E&M: 2.5 Years

Dear Elliott and Mason,

Two and half years already.  Although all of our stages have been great, we are at an exceptionally fun time right now. You two are big enough to understand, communicate, and have the cutest individual personalities, but are young enough to still experience and give pure joy and unconditional love. At times I feel like my heart will burst with love for you when you come snuggle me and give kisses out of the blue, or do something caring like rub my shoulder when I said it was sore. At other times I feel like my head will burst when you show your independent, defiant, toddler-ness. It’s never for long, and it gives your dad and I tons of patience practicing. Your imaginations are starting to grow and you will pretend play with each other or with your toys. We took the rail off your cribs a few months ago and you two have amazed us at how good of a transition you did. Sometimes we have to still go in and lay down the law, but mostly you just talk to each other, make sure nothing has fallen out of the others bed, and laugh.

Elliott–You (and Mason) are starting to use more and more words everyday. You have even started stringing 3 and 4 words together like the other day when you said “momma play choo-choo” and “no dada blow bubble.” I love the little things that come out of your mouth. For father’s day I asked what you wanted to give Ben and you said “purple water,” or “pur-ple wa-wa.” Why? Who knows. But we made some and you proudly took it to him. We have come to realize how analytical you are and how you like a measure of control (A-type personality here we come). Asking or telling you to do something without explanation typically gives us an immediate “no,” but with just a little rationale or information and you understand and do what we ask. Trains and diggers are still your favorite and you’re starting to play more independently. I started a new job last month and now the first thing you say to me in the morning is “momma no work.” This about breaks my heart, and I will treasure it because one day you probably won’t care. You are loving, caring, shy, and goofy goofy goofy.

Mason–for the longest time you both have called me da-momma. I love it. It makes me feel like a loving mob boss. Yet, just recently you started calling me mommy…or rather, maaaaw-meeeee…very emphasized. I’m not sure where you got it, but I keep trying to get you back to momma or da-momma, but you just smile and say Mawww—meeeee. Right now you have about 9- 10 stuffed animals in your bed (pooh, tigger, bear, bunny, monkey, piglet, eeyore, aardvark, elephant pillow pet) and your pillow and blanket. You know when something is missing and you’re not happy until all of your babies are in your bed.  You are becoming a true ham. You have this fake laugh which cracks us up, and love to make animal noises. Your current favorite is the elephant noise, which you do just as loud as real elephant. When I ask you to make a baby elephant sound instead you do it twice as loud and just laugh. You love to read. This week it’s the oo-oo-oo-ooo book that you got from Aunt Katie and family for your birthday. That would be Curious George. These are the longest stories we have read and you patiently sit through them and then want more. Every now and then you get upset before bed because you want “mo book.”–Not because you’re postponing sleep, but because you genuinely love books. We find it very hard to tell you no when it comes to this one so most of the time we oblige until it really is the “last one.” You still love your trains, but are just fascinated by “diggers.” You also can pedal your trike like a champ. It took you about a month, but then we couldn’t stop you from bigger and better things….and we hopefully never will.

There are times when both still want to be held like babies, or just have us hold you while you lay long rather than wrap your legs around us. When this happens I always am surprised at how long your legs go and that you are now longer than half of my body. I celebrate you getting bigger, but cherish your smallness. You are no longer babies, but you are my babies.

Cannon Beach, July 2015

Cannon Beach, July 2015

Concert Park Night

Concert Park Night

Sunday mornings with momma

Sunday mornings with momma

Love momma

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Avocado Face

The boys tried their first solid food last night. We chose avocado since: 1) we were having tacos for dinner, and 2) who doesn’t like avocado? They ate about 1/2 teaspoon each, and were more perplexed at what we were doing to them than being interested in the actual food. Regardless it’s a start and made for some pretty cute photos:

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Ummmm…. Yeah, it’s pretty good.
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Yummmm What no more?

