A New Pair of Shoes = Confidence at EVERY Age…(or is that just my excuse?)


Here I go AGAIN! Writing about the excitement I find in SHOES. Call me a GIRL OBSESSED! ARGH. As you who follow me know, I have written about the importance of shoes for babies in, “It’s All in a Girl’s Shoes,” and the fun of shoes for babies and toddlers in, “Bubblegum Scented Toddler Shoes,” and I’m about to share a combo about the importance, fun and my plain LOVE of shoes! Can a new pair of shoes help build confidence???I purchased my sons each crib shoes (shoes for fun to put on while they are babies and can’t crawl or walk that mainly match their outfits). Sounds like a HUGE waste of money, right? That’s what my hubby said. But I purchased them when they were 4 months old and starting to use the walker in the house and when we would go outside (I bought both pair on clearance at 50% off). I think it’s important that they get used to the feeling of wearing shoes. Like my post about my daughter’s shoes – her first fitting for shoes she was just 10 months old THAT DAY and that same evening, she walked for the first time. I think shoes give them balance and extra confidence a bare foot or sock foot with grippers don’t quite give (my opinion of course!) There are so many cute shoes for girls – (I could’ve spent a fortune but I DIDN’T!) But for my twin sons, I decided to go with Robeez which are known for having a snug fit that are more difficult for baby to kick off.

Why Robeez? “Robeez footwear mimics bare feet by flexing and bending with every step. Supporting not constricting growing feet, they promote good balance and unrestricted growth, while protecting little feet from the world. They stay on too, with elasticized ankles to ensure a perfectly snug fit.” From Why Robeez? They also have a downloadable shoe sizing chart (download Robeez Foot Sizing Chart). Love these little shoes with their orange soles for summer!  

This is my little Maxton who took to “walking” immediately in his walker just like his agile big sister. He will also soon be crawling and I am putting his Robeez on to ensure he has enough “GRIP.” So that’s my story on confidence for my boys!

You recall my post about bubblegum scented toddler shoes made by Mini Melissa? I decided against them just a few months ago because I wasn’t 100% sold on a pair of plastic shoes for a toddler (even though I grew up in the original era of “jellies” and had a ton!) The Melissa Brand shoes smell like bubblegum. Yes, bubblegum. They are a sustainable plastic shoe that is infused with a perfume that smells like bubblegum. Made of PVC recycled plastic, these “mini” versions of the adult Melissa line, are seriously “adorbs.” I must say, I was on the fence as to whether or not I wanted Mattelyn sporting a pair of bubblegum scented plastic shoes. But the sales associate assured me this is one of their biggest sellers for toddler sandals in the spring and summer season. WHO KNEW. While shopping recently for a pair of new shoes for myself POST PREGNANCY, we ran to the children’s department at Von Maur so Mattelyn could look at the train they have displayed and to “smell the Melissa’s,” now something Mattelyn likes to do. LOL. 😉 And lo and behold, the very pair of black Mary Janes with brown bows that I fell in love with were on sale 50% OFF. Yep, we bought them.

Mattelyn was thrilled, wore them out of the store, and sat in her car seat knotted like a pretzel with both feet pulled to her nose repeating, “Mmmmm! Smell, mama!” That evening (and every evening since) she runs to put on her new shoes and tells her daddy everyday when he gets home from work, “Look my new shoes.” So cute, I had to share!

And, Mama got a new pair of shoes too. My first pair of shoes for “going out” after my pregnancies. (Read, first pair of HEELS since giving birth). I LIVED in heels in my not so long ago previous life as a career woman. You couldn’t find me without heels on one, because I am 5’2″ tall (or should I say short!?) And two, I worked in a fast-paced downtown advertising agency and my title of Executive ensured I would wear heels the rest of my life! (Which was fine by me!) But even when they came out with tennis shoes with platforms, I was IN because I just couldn’t wear a pair of flat shoes. Needless to say, as with everything else – EVERYTHING CHANGED WITH BABIES. I am sure I will get back to my heels someday – but for now, none of my old heels fit (my feet grew a 1/2 inch with both pregnancies). So I have a GORGEOUS array of beautiful shoes just waiting to be donated. I can’t part with quite yet, but I did get rid of my first “round” with the birth of Mattelyn. Second round is soon! My birthday is today and my anniversary with my husband was yesterday. So this weekend, we are leaving the babes at home with my mother and father-in-law who have offered to drive up to stay the weekend to watch them – – that is two 7 month old twins and a rambunctious 2 year old. I am nervous about leaving them – the thought of not saying goodnight and giving hugs and kisses is REALLY difficult for me. Plus, I am hormonal as all get out…just ending breast feeding. I may have some post partum baby blues! They will be in loving care with their Mimi and Papa and I have no worries that way, it is just the initial leaving them all. *I am positive I will cry all the way downtown. Poor hubby.* I tried on a pair of new shoe boots with a good, sturdy, thicker heel that is only 3″ tall. They are a neutral color and I think will be a perfect complement to my attire for Saturday night’s outing on the Riverwalk along Chicago’s Riverfront that we are planning to do with a couple of close friends of ours who live downtown. I am excited and somehow, in my warped mind, I think having a new pair of shoes will give me the confidence and extra excitement I need to GET ME OUT THE DOOR Saturday night! (I will post a picture of me and my new shoes during our date night Saturday if you are interested at all in seeing them!)

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! Please share your favorite shoes for baby, toddler or yourself! I always want to know what I’m missing out on!

