Another Day with Boys

This story was just too funny hilarious shocking scary that I had to share.

I took the boys to Target this afternoon to look for some things for our upcoming vacation in a few weeks (hooray!) The boys were great in the stroller, munching on Goldfish and sipping apple juice long enough for me to get what I need and get home. We stopped for gas on the way back, so I kept passing back Goldfish in their open hands to keep them settled. Another minute and we'll be home.

Just as I was about to turn onto our street, I heard Jack cough. Like the kind of cough he does right before he throws up. Oh, no. Not in the car seat. Not now. I reached my hand back just in time to get the first load out of his mouth. I emptied it in the plastic bag next to me and almost made it in time for the second launch. Empty. Reload. Poor baby emptied his tummy three times with just about everything he had consumed today. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. Not only is the smell in the air, it's all over his body, his seat and my hands. Guess he had one too many Goldfish.

I had one of those 'where do I even start' moments before reaching for some napkins and cleaning what I could off my hands. When I pulled into the driveway, I went for Jack first and wiped what gobs away that I could just so I could unbuckle him. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. The clothes had to go. I stripped him down to a diaper while Benjamin watched with wide eyes. The humidity was climbing, raising the temperature in the van quickly; I had to act faster. I left everything in the van and took my diaper baby to the other door to get his clean brother. And we walked into the cool apartment.

I immediately called my husband. What should I do? Should I go down to the car and try to clean it all out? Gosh, I don't want that smell to seap into the seat! But what would I do with the boys? Should I just wait three hours until he got home? Thankfully, he could think clearly. "Put the boys in the play pen and go downstairs to see if you can get the seat out. Then you can clean it upstairs and keep an eye on the boys." Okay. Sounds like a plan. I can do that.

I put them in their own play pens, side by side, and went back down to the van. My goal was to bring the seat upstairs. But never having done it before (I know, I know, it was always my husband's thing,) I wasn't sure if I'd be successful. So I struggled for less than a minute before I realized that I'd just have to wait until he came home. I wiped up any chunks I could and went back upstairs. I called him on the way to give him an update.

I was still on the phone when I walked back into the house. "Ohmygosh," I said, looking at the play pens. I scared Andy, not having any idea what I was looking at. Both boys were in the same play pen. In the one I put Benjamin in. Could Jack have crawled over? It didn't even seem possible. "They're in the same play pen! I could have sworn I put them in separate ones..." Andy laughed when he realized what had happened. Somehow, Jonathan had managed to climb over the railing of his play pen and into his brother's, which was separated by a six-inch gap. Ohmygosh. Ohmygosh. They love to climb, but I promise, they have NEVER done anything CLOSE to that!

I started going nuts, wondering what would have happened if he hadn't made that little jump. Gosh, I don't even want to think about that. And I might not have even heard him for at least a minute... aye. I can't even think about that.

But I had to take a picture (or two) if not just to reassure myself that I wasn't making this up!
Jack is standing on a toy in Ben's play pen, though I assure you, there weren't any toys big enough to stand on in his play pen.

It only took another moment for him to test out his new skill in going back to his original play pen. Poor Ben had to wait for mommy to finish taking the pictures before I could get him out.

And he's almost in!

They're even better climbers than I had thought! I guess the play pens aren't a safe option for us anymore. I have found my life as a mother of two little boys to be in a constant state of transition... moving out the swings, moving in the Bumbos... taking out the Bumbos and replacing them with the highchairs... turning the couch around to keep them from climbing and emptying the books from the bookshelf so they can. Ah, the joy of boys :)


I Care About Your Fiber (and Everything Else)

Have you seen that commercial? The one where the guy comes in the break room, sees the girl eating Fiber One cereal and begins this whole dialogue about, "I care about your fiber." Another guy, who seemingly had a crush on that girl says, "I've cared about your fiber for a while." At least I think that's the jist of it. I tried finding it on You Tube with no luck, so I guess you'll have to settle for my vague storytelling skills ;)

That commercial made me think about how much we care about those we love. And what they eat. What they do, how the do it, etc. It's one thing to care about these things for our husbands - making sure they drink enough water, eat enough vegetables and not too many sweets - at least as much as we can assist someone else in making good decisions ;) But I believe this fact is magnified a gazillion times when it comes to our kids. Our babies.

Sure, we care about their fiber. But as moms, we care about even MORE than that.