Don’t wake the dragon

Elliott and Mason were born in the Year of the Water Dragon. I was pretty excited when I found this out, because 1) I thought it sounded so cool to have little dragon babies; and 2) according to Chinese horoscopes, it is supposed to be lucky (both to them and the household). However, also according to Chinese horoscopes, dragons are fiery, temperamental, and all other things associated, with, well dragons. The water element is thankfully, supposed to calm them…I guess. For a more in-depth description see here:

http://healingartscafe.com/2012/02/year-of-the-water-dragon-2012/The Dragon is a sign of energy and power and has a special place in Asian mythology. In the East, the Dragon is a symbol of luck and authority. People under the influence of the Dragon are considered charismatic, independent and resourceful. In astrology, the Dragon corresponds to the sign of Aries. People born in this year tend to be fearless and confident in their pursuits and are often successful. They need to be careful not to make decisions too quickly and be aware of not being too arrogant. The element of water has the most calming effect on the Dragon and cools their fiery tempers. Water is said to bring out patience and sensitivity in a Dragon’s personality that is often overshadowed by their fiery need for attention. This influence tends to help them make wiser decisions and work better with others. (According to this website).

Anyways, not that I’m really into horoscopes or anything–again, mostly I just thought it sounded cool. The reason I bring this up, is that we started (with no connection to their horoscope) saying “don’t wake the dragon” when Elliott is sleeping. As a reference, Elliott in general is a little louder, feistier, and harder to calm down when he gets upset, so we like him to get as much sleep as he wants.

I bring this up because this past weekend the four of us (Abby had a doggler date) went to Long Beach, WA with my dad for Ben’s first clam digging. The boys were amazing on the way over there (they slept the whole car ride…2.5 hours), but when we got there, things started to change. For one, neither baby had pooped in awhile…how long you say? Elliott was rocking 6 days strong–and that would make anyone upset. We stayed in a motel with paper-thin walls, and you can see where this is going. The dragon…the poor dragon…woke up at 5:45 AM and 7:30 AM howling and breathing fire. Nothing was calming this boy down. And because he felt so bad for him, the other, smaller (but amazing just as loud sometimes) dragon started up too. Ben was gone clamming for the 2nd bout, and when he returned at 9:15 AM, I was pretty sure we were about 10 minutes away from getting kicked out. And of course, 5 minutes before we leave, both babies were silent and cashed out. Why? Monster poops. Well at least it happened before we got in the car. Overall, their 2nd trip to the beach was good, even if our neighbors didn’t think so. But I’m sure if they saw them, they would forgive us instantly…because honestly, how cute are they?:

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and to add to our growing number of beach self portraits:

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Yes the babies are with us, but it was so windy they are covered up.

Worth it

As I’ve said many many times…two babies is a lot of babies. But with a lot of babies, you get some experiences that are unique to multiples, and make this momma very happy. Like what you say?

Seeing this:

Snuggle bunnies

Snuggle bunnies

The love to snuggle with each other. And now they are moving like crazy in the crib, which at first I thought meant we were going to have to put up the other crib, but at 4 a.m. this morning. Ben asked me how I had laid them in the crib. I told him the normal way, side-by-side heads towards the wall. Why? Ben told me they had done a complete 180. I thought he meant 90 degrees until I went in and saw them…yep, a complete 180, heads facing the room…bodies still side-by-side…too cute (and pretty skilled). As long as they move as one, they can stay sleeping together.

Also? Matching outfits! Well, not matching…but similar. I love putting them in the same outfit but in different colors. Never thought I would…but how cute are they:

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Avenger’s onesies from Auntie Jen

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Track suits from grandma (Elliott is worried he might actually have to running)

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Spring time onesies from Auntie Jordan (these were the first things ever given to us for the boys)

And it goes on and on. I also love to see how different their personalities are from big things such as development styles and little things, such as personality traits. For instance, we gave them each Disney toys from their Aunt Darla. Elliott got Pooh bear…because, well he kind of looks like Pooh, and Mason got Tigger. Elliott is indifferent to Pooh. Yeah, he’ll gnaw on him, but he doesn’t really care. BUT Mason on the other hand LOVES Tigger…LOVES. He lights up when he sees him (and when we pretend Tigger is kissing his face), but also loves to snuggle with him:

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Awww

They are changing and growing so fast. More to come on that in their next letter.