XO ~ Your Shoe Obsessed Mama

Motivation and Unexpected Inspiration…

36 Weeks Pregnant Singleton vs Twins (1)

During the post-partum journey, it is a struggle to find any “normalcy.” Hormones are raging little wars in your mind making things that would typically be commonplace in your day, something to be reckoned with. Breast feeding tricks your corpulent body into thinking it’s still pregnant holding onto every minuscule fat cell in case your baby needs it. Stretched hips, stretched skin, stretched abdominals all aching with the recent gestation of human life. Human life that grew inside my body, in this case, two human lives. While I bask in the fortuitous blessing of twin sons, my heart skipping every other beat with each giggle and smile, I can’t help but to cringe when I notice my husband glancing at my voluminous profile when I walk in the room. Pushing the oversized stroller in the first couple of months made me feel like my body was “covered.” Having given birth to twins 7 months ago Saturday I often hear, “You have an excuse – you just had twins!” While the very statement is true, I can’t help but understand it implies “You’re fat my dear, but it’s okay. Look what you just went through.” Everything changes when you have a baby and there are days when I am so overwhelmed with joy that my heart actually aches with happiness and I am in a constant state of AWE. Complete and total AWE. It’s with great vexation that I say I spend the other 50% of my days thinking about the horrific state my outward appearance is in. Is that fair? No way. My body just internally ran 6 plus marathons for 10 months. I just went through one of the hardest to endure physical moments of my life. And with a smallish frame at the height of 5′ 2′ my body was surprisingly capacious! My husband towards the end would lament that my tummy looked like a torpedo, (sexy, right??) Still, I managed to nourish both of my sons at the breast for the first 6 months of their lives and to care for them night (I emphasize all night long) and day, making them and their two year old sister my priority number one. I suffered minor hip displasia and severe diastasis recti as a result of excessive intra-abdominal pressure or “loading.” Both of which make exercising and typical running regimens a new found obstacle. Any sundress I attempt to don proudly emphasizes my new “pooch” that resembles a 5 month pregnancy, held high as though I am carrying a girl, right under my boobs. While I smile with pride and presumed blithe going about my day, I can’t help but feel solicitous about my appearance. What I endured was worth every single moment of pain and discomfort. It was worth all of the sleepless nights (then and now). But must I look so FLUFFY???

Now as I move forward and try to find motivation through helpful Websites, challenge groups, blogs by women in the same situation, I am finding solace in “this is what it is.” There is an insurmountable barrage of get skinny fast gimmicks, promises to “lose the baby weight once and for all” with celebrities at the forefront sporting amazingly fit three-month post-pregnancy bodies in bikinis I wouldn’t have worn pre-pregnancy. I hung a photo on my fridge pre-pregancy that made me feel good for about a week. I changed the photo on my iPhone to the same photo so I could be tortured with every glance and I watch everything Hollywood with a discerning eye. I am on a journey, that is for sure. Not to get my pre-pregnancy body back, but to begin diminishing this giant waistline I now have. I am in a downswing currently with body image driving my desire and it’s not what I want. I need to focus on long term results that of being a healthy, fit mama to these three bambinos. I know my determination and hard, tire less work will undoubtedly pay off. I need to take a moment to relish and pay tribute to what this magnificent body of mine just went through. In a matter of two years, I brought three human lives into this world. And I am not advocating for a superfluous outpouring of comments from my followers, I simply wanted to provide insight into my daily fight so you can know you’re not alone, in whatever your journey is at this moment. I also have decided today, I am going to use this photo of me 36 weeks pregnant with my daughter and 36 weeks pregnant with my twin sons as MOTIVATION and INSPIRATION to reach my fitness and health goals, rather than a photo of Beyonce’s amazing unjustifiably perfect post-pregnancy body. Because if I could go through that, then I can go through anything. Including finding that smaller me inside this hard-to-recognize body. Stand tall and fight the good fight. With fortuitous vigor I didn’t even know my body and mind had, I was met with accomplishing something I never knew I wanted and that was carrying twins without any bed rest or any physical problems, full-term, at “advanced maternal age.” Temporary pain, forever the gain. No truer words have been put to the test for me right now.

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” – Abraham Lincoln

Are you feeling this way? Do you have something to share? I would love to hear from you as always.

Put yourself to the test today and find the beauty within the fight you’re fighting – be it to be a better you, to help someone out, to be there for someone that needs you or to put a stamp on something you believe in. Today is a gift and tomorrow is just a promise. Live with high hopes and dreams. I have to remind myself of this at times (sometimes twice daily). Love to you all!

XO ~ Stephanie

This is How We Roll…(Literally)

I STRUGGLED with the thought of having three babies two and under in age. I worried that I would be homebound and wouldn’t be able to get out and about with them. I didn’t want Mattelyn who is barely two to suffer because the boys were infants and summer was just around the corner. I knew by this time, the boys would be 6 months old. At this age with only one, Mattelyn and I were very mobile. We took 3 – 5 mile walks daily in her stroller. We met daddy at work downtown Chicago and we never missed a play date. We went to restaurants with her in tow twice weekly, proudly. I knew our socializing would change and I was very aware that my mobility was about to change. I stressed about it. A LOT. I sent messages to other mamas of multiples, I researched all of the strollers that would work for three babies. I looked at specialty stores, I googled, searched Instagram, FaceBook and all of my family with babies. I exhausted my resources and quite frankly, everyone was tired of hearing me think about it out loud. I finally made a decision and my husband (and his parents) lovingly went along with my decision. And I am so glad I didn’t listen to the nay-sayers that said I wouldn’t be mobile with all three in the first year. Or that said I should worry about a stroller AFTER they were already here. Nope – I am super glad I did it when I did. There isn’t time to get ALL OF THIS TOGETHER NOW.

All of the planning ahead of time has made for this to all be possible. And it works.

I wanted to share with my followers as I know some of you are here as mommy’s and daddy’s and some of you are pregnant with twins or have newborn twins with a toddler and are facing the exact same dilemma I was 6 months ago.

(Knowing that things change on a DAILY basis in the world of baby and baby products, I am writing this from the viewpoint that this is what I found to make the most sense in November 2014 and I find still relevant now 6 months later in 2015, for us as a family of 5 with 3 little ones).

The Baby Jogger City Select  was MY stroller of choice!

Criteria for me (pregnant mom of twins with 19 month old daughter at the time):

* Holds two car seats PLUS my toddler daughter. Should I get a triple or quad stroller? They are so expensive, difficult to maneuver and it’s hard to find somewhere that sells those strollers (and we live in Chicagoland). You can view them online but you can’t physically push it around in advance of purchase. The City Select stroller has 16 different configurations and an add on option of a Glider Board that your toddler can stand on and “hitch a ride” for quick jaunts. We use it EVERYWHERE. To walk to the park, a quick trip to the post office, the grocery store for some missing ingredient for dinner, a stroll through the mall…it is the perfect solution (for us). My daughter jumps on and also has the option of jumping off (carefully when the stroller is stopped) and walking when she wants. (This is all dependent on your child and a talk about it and what you expect of them is critical and key to its success. Our daughter (26 months old) loves the “freedom.”)

My daughter is napping, reclined in the City Mini stroller and my twin sons are napping in their car seats in the City Select stroller

For longer walks and mall shopping for the duration, we use her City Mini stroller so she can relax and recline when it’s nap time. You won’t likely be doing these outings on your own anyway. LOL. * Maneuverable – I am small in stature (5’2″) and although small and mighty, I have other things I am worrying about (babies plus a two year old). I don’t need to figure out in the middle of an outing whether I can “drive” this stroller in and out of my establishments with ease or not. At that point in time, I will have mustered ALL OF MY ENERGY just getting out of the house. (We love our City Select Mini, (award winning), stroller we used for Mattelyn. It is AWESOME. But that is another post!)

