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“Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed…We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in.”  – Wallace Stegner, The Sound of Mountain Water

This past week, I got to drive to the edge of the wilderness and look in.  My husband, the boys and I flew to Estes Park, Colorado to visit my in-laws.  After the craziness of traveling with 17-month-old twins, being in that awe-inspiring setting was a blessing and we had so much fun showing the boys some of the wonders of Rocky Mountain National Park.  Additionally, I immensely enjoyed the break from the 100+ degree weather we were having in Austin and are apparently going to have until the end of time.

View from the house

View from the house

view from the house

view from the house

Aidan contemplating the view

Aidan contemplating the view

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took the boys to the Alluvial Fan, a series of waterfalls that come down the mountain and spread out into a “fan” as they near the bottom. The water was crystal clear and extremely cold and the boys enjoyed splashing and saying “cold.” They also were quite entertained by throwing rocks as far out into the water as they could.

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Me trying to get Cam to notice the chipmunk that was holding my hand!

 

We also drove and walked up further into the park for a look at Bear Lake, one of a series of lakes created by glacial melt and water coming down the mountains.  I know this because we had a great tour-guide, my father-in-law, who is a certified hike-master!  The lake was beautiful, like something out of a movie, and we were even fortunate enough to see an elk just a few feet away who was grazing by the path.  The boys enjoyed running up and down the paths and Aidan greeted every passerby by waving and saying “hello!”

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Bear Lake

 

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Overall, a wonderful experience.  I loved showing the boys things they had never seen before and watching their reactions.  We can’t wait to return in the winter and  see everything covered in snow!

 

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IMG_0319I’m 33, a mother of two, and officially back on the market.  No, I’m not looking for a man (I have a husband who cleans the kitchen nightly- who in their right mind would get rid of that?).  I’m talking about the play dating scene.  The meat market that is music class, Gymboree, a park, or wherever you take your kids as a stay-at-home parent to keep from losing your sanity.  These places are chock full of moms (I say moms here because that is mostly what I run into- although I do have a stay-at-home dad friend in the boys “gym class”) who, in between hovering over their kiddos, are also surveying the room, looking for a possible play date partner.   Play date partners are essential to help you through the monotonous days that sometimes comprise raising children under five.

You see someone who looks relatively normal across the way.  By normal I mean to say that she isn’t sporting prison tattoos or breastfeeding her five-year-old.  The two of you strike up a conversation.  Here is where kids really come in handy.  You ALWAYS have an ice-breaker, something to make small-talk about.  “Oh wow, he’s really mobile – how old is he?” or usually in my case “Wow, are both of them yours? I don’t know how you do it!” (uh, I have no choice, and that is also the reason that you have jeans and make-up on and appear to have washed your hair in the last two days while I am barely managing to sport this t-shirt which I may or may not have slept in last night- I honestly can’t remember).

My point is, there is always something to talk about, and contrary to the actual dating scene, its refreshingly never about yourself.  This somehow makes it easier for an introvert such as myself to talk to complete strangers with relative ease.   Although at least with the regular dating scene, you did have adult beverages which really made everyone so much more interesting and deep.  Maybe they should have a cocktail hour at the Little Gym.  I’ll drop it into the suggestion box.  Anonymously,  of course.

This small-talk sometimes leads to an exchanged number or email address and a promise to “get the kids together.”  Of course, all of your kids are under two and could care less about “getting together.”  Their main concern is whether there is an appropriate amount of Bunny Grahams in your purse for the ride home.  Everyone knows that the play dates are for the parents at this age.  So it doesn’t matter how cute or smart that little kid is, if his mom is a total psycho, the play date ain’t happening.

So you leave with the hope and promise of a new number or email stored away in your iPhone.  But how long should you wait before you text or email?  You don’t want the other mom to think you are desperate, that you can’t handle a day or two alone with your kids with nothing but you and a website of “Montessori- inspired” activities to keep them from a total breakdown.  Because of course you would never just put on the television at 3 in the afternoon and beg your children to watch Baby Einstein videos while you lay on the couch with a pillow over your head….

After the first play date comes the inevitable post-date analysis.  Was she totally offended that my boys smeared peanut butter and banana on her rather expensive looking carpet and drank her baby’s breast-milk?  Can I stomach the fact that she actually makes her kids gluten-free, whole-wheat, vanilla wafers from scratch and barely managed to contain her disgust when I whipped out very non-organic fig newtons to prevent a break-down on the ride home?  What about that I know waaay too much about her breastfeeding habits after one date?  Or maybe she’s just not that into me.

