Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cryptic Conversations

We have officially crossed over into brand new territory. Or maybe we’ve been here a while and I’m just accepting it as reality. I’m pretty sure this just happened overnight. Jake and Lilly understand everything…. I mean everything! It’s a bit deceiving since their vocabulary is still in the developing stages, but nothing gets by these two and that really sends me into a panic! You can only use the phrase "you know what," so many times in a single sentence. We already spell half our conversations, and now they are totally on to us. Among the most common words that cannot be uttered any longer and must be spelled are these:







K.I.R.B.Y. (the neighbors’ pug AKA Jake and Lilly’s best friend)


I feel like dressing in black and playing the part of a secret ninja in my own home, it’s that bad! Besides spelling most words, I have considered hiding in the closet while talking on the phone. Why is it that disaster strikes the minute I say hello? Maybe I should spell hello. H.E.L.L.O. Add it to the list. What can it hurt? Cody and I have tried whispering, signing to each other, and speaking with our eyes (which is way harder than it seems). I think I might learn a second language.

Friday, January 27, 2012

An Old Habit Takes a Twist

Jake LOVES, LOVES, LOVES to play with the box of wipes we keep downstairs. It used to be that he would just sit and marvel at this fascinating cause and effect relationship: Push the button, flap flies open, close the flap, push the button, flap flies open, close the flap, push the button, flap flies open, close the flap,...for, like literally, forty five minutes. Well, about a month ago, he discovered it was way more entertaining to rip the wipes out of the box, one by one. I've caught him in the act a least a dozen times. Every time it happens, I get so mad at myself for leaving them where he can reach them.

This week, Lilly has been fighting a cold. I guess Jake's been paying attention to me chasing her around the house, holding a tissue up to her nose, and telling her to "blow," because he blew his nose on about fifty wipes this morning. He'd take one out, hold it to his nose, politely blow his nose, then toss it on top of the heaping pile of wet (and now possibly snotty) wipes. The funniest part about the whole thing? When he saw me coming, he quickly started to stuff all the used wipes back into the box, as if he could hide the evidence!

Maybe he's telling me it's his turn to be "the sick one."

A Special Visit

Yesterday Cody’s grandparents, MeMe and PePaw, stopped by for a visit with Jake and Lilly. The last time they saw these two was when they were teeny, tiny newborns and I was trying to survive on a couple hours of sleep each night. (Cody and I refer to those first couple of months as the “Dark Days!”) I took these pictures while they were here, and am just so thrilled that my kids have met six of their great-grandparents. That really is amazing! The beauty of it hit me today as I watched four generations of Sobieski’s tickling toes and giving high fives.

PePaw and Pop with Jake and Lilly
PePaw and Jake
Grammy and MeMe with Jake and Lilly

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Barefoot Traveler

I really don’t know why I bother. We left this morning with a shoe of some sort on each of my kids’ feet. On time. With no major incidents. This is rare, I tell you! Lilly had a hot pink bow neatly clipped into her unruly hair, which I swear we also combed. We were not in the car for three minutes, barely pulling out of the subdivision, when she started wriggling in her car seat, fidgeting and fiddling with anything she could get a good grasp on and yank. She started with her hair. That pretty pink bow? History. She looked like Cindy Lou Who with her hair sticking straight up in an unattractive clump on top of her head. Then she moved quickly on to her boots. In record time she stripped them both. I guess she was oblivious to the fact that it was 50 degrees outside, because next she plucked off each of her socks and tossed them on the ground in front of her. One sock caught some air and landed in the front passenger seat. So, forget the fact that we were on time. When we got to our destination, I had to redress my daughter’s feet and try desperately to tame her hair so people wouldn’t think she just rolled out of bed with crazy hair. I really think I’m going to skip socks, shoes, and bows altogether. So if I show up somewhere with a barefoot girl sporting a wild mane, don’t judge me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Book Basket

I have this basket of books next to my side of the bed that is always overflowing with books. The books inside fall into one of three categories: Books I am in the middle of reading, books I have just finished reading and can’t wait to share with a friend, or books I intend to begin soon. My greatest challenge this week has been keeping Lilly out of Momma’s book basket. Yesterday she was flipping through John Grisham’s latest. I guess I can’t blame her curiosity. She and Jake have a similar basket of books in their playroom, except I had to recently eliminate anything that was not a board book since they love to destroy books as much as they love to sit and look at them! Although they cannot rip the pages of these types of books as easily, they have found that the thick layers of cardboard make great teething accessories. I give up!

