The Moon & the Sun

When I found out I was carrying twins, my prayers changed from, “God, please give us a healthy baby,” to “God please give us two healthy babies.” At my 15 week appointment, I walked in certain that baby a was a girl and baby b was a boy and knowing we wouldn’t know for sure for 3 weeks yet. I was wrong on 2 of the 3 counts.

Baby a, laid out in full glory, was Lincoln, if you’ve ever met my Lincoln you’re giggling with me because he is all boy. He is dirt and roots and roughness. The technician said baby a is a boy. I said, “Really?! I was so sure baby a was a girl!” She said, “I’m 1000% sure this is a boy. No doubt. His hands are above his head. He’s stretching, see?” I was like, “Oh, then I’m a boy mom. Baby b is a boy. I think.”

I was right about that. Baby b was Logan. Yawning and curled up. We didn’t even have a name picked out for a second boy. That’s how sure we were. Nathan picked out the name within a couple hours.

I didn’t think I’d find out at 15 weeks on the dot. I was wrong about that.

For the next 17 weeks my prayers changed again. “God make our babies strong & healthy & different.” God is still in the business of answering prayers. It seemed very important to me to petition the throne of God to give me different children, a full array of differences.

They looked quite alike at birth. Aside from their hair color people had a hard time telling them apart. And then, as their hair fell out, people really couldn’t tell them apart. I despaired. I could tell them apart. I spent all day with them, I knew them. I knew from day 1 that God had given them 2 different personalities. It seems vastly apparent now. Our pediatrician’s nurse calls them true yin yang twins.

So I looked into that. Logan is the yin baby. He is gentle, patient, timid, yielding, passive. I’ve always called him my moon baby. He’s always been easy going at night. He’s my little baby. So quiet, but funny. Yin as associates with dark, he’s the darker headed baby.

So Lincoln is the yang baby. The lighter headed baby. He is always in a hurry, focused, active, loud. I’ve always called him the sun baby because he’s happiest right when he wakes up.

They’re so different. Even now, Lincoln is stacking blocks and shouting about it and all smiles. Logan, who is not a morning person (but always chooses to rise with big brother) is sitting on a pillow, holding his blanket, not saying anything. Just waking up.

Just like the moon and the sun, both are needed to make a full day. I need both my boys to make a full life.

I love them the same. I like them different. I appreciate how quirky and sweet Logan is. I appreciate Lincoln’s needs to do things his way and to be involved in everything. They quite complement one another. They’re their own people, but a set at the same time. I frustrates me when people meet them and their personalities clash with one of the boy’s and they say something like, “Odd ball isn’t he?” Or “He’s keeping your hands full!”

Pleeeeeeaaaaase.

I teach first grade. I have a touch of OCD and a bit of anxiety. When have my hands not been full? I’ve got this. I worked through undergrad, I taught through grad school. When have my days not been booked?

Now there’s just extra love from 2 absolutely lovable boys.

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Twinddlers > Twinfants

I’m watching Lincoln dig mega blocks out of their bag…and then search for books and put them in the mega blocks bag. He brings me my 40 ounce water bottle and says, “mo’,” waiting for me to pop the top so he can have some water. He has maybe 5 discarded half-empty sippy cups across our apartment. Neither child prefers these though, big boys are like their parents and drink out of water bottles. Back to the task at hand, finding books to pack in his bag.

Logan has a simple goal: Get ready for bed. Find Marvin (his moose Wubbanub), his clip on pacifier, his blankie, and someone to hold him. He wants to go to bed, but not without his things.

Lincoln’s still sorting those books. He goes to bed on his own terms and he fights all the way.

To be honest, while the toddler stage is difficult in its own way, I much prefer this to the newborn stage we were in a year ago. I truly believe this stage is easier with twins. I’m no longer on house arrest. I can go places. I put shoes on the boys and they walk to the door and wait for me to say, “Let’s go!” We walk up two flights of stairs, hand in hand. They let me know what they want. Logan will follow Lincoln around pointing at his bottom to let me know it’s time for a diaper change. They want water? They’ll find it. They want food? They’ll go to the kitchen and point at it. They are good with strangers, friendly in their own ways. Lincoln automatically joins bigger children, Logan finds what he wants to do and plays alone until he’s watched everyone for awhile.

