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Friday, July 17, 2009

Lazy Daze of Summer

Sorry it's been so long since an update, but I've been quite busy. I was laid off from my job last month, so we had to let the nanny go. On the positive side, I've been able to spend a lot of time with the boys. On the negative side, I've applied for over 20 jobs and not a single bite. It seems like submitting resumes is just flushing them down the toilet! I get anxious from time to time, wondering how this will all play out. I'm looking for writing/editing/communications positions, but since one of the major newspapers in our city shut down last Fall, I have a feeling the competition is fierce.

The boys are both walking, and getting into everything! I swear, I'm more tired from keeping up with them all day than if I were going to a job every day. So far they aren't talking, but this seems to be normal for boys. Twins also take longer to start talking, from what I've heard.

Tomorrow is our neighborhood garage sale, so we're getting rid of all their baby things and tons of clothes that were filling up our storage room. Then we're buying other toys at neighbors' garage sales to fill any voids we've been able to create in the house! Anything to keep their little minds occupied and challenged is a good thing. They're very smart and learning fast. For instance, they can mess up the surround sound in 10 seconds, which then takes me 10 minutes to fix. Reid has started pointing at things, like he's asking what they are. I think he's close to saying something. And then we're beginning to deal with discipline issues. They know when they do something wrong, but other than removing them from the situation, there's not much you can do. But it's great to know their development is totally normal and we have two active, healthy boys.

I'm off this evening to a happy hour to do a little networking. Apparently, networking is the only way to find a job these days. I could use the break from parenting as well.

Monday, May 11, 2009

One Year Old!

Last Sunday marked the first birthday for our boys, and we celebrated big! We had a barbeque, birthday cake, a bouncy castle, and an estimated 85 attendees at the affair. Most of the attendees were friends from our neighborhood, but also a few relatives. It was a lot of work, and by the time I had a moment to sit down, all the food and cake was gone, but well worth it.

We were worried a bit about the weather, so we set up tables in the garage for people to eat, but as it turned out, the weather was near perfect. The boys seemed a bit confused by all the people packed into the house singing “Happy Birthday” to them, but they enjoyed making messes with their cakes. We waited until after the party to open their presents, which took well over an hour. They now have plenty of summer clothes and the boys are enjoying all the new toys. I had to buy a “toy box” for them all – a nice trunk that fits in well with the living room. But they quickly learned how to open it and pull everything out.

My parents came to visit and meet the boys for the first time. I still get the feeling they aren’t so thrilled with me personally, but they enjoyed spending time with their grandsons and the visit was cordial. My aunt and uncle, who recently moved to our state, came as well. They seemed very happy for us and completely accepting, so I was glad they came. I think it also “completed the puzzle” for the family because no one ever knew that I’m gay, as my parents wanted it kept secret. So over the years, my life was just a mystery to them. They were shocked to find out that Nick and I have been together for 14 years and they’d never known.

One of the twins is walking while the other will only take a couple steps here and there. It seems so strange to have one walking around now, and funny how he staggers around. His walking skills seem to improve daily. Neither of them is talking yet, but as much as they babble, I’m sure we’re getting close. The latest development is that they’ve reversed roles – meaning one twin is more challenging (I’ll try not to say “difficult”!) than the other, but now the easy going twin has become somewhat of a bully toward the other, and the one who caused all the problems a few months ago is now easy going. I’ve heard this role reversal will go on for years from experienced twin parents.

Looking back over the past year, it was all completely worth it. I won’t sugar-coat the first six months. It was in no way easy, and probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life. We had no outside help, full time jobs, and the sleep depravation was horrible. But what an experience! Seeing them grow from newborns into the little people they are today, complete with personalities and quirks – words can’t describe it. It’s still a lot of work, but a lot more fun than in the first few months. Plus they usually sleep through the night, so we get more rest.