I have met some great moms through this process.  A couple of us have been dating for over three months! I also have one that I am reserving judgment on.  She may have swept her crazy under the rug just enough at the first introduction, but some of those dust bunnies were peeking out from under the rug on our first date.  Just peeking, though, so I think she deserves another chance.  That, and I’m pretty sure that by next Thursday at 3 p.m. I’ll meet Ted Kaczynski for a play date just to get out of my house.

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Well, maybe not Neverland.  The boys and I did, however, make a trip to the Zilker Botanical Garden to look at all of the spring flowers and to see an exhibit of “Faerie Houses” designed by local Austinites.  They absolutely love being outside and so I struggle to come up with places that we can go where I can keep a handle on them by myself!  The garden was perfect.  It was a muggy and overcast day, so the scent of all of the blooming trees and flowers was thick in the air and I wondered if Aidan and Cameron noticed it.  They were quiet, eyes wide open and watching EVERYTHING.  I finally maneuvered my giant stroller to the “Faerie Trial” and was not disappointed.

Faeries, come take me out of this dull world, For I would ride with you upon the wind,     
 Run on the top of the disheveled tide,
 And dance upon the mountains like a flame.”
– William Butler Yeats, The Land of Heart’s Desire

These were some of my favorites.

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Later on the trail, a very pleasant woman offered to take my picture with the boys in front of a waterfall which had completely mesmerized them.  I realized lately that I have very few pictures of myself with the boys, being as I am usually the one taking the photos.  So I was happy with the picture, even if I was wearing my husband’s t-shirt and yoga crop pants in public (Hey, at least I managed a shower).

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We also walked through the Japanese Garden, which I loved.  I remember going to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park as a child when my family lived in California. It was always my favorite place.  And not only because my brother and I got to have tea and as many sesame cookies as we could eat when we got to the end!  These gardens are so peaceful and beautiful in their simplicity.  Zilker’s  was no exception.

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Overall, the boys and I had a beautiful morning.  Of course, the park hike ended when I thought it would be a good idea to sit on a bench in a grassy area and let the boys out of their stroller.  Cameron immediately started sampling the foliage, Aidan found the patch of mud, and then they both began playing with a plant that I am 85% sure was poison ivy.  After scrubbing their poor hands raw with wipes, we ended the excursion and went home for veggie burgers, peaches and peas.

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A post for the new year, five days late, but better than never!  I had such great intentions for drafting a Thanksgiving post, which then turned into a Christmas post, and has now inevitably turned into a late New Year’s post.  2012 was a momentous year, with several huge milestones.  We settled into a new life in the suburbs, transitioning from our urban rental right outside of downtown Austin to a single-family home south of the city.  I left my job and transitioned into the role of stay-at-home- mom.  But most notably, of course, was that March of 2012 gave me my two precious miracle babies. (I’d like to point out here that I still refer to them as “precious” even as I sit here watching Cameron on the baby monitor sitting in his crib and screaming at the camera with indignant fury at being told it is nap-time).  We spent the rest of 2012 transitioning from the DINK (double-income-no-kids) lifestyle to the new-parents-single-income lifestyle.  A shock to the system to say the least!  I am convinced this transition will last until our boys are grown and gone and the next transition begins.

Last night we had dinner with a couple we just met who moved to Austin a month or so ago and is expecting twin boys in February.  Talking with them and hearing their questions made me reflect on this past year.  All of a sudden, I realized that WE are now the experienced ones, as crazy as that sounds.  Because on a daily basis, my husband and I are pretty darn sure we have no clue what we are doing.  But after a little more than nine months, I have given up the obsessive book and internet research that was making me crazy and we have adopted a system of child-raising (at least in this early stage) that can be summed up by asking, “Is anyone choking? sick? covered in poop? pee? vomit? no? OK, we’re good.”

Our conversation with this couple allowed me to reflect back on the last nine months of our lives.  I remember the day Aidan and Cameron were born, how nervous, excited and overwhelmed I was.  After over a year of tests, surgeries, fertility treatments and repeated disappointments, the moment hadn’t seemed possible.  I remember seeing them for the first time, so very little, and not believing that they were both actually inside me just moments before!  That week in the hospital, I felt so protective of these tiny beings that were entirely dependent on me for survival and I didn’t see how I could possibly love anything any more than I loved them.  But nine months later, I think that, if possible, I love them even more than I did during that first week.  And it feels like that love grows every day.  If it keeps up on this exponential scale, I worry that my heart might possibly burst at the seams.

