Friday, October 21, 2016

the twins are 18 months old!! wait, WHAT?!

I still cannot believe my babies are 18 months old! The last six months have really flown by faster than the first year did!

This age, though, and the interactions and relationships they have with each member of our family... I just LOVE this age so much. Yes it is trying when Lan steals my phone and locks me out for an hour, or when Lo arches his back and throws a fit when I take him out of the tub or take both the boys away from the tangled cords below the TV, but playing with them and seeing them run around the yard or on the trampoline or wrestling around the house is just SO MUCH FUN!

Both boys are sleeping soundly through the night, from about 8pm-7am with a white noise machine, which is mostly so that we don't have to be deathly silent when they are sleeping (hallelujah...but daylight savings is coming up soon so that could get really bad really fast if we aren't lucky) and napping from about 12:30-2:30pm. They love wrestling with each other, running around with their big siblings, eating fruit and anything defined as a treat, and pushing things around (at the moment, strollers, construction vehicles and a fire truck we have in the house) as well as jumping on the trampoline. Both boys communicate extremely well with a combination of signing, words, and gestures/pointing. Even though I forget most meals, both boys are getting really good at showing they are ready for prayers before meals by folding their arms or putting their heads on the table. We weaned from the binkies last week and it has gone so much better than it did with their big sister (thankfully!). They officially start in nursery next week but have been twice... the first time they did amazing and the second time they couldn't stop screaming at dropoff. Both boys have managed to fall asleep at nursery (because it is from 11-1, so prime naptime, poor things!) but I am sure they will adjust. Favorite people include little d's best friends E&T, and the twin girls across the street. They love seeing D off to school (screaming out the window and waving at him) and equally love picking him up. They do well at the gym daycare and can even watch me leave without getting upset (phew!). Neither has learned to get out of the crib yet, and it is crazy to think that when we move to Utah next summer, the cribs won't come with us, since we plan on getting the boys bunk beds.Both boys like to play with baby dolls but only Lan shows an interest in other babies or toddlers. Lo loves the big kids (because he thinks he is one!). I am able to walk all 3 kids into the gym just by holding hands which is incredible to me (and a nice break from the last 18 months of always carrying someone or two!)

Typical day at this point:
*7am (ish) I hear the boys wake up, so I get up and get dressed for the day. When it escalates to fighting or crying instead of playing I go get them and we head to the playroom to get diapers changed and get dressed for the day, which at this point is just onesies for breakfast, then afterwards to get fully dressed in pants and shoes.
*8am breakfast--either waffles with PB and syrup, pancakes, cereal, yogurt with granola, or eggs.
*8:40--we see little d off to school then finish getting ready for the gym
*9:30-- we are at the gym, if I am lucky I get a quick shower there as well
*11-- we head home, play till it is lunchtime (usually sandwiches or chicken nuggets or quesadillas)
*12:30--the babies go up to the playroom,  we play till they poop if they didnt in the morning, and then they go down for naps
*1:30--little a goes down for a nap (we usually read or do preschool or hangout and play till then)
*2--babies wake up, play in playroom till
*3:15--we wake up little a, pickup big brother or wait for him to come home and have snack
*4--play outside (if we are lucky and the weather is nice) till dinnertime
*6--dinnertime, then back outside till
*7--baths and bedtime (by 7:30ish for the babies), big kids follow about an hour later
*9--I am still cleaning up after the day is over, wondering what I did with my day ;) Then I veg out on books or movies or do grown up stuff like bills or otherwise waste time like I used to do all day before I had kids...some nights I really miss those days!
*aaaaand I usually make it to bed by midnight (I am working on getting to bed earlier! I did manage to get to bed last night by 10 and got NINE hours of sleep!! unheard of!)

