Babysitting notes

I'm just ahead enough in packing for a vacation Paul and I are going on that I'm feeling overconfident in my timing so much so that I thought it would be fun to stop for a quick blog post. Tonight, I will swing right back into the pendulum of suffocating anxiety and hyper-excitement for the trip.

Here are the notes I am leaving with my mom regarding watching the boys:





S L E E P

+ If you do nothing else, make sure Thomas pees right before bed. Otherwise, he will absolutely pee his bed. If you get so much as a trickle from him though, he's good to go. Unless he vomits in the middle of the night. That's a whole other problem.

+The twins may wake in the middle of the night. Maybe pause / ignore / put in headphones or descend two floors and let them figure out their woes on their own. They can be dramatic. Otherwise, go in, give a sip of water, and avoid good eye contact.



E A T I N G

+ Thomas is only allowed to say that something is "not my favorite".  Remind him of this and enjoy how absolutely disparaging he can make this comment sound as he slinks into his chair.

+ Have Thomas cook anything with you & I guarantee he will proclaim wild things like "this is the best food ever!" or "you make the best food! this is so yummy!" or "nana, you're just the best cooker in the world!"

+ Really, the boys are great eaters. They eat just about anything.  Maybe take this time to clean out your cabinet and fridge!

+Alistair will eat all the things. This is good. This is also bad. He will not put non-food objects in his mouth & attempt to eat but he will literally find & eat every digestible calorie within a hundred foot radius of himself as if it is his life's mission.

+Emerick loves to entertain his table guests as well as act like he is courting his food rather than eating it. If he isn't taking his food seriously (tossing it, letting it slowly fall from his tongue, building structures with peas and potatoes, wiping it in his hair, placing on face while making funny expressions, building on spoon for fun game, swapping with brother, creating artistic pieces on plate, etc) feel free to take plate away.


D I S C I P L I N E

+ Preventative = Make Thomas work. Make him think his jobs are really important and you really need him. You will have no problems.

+ When you do have problems, refer to handy dandy reference:

----- wound up -  send him off for time alone so he can cool down
----- is winding boys up  -  send him off for time alone so no one sends you to the E.R.
----- is whiny - tell him whiny boys go to bed early
----- is fighting with brothers -  tell him to make it right or else. then give big eyes and cryptic facial expression. ;)

+ Twins = take toys they are hurting each other with for the rest of the day. Then separate each one and lock them up. Turning a blind eye helps. Also, paying someone else to watch them.  Overall, just channel your inner boxing referee and enjoy!





G R E A T   A C T I V I T I E S

+ The twins are ticklish in their armpits and Thomas under his knee caps

+ Give the kids spoons and turn on music. Enjoy lip syncing and booty shaking at its primal level.

+ Find an animal and set the boys loose after it.

+ Find the boys and set them loose on each other.



P O C K E T   P H R A S E S    T O   U S E

+ "That's how we do it at Nana's house."

+ "Are we following our family rules?"

+ "I heard they just built a new prison down the road for kids who don't listen to their Nana and do exactly what she says."


Anderson Academy & Twin Care Role Call

Yes, this IS the only thing I have to write about right now. My brain is so on kid mode, you don't even know. I'm going to start twitching to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle in no time. I know there will be a season when my brain sails away to other places beyond our island of teaching little people words, but today is not that day, my friend.

I'm watching Luke & Logan along with my three full time now unless you don't count the collective hours I tell Thomas to go play in the dirt outside, and then I'm on this almost full-time. Most of my mental, physical, and emotional energy is spent taking care of and loving on all these people, so I have a few notes to share about each boy with you. They are all amazing and bring so much joy to my day when I'm not furiously finishing dishes or gasping at choking hazards I've found in the boys' room.

          Luke: Generous with the smiles. Eats like a beast. Likes to poop and fart on me when I am holding him like a nice aunt should. Fascinated by hands. Amused by Thomas. Developing interest in that guy who looks *just* like him.


          Logan: Tolerates my singing. Sleeps like a beast. Likes to spit up on me when I am holding him like a nice aunt should.  Fascinated by hands. Amused by Thomas. Developing interest in that guy who looks *just* like him and especially seeks contact when "those other people over there are acting crazy and I think we should find a way out right now".


          Alistair: Thinks props for hats are hilarious. Says wow & woo [look] about everything. And points at things like it is his ordained job. Oh the wonder of the world, my little friend. Finds dinosaurs and says roar in a funny, raspy, deep voice.  Sniffs out ninja turtle figurines like they're crack. Can you sniff out crack...like as a human? My knowledge of drugs is super limited. Thinks he knows how to read books. Shh, don't tell him he doesn't. Loves to dance. Signature move: the bend and bob.


