Twins' eight month update

Today Ira & Roman are eight months old!

When they were born my mom told me the earliest one of her babies slept through the night was eight months. For that reason I have been looking forward to this age and am hoping to see some improved sleeping patterns for my two little sleep stealing monsters! I am really quite amazed that I am still alive when I think about the fact that I have been awake for eight months.

Yes Ira and Roman continue to wake up a lot. This month John and I averaged anywhere from 6-12 wake ups per night. It's brutal. Just brutal. Just last month I was celebrating three hour stretches of sleep and now those days seem so long ago. I am tired. So very tired.

Some people have asked me if we cry it out with the twins. Oh yes. I cry all the time.


No, I am too sensitive to let them cry it out.  Also I have an older son who spent his babyhood in an orphanage. It breaks my heart that I was never able to answer his baby cries, so that gives me a different perspective to what a gift it is to be able to settle my babies. Even if I sometimes wish I could exchange that gift for a slightly less frequently needed model. The twins do cry of course- being two in number with only one mom- and I do give them a chance to settle themselves which Roman will do almost every night at the *beginning* of the night, however middle of the night wake ups are another story. Only mama will do then.

Really the only truly good solution to sleep deprivation is SLEEP and a whole night of it, but in the absence of that ability I thought I would share for any other tired parents out there some coping techniques I have picked up in the last eight months:

  1. Nap. Obviously. When you can. 
  2. Coffee.
  3. Find a good show or podcast or book to watch/listen to/read when you are up. 
  4. Imagine your baby is grown and you have come back in time to see your child as an infant again. How precious and fleeting these days will one day seem! 
  5. Think about how safe you are, how cozy and warm in your house. "Comparison is the thief of joy" is true unless you are comparing yourself to those who have it worse and then it is the author of gratitude. 
  6. Talk to a mom or dad with older kids who can reassure you that you WILL sleep again. 
  7. Pray for sleep strength. I pray for sleep every night. So far that prayer has not often been answered in quite the way I would like however God does give the strength to cope with each exhausting day as it comes. (This is a spiritual truth in so many arenas, isn't it? We don't always get what we are asking for but we we are given other gifts- like strength and patience- to help us endure. I do not understand this, but I try to be grateful and trusting that this is the better thing.) 
  8. Remember that this season is just that: a season. And all seasons end. 
Who else has/had a frequently waking baby(ies)? How did you cope? 

Besides the nighttime sleeplessness, everything is awesome. 

Ira and Roman are napping on a pretty consistent schedule (8:30am, noon, and 4pm, "nighttime" being 7pm-6am). They are enjoying solids. Ira still prefers purees and while Roman still wants purees he also eats lots of table food in small bits. I give them both chopped up versions of whatever we are having for dinner. Ira mostly pushes his around his tray but Roman stuffs as much into his mouth as he can! 

I can hardly nurse them both at the same time anymore because they are so distracted by each other! They often end up crying when they reach out to feel each other's faces, poking each other in the eye or getting a finger stuck in the other's nose! Luckily they are much quicker at nursing than they used to be so while I have to feed them separately it doesn't take as long as it would have a few months ago. 

Neither have any teeth yet but they have all the tell-tale symptoms like warm rosy cheeks that come and go, lots of drooling, gumming everything, crabbiness resolved with cold teething rings and/or Advil. Teething takes FOREVER, eh?? 

Both are sitting upright on their own for a couple minutes at a time before tipping over. I am very confused about when I should take their photo with the "Sat up for the first time" milestone card because the process of learning to sit has been so gradual! Maybe when they stop tipping over? 

Both babies say "Mama" and "Dada" now although it is hard to tell if they understand that those words represent me and John. They both cry "Mama" when they are upset so maybe?? In any case it melts our hearts to hear our names on their lips! 

(Whoops guess I forgot to take Roman's "Dada" picture! Sorry John!) 

I've started taking Ira and Roman to story time at the library. They seem to like it! True to form, Ira spent the whole first session smiling at everyone while Roman just glared suspiciously around the room. Roman's resting face is quite hostile and often makes us laugh! 
Example of Roman's resting face. 

The best part of having the twins grow older has been watching their relationship with each other bloom. One of their favorite things these days is when I put them in their high chairs side-by-side so they can hold hands or facing each other so they can babble and giggle back and forth. Ira is the relational instigator, often searching for Roman's eyes and shouting for his attention. Roman has always been the more physical of the two and delights in being close to Ira, touching him and laughing when Ira rolls around on the floor and bumps into him. 

They are continue their obsession with big brother Arie. He can make them laugh like no one else can! They have taken an interest in our cat Jasper lately. They can't crawl yet so they don't go to him but when he enters the room they stop and stare for a while. 

