Moving On

We said good-bye to an old friend last week.

After 7 years, we bid adieu to my Honda Element.  I loved that car.  Like really, really loved that car.  Until I hated it.  In fact, everything that I originally loved about it, became everything that I hated about it once we had kids.

After ten months of suicide doors, I’d had it.  If you’re not familiar with suicide doors, let me just tell you, they make it much more difficult to get not one, but two infant carriers into the car.  I regularly banged my head into the ceiling of the car, banged my knee into the large metal ring that the door locked into on the floor, and could rarely open both doors if any other cars were parked too closely on either side of me.  The sun roof let the sun shine directly into the babies’ eyes, which actually could be used as a form of torture in the future.  There were only two seats in the back because each seat could split and fold into each wall, again, awesome pre-children, not so cool post-children.

Even with all of these annoyances, trading in the Element was still hard to do.

This car had been with us through so much.  Moves, new jobs, vacations, puppies, and finally babies.  We would regularly fold the seats up, throw our bikes in the back and go to the boardwalk or park.  It was perfect for the dogs, because it was so easy to sweep the floor or hose it out.  And with Bruiser’s shedding habit, it was done very often.

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bruisey’s favorite spot.
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But, it was time.

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saying good-bye!

Two summers ago, we had the privilege of driving a Chevy Traverse to the Outer Banks for vacation (thanks to the woman who hit my car in the grocery parking lot, and thanks to Allstate for providing us with a giant SUV just in time for vacation).  So, with three adults (yay, Katydaddy!), three dogs (cousin Sammy), and enough luggage to stay for five months, the 8 hour drive felt like a pre-vacation to our trip.  After that, we knew (even before we found out we were having twins) the Traverse would be our next car.

And for good reason.  It’s a minivan for people like us.  “People like us”, meaning people who aren’t ready for a minivan.  It has two captain seats and a third row bench seat in the back, which means we can fit seven people.  Best of all, there are vents for the AC way back there, which means the dogs won’t be panting in the back while we’re cool and comfortable in the front.  And with the third row folded down, we have a massive cargo area for wagons, giant strollers, and sweet yard sale finds.

As it turns out, car shopping with two babies is a little different from the way we used to do it.  Keith would send me links to cars in the area via email, but I wouldn’t have time to look at them.  But hen he would arrive home asking which car I liked best.

Uh, all of them?  The blue one?  The Traverse?  I confessed that I hadn’t looked at the cars he sent me.  I meant to check them out, but somewhere between pumping, chasing crawling babies, and making/feeding/washing bottles, it slipped my mind.

Once we (he) found the car that best suited our needs, we went to the dealership.  We warned the salesman that we our time was limited because of the babies.  When he saw two babies in our arms, he knew not to push the envelope.

I test drove the Traverse, while Keith and the babies hung out in the spacious Element.  After the test drive, I gave the dealer all of our information and then asked them to call us if they could work something out.

Best plan ever.

It’s way easier to negotiate price over the phone, rather than sitting at a desk in front of a salesman.  No nagging, no “let me see if there’s any wiggle room here”, no “well, let me talk to the finance manager”.

Long story short, we got a great deal, and picked the car up last week.  Woohoo!

 

A New Meaning to Mother’s Day

32 years ago, I came home from the hospital with my mom on Mother’s Day.

The only reminder I have of that day is a handmade Mother’s Day plate that was dated 1983, which one of my sisters made for my Mom.  Each time I saw it, I pictured myself as a shriveled-face baby coming home for the first time.

Other than this memory, all of my Mother’s Days have been spent celebrating the moms in my life, usually with flowers and brunch.

But this year, it means something very different to me.  This year, I’ll be able to celebrate my wife and all of the work she’s done to make our kids the happiest babies I’ve ever seen.

Her personality has been duplicated in the form of two nine month old babies, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  She spends every waking (and sleeping) second with them.  She talks to them all day, engages them with hundreds of toys, silly faces and silly songs, and has somehow created a busy routine for themselves to follow each day.

She’s sacrificed so much of herself for all of us, but she loves every second of it.

Being a parent in our house is an exhausting job, but she makes it look easy.  And she looks good while doing it.

There is no way to explain how great she is, and there is no way that I could ever thank her enough, but I’m going to try today!

Happy Mother’s Day, Meggie.

Spring Breaking

The first full week of April offered plenty of time to stay at home with Mom and our twins, thanks to good ol’ Spring Break.

It was sorely needed too, because the first month of coaching Spring Track has been exhausting.

Before my track season began, I would come home right after school, just in time for all of us to hang out on the floor for a few hours, while Mom squeezed in her first “uninterrupted” pump of the day.  It was the best part of the day.

I would be debriefed on the funny things that happened that day, how well the babies ate, what happened at Mom’s Group, and other important matters of business.  We would have a little snack together and unwind from a long day.

scout and griffin
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But now it’s different.  By the time I get home each night, my interaction with the babies is limited to giving them baths and putting them to sleep for the night.  Then Mom and I will hurry and have dinner, while she pumps, of course, and she’ll give me the play by play on what happened while I was gone for 13 hours.

This well-timed Spring Break allowed me to do all of the things I’ve missed.  And I had no idea just how much I was missing, so here’s a little update.

Scout Finoula seems to finally be coming around to this radical idea of eating foods that do not come from a bottle.  Her champion-eater brother has been a spoon feeding whiz, but because of her tongue-tie, she has had major issues.  With some suggestions from a speech pathologist friend, we’ve begun using some OT techniques to make her more receptive to the idea of eating from a spoon.

