The Snap

I went to Target this afternoon while my mom watched the boys for a few hours. Can I just say how nice it is to walk through that store by yourself? It truly is a beautiful thing. My goal was to find a pair of sandals for the boys, although part of the thrill was simply the change of scenery.

I walked up and down every shoe aisle, simply enjoying the fact that I could get up and down each aisle with such ease. I thought, man, good thing I don't have any girls. I'd go broke in this place! For every one pair of shoes for boys, there were twenty for girls. No lie. 

I could hear a woman in conversation and as I got closer, I realized that she was on her cell phone. She obviously doubled as a professional during the week. "No, I agree... He should be reprimanded... possibly fired... that behavior is just unacceptable." There was authority in her voice. She was stirn. Confident. I'm sure she was a nice person, but listening to the clarity of her words, I knew this was one lady I would not want to cross. In or out of the office.

As I circled that row, I saw her son sitting on a bench, munching on some potato chips. He was probably about nine. He seemed numb to his mother's conflict; bored, but also somewhat content to just people-watch. I smiled as I walked by. He looked pretty used to this.

I finally found the ONE section for baby boy sandals. It was an endcap. I could see the boy and his mother to my right, still on the phone. I found some cute brown sandals that I hoped would go with more than one outfit. Perfect. As I looked for two matching sandals the same size, the boy got up from his seat and started moving away from his mom. She was still talking, "That won't be necessary... I will handle it..." Then she realized her son had moved. Without skipping a beat, she snapped her fingers. Once.

I laughed. I'm hoping now she didn't see me. I don't think she did.

Her son stopped dead in his tracks and turned around. She kept talking, but I'm sure he could read her face. Get.Over.Here.Now. He made a heavy sigh as if to say, But Mom... and then he obeyed.

I couldn't believe how fast that little sound took me back. My mom used to do that with us, too. It was for those times she would have normally called your name - or yelled it - while she was otherwise detained. Usually it was because she was on the phone or talking to another adult at church where we were fooling around. We knew immediately what she wanted. Stop what you're doing and come here. And she only had to make a sound. The snap. That sound was the warning bell. If we didn't head her warning, the result would be embarrassing for her and most likely, for us too.

Amazing how that took me back.

I got home a few hours later, grateful to have gotten some fresh air by myself. The boys were sleeping when I got home (thanks, Nana!) and so when they got up, they were still a little groggy. Ben was wide awake, but Jack seemed like he could use a few more minutes. The joy of twins. I hopped onto the couch with Jack and let him fall asleep on my shoulder while Ben continued to play on the floor.

Ben wanted to be where the action was, so I reluctantly pulled him onto the couch with me. How could I resist those big eyes and arms reaching up toward me? I don't mind him being on the couch - the boys LOOOVE to look out the window and the couch is the only way they can do that. But it's frustrating how often they go to the side of the couch and attempt to nose-dive to the floor. Boys. This is one of the few places where I repeatedly say, "No" before bringing them down to the floor again.

It didn't take long for Ben to reach toward the side and start making his way toward the inevitable. Without even thinking, I snapped.

I had to stifle a laugh. Did I really just snap at my one-year-old? Jack was sleeping in my arms. I didn't want to wake him up by calling Ben's name. I couldn't believe it.

But do you know the best part? He stopped.

Apparently, snapping is effective for even the smallest of ears! You better believe I'll use that technique again in the future as the need arises. Whenever I need them to stop dead in their tracks... even when they're wearing their new adorable $6.99 brown flip-flop sandals from Target.


Boys Will Be Boys

On Friday, I wrote about my boys having subconscous ambitions about being gymnasts after I found them standing on top of the toy basket. On Saturday, I found Benjamin doing this.
He doesn't actually go into a somersault on his own. I help him through it. Still, the fact that these activities happened so close to one another made me smile.

This morning, I was trying to get some work done on the computer for my husband before they went down for their nap. They were trying to get my attention for a few moments, then I heard them rolling around on the floor, seemingly content. I kept working, trying to finish it as soon as I could.

I didn't even realize it had gotten so quiet. I was impressed for the first moment, thinking, Man, my boys are entertaining themselves for a pretty good amount of time. Then I wondered if they had fallen asleep on the floor. Yes, they have done this before. And then I realized. They were probably up to no good.

