Life Lately

It's summmahhhhhhh!!!

Which means we've been doing one of two things lately. 

Either 1:

Or 2:

We've been basically living in the backyard or the park each afternoon. The backyard last week, loading up with all the water activities we could think of because it was hella hot out. The park this week because it's back to being slightly cooler, a little bit breezy. It's actually my favorite kind of weather (aka not breaking a sweat just because you walked out the door), but shhhhh...don't tell all the SUMMER IS THE BEST SEASON EVERRRRR crazies that. And I will definitely take a break from the swimsuit washing/sunscreen re-reapplying/swim diaper dealing with that was our constant last week.

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Though we have been up to some other things. Soccer, for one.

Yeah, mom, we should totally take a picture looking right into the sun. Good idea.

Yeah, mom, we should totally take a picture looking right into the sun. Good idea.

The twins are enrolled in the local parks and rec "Pre-Games" class for the summer. Their two-week soccer intensive (like, all of four days) is over now, and they'll soon tackle kickball, t-ball, and tag games to take us through into August. It's so nice that they can actually sign up for these type of activities now. Last summer about killed us because 2 1/2 is juuuust too young to sign up for basically any organized sports or classes. Though we'll run into the same exact problem again next summer with Nolan, who already runs onto the soccer field every chance he gets to snag a ball and score a goal. He basically thinks he's a three-year old, too, and who can blame him? To be fair, he could probably take them. He walks right over and throws the ball in the net like, "See?!? I get it! I got this, guys."

He probably would help them score more goals than they did at their game on Wednesday, where (if we bothered to keep score at 3 and 4-year old soccer) the score ended up at something like 32 - 1. Team Green Alligators didn't do so hot at remembering to put that ball in the net. Goalie Brooklyn stood and watched as the ball went right by her, and then immediately started clapping because: Yay! Somebody made a goal! That's a good thing! We clap for that, right?!? I heard Coach Cody tell the green team that they could take the ball from the other team and Caden asked, "But what if they say, 'No, don't take my ball?'" and Cody was all, "No, this is soccer you can still take it anyway!" and so I guess the real problem here is that we've raised kids that are too dang polite. Good job, us.

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They've also started up with school again. An outdoor class for summer, just for a few weeks. It feels like I've over-scheduled myself through the middle of July, since Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are filled up with activities in the morning, but I know that come early August, when it's down to only Monday and Wednesday, we'll be trying to figure out what to do. And I shudder to think of the end of that month, those few weeks when the summer activities all cease but preschool has yet to begin, and we'll be walking around in circles and probably overdosing on TV and what the heck it's still summer can we move on with things already and it will probably be too hot out again making it just too difficult to try to figure out anything to do.

They do a pretty good job of looking like they know what they are doing when the amount of fishing knowledge combined between the three of them is exactly ZERO.

They do a pretty good job of looking like they know what they are doing when the amount of fishing knowledge combined between the three of them is exactly ZERO.

I'm not exactly sure what the sweet spot is as far as scheduling goes. Three mornings a week, plus another one for grocery shopping, almost seems like too many activities, but two mornings a week doesn't seem like near enough. The way it is, once Friday morning rolls around, we're ready to be off and running again.

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Nolan continues to add words on top of words on top of words. His new favorites are to say "hi!" and "bye!" while he waves at anyone he sees, probably for an uncomfortably long time. If someone walks by our house he will wave at them the entire time it takes to walk past. He's still obsessed anytime a dog walks by ("pup-pup!") and is probably wondering where all the buses went ("It's a bus! It's a bus it's a bus it's a buuussssssss!"). His favorite word is "push", which he uses all day long to to refer to everything from the buttons on the microwave to being pushed on the swing to every light switch ever in existence. He's also mastered saying Brooklyn, "Book-ah!", and has maaaayyybeee finally started saying "mama" this week.

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Overhearing this as they watch TV together, even more pea-in-a-pod than usual:

Ever-present fishhook and all...

Ever-present fishhook and all...

B: Know what? I love you. Do you love me? 
C: Yeah, I love you.
*hugs*
Me: *melts*

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I planted a garden for the first time this year. Okay, "garden" since everything is entirely contained in little planter boxes. It's the first time I've really had the opportunity since we'd only lived in apartments previously, and last summer - our first as homeowners - was taken over by a fairly new baby.