Anyway, there is something about books. I love the smell so much that I have been known to open one up and stick my nose right in the middle and inhale. Love it! Not sure why, but I do. The only thing that tops it is the scent of freshly cut grass and gasoline. It reminds me of riding on the mower with my dad when I was little. I can’t get enough of it. Weird, I know. Anyhow, my relationship with books is something of an obsession. To me there is nothing better than a friend passing along a book to me with a note that says, “I thought of you while reading this,” or “I knew you’d love this one.” I realize that I could clear out an entire closet and roughly four bookshelves if I quit buying books and bought a Kindle. I’m not there yet. I don’t think an electronic copy would give me the same satisfaction that turning actual pages of a book does. My kids love books, too. Sometimes they love to munch on them, but they do enjoy turning the pages and looking at the pictures as well. As I sit here at the kitchen table typing this, Lilly is next to me with her new favorite, Owl Howl. (A much more age-appropriate choice than the John Grisham one she perused yesterday.)

This was one of the books we bought her and Jake for their first birthday. They got books for their first Christmas, too. And pretty much every time Momma gets a book, they get one too. So, I really, really love books!

This week a brand new box of books arrived at my doorstep. I know this is nerdy, but nothing excites me more than a box of books from Books-a-million, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon. I started shopping for books online when I discovered that Jake and Lilly absolutely despise going into the bookstore. I really have no idea why, but it’s the one place I go that generally results in simultaneous meltdowns. Maybe it’s because I love to read every word on the back of any given book before deciding to add it to my beloved book basket, or maybe the fact that our bookstore adventures never involve purchasing just one book, or it could be that half the time I walk into a bookstore, I do not have a particular title in mind. I want to be inspired to pick up my next book. I want to be lured in by the cover. I love to be told that I will not be able to put it down. Whatever the reason may be, I have found that the three of us are much happier people if Momma shops for books online. So I do…faithfully.

I do not have an online bookstore preference; I just find the cheapest price that I can combine with a coupon and free shipping. The process of determining which retailer I purchase from is an extensive one, I gotta tell you. My latest purchase, though, was a no brainer since I used gift card money I received from my in-laws for Christmas. This morning I am in the process of swapping out the books in my basket for the new ones I just acquired. As I was emptying out my basket this morning and moving all my old reads to my closet upstairs, I realized that my book basket has evolved over the past few years as much as I have.

My “book basket books” from a couple years ago consisted of titles such as these:

Twins 101 by Khanh-Van Le-Bucklin, M.D.

Books 1 & 2 from Ezzo and Bucknam’s BabyWise series

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, M.D.

What To Expect When You’re Expecting and What To Expect the First Year by Heidi Murkoff

Double Duty by Christina Tinglof

Twins by Agnew, Klein, and Ganon

Your Newborn From Head to Toe by Cara Natterson, M.D.

And my top three “twins” books that got me through the first year would have to be the following, mostly because they were not written by doctors or people with fancy degrees. They were written by moms who understand what it’s like to be “in the trenches,” so to speak:

Mothering Multiples by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada, which I recommend to anyone who wishes to experience the whole “tandem nursing” thing. It is possible!

Juggling Twins by Meghan Regan-Loomis, which I still refer to every now and then when I need some direction or a good laugh. Just the other night I read the chapters titled, “Dining at Animal House,” and “Herd Mentality,”… good stuff, I tell you!

Twinspiration by Cherl Lage, a treasure that is filled with invaluable information from “Two Buns in the Oven” to “Air Travel with Twinfants.”