* Light in weight – I now need to hoist two car seats in and out of the mini van (ugh – mini van – not hoisting car seats), PLUS the stroller.

*  INTUITIVE – It’s gotta’ work! The first time. And it has to be SMART. Just like the Dyson Vacuum Cleaner (another post – some things you just have to bite the bullet and pay for). When I get it out of the car, it “pops” into place. No other way of explaining it – it’s awesome. I pull it out and it locks into place. Same arrangement when I am leaving, I can easily fold it up – it’s also a simple “pop” which doesn’t seem possible – but it is.

* Small – It has to FIT. I mean fit everywhere. In the car, in the house, in the garage. I need it to be a space monkey and just get in when I need it to. Most of the time, we keep BOTH the City Mini and the City Select in the back of the van. I can easily lift either or both out and the space isn’t huge in the back of a Chrysler Town & Country.

* Safe – there are locks all over this stroller – just like the City Mini.

* There’s a Video for every stroller they sell on their Website (there are hundreds on YouTube, too) and they are worth the watch! Before you purchase AND AFTER you purchase. Watch it on your smart phone. Bookmark it. Bookmark it, text the URL and message it to your hubby. When he is alone, he will watch it too. They are less than 5 minutes each.

*Word to the wise –

(This is going to sound crazy – but I have also recommended crazier like “using” your breast pump before you need it while still pregnant – I am going to recommend the same here…)

Your hubby is busy. So are you. Difference is, he wants to think he can do it all right the first time without ever practicing, watching a YouTube vide or reading directions. And he will try to set up this easy stroller system after a stressful car ride (because he’s not around the chaos all week), in a parking lot, in front of people after never having practiced it before. He will get frustrated and will have a few choice words. This is a SYSTEM. It HAS TO BE to accomplish all it does. I highly recommend doing this – set up a time where you both “practice” getting the stroller and BOTH car seats out of the mini van. Include dolls so it’s more “real.” Begin IN the driver’s seat and proceed as though you have somewhere to be. It isn’t brain surgery but it is like anything else – the more practice, the better you both will be. Which also means the more success you will have in this stroller system working for you. You can time each other and see who accomplishes it faster. Trust me – this will prove invaluable once they’re here! I PROMISE.

Best of Luck! And I certainly hope this at least breaks down a few of the reasons we chose the City Select stroller making a decision easier for you. This was a very frustrating situation for both my hubby and I. I had many in my quest tell me to just “baby wear” one twin – in a Baby Bjorn or some other carrier. This is okay if it’s just you and the other twin without a demanding two year old that has little patience and still needs/requires help in and out of their car seat (positioned in the back of the mini van). I found it difficult to wear one and be multi-functional with my toddler daughter. If you have any other recommendation, please feel free to comment here! I have followers that are pregnant with twins and may read this and use it for decision making in their purchases!

XO ~ Stephanie

Quick Post! Such a Sweet Surprise!!  

  
I decided to leave the twins at home with grandma and run to the store with my daughter this morning. We have company coming this weekend and I need to get some things. My mom leaves me after 6 months with these three by myself next week! 😔 I am nervous about what this is going to be like. Trying to pick up, feed, put down for naps – all three of them. Not only am I worried, I am scared! It isn’t often I feel like I am going to have difficulty or be overwhelmed but this is one of those moments. I went out to the mini van (yes, it has come to that with three in car seats!!) and inside, my mom had placed the Twins’ car seats with newly handmade Car Seat Canopies – my exact style I had picked out, colors and all, and completely embroidered and sewn just like I had imagined.  

 I have been so busy trying to get everything done that I have had to completely take down my Etsy site where I sell these cutie designs! I was feeling so terrible like I was letting my babies down by not making them their own. I used mine like crazy with Mattelyn for an entire year (read about it here when I began making them for everyone I knew and decided to start selling them)! My mom is incredible. What can I say? I had THE WORST DAY YESTERDAY since the twins were really little newborns and I felt like the world was falling down. I felt like I just couldn’t do this. But this small gesture was exactly what I needed. Somehow mom’s know exactly what you need! I just hope to always do this for my babies too! Thanks again mom – I LOVE THEM!!! I LOVE YOU to the moon and back. You are my biggest inspiration!! Kisses!! 😘❤️

Have you had that day lately too? Have you had help with a newborn (or two, or three!) and can relate?? Would love to hear about it. 

XO ~ Stephanie

Sometimes I Wish I Were More Like My Husband…

Four month old twins, Maxton and Carson.

Tonight we put the twins in their own cribs in their own nursery. It’s only down the hall from us and I have a monitor on each of them that scans both their nursery and their sister’s nursery. But they aren’t right here next to me in our room. I already miss them and my heart hurts.  💔😓

This is where they slept in our room next to my side of the bed.

Mattelyn was five months old when we put her in her own crib in her room. These guys are four months old and at their four month wellness check on Friday, our pediatrician said they not only can be in their own room but it would be a perfect time to make the move – they are more than ready. (He said most twins are out of mom and dad’s room by 6 weeks). They will sleep better, will be more comfortable and will likely sleep through the night. Which means longer REM and deep sleep, which encourages brain growth and development (when they have uninterrupted sleep. Not to mention, they no longer have to listen to their dada snore!)

Maxton our oldest twin, 13lbs 9oz

Carson our youngest twin, 14lbs 6oz

Mattelyn slept the first night in her nursery for 9 hours. When I think about how far we have come with them in the past four months, I am thrilled and also so very sad. There is something about this being my last babies I will ever have the privilege to have in my room so close I can touch them that has me an overly emotional wreck. I love them so much and can’t believe they are already at this point. It occurs to me parenthood is filled with this love/hate, happy/sad feeling in everyday situations as they grow (which is daily). We treat them like the babies they are but with the underlying goal of raising amazing adults. They need their independence and desire their own space. But it’s so hard to let them go to the next step. It takes everything inside me to not be selfish right now! Sometimes I just wish I were more like my nonchalant husband. He just accepts the facts and moves on so matter of fact. He always says we have to do what is best for them and he is right. And I on the other hand, worry and stress and overthink. I sit and reminisce about when they were staying in the hospital first born. I recall watching them being wheeled out of my room to the nursery and I sat crying on the side of my bed with my mom.    The first of many of those moments to come. After ten months of them being right next to your heart inside you, it’s difficult to let them leave your side. I can’t help it. I am so proud of them and their stupendous growth. I love them and everything they have overcome from apnea monitors to rolling over on their bellies. They are  our little miracles and beyond amazing.  