I don't really know what I'm doing. I'm pretty sure everything is planted too close together, but for the most part things are growing and getting taller and budding and perking up and turning greener and generally looking like they should (says the gardening novice). The cilantro doesn't look like it's going to make it and I'm not so sure about the cucumbers but everything else looks alright. The rest of the herbs look and smell downright yummy and the carrots seem to be flourishing, not to mention the broccoli is growing things that actually look like broccoli. For now. It's definitely an experiment. A $150 experiment.

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Mostly, life lately has been this:

Life happening in the foreground (5-minute bread), chaos in the background.

I Don't Do It Alone

Having three kids in two years means I’ve heard some variation of “you’re supermom!” more times than I can count. (See also, “you must be a saint”, “one kid is hard enough!”, and general looks of bafflement when I explain their ages and spacing.)

It also means that I get asked, “How do you do it all?”. A lot. How do I wash the floors, make dinner, get anywhere ever at all on time, take a shower, get three toddlers in and out of the car, write blog posts, keep up with family photos, wash and fold laundry, scrub the toilets, put on makeup, wash dishes, stay any sort of organized, go grocery shopping, or maintain my sanity? 

Of course, the clear answer is: I don’t. 

I don’t do it all.

First and foremost: I don’t have a job outside of the home. Period. In some ways I am very lucky and in others it was a “choice” I was forced into (hello astronomical daycare costs for three small children). But the bottom line is that I am a stay-at-home mom. I don’t have to balance a career life with a home life. Sure, sometimes it’s a bit monotonous to be more or less all home all the time, but having a career outside of three kids right now sounds like it’s own sort of crazy, so here we are.

The house? We have a cleaning service once a month. (And that's a birthday gift from my in-laws. Feel free to hate me.) Sure there are still plenty of things to keep up with on a daily basis, (Crumbs and fingerprints: where do they all come from? Please explain.), but at least when the you-know-what hits the fan, I know my kitchen will be clean at least once a month. For a few seconds, at least. 

We have our people. My parents live nearby, we have other family and neighbors and friends that are able to pitch in if we really need help. If I’m sick my mom can usually come over to watch the kids. Heck, she’ll come over if I’m three weeks past desperate for a haircut. I have a mommy’s helper that comes one afternoon a week, we have neighbors whose kids love to play with our kids. 

But the real reason I can hold it all together? My husband. Daddy. He’s the other person, the second set of hands, the equal partner in this relationship. I don’t do it alone. He’s the one who makes sure the garbage can gets put out every Thursday night, the recycling bin every other Thursday night, unloads the dishwasher each morning, preps my coffee, mows the lawn, keeps three kids away from the stove while I make dinner, and kills bugs before I have a panic attack.

How do I get ready in the morning with three kids around? I don’t. Those first morning hours see him getting up with the kids, making their breakfast, and attending to their potty and diapering needs while I get up to shower or otherwise throw myself together (#yaydryshampoo). Thank goodness, because if it were left up to me and those 6 am early birds, I would have experienced approximately zero showering in the past three years.

He spent the first year of the twins’ lives going to each and every doctor appointment, because there was no way I was tackling that alone with two infants when they needed shots. 

We’re lucky enough that he works from home right now. If I desperately need him to watch a kid or two while I take the third to the doctor, or we just got outside and suddenly a toddler needs to run back in to pee, or in the moments where I was exhausted and just couldn’t take it anymore because the baby just wouldn’t go down for his nap, he’s able to rearrange his schedule or step out for five minutes to lend a hand. This past week I took the boys to get haircuts and left Brooklyn behind, and she played on her tablet in Daddy’s office while he continued to work. It's not that he's doing the most stellar parenting in these moments, but having the option to leave one behind, one less little body for me to deal with, is an amazing luxury right now.

And writing? Not only did he gift me a year of creativity (good one, hon), but he gives me the time and space to write, by taking over childcare duties for hours at a time on the weekends, cleaning up the house in the evening when I need to get something out of my mind and onto the page, and not batting an eye when he walks into a room and is greeted with “I can’t talk get out of here now” as I tap away at my laptop. 

On more than one occasion I have gone to an event: a party, a baby shower, whatever, and had people greet me with the utmost surprise, “Oh, you’re here! Where are the children?” Uh...with my husband? Y’know, their dad? The other parent. One woman was truly astounded that I came to attend a party and left my husband home alone with all three children. I’m not sure what that says about her own marital and home life, but what I wanted to say was, “Lady, when I left all three of them were NAPPING! I think he’ll be just fine!” Not only is he fully capable and qualified, but he's just as astounded as I am to be confronted with these questions.

