Twins' 11 month update

We've passed the 11 month mark and suddenly I'm staring my babies' first birthday in the face.


Watching your children grow can feel like a constant bargaining between grief and joy. It's always saying goodbye in one breath and hello in another, crawling slowly past the excruciating parts while clawing at the incredible ones and trying desperately not to let them slip away so fast.

It's happy and sad.

It's some relief and some regret.

It's looking forward and back, back and forward... it's both.

It's both.

It's both.

"Maturing" feels like a strange word to use to describe a baby- or two- but it's what I see happening in my Ira and my Roman. They are coming more alive, awakening to the world in new ways, dying to their baby selves and rising on the steps of toddlerhood.

It's happening so fast.

Like maybe yesterday? They were newborns when I ran to the basement to grab a roll of paper towel and by the time I got back upstairs they were nearly one!

They were so tiny and helpless and now suddenly they are big and they can move and sort-of feed themselves and pull up on the toy box and even make me laugh on purpose.

This is probably the best sword-to-the-heart of the last month: their sense of humor has exploded! They do things to be funny. On purpose. Tiny babies can laugh and be pleased but they can't be funny on purpose. But Ira and Roman can, now. Ooh. That cuts me! This is such a mature thing for them to do: to be funny! To growl and watch for my smile. To bop me on the nose with a ball and giggle. To look me in the eye and grin while throwing pieces of banana to the floor just to hear me smile and warmly scold, "No, no, you stinker!"

You babies!

Wasn't I just minutes ago gasping in delight at your first fleeting smiles?

Wasn't that just this morning? And now at dinner you pump your tiny first and scream as loud as you can before dissolving into giggles when I jump in feigned terror at the sound of you.

It wasn't this morning, wasn't hours ago, though.

It's been nearly a year.

Nearly a year.

You are nearly a year.


Let's not be too wistful about the passage of time.

We survived things I'm not hungry to repeat. The 10 days of you in Special Care after your birth. 10 days with my longing to bring you home. I'm glad beyond all gladness that you are home with me now. The early struggles we had nursing: the pain, the worry, the constant feeding, the lip and tongue ties, those awful stretches, the long, long, long minutes you spent crying while I pumped milk for you and bounced you in your bouncing chairs with my feet failing to soothe you. The witching hours, the long day-hours, and the night hours when I barely survived my exhaustion.

We made it though that and we are all enjoying our present days so much more. You are almost sleeping through the night now! In fact, you sometimes do! And one of these days, you will both sleep through the night... and so will I.


Our future days are bright and future nights, brighter still.

We have so much more to look forward to!

I can't wait for the beach this summer: to watch you play in the water and sand. I can't wait to see you take your first steps, to listen to your small voices as you learn to speak, and to push you on the swings at the park. In less than a month I can't wait to watch you eat your birthday cake! I look forward to giving you honey on toast, to moving down to only one nap, to holding your hands as you toddle along. This weekend we switched you out of infant carseats to convertible ones and while I whimpered a little inside, remembering how excited I was when we put those in our minivan for the first time anticipating your arrival, I'm also relieved to be done lugging you in those heavy things!

Sad and happy.

Some regret, some relief.

Looking back but also looking forward.

Goodbye and hello: it's both.

It's both.

It's both.

Wistful at times, but now and always: how I love to watch you grow.

11 months old!

Nearly one.




What to focus on

My sister is a professional photographer in Ontario, Canada and while she grew her business largely on wedding shoots, lately she has been doing a lot more lifestyle photography, especially working to grow her portfolio with newborn shoots. I've been watching her instagram feed and getting inspired. I started to think about taking pictures of my boys the way she does with her clients: pictures that are beautifully styled, clean, soft, precious.

So I pulled out my camera one day when the sun was mostly out (a rare thing here in Michigan in February!) and the lighting was nice in our home. Initially looking through my lens the scene did not look great. It looked cluttered. Mostly because the room was cluttered. Coincidentally I was in the same room where my sister, a year before, had taken some of my maternity pictures. I started thinking about what she did to make my pictures look so nice. Where did she stand? How did she hold the angle? How did she style the scene?

Then I remembered helping her push all the crap in the room to one side so it would be out of the picture. I got up and moved a few things, moved the babies closer to the nice window light, and tried a few different angles.

I was delighted by the images on my viewfinder now!

I carried on like that over the next few hours, choosing my favorite parts of the day, pushing all the crap in each scene aside and capturing a lovely photo, a beautiful memory.

I know some people think that it's "fake" when we style pictures like this, without all the normal household crap- broken toys, three rolls of duct tape, a dead plant, the mountainous laundry pile waiting to be folded, the spray bottle of windex and crumpled up paper towel beside it- is hidden from the shot. (These are all real things I moved out of the way when I was taking these pictures.)

But I actually think these "cleaned up" photos are truer to life in that they are more like our real memories.

Even now when I think back to my earliest days of parenting after bringing our son Arie home from Russia, I remember watching him crawl under our table to pet our cat, the way his eye lashes stuck together in the bath, the long sluuuuurping noise he made when he ate his soup. My memories are focused on the important parts. I guarantee when he was under the table, there were piles of something or another on top. When he was in the bath I had one clean pair of pajamas in hand and four others crumpled up in our yet-to-be-emptied suitcase somewhere else in the house. As he slurped his soup I'm sure we had a pile of dishes in the sink, spills on the counter, and burned on spills on our stove.
I know the ratio of twins to Arie photos here is lacking.
Arie is 1) at school all day and
2) so OVER Mom taking his picture all the time. ;-) 

I'm making an educated guess at those background details because only four years later I don't remember any of them.

It's kind of freeing to think about life this way. There's a metaphor in there somewhere: there will always be crap. Don't be afraid to push it out of the way to make a memory. The crap is not what matters in the frame. Its the people.

Those precious, darling people.

Focus on them.

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