Thursday, January 30, 2014

One Month

The babies turned one month last Sunday, and we had carrot cake to celebrate, eaten by everyone but the twins, of course.  Hugo seems to believe a more appropriate way to celebrate is by leaving little love offerings right next to whichever twin he can access (pictured with Clara, above).  Because babies love playing with trucks, of course!  

At one month Clara and Dorothy are following voices so closely with their eyes, love to admire lights or bright windows, and are so incredibly happy when being held by someone (but not when they are both being held by the same person.  How they can tell, I don't know, those clever little babies).  We can start to sense them developing their own personalities and preferences, ever so subtly.  Not enough to quantify just yet.

I have been back in the kitchen cooking meals, experimenting with anything that I can easily start in the morning (or the night before).  Ham is one of those things that seems oddly festive, and is extremely pragmatic.  From one ham I can make two dinners, plus two dinners of a ham based soup-- and I can start it in the early afternoon.  Does anyone have a favorite slow cooker cookbook and/or recipe?  I have a feeling it's going to be a winter of slow cooker meals.

The babies have had a couple of grumpy days this week, which let me tell you is hard!  Enough to tire you out, that's for sure.  And yet in the evening, when the house is quiet and the babies are sleeping, I find myself looking at pictures of them because I miss their sweet little faces.  Love is such a funny thing.

Monday, January 27, 2014

In Sweaters

(Dorothy in blue, Clara in yellow)

The babies have grown into the sweaters I made for them just in time!  As most of you know, this past week has been chilly on the East Coast.  Really chilly, and while we keep a furnace in the babies room (and keep the house at a fairly balmy temperature thanks to having newborns at home), it is still cold and drafty, especially near a window, a door, or even close to an exterior wall.  We have all been dressing a little warmer inside.  Even me, and I am rarely one to put on a sweater!  We don't have an accurate scale at home, but I can tell you from carrying them that the twins are growing quickly.

Ben has been back at work for two weeks now, and I think we've settled into a pleasant routine around here.  When the babies are awake, I give them most of my attention, trying to involve the big kids here and there (or setting them up with something that seems least likely to dissolve into chaos).  And then when the babies are sleeping (which with newborns, is really most of the time) we do schoolwork, cook, eat, play, do housework.  The babies are on the same schedule, which they settled into very naturally, and that has made everything easier!  The girls are happy to embark upon an independent project for a short period of time here and there.  And Hugo, he is happy to cause a little trouble for a short period of time here and there (don't worry Hugo, we love you for it).  So I guess you could say it works out perfectly?  I think it will be even easier once it warms up enough for the big kids to play outside.  Not to name any names, but I definitely feel that little boys do best when they have plenty of time to get messy and tired outside.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

On These Cold Days

:: "Cooking" some lunch in the play kitchen.
::  Reading a book (as always), in the tent.
::  A game of hide and seek.
::  Building something with nuts and bolts.
::  Dr. Dan giving everyone in the family a physical.
::  Helping prepare every single one of our meals.  An apple peeler and slicer is one of the best gadgets!
::  See?  They turn out so pretty.
:: And how could I forget playing with boxes?  Without a doubt one of the all-time best children's toys available.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real


The view outside, and inside my window.  We have a beautiful coating of snow along with sub-zero temperatures.  Perfect weather for admiring the snow from a warm house (with power!  We are so thankful!).  

And inside, Zosia has been doing some copywork along with handwriting practice every morning, and her handwriting has improved so much over the past few months (by the way, the coffee is mine, not hers.  I believe it was my first of three cups that morning?  Yikes!  Does it help that I take mind with a lot of milk?)!  Anyway, it's amazing how handwriting practice has increased her confidence in writing things down.  This week's copywork has centered on the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life and work we've been studying.

I still remember when I was in grad school, the dean of the school (who was teaching my seminar) burst into tears while reading the Mountaintop speech aloud to us.  It made quite the impression on me: a grown, respectable man weeping in front of a room full of students.  I found myself in his shoes this week when I was trying to explain the significance of Martin Luther King Jr. to Zosia.  I couldn't hold back tears as I told her about segregation, and the fight for human dignity that took so many years to triumph.  And yet of course as we look around the world so many injustices remain.  Poverty, discrimination,  a disregard for the sanctity for human life.  It is so meaningful for me to talk to Zosia about these things because she, more than any of our other children, seems to have a passion for justice and equality.  It feels like such a gift to be able to help steer the mind and heart of a child.


We always seem to wake up with one or two of these babies in our bed.  Face covered in breast milk, grunting and squiggling in that newborn way.  I absolutely love it.  This one is Clara.  I'm afraid that Ben and I have already started mixing them up from time to time (but we can always tell them apart with a good, close look).  We tried tying some yarn around Clara's ankle to help with differentiation, but it fell off.  I'm afraid that when things get crazy, we have defaulted to calling them "this one" or "that one."   Not the end of the world for a three week old, but this simply must stop! :-) Any tips on keeping them strait?


