checking in, checking out.

Just wanted to check in with everyone, it's been a few days since we've talked. I'm super busy right now, catching up on all the things I've been meaning to catch up on and just kept forgetting about/putting off. The boys really need some mommy time and so I'll be stepping away from the blog for the next week or so so that I can get life back to a normal pace once again.

You guys can keep up with me on Instagram and/or Twitter  @mamaandthedudes is my username on both. 

Have a great Labor Day Weekend, everyone!

a late night lesson learned.

Last night was one of those dreaded long nights that we as parents absolutely loathe. I woke up to screaming children at 3:10am. They'd opened their bedroom door and stood screaming and fighting for a good spot at the gate in their doorway. I'm guessing one boy woke the other up and then they were just both grouchy.

Lately when they are up early or in the middle of the night, I go into their room and lay between them until we all fall asleep. It's easier than having to go back in 10 more times. I sometimes feel like I'm starting something bad but there's nothing bad about a mama snuggling with her 2 year old boys some nights. And some of those nights, like last night, they seemed to both really need me.

Having twins can be really difficult at times, last night was one of those times. Both boys wanted me, and it was almost impossible for me to meet both of their needs. (And leaving them in their room to let out ear-shattering screams until they eventually fall asleep was not an option. We live in a high-rise condo building and I have no idea how thick or thin the walls are and who can hear what at 3am when the world is quiet.) Julian wanted me to hold his hand. Isaiah wanted me to face him and cuddle up with him. It was impossible to do both at the same time, and nobody wanted daddy, and if I didn't do both at the same time they both started the screaming.

I eventually figured out a way where everyone was happy and comfortable (except me).  I was so annoyed I had to even be in there. I was mad that they didn't want daddy. I was jealous that Chikezie just gets to sleep while I have to be up with them in the middle of the night. 

Then I took a second and thought of the boys all grown up and in middle school and not wanting or needing me like this anymore. I thought about them sleeping in bunk beds, with science and space ship stuff all over their bedroom. And I thought of the mom I'll be then, longing for these late nights when they wanted and needed mommy. 

I fell asleep with Isaiah cradled under my right arm, drooling on me and my left arm twisted up in an uncomfortable position, holding Julian's hand while he drifted off. I was uncomfortable and exhausted but doing the only thing I could, just be there. And wishing for time to slow down a little. 

if you're outfit challenged like me...

I'm headed to Iowa for a wedding in a couple of weekends and decided to order a dress on Modcloth, THIS dress to be exact:


Dress   (see more sheer dresses)

After I ordered the dress I had no idea what I would wear with it. I mean, I'm good at shopping for things individually but when it comes to putting together a whole outfit, it's not one of my strong points. 

I saw on the ModCloth website that you can make an appointment with a stylist for free, so I thought what the hey, maybe they'd have some good advice. I was a little apprehensive because you know how these things go; you never get a reply back or something extremely generic.

I was completely wrong. I got a thoughtful response from a ModCloth stylist within a couple of days and a whole inspiration board showing me what it would all look like together:

I mean, how cute is the outfit? I'm loving the black jacket and love the sleeve length. I'm going to try and find a lookalike in a store here so I can try it all on, but will probably end up getting that jacket anyways. The other accessories I may not get from ModCloth (because I'm really picky about those) but I love the ideas she's given me so I can find things along those lines on my own. 

Moral of the story: Try ModCloth stylist advice if you're outfit challenged like myself. They'll point you in a great direction based on some questions you answer about yourself. And no, no compensation or affiliation with ModCloth for this post...I just was impressed with my experience!

Good job family, high five.

You know, I complain sometimes about my children sucking the life out of me, but let's be completely honest...these three guys are pretty much my entire world. And that husband of mine? Keeper, 

We four, we've been on one hell of an adventure these past few years together. And no matter how difficult things get, we find peace in each other. Well sometimes Chikezie and I annoy the ever-living-shit out of each other (I'm bossy and he's goofy and sometimes we both over do it). I've found though that through all of this craziness we never let it get to our relationship. When one of us is stressed out, the other usually pulls out the big guns to make it all right again.

