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Monday, January 28, 2013

Daily Routine

My friend Jackie over at this blog wrote about her daily routine (which came from yet another blogger) so I'm picking up the thread and running with it since I feel like most of my life unraveled last year anyway.

I try to keep us to a pretty consistent routine but we always manage to have something pop up which kills any free time I managed to have. Here's a look at a typical day (with various weekly activities thrown in for good measure).

6am--alarm goes off and Len gets into the shower. I roll over and go back to sleep. Both girls are usually awake at this point but thanks to the MIRACLE that is the dinosaur clock, they stay in bed until 7am.

6:45am--Len gets me up as he is finishing getting dressed and ready to face the onslaught of 2 toddlers who've been awake for an hour. He gets them out of overnight diapers, faces washed and fixes them breakfast (eggs & toast, oatmeal, cereal with yogurt or toast with avocado and tomato) while I hide in the bathroom for 30 minutes get dressed and presentable.

7:50am--Len leaves to catch the train to work. I usually give the girls 30 minutes of screen time so I can eat my breakfast and have some tea without having to share it.

8:30-12:30--Based on the morning's schedule we do the following:
1. Monday and Wednesday mornings are generally free so we either play at home, go to a playground or a playspace depending on the weather. Sometimes we'll try to see the chiropractor on Wednesdays too.
2. Tuesday morning are swim lessons.
3. Thursday morning is playgroup.
4. Friday Ms. Julie is here ALL DAY.

12:30-1pm--lunch which is almost always pb&j and some fruit.

1-1:20pm--low key playtime (usually pretending to put all their babies down for naps)

1:20-1:30pm--change into jammies, read some books and get settled in for naps.

1:30-3pm--dinosaur is asleep. Lucy usually sleeps for an hour so is awake by 2:45 but waits until her dinosaur wakes at 3pm before coming out. Kate may/may not nap but will not come out until her dinosaur wakes at 2:45pm. I used to have her dinosaur wake up later but that was frankly a long time to ask her to "rest quietly" in the dark.

3-5:30pm--This also varies according to the day of the week:
Monday--we just started a music and movement class through the park district so we do that in the afternoon.
Tuesday: playtime at home.
Wednesday: Ms. Julie is here from 12-5pm but most afternoons I have to take Lucy to either a dental appointment, speech therapy or other doctor visit. When she isn't at an appointment, I usually have one instead.
Thursday: playtime at home
Friday: Ms. Julie is here until 4pm. When I get home I try to spend time on the floor with them after she leaves as they are quite needy after my day-long absence.

5:45pm--Len is home. The girls follow him back to our room while I work on dinner (which I have usually tried to prep a bit earlier if the girls will play by themselves for a bit)

6pm--dinner for all of us followed by playtime with both parents.

6:45-7:45--bathtime (one kid at a time so each child gets one parent's undivided attention during this time). Len and I switch off so some nights he does bath and I do the lotion, jammies and visa versa. Then we all read books together. After reading we each take a child and sing them a few songs before lights out. Then Len and I switch rooms and sing a few songs to the other child before calling it a night.

8pm--collapse on couch and watch something mindless. Sometimes I will blog instead if Len wants to watch a game. I will usually head to the back for a bath around 9:30pm and Len will do the dishes. Some reading in bed and lights out around 10:30pm at the latest.

I'm exhausted just reading this. Oh, and snacks are in there too. How could I possibly forget snacktime??

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Torn

I'm going to say up front that I know how fortunate we are to have two beautiful, smart, funny little girls. I do know that in the core of my being. And I know what it took to get to this place. Some would probably feel that I have little or no ground to stand on when complaining about how much harder it is to parent 2 children as opposed to only 1, much less parenting 2 children who are the same age. Add to that the fact that they are not at the same developmental level and you have the recipe for one torn mama...who is going to complain, just a little.

 There is not enough of me, pretty much ever.

The following video is not normal. And you can see that, although 3 minutes seems like a long time when you are watching other people's children play, it is soooo not long enough when you realize that what followed after this 3 minutes was a fight for my exclusive attention that lasted the rest of the evening.
Tandem play from Lisa on Vimeo.

Right now Kate is obsessed exclusively with puzzles. And she's quite good at them, only needing minimal input from me, usually in the form of my bodily presence and the occasional cheer.
Kate with puzzle from Lisa on Vimeo.

