Dates With Eleanor

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Being a big sister to twins is rough. The babies need more watching and are in the stage of wanting to be held all the time. We have to give in to that often, and when I feel guilty, I remind myself that we did the same for E and we wouldn’t want to parent any other way. But it does mean a lot of “you’ll have to wait” and “I’ll be there when I’m done with the babies.” It can suck for E, who has always craved one on one time with us. We do try and give her snippets of our time just with her, whether that is bedtime stories or snuggling once the babies are asleep. But it’s still often that we have to hop up when both start crying.

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To make sure she knows that we still adore her, we have dates with her. Whether it’s as simple as G taking her for coffee and the park, or me handing the twins off so she and I can color and paint our toenails, she says she loves Mama-Eleanor time or Daddy-Eleanor time. And quite honestly, I miss having just her to focus on too!

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A week ago she and I went on a date to a pottery painting place. We got tea and cookies and set to work painting. First, she painted a big red dog (she’s a fan of Clifford). I spent the whole time painting a plate for our afternoon tea. Once she was done with the dog she kindly offered to “help” me paint my plate. I thanked her and kindly told her to back off and got her a plate of her own. We went for coffee after to round out the afternoon.

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This Saturday we went to pick up our creations. They were perfect. She was super proud of her work, and I think we’ll be heading back soon. I have my eye on a vintage style santa to paint, and my heart is set on more quiet moments with the girl who made me Mama.

We’re Home

fieldpurpleflowersWe’ve been in England for nearly 2 months. I wrote a post the first week we got here, but it never got published as I was editing it and then got busy with the babies, finding a new home, and dealing with some hormonal PPD sorta issues. The gist of it was: as soon as we landed in the U.K. I felt like I could breathe for the first time in 5 years. Really breathe, deep breaths of life.

I love it now as much as I did before. The air here is fresh and the clouds are lower, more blanketing. The pace is slower.

We’re settling in. We move into our house in under 2 weeks. It’s nice and spacious for what I’m hoping will be a growing family. The girls have a large playroom that I can see into from the kitchen. I can have a large garden out back, and even chickens if I get bold.

I struggle with community, with letting people in. I rarely am quick in friendships, preferring to take my time. I guess I’ve been burned too often to just want to leap into a deeper connection. But the reality is that I don’t have time for shallow connections. I’m often overwhelmed by motherhood. I don’t need ladies to do lunch with….I need a tribe. I’ve found that I miss my crunchier mamas beyond what I expected; and so I’m having to just dive into getting to know people. Luckily there is a spouses group here that is active, and I’ve really enjoyed meeting people through that. I’ve met other mamas at an indoor play place on base. And I’m going to be getting active in our church’s women’s group that meets for things like tea and knitting (seriously, I haven’t met them and I love them already!).

GandEnaturereserve

The twins are 5 months old and their huge personalities are really coming out. E is rounding the corner towards 4 and I just want her to pause and let me soak up this time. Being in England with 3 littles is vastly different from being here just G and I. Outings have to be planned more carefully (and often result in frustration as the twins have hit the 4 month change). We can’t just hop in a car and go off on an adventure, and we’re frequently running late. But still. It’s Home. Even with all of the chaos, I’m so happy we made it back.

Letting Go For A Fresh Start

G and I have a problem: we love stuff. And because we love stuff, we have a ridiculous amount of it. Over the last year we donated enough to seriously give ourselves a nice bonus come tax time, and yet we still find ourselves surrounded by too much. It’s overwhelming, and quite honestly it steals our joy. We go out for coffee to avoid dealing with it. We are constantly living in a cluttered home because there is just too damn much. And finally, we’ve both had enough.

I had a come to Jesus meeting with myself and realized that my worry about getting rid of things and then needing it later made me sound like someone who had lived through a great depression type period, which is simply not true. There is so much more I could let go of, and it’s time. But this realization doesn’t mean squat when you have newborn twins squalling at you to be fed/changed/held and a 3 year old dealing with major anxiety from all the rapid changes to her life.

Luckily for us, my parents are arriving for a week-long visit later today. I’m turning 31, and the best gift I can think to give myself is a fresh start before our move back to the UK. So if it’s not something we really use, or something we absolutely love, it’s going. My parents will spend the majority of the time loving on their granddaughters while G and I move shit out of our home. And hopefully by the end of the week we’ll have some painting left to do once they go, but we’ll have a house ready for our next chapter.

I can’t wait to show you the afters….and maybe some befores if I get braver! Operation: Finding Joy In Our Home begins today!

This Is A Story All About How My Life Got Flipped, Turned Upside Down

 TwinsAndEE with the girls at 2 weeks old

I’m a writer. It’s what I do. I even think in story arcs and plot points. So to go 4 months without writing anything has felt empty. But I was pregnant and prepping for a move back to England and just couldn’t handle adding writing to the things on my plate. So here I am, preparing to start blogging regularly again, and I’ll catch you up.

In January I was in and out of triage in L&D, even being admitted once for observation. I started dilating and effacing and with twins they are super cautious. January was also when the doctors said no way in hell was I flying overseas. They worried I would go into labor over the Atlantic, and with a higher risk for hemorrhaging they handed me paperwork for the military saying it wasn’t safe. Our move has been delayed until May. February wasn’t bad, only ended up in triage once I think. What I went in for was fine, but I had a racing heart every visit and they decided to investigate. Thyroid tests and echo-cardiograms later they determined that I was in perfect health….but carrying twins. Go figure.