Now about the boys: Lan is still about a pound heavier than Lo, Lo is about an inch taller than Lan. Both boys are small but continue to grow! They are into EVERYTHING and anything so we have to keep all the doors (upstairs, to the laundry room and bathrooms, etc) closed and everything out of reach of them. They climb everything, have no fear and are an enormous source of joy in our family. They love to chase and be chased, get into trouble (and they know it!) and be a part of everything, from playing with the big kids to reading to coloring and everything inbetween. It is so much fun to drive around with them, since I roll down the windows when there are construction vehicles or police cars or firetrucks or buses  and they just love it! They also currently recognize pumpkins, skeletons, scarecrows and other assorted halloween decor which they love to point at and make exclamations. They still tolerate the stroller (thank goodness) even though I haven't been able to run too often but we still go on walks just about every day. Hollering out their amazement and waving wildly. That slide in our playroom gets used SO much, and they still love slides on the playground when we make it out to one. We got them to play in the sand for the first time this last week, and they are still not interested in watching TV, but they do love music videos, like GoNoodle and KooKooKangaroo. It is hard to imagine how life was before they were here! They are busy, we are busy, life with two 18 month olds is busy but really great!

Lan (panda): Always greets me in the morning with a HUGE smile. He is ALWAYS happy (unless he is hurt, but then he comes up to me, holding whatever got injured and requests a kiss and is almost always immediately better!!). He is very touchy feely, always going for hugs and kisses, especially when he sees me after I've been gone. He likes animals but cats seem to be his favorite to make those sounds and he gravitates towards those stuffed animal cats we have around the house. Lan cries whenever something gets taken away from him or he is upset. He sits in our only booster seat for meals at the dinnertable. Enjoys eating crayons. Loves to shove his hand down my cleavage (for no apparent reason) because it makes him laugh. He is willing to try literally any sort of food, which is showed me this week by attempting to eat some of my lettuce from a salad. He doesn't always like it but he is adventurous with food. He is finally walking really well (and running!) without falling over all the time, which is a marked improvement from the last few months. He still beelines for the street every chance he gets. He is the easiest kid in the world to get to laugh and he is ticklish everywhere! He has gotten into a nasty habit of tearing up books which is a pain.

Littlest Lo: saves all his hugs and kisses for his furry friends (so Kevin, Berkeley, and Hazel). He has an enormous love of all things animals and still learns signs and animal noises very quickly. He LOVES birds and even has a stuffed bird my grandma got him last month that he sleeps with every night. He has been snuggling me and letting me hold him more often than he has his whole life in just the last few months, it is as if he knows that he's the baby of the family, and I would be lying if I said I didn't love it. He never goes to strangers and rarely goes to people other than the immediate family. He does NOT liked to be picked up (which the poor YW in my church are starting to realize), but instead will say "HAAAA-AN!" for your hand so he can walk with you hand in hand. Frozen characters are his favorite as well as Iron Man and a handful of superheroes. He likes to talk on the phone, play on laptops and pretend to take pictures with anything resembling a camera or phone. Lo shrieks whenever something gets taken away from him or he is upset. He has to stand (And stands well, on a chair at the table, without falling, knock on wood) when he is eating. Likes to chew on marker tips. Lo is officially the scavenger of all things fruit... leave your plate alone for five seconds and he will find it and all your fruit...gone! He is hard to make laugh but he is ticklish on his neck and back. Lo still loves to read books, with or without someone and has favorites like the ones with dinosaurs or dogs. He holds the record for locking me out of my iphone for 55 minutes the other day.

Good, Better, Best.

This post is a long time coming...a month of collecting my thoughts. But the Clif Notes version is this: Drew got a new (no travel! Office job!) position in his current company, and we will be moving to Utah after little d finishes school in the spring (2017).
(September 26, 2016)
This weekend was the first of what I am sure will be a string of difficult decision making for us in the upcoming weeks? months??

Let me back up a bit. When Drew and I quit our jobs and moved out of Utah to Ohio in 2011, to live with my parents (with our 13 month old), with no job prospects, only knowing that we needed to move closer to was a HUGE leap of faith. Terrifying but we prayed about it and just knew in our hearts we would find something. I got a job at the local gym childcare within a month, lost it around a month later (the first job I have ever been fired for! long story, and I was sort of super upset about it at the time but looking back it was just a huge silly misunderstanding that could have happened to anyone*), around the time that Drew got a job with Nationwide.

The pay wasn't great, it was entry-level, but it was something. We were thrilled he got a job and for a month of training we couldn't believe how lucky we were that he finally got a job. While he was still training for that job, he got a phone interview, then flew out to California for an in-person interview with Dealersocket. He gave Nationwide his 2 weeks notice, and they graciously allowed him to just not come in again since he was still training, and Christmas 2011 we spent celebrating time as a family of 3 at my parent's house, and the bright future we felt Dealersocket was going to afford us.