They’re happy, amicable kids. Not perfect at all, but being consistent with them and their discipline seems to come naturally to my husband and me. Magnetic child locks are the best, and we keep and eye on their climbing. They sit and play in baths and pools. They play well with each other and are slowly learning to play gentle with others that are smaller than them.

But this time a year ago, they were 3 months old. And I remember crying out of frustration a couple times a week. I remember the anxiety I had days on end being home alone with them all the time. I look back and can’t tell you how we made it through other than God carried us.

Sometimes you need to be reminded that He will carry you through hard times. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad time, or that you’re a bad person for feeling like you’re struggling, a hard time can still be a good time. I wouldn’t trade my time home with my kids for anything, but there are still hard days, and when they were little there were a lot more hard days. It’s good to know God will carry you & anyone else when you’re slipping in the sand.

If these babies had been conceived before 1960, all 3 of us wouldn’t have survived true pregnancy. Back in the 60s they developed hypertension medicine safe for mothers. Take it back a bitttttt farther, if these boys had been born before 1800 they wouldn’t have made it. 1794 was when the first cesarean section birth was performed in America. All this to say, I’m so thankful modern medicine has come so far, I’m quite aware I hold 2 miracles.

Life is a lot louder, messier, and less structured now; and if you’ve ever stepped into my classroom or my life you know how much that goes against my nature….

…but life is a lot more full, a lot more loving, a lot more laughing, just more. Life is so much more now.

6 Apps for the OCD Soul

They say the first step is admitting you have a problem. πŸ™ˆ

Hello, my name is Alyssa. *Hi, Alyssa.* & I am an obsessive planner & list maker.

Can I get an amen? Anyone else out there?πŸ™‹β€β™€οΈ

I love planning & list making. I get such a sense of accomplishment & productivity making and finishing up lists & writing my plans in a planner. Apparently this really feeds into my ESFJ personality type. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ The good thing about enjoying this sort of thing is that it really seems to make life easier for my whole family.

Yes, I do have an Erin Condren life planner. Yes, I’ve tried others. No, they’re not the same. No, not even the Happy Planner. I tried that one last year, and it is just not a good fit for me. I actually prefer the life planner to the teacher planner; which seems strange to me as a teacher. Maybe because the majority of my planning regards my bills, family, and personal events. I know there are budgeting apps, but I still prefer to hand write out the budget, somehow it makes it more concrete for me to list those by hand.

But onto the apps for my OCD soul…

1. I have an app, Baby Connect, for listing when I feed, change, and everything else for my kids. It syncs across multiple users so that everyone who cares for the twins knows what they’ve had/need when.

2. Productive, that’s lists daily habits/to-dos and reminds me when to do things. This is great for disciplining yourself to do things…be it drink more water, read the Bible, take your medicine, etc.

3. Wunderlist is the app with all my lists otherwise not specified above. Menu for this week, menu for next week, running grocery list, school supplies, movies to watch, books to read, workouts, quilting plans, and shopping items. This app is great because it syncs to Nathan’s phone so he gets updates on groceries needed, etc.

4. Watch a lot of shows? Trying to keep up with what episodes you’ve seen? There’s an app to list that. TV Time. (Started using this because there are a billion seasons of Survivor and the CBS All Access app is confusing and not well organized.)

5. Movies, is a great app to barcode scan all your movies so when you go shopping you know exactly what’s on your shelf at home. Great for cinemaphiles like us. Especially when you live in a city with a McKay bookstore for movies and books.

6. Finally, and maybe most obvious, Amazon has a great wish list application. In which I have several lists, for things I like, tools for my husband, things the kids might need or like, movies we want, and books I might eventuallyread.

The Price of being an Elementary School Teacher

Every year people ask how they can help with my first grade classroom. Yes, I teach first grade English-learners in “it city” Nashville. Have you heard the news?

17 million dollar budget cut.