Me and the boys

Then

Me and the boys xmas

Now

I am so excited about 2013.  I look forward to spending time with my new little family and my wonderful friends, the boy’s first birthday, beginning several projects and working on several in progress.  I know that 2013 will have rocky parts, just like 2012 did, but we made it through, survived and thrived.  So bring it on 2013!

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I once thought that lists as blog entries were a somewhat lazy substitute for organizing one’s thoughts.  I changed my mind a bit, however, because a list seemed the only appropriate way to distill into a halfway cogent structure the muddle that has been my brain recently.  I was thinking about what the subject of my next blog post would be, and feeling guilty again that so much time had passed since the last entry.  Every topic that came to mind of course was baby-related. This was frustrating to me because I had promised myself prior to giving birth that I would not be completely defined by my children, that it was essential to have a life and interests outside of them.  I confess, I also smugly thought that I would not become one of “those people,” you know, the ones who talk about nothing but their kids all the time.  Let me just say up front that the birth of my boys completely eradicated many of my smug thoughts about “those people.”  The following is a list of random anecdotes about my current life with twins so far that have been bouncing around in my brain like a pin-ball machine whenever I sit down to try to write.  I think I need to cut myself a break.  Having two three-and-a-half month old babies pretty much ensures that the only thing on my mind is BABIES (and occasionally the dog who lays on the couch all day and makes me feel guilty for neglecting her…oh, and my husband, sometimes).  So I figured I would get over my reticence to write about nothing but my kids and get it all out in one post.

  1. Poop.

Yes, poop.  I specifically recall a good friend of mine telling me that when you have kids, you will be obsessed with it.  When do they poop, how do they act when they poop, what does the poop look like, smell like, etc.  You get the picture.  I of course knew I would never be so banal as to let a bodily function invade my everyday discussions.  Ha.  For the first two months of my boys’ lives, based on a chart I kept, I could tell you the exact date and time of day each of them pooped.  A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I had a couple over for dinner.  The amount of time that passed before poop was discussed: 20 minutes.  (This couple also has a five month old).  I called my husband at work the other day.  I used to call my husband at work to plan a lunch outing at a new restaurant in town, to ask a question about some element of criminal law, or to ask a question about how best to pursue a certain legal matter.  The other day I called my husband to inform him that our son had pooped (our son had issues with this for several days in case you were curious).  The sad thing is, my husband actually paused a conversation he was having with someone in his office to discuss it.  I really hope this person has kids.

“You’re the Mom and you’re in charge? Yeah ok, we’ll let you think that…for now.”

  1. Things overheard at an Austin Mothers of Multiples Meeting.

I went to my first AMOM meeting in June.  I don’t want to be overly dramatic and describe it as life-changing, but I will.  It was life-changing.  After the general meet-and-greet,  we split into groups based on the age of each person’s children.  I made my way to the newborns/infants group.  A group of approximately twelve of us sat around in a circle and looked at each other.  One new mom who had six-week old twin girls broke the silence by confessing, “I’m here for someone to tell me that it gets better.”  The group released a collective sigh and what followed was what I can only describe as a group therapy discussion.  It was truly what I needed that night as I had completed my first couple of weeks alone with the boys after all the mom-saints left to go back to their own lives.  My favorite quotes from the evening’s discussion: “You have to just look at them and tell them, ‘I’m the mom!’ or they’ll gang up on you,” “My husband needs friends and I want him out of the house, does anyone else’s husband need friends?” and “Does anyone else curse at their babies? I mean, in a singsong voice and everything, but still….”

  1. The Sliding Scale of Cleanliness.

The same friend that coined “down the baby rabbit hole” (described in my prior post) introduced me to this phenomenon.  It describes how one’s standards of cleanliness and what constitutes good hygiene are once again magically altered by the birth of children.  Before children the standard was this: “Gross! There is a stain or some substance on my shirt, I’d better change it.”  After children:  “Hmmm, there seems to be a pee stain next to the spit-up stain on my shirt… well, as long as it’s not poop!”  A second scenario: Upon pulling back the covers to your bed, you discover that the baby you laid there momentarily earlier in the day while you threw on some clothes did in fact spit up in copious amounts.  According to the sliding scale of cleanliness, your desire to change the sheets is weighed against the exhaustion you feel and the knowledge that you will be up again in a few short hours.  Thus, you crawl into bed, lay directly on the spit up because, well, at least it’s not wet, and fall blissfully asleep.