I don't know if I believe in soul mates, but I do believe in people who just "work" together. Our personalities compliment each other so well and it just works. Don't get me wrong, marriages definitely require a lot of work, but ours just feels right. And given the circumstances under which we entered this marriage and all of the things we've been through since, we're doing pretty damn awesome. 
In case you're new here-here's a quick synopsis of the past 3 years: We got married when I was in my 1st trimester w/surprise twins, after moving across country together. We then proceeded to raise said twins away from all family and friends we'd grown up with. And now we've made two more long distance moves in the course of 6 months .... all while maintaining a happy marriage and happy healthy kids....whew.

And now here we are in the middle of this rental home search in yet another new place, and all the stresses that go along with this are just forcing us to work a little more at our marriage and happy family. Some days suck, but they're far outnumbered by the days that are filled with laughter. (If you know Chikezie, you understand how hilarious our home is.) 

I don't know where the hell this post is going. I guess I'm just thankful. Thankful for this guy, and those little guys. We all work together pretty well, I think. We've been through more things these past 3 years than many families go through in 15 and we're still ticking. 

Good job, family. High five.

a momentary lapse of judgement: taking kids to the mall

Eating french fries that are too hot, burning their mouths, and then eating more. You know, lunch.

I think I've officially lost my mind. I loaded the boys up in the car and took them to the nearest mall, OF MY OWN FREE WILL. There was no big sale, nobody forcing me, nothing in particular I needed to buy; I took my two year olds to the mall by myself just for funzies.

First off, Eastridge mall in San Jose blows chunks. It's mostly huge department stores with crappy off-name brand stores scattered in between. The elevator is in the center of the mall and to get to it there's no central walkway (Des Moines people, I'm talking about Jordan Creek's lay out) you have to walk completely around the mall to get to it. That in itself was annoying.

How did the boys do? We stopped at Subway for apples and water first to keep their hands and mouths occupied. Then off to Children's Place and Old Navy. By the time we were in Old Navy they just wanted out of the stroller, so I let them out. And they stayed right by me. IT WAS AMAZING. Until we had to wait in line to check out. Cue Julian cutely getting back into the stroller and Isaiah's flailing, borderline-psychopath, raging tantrum. Of course the ever so smooth cashier had the balls to ask me about signing up for cards and programs and other bullshit I didn't really care about while I was football holding my flailing child over my hip. 

Isaiah proceeded to use his masterful back-arch while I was trying to get him to sit in the stroller, in which he slides dramatically down the front of the stroller while I stand there asking him if he's finished with his performance. All while Julian was sitting like a good kid, just waiting to go have lunch.

I got them fail-safe french fries for lunch and although they kept eating them before they were cooled off, burning their mouths and spitting out the fries, only to grab more fries and repeating the process, lunch was a success. We made it to the car all in one piece and despite my efforts to keep them awake so they'd nap at home, this happened:

So we sat in the parking garage at home while they napped and I reveled in a little bit of silence. I don't know what I was thinking when I decided to take them to the mall on my own but I'm glad I did. It's good to put yourself in these situations (especially with two kids) so you don't get all embarrassed and stabby the next time it happens in public. Plus your kids need to learn how to not be a-holes in public. 

Despite this somewhat successful solo shopping trip, we'll probably be waiting before we do it again soon. Or I'll need a couple of beers on hand for the after party.

sensory bowl {toddler activity}

I've been making an extra effort to come up with activities to do with the boys each day that keeps them engaged, entertained and hopefully learning something. We're at a difficult age because they're frustrated easily, have fairly short attention spans and can't do some of the more complex activities bigger kids can do.There isn't much information about activities to do with pre-pre-school kids out there. 

Sensory activities are so important for toddlers, especially ones learning to talk. They're wired to explore the world with their hands, and something as simple as playing with stones or noodles or what ever simple object you may have, does wonders for them. It also gives you an opportunity to talk about new feelings, senses, objects and experiences with your toddlers. And as we all know about toddlers, they're like little sponges, soaking up so much from every experience. 

This activity had the boys playing for close to an hour. (This is unheard of at our house.) They loved them so much, if they see them on the counter they ask for me to get them down to play more. Well, the whiney version of asking.

