31 January 2013

Two reasons

I needed one reason to leave work 10 min early today. God gave me two! Look @ these handsome men sleepin' in the kitchen while Laura is making dinner. That's the life. If their future wives wonder why they need spaghetti-scented candles at bedtime... I have an idea :-P

- dad

Seven Weeks of Handsome

My boys will be seven weeks old tomorrow! I can't believe how quickly time is flying. Max and Miles were baptized this past Sunday the 27th, and it was just beautiful. More on that later.

The boys are each about ten pounds now, even heavier than I estimated! Miles looks smaller but was a little heavier on the scale. We call him "the squeaky wheel, "as he is almost always making noise and usually has a nipple in his mouth to keep him quiet. Max is a little more subdued and patient, so I'm guessing that's why he's a little lighter.

I am nursing them about 12-18 times daily (combined) and supplementing as needed. I estimate they receive about 4-6 ounces of formula each per day. They are both sleeping with us and nursing on demand, so they usually have a couple of ounces first thing in the morning when the well is completely dry, an ounce or so while I'm fixing dinner and a few ounces just before bed to fill them a little. I'm fully aware of the supply and demand concept and while my supply will certainly support their demands, I cannot possibly explain how difficult it is nursing newborn twins. The formula isn't for growth so much as a break for Mama's very, very sore body. It is so nice to be able to give them a bottle after sitting on the couch ALL day and alternating babies and breasts. My current breastfeeding goal is 3 months, and then I hope to get to 6 months. I am sick right now and am taking sudafed, so it's important that I nurse them even more to keep my supply solid. Needless to say, increasing our breastfeeding doesn't help me get better any faster! I'm pretty tired and depleted right now, but so happy that nursing is going so well.

The boys are waking twice a night lately, which is fine. They're usually up for the morning around 5, so Andrew and I are adjusting our schedule accordingly! This time passes quickly, so we're making do. I usually have an opportunity to naptime during the day, so Andrew tries to seek refuge elsewhere at night to get a solid block of sleep while I nurse them through the wee hours, and then joins us between four and six am to help with the last of the wakings. It's working okay. On the nights where the boys fall asleep well in their cribs, Andrew and I try to fall asleep together for the first few hours. It's hit or miss, but it'll be over before we know it!

You have got to be kidding me. There was more, but my phone crashed and I lost it. I will never figure out this whole technology thing.

30 January 2013

Mondays are for lovin'.

Monday is our seventh wedding anniversary. Say Wha?! I know. I remember our wedding like it was yesterday and now we're halfway across the country with five kids and a dog.

I was just 22 and I was sure he was going to change his mind once he came to his senses. I was shaking and nervous until the minute he put that ring on my finger, terrified that he'd figure out that I really didn't deserve him. I still don't. He is so wildly amazing, and I still can't believe he can love a selfish, simple girl like me. He is the most caring and generous person I've ever met, and I am so blessed to have him at my side.

The minute he slipped that ring on my finger and said, "I do," my life fell into place. I am no longer me, but the glorious piece of a beautiful puzzle. What God has joined is so perfect and full of grace. This earthly mission Andrew and I share is touched by the hands of God in each kiss, laugh, word and deed. We have been blessed immensely,  and each passing day is such a joy with him at my side. And what a treasure to know this at such a young age and so early in our lives together.

I don't know what the next 60 years hold, and I don't know how long Andrew and I have on this earth together. I do know that in the short time we've been married, we've shared more joy together than any two people deserve. I'm certain that a lifetime with Andrew will bring more joy and blessings than this girl could ever imagine.

The day in pictures.

Put a hat on claire.
Fed her some chips.
Cleaned the bottom of a pan.
Shined my sink
Nursed a baby. Well, two.
Cuddled a toddler.
Put babies down for Phase One of our night.

Tomorrow I'm going to publish a photo essay of a grocery shopping trip. Epic.

Bath Time at the Funny Farm.

Baths. I loathe bathing children. They're slippery and screaming and then they get out and they're squirming all over and bawling because you're combing their hair...ugh. Baths.

So today we're all sick and I'm aware that everyone will need to be in bed early. Nap time was just not good, so everyone will be going to bed by 7. Once dinner is started, 7 comes so quickly that I thought I'd bathe them when Lucy got off the bus.

I have bathed all 5 of them once before. It's not difficult, really, but it's a little back-breaking, especially when you're already feeling poorly.

Here's how it went.

"Girls! Get naked! Everybody in the tub!"

:::screams of joy::: bathtub crayons! soap! nudity! all of our favorite things at once! 