For the most part, I think this year went as I had expected. I suppose the love I’ve developed for the boys was unexpected only in the sense that I’ve never experienced parental love before. And then there are our different parenting styles and roles. In response to Nick’s more fatherly approach, I’ve consciously taken a more “mothering” role, being more the gentle care giver. Not that I let them run all over me, but making sure they experience a gentle touch every day – hugs, kisses, a little back rub, or time just sitting on my lap with one-on-one attention. Expenses have definitely had a big impact on our lives, which we expected, but we didn’t expect such a horrible economy that we’d have to endure pay cuts. The bulk of the expense goes to our nanny. Then there’s the diapers, formula, (now they’re on milk, which is cheaper), new clothes as they grow out of the old ones, etc. – I’ve estimated their cost to be over $3,000 per month! Once they’re in school, expenses will drop dramatically.

When people talk about taking things one day at a time, I can truly relate. Some days are just like that, with so much work. Some days are still very tiring, and I’ll admit to occasionally looking forward to 8 p.m. when they go to sleep, when I can take a half hour to an hour for myself. But one of my favorite things is their last half hour before bed when I get down on the floor with them and we watch a nursery rhyme DVD that they love. They lean on me while watching the show, their little faces light up with smiles, and they clap at their favorite parts. Then I read a book to them, which signals time for sleep. I wonder what life will bring for them – who they’ll become, what they’ll accomplish. But for now I’ll just enjoy when they want hugs, kisses, and attention, and try to keep up with their amazing pace of growing and learning!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Day in the Life...

Over the past ten months, it’s been a wild ride, from the sleepless nights with newborns and shock of having two babies to care for to falling in love with these two beautiful little boys and realizing they’re now a part of my life, a part of our family, and now being unable to imagine life without them. It’s been tiring and tough, but rewarding.

Having never been in the situation of parent or even lived in a household with one, let alone two babies, I often wondered what life would be like as parents and how I’d deal with it day to day. So I’m posting what a typical work day is like in our home – a routine I’ve become accustomed to.

Nick and I have staggered our work schedules to avoid having the nanny with the boys for 10 hours per day, so I’m up first and out the door early, but home between 3:45 and 4 p.m. Nick isn’t home until around 5:30. Although we both have to work, at least with this schedule, the boys only spend about 8 hours or a little less with the nanny. And some days, one of us comes home for lunch.

5:00 a.m.: My alarm goes off, followed by two snooze sessions. I’m not a morning person, and hate this time of day! Everyone is still asleep, other than the dog. I get out of bed, let the dog out, and then feed her. Then I’m off to the shower and to get dressed. By the time I’m ready, it’s time to walk the dog. Some mornings one of the boys will be up at this point, and if that’s the case, I take him downstairs for a diaper change and a bottle in the Pack-N-Play. He’s safe in there while I walk the dog. After the dog walk, I skim the newspaper, say goodbye to Nick and the boys if they’re awake, and head to work. Nick has about an hour at this point before the nanny arrives.

4:00 p.m.: I’m home from work, and hit the ground running. Both boys are thrilled to see me, and I have to get my hugs and kisses from them! If they weren’t up before I left in the morning, this is the first time I’ve seen them for the day. Before the nanny leaves, I head upstairs to change clothes, get clothes ready for the next day, clean out the diaper bin, and then come downstairs to make my lunch for the next day. I generally do a little cleaning after the nanny leaves. The boys love to follow me around when I Swiffer the hardwoods! They seem to think this is some game. I usually start dinner around 5 p.m. and get the boys high chairs and baby food out for their dinner. We have play time until they seem ready for dinner around 5:30 to 6 p.m. By this time, Nick is home. If I feed the boys, I usually try to eat at the same time, sitting at the kitchen island. If you try to eat while they’re not eating, you’ll soon have a twin attached to each let, begging for food, even if they just ate!

6:30 p.m.: Around this time I like to either go for a two mile walk or work out in our home gym. It’s nothing huge, but enough for mid week workouts. Either way, I don’t spend more than about 40 minutes on fitness. Then it’s either bath time for the boys (we bathe them every other night) or time to change diapers and get them into their PJs. They love baths now, and we put them in the tub together with a few toys. Although it’s getting to the point where I could wear a rain coat during bath time, as they’ve discovered the thrills of splashing water. They have so much fun that I hate to take them out.