As I lay in bed staring at the monitor, waiting for it to switch from Mattelyn, to Maxton, to Carson and then back to Mattelyn, I think about when we brought them home and they slept in the same travel size pack and play in the room I stayed in downstairs:

The nursery was a room we didn’t go into because they weren’t ready and the time I would be putting them to sleep in there seemed to be so far away. But it’s not – it’s here. So here is my prayer tonight for my babes. As I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord their souls to keep. Guard and keep them through the night and wake them with your morning light. Amen. 

Clients These Days…

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WOW. Two of my clients I like to say are “persnickety,” to say the least. I have had one client for only four months. They are your typical client – demanding, irrational, time-consuming, costly, fussy and driven by an insatiable desire to GROW. In order to take their growth to the next level, we really concentrated on HOW we would collectively achieve this from the get-go. Through careful and strategic planning, we looked at environmental cues and geographic locales to predict the right spot to facilitate their growth. Then we eliminated anything that would stand in the way of positive growth, such as antiquated procedures or allowing them (the client) to take the lead. With access to many sources online and through third-party blogs and groups, our research was as thorough and on-point as it could be. We knew we had all of the tools and know-how necessary to achieve greatness. Our case studies were tried and true and as real as can be; we had firsthand access to thousands of examples. We made sure we had all parties involved on the same page sharing the same POV, (point of view). Once the strategic plan was in place, and we had client sign off, it was time to implement for a year that would allow exponential growth; potentially three times the size they are today.

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After only four months, they still can’t communicate well. Every single day is met with a laundry list of wants and demands, all of which can’t be articulated, but we have to figure it out immediately or we hear about it. (And one of them can be VERY over the top when it comes to letting us know their level of discontent, screaming and turning red in the face, sometimes twice a day). On top of that, they haven’t been able to stick to the plan AT ALL. Negotiating with them is IMPOSSIBLE and just like with any and all clients, they always get their way. (After all, a client is always right).

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In the past few weeks, we have had to *tweak* our creative direction when it came to remaining truly inspired and on track. They are hard to please and demand a particular level of involvement with every aspect of their growth. They have thrown all of our research out the window as though they don’t care at all about what’s worked well in the past. It’s exhausting 24 hour work and they seem to care only when it’s convenient for them. They sleep on the job all the time, they come and go as they please. They complain about EVERYTHING. And it’s as though they expect an impeccable job on our part when they can’t even follow the schedule and refuse to maintain any sort of routine that might allow us to achieve our goals sooner. Regardless of their inability to communicate, we still seem to be making progress. One day at a time.

Stuffed.AnimalsMy children have proven to be my most difficult clients I’ve ever had, making this the most difficult job I’ve ever had. Without naming names of any of the large, multi-million dollar clients I have served in my years as an Advertising Account Executive, they are very similar. They can’t articulate what is wrong and I am constantly guessing what they want and whether I’m doing something right. It’s a very crazy situation to be in! One that we all as parents have been in or are currently in. I find it interesting how this really puts things into perspective. Every decision I made before impacted a business. Every decision I make now impacts a LIFE. I went to a four year college and received a degree in Integrated Marketing Communications with a double minor in Advertising and Marketing in order to do my job as an Advertising Executive. I had on the job training, internships and externships before I even landed my first job. I began as a junior account person and worked my way up over the years. I needed an impressive resume and someone had to deem me a fit for the positions I was hired for. With parenting, one day I had a newborn and had about 10 months to plan for everything I needed to know, and no one was there to ask me if I had done that or not. No one interviewed me to make sure I was up to the challenge, no one made sure I knew what I was doing or checked to make sure three people that know me well agreed I should be given this job. No one asked me to do research so I knew how to do this new job or to speak to other mothers in a similar position so I had firsthand knowledge. There are no required classes on “the basics,” there are no prerequisites. Then, I was promoted to a parent of three children all under the age of two within a year. WOW. I have such an appreciation now for the hard work my mom and dad did having my brother and I in their early 20s. No way could I have done that (or wanted to. I was far too immature and SELFISH. And selfish is not something you can be to raise children). I have such an appreciation for all of my friends and family that choose parenthood. God bless you all and enjoy this hard but extremely rewarding job we’ve been given. I find it difficult to imagine or to think about all of the ill-equipped people raising babies, (or people blessed with babies that don’t want them), because it’s such a difficult thing to do – emotionally, physically, psychologically, socially, etc. Keep doing what your doing and trusting your God-given instincts. And always remember what your momma taught you. After all, she is your first teacher in life and the one you gained all knowledge rightfully so from.

mybrownbaercubSo with an eye blinded by the purest and most true unconditional love there is, and with a fierce confidence, I take my open heart, best intentions, all of my hopes and dreams, life lessons, basic intuition, street smarts, book knowledge and the ability to be the best that I can be for my children, with me everyday to raise my babies. I would love to know how you feel! Please drop a comment and please follow my blog! I am so close to 1,000 followers that share in so much of the same things I do in this life.

XO ~ Stephanie

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Capturing Fleeting Moments in a Lifestyle Photo Shoot

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“The days are so long but the years are so short.”

Just ask any mother or father. But especially a mom or dad of multiples! The days are SO LONG but geez, in a blink of the eye, my newborn twin sons are 3 months old. I scheduled a lifestyle photo shoot with one of the most lovely photographers I’ve ever met, Stephanie Kelley of Stephanie Kelley Photography here in Chicago. (Click Here to view our gallery on her blog). I HESITATED because our life is CHAOS right now and inviting someone into your home to not only WITNESS the chaos, but to be part of it for a morning and to CAPTURE it as well, I guess you can say sounds like a terrible idea. But it was one of THE BEST IDEAS I’ve ever followed through with no matter how many I times I felt like calling her and saying, there is just NO WAY I can possibly make this work! But these fleeting moments are just those – gone in the blink of an eye. This time period, the first year, with twin boys and a toddler and live-in grandparents will be here and GONE. And that time won’t ever be mine to have again when I feel like I’m not as tired or can handle it better. No, it’s here and it’s NOW. I knew that I wanted to have a view of this life to look back on because right now, in the midst of it all, things are happening and it is just surreal. Time is flying by and life is happening and I’m just SURVIVING, THRIVING, I’m not LIVING in the moment. I want to see later in my life that I WAS THERE and I was enjoying myself. And everything was just fine and we were making it work. And so, I wanted to share with my followers the BEAUTIFUL, can’t-say-enough wonderful things about, gallery of photos this fabulous photographer gifted us. Her innate ability to connect and pull through the very essence of our lives right now from behind the lens is magnificent. Not only that, but she surprised my husband and I with a lovely (and truly touching) tribute to our session on her photography blog. I can’t wait to receive the photo gallery from her and I would love to tell each of you if you ever are on the fence as to whether you should try a lifestyle shoot and forgo the studio and pay the little extra to have someone come to your house to shoot, take a look at this and you will see exactly why it’s the BEST idea for capturing a moment in time. Especially the tender moments with babies and a toddler. (And maybe with a reluctant husband as well!)