My daily routines with the twins have gotten so much easier lately. I don't find myself rushed and panicked through every household task anymore. The twins still have fussy days where I can't seem to get anything done but mostly they give me a few stretches of play each day where I can fold a basket of laundry or mop the kitchen floor. We now have two exersaucer type contraptions which they LOVE and I LOVE because they give me some time each day to sit down and have a cup of tea while they play. Only months ago I wondered if I could ever have a quiet hot cup of tea again! Well, quiet: no, but hot, yes! Other twin moms kept telling me in the beginning, "It gets better!" and indeed it does. 

This month our highlights were getting our Christmas tree and setting it up (related, out December "lowlight" was having to take it down again last week after the needles began showering off! It has since been replaced with an artificial one), and enjoying some winter weather hikes and tobogganing with the kids. 

Our winters are very long here in West Michigan so while I'm sure it may seem weird to some to take babies out in the cold, I think it is healthy for them to get outside and get some fresh air! Even in the snow, if the sidewalks are passable I walk to the library for story time just to get them breathing some fresh air. A friend told me a Russian saying is, "There is no such thing as bad weather, only poorly dressed people." Short of frost-bite weather and rain, I think that is right. Getting outside is a priority for us and it will be an adventure to see how we manage this winter!

As Ira and Roman are growing older and their babbles get more speech-like, their actions more intentional, their emotions more uniquely expressed, I find myself getting excited for their toddlerhood. I so enjoyed Arie as a toddler! Granted I did not have him until he was two, so age one will be a new experience for me, but I look forward to doing things like playing in the sandbox or with play dough or going to the park (well, maybe. With two adults!) with them. I have so much to look forward to!  

That about sums up the last month! Oh one other highlight was being interviewed on the Mom Life Crisis podcast! My episode was released last week and you can listen to it on iTunes or here. Let me know what you think! 

Happy Christmas to you all! I am already looking forward to my next update with stories and pictures from the upcoming holidays. What a happy Christmas it will be for us this year! 



Arie's fourth gotcha day and twins' 7 month update!

What a celebratory day it is in our house! Today marks not only the twins' seventh month, but four years since John and I scooped up our little Arie and drove away from his orphanage forever.

If I were to write a report card comment about Arie I would give him that coveted line, "Arie is a joy to have in class!" Arie is a joy to have in our family. I often tell him I feel like the luckiest mom in the world to call him my son.

Arie is in Kindergarten now and is proving to be a smart little man! It is November and last week at his parent-teacher conferences his teacher told us that he has already met all the academic goals for kindergarten! Wow! I think this is mostly due to his attending a developmental kindergarten program last year. We are happy to have him in a Montessori classroom so his teacher will keep providing him opportunities to work ahead of grade level where he is able. Socially he is still a kindergartener and suffers from "chatterbox syndrome" so this allows him to be challenged academically while giving him room to grow socially in an age appropriate setting. I know its not genetic but John and I joke that he takes after his dad in the talking department!

Arie's primary interest right now is arts and crafts. He is into making "books" where he staples a bunch of pages together and colors on each one. He also loves to draw rainbows, which, incidentally, was what he chose to be for Halloween! He also likes to build things with legos, duplos and blocks and he seems to enjoy math too. He is constantly grilling me and John with addition and subtraction questions.

My favorite thing about Arie right now is watching him be a big brother. He is so sensitive to the babies' needs. I remember the first time he heard one of them cry in the hospital he became quickly concerned and in a panicked tone turned to John rushedly begging, "DAD! You have to help him!"

He has now adjusted to the frequency of babies' cries (as we've explained that is how babies communicate!), but he is just as eager to soothe them. He will dance and make faces to see them giggle and sing songs to soothe them. On our recent road trip to New York City, both twins were crying in protest of their carseats and I was singing upbeat tunes to try distract them from their distress. When my efforts failed, Arie chimed in from behind me, "Let's try 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.'" Whether it was the calmer melody or the fact that Arie had joined in on the chorus, the babies finally relaxed and the crying ceased. Arie is so proud when he is able to help with his brothers!

He has also been extremely patient as the twins' needs often come before his own. I'm so thankful for that and often tell him so. He also has proved somewhat cunning as he has used these opportunities of parental inadequacies to his advantage on more than one occasion. A few months ago he had become enamored with the idea of chewing gum, something I rarely give him. During one of the twins' naps he got a little loud and when I reminded him to use a quiet voice he paused, got a *lightbulb* look on his face and slowly replied, "You know, if you give me gum my mouth will be busy and I won't be able to talk and wake the babies up."