7:30 p.m.: This is wind-down time for the boys where we play with them and then either read them a book, or some nights we watch a DVD that has bed time stories. They love this, and there are songs we sing along with. By now they’re getting tired and sometimes cranky. One of the twins falls asleep in your arms, the other needs to be given a bottle and put in the Pack-N-Play. Then they’re off to bed around 8.

8:00 p.m. This is our only real personal time – 45 minutes to an hour on weekday evenings. I’m in bed normally by 9 since I get up so early, and this quiet time of the day just seems too short!

Weekends are more flexible and enjoyable with less routine, but we’ve fallen into this weekday schedule and it works for us. I’m planning on using my vacation time this year to play “stay at home dad” and spend time with the boys and take them out to do special things. Sometimes I feel guilty for not being there all day, every day, and other times going to work feels like a break. But then I see the stay at home moms in our neighborhood and they’re just as exhausted as I am. It’s a tough job, but an exciting adventure.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

10 Months Old!

March is here, with warmer weather and longer days, allowing us to get out of the house more often. The birds are chirping and Spring’s first flowers have started to bloom. I’m no fan of winter and when combined with the horrible economic news the past few months, it’s been a season I just wanted to get past. Once the first green leaves start to pop open, I know the boys first birthday will be fast approaching. As much as I’ve tried to live in the moment and enjoy the twins in their first months, I think the first birthday is as much a milestone of survival for the parents as it is a celebration of their lives and their fist year.

The boys are very active, very mobile, and progressing toward walking. They walk along furniture, holding on for balance and looking for trouble. We’ve removed as many temptations from the main living area as possible, but you can hear the wheels turning in their little heads as they look for something new to put in their mouths or break apart. The only thing you’ll find on our coffee table or end tables is fingerprints. I finally broke down and moved two big plants to the basement until they can be placed outside in Spring after tiring of saying “NO” and pulling leaves and dirt from their mouths. The Tupperware drawer in the kitchen is a great toy box to divert their attention while preparing dinner, and it didn’t cost a dime. I’ve also learned to be fast when getting things out of the refrigerator. It takes about two seconds for either of the boys to be under your feet and pulling things out of it. And cooking just wouldn’t be fun without a boy attached to each of my legs!

Both boys have a fair number of teeth, and one of them loves to use them to bite, or chew on his crib. I think we’ll have to sand the crib down and re-stain it once he’s beyond this stage, since the cribs convert to twin beds. It was such a big deal when the first tooth came in, but now I don’t check every day. They both have top and bottom teeth in front, and seem to have figured out how to chew like a rabbit on food they like. Teddy Grahams are a great way to gain about five minutes of peace and quiet while you load the dishwasher.

The big difference in parenting now (ten months) compared to last summer is that’s it’s fun. We’re much more rested now that they both (usually) sleep through the night, and they laugh, giggle, and play with each other and with us. Last evening I got down on the floor in the middle of their toys and just played with them, let them crawl over me, and watched out for the occasional pinch or bite to my face. When I come home from work, their little faces light up and they have to get a big hug from me. Now I can see where having twins actually gets easier, because they play with each other, “talk” back and forth, and conspire to commit crimes against their daddies! Another parent rule to remember, silence equals big trouble! If everything gets quiet and you don’t see either twin, trouble’s a brewin’ somewhere. In these mysterious quiet moments, I’ve caught them doing the following: chewing on a dining room table leg, pulling all the toilet paper off the roll in the powder room, chewing on a dirty shoe, pulling the cords to the computer and very close to pulling it off the desk, about to knock over a telescope, taunting the cat, removing door stops from the wall, pulling dirt out of planters, playing in the dog’s water dish, and sticking their hands in a toilet. Just when you think the house is baby-proofed, they prove otherwise!