So all in all…two babies is a lot of babies…but worth it all the same.

Two babies

When I found out our big surprise, I called Ben and repeated the words “two babies” over and over again. So much so, that the nurse came in after the phone call and asked how my husband handled the “two babies” announcement. So from the very beginning they have always been two babies, not twins. People would ask what I was having (meaning sex, not say a puppy, I’m guessing), and I would reply with “two babies.” “Oh twins, wow, how exciting” they would say, and I would respond: “yes, two babies.” The reasoning behind this was that “twins” sounds very cute, which it is…I mean have you see the boys? 🙂 And everyone gets really excited for twins…as they should. But “two babies” is the more realistic description, and a lot of times gets people thinking about all the things that go along with two babies. I would never ever change having two babies at once, nor do I discount those who only have one baby at a time–it’s tough no matter what–but the full understanding of two babies really hit me (and probably Ben too) this week, because at times it doesn’t feel like we have two babies, it feels like ten. Much of that comes from lack of sleep, but when they are both crying, or one is sleeping and the other is crying, and then you get one calmed down and the other one fires up, it’s like we have ten babies. I cannot imagine what it is like for those that have more than two.

And we are now off to the beach for our first road trip. The list of stuff we have to bring is hysterical:

For Abby: food, treats, bags, leash, rain coat (although Ben very much dislikes when I put this on Abby). We have decided to leave her bed and bowls in the hopes that there is something at the place we are staying.

Dudes: clothes, jammies, sleepsacks, warm outer garments, swaddle blankets, hats, pacifiers, cloth diapers, cloth diaper covers, bag to put the dirty cloth diapers in, disposable diapers, wipes, buttpaste, pack-n-play, sheet, stroller, carriers, bottles, vitamins, pump, pump parts, thermometer/tylenol (just in case)

Us: normal stuff, plus food, rain gear, etc. etc.

We are going to be like the Clampetts:

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Overall, we are very excited, and ready for our first outing/adventure. Yay!

Baby stuff…literally

Registering for baby stuff is, for the most part, completely overwhelming. I had an unfortunate breakdown in the Babies-R-Us parking lot before we went inside–so much so that a worker asked if I was okay and then shot an evil glance at Ben–like he was the obvious reason I was upset. Unlike the wedding registry, you have no idea what you need, nor do you know anything about the products. Five years ago (wow), Ben and I knew we needed dishes and utensils (we had two plates, forks, and one knife courtesy of my grandparents), etc. etc. We knew that although I wanted it, we didn’t need (or really have room for) a rice cooker, but since you’ve never ever encountered it before, stuff for babyland is daunting. Yes, you can always return stuff, but when you are neck deep in two babies, running to Babies-R-Us sounds…well you can fill in your own awful, terrible, adjective.

Ben and I tried to be conservative on our registry for a few reasons. One, we had no idea what we needed; two, we have a relatively small place and did not want to be overflowing with stuff; and three, since we did not know the genders of the babies, there were no cute clothes to buy, and we were hoping we would get the stuff off the registry (you were all so generous, and we thank you all again!). So there is no bottle sterilizer, no wipe warmer, no video monitor, no bath toys yet, and none of the other hundred billion stuff that that is on the list that they give you. Yes, you need a crib/mattress/carseat/stroller/etc., but the other stuff is unknown and a little hit-or-miss.

So to make a long story short, here are some things that we both did and did not register for that I have found the most helpful and useful (and by useful/helpful, I mean quick and easy, which especially with two babies is the most important). Some of it is more useful for two babies, but can come in useful for one baby too!