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I also have to share what my dear father said when he looked through the gallery of photos Stephanie Kelley shot,

“Stephanie Kelley unquestionably has an amazing gift in her photography skills. It is a mystery to me how she is able to evoke what would seem to be looks into her subject’s very soul. I could not help but think so many of the photos of the babies beautiful faces seemed to convey a maturity far beyond their youth. Extremely moving and evocative. Absolute genius on both sides of the lens! God bless my beautiful daughter and her precious, precious family! How fortunate I am to have lived to meet your babies!”

I wholeheartedly agree with my dad. Her work is magnificent. Part of why I am in awe of her is her persevering in spite of the challenges she faces with MS. (Read about Multiple Sclerosis here and find ways to support finding a cure like I do). I find it simply astounding that she looks adversity in the eye and fulfills her love of photography (and making people genuinely happy) and provides her clients with these delicious moments in time with so much ambition and attention to detail when it is so hard on her physically to do each shoot she does. She really truly cares about her clients and who they are and helps each of us to capture (and write) our own story – the story that is our life.

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http://www.stephkelleyphotography.com/skp/family-bartlett-family-lifestyle-photographer

(Don’t) Cry Over Spilled Milk…

Bottles - color-coded for different ounces and times of day for different baby.

Bottles – color-coded for different ounces and times of day for different baby.

Breast feeding is FREE. It’s free if you don’t consider mom’s time spent doing it valuable. I spend 30 minutes four to five times in a 24 hour period pumping for milk to nourish my twin boys. That’s well over 2.5 hours just pumping. And that doesn’t include washing bottles and the bottle systems  – two of each, eight times a day – (in fragrance-free, 100% natural, organic, baby-safe dish detergent with tiny, hard-to-keep-track-of, annoying nipple and bottle brushes). And then there is the preparation of the formula for supplementing what I am short that day. It also doesn’t include “getting ready” to breast feed and all of the paraphernalia that goes along with it.
But it’s SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT.
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Buy the plastic “drying grass” for bottles and bottle systems – way better than the towel!

I find it fascinating that I can produce the *PERFECT* food for my tiny newborn twin boys. Perfect because it is the easiest food for their “new” digestive systems to digest. It’s known to reduce a baby’s risk of developing allergiesasthmaeczema, ear infections, obesitydiabetes, heart disease, sudden infant death and diminished intelligence, as well as protecting mothers from breast cancer. It actually helps boost intelligence in children later in life. So why wouldn’t I at least give it my best shot to provide at least SOME of this goodness to my twin boys? I breast fed my daughter  for 11 months until she weaned herself. I am not one of those moms that beats myself up over exclusively breastfeeding. I simply DO WHAT I CAN DO. And I am living with that. I can’t produce like a cow. I have to supplement with some amount of formula daily. And I work my butt off to get all that I can get! Some women are blessed with an endless supply of milk and can pump and pump and freeze and store their milk. Some women could feed a litter of babies with such amazing ability to produce milk. And that’s just it – all women are different when it comes to breast feeding. It doesn’t matter the size of your boobs, either. It is much like having an innate talent to play the piano or the drums – some women are talented at producing milk. I don’t believe breast feeding is the “end all, be all” that some doctors and the media, lactation groups and mommy blogs want you to believe it is. “Breast is best” for babies whose mamas believe it to be best. Many women choose not to breast feed for a multitude of reasons and every reason is a perfect reason because it is UP TO EACH MOM INDIVIDUALLY and is NO ONE ELSE’S BUSINESS. It is the mom’s ultimate decision to breast feed or not and her decision SHOULD BE 100% RESPECTED. It also shouldn’t be something anyone has to defend. It’s your decision and that’s the final word. It doesn’t mean you love your baby any more or less that you do or don’t breast feed.
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Carson is white and Maxton is blue. Color coded helped me and whoever was assisting me with nighttime feedings. They weren’t always the same weight so they would sometimes drink different amounts – 2oz vs. 2.5oz, for example.

I pump around 40 – 70 ounces a day. In the beginning, it was such a daunting task to be faced with – one that I fought to accomplish and STILL after three months have to fight for daily and nightly. Not to mention when I stayed in the hospital for four days after my c-section and the babies needed to eat every two hours all day and all night, I asked that they be brought to me to at least make sure they latched on before EVERY FEEDING. BOTH OF THEM. And then I would pump for a half hour. Even though I would only get less than a tablespoon of colostrum. The reason I did this was two-fold: I wanted to make sure my body knew what it was in for. Producing milk for two couldn’t be taken lightly, I felt. And I really wanted to be able to nurse them tandem at home to save time and for bonding. So to generate milk supply and ensure they would latch.
The Udder Cover nursing cover-up

The Udder Cover nursing cover-up

Their suckling wasn’t strong enough to nourish them before they would get tired because they were only 37 weeks and very tiny. So we gave them formula for the hospital stay until my milk came in. Once they were big enough to nurse, it was too much work on my part to get them to latch again. I spent a week working on nursing with them and I realized I just didn’t have time because I was exhausted from no sleep and a GRUELING feeding schedule and had to spend my time and calories producing the milk; not worrying that they wouldn’t latch on and nurse every single time. So I pumped and bottle fed them and still do to this day. I never accomplish producing exactly what I need for the entire day so I supplement with formula about 25% formula per bottle to 75% breast milk. Somedays it is 50-50. Other days it’s 80% – 20%. But never under 50% breast milk. And they have each received one all formula bottle once since they have been home.
Colostrum in the hospital Day Two