I put one diapered boy on the floor of the bathroom and started the tub running. Lucy and Molly jump in, and I take Claire's diaper off. She pees on the rug, narrowly missing her brother's head. Whoopsie! Claire goes into the tub. I trek back for diapered boy number two and set him safely out of the way of the pee-puddle. I decide that Lucy and Molly are just not as dirty as I thought and they can just play. Claire has orange marker up her arms, across her right cheek and near her hairline. Claire will need to be washed.

The boys are crying and Lucy is complaining about recess. "Recess was horrible today! Owen chased me all over and called me names!" Owen. Whomever this child is, he drives me nuts by association. "So what names did he call you?" Lucy is near tears. "Baby Chicken Wing!" HAHAHAHAHAHA. I can't help myself. I put on my sympathetic face and laugh hysterically on the inside.

Interesting. While typing this I learned that "get down" also means "get up" in Claire's toddler-talk.

So Owen has gained a little admiration in my book. Baby Chicken Wing.

I take Max's diaper off and put him on Lucy's legs in the tub. It's the perfect solution. Lucy holds him down while I soap and rinse his little slippery-piglet body. Max is out of the tub in 45 seconds flat. I drop him into his crib wrapped in his towel and run back to do Miles. I leave their pacis on the floor of the bathroom, planning to throw them in the dishwasher later. Claire sees them and JUMPS out of the tub, flopping  her belly over the side peguin-style. PACIS! She grabs them, pops one in her mouth and runs out the bathroom door before I can stop her. I decide that she's probably clean enough to ignore. What's a little leftover Crayola marker in the scheme of things?

Yes, bathtime is usually more organized when Daddy is running the show. He works a tad more deftly and doesn't make the children scream when he washes their hair. I'm the dresser and hair-brusher. Today was a perfect example of the wise decision-making behind that one.

28 January 2013

The House Rules

I just posted a "house rule" on Facebook and it made me realize how unique each home is. Our "non-negotiables" are kind of funny, so I thought I'd write down the latest set of Cooke House Rules as we settle in to life alone with many tiny people.

Rule 1: Do not mess up naptime. The doors are locked, the dog is silent and everyone is down for three hours. Failure to give mommy time to recover and refresh may mean that she forgets how much you like marshmallows as a late afternoon treat.

Rule 2: Do not make the dog run in the house. If the dog runs in the house it can be likened to the huge rock ball from the Temple of Doom. You will be crushed.

Rule 3: Don't let mommy catch you. Go ahead, rub soap all over the bathroom counter. Shove your Cheerios into your seatbelt buckle. I love it when you have fun and I really want to remain ignorant of who's to blame.

Rule 4: Anything can be cleaned or replaced.

Rule 5: Failure to use Victorian manners in public will result in immediate Mommy-eyebrow-raising. I don't really care if you're naked and screaming at home, but please represent my good name wisely!

Rule 6: shoes go in the shoe closet. If I have to look for your shoes, you may end up sitting in a shopping cart barefoot while the rest of your siblings pluck things off the shelves and howl, "mommy can we buyyyyyyyyy thiiiiiis!?!?!" Would you really want to miss out on that action?

Rule 7: Daddy reviews homework, papers and mail every night and is aware of EVERYTHING.

Rule 8: You must wear underwear. Minimum. We prefer more clothing, but underwear is the biggie. And if you try to make unreasonable demands while you're naked, the clothed person/parent/sibling will always win.

Rule 9: Failure to clear the table after meals will result in Mommy's inability to prepare the next meal.

Rule 10: There is nothing you can do to escape us. We will always be one step ahead of you, and we will track you down and do whatever it takes to show you how much you are loved. Nothing you can do is outside our love for you,  and nothing you can say will result in anything but more love. So if you're looking to run away or escape our evil clutches, it's hopeless. Mommy and Daddy are always there. <3

22 January 2013

Twin Love

There are a lot of reasons that having newborn twins is one of the most difficult things I've ever done. But this sweet sight makes it all completely perfect.

A 40-minute span.

One 20-minute tantrum, two nursing babies, one "I swear I'm going to kill that dog," two "I need breakfast" breakdown, one tantrum from Molly and five dressed kids. Success.
Here's a pic of the aftermath.

No excuses now!

Y'all know I'm organized, but chopping veggies and cooking dinner while nursing two newborns and dealing with three more under 6 isn't easy.
So, I thought and thought about the best way to handed cooking fresh dinners every night, and this was way I came up with. Menu-planning on Fridays, grocery shopping on Saturdays and fully prepping everything on Sundays. I now have five meals pretty much made, with the exception of actually putting it together. I should be able to do the rest one-handed and in minutes flat! I'll keep you posted.

20 January 2013

5 kids at 5 weeks!

Anna Lucille, 5 weeks. 

Molly Rose, 5 weeks.

Claire Faustina, 5 weeks.

Max Aquinas, 5 weeks. 

Miles Andrew, 5 weeks.