What does that look like to a classroom teacher? A handful of colleagues lost their jobs. Teachers aren’t getting raises, even as cost of living in this it-city rises monthly. Trust me, monthly. I’ve said it before, I couldn’t afford to be a teacher if I wasn’t married. I honestly don’t know how single teachers do it. Oh wait, I do. They have roommates. They have second jobs. They have summer jobs.

In the past we’ve been given $200 to buy classroom-needed supplies and we submit receipts and get reimbursed. Of course, this doesn’t include things like snacks, treasure box treats, lamps, rugs, etc…things still needed to make a classroom a second home to a child. In the past, I’ve written for donorschoose.org to get supplies, but now our district has added so much red tape to that process that it’s not really worth the hassle. It’s despairing. I know they can’t promise us that this year.

I’ve always spent more than $200 on my classroom. Fun fact: You can only claim $250 on taxes. I’ve always spent more than that as well. It is what it is.

I love when I have volunteers come read to students or help in the classroom. I love when parents want to be more involved. I love my job. But how many jobs can say they have a price tag this high?

So, if you need a practical way to help my classroom, here it is:

Classroom 152 Needs & Wants List

Whatever is still on this list come mid-July, I will (as always) personally be buying for my classroom. Because even though the price of this job is high, it’s for children, and the value of our future is in their little hands. πŸ˜€

Productive or Not, Here I Come

Why is it so hard to make good choices? To be productive?

I know the answer lies in our fallen humanity, I do know that, but my brain that loves checking off lists doesn’t understand.

I know I need to drink water instead of coffee. I know I need to make time to hit the gym. I know I should call my family more. So today I downloaded the productive app. It’s helpful and I’m really enjoying it. I had to pay a small fee to subscribe because I have so many positive habits that I want to remind myself to do daily. πŸ˜…

All this comes down from promising to budget better and joining the YMCA for the summer.

That to be said, there are seasons of productivity, and moments for fun. Today was a good, fun day. I got to spend time with one of my dearest friends. Pedicures, lunch, and shopping for babies at Target. Some times it’s soothing for the soul to check off a list, other times it’s good for the soul to enjoy a daycation. Still other times, it’s cooking that soothes my soul during stressful seasons.

Tonight I made lentil spinach soup and it was vegetarian & yummy.

Productive or not, it was a good day to say the least.πŸ˜ƒ

A Letter to My Children on Mother’s Day

Dear Child of Mine,

Today is Mother’s Day and while you’re still too small to make me a gift or tell me (intelligibly) happy Mother’s Day, I know you love me.

I remember before you. I remember sleeping in, effortlessly cleaning up our home, making whimsical decisions regarding dinner and plans and schedules. I remember staying up late and driving fast. I remember before when I didn’t do laundry and dishes every day. I remember cooking meals and eating leftovers for a couple days. I remember when my bed was big, but child, my heart was smaller then.

My heart was smaller and it grew when you started growing inside me. Then child, you were here in all your bold, brazenness. You came with your own agenda (food) and schedule and plans. And your brother grew my heart some more. Grew my heart enough that doctors made plans and worked hard, medications for damage control and risk-assessments for birth and postpartum. Yes, my heart grew as the belly grew, pumping blood for 3 humans is hard work.

You were here, child, and you changed me. Being Mama is the hardest role I’ve ever taken. There were sleepless nights. There have been buckets of tears. Frustrations, sickness, but so many smiles. So many laughs. So much more happy. I’d trade my quiet for happy any day. I’d trade my sleep for joy any day. I wouldn’t trade you for anything, child of mine.

I was so selfish before you (still can be). I was so boring and quiet before you (no longer an option). I thought I was strong before you, but I was so weak. I crumbled into a mess of exhausted, frustrated tears within hours of coming home. I was terrified to be home alone with you, so silly when it’d been just us for so many hours before you made your entrance. I thought I had no patience before you; I learned I equally have patience and none. Some moments you get all my patience, others I’m still so easily frustrated.

Child of mine, you’re growing me. You’re changing me. Daily I notice the mark you’ve left on my life: Perspective. Child, I thought I knew what was important before. I thought I knew what was worth stressing out about. I didn’t.

