Tuesday, October 1, 2013

life lately; oh my how time flies

It's been positively autumnal and we've been busy with school, play, work, surviving...
Hope your fall activities have been sweet and happy, too.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

twin wisdom

The other day I met a woman during storytime at the museum. She observed my boys for a bit and then confessed that she is pregnant with twins (funny enough, she also has a daughter named Maya!). She asked me if I had any advice for her and at first I said no but on further thought I realized that I do have some ideas and lessons learned that I would've appreciated knowing before Benjamin and Corrigan made their appearance. I hesitate to share lest I come off as knowledgeable and experienced (au contraire!), but if this stuff can prove helpful to anyone else out there then that would make me happy.
Here are some thoughts and things that worked for me:

Eat a lot. Don't worry about gaining weight. Carrying multiples is so very different from a singleton. And rest. Really. Don't feel guilty and don't think you're wasting your time. If you can sleep or at least put your feet up, do it!
Read as much as you can to prepare for this. Some books I found helpful were:
Having Twins and More: A Parent's Guide to Multiple Pregnancy, Birth and Early Childhood by Elizabeth Noble
When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads; Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy by Barbara Luke
Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding and Caring for Twins or More by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada

Everyone says that you need to flexible and open when it comes to your birthing experience because things rarely go the way you want them to. And while I believe that is true, I also think there are definitely things you can do to prepare yourself. Some people find birthing classes to be helpful, others hire a doula to support them through the process. I think sometimes it can be helpful to hear other women's birth stories to give you an idea of what it could be like.

My story: I was determined to take my babies full term and have them naturally and vaginally, but it seemed that wouldn't be possible; I had some bleeding in my second trimester and was diagnosed with placenta previa. I had birthed my fist child, my daughter, with a midwife in a birth center and was already disappointed that with the twins I was being pushed into a hospital birth with an OB, so the news that I would also need to have a C-section was a bit crushing. Because we all have this ideal that we're striving for and though we try to be flexible it can still be a tremendous let-down if things don't go the way we want, right?
But you know what? In the end I didn't need that C-section.
On my doula's recommendation I had a few acupuncture visits in an attempt to move my placenta and it may have actually worked. Though I went into labor at 35 weeks (I had been hoping I could make it to 40!) I was able to birth my boys naturally and vaginally, just like I wanted. After my water broke and I arrived at the hospital, an ultrasound technician was called in to analyze the location of my placenta and determine whether or not it had moved enough and whether a c-section was truly necessary. The doctors and technicians all stepped outside the room to discuss my fate and while they were out there my body just slipped into high gear. I got slammed with super-hard contractions and the urge to push. By the time the pros slipped back into the room to announce they were sending me down to the OR I was already crowning. The midwife and doula had me covered, though. Out came Benjamin, followed 6 minutes later by double footling breech Corrigan. All natural, right out the wazoo. Zero problems with my placenta. It was one of the most amazing and miraculous things I have ever done in my life.
If I had ended up having a C-section it certainly wouldn't have been the end of the world. I was prepared to do it, really, I was. But I'm happy that I was able to avoid it. I know not everyone's birth experience can be the way they want it to be and I don't share my story to say that there is no place for C-sections or that I had my ideal birth. But I have a lot of respect for the human mind and body. I think my meditation practice and the acupuncture were key in helping me to have the kind of birth I wanted. But who knows? Those things may have had nothing to do with it and it may have been dumb luck. I'm glad things happened the way they did, but I'm even more grateful that those boys arrived safely and in good health.

My Brest Friend Twins Deluxe Nursing pillow
This nursing pillow came in really handy for the first three months. I don't know how else you could support both babies and tandem nurse. I highly recommend this - it is large and cumbersome and I didn't use it after three months, but nursing just one at a time with a regular pillow or Boppy would mean you are nursing constantly, so this is super helpful.

TwinGo baby carrier

I'm a huge advocate of babywearing and I was thrilled when I discovered that a local mom had created this brilliantly-designed twin carrier. It is very similar to an Ergo but with a front panel in addition to the back. I carry the boys in this all the time. It is how I get them from the house to the car (I live in the city and need to park on the street and sometimes it is a bit of a trek to get there), how I get them to calm down, how I get anything done around the house while they're fussy... it has been a godsend to me.