Each feeding begins with a little “warm-up”.  We have a little tool that looks like a spoon, but with no spoon on the end.  It’s just a handle with little rubber nubs on the end.  We use the tool to wake up her mouth by rubbing it on her lips, tongue, and the insides of her cheeks.  When she’s all primed and ready, we try the food.

And guess what?  She likes it! She’s been eating well and we’re so proud of her!

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scouty eating
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Other than this, our little 8-month old daughter sits up like a pro, talks with a raspy monster-voice at times, and loves sitting on Dad’s shoulders.  She’s quiet and has a pensive face most of the time, like she’s constantly judging us.  And she waves at us whenever we enter the room, which never gets old.

Then there’s Griffin.  Our madman son.  He’s still a ball of energy and likes to scream.  He has a smile for everyone he meets and he’s the clear crowd favorite when we go out.  Why waste your time smiling at a quiet girl who stares right through you, when you can get a huge smile and leg-kick from the boy-twin?

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griffin
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He’s a great eater and loves to watch the dogs.  He spends most of his time sitting on the floor, patiently waiting for a dog to come sit by him so he can pet them and poke their ears with his little fingers.  He bangs his pacifier on his crib rails when he’s ready to get out of bed, and he loves his Mama above everything else.  I’ve also made the bold claim that he’ll be crawling in one month.

Both babies only wear their corrective helmets at bed time and they still enjoy seeing Mom and Dad sing silly songs.  They sleep for 5-6 hours straight, and we love it.

Our twins had their first verbal exchange too!  While eating dinner in their highchairs, Griffin looked at Scout and made a fart noise with his mouth. She smiled at him, and fart-noised back.  He laughed and they exchanged fart noises for the rest of mealtime.  Their previous interactions had been limited to Griffin taking Scout’s binky whenever she was in reach.

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Although it was way too fast, Spring Break was just the thing I needed.  It reminded me how lucky I am to have two babies and an awesome wife.

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Baby Helmet Decals by Bling Your Band

Our twins began wearing their helmets a few weeks ago and I’m happy to say that things are going really well.

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elvis lip and all.

 

As mentioned previously, the babies needed helmets to fix their flat heads and to prevent any issues from creeping up later in life, like vision, nasal, or dental issues.  Differences in the shape of their heads were noticed almost immediately, but we still have three months to go.

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It was weird at first, but for reasons that we fully expected.  Mostly staring.

Even though it’s 2015, and it’s becoming more common to see babies with helmets, there are a ton of people who have never seen a kid wear this kind of helmet.  Or maybe they have, but they just can’t stop staring.  We fully expected stares, gaping mouths, and whispers about the two goofs in the baby carriers wearing helmets, but it was easier to expect than to actually deal with.

Mom has witnessed it more than me, and to my surprise, she hasn’t yelled at a single person yet.  She really is softening up!  Sometimes she’ll return the stare, but that’s what any mother would do, right?

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My favorite responses come from kids.  They’re innocent and curious and they have zero filter.  I can’t help but crack up when kids point and say “haha, them babies are wearing helmets!”  It’s even better when they come right out and ask why the babies are wearing helmets, even though when I explain that they have flat heads, the kids think of the dude from minecraft.

The whole idea of helmets became much easier when we found out about Bling Your Band.  It’s a great site that creates decals for baby helmets.  Mom shared the site with me while I was at work and I couldn’t stop looking through all of the designs they had.  And if you want something special, they have artists on hand to create custom designs!  They also have a giant picture gallery that shows hundreds of other babies with their sweet helmet bling.

Honestly, if people are going to stare, let’s give them something to stare at.  The designers for Bling Your Band were well aware of people gawking at kids who have to wear a helmet, and they have the perfect answer: acknowledge those who stare.

They’ve come up with clever decals that say:

“The Longer U Stare, The Cuter I Get” 

“Keep looking… I know I’m cute”

“Whoo R U Staring at?” (with accompanying owls, of course)

And then there are several other funny designs that say things like “Under Construction”, “Just Fixin my Flat”, and “You should see the other guy”.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right?

And that’s exactly what we did.  Our kids have to wear helmets.  23 hours each day.  For four months.  We decided to make the most of it, so we got them some bling.

Griffin, the badass that he is, is no longer wearing a baby helmet.  He is now sporting the helmet of a fighter pilot.

Scout, that little sweetheart (despite her cold, cold stares) has a happy helmet that’s loaded with rainbows, cupcakes, flowers, and more.

It’s the final word in baby fashion, if you ask me.

The decals were super easy to put on, and we put a coat of Mod Podge on the helmets to help protect the decals.  We couldn’t be more pleased with the results.  The helmets look awesome, and if the babies could thank us, they would.  And I’m sure they’ll be sending a thank-you note to Bling Your Band in the next few days.

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helmets
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We made the most of an unfortunate situation.  Actually, we embraced it.

The kids’ heads are quickly rounding out. The before-and-after photos are striking, even though they’ve only been wearing the helmets for a few weeks.  They don’t mind wearing the helmets at all.  I don’t think they know they’re even wearing them.

Everyone at the grocery store sure knows that the babies are wearing helmets.  But now, I’m okay with the staring.

scout and griffin helmets

scout and griffin helmets

scout and griffin helmets