The goldfish can stay on the floor, the dishes can sit in the sink, the toys are everywhere. These things are less important than you falling asleep tonight. Work can wait until tomorrow, I don’t have to bring any home, I need to plan farther in advance, because whims don’t work for us, but it’s fine. Perspective. It’s just a job. It’s just a to do list. It’s just chores. It’s just errands. This is family.

This Mothers Day, I just want to think you for the perspective, the family, the love. I’m still doing my best to raise you, and you’re still so small, but remember, my heart, it’s so big because of you. You’re making me better, you’re making me stronger, real, you’re filling holes left behind, and a heart and mind full of memories.

I remember before you, but now my greatest prayer is that I never know days without you. I pray for grace to raise you, patience and temperance, kindness and justice, and love to fill your heart and joy to fill your soul.

Love,

Mama

1 Year Old Joys & Struggles

12 months/1 year is so sweet. They seem to think more and plan their actions. They’re so busy. They have favorite toys and blankets. They want all the food, all the time. They want to eat when you eat. They worry. They dance & shake their bums to music. They nod, shake no, clap, “sing”, high five, wave hi & bye. They analyze things. They have determination. They argue when you redirect them. Sure, you don’t know what they’re saying, but it’s definitely arguing. They walk to the car. They hold their arms up when they want to get out of the high chair, car seat, or crib. They sleep around 10 hours a night. I am the greatest person (this week) in their world. Bath time is so much fun. They’re learning that the other baby isn’t just a baby, but a friend, a comrade. They have hair.

There are so many teeth. & they can’t have whole milk. The interesting process of finding the right sippy cups (we’ve tried 8 kinds). No one wants to nap, even when they’re so tired. Sharing or stealing, same, right? They’re so smart and hey get bored. They can climb and flush the toilet. We’re down to 2-3 bottles a day. They have nightmares. They wipe their noses on the closest adult. They’re demanding and jealous of each other. They want to eat rocks and play with electrical tools and every water bottle is their water bottle. I have a hard time distinguishing between problems that are typical & others that are twin-specific because I don’t know any different.

I wouldn’t go back to start. I wouldn’t wish them to be newborns again and I wouldn’t change anything we’ve done with them so far. It’s much easier than when they were new. It’s a different kind of hard now. Ya tiring now. It’s almost 60 pounds heavier. It takes longer to get ready and go places. We’re funny and defiant about our routines. They demand to eat. They fight naps when they’re so clearly tired.

But then they say, “Mama,” “Dada,” or “Tay,” and it’s okay. Or the walk over to you and lay their head on you. They grab your hand. They wrap their arms around your neck when you pick them up. They smile and giggle and their whole face lights up when they see you. They smile & wave hi and bye to strangers. You take them out to eat and everyone comments, from the serves to other guests, how sweet, friendly, & well behaved they are. And for a second you feel pride, like, hey, I’m helping make the world just a little better. It was hard being home with them this week, frustrating, because they’ve had allergies, a growth spurt & teething, and one day as I cried, they stopped howling, toddled over and sat down in my lap quietly. & I can’t help but think…

Yeah, it’s gonna be okay. Some days are hard, some days like today are normal-ish. I feel like I’m constantly learning how to be their mom as much as they’re learning how to be my kids, humans, boys, brothers, twins, etc.

Goodnight, Baby

Goodnight, my little baby. Goodnight baby that made me a mama. Goodnight baby, no wake up call in two hours; I’ll see you in the morning. Goodnight little baby, I know you’ll call my name when you wake up in the morning instead of crying. Goodnight little baby that used to sleep on your back, but now you’ll roll onto your belly.

Sleep tight, baby. Remember the tight sleep pods you once slept snuggly in? Cuddle your blanket tonight, baby. No need for a pacifier baby, you self-soothe yourself back to sleep. Sleep tight while you listen to the white noise machine and work on that size 4 diaper, those 12/18 month clothes fit so perfectly.

Sweet dreams, baby. I know you’ll dream of your family and spaghetti, chicken, salsa, and rice. No eggs though, you don’t like eggs. I promise you can have yogurt for breakfast tomorrow. Sweet dreams, tomorrow you can play with all the toys and blocks. You might even watch a movie. You walk, talk, and giggle. You ask for more, seek hugs, and play.