I turned around in my chair to find this.
Jack and Ben were contentedly playing together. With the wipes. And the box. Which I just reloaded yesterday.

Good thing they're still usable, right? Thank GOD they don't know how to open the powder bottle!


I'm not alone, either. I posted this photo on Facebook a few minutes ago and my friend, Kelly, commented: "MINDY!! As I'm looking at this and reading the comments, MY boy was in the bathroom, putting towels in the toilet! I guess I was being too quiet and so John (who rarely gets into trouble) took advantage of it!"

So take heart, mothers of boys. We are not alone. Let's just hope our little men stear clear of... well, I'm sure you could think of a million things to complete that sentence :)


20 FREE Birth Announcements

Here's a great deal for all of you new moms out there! My friend, Beth, just shared this amazing offer from Kodak Gallery... free birth announcements! (Thanks, Beth!)


Choose from a variety of 5"x7" photo paper cards to get two sets (that's 20 total announcements) for free! You just pay shipping. Here are the details I copied from the website. Enjoy! 


No coupon code necessary. Recieve up to 20 Free 5'x7" Photo Paper Cards (sold in sets of 10) by choosing one of our specified Baby Announcements. All applicable Baby Announcements are indicated by a 'Free' flag at this page. Discount automatically applies to indicated Cards at Checkout. Offer excludes Shipping charges. Regular pricing applies to any additional Card sets in your order. No substitutions, transfer rightsor cash equivalents will be given. We reserve the right to modify or discontinue promotions at any time. Discount only valid at http://www.kodakgallery.com/.


Boys in Action

When I was little, there was a period where I wanted to be a gymnast. My mom took us to a gymnastics class they offered at the high school and we learned to do somersaults, walk on the balance beam, go across the monkey bars, and for those of us that were brave enough, try to do a cartwheel. I loved it. And hey, we even got to wear a cute leotard! What more could a girl ask for?

The most advanced I ever got was doing a one-handed cartwheel. I was waaaay too cautious to dry an aerial, flips or even a split. I know, I would have made a horrible gymnast. But I could do a pretty mean headstand! Thankfully, reasoning won before it came time to decide on a career.

When I was about nine years old, I remember my parents taking us to the playground at our elementary school during the summer. There were two bars about six feet high that we liked hanging from and pretending we were stronger than we actually were. I had been playing on these bars and called my mom over to watch me do a trick.

I had never actually done this trick before. But I saw a girl at school do it a few weeks ago! Sure, she was known for her amazing baton-twirling skills and was obviously a skilled athlete. But I had somehow convinced myself that I could do this.

I stradled the bars with my legs and had my arms straight and at my sides, holding on. My mom had no idea what was coming, but knowing how cautious I was, I'm sure she had absolutely no idea what I had been planning on doing. The goal was to lean forward and make a complete circle, coming back into the same position after only 1.6 seconds. I don't remember a great deal, other than the fact that I only made it halfway through my circle before crashing on the ground.

Thankfully, I only brushed my shoulder and was otherwise unhurt.

What made me want to do that? I've never had a strong spirit of adventure. As I said, I've always been pretty cautious and understood how painful consequences could be. Perhaps it was an inflated view of myself. My skills. And what I was capable of. Maybe I wanted to show off just how talented I really was (or in this case, how talented I was not!)

Fast-forward twenty years. I am now the mother of two beautiful little boys, with more energy than I could have ever imagined. And they are definitely boys. Adventurous. Confident. Determined. Lovable, for sure, but only when they're out of energy.

So, what was it exactly that made them do this this morning?

Could it be that they're following in my footsteps? Do they have (subconscious) aspirations to be a gymnast someday? Or perhaps as professional rockclimbers?

I think not. In actuality, they're just boys. Plain and simple.

But you better believe I'll be there with a safety net when we're at the playground and they say, "Hey mom, watch this trick!" In the meantime, I've really got my work cut out for me!


Training Mom and Dad

Have you ever dreaded something, but you knew that when you DID do it it would make everything easier? Then, you're sitting there thinking, Geez, why didn't I do this sooner?

You have?

Me, too!

For the past few months, the boys haven't been sleeping very well. They'd wake up an hour, four hours or six hours into their nighttime sleep and just want to be held. Sometimes they were having trouble breathing because their noses were stuffed up. Other times, they were hungry and wanted a bottle. And other times, they were teething and just wanted to be held. They didn't want to be put back down, either. So that meant I was spending most nights on the couch with both boys just to be sure they were getting sleep. Even if mommy wasn't.