We weren’t due until April 19, but the weekend of March 14/15 I started having contractions that seemed a bit too real. By Monday the 16th in the wee hours of the morning I was the mother of 3. That story is for another time, but let’s just say it was intense.

So here we are. The twins will be a month old next week. Even with 2 of them it’s been easier than with E. They’re both just very good-natured babies who rarely cry. We’re continuing to prep for the move, excited to be going at a time when the weather will be beautiful. Not so excited that it’s busy season for military moves.

I think that’s it. G is in love with me and the girls and I think planning to have a dozen more. E is loving having sisters, spends a lot of time talking to them and has suddenly overnight turned into a “big girl.” And me? Well I am incandescently happy with my little family. I’m also more and more sure of who I am as a wife, mother and woman and can’t wait to write about how that is reflected in our life.

Tis The Season

So….3 months. Long blogging break. The twins are growing right along (they’re both tall….surprise, surprise), and I finally am feeling like eating more normally. Oh, and it’s twin GIRLS! We are super excited. Just one more and we’ll have enough to re-enact Little Women!

E’s birthday was a rousing success. We just did a small tea party with the 3 of us, using an antique child sized tea set I bought when she was a baby.  She hopped around shouting, “My Tea Party! My Tea Party!” And we taught her how to play Old Maid successfully….she whipped us twice without us giving her any aid.

ChristmasTreeForBlog

Now it’s the Christmas season, and I am super excited! We got a small table top sized real tree.  Our first real tree. Rather than break out the ornaments (with the movers coming soon after Christmas), we bought some small gold glass balls that E picked out (because they were “shiny”) and made cinnamon applesauce ornaments and dried some orange slices. E cut out all the cinnamon ornaments and thought it was great fun, so we’ll be doing that yearly.

For presents, I think G and I are skipping the concept of even giving each other a stocking gift this year. Neither of us needs or really wants anything. E will be getting 4 gifts from us: Something She Wants, Something She Needs, Something To Create With, and Something To Read. Then “Santa” is bringing her a small gift, and she’ll have a few smaller things in her stocking.

The thing that I know might seem unusual is this: out of her 4 gifts, only one is something new we bought (an animal stamp set). One gift is handmade (a doll ring sling I am whipping up for her that she’s been asking for), while the need gift is a French Bingo game I found recently at a thrift store in like new condition (good for her to practice her French words), and an older hardback copy of Stuart Little that we found at our local used bookstore. Even her Santa gift is a used vintage metal tractor that is the perfect size for her Plan Toys farmer. Her stocking will have a giant crayon from Target, some handmade (not by me) little gnome/fairy home things, and the typical orange and chocolates.

We like to keep it fairly simple. In the last few months I’ve hunted down some used toys for the playroom that would be harder to find used overseas (Plan City things) that I would never be okay with spending the amount of money for new. She is a child who definitely has enough items to account for a pre-school. Not that they are “hers” per se, but rather they will belong in the playroom for all of our children, but she definitely has more than the average child. So when birthdays and holidays come around, it seems much smarter to keep it simple.

And in our home used toys are simply what we do. I’d almost always rather buy used when it comes to playthings, because it’s more cost effective for the types of things we buy. I recently bought a Roy Toy Wood Fort Set (with all of the pieces and instructions!) used for $3. It’s normally $25-30 new, and E and G will have a blast building it. Building is totally a thing they both love to do. Last summer E thought she hit the jackpot when we hit up the storage shed with G’s old toys. Two buckets of legos, lincoln longs, big metal fire trucks and a tonka truck later she was well set. And almost all of her play food is either felt food made by me or wood play food I bought used from other mamas.

So what are your opinions on simplicity for holidays and buying used toys as gifts? I think it took a while for me to realize that there was nothing wrong with giving a used gift if it was perfect for the recipient, and now I run with it.

Two Peas In Our Pod

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When we first found out we were expecting, I told G it was twins. And I have maintained this for weeks. Turns out….I was right.

The short and sweet of it is that we found out today that we will be adding 2 to our family next April, rather than just a single baby. They are both measuring well with strong heartbeats, so it’s looking good! We are ecstatic!

Things just got a whole lot more interesting!

Expectations

G and I have been “trying” for lack of better term for another baby since we miscarried in March of last year. So nearly a year and a half. It’s been rough, and in the end the time really has allowed me to heal my heart. I no longer feel deep envy when others end up pregnant.

Recently, E had begun to talk to Jesus on her little plastic phone. A lot We’d laugh and say she’s going to be a nun someday because he’s been calling her since she was a toddler! And she wanted a baby. So she’d ask Jesus for a baby.

And I no longer felt it was bad juju to buy baby things. I found an adorable fox sleeper at Target that I decided was gender neutral enough and we bought it. I started getting rid of plastic baby toys and replacing with soft pieces or wood. G would laugh and I’d say, “If you build it, they will come.” For once, there was less urgency and desperation, just calm.

So I guess I should not have been surprised when 2 weeks ago we found out that I was indeed pregnant. It was super early (like 8 days before anything was expected early), but quite clear. We are expecting a new wee one next April.

We’d discussed this intensely. I could not go through another loss where no one even knew there had been dreams of the future. This time we would tell everyone immediately. If grieving came later, I wanted a tribe to surround me.

I’m 6 weeks along and I just feel calm. Peace. I don’t have this sense of dread like I felt from the beginning of the last pregnancy. We’re actually picturing what next summer will be like, picnicking at the abbey in England, a rambunctious toddler running around while I sit with a newborn.

The future is uncertain as it is always. But I am hopeful that our family is indeed growing. And I’m facing the future with a full heart.