I remember you, little 7 pound baby. I remember when you only dreamed of me and milk. I remember when you couldn’t care less about your twin or the rest of the world. I remember when I comforted you, when I fed you, when you fell asleep in my arms. Remember when you couldn’t do anything, baby? All you did was lie around all day looking at me or sleeping, waiting for me to look at you. No rolling, crawling, walking, or talking. No baby food or solids. I was so tired all the time, baby. I cried so much, baby, because it was so hard. Remember that time when I fell in love? You probably don’t, but I can see it so clearly, a doctor was holding you for me to see you for the very first time and I didn’t think my heart could possibly love any more.

I was wrong. Like the Grinch, my heart grew 2 sizes that day.

Like that song says, “We’ve come so far since that day, & I thought I loved you then…”

I know I’m supposed to lay you down for bed when you’re drowsy. But tonight I’ll hold you until you fall asleep and keep stroking your little face a while longer even though my arm is going numb. I’ll lay you down in your crib, my little baby, and tomorrow you won’t be so little anymore. Tomorrow you’ll wake up, my 1 year old, my big boy, in such a hurry to grow up, and I’ll love you just a little bit more.

“Now you’re my whole life, now you’re my whole world, I can’t believe how I lived without you.”

We’re Alone (Together)

One of my best friends is in a different stage of life than me right now. She wants kids, but can’t have them right now & has to wait. She has a great family & great friends. She spends time with her family during the week and on weekends. She has friends that she meets up with and goes out with. She has no set schedule outside of work to her day. She has freedom. But she wants kids and a different job, so she like me, isn’t 100% happy at the moment.

I frequently find myself jealous.

Over here in working (twin)mom world…

I work all day & live by my twins’ schedule. I can’t just run out to the store. I can’t make plans on the fly. I don’t hang out with my family, because we’re just not that kind of family. Since I had my children nearly a year ago, everyone is super fascinated with them, but for the most part, I don’t feel like I have many true friends to hang out with.

It’s lonely here.

I’ve had a hard year teaching, a low group of students + more behavior issues makes for a difficult year. I don’t hate my job, but anticipate a new group of kids coming with joy. I plan to keep teaching first grade English learners next year. I’m fine with my 2 kids, if we have more…great! If we don’t…great!

I wouldn’t trade my boys for anything, but it can be lonely here in mom world. People say, reach out, make plans with others, but it’s hard with twins. That means leaving my husband to care for them alone; which is stressful, and makes me feel guilty. There’s a loss of freedom here in mom world. I don’t go out. I don’t go to the movies or on dates as I once did. Sometimes this thought hits hard, sometimes the loneliness is devastating.

Moving, DST, Growing, Sickness, Teething, & Making It

It’s been a difficult 7 days. In 7 days (with the help of many good people) we packed, cleaned, & moved. We got rid of an old sofa & bought a new one. Grocery shopping & endless laundry. I got sick & went on antibiotics for a week leaving me feeling crummy & drained. Daylight savings time and messed up schedules. Far too much fast food & not enough attention. Add to the mix growing, teething baby boys.

It’s been rough.

Lincoln is teething molars. Lose bowels, whining, & hysterical crying abound. One night we stay up late, the next in bed super early. Home looks weird to the babies.

It’s hard watching him hurt right now. His poor molars are pushing hard on the gums leaving purple-blue like bruises, called eruption cysts. I know it hurts. Very little seems to satisfy him right now. I can’t say I blame him, with two giant purple-blue bruise cysts due to those dull molars making their way down.

I’m doing the best I can to help him, but it’s just the way things are. Tonight he fell asleep in my lap half an hour early running his jaw on my arm and holding my hand while my heart hurt for him. (Logan isn’t going through this at the moment, thank goodness.)

I spend so much time fretting over how to help people, but I’ve never wanted to help as much as with my babies. I look back and hurt with them as they went through other things. I don’t know how we’ve made it this far. I don’t know that I could back to the start with twins. Back to pregnancy, back to newborns.

Tonight I’ll just hold a baby. Unpacking can wait a little while, he needs me now, & that just can’t wait.