18 January 2013

Don't Get Me Wrong

This is about Laura and being busy. Most of the sentences start with "I." You've been warned.

I'm not complaining. This is mostly an observation. I'm not really a "time to myself" person. I'm more of a ten minutes to myself" person.

I prefer to be in the company of my children. They are my life's work. I enjoy (almost) every moment. It's time that flies by far too quickly, so we try to cherish it. I think part of the reason the big family comments irk me is because I truly enjoy what I'm doing. I'm not stopping my life to raise children. Raising children is GIVING life. Telling me I've had too many children is sort of like saying, "Listen Shakespeare, don't you think you've written enough great works? You're done after this one, right?" Each person we bring to this Earth takes time, effort, physical toil, spiritual work and much dedication. Don't tell me that it's not worth it. It's a labor of love, and I think that I'm finally starting to understand that phrase.

But with one month of twin-time under my belt, I have yet to meet someone in my exact situation, and yet I find many people who want to offer unsolicited advice. I don't really mind, because no two families are alike. For me as the mom of this family, I am not completely shocked to find that I have less than 10 minutes a day to myself. I am putting off twelve different "should be doing"s right now because I know that I will want this time recorded years down the road. (Are you happy now, Laura?)

Here is a typical morning thirty-minute span for us right now. Let's say it's 7am. That 30-minute span is usually pretty constant right now.

7a: Lucy is eating breakfast, cereal that she poured herself with our new cereal system. Everybody is on their own for breakfast and we've made it so that Lucy can pour her cereal and milk and then do Molly's and Claire's if we need her to. Let me just bullet from here.

  • Baby is crying. Get baby out of crib, change diaper and usually change into outfit #1 for the day. Stick paci in or hand off to Daddy who is 15 minutes from leaving for school drop-off and work. 
  • Claire is up. Grab Claire, cup, blankie and paci from crib and deposit on couch. New milk, new diaper, maybe some dry cereal, Disney Junior.
  • Pacify baby
  • Lucy's hair needs to be done. Delegate to Daddy because Baby #2 is crying. Pacify Baby #1 on the way. Daddy does hair and packs his own lunch. Rocks Baby #1 for a minute and then gets his stuff together.
  • Pick up Baby #2 - change, pacifier. Pacify Baby #1
  • Molly is done with breakfast, send her to couch with Claire.
  • Pacify both babies. 
  • Finish getting Lucy's stuff together. Yell, "shoes! coat!" several times. 
  • Pacify babies.
  • Daddy and Lucy out the door, Stone into the backyard. Pacify both babies and put an English muffin in toaster. Chug a glad of milk and fill water cup. Grab both babies (stacked on top of one another) and land on couch to tandem nurse. Push Claire off lap repeatedly while she attempts to steal pacis. 
  • Nurse babies, and change/diaper babies again. Make breakfast for Claire, put Claire in her highchair, rock babies while I'm running back and forth. Molly is ready for her second breakfast. 
  • Find English muffin. Put it in microwave. Pacify babies and hope they fall asleep.
That's pretty standard. Lots and lots and lots of back and forth tasks. I should be wearing a pedometer. Pick one baby up, put the other baby down, switch. It's just standard newborn stuff, but doubled and piled on top of three other young children.

What's getting me, though, is the fact that I have absolutely no time to do anything but take care of the kids and the house. I don't think I'm really falling short, as they're my number one responsibility, but I have zero time for texting, Facebooking, emailing or chatting. So I've essentially lost most of my contact with the outside world. I really don't mind at all, but I'm getting a lot of emails and texts and phone calls wondering what's wrong. Nothing is WRONG. I'm treading water, people! You can't swim and type an email at the same time! I'm having fun doing what I'm doing, definitely, but I have to stay pretty focused right now. I think that my friends and family assume that silence on my end means something is wrong, but it really just means that my time is like precious gold right now. I am literally doing something every minute of the day lately. My hands are actually very, very full! I am trying to spend about 5 minutes each night answering emails, but sometimes I fall asleep doing that. (The babies seem to be getting into a routine of sorts, but I'm still in recovery somewhat, so I can fall asleep almost anywhere these days!) 

So, if you've attempted to contact me and I haven't responded yet, I will. Someday. Please don't be mad at me. My vocation has to come first and right now I'm pretty much cloistered. Another few months and things will be a little bit better. Until then, we're sort of on our own in Texas, trying to manage a tribe. We gladly accept playdates and lunch dates and would love to have ANYONE over to play and visit, but try to go easy on us when it comes to meeting up for early morning dates. It takes us quite awhile to get out of the house and I'm in that phase where I have to nurse two babies before they go into their seats. You can imagine what a 20-month-old and a 3-year-old can do AFTER you've dressed them and BEFORE you've strapped them into their carseats, so much of our preparation for getting out of the house means doing things twice. And with two diaper bags and two infant carriers to get into the car, it usually takes me about 45 minutes to get everyone assembled IF we've made plans ahead of time. That might not seem like a lot, but that's up quite a bit from our 20 minutes out the door on a good day. 