Those first 3 months were hard! Drew was traveling every week monday through friday, something we were told to expect, but still hard. Thankfully, since I was training for the Boston Marathon and trying to keep up with my 18 month old little d, I kept very busy. And as difficult as it was to have a traveling husband, I was (and am!) thrilled for Drew to have a job with a really good company and to be paid enough so that we could live and support a family of (now) 6 as long as we have. But the traveling "has it's toll" as I hear Drew say over and over again. And especially as our kids get older, we both want Drew to be home more often.

Back to the present. This past weekend, after what seems like an endless stream of applications and interviews (phone and in-person), Drew finally got an offer from a local company. My initial reaction was TAKE IT!! TAKE IT NOW!! The pay was less than what he was getting at DS, with cheaper and better insurance. It seemed like a no-brainer, which made it even more puzzling when Drew didn't seem excited about it. I offered to look through the documents the company gave him, and the company seemed incredible. It was a company I would love to work for! But once we started talking about the nitty-gritty aka the time away which was "up to 50%" (he is currently more than that), which we both decided was not worth it. So we passed on it.

This time in Drew's career is interesting. He has been with the company almost 5 years, working remotely for a company that is primarily based in California and Utah, so it is easy to understand how he can manage to spend more time with his family, have some sort of a work environment (working from home has it's perks but on the whole, I know he wishes he had an office to go to), and still advance in this company. But we are trying to be patient.

Will we ever find what we consider the "best" job for Drew as well as for our family? Probably not. But as much as we are grateful beyond belief for all that Dealersocket has done for us and how good this job is, we know we can find something better.

*If you want to know the story, it was this: I was still "training", so I came into work and my supervisor let me know I would be in charge of the "baby" section and to take care of a particular baby who was crying inconsolably in her car seat. I went over to the baby, picked her up, and there was a bottle right next to the car seat. I assumed it was hers, gave it to her, and her mom (#1) came in as I was doing that and freaked out that I was giving her baby a bottle that wasn't hers. IT WAS BREASTMILK from another mom (#2) who came in shortly thereafter, laughed about the whole thing and brushed it off, NBD. Well, mom #1 immediately took her baby home, claimed the baby was inconsolable all weekend because of the incident as she called it, and Monday morning they called me in to let me know they had to fire me because this mom was threatening to sue the gym. Seriously. It was supposed to be my supervisor's job to make sure all the bottles were labeled that came into the gym, but she didn't so she got sacked as well as every person that was in that room at the time of the incident. That's Lifetime Fitness for you, and that tells you the sort of people I was dealing with on a daily basis. So... sad about being fired but also it was a little ridiculous.

September 29 (3 days later)
Drew had The Big Phone Call with his company. Turns out the entire consulting department that he is  a part of is going to be redistributed into one of 5 positions, and they need to apply for the ones they feel they are interested in or qualified for, including which office they would like to relocate to: Oshkosh (NO), Draper, California (NO), or Dallas. Drew will keep the salary he has at DS and they will cover moving expenses. We still have not heard from the other company in Columbus that Drew interviewed with last week, and even IF they make an offer, we have no idea how it will compare (or even come close) to what he is making now. Drew has to make a decision on what position to apply for in DS (and there are no guarentees he will even get what he applies for, since a lot of the employees are LDS, I am sure everyone will be jumping at a chance to get back to Utah) by next week.

I have about a billion different feelings running through my mind and heart. On the one hand, logically speaking, we would be good anywhere. Drew would have a good paying job, he would have an office to go to, minimal travel, and we could afford any of those places (except California). We could even wait out the rest of the school year if we wanted to.

But then my heart. It really is here, in Westerville, with my amazing neighbors and my kid's friends and my home and only being 20 minutes away from my parents and I can't help but think where we are right now, is the perfect situation and will anything ever compare to it? And my mom... With my brother and sister leaving for college this fall, I really felt like it was a good thing for us to be able to be around her. Not that she doesn't do other things, but I know having her kids be so far away from her is hard and I have tried in the last 3 years to be as open as possible when it comes to visiting with her and having my kids be around her, same as I was in Boston with the Dowlings. I have terribly mixed feelings when I think about leaving her here with none of her kids in the same state as her and it breaks my heart because I love her so much and she has dedicated her life to raising us and now helping me out with my kids (although DK will be back for a brief semester in January before his mission) but then I think, if it is part of the Plan, I know I have a Father in Heaven who will ensure her happiness, even if I am not around to give it. There are much harder things we could be facing. But I sure am grateful General Conference is this weekend. If there was ever a time in my life where I needed an added measure of the Spirit and comfort, this is it.