Lucy is not that into puzzles....unless Kate is doing one. Then she's ALL ABOUT PUZZLES. Except that she is not really developmentally there yet. She has just now gotten to the point where she can do these types of puzzles without my help.
But she will INSIST on doing the puzzles she got for her birthday so we will sit down, I will put in a good many of the pieces (which she will bitterly complain about the entire time) and then have her try to fit in a few of the last pieces. (By the way, having her start from scratch just switches to her bitterly complaining from frustration so...yeah. It's a no-win situation.) Doing puzzles with her is BEYOND aggravating. Keep in mind that we've been doing these puzzles since her birthday in December and we haven't really progressed since then.
Lucy with puzzle from Lisa on Vimeo.

Yes, I sound incredibly irritated in this video which, granted, is not a stellar mom moment. We had been working on that puzzle for quite some time and this was the upteenth time she had popped all the pieces out. I actually had to take a break from working on this with her as I was so exasperated.

What bums me out the most is that I never really get quality one-on-one time with either of them. Kate just happens to learn these types of activities faster. Lucy learns (and has more interest in learning which is key) more physical activities faster. But in order to encourage them to step out of their comfort zone, they need to know that I'm there to help. With one eye always on the other child, they know my attention is divided. And usually, Kate will butt in to "help" Lucy with the puzzle or Lucy will want to "show Kate how to hang on the monkey bars" for so long that Kate never gets a turn. I'm in constant referee mode. It's really not fun.

I've also had to get creative with discipline. Without fail, as soon as I tell one child not to do something (like bang on the trash can with a metal spoon), the other one will walk up and do EXACTLY what I just finished reprimanding the other one for. And, to add insult to injury, she will look at me with a sly grin to see what I will do. OMG really?!

So I know that most anybody with 2 kids has these issues. And parents with twins have it even more. But knowing it and living it are very different things indeed.

I just don't understand why I'm not relaxed, stress-free and able to combat this never-ending cold....

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sick again

I guess my immune system has taken a hit later rather than sooner. I took my original round of penicillin and finished it up but I never felt back to normal. Within a week, the same symptoms returned so I called the doctor and was put back on penicillin, this time for a 10 day round. This morning I woke with a full-on head cold. So. Sinusitus AND a head cold. The symptoms of the head cold actually started yesterday after I went to the chiropractor followed by the a 45 minute rest in the salt cave. Both of those treatments served to open my sinuses and boy, have they ever opened. My nose is a veritable fountain.

It's so unusual for me to be sick and I am SO NOT a good patient. Looks like we're in for one long weekend.


- Posted using BlogPress from my fabulously wonderful iPad!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Palate Expander

Lucy will no longer wear her mouthpiece, the infant trainer, that she got from the dentist last year. Kate will continue to wear hers. Lucy has now graduated to palate expander retainers. These are designed to
S L O W L Y expand her palate and lower jaw to create more space for her tongue. Right now she has significant tongue thrust and still has some suckling behavior left over from infancy. These appliances will help her position her tongue better for making all the sounds in speech therapy as well. They stay in 24/7, only removing them once a day for brushing/flossing. Sounds gross to me as I would want to take them out every time she eats but he said it would be fine.

Here she is having the bottom retainer installed at the dentist. She was such a good patient and was excited to get "jewelry for her mouth"!
 She picked out her colors during the last visit. She chose sparkles for the top retainer.
 And her favorite color, yellow, for the bottom.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New swim teacher

Lucy was still an unhappy camper in swim class. She spent the first 10 minutes of class crying for me and was on the verge of a meltdown. It didn't help that she could see Kate in the other lane but not get to her. As luck would have it, there was an opening in Kate's lane as one of the students advanced to another class so after consulting with the teachers and lead instructor, they agreed to move Lucy to be with Kate and her instructor, Ms. Sarah. Things went MUCH better after that. Even better, the other student was absent yesterday so it was only my two girls with the teacher.
 
No sound on this video as I was in the viewing area but you can get the gist of the situation.
Swim lessons from Lisa on Vimeo.

After swim lessons, we hit the nice warm showers which the girls love since they get to wash their own hair. This is followed by the "hair salon". With the temps in the single digits, drying their hair is a must as it would probably freeze to their heads on the short walk to the car.
Then we spend a little time in the play area and by the time we get home it's lunchtime. Pretty much kills a morning but they were much happier yesterday than in previous visits.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mish mosh of our weekend adventures

As promised, we had a low-key weekend. I got the chance to meet up with a fellow blogger, Erin, who writes this blog. We "met" originally on-line as we were both hoping to adopt from Nepal. Neither of our adoptions in Nepal made it to fruition but we both persevered and are now the parents of adopted children: our Lucy from China and her daughter, Autumn, adopted domestically.  She is working on her doctoral dissertation about how social media, specifically blogging, has helped/hindered those attempting to adopt. I am honored to be part of her work and we finished up her interview with me this weekend here in Chicago (we did the first interview over Skype). Erin got the chance to meet the girls and Len before we walked to a local Chinese place for lunch and a long chat. Her work sounds fascinating and I can't wait to read a copy of it when she is finished.
Len held down the fort at home. The girls are really into singing and playing their guitars together. This occupies a good deal of time most days.
Sunday was absolutely frigid so Len took the girls to a local playroom and met up with some of the other fathers in our playgroup while the moms met for breakfast.