I know this is the worst picture. I had no recent photos of him by himself. Mom fail. 
          Emerick: Gives hugs by coming close and bowing his head. Thinks any food he hasn't tasted or seen before has been delivered by Satan and should be eliminated without question.  Takes items and puts said item away or inside some other item. All day: book back on shelf, toy for momma, potato head inside these jeans. Peacekeeper: Alistair wants to fight--he walks away. Thinks momma's purpose in life is to read to him. Cuddliest kid that ever was. Loves to dance. Signature move: attempted gang sign and bob.


          Thomas: Fills up his days doing these main activities: 1. reading 2. "visiting his loves" (Luke & Logan) 3. playing with his brothers (aka escalating chaos until I tell everyone they need to separate before a vein explodes in my neck) 4. watching t.v. because mom said she is not in this to be a super hero and we will survive by watching more Barney. Current hobby: making "juice" in the backyard. Best friend: next door neighbor whom he visits for long conversations at the fence. Has grown one thousand inches in the past two months. Writes from right to left sometimes just because he can. Thinks the word "poop" is the best thing to happen to the face of comedy. Will dance if mom really wants him to. Signature move: something he calls "the brain" where he moves around methodically in a circle, and then when he gets back to the front acts as if someone has funneled a week's worth of mom's caffeine into his body and his limbs are reacting accordingly.



           And then there's me: And because I'm not suppose to whither up and die as an individual with nothing left of me but the smiling exterior of a mommy... what I've been up to lately: getting weird (counting calories) to lose weight, watching YouTube videos about organizing and beauty regimes and wondering where I've been all my life, drinking water like it's my job, trying my best to not text Paul dramatic things when he's away in D.C. (=all the time), marking days off the calendar toward the next time I can depart from the house by myself [hand clap emoticon x 1000], freelance work, drinking lots of coffee, watching Parenthood (much crying), and as of this week: reading Gone Girl and stocking my house for possible emergencies (what I told Thomas when we loaded his cart with 1000 gallons of water and bleach) but pretending like it's for me to emerge as a bad A for Walking Dead version 2.0 (and that is meant with 100% no offense at all--I literally mean I fantasize all the time about how I would fare and protect my family and be awesome in a zombie apocolypse). Wow. Longest role call write-up for myself. That's ok. I deserve it. But no, really. I deserve it. <Hard wink>. 


Perpetual Pregnancy (Momma to Twins)


I want to make a note of something on this ye blog about being a twin mom.  I'll say it just in case another twin mom can assure me she feels it too or maybe so I can look back on things later and see that things were "challenging" enough that I felt compelled to say this.

For me, being a mom to twins feels like perpetual pregnancy.  Women will tell their pregnant friend about all the things up ahead: Just you wait. You think you're tired now? Hahaha....Oh my gosh, just wait. You are going to just be so crazy about your baby. You are going to fall in love.....You'll figure it out. It will all work itself out. Just wait.... 

In a lot of ways, pregnancy is a long exercise in patience. As much as a pregnant momma wants to be a mom to a baby in her arms, most of the time she is just focusing on getting through the day, not throwing up, and generally eating and drinking things that won't hurt baby.  Sometimes she doesn't want to think or read or talk of what's ahead because honestly pregnancy is enough and C'mon people, I'm doing a freaking amazing job just carrying this little person around, OKAY???!!!


Yeah, that's pretty much how I feel since I heard that I was carrying twins--that sense of being laser focused on the present so much that the future was far from my thoughts.  I prayed that I would carry one more week and then one more week and then one more week.  Then I eeked my way through the newborn phase, and I refused to think of crawling twins.  Then they crawled and I was okay with that, but I couldn't imagine walking. Then they were walking, but I couldn't imagine climbing..... You get the point.

Last night at the park, I walked past a pair of moms as Thomas pushed the twins' stroller up the hill.  She spilled out with enthusiasm that just a few years ago she had the exact same set up (welcoming twin boys with a 3 year old boy at home already) and encouraged and encouraged me that things would just get easier and easier. And that was without me saying one word about things being tough unless my eyes were doing the speaking for me--or the state of the stroller--or that it was taking us a month to walk up a hill I could jog up in 30 seconds--or....


As a mom of twins (or maybe it's because I have 3?), I'm so focused on what we're all doing right now, that I can't see ten feet in front of us (and in kid time translation, that's about 3 months).  It feels very intense to me a lot of the time. It's like this-- I feel immense joy watching my kids, like crazy, my heart is going to turn into sun beams and shoot out of my skin joy, but I rarely, rarely have fun thoughts about the twins at 3 or the twins at 5 or the twins at 10.  When I'm out in public and I see a set of twins (and especially identical boys), my brain short circuits and shuts down because it can't connect the dots from point A (which at this point is toddlers who I can sorta kinda take out in public if I strategically plan things) to point B (civil human beings).

