Saturday, July 14, 2018

Having Twins

Having twins can be quite the novelty right from the start.  I remember walking out of the obstetricians office after our 1st ultrasound and approaching the desk to sort out payments and future appointments.

The receptionist whispered to me “Are you having twins?” 
I nodded and said, “Yes, but how did you know?”
And she grinned and replied with, “Honey there’s only one look on a face that comes out after you’ve been told you’re having twins. And you’ve got it! Congratulations!”
I was never annoyed that she asked me. In fact it made me feel like I was part of an exclusive club! And I was thankful for her well wishes.

As a parent accepting this news, it is mind-boggling. I found myself wavering back and forth from sheer delight to utter terror. There’s plenty of books and online blogs about how to make it work, but as you can expect, there was always a wide-range of advice from one extreme to the next. How is one to know what is the correct “way to parent twins”?

Now looking on the other side, like with any new addition to the family, your family unit will be unique to you, and deciphering what works is really just a lot of trial and error. If someone wrote a book that just said “Give it a Whirl and Find Out”, I would have scoffed at that approach before. But now, I’d say that’s the best advice out there.

It’s fascinating to watch twins grow and develop, and see individual personalities right from the start.  From the beginning we were  purposeful in trying hard not to compare their abilities to each other or alternatively parcel them together as one being.   I was so extreme in this that I refused to dress them the same unless it was for a special occasion such as cheering on a favourite sporting team or for the rare occasion that matching outfits were the last and most practical items left in the closet to wear.

To help personify them as babies I’d find myself choosing clothes based on colours. For Levi I’d often choose green/blue and for Malakai I’d pick blue/red.  And we didn’t do this just for clothing. We’d keep track of their dummies, hats, boots, and drink bottles by these same colour codes as well. Most shops would sell boy items in two colours and this is how we’d choose who’d get what. 

It grew as they did- dinnerware, swimwear, jackets, socks
and jocks, toys, and bedding! 6 years on and our boys have 
subconsciously picked up this habit too, saying their favourite colours are green (for Levi) and red (for Kai). Levi has added black to his palette as this is the colour that both Darth Vader and ninjas wear.

Though we love the novelty of “twin life” as they are members of a particular exclusive group we had been warned by many twins (and by reading through lots of material) to be aware of some of the impact that “twinfamy” can bring. 

When the boys were very little people often stopped us on the street just to stick their head in the pram to have a look. It probably didn’t help that to our small town community, our pram grabbed people’s attention because it looked like a giant space craft.

In this early stage (because they were premmie babies) I was super vigilant in making sure to protect them from viruses that their little bodies struggled to fight off. I’d often have a blanket covering both capsules, and did what I could to avoid contact with people.  This often resulted in me wearing sunnies to hide my eyes so as not to make the mistake of catching anyone else’s, and I’d walk super fast from place to place often humming or talking under my breath which made me look crazy enough that no one would
 want to approach me. 

Nevertheless I’d run into a few familiar faces who were dying for a squizz and would demand a look-see. There was never a quick run to the supermarket in those days! 
Because of this, I’d often wait for Leigh to get home from work so I could dash out for my “weekly” child-free break to buy nappies and formula! 
You can’t fit much in your pram for groceries anyway so shopping separately is really ideal.

No one really tells you how tiring it can be to parent two together (plus added children for us special kind of crazies 
that are out there) and honestly I’m not trying to complain 
but just explain what I mean. 

When they were little it was just keeping up with monster honestly felt like all I did was feed and express. If anyone else can do “anything” every few hours (including overnight)and not find it tedious even after a day or a week, you are a special kind of hero. I felt like a milking machine. It was hard work - beneficial yes- but hard nonetheless. 

Then as they grew older it was determining boundaries, not just for one but for two. You’d finish parenting one through a crises and find yourself parenting the other through the exact same crisis 4 minutes later. And you’d honestly get tired. Like is it really that important that I stick with the same boundaries that I set for the first one? Yes indeed it is! I found out!
Then when they started school. I found it so hard to be motivated to keep up with both of their school work and manage the housework. For me (now with 3 children) there were seasons where Leigh had to work late shifts on many 
nights leaving me home to do dinner and bedtime alone.  It meant I had to do two lots of homework and go through two lots of readers and gold words on those nights. And when they’re little, and struggling, because reading and writing are not their thing, this can get very difficult quickly. Especially when you add in making snacks, prepping/cleaning up dinner,  emptying/refilling lunch boxes, washing/drying uniforms, bathing/getting ready forbed, and any extracurricular activities or doctor appointments, that need to be done as well!It can leave you feeling pretty exhausted. 

Thankfully tho it’s not all hard work.  There are some amazing fun twin moments too.  For starters they always have a best friend to play with- before they could talk they made each other giggle. It was so cute, and although ours don’t always consistently play together, they will come back to each other from time to time throughout the day to touch base together. 