- bowls (I used glass because it's all we have here) I'd recommend plastic tupperware bowl.
- decorative glass stones, beads or anything else fun and colorful

I put a little water in both bowls, filled them with stones and just let the boys at it. I eventually put a towel down on the floor because it got slippery but other than that, they were so entertained. We got extra cups out and let them transfer to different cups and whatnot. We even used a Starbucks cup holder to try and learn how to organize by color. (Was a fail, but we tried!)

*IMPORTANT REMINDER* These are choking hazards, so obviously, don't allow your kids to play with these without close supervision. I had to tell them a few times at the beginning that these don't go in the mouth, but they got the point after a little bit. 

on finding a home base

after a long day of house searching in San Francisco

We're house searching once again. I didn't think I'd find myself going through this whole process twice in the same year. One huge advantage we have over our search in Portland is that we're actually living in the area we're searching, whereas with our last search we were trying to find something remotely in a city we knew little about. When I get frustrated, I just remember this fact to make it a little better.

You guys, moving is a lot of work, even when you have movers and realtors and temporary housing. It just straight up drains everything from you and everything in life seems to be focused on it. I've felt like a broken record this year but I'm ready to just be in our house. I know there are worse problems to have in the world than all of these blessings we've been dealing with but it's all relative, you know?

My sister-in-law watched the boys on Saturday so we could see some of San Francisco with a realtor. She showed us a few houses and we found one that we really liked, it feels really far from Chikezie's work but everything around here just seems like it's going to be that way. We applied and crossed our fingers.

On Sunday we toured a couple of houses in the South Bay area, much closer to work. We immediately loved this house, applied and are just waiting to hear back. I always get so paranoid during the waiting process. Renting houses these days is so competitive, so we're still working on finding as many options as we can incase some don't pan out. But I mean, look at this place:
It's pretty much completely remodeled. Everything is brand new and fresh and clean, just the way i like it. Even new sod in the front and back yards. There are 2 garden boxes in the back, and a little patio area off the kitchen. I'm trying not to get my hopes up but last night before bed I found myself imagining how I was going to organize boxes to start unpacking there. I thought about the boys riding their bikes outside. I thought of trick-or-treaters coming to our front door. 

I'm ready for stability and for life to slow down a little bit. We really don't realize how important a home base is until we don't have one. 

toddlers eat parents for breakfast.

Two year olds are no freaking joke you guys. 

We've really been working to teach the boys the actual meaning of the word "NO" lately, and they're pushing back hard. They're constantly testing limits and doing things they shouldn't be. (Being normal toddlers.) Shoving things in outlets or taking the covers off, they just discovered the DVD player here and have been trying to shove stuff in it, throwing their cars across the room, slamming doors and opening them repeatedly, always turning lights off when we're in the room and need the light on (now that they're tall enough to reach them) in general just shit they don't need to be doing.

How do you teach your kids that no means no? I've tried taking toys away when they throw them, and they really don't care. Time outs are starting to be pointless and I find Chikezie and I threatening them a lot. We're turning into the parents I always was so annoyed with "Do you want a time out!?" we yell at the boys in frustration. Of course they don't, stupid. I also find myself saying, "One more time and you go to time out", and that approach is just as worthless.

I've tried getting down in their face, making eye contact and using simple words, "NO TOUCH". They hardly look at me and are off doing the next naughty thing. Or I try a lengthy adult reasoning with them, talking to them like they can understand the reasoning behind putting a pipe cleaner in an outlet will shock the shit out of you. 

And when one does it, even if I JUST told him no, his brother needs to come over and do it, too. You know, because maybe there'll be a different outcome if he does it. 

Now let me be clear, they aren't really naughty kids. (I've seen naughty kids.) They're actually, for the most part, super laid back and chill. But that doesn't mean the lunatic toddler gene isn't strong in them and that they can't prevent unleashing the crazy from time to time. 

What discipline techniques have worked for you and your periodically insane child? 

Iowa, punk.

I'm missing home right now...this makes me feel a little better.
(warning: there's bad words.)

Any Iowa peeps in the house? 

the battlegrounds of breastfeeding: my story

It's World Breastfeeding Week and in honor of that, I'd like to share with you the post I wrote in October 2010, reflecting on my breastfeeding experience. The boys were 7 months old at that point and my breastfeeding experience was not at all what I was so sure I'd make it. I'm hoping this helps any of you who struggled or still has lingering feelings related to your experience.