So here’s to you Tyson, and to all of the other dads out there who are taking over everything from diaper duty to nighttime wake-up calls. The thing is, we’ve always been in this whole parenting thing together. I mean, we kind of had to with that whole twins thing and all. To-get-up-or-not-to-get-up for those nighttime feedings and marathon rocking sessions wasn’t exactly a choice for either of us. If one was up, all of us were up. But you didn’t shirk away from it the third time around, either. You got up every time with Nolan, too. Every. Time. You never said that it was my job because I was the one who had to feed him or that you had to work tomorrow (as if I didn’t). You got up, you did the work, and you parented, right there along with me.

We don’t always agree on every single little parenting decision, but I’ve never felt alone in any of it. We’re both in the trenches, every day. We’re both tired, sometimes beaten down, but we’re here, together, ready to do it all again the next day.  

So how do I do it all?

How did I go out to brunch with my friends last weekend? Because daddy is home with the kids.

How did I possibly put on makeup and brush my hair this morning? Because it's daddy's job to get up with the kids and feed them breakfast.

How did I find the time to write this essay? Because my husband asked me what I needed this weekend and I told him I needed to get out of the house for a few hours. So I did.

I’m not alone. I’ve never been alone. I don’t do it alone.

Happy Father’s Day, babe. Let’s keep up the good work together.

All photos credit to Prall Photography.

Quiet Time

“Do you want to watch another Daniel or do you want to do something with Mommy?” I ask, part of me hoping that she will choose time with me, but a bigger part hoping she chooses the TV.

One episode of Daniel Tiger has just finished, the closing song still playing. I look into her round face, those bright blue eyes, to get her attention.

“You can watch Daniel with me,” she says, with a sweet voice and a big grin, “I have a spot for you right here!” and she moves over a little, making a spot next to her on the couch.

Well, I can’t really argue with that. I press play and another episode begins. I run upstairs to grab the book I was reading, a pen, my journal, coffee, the baby monitor.

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Her brothers are both sleeping. The little one because he always naps at this time and the twin one because he fell asleep surrounded by toys in a pile of blankets on the floor during their hour of quiet time (#nottired).

I don’t know what that means for bedtime tonight. Three separate bedtimes? Who knows.

This nap transition has been exhausting me lately. Two three-year olds all day long is too many three-year olds for too many hours. Too many emotions, too much time together. And with three possible combinations: both take a nap, neither take a nap, or one takes a nap and the other does not, the routine every day seems like a surprise. In a way it’s like a return to that newborn phase, where you don’t know when they’ll nap or for how long, each day’s schedule a mere shadow of the day before.

But right now it is quiet. Daniel and his family are camping on the TV. I hear the birds through our own open window. There is a breeze; it will be a perfect afternoon to play outside. Brooklyn curls up beside me, all three-year old girl with her curls and that dress and those lashes curled up with her hand on my leg. I read and rest and have my own version of quiet time before the chaos begins again.

Read, Watched, Listened

I love reading just about everything, watching comedy and documentary-type things, and wholeheartedly embrace the podcast.  I also enjoy hearing about what other people are reading, watching, and listening.  Here's my two cents worth.

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READ

Operating Instructions
I love me some Anne Lamott. This book doesn't quite have the punch that some of her others do, like Traveling Mercies or Help, Thanks, WowAnd it's not really meant to: she took the journal she kept during the first year of her son's life and turned it into a book. But don't think it's going to document every precious first, she packs a lot of emotion and even politics(ish) into this little tome (sorry, Republicans). It's a quick little read, perfect for summer and some good "me, too!" moments if you're a parent.

Eight Flavors (the Untold Story of American Cuisine)
Books about food are almost always interesting to me, even better if they are interwoven with history, and I thought the premise behind this one was interesting. Sarah Lohman walks through eight different flavors in American cuisine and how they have been used in our culture throughout the past few hundred years. I appreciate that she picks flavors that I wouldn't necessarily think of as American (Sriracha, anyone?), but have come to dominate our food culture and celebrate our nation of immigrants.


Miller's Valley
This one was so good. So good that I'm tempted to go back and read it again right now. I LOVE the characters that Anna Quindlen creates and her ability to weave storylines together. I don't even want to say that much about it, except there was a twist at the end that I ABSOLUTELY DID NOT see coming and left me staring at the page (er...tablet screen) with my jaw dropped. Go read it.


Still Life With Bread Crumbs
So then I got on an Anna Quindlen kick and went to see which other books were available from the library and this was the only one without a waiting list. I'm almost finished and also really enjoying it. Again, I just LOVE her characters. I'm not into this one quite as much as Miller's Valley (there's a bit of a romance strain I could do without), but it's a still a great read. Bonus that the main character is a famous photographer, which I enjoy since it taps into my own love of all things creative.