Well, a few weeks of this and I was exhausted. Andy was, too. He'd help me through the night, often taking one of the boys so we could each concentrate on just one. When we finally had enough, we had a conversation about we could do to solve our problem. (Here's a hint, ladies: if you want a solution, talk to your husband! They're WIRED to create solutions to our problems!)

We decided that it was time to just let them cry it out. No one likes to hear their babies cry, but we knew that if they didn't sleep, we weren't going to either. Besides, a parent grows to know what her baby needs by the type of cry they make; there's no mistaking a painful cry, or a frustrated one that says, "Hey, my leg is stuck!" We had let them cry it out when they were babies, but their sleeping patterns seem to change drastically around six months. Suddenly, we had become too soft for our own good. I would run in to pick them up at the slighted sound, if not just to save any sanity I had and allow my husband to get some rest.

We waited until they were completely healthy and drew out a specific game plan. We'd wait for that I-just-can't-take-it-anymore cry, go in to console them, and put them back down. We wait at least five more minutes, wait for that horrible cry, console them and put them back down again. Then ten minutes, then twenty, then forty-five. We came up with all sorts of different scenarios about how they might respond and how we would react. Four nights ago, we put it into action.

At 1:45am, we heard them in the other room. We both woke up and sat still, waiting for that cry. It didn't come. One baby cried for three minutes, while the other cried for one and went back to sleep (and no, I still can't identify the boys from their cries!) And that was it. We thought, okay that was just too easy. We're going to really get it tomorrow night.

They cried for ten minutes that next night. And it wasn't even a horrible one.

The next night, we couldn't remember them waking up at all. Last night, nothing. Again.

Geez. Why didn't we do this sooner??

I'm realizing there are a lot of things in parenting just like that. They're tough for a short time, but the effects last a loooong time. Hebrews 12:11 says,
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."
Discipline isn't meant to be fun. (But neither is walking around like a zombie because you aren't getting any sleep!) A few verses before this one says that the Lord disciplines those He loves. It isn't meant to be an enjoyable process for the person following through, but we do it because we know it will be positive for everyone involved. There are so many things in life where we need to exercise a period of discipline before we can experience success. Losing weight, finishing a paper for class. Training for a race or studying for the promotion at work. Our kids need discipline, but they also need to see us exercise it in a healthy way.
Here, we thought we would be training the boys. As it turns out, mom and dad were the ones who needed the discipline!


Adventures in Shopping

Andy can't believe how often I've been getting out with the boys. And it's true! For a whole year, I never left the house on my own unless someone else was here to help load the boys into the van. Now, this momma's gettin' around!

Wait. That sounded bad. I don't mean it like that. I just mean that I've been soo much more confident in taking the boys around on my own! In the van, in the stroller, no problem.

Not only is it easier to cart the boys around now that they're walking (or at least more sturdy,) but the fact that I don't have to pump every three hours gives me more flexibility throughout the day. I love it. I've gone to Target, Babies"R"Us, the doctor and Kohl's while also taking them for a walk every day the weather agrees with us. It's nice to feel like I've gotten my independence back again, especially after such a long time. The most recent outing was this afternoon.

I was looking forward to exchanging some of the boys' clothes they got for their birthday from the Carter's store and figured I might as well make an afternoon of it. I packed up the boys after they had lunch and we were on our way.

As I pulled the stroller into the store - a store where I had never been before - the first thing I noticed were all of the sales that were going on. Sixty, seventy percent off... score! I had a few gifts I wanted to get for other people, too, so this would be excellent. But my heart sunk when I realized the fact that there was virtually no walking space between the racks. The side-by-side stroller would inevitably get stuck on the first turn. The aisles weren't even wide enough for me to fit head-on. They might as well have posted a sign that said "Multiples Not Welcome."

There would be no browsing today. I returned the clothes and sadly took merchandise credit for the rest. I saw another mom effortlessly darting between the racks with her sixth-month old on her hip and felt a pang of jealousy. Don't worry, it only lasted a moment. Oh well. Such is life with multiples, I guess.