I spoke to little d about our little situation. It's hard to prepare or brace a 6 year old for something like this, especially when there are so many moving parts, but I tried to keep the focus on the most important things: daddy would be working in an office and not traveling all the time (just like all his friend's dads do) and our family and all our stuff would stay with us no matter where we go. He was the first person I told when I was 6 weeks pregnant with little a, he was the first one I told when I found out we were moving to Ohio, and he was the first to find out after Drew and my mom that we were going to have the twins. It is a hard thing, to be so young and be the oldest in the family, but I know he is so much like me and likes to be prepared for whatever comes his way in advance, and while we have been anticipating something like this since the start of the year, I know that when things do get rolling, they get moving pretty quickly and I don't want him to feel blindsighted. He is still so young, I think that as he gets older making these sorts of decisions will get much tougher, but he honestly doesn't even remember much of living in Boston, so we know if we do have to move, it will be relatively easy (after the initial few months of "When are we going back to our REAL house" we endured with little d right after our move to Ohio).

So I guess what I am saying is... I am ready. For whatever comes our way. And if nothing else, if we do end up finding something local and we stay in Ohio, at least it will give me an excuse to purge some junk from our house (which is what I am currently doing, to keep my sanity, because I can't just not do anything). And I trust that this next phase in our lives will be fuller and better than we can ever imagine because we are going to welcome it with open arms (even if we end up in Oshkosh. Which I can say because while it is not ideal, we could get a 6 bedroom victorian home for the price of our current home. I am pretty sure I will find the silver linings to where ever and whatever we end up doing!).
update: october 11th.
We are officially less than a week away from finding out our fate with DS. I am equal parts excited to find out what the plan is and trying to enjoy what is left of the next week of blissful ignorance. But I have to say with Drew out of town most of the next two weeks... I am TERRIBLY excited for him to travel less. I certainly use my parents and neighbors A LOT, I cannot emphasize that enough, we literally have the most perfect neighbors in the history of planet earth. They would do anything for me and my kids and have come to my aid more than I will ever be able to keep track of to assist in a wide range of EVERYTHING--home repairs, emergencies, babysitting, playdates, etc. I don't know how I will do without them and it makes me second guess my decision to leave. But I have to have faith that this is the right thing for our family. Even though I KNOW that both sets of neighbors would probably never move from their respective houses, that alone (and of course how much I LOVE them!) is not reason alone to not move forward with...well, a move. We will be closer to siblings, and I think in the end, if we are all out there, eventually our parents will give in and move there as well. I hate to think about being so far away from Anna, though, but I also don't know where her path will take her so... I guess what I am trying to say is that making this decision entirely based on my husband and our children, I KNOW this is the right choice. That doesn't mean it will be the easiest. So so many emotions. I feel drained and ready to have some of the weight of this burden of waiting to finally be lifted. 6 more days.
update: october 16th.
He's in Utah. He finds out tomorrow and we will work with whatever they throw at us, I have confidence in DS because Drew does, and they have never given us reason to believe anything otherwise. Tomorrow. Tomorrow!!!!
Today. October 17th.
He did it. Drew got his first choice as a DS Project Manager in Utah and when he told me, relief flooded through my body. He is happy. We are happy. There are still challenges in the road ahead before we make it out there next summer but it is HUGE relief to finally know, finally be able to start planning again.

A new adventure awaits!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

i am constantly surrounded with the best sorts of people.

I've already started praying for our new neighbors...because they have so much to live up to, it wouldn't even be fair to compare. Nothing will compare to them. Ever.

I'm just so grateful that while our kids spend a lot of time with friends and neighbors, they are fast becoming best friends. I could not ask for anything better than that! Good timing, kids!
 "mom!!! look at my big hair!!!"