One of my favourite memories of when they were toddlers was before they could walk. They had grown big enough that we had to put them into separate cots beside each other, and later on we’d find one had climbed into the others to be with them overnight. It was so sweet, but later on got difficult to get them sleeping and keep them sleeping so we ended up having to separate their cots. They ended up shouting back and forth to one another, reaching out their little hands through the slats, and throwing blankies and dummies back and forth to keep connected. Sometimes it was a real zoo!

They also have always had an understanding of what it means to share or take turns because they’ve always had to.  I was surprised how quickly they learned this! I expected them to throw a fit if it wasn’t their turn and they wanted a turn too. I’d explain they could have a turn in one minute, after the other one had had a turn and then I would make sure I would really give them their turn in one minute. It wasn’t long there were no tears, as they saw how the system worked!

They are also good at identifying what each other are good at and sharing in that achievement rather than being jealous of each other.  I love that! We wanted them to discover each other’s individuality, and be able to celebrate those rather than compete with one other. Last year in frustration, Malakai said, “Why do I have to learn to read and write? Levi is so good at it. I can just ask him to read and write for me!”
To which Levi replied, “yah I can read and write for him and he can work the AppleTV for me!”

What a beautiful way of discovering and celebrating your brothers gifts, boys!  Not really what I had in mind!

They truly are so individual that I often forget they are twins, until they do something like both lose their front teeth at the same time...

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Best Artist

This morning we woke to frost on the ground. And to many of us “hurriers”, it is a serious offence... often because we are running late to the next thing. Having to stop to defrost the car adds minutes you can’t possibly produce. But it happens and you have no choice. You will be late.
So you sit and blast the air and crank the windscreen wipers to high (if they can move). If you’re really proactive you may even get a bucket of water out. I remember days in Canada using old CD cases - and in some instances, tape cassette cases to scrape the windows down.
We have no time for this kind of nonsense. Not in today’s day and age. But then I stop and I look. And the visual on the windscreen takes my breath away.
Fern like patterns display across my window and I am in awe of its beauty. As I wait I am forced to look and really see my Creator lavishing His most beautiful masterpieces before me and I savour and enjoy the brilliance of His work.  To be too hurried to take in the FREE temporary gallery before me seems like a sin- so I accept the gift with joy and worry about my tardiness another time.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

To Be Actively Grateful

I think it’s been 5 years since I last made time to sit and write here... A huge part of that is the lack of time , creativity, and energy to do it. It’s been good to record details in snippets on FB so I don’t forget the seasons, but now that the boys are finally in Grade 1 and Aliyah is in Kinder (pre-school) it has created some space for me to consider writing again.... My friend Tara (who has her own set of twins) said it best... when the kids turn 5 there will be a big celebration! All 3 of mine have finally reached that magic number.

Gone are the days of sheer exhaustion and what felt like unending wild chaos. Thank goodness! Now it’s just a “general tiredness” that stealthily sneaks its weariness in when I stand still.
The kids sleep through the night, go to the toilet, and dress themselves without too much help from me. That’s a huge win. They are also getting better at making their own breakfast, putting their toys away, and cleaning their rooms, which leaves the bulk of my household duties to be washing giant loads of limitless laundry, managing conflict, and feeding the children constantly...

And boy do they eat- it is phenomenal the amount they consume- ALL DAY LONG! And there seems to be no end in sight. Levi (now 61/2) has already grown past my shoulder!!! It will not be long until I am again the shortest one in the family. 

Today was a fun day. And I want to celebrate that. I have been in a bit of a slump for the last while, and have had a hard time getting on top of it. I am not in a really deep dark place- or anything- just a boring ol’ slump that feels dull...and well... boring.

I know I  am blessed to have good friends and good family around me (I mean we actually like each other enough to spend almost every Saturday having breakfast together) and I know I am lucky to live where I do with the beautiful things I have... but isn’t it true- that sometimes even when we have so much we can still battle the slumps.

So to battle- I decided to take note of every beautiful 
moment in the day I have been given. To be actively grateful. I take a moment to stop- and breathe in- to inhale the goodness of the present moment. It sounds strange, but it’s super simple- breathing is life.

Today Aliyah held my hand during lunch and told me an imaginative story about being an Aliyah super-hero. I watched each expression and looked at her precious hand in mine and thanked God for a such a beautiful gift in that moment. (Breathing in) I realise, she may not be open like this with me forever so I will treasure this in my heart.

Later on our family went on an adventure to Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens. When we arrived there wasn’t time to stop and smell the roses as each one of my energetic children explored the park at full speed. We decided to let them run themselves ragged... up and down the autumn coloured hills, because enjoying the moment to the full for them included running and exploring it with their whole selves. (breathing in the crisp air as they ran) 

I gloried in the beautiful sunshine and the breathtaking views surrounding me while I tried to catch up. 

