, whose babies are cuter than mine, etc.  I've recently discovered Pinterest and am just getting my feet wet with that, but it's another time consumer, so I don't get a chance to get on it too much. I also find it to be disappointing. I started pinning stuff to "My Dream Home", and it's just depressing seeing all the beautiful things that I wish were mine. Thou shalt not covet, Danielle.
Even now as I type I have my 3 year old Juliette behind me watching Strawberry Shortcake on Netflix, asking me to get her a "fink and snack". (blending consonants is hard.)  I utter something to her to let her know I've heard her, and continue to type as fast as my stubby fingers will go, knowing the baby monitor is going to start going off like a bomb any second.

I love to read. I like to write. I like to read stuff I've written.  My blog has the potential to entertain me more than it does any of you, and so be it. Let's blog!