Not too many months ago, Hugo had long beautiful locks.  I gave him his first "real" haircut, which he didn't like.  At all.  He received many compliments on his newly coiffed hair, and would always respond, "No like it!"  A few days later, we were playing the body part identification game in the bath.  When I got to eyebrows, Hugo responded, "Eyebrows all gone.  Mommy cut my eyebrows."  He frowned.  Apparently, as I was cutting his bangs, he was quite certain that I was cutting off his eyebrows.  Poor little guy!  No wonder he didn't like it.

So of course we did what any loving parents would do and just waited as long as possible to give him another haircut.  Yesterday after dinner he seemed particularly chill, so I invited him to the kitchen and very stealthily trimmed his bangs.  And?  He didn't care!  Ben came in and helped me distract him while I cut his hair as short as possible, realizing the likelihood that he might not want another haircut for a long time.  I cut it like I usually cut Ben's (about one finger-length).  It's a bit patchy in parts, but I figure in a week or two it will be just fine.


Whew, having two newborns sure does help increase the quantity of laundry in a house!  I'm realizing that it's not the baby clothes themselves, which are so tiny.  It's all of the items of adult clothing that get spit up on, the sheets, burp cloths, and then the clothing of the bigger kids, who are now getting into all sorts of messy fun (seriously.  Mud?  Peanut butter? Paint? I have no idea what is on my children's clothing).  I've settled on two or three loads of laundry per day.  The good news is that it's getting done and everyone is wearing clothing.  That's the goal, right?  It's almost easier to fit a chore in when you know that you must do it every single day.  So two loads it is for now, and then when we transition to cloth diapers (the babies are just big enough!  I just need to get around to setting up a system), we'll throw another one in there and not even notice it!  See how I'm playing mind games with myself?

Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter today!  Because sometimes the best I can do is upload a few pictures with captions in a given week.  :-)  I hope you'll bear with me!

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Greeting

We wanted the twins to be in our Christmas card, but given the fact that they were born on December 26, we just decided to go with a New Year's card instead.  Happy New Year!  May it be a wonderful year filled with joy and excitement.  We are counting on it around here.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Natural Twin Birth, Act 1

Twas the night before Christmas.  No, not quite, but almost.  Twas the day before the night before Christmas, and I woke up with an intense pain on my left side.  Intense enough that I called Ben (who had already gone to work) and asked him to come home, because I wasn't sure I could get out of bed.  Now you'll remember at that point I was thirty eight and a half weeks pregnant with twins, and somewhat... uncomfortable?  Swollen feet and legs, difficulty getting around.  You know, just the regular pregnancy annoyances.  But minor discomforts aside, this was different.  Not uncomfortable, but painful, and nothing like labor.  Different.

A couple calls to the midwife, and a few doses of tylenol later, my pain wasn't going away and was increasing in intensity. I tend to be a tough cookie when it comes to discomfort, but no amount of calm breathing or visualization altered the fact that I was in intense pain.   Just past midnight on Christmas Eve, we decided to go into the hospital.  There, we learned that what we suspected was in fact true: kidney stones.  Yes, you read correctly, and yes, it felt utterly unfair to be going through such an ordeal when so incredibly pregnant with twins.

We got sent home on the morning of Christmas Eve with some pain medication, and instructions to drink as much fluid as possible.  It's just one of those things that you have to wait out.  All of our holiday plans went out the window as we realized that I was not going to be able to get out of bed (not to mention that Ben and I had just been up all night resolving the medical issue).  Would I go into labor?  It certainly was possible, as I had been experiencing some contractions for the past few weeks.  Contractions that I welcomed and embraced, because we were feeling ready for these twins to arrive.  But labor on top of kidney stones seemed like too much to handle.  The idea that we could attain the natural, peaceful birth we had hoped for felt like more of an uncertainty than ever.

Many a prayer was offered that night and morning that the babies' birth could be a peaceful and safe one.  A truly desperate, heartfelt prayer that was uttered through tears and discomfort, amid great uncertainty.  When we got home, I was literally doubled over in pain.  As Ben and my parents took care of the older kids, we stayed home, sleeping and resting, and hoping that the pain would pass, but knowing it was quite likely that the worst was yet to come.

Now, I am not one to throw out the idea of a miracle flippantly, but I truly do believe that what followed was miraculous.  That morning I lay down for a nap experiencing what I might describe as the worst pain of my life.  When I woke up I was immediately surprised to feel just a little cramp.  Was it the pain medication?  When I was due for my next dose, I instead just took some tylenol, and my pain decreased even more.  By the late afternoon, I wasn't taking any medicine whatsoever, and my pain had subsided.  I was very pregnant with twins, and somewhat exhausted, but otherwise feeling fine.  It had never felt so good to be thirty eight weeks pregnant with twins.

The kids came home, and my family came over with our traditional Polish Wigilia feast in tow.   We sat down around the table, sharing the Christmas wafer that we share each year.  The wafer is broken and passed from one family member to the next, with a special prayer for that family member for the coming year.  I'm pretty sure that just about every member of the family had the same wish for me: that these twins would arrive safely.  I certainly had to agree.  But oh, I was so thankful.  Not just to be together, but to be feeling better, and right on the cusp of having these babies.  To be able to celebrate the birth of Jesus as a family, and not with me in the hospital.  None of these things had been certainties just a few hours earlier.