Old Navy was only a stone's throw away so we strolled there. They only had a handicapped door for the exit, so I struggled with the stroller to open one door and squeeze my way through. A woman ran from the parking lot to help. "Let me get that for you," she offered, opening both doors for me. "My twins are in the car," she smiled. I sighed a sigh of relief. Yes. Someone else who understands. I thought about how many times she must have struggled to open two doors at once or quiet two babies on her own in public. I immediately felt like I knew her. Amazing how one little thing can connect two complete strangers. We chatted a moment about her 13-year-old girls and she left saying, "It gets easier."

I walked through the wide aisles and the sales of Old Navy and picked out a gift while the boys happily played with their toys and entertained any kids passing by. I thought, being a MoM (Mother of Multiples) really is a labor of love. But those that emerge from it come out stronger, more empathetic and more of who God made them to be.

I might not have been able to get what I wanted at Carter's, but that's fine. I might have gotten something even better: a broader perspective of my position. This is just a season. It will not last forever. Six months ago, I couldn't have imagined being confident enough to bring the boys out alone in public. But I'm doing it! Who knows how much further we'll be six months from now!

The boys and I enjoyed a great outing today. But I still think my favorite place to shop is the World Wide Web :)


Happy Mother's Day

Man. Whoever said motherhood was a breeze was LYING!

Wait a minute. I don't think anyone has ever said that. And for good reason, too! This whole parenting thing is HARD WORK!

The past few weeks have been pretty tough. And here, I thought I'd have all of this extra time only pumping twice a day - wrong. Jack and Ben are now walking (!) which presents a whole new adventure for this mommy. They love exploring their new world and can now access it all in record speeds and in two opposite directions. They're also teething, battling colds, ear infections, a rash on their faces, not sleeping and we are now the (proud?) owners of a nebulizer, a tool to give breathing treatments to the boys when they wheeze. I've spent more nights on the couch with one - or both - boys in the past month than I have in my own bed. My husband has been a huge help, doing even more around the house than he always has, taken the boys for rides in the van or the stroller so I could get work done around the house and even taking the night shift so I could rest even when he had to work the next day. (I know. I'm blessed!)

Still, it's been tough.

My mind has wandered - more than once - to my life as a public school teacher. If I had a few days like this in the classroom, I wouldn't hesitate to organize a personal day. After all, I was granted three a year! A whole day to relax, gather my thoughts, and get work done, all while knowing my students were being cared for by someone qualified, patient and as organized as I'd like them to be.

Okay, that last sentence about the qualified substitute was completely false. By my sixth year teaching, I wouldn't have minded if my teacher juggled and did magic tricks the entire day... as long as the kids were still alive! It didn't even matter if I had more work to do when I returned (which I almost inevitably did.) It was about the time away that made me feel like a better teacher. A more sane human being.

Then I had kids.

Moms don't get holidays. We don't get paid vacations or even weekends. We don't get progress reports or little notes on Christmas from parents telling us we're doing a good job. Moms don't get personal days or sick days. Heck, we don't even get a paycheck. Motherhood is a full-time job. Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred sixty five days a year.

True, I could get a babysitter. I could hire a nanny. I could ask the girl down the street to play with the boys while I laid down in the other room. Trust me, I do find ways to get out of the house (thanks to my husband and my mom!) But that's not my point.

Being a mom is so much more difficult. You can't pass the buck to someone else or blame someone else for your circumstances. It all starts and ends with you. It is a huge burden, but a great blessing. There is no greater job on Earth than that of being a mother.

So even though I missed the official day we celebrate mothers, I'd like to take this opportunity to honor those of you that have been nodding your head in agreement.

You are not alone.
You are not the first to brave this world of parenting, nor will you be the last.
Thank you for the sacrifices you have made for those you love.
You may not always be recognized, but you are well-known.
The investments you are making now will reap a huge return in the future.
You are raising the next generation.

So take care. Smile. Breathe. You are doing a very good thing. A great thing.

A God thing.

Happy Mother's Day!


So Many Blessings

Three years ago - May 5, 2007 - I married my best friend.

One year ago - May 5, 2009 - Andy and I gave eachother a beautiful gift for our second wedding anniversary. A gift that could never be topped, Jonathan (with mommy) and Benjamin (with daddy.)

Today - May 5, 2010 - we celebrate the first year of life in these beautiful gifts, Jack and Ben.

So many blessings, in so little time.