If it takes having twins (or once again, maybe that mini-herd of kids) to be shocked and awed by simple things unfolding before my eyes, things I didn't have the time or energy to think much about happening because I am so intensely focused on the present, then I'll embrace it. Last week I was all like, "Holy cow, you guys are using forks, like really using them...you are actually using those forks...HOW DID YOU GUYS LEARN HOW TO USE FORKS?!"  And Alistair & Emerick were all, yeah, mom. C'mon, we're almost one and half. 

And then I probably went right back to wiping someone's butt or telling Thomas I liked his artwork.

Maybe things are getting a teensy, teensy, tiny bit easier here. Yes, I think that's what it is. Maybe. Whatever the cause, I can finally share something along the lines of twin mom guilt: I'm super excited in the moment, but not so much for the future.  I figure the future will take care of itself if I take care of today.  "Today" looks like disciplining not to bite & teaching how to talk & reading, reading, reading & feeding & diapering & so forth. "Today" is also watching & observing & noting little, simple things to consider maybe not for 3 months from now but for tonight or tomorrow or maybe next week.  That just has to be how things are right now for me & at almost a year and half into being a mom to twins/three kids, I'm finally okay with that truth.

Good times. Good times. :)

Gushing about Caring for 5 Little Guys


I just want to pop in really quickly this morning and share my 4 favorite things about this small season of watching 5 little boys under 5.

My list might shed happy light for those of my sweet friends who have asked me if this is a good idea in their voice that says this is a bad idea...

My 4 Favorite Things About Watching My Sister's Twins Right Now:

1. Bonding time:

Thomas is so incredibly caring with Luke & Logan. He comforts them when they're crying with an "it's okay" or "I know, I know" or "don't be sad" and talks with them when they are awake and cooing at him.  I'm a little biased about Andrea's kids, but they "talk" a great deal. They are very responsive and it's so much fun to talk with them because they're generous with the smiles.  Thomas fills in for what he imagines them saying and that's also fun to listen to: "Oh, you had a good nap. That's great"; "Your mommy is at work right now, but she'll come back"; "Oh, I've been to the video store too!" Thomas rocks car seats, sets up blankets, arranges toys, and can even change a diaper (with a great deal of assistance).


This photo is so true of Thomas. He is always doing something to help. Sometimes I have to say "no, thank you" to that help, but it is sweet all the same. 

Now, about those other twins. Alistair & Emerick are like loaded guns. Even though their bright, smiling faces seem full of good intentions, I give them very, very limited visiting rights to Luke & Logan (and only when one of the sets is in my arms). I'm not sure what kind of bonding is going on there and/or if my twins are capable of swiping at the fresh set. In fact, I'm not really sure of what's ever going on with Alistair & Emerick.  Thomas and I tried to get Emerick to pick up a diaper (which was within his arm's reach) for over 5 minutes yesterday and the entire time he vacillated between a look of "I've not a clue" and "so you think I'm cute?"

2. Heavy / Light

I can be a whiny person. Okay, really whiny. [Paul, don't say a word about all those texts you get when you're travelling]. There's something about taking on the care of two more every other day to make me realize that my job of homemaker and kid raiser is a joy and not a burden. Switching between heavy and light feels like a mental exercise to embrace both because the seasons in our life are just that and they don't last forever.

I've just really slipped into the habit of thinking "LIFE IS SO HARD!" lately. This is almost exactly what I'll be thinking in an hour when I go to the library with the boys because I refuse to surrender to the drive through. I'll be in between choosing a book about Mars or Mercury and I'll look over to see one toddler bringing books to his mouth and one toddler walking his self out the building as if he has an appointment with anyone not us and just then a 4 year old I will pretend not to know will yell over his computer headphones  "CAN SOMEONE SHOW ME HOW THIS GAME WORKS??" And right then, I'll remember that motherhood can always be easier by lowering expectations.  Drop 'em low, let it go, take it slow-- It's a recipe for happy peoples I seem only to remember when I have breached disaster. Anyway, having Luke & Logan over here is helping me to enjoy my relatively light load on days off & not to sabotage myself by making things unnecessarily difficult.