I realize that the above list of books I read before my kids were born makes me seem only a little neurotic, but let me remind you that I spent the entire summer of 2010 in a horizontal position, determined to carry the two tiny beings inside me to term. (If you need a visual of this, check out this picture of me the day before Jake and Lilly arrived.) I didn’t get out much. I quit driving in June when I could not physically fit in my car. In order for me to sit in the driver’s seat without crushing my enormous belly, I had to move the seat back so far that my short little legs could no longer reach the pedals. I had similar trouble sitting at booths. After an embarrassing experience at Outback, I decided that was out too. So I read. And read. And read. And guess what?! Some of it prepared me, but most of it did not. I don’t think any amount of knowledge can ever prepare a person for no sleep and the drastic turn your life takes when two babies enter it… at the same time.

Back to my basket. Last year consisted of just a few since my leisure reading time had drastically decreased. My favorites were:

Safely Home by Randy Alcorn, my first book to read after having Jake and Lilly. It took me about four months to read, but it was such a good story.

Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo, a must read for everyone!

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen

Look Again and Think Twice, both by Lisa Scottoline

John Grisham's The Associate

Mommy Paints the Sky by Danny Oertili, a tender story of love and family

This year has just begun and already I’m adding a few more to my basket. I’m so stinking excited, I can’t stand it! Thank God for consistent naps, which we have finally whittled down to one long rest each day. Early bedtimes for Jake and Lilly and a full eight hours of sleep each night for me make all the difference in the world. It makes trading in a few hours of sleep worth a good read!

Here are the books I’m taking out of my basket this morning and passing along:

John Grisham’s The Confession, one I thoroughly enjoyed.

A wonderful devotional for moms called Out of the Spin Cycle by Jen Hatmaker

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, a heart breaking tale that forces you to feel the horrific tragedy of the Holocaust.

Divine by Karen Kingsbury, a story of redemption and hope

Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker, a book that changed my whole way of thinking. Do not read this book if you do not wanted to be messed with. You will not be the same after reading it. I am so glad that I did.

And these I can’t wait to begin:

Halfway to Forever by Karen Kingsbury

Looking For Alaska by John Green, the first of his books that someone recommended I start with.

Mommy! I Have To Go Potty by Jan Faull, M.D., just because it’s on the horizon!

Ezzo and Bucknam’s ToddlerWise

Upcycling by Danny Seo, an awesome DIY book that gives you step by step instructions on how to “create beautiful things with the stuff you already have.”

Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis, a young mom of only twenty-two who lives in Uganda with her thirteen adopted girls. This one’s going to be good, I can feel it!

Beth Moore’s Mercy Triumphs: A Study of the Book of James, the bible study our Women’s Ministry is offering this semester.

7, An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker, which I just started two nights ago and am completely hooked.

These will keep me occupied until the next one arrives... Jodi Picoult's newest novel, Lone Wolf, which I pre-ordered and can't wait until it ships on February 28.

I leave you with a few “bookworm” quotes, just because I can’t resist. These are from one of my favorite websites: www.quotegarden.com. I use this site every time I sit down to work on my kids’ scrapbooks.

A good book on your shelf is a friend that turns its back on you and remains a friend. ~Author Unknown

The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it. ~James Bryce

If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it. ~Toni Morrison

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

I know every book of mine by its smell, and I have but to put my nose between the pages to be reminded of all sorts of things. ~George Robert Gissing (I can completely relate! This guy sounds like he’d be my friend!)

The smallest bookstore still contains more ideas of worth than have been presented in the entire history of television. ~Andrew Ross

Books had instant replay long before televised sports. ~Bern Williams (This one’s for my husband!)

Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house. ~Henry Ward Beecher (So true!)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Just a Phase

I have discovered that when you have twins, people are fascinated with how they measure up to each other. Which one was born first? Which one is taller? Who weighs more? Who is more talkative? Which one walked first? Who is the leader? (This one is always hard for me, because it really depends on the circumstance. My dear husband’s answer to this question has always been, “Oh that’s easy…. It changes about every three months!”) Evidently, people love to compare them. Our families do an awesome job of treating each as an individual, instead of referring to them as just “the twins.” They understand that they are two very different people, and they treat them as such. It never ceases to amaze me, though, how people that I’ve never met in my life are completely fascinated by two siblings who happen to share the same birthday. When Jake and Lilly were eight months old, a sweet lady in Costco walked up to us and asked my husband, “So which one is the more pragmatic of the two?” Seriously?!?! Pragmatic? Cody admitted to me that he was unclear of what she meant, but instead of looking like he had no clue what she was talking about, he just paused a couple seconds like he was really mulling it over in his mind, then matter-of-factly replied, “I’d have to say that Jake is more pragmatic.” This friendly stranger responded, “That’s just as I suspected.” Alrighty!!