“First step in the master plan: disarm her with complete cuteness!”

4.  Twin Celebrity

When  you have multiples, it is difficult to exist under the radar.  This has required some getting used to on my part because I am in my comfort zone under the radar and twins bring attention.  Constant attention.  Even with the incidence of multiples on the rise, having twins is still a novelty and people love to  inspect the phenomenon.  Sometimes this is not a bad thing.  Yesterday, a woman at the grocery store let me cut  in front of her in line even when she had already unloaded her cart.  She turned around and looked at me and the boys and demanded that I go ahead.  I was extremely grateful, although in my head I wondered just how harried I looked!  When I take the boys on the daily morning walk in the neighborhood, everyone that we pass turns to stare and those who are a bit bolder stop to peer into the stroller.  A couple of weeks ago at Sam’s Club, I received a hug from a complete stranger in the parking lot and assurances from two other strangers inside that I was blessed and that they would be praying/thinking of me.  Young children usually point and say loudly, “look- two babies!”  Yesterday at Babies ‘R Us as I was unloading the babies into the car and wrestling my behemoth stroller into the trunk, an older woman told me that I was a brave mom to leave the house.  I told her it was not so much an act of courage as it was an act of desperation! There is certainly no quicker path to the end of sanity than being confined to your house with two babies whose master plan is obviously to join forces and conquer mom.  In fact, the first advice I received from a fellow mother of multiples was “you can’t show fear.”

And now I have to end this brief snapshot of my life.  From the sound of it, it appears the boys are mounting an offensive against my husband in the living room, and I’m pretty sure they’ve detected fear.  Mom to the rescue! (or hopefully, naptime).

 

 

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Aidan

Yesterday was my twin boys’ two-month birthday.  I feel (depending on the moment and my mood) like these past two months have passed by in a whirlwind or alternatively that I am emerging from a black hole of time. Nothing any friend or stranger could ever tell you can prepare you for that great leap into parenthood, and more exactly, into motherhood.  I find that the words so many offered – “it will change your life,” or “your life will never be the same again” – always delivered with a knowing (and sometimes smug) smile, fail to completely encapsulate the situation.  A more apt description came from a friend of mine who had her baby four months before me.  When I called to check in on her a week or so after the birth she said, “I’ve gone down the baby rabbit hole.”

The first months have certainly had the Alice in Wonderlandish vibe that my friend felt.  From the time I drove to the hospital in the dark on the morning of March 26th to have my babies, my life has been a series of strange, scary and wonderful events that I previously would not have believed possible.  Even as I sit here to write this post, I can’t come up with the proper words to describe the experience.  Suffice to say, I personally believe that having twins is excuse enough to have neglected this blog for as long as I have.  Although I really started the neglect during my whopper of a pregnancy (which, by the way,  also deserved an Alice in Wonderland theme- perhaps more on that in another post when I am far enough removed to find the humor…).  Another wise friend counseled me one day as I beat myself up for failing to follow through on my blogging.  She said that all of my creative energy was being directed to the ultimate act of creation that was taking place inside my belly.  I think that is brilliant.  (A bit of unsolicited advice here: always have friends that are more brilliant than you think you are).

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Cameron

All in all, these awesome little beings are sleeping more, I am starting to get the hang of this mommy thing, and as a result, I am getting parts of my life back, little bit by little bit. One of those parts is, I hope, the ability to regularly post on my blog.  Their father and I are extremely proud of the night-time routine we think we have established. (And yes, I know that by writing this down, I am jinxing the delicate situation, but here I go…).  Baths, bottles, and in bed by nine to nine-thirty.  The munchkins then have the uncanny ability to wake up at the exact same second I swear, and so at around one a.m., one of us will prop them up on their boppy pillows on the floor and feed them at the same time.  The next person repeats at around four or five a.m.  At six-thirty or seven a.m., the sun is rising and so are they, at which point my husband and I give up on sleep and everyone piles in the bed.  This includes several boppy pillows, pacifiers, bottles, burp cloths, a dog, and two very strong cups of coffee.  And when I looked at my little family in my bed this morning, going down that rabbit hole was so completely worth it.

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