Monday dawned even colder (3 degrees with wind chills not even worth repeating) so I met up with Jackie, Meg and their 3 sons at the Alder Planetarium for a morning adventure.

Lucy, Kate and Leander got to see what a rocket looks like when it takes off with a do-it-yourself balloon rocket.
Meanwhile, Meg had her hands full with Griffin and August.
 
 

 Ready for takeoff!
Amazed they all squeezed into this without anyone coming to blows.
Lucy was engaged with this area for quite some time, trying to fit all the pieces together. Amazed me since she has no patience for puzzles at home.
The Kate/Leander love affair continued on the slide.
Jackie and I decided this would be a good picture to show at their wedding...falling into his arms at 3! Funny.
Getting ready to watch a movie...and Lucy is thrilled to be holding Griffin (I think...or is that August?).
Time to sit in the driver's seat for launching.
 
 Not really sure what this was supposed to teach them but they loved trying to rearrange the tubes.
We bailed after lunch whereupon the girls promptly fell asleep in the car on the way home. Knowing I would never successfully transfer them to a nap once we got home, I spent 2 hours in the car while they slept. A rather un-glorious end to a good day.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Slow Dancing

I think life would be much more pleasant if breakfast were accompanied by slow dancing, don't you think?
Slow dancing from Lisa on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Three year checkups

Kate and Lucy had their three year checkups today. They were model patients as usual, sitting up on the table together, breathing in and out when asked, saying "AHHHHH" and generally charming the staff. I have to say that these are the moments that I live for. In this job there are no annual reviews, raises, or bonuses for a job well-done. There is only the comment from my doctor to his intern:

"I told you you would enjoy these girls. They need to be hired out to model for other children on how to behave in the doctor's office."

I may be able to live on that comment for a good long while.

Here are their updated stats (with their stats from July 17, 2012 in parenthesis):

Kate:
Recumbent length: 37" (36")
Weight: "a hair under 29 lbs" (28 1/4 lb)
This puts Kate in the 25-50th percentile.

Lucy:
Recumbent length: 38 1/4" (37 1/2")
Weight: 32 1/4 lb (30 1/2 lb)
This puts Lucy in the 50-70th percentile for American children, not Asian. According to the only Asian growth chart I could find, she's above the 50th percentile in both kg and cm. So I'd say she's doing okay!

We all seem to be on the mend from the round of sickness that felled us in the past few weeks. I just finished up my penicillin and am only left with the occasional cough. The girls both still seem to have phlegmy coughs but their lungs are clear with no sign of infection in their sinuses, etc. Len has been fighting a low-grade cold all week but has soldiered on through it.

Fortunately, we have a much needed very low-key weekend coming up. The girls have even commented about how they really just want to stay home and play for a while. We've been so swamped with doctors, dentists, speech therapy and swim lessons that we're gone nearly every day. After this morning's outing and subsequent naps, the girls and I lounged in the recliner for darn near an hour, snuggled under blankets while I told them the stories of how/where they were born and how they came to be sisters.

It was delightful...an hour that happens all too infrequently but is the sweeter for it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Love Letter, Month 36



Dear Kate,

You are 36 months old. Three YEARS OLD!! 
Alas, this fabulous day happened over the weekend but since both of us have been sick for most of this month, your letter is a few days late.
What I remember most about this month is the size and scope of your monumental temper tantrums. What you remember most are birthday parties and Santa. And that is as it should be I suppose. 