And afterward, I invite you to share your experience, good or bad. 

The Battlegrounds of Breastfeeding: My Story

I've had this weight on my chest for months and months. I haven't really talked about it because it still is a sensitive subject with me and still causes some feelings of regret and anxiety. But I want to get it out so that maybe some other people can relate with me or for new moms to know not everything works out the way you planned...and that it's ok that way, too.


Before I gave birth I was 100% determined to breastfeed the boys. Yeah, I know breast milk is made specifically for your baby but I wasn't doing it for that reason, mainly because formula is so expensive. I didn't really know how it all worked but I knew I'd figure it out as we went along. 

Looking back on my experience, I feel like it was the perfect storm against me. In the hospital, as soon as I was in the recovery room, the nurses held both boys up to my chest and had them "nurse" while I just sat there. I really felt overwhelmed already because I really wasn't doing it. Over the next couple days, the Lactation Consultants and nurses really helped me learn to get the boys to latch right. I felt fairly confident going home. However, looking back I'm STILL confused on what I was supposed to do. The doctors and nurses told me I needed to supplement with formula until my 2 week appointment and we'd go from there. I had no idea how much they were getting from my milk, but they were sure sucking a lot of formula. 

By a few days in, both boys were drinking almost 100% my breast milk. But I was a zombie. I couldn't feed both boys at the same time so I was trying to get bf time w/one boy for at least 15 minutes (in which they would either be pissed off it wasn't coming fast enough (like it does from a bottle) or I'd fight with them falling asleep the whole time. So, after about an hour of breastfeeding both boys, I'd have to pump. I'd pump for 20 minutes (and would get a decent amount) but the clean up and storage process along with the pumping itself lasted around an hour. The boys were on a 3 hr feeding schedule so I'd have around 1hr or less between feedings to myself. To sleep. Eat. Shower. Bathroom. Record what they were eating. Clean bottles and prepare more for the next feedings...retain my sanity.

I was SO stressed. We were in the process of finding a place to live and were currently stuffed into a studio apartment. My mom was visiting (which was great help) and my brother-in-law and his girlfriend came to visit at one point, too. I didn't know if I was doing anything right, wasn't getting both boys to the breast every feeding so one was on a bottle when he wasn't breastfeeding. No matter what, they were drinking from a bottle every meal. Each step forward with the latch was a step backward with the bottle. 

The stress started to take a toll. When I'm stressed I have no appetite. I was hardly eating. My mom was getting really worried about me, I was pale, weak and tired. I was not enjoying being a mother (I loved my boys but I hated feeding them). That hurts me still to this day. It hurts to think that the first two weeks of their life I really didn't get to FULLY enjoy and revel in motherhood. I cry right now just thinking of that time. And I cried then. I was experiencing many symptoms of PPD. I know the difference from just general baby blues versus what I was feeling. By the 2 week mark, I was literally crying all day. Everything made me sob. I could feel myself slowly giving up and felt like a bad mother for it. 

The night before the boys 2wk appt I was up at 3am with my mom, who stayed awake with me that night. She'd been practically force feeding me all day because nothing sounded good to me and I wouldn't eat. I'd been so stressed I literally couldn't breathe that day. I felt like there was a 50lb weight on my chest. So there I sat  pumping at 3am, hunched over in my chair falling asleep from exhaustion and I knew I'd had it. I told my mom I quit. I couldn't continue. I knew that everyone was saying it would eventually get better but at that point, I'd lost the will to fight to get to that point.  

The next day at the doctor's office, I cried telling the pediatrician my decision. I felt like I was being selfish and giving up on my babies by not choosing to breastfeed them. Like all new moms, I placed very high expectations on myself to do everything perfect. I'd wanted SO BADLY to breastfeed them but was now at a point where I couldn't go any farther. I was crushed. However the pediatrician (and my OB) were extremely supportive of my decision and I IMMEDIATELY felt a huge weight off my shoulders. I literally was able to breathe again. I was also extremely proud of myself because with my milk, I was able to get the boys back to their birth weight by their 2 week appointment. 

That day I ate the first full meal I'd eaten in weeks. I could feed my babies a bottle and not feel like I was taking a step backward each time. I made bottles once a day and was getting more sleep between feedings. I wasn't bonding any less with my boys and was actually enjoying motherhood a million times more. 