So yeah, it's usually just easier to stay home. It's a bit of a sacrifice for a very social person like myself, but even I can appreciate that sometimes it just doesn't make sense to do so much work for so little reward! I think that most of this stems from the fact that getting newborns into carseats is my own personal version of Hell. 

And now I've just talked about myself and my own little situation for far too long, and somewhere in this house is a baby who needs something. 

14 January 2013

First shift

I am sitting in the dark nursing Max, listening to Miles waking up for his turn. For two "likely fraternal" children they seem to be eerily in sync when it comes to bellying up to the boob.

Otherwise, the house is silent. My sweetie is snoozing next to me, the dog is dozing in the closet and three sweet little girls are happily asleep in their bedroom.

Having all of them in one room is so fun. It's a little crowded, but it always reminds me of how special each sweet life is. I can't imagine how empty that room would feel if one of them wasn't there, and yet in today's world bedrooms are built for one. How empty we are as a society when we deny life, and most of us have no idea what's missing. We never planned on Max and Miles, but Max's lazy soft eyes and Miles' cute little nose are just what this family needed. I could just stare at them all day long, my sweet little boys. I know now why Andrew is so deeply in love with his girls. Looking down at my boys and seeing their daddy's expressions is just so neat. I love sending Andrew to work and knowing that I have all day to see his face in my boys. I always thought I wanted a large family. I just didn't know that having one would make me feel like I'd won the lottery.

Yeah, I have my hands full. But what the big family haters don't know is that at the end of the day, I'm completely drunk on cuteness, kisses, cuddles, laughter and joy. You've gotta drink more than a couple to get drunk, right??

12 January 2013

When the bears go on parade...

So Lucy has a Bear Parade at her school next week. Every morning when I drop her off I tell her "to be the best" (that's how we roll). I came home the other day and she said, "Dad, I need a wagon for the bear parade and it needs to be the best, just like you always tell me. So mommy says you better 'Get on it'."

1. Mommy....... thanks!
2. Lucy..... you are so stinking cute.
3. Concept. School mascot are the eagles. Pontiac died in 2012...


Inverted KIX cereal box (sorry Tim, no windows to tint on this one),
Glue - check,
Scissors - check,
Designs (Pontiac bird, 3d flames, school logo (sides)) - check,
Markers - check,
uhhh... old school toy pull phone thing that can be sabotaged for wheels - check.
Download Ferrari Font for Lu's name on chrome tailplate... check.

Go ahead elem school dads... try to beat our school-mascot-oriented-tribute-to-Pontiac.

End of blog post.
Dad out. :-)
GO RAVENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

10 January 2013

Mea Culpa

Hi friends. I don't know if there are enough apologies to go around for the fact that I haven't blogged in a month.

A month.

It seems worse than it is. I'm sure you're more aware of this little blip than I am. I will just say this. Unless you've had newborn nursing twins, I probably just seem busy to you. Unless you've have newborn nursing twins plus a puppy, a 19-month-old, a 3-year-old and a 5-year old all at once, it probably just seems like I'm making excuses. I solemnly swear that the life we knew with three kids and a dog was nothing but a hammock and palm trees compared to what we're doing these days!

Now don't get me wrong. We have had a blissfully fun and happy month, and I can't count more than three negative moments. I am NOT complaining. I love being busy! I'm really not tired, the boys are nursing GREAT, they're super cute and the girls are awesome. But I haven't had more than a second to do a thing, and I have to use my one second a day to go potty. If one newborn keeps you busy, two newborns plus Claire is absolutely chaotic.

We are still blessed with the help of our wonderful family, praise Jesus! And let me just say that our wonderful family is ALSO overwhelmed and exhausted. ;-) I think Auntie Kasie will probably have to sleep off this trip until June. That girl is a diaper-changing, bottle-holding, Claire-wrangling, toddlee-bathing, twin-burping, laundry-folding, gauze-rolling, spit-wiping machine! I have no idea how we'd be managing without the women who are helping up around the clock. Between Grandma, Kasie and Mimi, I think we'll survive! I just can't believe how BUSY we are. It's seriously a "putting out fires" situation 24 hours a day right now! I think it's terribly fun, but if you're wondering why I haven't blogged, it's because we haven't had a chance to even open the stinking laptop in four weeks! I'm going to post a few pics now to keep you all quiet.

08 January 2013

Bad "X", Great Aunt!

This is aunt kasie's bad after-bath attempt at a Sharpie "x" which is how we've been identifying Max for the last week!

It may be a bad "x" but she got it one the right baby! :-p