As much as Cody and I try to honor each child’s individuality, it is inevitable that Jake and Lilly will continue through life being compared to one another. By us and by others. It’s difficult not to compare their physical developments when they have their annual well visits at the doctor’s office together. It’s hard not to compare their personalities when they are complete opposites in this category. I realize that some of their differences can be attributed to the boy/girl thing, but I’d have to say that they are a true peanut butter and jelly pair… different in every way, but perfect together. Thank goodness, too. I’d be in huge trouble if they were exactly alike in every aspect. Usually, (and I tip-toe carefully here,) I am only confronted with one cranky child or one temper-tantrum on the cracker aisle in the grocery store. It’s not that one child is always challenging and the other one is never challenging. It's just that they have perfected the act of taking turns. It’s as if they have this understanding that they better alternate being the “demanding child.” Sometimes, I can see their unspoken agreement in their sweet, innocent eyes, and I swear I hear them saying to each other, “Take it easy on her. Mom’s about to lose it. You have your melt down now, and I’ll save mine for later.” It’s really a case of tag-teaming at its finest.

This goes for just about any stage, illness, bad habit, or unpleasant mood. When Jake’s teeth were coming in and he had trouble sleeping, Lilly slept fine. When Jake’s teeth finally came in and he started sleeping better, Lilly started getting her teeth, and quit sleeping altogether. Right when one gets over a cold, the other starts showing symptoms. Then there are those phases that only affect one child, thank the Lord. Like Jake’s “picky eater syndrome.” (No, that’s not a real condition, but it should be for as much stress as it has created in our house.) Or Lilly’s occasional decision to skip her nap because she’s determined that it’s not necessary for her well being.

Our most recent phase that I cannot wait to outgrow is that of hitting. Before their first birthday, Lilly was known as the “aggressive one,” and Jake earned the title “laid back one.” If Lilly wanted the toy that Jake was playing with, she’d crawl over to where he was, and just pluck it right out of his hands. His usual response to this act of theft was to crawl over to another toy and happily resume his playtime. Eighteen months has brought on an entirely new way of thinking. As Jake and Lilly both go through their day trying to stake their claim on any given toy, hitting now occurs. Jake is the sole culprit, at least he was until a couple days ago. I have read every parenting article available on this topic, desperate to arm myself with the knowledge and skills to teach my sweet little boy that it is never OK to whack his sister in the back of the head causing her to fall down in a sobbing puddle on the ground. I won’t even get into what he does to her hair! Let me just say that I’m quite certain that the hair on the top of her head grows at least an inch daily thanks to his ruthless tugs.

This week, Little Miss Lilly decided she has had enough of her brother’s hitting, pushing, and tugging. She has officially made the first move in reclaiming her title. I have been waiting for the last couple of months to see if she will retaliate after her brother smacks her, but up until this week she has remained passive. Who knows what clicked inside her head the other morning, but she hit him right in the head! Both of them were listening to their music and shaking their instruments along with the beat. Right in the middle of “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart….” She hauled off and beat him… with a drum stick! I have to admit that for about two seconds all I felt was pride that my little girl was standing up for herself. But then the reality of this new predicament came crashing down, ruining my little moment. Now, I am in search of some parenting plan that will help me tackle two toddlers knee deep in the “hitting phase,” God help me.

I can hear my sweet mother-in-law saying to me, “This, too, shall pass.” She has encouraged me with this statement for years. As we have entered into toddlerhood, I have come to realize and reluctantly accept that these phases… the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly… are exactly that: phases. And these phases, too, shall pass.