I look back on the whole experience with many emotions. I'm proud I tried. Could I have kept going? I don't know. I honestly don't think I had the emotional capacity to fight any longer with myself. I wish we wouldn't have to pay for formula now. I'm glad I have my boobs and my body back. I'm sad the situation wasn't what I'd envisioned it to be. 

In the end, this is all that really matters, isn't it?

learning to be alone

I love finding the boys playing alone. I encourage alone time play daily by getting them interested in different things in different rooms and just cross my fingers that they stay there. Most singleton kids get plenty of alone time and their parents are encouraging time with other children. The boys already have that down. They do just fine among other kids, but I don't want them to start relying on each other for everything.

I grew up without siblings for 11 years. I think all that alone time provided the perfect opportunity for me to grow my very active imagination. I'd like to think I'm a more creative and independent person because of that. I want the boys to be comfortable alone. When you're born with a built in best friend, sometimes it's hard to let that friend go when you need to do things alone.Julian has definitely been asserting his own personal space bubble lately, not letting Isaiah just take toys from him and sometimes just wants to be left the heck alone. 

Someday we'll have to decide whether to put them in the same classroom or separate them, put them in the same bedroom or separate them. For now we'll just do baby steps, working on solo play each day. Plus, after a few minutes of silence, they're right back at it:

on having anxiety and needing control

I've never appeared to be an anxious person, to most I think I seem laid back. I've never really considered myself to have bad anxiety, but in the past 2 years I've come to the realization that it can rule me if I'm not careful. 

I worry about things I can't control, every possible future outcome of big events. I keep reminders in my brain of things I don't want to forget, things I need to do, things we need at the store, etc. I know this is pretty much every human to a certain extent but to most of us, it doesn't have an effect on our day to day lives. I've tried telling myself I have no control over these things but that doesn't stop the thoughts from happening. 

I'm always worried of things I might forget, that I might not have done something or will forget to do something big or important. I leave tonight for Portland to wrap everything up and oversee the move/movers. There is a lot to do in just a couple of days and I've been really on edge trying to manage all of this worry. (Sorry husband.)

It's easy to tell someone to just stop worrying. If I could, I would. Most days I just can't stop my brain. If it were that easy to just stop worrying about all of these things I can't control, or to realize that there are days I'll forget things and be unprepared; I'd stop. But it's not that easy. You can't just snap your fingers and stop your brain.

Now that I've discovered this thing about me, this anxiety, it's been trial and error learning what helps me deal with it. Time away from home/family, talking it out, nothing really works like making lists. I need a visual to organize my jumbled brain. If I don't organize all these worries and thoughts on a daily basis, I end up completely overwhelmed and just completely shut down.

These lists aren't always to-do lists, and even when they are I'm not a drill sergeant on getting them all done. I have post-its, papers and notebooks everywhere full of lists. I've also learned that keeping these lists to myself helps keep stress down in our family in general. If I'm not writing them, I'm talking about them. My stress stresses out my husband and doesn't help anybody.

I feel weak for admitting to this anxiety and worry. I've always considered myself a strong person, I handle adversity and change well. It's the little daily things that end up having the biggest impact on me. Anxiety isn't an ailment you can physically see, which makes it harder for people to understand how much it can hurt you and those around you.

I'm a work in progress. Having children forces you into a lot of self reflection, and brings out characteristics that were hiding down in you somewhere that you didn't know you had. I'm trying my best to manage this and it's somewhat comforting to now be aware of why I feel the way I do.

2 year old going on 30.

Isaiah is going through a copy-cat phase right now and Chikezie and I are getting a total kick out of it. If daddy is folding his arms, Isaiah will walk over by him, stare at him, and mimic whatever action he's doing. The one thing that's stuck has been hands in the pockets, and if Isaiah has pockets, you can bet at some point his hands will be shoved in them.

Other things Isaiah has been doing lately: wearing sunglasses when it's appropriate to wear them, zipping and buttoning up brother's clothes, picking up after himself, bossing around his brother.

I mean, look at these grown up pictures Jenn took a couple of weeks ago: (please note the skinny jeans)

Who the heck is this kid?