I was smart enough to create a scavenger hunt for them to help them stop for a bit and actually notice their surroundings as well. 

It was a good day to live, to breathe, to be actively grateful.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Enjoying the Early Years

It has been a busy season!  The kids keep growing up and I'm trying to heed the advice given to me to enjoy the early years as much as possible because this season passes too quickly.   Yet as much as I live in the moment, I can't believe how quickly the time is passing.

Aliyah is rolling around trying to crawl, playing with and throwing toys, interacting with people, babbling, and eating solid foods!  She had her 6 month  immunisations yesterday and she is doing well.  She is chubbier than the boys were so I think she responds to the shots better than they did (full term vs premie).   She loves people and is so friendly already - her whole body lights up when she smiles.  Her hair is still gorgeously dark and her eyes seem to be blue so far!

 Her brothers are so good with her still, and they often try to help her settle by bringing her toys or tickling her toes - sometimes they like to cuddle her by "laying on top of her!".  But she doesn't seem to mind!  Last week Malakai wanted to share one of his favourite things with her  - dirt - and proceeded to feed it to her.  She is learning that not every gift from them is perfect!   One of the sweetest moments was watching him try to teach her how to blow out one of those birthday party favours (that unroll).  He kept saying, "Blow, Leeyah" and he'd show her and carefully try to hold it in her mouth for her, "Doo do it!" he encouraged.

In Oct - Leigh had taken two weeks off work and it was fabulous!  We did a lot of cleaning and organising as we tried to get Aliyah's room ready for her.  It's amazing how one family can accumulate so much "stuff", but her room will be ready hopefully by next week.  It will be difficult for me not having in our room anymore, and a bit sad, as I try to let go of our 'baby' in the family.   And we're just moving her into another room - imagine school!  Yuck!

Levi is still my cuddly boy.  He loves to be in my arms whenever Aliyah is out of them.   The only problem is these days Levi is NOT light.    He is very strong, and often tries to get his way with Malakai with brute force.  He likes to play loudly.   He thrives on the drama of dumping all of his toys out on the floor, and yelling UH-OH!  Kai sometimes can't flip the toy buckets over, so Levi will come to the rescue and do it for him.  He'll also try to carry heavy items such as nappy boxes, planters, and water buckets.  In such moments he earns the nickname Bam Bam.  He has started to really enjoy projects such as play dough, and blocks, and trains.   His latest infatuation though is vacuuming, and when I say infatuation, I mean it in every sense of the word.  The first time I let him play with it, he vacuumed until he could no longer physically stand anymore, so he laid on the carpet vacuuming beside himself.  The best gift he ever received was a toy vacuum from our friends Nic and Meg for his birthday.  

Recently we got our hands on a second-hand, second-hand little tykes car.   This has been a huge delight for the boys.  If anything it has taught the boys about taking turns, and I proudly watch as they step back allowing each other their "turn" in the car.  How many times have they've driven so recklessly they have overturned the car?  Too many to count!  We also were able to score a second hand plastic playground with slide, which they love to play on as well, while chewing on mint they've picked from daddy's garden.

Malakai would spend all day, every day outside if he could.  He loves to dig in the dirt, and play in the sand pit.  He especially loves finding sticks and hitting things with them.  The dirtier he is, the happier he seems.  He loves to play hide and seek, and will spend hours hanging out in his cardboard cubby house.  What Levi has in strength, Malakai has in speed. He is a quick runner, and will rarely walk anywhere.  I am finding it hard to catch him these days, so I will need to keep fit, to keep up!  He absolutely loves Auntie Sezzy's puppy and would play for hours with Ty, who is just as happy to have someone play with him too.  We have found that he is becoming more and more in love with soccer and will dribble the soccer ball up and down the hallway over and over again.

Both boys are excelling in their swimming lessons, and are brave enough to jump in and swim on their own now in the deep end (with water wings).   It has been amazing watching what little kids can do in the water once they are confident around it.  Both boys have no fear of putting their heads under  the water and have even swam through daddy's legs.

All three kids are still hugely into music, which is why we decided to have a music themed birthday party for the boys.  Our invites were "ticket invites", and we held a small children's concert at the party.  I personally would have loved to have the time to "go-all-out" and create a stage, with lights, and swag table, etc but I just didn't have the time.  Everyone seemed to have fun anyway, and it was a delight to watch the boys enjoy all their family and friends that were there to celebrate with them.  

We got the boys new bikes for their birthday.  They are called balance bikes and unlike a bike with training wheels, teaches kids to balance on their own giving them confidence to transition to a real bike much more quickly.  They are a tad short for them yet, but in a month or two will be able to do it on their own.  I am looking forward to the day that we can all go riding bikes together!

Monday, August 05, 2013

Lots of Love

The love for each other is overwhelming in our family...