Colostrum in the hospital Day Two

When someone adds into the “benefits of breast feeding” that it is “FREE,” I just cringe. It is the biggest sacrifice. It is a time suck. And it is a pain in the ass. Not to mention, the guilt and constant beating yourself up over it.
Do you know how much water you have to drink to produce 70 ounces of breast milk in a day? If you are like me, I promise you every ounce of anything I drink or eat goes to milk production. So much so that I rarely go to the bathroom; I am constipated and never pee. I have headaches all the time and I feel so incredibly parched, it’s not even jokingly amusing. Drinking water to stave off contractions when I was pregnant with the twins was overwhelming. I got up to 140 ounces a day. I still do that now PLUS everything else I drink (and add in a few more ounces of water on top of that). And my own thirst is never quenched. I am now to the point that I don’t want water anymore, but I have to drink it. And I have always loved water. It gives the babies a tummy ache, terrible gas and fussiness if I have garlic or onion, anything spicy, ice cream, yogurt, milk shakes or a glass of milk. I will plan not to go somewhere because I have to pump. I will forgo going out to dinner because I don’t want to miss the opportunity to pump for the babies’ meal. I limit my caffeine intake. I never get Starbucks and if I do, I don’t get what I really want. The aching of my breasts when I am walking around and full, sucks. Especially when Matt decides to hug me extra hard or a baby cries or Mattelyn decides to kick me while I’m changing her diaper and I haven’t pumped or I need to pump – all reasons my boobs hurt. (Also when two wet spots inconveniently show up on my shirt because my milk let down). I can’t run or jog comfortably – (I’m not supposed to at this point anyway but in another month or so I plan to). EVERYTHING I do affects my milk supply. If I get stressed out (hmmm, that’s way too easy), if I get really upset over something (I’m post-partum and hormonal!), if I miss a meal or a snack, if I fail to pump at the 4 hour mark, if I shower or use a hot pad, if the babies schedule is off at all or if my two-year-old’s schedule is off, if I don’t get a good night sleep (laughable!!), if we have company or if I am out and I fail to pump as often as I should. (The only bathrooms that have mother’s rooms decent enough to sit in for 30 minutes are Nordstrom’s, Von Maur and the BMW dealership. If you’re at Target, Kohls or Macys, or at a restaurant, chances are, you need to just pump in your car. Public restrooms are disgusting and always smell like someone just used the public bathroom to let go of everything they didn’t want to do at home! It is sad to breastfeed your daughter in a hot mess of a bathroom like I have had to do. Pumping is the same. There are no electrical outlets available even if you bring your pump with you. And lets face it – no matter breastfeeding or pumping – you’re going to get funny looks. It’s sad but true). And let’s not forget that I also miss out on the occasional social hour cocktail! And the itchiness and pain of just pumping, in general! And finding the half hour to do it. That half hour AFTER I have fed the babies at midnight and I have to stay up an hour later to pump and then make bottles. Or the half hour I want desperately to go back to bed in the early morning after that feeding but before Mattelyn wakes up – I never can because I have to pump. And I always have to have someone watching Mattelyn and the babies while I pump so one of the babies isn’t hurt while I am held captive, hooked up to the machine. And all the apparatuses that go along with the pump that always need cleaning. And we can’t forget the “udder cover” and the cone-like attachments which make it impossible to just “answer the knock at the front door” appropriately. I also suffer with losing baby weight when I breast feed. I have an extra 15-20 pounds that linger because I want to make milk for my babies. I hear over and over again, “She is breast feeding and the baby weight is just MELTING AWAY…” Not so with me! Sure, I am expending 700 calories A DAY producing milk for two. But I am also eating to do so. It again depends on the woman. Everyone is different. I actually gained weight breastfeeding my daughter. For what ever reason, my body still thinks I am pregnant and holds onto the weight while I breast feed.
The list goes on and on.
Liquid Gold

Liquid Gold

So basically, for the next 6 months at least, I will miss going out to dinner, going shopping, I’ll say no to ice cream and yogurt, skip chips and salsa and my favorite enchiladas, forgo any and all cocktail hours, most social gatherings outside of my house, walk around with an extra 15-20 pounds of baby weight, leak on my shirts, drink 5 gallons of water a day, stay up too late, get up too early, my boobs will ache, I won’t get to run or jog, I’ll look haggard. And at one in the morning after pumping so that I have enough milk produced to not have to supplement with formula that morning, I will spill ALL that I did and sacrificed for on the kitchen counter and on the floor with one tip of the bottle from an overly tired, overwhelmed mom of 93 day old twins. And that won’t happen just once. (So far it’s happened three times).
But in the end, it’s providing my babies with what I know to be the best I can provide. This is temporary, too. My chance to feed my babies from my own breast is such a small amount of time in life and I cherish this gift I’ve been given and the privilege it is to have this option and opportunity. And, it is still fascinating to me that I can nourish my babies with my own body! What a miracle! It makes me feel at one with nature and with the whole “we’re all connected” idea.
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Almost three months old! Carson and Maxton showing their ever growing personalities.

So, go ahead and cry over spilled milk. It’s spilled liquid gold. And if you consider for a moment sopping it up with a paper towel and squeezing it into a bottle, we’ll all know and understand why. And the next time someone says breastfeeding is free, well, it depends on who is doing the pumping or nursing, I would say…
Spilled Liquid Gold.

Spilled Liquid Gold.

XO ~ Stephanie

The Jealous Older Sibling, The Terrible Twos and My Sweet Baby Girl….

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Mattelyn 22 months and Maxton 2 months

Bringing the twin boys home sent my 22 month old daughter’s life into a total tizzy. I wondered and worried like all mamas about bringing a new baby home from the hospital. And then I worried more about bringing two home when we found out at the second ultra sound we would be bringing home TWINS. I actually cried when we found out, worried for my little girl. You see, she was my everything and I was HERS and hers alone. I would rock my baby girl to sleep every night and we would talk about our day and sing songs. We made breakfast together and we planted flowers and went on long walks. We played and swam and colored. We danced and danced and ran outside and danced some more. I am blessed to stay at home with her and I know it! I took this PRIVILEGE to heart and worked my hardest to make sure I was doing the best job at the most important job of my life. And now I was faced with bringing in another baby and sharing my Mattelyn time with him or her and I couldn’t imagine how she was going to react. It scared me and made me feel guilt like I had never experienced. It actually would make me panic and feel like I could be sick. Toward the end of my pregnancy, I would sit and rock her with my huge tummy and major pregnancy hormones raging with tears just streaming down my face as I pictured new babies and my inability to care for them all at once. I would try not to let her see my sadness but it was real.