WATCHED

The Seventies
Another decade miniseries by CNN. They do a great job with each episode, capturing a different aspect of life and/or events of the 1970's. The interviews are fantastic, as are the old video clips, and gave me a bit of a sense of deja-vu just like the '60's series did (uh...Nixon, anyone?). I will say though that episode four, Crimes and Cults, was one that I could have done without. It was very disturbing, and I kept waking up in the middle of the night slightly terrified and we totally should have skipped it and I probably need therapy now. 

Abstract
If you consider yourself an artist or designer of any sort, or if you're interested in design, you will be intrigued by this series. I love hearing about each individual's creative process and how their ideas get from the page into real life. Each episode is shot so artfully (as one might expect) and I love the interviews. We're almost done, and I can't wait to get to the last episode on interior design!
 

LISTENED

Coffee + Crumbs Podcast
I know, I know, I mentioned this one on my last round-up, but one of my favorite episodes of anything that I've listened to lately was the on they did last week on having three kids (Three's Company, Too). As a fellow mom of three, I could totally relate, and loved that they did an episode centered entirely around moms of three. Favorite quote: "Three kids is the gateway to large families...there's an unspoken dividing line between a two-kid family and three or more. Everything: you need a bigger car, you need a bigger table at the restaurant, and I do feel a kinship with families that are three or more." Also: "It's already crazy, you're just kind of adding a little more to the crazy, but you're used to crazy!"

*BONUS!* WORE

SheIn Women's Summer Short Sleeve Loose Casual Tee T-shirt

I know, not a usual category on here. But I have been LIVING in these t-shirts so I wanted to share. I have one in black and one in light gray so far, and I'm tempted to order more if/when they get more colors in my size. They fit loose but true-to-size and are cute either untucked or with a half-tuck in front. The loose fit is perfect for summer. They're not at all tight or clingy, so it's light and breathable on these hot days. One note: the cut is slightly low, but I get around it by wearing a tank or lacy bralette underneath. 

 

Note: any links to Amazon in this post are affiliate links.

Post (Memorial Day) Weekend

Even though it's almost the next weekend. What day even is it anymore?

It's Wednesday. I've "suddenly" realized that about 14 different times today. Holiday weekends always throw me for a loop. Not to mention this entire week is throwing me off: virtually all of the kids' activities have ceased, the summer ones have yet to begin. There is not much in the way of "normal" this week, and the holiday that started it all off doesn't help.

Neither did days like yesterday's weather. Although it's actually some of my favorite kind of weather. (Relax, you summer-loving crazies.) I'm excited for summer, sure, but another day of sweatshirts and jeans was just fine by me.

Though that wasn't the case last Friday, which was probably the nicest day of the extended weekend:

(Pro tip: I like to set up "stations" around the yard. I got the idea from the kids' outdoor classroom at school. The sandbox and playset are always there, of course, but then I add a couple of other things: the water table and t-ball set, chalk or their bikes, and they rotate through playing with everything and do a pretty good job of staying active and playing by themselves and with each other. #parentingwin)

(Pro tip: I like to set up "stations" around the yard. I got the idea from the kids' outdoor classroom at school. The sandbox and playset are always there, of course, but then I add a couple of other things: the water table and t-ball set, chalk or their bikes, and they rotate through playing with everything and do a pretty good job of staying active and playing by themselves and with each other. #parentingwin)

Sunday evening Tyson and I sat on our front porch and watched the sunset. And a storm roll in. Basically simultaneously. We heard thunder far off in the distance though half of our sky was a brilliant orange.

Monday brought out the wearing of the red, white, and blue.

It also brought out these angel children that ACTUALLY ALL SAT STILL and LOOKED AT THE CAMERA AT THE SAME TIME.

(OTHER ATTEMPTS:)

Did you know that this guy is fifteen months old, now? Fifteen months. He looks and acts more like he's in eighteen-month territory, but that's due to his jump back up to the 80th percentile for height. And his fearlessness and playground-climbing skills actually put him more into three-year old territory, since he thinks he's just like the other two that are closest to his size in this house.

It also brought a first campfire experience (or "firecamp" as Caden called it)...

...and, most important of all, it brought the first taste of s'mores.

In case you can't tell, they approved.

("Say 's'mores'!" Brooklyn: Yeah, look here it is. Caden: Leave me alone I'm busy EATING it.)

("Say 's'mores'!" Brooklyn: Yeah, look here it is. Caden: Leave me alone I'm busy EATING it.)