We wonder about their sugar, preservatives, and vegetable intake.
We question the difference between homemade chicken broth vs. boullion, pasturized milk vs. organic, and feel guilty about giving them Goldfish crackers rather than carrot sticks.
We think about if they're exposed to enough books, have opportunities for learning and get enough socialization with other kids.
We wonder if we're feeding them too much macaroni and cheese and not enough avocado, watermelon and mango (and for the record, I have never even offered my boys mango before!)
We don't know if their language development is normal, their fine motor skills are on-point and their ability to understand when we say 'no.' Are we getting outside enough?
We are unaware if other kids the same age are using utensils, feeding themself out of a bowl or pooping this many times a day.
We question our role as a mother, wife, friend and daughter and all that has led up to this point.

And we're professional worriers. I mean, who else is going to be concerned for our kids, right? It's just us. We're it. And we've got to do our best because we've only got one shot at this thing.

Gosh, as if we didn't need more pressure.

Motherhood is tough, for sure. And I don't necessarily anticipate it getting much easier. When I do look back on the past fifteen months, I am amazed at how far we've come. How much we've learned. I do take a lot of confidence from that. Sleepless nights, countless questions for the pediatirican, feeding two babies every three hours, pumping after every feeding... yes, we have come a long way.

I never realized just how much my mom did - how much she sacrificed for us kids - until I became a mom. The moment our pregnancy test came back positive, I felt the same excitement she did and began to sense the huge weight of responsibility that I had just undertaken. Then I saw her in a new light of appreciation. She had the same conversations with Dad about how proud she was of us, how cute it was when we make that little elephant sound and wondering how she was going to make it through that day. And she did it. And she did it well.

Millions of other women have added their names to the ranks of sacrificial, nurturing and loving moms. And they've all had the same goal: to do the very best they could in raising their children.

I suppose there will always be a part of me that will wonder whether or not we're doing everything alright. If we're providing the very best we can for those we love. And I'm sure I'll mess up. I'll have bad days. I'll get discouraged and compare myself to the other moms that appear to have it all together. I'm only human; it happens. But I hope that I will always be able to remind myself of the fact that I really am doing the best I can. Despite the lies I might have come to believe, I am the absolute best mom for Jack and Ben. Each of us are. And if we're doing our absolute best, there is nothing better we can offer those we love.


Jambalaya: Our New Favorite

Summertime is a horrible time to use the oven. So instead, I'm constantly looking for new recipes that only use the stovetop. Taste of Home is my favorite cooking magazine and always has fantastic homemade recipes; that's where I found this. Let me tell you, taking thirty minutes from start to finish, it's been our favorite this summer!
Jambalaya Skillet
1/2# boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
2 T. butter
1# smoked kielbasa or Polish sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4" slices
1-14.5 oz. can stewed tomatoes
1 c. chicken broth
1 medium green pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1-1/2 c. uncooked instant rice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce
- In a large skillet, cook the chicken in butter over medium heat until no longer pink. Add the kielbasa, broth, green pepper and onion; bring to a boil. Stir in the rice, salt if desired, and hot pepper sauce. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Yield: 6 servings. Recipe taken from Taste of Home.
I use brown instant rice and if I'm planning on giving some to my boys, I'll leave out the hot sauce completely and we put as much (or as little) as we'd like. I also use diced tomatoes rather than stewed tomatoes. I'm not always a big fan of spicy things, but I love to douce my jambalaya in hot sauce! I've also been anxious to add shrimp too, but I'll have to save that for next time. With this meal, we never have leftovers for the next day. Enjoy!


Imagination Gone Wild

Normally, I am not a very imaginative person. Creative, yes. Imaginative, no. That probably sounds like the same thing, but I think they’re actually very different. I like creating things out of items in front of me: scrapbooking, photography, those kinds of things. But I have a very difficult time creating something out of nothing. This makes me a very poor storyteller, a bad liar and more likely to watch National Geographic than the Science Fiction channel.

Anyway. I have a point.

The boys and I went to the playground this morning for a playdate with my MOPS group. It starts at 10am, which is difficult for two little boys with a naptime of 11am. But still, we had a good time and came home by 12:15pm to take our nap.

They were both falling asleep in my arms when I heard the doorbell. Oh, well, I thought. If it’s the UPS guy, he’ll just have to leave the package. These guys are exhausted and have to sleep. The boys continued to keep their head down and I thought we were home free. Then the doorbell rang again. And again and again and again. Obviously, whoever was at the door really wanted to come in.

The boys wouldn't let me put them down - typical - so I scooped them both up and looked out the window. Hmm, no UPS truck. No car in the driveway. Who could it be? All the while, the doorbell is going nuts and by now, they are feverishly pounding on my door. Huh?