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Mattelyn and me 19 weeks pregnant with the twins

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My darling Mattelyn. My heart!!!!

I am not telling you anything you don’t already know or haven’t felt but I wanted to share with you what I lost sight of and it almost makes me sick that I didn’t notice.

I was a little insane with worry about my daughter’s well-being before I had the babies. I had my maternity photo shoot with my daughter and made the focus on her and the beauty of our relationship before the boys arrived. I wanted to be sure she knew that she made me the mommy I am today and made it possible for us to bring her brothers into this world for her. I made her a book of our photos that she can look at forever and wrote her a letter telling her exactly how I feel so she would always know how important that time of my life with her was. I want her to know she is my first born and my only little girl. I treasure her little companionship and I will love her to the moon and back for always and forever.

This is my maternity photo shoot with my daughter Mattelyn when she was 17 months old and I was 22 weeks pregnant. I wanted to celebrate the time I had with her one-on-one and the fact that she is who made me a mommy, while also celebrating the twin pregnancy.

This is my maternity photo shoot with my daughter Mattelyn when she was 17 months old and I was 22 weeks pregnant. I wanted to celebrate the time I had with her one-on-one and the fact that she is who made me a mommy, while also celebrating the twin pregnancy.

Lighthouse Beach, Evanston, IL ~  Just outside of Chicago. Liz Franco Photography, Chicago Fine Art Portrait Photographer. Toddler and Maternity dresses by Abby Bella Couture.

Lighthouse Beach, Evanston, IL ~ Just outside of Chicago. Liz Franco Photography, Chicago Fine Art Portrait Photographer. Toddler and Maternity dresses by Abby Bella Couture.

The look is undeniable when your baby recognizes that the new babies are there to stay. It doesn’t matter what anyone says to prepare you and what you imagine it will feel like is not even close to how terrible it really feels. Witnessing her little face when she realized, “This is real; they were ours and they’re not going anywhere,” is forever burned in my mind, heart and soul. They feel replaced. They feel left out. Their little perfect worlds are TURNED UPSIDE DOWN. And now they have to share you. What do you do??? How can you reason with a toddler who can’t even talk to let her know you are giving her a lifetime best friend? That it is extremely important and they will be in each other’s lives longer than any other person?

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Learning how to incorporate morning play in short increments.

I read books and blogs about how she was going to feel and tactics that can help prepare me to help make the transition smoother and what to do in the hospital and in the household upon returning home with the babies. Give her a gift in the hospital from you and your husband, bring a bag of activities that she can play with that are special for the hospital only, give her a gift (to give to the twins) from her, give her baby dolls that will be “her babies” so she can mimic mommy, be lenient with rules, etc. Show her “Big Sister” t-shirts to wear proudly. Read the books written for toddlers that are about bringing a new baby into the home from their perspective. Let her play in “brothers’ nursery” and allow her to lay down in her brothers’ cribs. Don’t make big changes for your toddler when you bring the babies home, such as trying to potty train or ending the use of a bottle or stop being rocked at nap time. We did it all – and MORE. There wasn’t anything we DIDN’T do. For the first two weeks we were home with the babies, both sets of grandparents were here – talk about every child’s dream situation!

And honestly at first, I thought I had dodged a bullet with her. Mattelyn didn’t have a terrible reaction like I was told she would, with the exception of a few mean looks and not wanting to go with me but rather grandma – and when isn’t that all normal behavior anyway? We all held our breath as she walked into the hospital room where I stayed for four days after my c-section. I was warned she would be angry, wouldn’t want to look at me, wouldn’t want to hug or kiss me. And she didn’t do that – she almost ran to me and sat on the bed next to me and looked at her gifts. She sat on my lap and allowed me to hold her. She was just fine. For about four weeks.

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Available at Amazon.com. Click here.

Our household has been complete chaos since bringing home the twins – not one part of the old routine is in place other than eating, but Mattelyn has had plenty of love and family around.

There is always a grandma here taking care of her (lucky girl) and we have had visitors every week and on weekends, grandpas come. She has been the center of everyone’s attention.

The big change I noticed began a couple weeks ago, a month after bringing them home. After she finally realized, “These babies are here to stay,” it was a difficult moment and I saw it in her eyes. Everything “clicked” and she saw RED. Her anger was out of control. She is 22 months old and the “terrible-twos” have definitely kicked in. She throws books, bites, hits, smacks, pulls hair, kicks HARD and has full-blown temper tantrums multiple times daily. She will do ANYTHING for attention now, including jumping off of the staircase landing to the floor and jumping on and climbing on all the furniture. Scariest of all, she tries to open hand smack the babies every chance she gets. They are so tiny and I mean hitting with the force of a seven-year-old boy on a playground pissed that someone just took his toy truck. No kidding. She pulls their pacifiers out of their mouths while they’re sleeping. She pushes their swings extra hard and tries to climb on the swings or tip them over.

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There have been so many close calls, I have to keep such a close eye on her AT ALL TIMES. She cannot be left alone EVER. Open-hand slapping with all her might is just the tip of the iceberg. She’s an ace at book flinging – hard board books fly through the air with the same force as a runner kicking off sweaty tennis shoes. Everything has become a weapon and toys and sippy cups full of apple juice are like grenades. I *wince* when she gets up in the morning and comes running, screaming, with wild, crazy eyes, like a rabid dog, into the living room where I am either pumping and holding the babies or where they are swinging. She also has been kicking and hitting our dog Mikki who is her best friend, (which was one of the early signs for me – she is going to hit the boys). Lately she has come to despise to despise the boys and me. If I walk into the kitchen when she’s in her high chair eating lunch or breakfast carrying a baby, she flings all of her food on the floor. She has begun role playing and has made two of her dolls “her twins.” She pats them like she’s burping them, she pretend feeds them, sings to them, carries them around, pretends to give them medicine, she even lays on the floor and coos and pats their heads and swings them. She lays them down to sleep. She also slaps them, throws them, steps on their heads, pulls their hair, throws them during temper tantrums, whacks their heads against the floor and the wall, pokes their eyes out, shakes them with a rage of fury while giggling hysterically, and gets downright angry with them, babbling baby talk – but real mean.

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She has also become the queen of sweet deception, walking up to me while I am holding a baby, placing her little hand on his arm and looking right at me making sweet faces and takes her other hand and plants one right on his face and runs away LAUGHING. My heart goes into my stomach as I realize I HAVE A REAL PROBLEM. She is PISSED OFF! And, she is really going to end up hurting the boys if I don’t somehow gain control. I feel so sorry for her as she has no other way to tell me she is angry and JEALOUS. She is hurt and slapping a baby gets an immediate reaction from me and everyone surrounding her.I don’t want her upset and going through this everyday. It’s exhausting to me and to her.