We woke up on Christmas morning to squeals of delight and excitement from three little ones, and I woke up realizing I had made it through the night not going into labor. Ben and I... ahem, I mean Santa? made a tent for the kids from a drop cloth and some pieces of wood.  When the kids came into the living room, Selma the dog was asleep inside the tent, to which the children excitedly remarked, "Look!  Santa brought Selma a tent!"  The tent is now Selma's tent, which she generously shares with the children.  We just couldn't explain our way out of that one.  Christmas was simple and quiet, and perfect.  I paused throughout the morning just to give thanks for three grateful children, two healthy babies in my body, and the incredible love Ben and I share with all of them.  

As the morning wound down and the children quietly played with their gifts, Ben and I looked at each other.  Was it time to make these babies come?  Yes.  It definitely was.  We were ready to have these babies, and my body was feeling more ready than ever.  

And that, my friends is where I will leave you until next time (cruel, I know).  I'm off to nurse some babies!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real


I quickly ventured out to a favorite consignment store to pick up a gift for a friend (my first solo outing since having the babies!) and saw two pretty matching vintage quilts (on clearance).  Of course it seemed like a sign that I should get them for the twins.  Sunny, sweet, and matching, just like these two.


The twins have woken up!  The morning is our favorite time, when they generally just content to lie down and stare with their wide eyes at anything and everything.  As Zosia puts it, 'Their eyes are growing bigger and bigger each day."  

And in other twin news, it is official that these two are identical!  A note from the midwife informed us that the placenta was identified as mono-di, meaning that it was a single shared placenta-- clear evidence of Clara and Dorothy being identical.


My sister and her adorable baby Grace just returned back to Haiti after a nearly month long stay.  It was so nice to see them and have them spend time with all of our kids (and get to meet the twins).  We all had a good laugh at this picture, which is of Irene holding Clara (I think?) for the first time, while Grace looks on.  As you can see, Grace's feelings are somewhat mixed.  Okay, not mixed: she feels totally betrayed.  When Clara started to nuzzle up to Irene as if to breastfeed, that was the final straw.  Loud cries of protest ensued.  Clearly, Grace is one attached baby, which is exactly as it should be.


I think the single hardest thing about having a double dose of newborns is feeling like there are times that I can't give all of the attention I would like to the older three kids.  The kids receive so much love: it's not that I'm worried that they aren't getting the affection they need.  It's just one of those mother things where I feel so deeply that I should be the one giving them that love.  And then just when I start to feel totally desperate for some quality time with each of them, it appears in little ways here and there.  Perhaps in the form of reading with one of them (Lily and I made it most of the way through the Jesus Storybook Bible in a single sitting!), or chasing Hugo up and down the hallway (his favorite), or giving them a bath (all three in one bath, just like sardines).  Oh, I am so thankful for it, and it really does sustain me until a time that I am not wrangling newborns in quite this first-month-of-life intensive way.  I have been through this before, and know that things calm down!

Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter this week!

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Week in Pictures

:: Check out my newly acquired twin skills: holding to babies at once.  Oh yeah.
::Have I mentioned that Hugo is obsessed with the twins?
::It takes just about all of the other members of the family to protect the twins from Hugo's affection.  There is a lot of kissing going on.  And at least one shared runny nose: the price of love, I suppose.
::Zosia has decided to learn how to cook, just in time.  This week she made fried eggs, pancakes, and french toast.  I'm glad someone is being productive in the kitchen (actually, I couldn't be happier with our current setup, which involves eating all of the delicious food that friends and family members have brought by.  Apparently our friends are much better cooks than we are).
::Babies are actually only mildly amusing, it turns out.  But every awake period they provide a few minutes of good entertainment for the older kids.
::We are back to homeschooling this week (and Ben is leaning back towards work).  I am finding I have less time for formal instruction, which means a lot of random craft projects.  Noodle necklaces made the cut.
::Of all the kids, Lily seems the least affected by the arrival of the twins.  She just sort of carries on as the middle child, right in the center of the action, wherever that might be.  Zosia has "taken" Clara as her twin, which means that Lily gets Dorothy.
::I think that breastfeeding is now either a major hobby of mine, or a part time job.  Today I did an entire math lesson (for Zosia) and reading lesson (for Lily) while breastfeeding two babies.  Sometimes I tandem feed, and sometimes I feed one baby at a time, because it's just so wonderful to be able to give each of the babies some individual attention.
::Have I mention he loves the babies?  Wow, he's going to make a really loving father one day.
::Zosia wore her pajamas inside out last night, hoping for no school today.  How to explain to a six year old that homeschooling has no snow days?  Well, the pajamas did seem to partly work, as Lily's preschool was canceled.
::Hanging out with Selma, who, after a few trips to the vet and some new medication, is actually doing quite well, for those of you who have asked.  

I can hardly believe the twins are two weeks old!  These early days really do fly by, and I know I'm going to miss them.  We're soaking up all of the newborn snuggles we can manage.