1. The Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bra: I didn’t get this until one month in and it has changed my life. Even if you only have one baby and are pumping, this makes it so much easier/faster/better all around. I can change diapers, bottle feed the babies, put on make-up (not that this is happening right now), etc. etc. while pumping. It’s $30 and worth every dollar. If there were only three things I could get for a soon to be mother, this would certainly be at the top of the list.

2. My Brest Friend nursing pillow (Ben thinks the name is hilarious): Same as above. I didn’t get it until the 3rd week and spent those three weeks propping up pillows and trying to maneuver both myself and the babies to make things happens. Not worth it. This pillow puts the baby(ies) in a great position, and lets you be hands free. This is the pillow they tend to have at the hospital. I stupidly did not use it there, but if I had, it again would have saved me three very tired weeks of trying to figure things out…not good when you’re sooo tired.

3. The Medula quick-clean steam bags: You can get them at Target or online. A box has five bags, and each bag can be used 20 times (sells for $6). This is a cheap and easy gift and in three minutes in the microwave I can sterilize pacifiers, pump parts, bottles, bottle nipples, etc.

4. A generic bottle drying rack and cleaning brush. Cheap and easy.

5. Tidee Didee Diaper Service and GroVia diaper covers: So this company only applies to Vancouver/Portland, but I’m sure there are other ones in other big cities. The diaper service has been great. They drop them off clean, and pick them up dirty. No washing needed. I was very intimidated by cloth diapers, but they are super duper easy (especially when you don’t have to wash them), and very cost effective. We pay $85 a month for 100 diapers a week (and that is for two babies). Now that they are sleeping longer through the night (yay!), we have been putting them in disposables (Pampers beats Huggies in this house), and even with only two changes, we are using four disposables a day–adds up fast. And what has made cloth diapers better is the Grovia diaper covers. They have soft Velcro, grow with the babies so you don’t have to consistently buy bigger sizes, and are super cute.

GroVia Diaper Cover

Mason modeling GroVia Diaper Cover

6. Soothie pacifiers: This is what they gave us at the hospital, and what he went back and bought more of just in case. I know some babies do not like to take a pacifier, or they might not take this one, but our babies love them. They have a little ledge so that if they are having tummy time, their faces are always propped up, and you can find endless entertainment staring into the abyss of their mouths working on them.

7. One zip outfits: Forget the onesies in the beginning, and anything with snaps. One zip outfits are critical (especially with two babies). So much faster to change a diaper without undoing/redoing snaps or messing with pants/socks. One day they will grow out of looking like they are in their jammies all day, and that will be a sad sad day. Carters makes great ones.

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8. ErgoPouch sleep sacks: So far the babies have not been able to get their arms out of them. Velcro ones lasted about two seconds.

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9. Extra crib sheets. We have four (and patterns show less then plain ones), and I change them constantly since those little buggers love to spit up and drool 🙂

10. The Medula Symphony pump: We are currently renting this from the hospital (thankfully our insurance covers it, b/c it is shockingly expensive), and it has been great. I didn’t know how great it was until I used the Pump-in-Style yesterday and was unpleasantly surprised at the noise. The Symphony (though less mobile) is much quieter (and I believe more effective).

11. Other stuff we wouldn’t have thought to register but smart mommies got us anyways: baby Tylenol (you don’t want to have to need it and not have it), buttpaste, nipple cream, wipes wipes and more wipes (we have been liking Target generic sensitive skin ones), and seriously more wipes, and Carter’s swaddle blankets (they are nothing like the hospital blankets, but are the best substitute we have found).

I know there is a bunch of stuff I am forgetting to list, but these things have definitely made our day-to-day life easier.

The small things

I’ve heard that every stage with children feels like the best stage, and we are definitely enjoying each milestone. Our newest one?…smiling! You never knew you could get so excited for something so small, but when these boys smile, your cheeks feel like they’ll explode trying to get them to do it again.

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Mason

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