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I immediately went back to my books and Websites and blogs to read about how to deal with a biter. I read about toddlers that take out their frustrations on the new babies at home. I learned what to say when she threw books at the babies and what to do when she hurls her sippy cups into their cribs. I read from the “Toddler Whisperer” for sound advice on punishment that is effective and read about how to comfort the hurt feelings of a toddler. I solicited advice from family and friends, blogs and books, Websites and magazines. We began time outs, face-to-face talking at her level, removing her from a situation and flat out yelling (yes, that occurred when we were just afraid she was about to seriously hurt the baby!)

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I have been SO BUSY and SO CONSUMED by the babies, getting them on a schedule, paying attention to breast feeding and pumping, trying to stay awake, that I realized I was over looking the root of the problem and reacting to the symptoms.

She wants me. She wants her mommy. Not all day long, but as a reminder that she’s still mine and important beyond belief to me.

My sister-in-laws were the first I approached about her behavior and they both said to begin the day with something that we’ve always done that she is used to and will accept as our time. My toddler can’t talk yet to tell me she’s angry at me. She can just REACT and expect attention from us.

Every morning I have been going to get my darling when she awakes and starts babbling in her crib. I greet her first and she still does all the same things typical two year olds do like kicking when I try to dress her or change her pants. But she’s also adorably sweet and kisses her stuffed animals and wonderfully inquisitive about life outside her window and loves to skim her latest favorite book to read. I get a quick kiss and hug in first thing, too. We then go downstairs to say hi to Grandma (and the babies) and then I fix her breakfast. It’s a little more work on my part and on the part of my mom to be able to break away for that amount of time in the morning with pumping, bottle cleaning and making and then feedings. But we plan for it. We work around it (and get less sleep!) because of it.

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The temper tantrums are cut in HALF. The terrible book throwing has STOPPED and the screaming fits and all of the craziness when she is about to get angry has calmed WAY DOWN. She still wants to try to smack the babies but now, when we are tandem feeding, she will sit next to me or Grandma and read books and watch TV without all of the need for negative attention. And she is role playing in the nicer way much more often now. She also wants to touch her brothers and sit with them. She wants to take a picture here and there with them and I am getting smacked, bitten and hair pulled a lot less often. This didn’t change everything but it made ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD for my daughter. I haven’t needed to punish her or use any of the tactics I read about. Crazy, right? It was all in the approach to the whole problem. Looking at the cause instead of how to deal with her reactions (the symptoms) was so important and key.

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I can’t say I blame my baby girl. Man did it take me the hard way to learn!!! And I just thought if I could share with you, maybe you would recognize it sooner than I did and incorporate something first thing in the morning that is part of their regular routine to make your toddler understand how much you still love them, are always there for them and still remain a huge part of their life even if there are other babies now. Because in the end, it is really quite wonderful to know that she just needed ME. Her mommy. ((Tears))

It’s made all the difference in the world!

XO ~ Stephanie

It’s Survival. Simply, SURVIVAL.

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My sons. My twin sons. It still doesn’t “roll off my tongue.” It seems surreal and just as every single mother of twins told me before they were born, it’s true – we are in survival mode and time is flying by. And I’m not sitting in my rocking chair, watching them quietly nurse while listening to the lullaby channel on Pandora, imagining what they will look like when they’re older and daydreaming where they’ll go to college. I’m not watching them during tummy time with my camera, carefully placing cute toys around them for a picture perfect shot. I don’t gather adorable outfits in the morning to dress and undress them just for fun because they are only tiny newborns ONCE. And I haven’t put them in their cribs to see how tiny they look in such big, masculine wood beds. I don’t get to video during their baths and basque in the wonderful baby lotion moments of cooing and smiles after bath time. Once they’re asleep, I’m not making phone calls to friends and family, doing dishes and laundry or vacuuming the family room or play area. I’m not even playing dress up with my almost two year old toddler. I’m not fixing my daughter lunches and snacks or going to the park to play. I am not showering or sewing or taking online photography courses or freelancing. I’m not fixing healthy dinners for my tired, commuting husband, taking photos of him lovingly holding our babies. I’m not working out or taking long walks with my newborns so they get fresh air like I did every single day for my daughter. Nope. I am pumping, pumping MORE and pumping again, 24 hours a day, making bottles, washing bottles, drinking water, eating anything I have a chance to eat, changing poopy blowout diapers, getting spit-up on, and I mean REALLY spit-up on, rocking a baby, passing him off to my mom, rocking another baby, swaddling, putting into a swing. Falling asleep while overnight feeding, or during Sesame Street in the morning. They cry – all the time, someone is crying. I pick one up, give him gas relief drops, feed him his bottle, change his diaper, get peed on, change his clothes, re-swaddle him, block my toddler daughter’s karate punch to my son’s tiny back, turn to catch her just-hurled baby board book that is headed for the other twin’s face. I tell her sweet, little, overly-concerned and angry face that we shouldn’t throw books or hit babies but let her know I understand how she feels and why she is reacting the way she is and tell her I love her and try to give her a much needed hug. She pulls my hair and open hand smacks my face as hard as she can. She kicks me and runs off to hug my mom instead of me. When it’s time for bed and my husband has bathed my daughter, my mom has rocked and fed a baby, I have pumped and rocked and fed a baby, my daughter goes down for the night and my husband kisses me goodnight and tells me he feels guilty to tell me goodnight when he knows I won’t sleep. It’s dark and I finish making their nighttime bottles and realize I will be up with the coyotes’ howls during the night, with my husband’s alarm clock in the morning and will hear the cries in the middle of the night from my daughter who needs her mommy but I am on the pump or stuck downstairs feeding a baby. Life with twins sure is different. I feel blessed I had my daughter as a singleton first to know what it’s really like to have a newborn. Because this truly is survival right now. And every picture I manage to snap is a reminder of a moment in time I wish I could’ve enjoyed individually with each of them a little longer but couldn’t. I am sure in the blink of an eye they’ll be graduating high school and this blur will be the pictures I have snapped. And I will be happy with that and will look at each picture happily remembering the craziness during this time in our lives.
XO ~ Stephanie

The twins, seven weeks old (gestationally, 4 weeks old), Maxton William and Carson Armin with their 22-month old big sister Mattelyn Lovae.

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