Let me just say, for the record and before we move on to happier subjects, that your ability to hurl yourself onto the floor while simultaneously kicking all four limbs and screaming at the top of your lungs is no trifling affair. You have applied yourself diligently to perfecting the art of "Toddler Temper Tantrum". Congratulations, you earned an A+. Can we move on now please? Perhaps to the art of "Happy Helpful Child Who Laughs and Sings"? Because when you are in a good mood, oh! you are just the most delightful thing on the planet!
Now. Christmas and Birthdays. Santa, Rudolph, Elf on the Shelf, and pink birthday cake have consumed your thoughts this entire month. To say you were excited to tell Santa what you wanted for Christmas would be an understatement. You were ready months ago...but finally the day came and we set off to see Santa.
You had no fear whatsoever this year, marching right up and saying, "I would like sparkly shoes please!" when asked what you wanted for Christmas.
When the fairy princess came to our table with magic fairy dust you solemnly closed your eyes and made a wish. Unsurprisingly, you have kept the small round wish stone she gave to you safe in your special drawer and can find it at a moment's notice if asked.
Your favorite thing to do now is to sing all the Christmas songs at the top of your voice. When you aren't singing, you are constantly talking to yourself, making up little scenarios and stories, loving especially to play with words in songs, switching them up or rhyming a string of words together.
I must say that you make me laugh every single day with some of the stuff you come up with to say. Here's a small sampling of this month's Kate-isms:

Me: Kate, for the 10th time, PLEASE put on your pants!
You: I am, MOTHER!

(Really?! MOTHER? How old ARE you, 15??)
You and Lucy wanted to use our bidet so Daddy was taking you back to our room. I was giving Daddy a few instructions for how to use it with you. You were listening and when I was done talking you looked at Daddy and said, "Why do you not know what you are doing?"
________________
“I think I need some lunch. I’m starting to fade.”
________________
You: I'm 3 now!
Me: Yes.
You: When I'm 3 1/2 will I still say "No" all the time?
Me: Absolutely not. You will always say "Yes M'am" when I ask you to do something.
You: Silence....followed by a sly smile and "Noooooooo! Silly Mama!

(Hey, I can try right?)
________________
"My birthday is taking forever to get here."

Believe me, it felt like it took just as long to me my love. 

But come it finally did and with it your party. You chose to share your party with Ava and were very excited to try her purple cake and to share your pink cake.
 
Your favorite gift was the pink guitar from Ms. Julie. As soon as you saw Lucy's yellow birthday guitar last month, a pink guitar was all you could think about. It was, in fact, the only gift you wanted to open at your party.
This has been a big month of transitions for you. You became very attached to your Nana in the past three months and her departure left a big hole in your heart. 
Nearly every day you mention her and wonder what she might be doing or when we will see her again. When you got a card in the mail from her you mused, "It was nice of Nana to send this card so I can think about her."

I was happy to find that on your birthday you asked to Skype with not only Nana but with Meme and Papa and Yiayia and Pappou. Your Yiayia came for a short visit this month and you loved the extra attention, if not the "messy butter" project in the kitchen.
We began swim lessons this month and to my amazement, you weren't very sure of yourself until close to the end of class. 
I say amazement because you are generally the adventurous one when it comes to instruction or learning something new. You were the one and only kid to harness up and attempt the rock wall at Leander's birthday party, reminding me of last summer when you stepped right up for bungee jumping.
You keep me guessing that's for sure! One minute you are happy, holding hands with Lucy and singing away about fairies and flowers and the next minute you have hauled off and hit your sister and run away with her kangarooie. Let's concentrate more on the flowers and fairies this month mmmmmK?
I love you Katie bug. Happy birthday to you!

Love,
Mama

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Kate's and Ava's birthday party

Kate and Ava were born on the same day and first met when they were a mere 6 weeks old. Ava's mom, Alison, and I spent a couple of hours this afternoon decorating a rented party space for their soiree. The girls were ready for the fun to begin!
 Leander looking dapper!
 The cakes which were delish!
Mardi Gras was the theme....minus the Hurricanes.
 Gustav checking out what Lucy is eating.
 Ava and one of her friends from preschool.

 Ms. Julie got them all up and dancing.
Leander and Ava are very focused on what Ms. Julie will do next.
Bouncing frogs on the parachute is always popular.
But not as much fun as having your parents spin you around on it!
 The birthday girls got their own ride up and down!
Want to see a bunch of kids LOSE THEIR MINDS? Just bring out the bubbles.
 
Finally (according to Kate this part took way too long to happen) it was time for cake!
Very focused on the candles.
 
Ava was ready to blow out her candles!
At 5pm the party was over and it was time to return the party space back to its original look. Max kept the girls occupied while Alison and I finished up the last bit of cleaning and Len loaded the car.
When we got home, Kate was so tired that she wasn't eating any supper. She asked to go straight to bed....she didn't even want to open any of her gifts or take a bath. By 6:30 she was out. But she did say before going to sleep, "Thank you Mama--I had a great birthday."

I saved a few pictures of the day for Kate's love letter which I hope to write by tomorrow evening. For now, I'm spent and am headed to bed.

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