Two months until the big birthday, and plans have already begun. We’re hoping for nice weather and an outdoor party and maybe one of those “jumpy castle” things for the bigger kids. I have a feeling we’ll have grandparents in town for the occasion (none of the grandparents have been to visit yet) so it should be interesting.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Inauguration, Colds, and Hope

January has been a month of sickness in our house, and I’m ready to move on to February! I caught a cold a couple weeks ago, that’s still lingering a bit, and now both boys have it. The poor guys hate when we use what I call the “nose picker” (a bulb suction thing) to suck the snot out of their noses. I don’t know why it freaks them out, but it does. For me, the cold was just annoying and nothing that kept me in bed. It seems the same for them.

The weather has cooperated with an entire week of temperatures in the 60s and 70s, while the Midwest and East suffered through an Arctic cold blast. We were able to enjoy being outdoors much of the weekend with trips to the park for swinging. Winter returns tomorrow though, but nothing too intense.

As the daily news seems to bring only bad news about the economy, one bright spot for our family this week was the inauguration of President Obama. I hadn’t intended to bring politics into this blog, but I imagine most people reading this tend toward the liberal side, as do we. Whether you agree with the politics or not, I would hope most people agree that this historic day was a turning point in American history, electing a black president. As we are a bi-racial (black/white) couple with bi-racial children, it brought tears of joy to my eyes to see a man racially equivalent to my children take the highest office in our country. To think that someday I can say to my children, “See the President? He’s just like you! You can go a high as you’re able in life.” I love their brown eyes, curly dark brown hair, and mocha skin that’s half way between our own skin tones. My hope is that racism isn’t as much of an issue for them as it has been for past generations. And with the election of President Obama, there is more Hope on the horizon for all GLBT families, that someday we might get the legal recognition we need!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Happy New Year!

The holidays have come and gone and I’m ready for spring! I’m not a fan of winter at all, so I take note each day of the slowly increasing amount of daylight, hoping for warm days when I can get the boys out of the house. Luckily we get warm days here and there, so I was able to take them to the playground over the Christmas break and they enjoyed swinging in the infant swing.

I began the New Year in the emergency room with a nasty case of stomach flu. It was horrible, and I had to have an I.V. for rehydration. My main worry was that the babies’ would get it, but luckily they didn’t. But then we had to take one of the twins to the emergency room last week when he had a 101 fever. It turned out to be the “Hand/Foot/Mouth” virus, which I’d never heard of . He has blisters in his mouth that are obviously painful, but he’s doing much better now. Two nights in a row he was up every one to two hours crying, so we had a difficult weekend. He slept through the night last night, so he’s getting better. The doctor said the other twin would most likely get it too, but so far, no symptoms. We’re keeping our fingers crossed!

As the boys have become mobile, parenting has begun a new phase. In the beginning, it’s just about feeding, changing diapers, - basically, keeping them alive and healthy. Now they do things we don’t want them to, like pulling leaves off a houseplant (I looked up our plants online to make sure they weren’t poisonous), pinching the dog, harassing the cat, finding tucked away cords to pull on, turning over the dog’s water dish, messing with the remotes, etc. So far neither boy seems to understand “no”, but I’m sure they’re beginning to recognize how often they hear that word! We say “no” and take them away from the situation, trying to minimize the temptations along the way with a minimalistic landscape in the house.

It’s amazing to see how fast they’ve grown from helpless newborns into little people who watch our every move and react to us. I believe leading and teaching by example is important, so I’m already working on my own behavior at the same time. For example, anger control. I grew up in a home where my mother raised her voice and yelled at us. I’m not talking about abuse, but sort of like George Costanza’s parents on Seinfeld. Sure, the Costanzas were funny, screaming back and forth at each other over nothing important, but that’s not something I need in my home! I’m practicing a calm demeanor in challenging situations and have already noticed that a calm voice helps sooth a crying baby. All parents experience anger toward each other at times, and again, remaining calm and keeping an even tone in the face of anger will set an example. “Serenity now”, and hopefully no insanity later! Parenting is a skill, and like all skills, practice makes perfect.