3. Being Seen

I have wanted to write about the invisibility of being a SAHM a million times but can't find the words without sounding incredibly negative. Let me try to sum it by saying this:

If there's one thing I miss about working it was this: being seen. There is something so wonderful about your work being seen, acknowledged, and then challenged or complimented. People saw what I wore. They saw what I wrote. They saw that I failed. They saw that I cared / tried / solved / changed / grew / and simply just did. I love verbal affirmation. To hear "I saw that thing you did & I thought it was great" is enough fuel for me to do ALL THE THINGS. Truly. That's how I operate. I thought I would miss the money immensely. I don't. I thought not teaching would kill me. It didn't. (Let me introduce you to my 4 yo. Endless material there. ;). But not being seen? I don't know. It's just the really, really difficult part about not working that, for my personality, is a constant struggle. (A little dose of raw honesty for you.)


Anyway, this is all to say that I feel seen a little bit again. Andrea & Josh don't have to say much, or even anything at all, to make me know they feel what I do matters and this matters to me & makes me happy.

Weird? That's ok. I own it.

4.  The adventure of caring for kids


I love a good adventure. Who doesn't? The more time I spend with kids, the richer life feels. I've learned to laugh things off, roll with their whims, and not take life so seriously. Kids are unpredictable & always changing. I use to find this infuriating and on a bad day, I still do. But mostly, I just really enjoy being with little kids. And how is it that this is happening to me? I didn't own a single maternal instinct until I was pregnant with Thomas. Maybe after so many hours and experiences, you just cave in and join in on the crazy. Being fully immersed in a house of coos & "ba ba" & little dancing feet and this guy:



...it's like I've hit the nail on the head for that thing that makes me come alive.

Now if I could find a really, really good concealer for the tire marks under my eyes. :)

Bonus: Seeing my sister walk out the door in a cute dress & head to work, to be doing what's right for her right now with maybe, possibly a little bit more peace than another temporary care situation would have offered. It's a win-win situation, but mostly just a win because all our boys are very much loved and that's my very, very favorite.

5 under 5

A lot of you know about what's been going on at my house. Some exciting stuff. Well, here it is:


I'll be watching my sister's twins for the next few months before they join in the day care at her workplace. (First part-time & then full-time) That's five boys under the age of five. 1 four year old I'm kinda sorta homeschooling right now. 2 toddlers that I'm transitioning to mostly free roaming the house and its goods. And 2 adorable babies for me to sleep train and make smile.

Andrea & I are both navigating new routines & challenges and sending sisterly check-up texts to each other.  When she was pumping earlier she wanted to know how things were going, so I went right over to her boys and snapped this



right as one of them let out a long, slow fart. (If I was talking to my kids, I would say toot. But, c'mon, I'm gonna give these Mueller boys some credit. It was a fart if I ever heard one.)

Then I located Alistair & Emerick and snapped this


right as Alistair (on the left) was filling his pants with what can only be described as liquid poop because it made a sound which struck that exact chord & Emerick was 3 hot seconds away from a time-out for touching the forbidden light (a lamp of irresistible toddler magnetism).

Then I found Thomas who had just two minutes earlier found a pb & j and exclaimed, "Is this pb & j for ME?!!!" like it was a gold bar to solidify his fortune... and so I caved and gave him the very expensive, very amazing treat (his 2nd for the day).

Yes, you're right. At this point in the day, 3 out of 3 of my kids aren't clothed.
His look here seems to suggest pondering his former life of fond memories and/or how all the noise in the background is quickly making for negative ones.

No, really. He loves Luke & Logan. Adores. He sings to them & even showed his brothers how to very, very carefully touch them --- which just tripped me out & back to when they were that size and I was praying he didn't jump on their faces. Not really, but yeah...pretty much.

Alistair & Emerick definitely LOVE the transition. I've let them loose in the house & haven't had the time or energy to have a series of mini heart attacks about it. I found them at the fireplace perched and swinging their legs like it was just the. coolest. place. ever. It reminded me of teenagers smoking in some covert place and loving their put-on intrigue. Yeah, you cool boys. You real cool.


Today was my 2nd go round as headmistress of the Anderson House of Boys and it went pretty well. However, it wasn't a walk in the park as evidenced by the following:

a. my trash can is nothing but a mound of diapers. I seriously mean it. It's the perfect setting to play "I Spy a Dozen Diapers Without Even Digging!!"

b. a half hour before pick-up (babies asleep) I stuck in ear buds and displayed my dancing interpretation of "wiggle, wiggle, wiggle" and "drop it, drop it low girl" and many other songs to my twins who looked both delighted and disturbed.

c. right before writing this post I shouted into the void sun room, "I NEED CHOCOLATE!" and the universe answered back dressed as a 4 year old pushing his brothers around in plastic tubs, "Mom, you can't have chocolate until you've cleaned. Chocolate is a treat.... Your room is a mess. We do work first before treating ourselves."

Exactly.
They look like they would escape if they had the muscle control.  Smile, boys!