I walked down the stairs, poked my head around the corner and saw the top of a man's head through the upper window of the door. "Who is it?" I yelled, readjusting my 25 pound boys on each hip. No answer. I yelled again. No answer. I thought I heard him scribbling something on the door, but he never looked up. So I took my sleepy boys back up the stairs, locked the door to our apartment and attempted to get them back down again.

No luck.

In frustration, I called Andy to see if he was expecting anyone today. "No," he said, confused, "not that I can think of." He was pleased that I hadn't opened the door, but wasn't sure who would have tried so hard to get our attention. He ran through a short list of men that would have matched my sketchy description, but neither of us could figure out what any of those men would be doing at our house in the middle of the day.

That's when I started to get creative. Err, imaginative. My mind went crazy, thinking of the possibilities of a man following me home, trying to get into our house and plans for robbery or harm to my boys. I haven't ordered anything online and wouldn't be expecting anything in the mail. Gosh, he knows I'm alone. The van is in the driveway - of course someone's in the house! He knows Andy's at work. What would I do if I was in danger? My parents live a half-hour away. Could the police even get here fast enough? I amazed myself with how imaginative I got, even creating an attemptable escape plan if I felt it was necessary.

My boys were far away from a nap at this point, so I finally mustered up enough courage to go downstairs again (this time, without the boys,) so I could see if he left anything with all of that scribbling. I took my cell phone and after I made sure the boys would be alright without me for twenty seconds, I went down.

And guess what? It was FedEx. Our tenants were being sent a package. Apparently, it was from Verizon so he couldn't just leave it at the door. Someone had to be there to sign for it. Ugh.

I called Andy immediately and let him know my findings. He was relieved, too, especially since I'm pretty independent and don't get rattled like that very easily! Why I couldn't see his truck, he didn't wear a company hat or why he didn't answer my question to see who was there, I'll never know. But I do know that I'm not going to let my mind wander too far next time. I think I grew three new gray hairs in a matter of ten minutes!

The boys did go down for a nap... two hours later. Oh, well. At least their rest allowed me a breather and a few minutes to type out proof of my crazy - and sometimes, irrational - imagination!


Over-the-Top Praise

As a mother of twins, I am always reminded of what it means to have two kids the same age. They fight over the same toys, scream when I'm holding their brother as well as bite, push, kick and pull hair when they feel their space closing in. Whoever said people were born perfect and only corrupted by the world never had kids. We are born sinful and it is OUR job to train them how to act differently!

No one said this would be easy.

In an effort to train my boys to do good, I admittedly go a little over the top. Whenever I see them doing something we've been working on - putting a toy in the toy box, sharing something with their brother or stroking his hair rather than pulling it - I emphatically go nuts. "Yeeeeeeeeah, Benjamin!" I shriek while clapping and patting his back. "Good boy! What a good boy you are!"

They love it.

Ben smiles and looks at me as if to say, "Oh, yeah? Well, that's nothing!" Then he does the same thing, anxious to see if he gets the same reaction and smiles incessantly to learn that once again, he has earned my over-the-top praise. Sometimes, he'll come over to me when I hadn't been payin attention and start clapping. Knowing that I probably missed a good deed (and not wanting it to go unnoticed,) I'll go through the whole song and dance. 'Cause he certainly did something to deserve it.

It is our job to help guide our kids toward what's right. Not a school, the community or their relatives. Those institutions will only reinforce what you've worked hard to establish. And we can't leave it to them. If I did that, my boys would have numerous bald spots on their head, teeth marks on their arms and bruises from thrown books on their faces. Other people would watch them and say, "Well, what are you gonna do? That's just the way they are." Only because that what we've allowed them to do.

But it is difficult. It's a lot of work. For me, it means trying to give my boys independence, but staying on top of them to be sure the wrestling stays playful and the biting isn't too frequent. When they do bite, I sternly tell them "No, we have to be nice to our brother," and then physically remove them from the incident. Sometimes, I have to do that five times in less than a minute. But eventually, they catch on. Eventually. The point is that they're learning what is acceptable and what is not.

I am not where I want to be yet, but I feel good about the direction we're headed. It's a long road ahead of us, but if I can hang in there, the lessons learned and character gained will be life-long. Eventually, I won't need to go nuts when I see them put a book on the bookshelf where it belongs. But for now, my boys need a cheerleader. Besides, I'm having way too much fun to stop!