Double baby stroller

I wanted a sturdy, good quality side-by-side stroller, but nice, new ones are so pricey, so I resorted to getting a used Valco off of Craig's List. It is sturdy, comparable in value to a Bob's stroller and we have gotten quite a bit of use out of it - it has proven effective over bumpy city sidewalks as well as off-roading. Truthfully, if I had to do it all over I probably would've opted for a Bob's because there are a few design elements of the Valco that irk me (the under carriage basket is extremely hard to access and the buckle closures get caught when folding up the stroller and break). I have never tried the front and back stroller (like a Phil&Ted's or City Mini) with the twins. While it may be easier to navigate through doorways, I like the idea of the boys being side-by-side.

I get a lot of Oh, you have your hands full
or That's double trouble right there
or Two for the price of one!
When you have twins you get used to a certain amount of celebrity-ism. It's mostly cute and benign.
And everyone who is a twin or has twins or knows a twin let's me know about it.
There are a lot of twins out there these days!
But I am partial to these ones:

Having twins is really fun. Except for when it's not. Like when they're both screaming and crying and you can only comfort one at a time, or when one sets the other one off, or when they take off in opposite directions or when they both have blowouts at the same time (you might be surprised by how often this actually happens) or when you are in a public restroom and you don't know where to put them or when you're flying on an airplane or managing them both when you're in a restaurant...  oh my, there are lots of tough times.
But there are good times. Mine usually sleep at the same time, which is a truly sweet sight:
Sometimes people shake their heads a say I don't know how you do it but the thing is, you just do. It isn't ever easy. Ever. But it is so cool. Having two at once is a joyful, wondrous thing. 
Some people say that the first two years are the most challenging and then they start to entertain and play with each other and in some ways it becomes easier. I'm not necessarily counting on it, but I am hopeful!

That's it, I guess. It's not much, but those are some of my thoughts. Let me know if you have any other pieces of advice to add!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

in this moment

As I write this I'm holding my little night owl who is happy to be awake with me while his siblings are snoozing in their beds. It has just gotten dark, there is a tiny sliver of a moon and I am munching on my new addiction: Trader Joe's lightly sweetened coconut strips. The heat of this past week has dissipated and it is a lovely spring night, comfortable and quiet (well, as quiet as it can get here in the city). There is a picture of our family that Mayumi drew on a Post-It note on my laptop. I have a boatload of photos to edit and blogging to catch up on, but I just wanted to take a moment and record what is happening at this exact moment. Not because it is extraordinary or special in any way, but it is like so many moments in my days and they too often slip away and are forgotten. I know I can't capture every moment and hold it forever, no matter how I long to. Sometimes I am painfully aware of how fleeting and fragmented life is - how quickly my children grow and seasons pass. I know that is how it should be and I am mostly okay with that... but sometimes I do really want to hold a moment and remember it forever. And that is okay too.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

weekend highlights

:: brunched with neighbors and admired their babies (5 new babies on our block within a few months of each other!)
:: made more pop tarts! devoured more pop tarts! love homemade pop tarts!
:: cleaning, reorganizing, de-cluttering: an ongoing process!
:: flexed my creative muscle at a dog & pony dc rehearsal/meeting.
:: satisfied my inner voyeur be attending a neighbor's open house and admiring her clever decorating style.
:: received our order of Girl Scout cookies!
:: cared for three sniffly, croupy children and hoping I can avoid getting what they have... fingers crossed.
:: going to bed early... why do I love that so much?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

President's Day walk

President's Day holiday. Of course there were projects that needed to be done around the house, but we decided to put them off and take advantage of having PapaQ home for an extra day this weekend. Taking a walk through the woods together as a family seemed perfect on this sunny, easy-going day.. Finding such wilderness required driving a few minutes away to the National Arboretum where you'd never know you were in the middle of a major city. Despite seeing signs of spring in our neighborhood, here it seemed as though nature was still slumbering through winter. Surrounded by lovely shades of brown, amber and gold we leapt over muddy patches (as best and one can leap while carrying a baby strapped to you) and poked at thinly iced ponds with sticks. Such a brisk, refreshing outing; I hope that our children's memories of growing up include these lovely little patches of free play in the brilliant outdoors.
And yes, Mayumi chose to wear a bonnet from her dress-up basket. I'm sure the few people we ran across thought we were some kind of Amish or something... charming but a little strange.