 Cutest littlest little. Ever. Love my Lo!
 completely unrelated: finally got my big papi shirt!
 this is my redemption for the lack of napping yesterday... long naps today! (for me too!)
 Lo stands for every meal, but he rarely ever falls off so I let him do it. I love those little toes! And this morning, Lan was hugging little d while he was trying to play a was so so cute!
 found my little girl asleep in the playroom last night.... hours after I tucked into bed! lol she cray.
 having friends over + this trampoline + autumn evenings = EVERYTHING. ;)
 this profile. and this little skinny braid. LOVE.
 Poor Lo is the only kid to inherit cold sores from us (so far, knock on wood!). He had one as a baby when he was always swapping binkies with Lan and managed to not give it to him, so fingers crossed all the waterbottle sharing won't mean he gives it to Lan. I cannot imagine how painful it has been for him but he is definitely not too happy about it!
 this is what I get every time I am in the kitchen making any meal (which is why I minimize the time I spend here!!) but they are so cute to try and get dishes for everyone to eat!
 I haven't spoken much about little d lately but he is doing AWESOME in first grade. He blows me away with how smart he is, and is excelling with ease in reading writing and math. I love him so much and even though it feels like he is taking a backseat to the younger kids as their safety (having to monitor them all the time!) takes precedence over getting to do stuff with just him, I am loving our time together in the evenings and especially on the weekends.
case in point:
 "in the future I will be a teenager"
 "in the present I am in coach pitch"
 "in the past I was a baby"
 "on travis' porch we played minecraft. We had a great time. We built a castle and a hotel. Eli and Travis built some houses together. They were colorful."
 "on saturday I went to Ryan's birthday party, Yesterday I was playing my last game of coach pitch"
lol he really is super awesome.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

trying to feel unguilty on a couple of different levels.

Things have been really good lately. We are getting into a good swing of things with mealtime (at last!) and figuring out how to keep food on plates and in tummies instead of all over my floor. Still messy but I think the boys love being on the same level as the rest of the family (and I cannot blame them!). Lan has a little booster now (not in this picture, haha), and Lo is still happy to rotate sitting on his bum, standing and walking around eating (it's how he stays so skinny!). And can I just say how much I love my new table?? Again, another really good friend sold it to me since she was moving and another round of incredible friends and neighbors graciously agreed to help me get the table and chairs (and a few other bits of furniture) while I watched their kids since Drew was obviously not around.
 ah.... only took me 10 years to get the table of my dreams, that will hopefully last us the next 15-20 years! It is a total gamechanger (and hides the dirt well too...ha!)
pretty pretty.... princes!
and the prettiest princess obviously. she cleans me out every time! and she can barely count! winner winner chicken dinner
okay onto the guilt part of this. I get this every time Drew goes out of town. There always seems to be some sort of amazing spirit when I just have the focus on the well being of the kids. Literally all day every day they get my mostly undivided attention and for the most part they behave better than they ever do when daddy is home because there is no one else aside from each other (and occasionally a neighbor) that is competing for my attention. I love them very deeply and definitely lean on them heavily when Drew is out of town because filling my life with them helps the hole I feel when he is gone.

Then when he is around, obviously we are catching up, socializing on a regular basis and the kids notice a shift... and they don't like being ignored!

My kids are an enormous JOY in my life. But it continues to be hard to balance the traveling dad with the dad that is around and when he around I want him to be completely immersed in my life in a way that he is just not present when he is physically gone. Does that even make sense? I am EXTREMELY blessed, I realize that. But I would be remiss if I did not say that the last 5 years with Dealersocket have been....trying on our relationship. The travel is definitely the biggest obstacle, and one that we have dealt with happily because Drew believes in the company and obviously we are happy that Drew has a job (that means that I do not have to!). And when I think about the meager salary that I made at the high school, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for how much Drew is able to make for our family (to afford us a comfortable life where I am able to have the luxury of heating, air conditioning, clothing for all four of our kids, healthy food and some treats, cars that run, toys to play with... I could go on for ages!).

I know the next six months will be a little bit (!!!) crazy but I welcome this transition into the next phase of our lives with open arms and a smile because it means by the time little d turns 7 years old, his daddy will be going to an office job where he is home every night to tuck him into bed (something that he has not predictably had since he was 18 months old!). While it will be hard to say goodbye to our friends and family here in Ohio, this will be good for us, and we will continue to learn from our past experiences and be grateful for everything we have experienced and everything we have ahead of us. More on all that Friday.

October weather was redemption for a BLAZING HOT September