Friday, February 15, 2013

{this moment}

A Friday ritual (inspired by Soulemama). 
A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. 
A simple, special, extraordinary moment. 
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


All my sweet valentines got a little bit of mama love today. Nothing over the top, just those simple gestures that remind every one that it is a special day.
::the red polyester tablecloth that on any other day would be tacky
::pink embroidered napkins
::jammy hearts on hot oatmeal
::pink strawberry peach smoothie (with just a spoonful on Nutella!)
::oohhhing and ahhhing all the handmade love notes (such creative friends!)
::lots of paper hearts, cuddles, and "I love yous"
::making heart-shaped toaster pastries and eating way more than I should have
::roses for everyone!
::staying up for a while after the littles are in bed (wink, wink)

Oh St. Valentine, could you have ever imagined what you have wrought?

with love...

My friend, Christine shared this. I teared up a bit. You can think what you want about Valentine's Day, but Love is good!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

yarn along: more hats

Joining Ginny over at Small Things for the regular Wednesday Yarn Along!
Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Ginny Sheller from Small Things

Two weeks ago I mentioned the hat project I'm working on and I've been touched by the response I've gotten from some of you out there. Thank you for offering to contribute! For those of you who don't know, my congregation has committed to making 500 hats for the oncology ward of Children's Hospital here in DC and our deadline is mid-March. They especially need hats for 8-13 year-old boys and girls that are brand new and preferably handmade (because these very sick kids enjoy seeing something made especially for them). Any type of yarn or pattern is okay (there are lots of free hat patterns on Ravelry). I finished the little slouchy hat (the purplish one above) and now I'm casting on for a cute cabled hat from Vogue Knitting Chunky Hats and Scarves.
If you are interested in contributing a handmade hat to the project, please let me know!

I finished Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See and I enjoyed it; it was quite an interesting story about the power of female relationships.  The narrator and her "old same" had such a dear, close friendship that was crushed by pride and misunderstanding - a warning as to how delicate relationships can be. The background of the story was absolutely fascinating to me, too, from the description of Chinese foot binding to the hierarchal structure of Chinese families (and society). Excellent read, I highly recommend it. Now I'm delving into The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation by Jon Gertner as some reading for our upcoming play creation with dog and pony dc. I'm also reading Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World by H. Stephen Glenn and Jane Nelson which has been encouraging and eye-opening. More on that later...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

what's my favorite word?

"Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt" me is not really true is it? Words, like thoughts, are powerful things. Though I'm not very good with them (open mouth, insert foot) I like words. I like reading, writing, singing, talking, praying...

PapaQ likes to use positive words and phrases for his internet passwords. He figures that since he has to type them on a regular basis, he wants them to be uplifting reminders to help him get through his day. You know, because words shape your thoughts and attitudes.

The words you keep in your mind can reflect on the kind of person you are, don't you think? My dad sent me an article in Japan Today about a survey asking people in Japan what their favorite word is. Here are the top 10 results, complete with their English counterparts:

1. ありがとう arigato - thank you 
2. 努力 doryoku - exertion/great effort
3. 愛 ai - love 
4. 思いやり omoiyari - consideration
5. 前向き maemuki - looking forward
6. 一期一会 ichigo ichie - once in a lifetime opportunity 
7. 笑い・笑顔 warai/egao - laugh/smiling face
8. 健康 kenko - health
9. 平和 heiwa - peace 
10. なんとかなる nantoka ni naru - ”We’ll get by some way or other.” 
Isn't that amazing? I'm a big believer in our own power to shape our environment; being proactive as opposed to reactive. On gloomy, overcast days I remind myself that I can make my own sunshine. When the news is depressing (and it always is, isn't it?) I focus on trying to make my one little corner of the world a better place. And my favorite word in the English language? "Mama", preferably spoken by one of my sweet littles.
I'm tempted to apologize for my saccharine-ness, but since when should people be sorry for being positive? Life's too short to complain and hide under a rock, right? 
What's your favorite word?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

happy new year again

Happy Chinese new year!
The Japanese also use the same zodiac as the Chinese, and 2013 is the year of the (back water) snake, which is my sign.
I'm not a big believer in astrology but I do find it amusing (especially when it predicts good things for me). As a young girl I was disappointed to be a snake because of the negative connotations, but in Chinese culture, the snake is considered a good omen, a bringer of good luck. The snake represents inquisitiveness and passion. Not bad for a scaly animal with no legs.

I think we'll do a little exploration of all things Chinese this month. Here are a few resources we'll be looking to:
Montessori-inspired Chinese activities
Discovery Kid Zone Chinese New Year activities
make Chinese lanterns

Chinese zodiac story game
Chinese Zodiac yoga
cook dumplings

make a lap book

make a paper chain snake

make felt fortune cookies