Well played, son. Here's your gum.

We had so much fun exploring New York City with Arie last week. We traveled there for his aunt's wedding where he was the ring bearer. He looked quite handsome in his outfit and handled himself wonderfully! Exploring the city was so fun with him as he was amazed by the skyscrapers and, Arie's personal favorite, roundabout doors or "spinning doors." He was amazed by the masses of people, especially at night, wondering where they could possibly all be going. I love that he still so easily expresses his sense of awe and wonderment!


Our babies are seven months old! Something about seven months feels liberating to me, I think because we have crested over the mountain of the challenging first year with twins and we are making our way down the hill. Some things remain challenging but others have gotten so much easier.

Most notably for me is that the twins can express different emotions. No longer are all their cries essentially the same leaving me guessing as to what the problem is, rather they have distinctly different expressions for sadness, fear, anger, and frustration. As a mom I have felt this makes parenting easier. It is also so much more fun to see them express emotions like surprise, wonderment, excitement, and happiness! Through these expressions I am seeing more of their specific personalities comes out.

Ira is my little watcher. He is intent on taking in the world around him. When I put him and Roman beside each other, Roman gets to work playing or eating or whatnot and Ira will sit memorized by his brother's activity. He also watches me closely for cues as to how to respond emotionally in a situation. He is just like Arie in this way, very emotionally intelligent. If I laugh, Ira laughs. If I'm frustrated, Ira gets a look of concern on his face. If I do anything sudden like sneeze or cough, Ira is stunned by it.

Ira is also the more social baby. He doesn't have separation anxiety yet and loves to be held by others! He is very quick to laugh or to reach out and touch the person's face. When I take the twins to church in the stroller and people stick their heads over his seat to say hello, Ira grins and balls his fists in happiness!

Roman, on the other hand, usually cries in this same scenario. My boys are so different. Roman is also a very happy baby, but he is the shyer of the two. If I am holding him in a crowds, he leans into me and will burry his face in my neck for comfort. I don't hand him off to people who are strangers to him because I know he will cry. He has a tender heart my little Roman!

Although shy, Roman is more of a "doer" than a "watcher." He is quick to reach for toys and wants to explore the world around him. I think once he can crawl he is always going to be on the move! He is quick to express himself when he does something like drop a toy or if I am taking to long to offer his next bite of food at mealtimes (and I am always taking too long for his liking!).

Roman is starting to move by rolling around, although he can easily go from his back to his belly but for some reason struggles to move the other way around! He is not very good at sitting yet. Ira can roll but he is so content he does not seem motivated to do so very often. He is a stronger sitter and can last a couple minutes in the "tripod" position. I bet this next month will see them both sitting unassisted. Maybe they will attempt to crawl, but I am kind of hoping they wait until after Christmas for that so I don't have to keep them away from our tree!

I don't have official weights on them but Roman is sitting somewhere around 20/21lbs and Ira 17/18lbs. They are both little chubsters! They love to eat and are enjoying exploring new foods!

Sleep-wise the twins maintain their differentness. Ira has been sleeping great this month, waking up once or-rarely- twice in a 11 hour night. In the same time frame Roman will wake up about 6 times. This sleeplessness is definitely the hardest part of parenting for me and I am looking forward to sleeping through the night someday! I'm thankful to have a supportive husband who gives me the opportunity to sleep in the mornings and nap when possible. The twins are finally napping on a pretty consistent schedule although their nap lengths vary greatly from 45 minutes-3 hours. They usually take 3 naps/day. I am looking forward to loosing the third nap in the not too distant future!

No teeth yet from either boy although Roman has had many symptoms pointing that way. Any day now??

Our highlights from the twins' sixth month were Halloween and our trip to New York City for John's sister's wedding.

Pumpkin Carving with Grampi
Arie and I started talking about his Halloween costume in September. We've always had Arie wear a store-bought costume but this year since Arie is so into arts and crafts I thought it would be a good challenge for him to make his own (with my help). Unfortunately I did not take into account another phase which Arie is going through which is a mix of indecision and FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). For weeks every costume idea had him agonizing over whether it was the right choice and switching his mind. Finally the Saturday before Halloween John and I loaded up all three boys to drive to a craft store so Arie could choose things to make his costume. We had landed on him being a lion and we were going to buy yarn to craft a mane.

On the drive to the craft store Arie changed his mind a dozen times and by the time we parked he had thrown his body halfway out of his carseat groaning, "I JUST DON'T KNOOOOOOW!!!"

In hindsight this makes me laugh but at the time I was all, "ARIE. DECIDE!!!!"

So after circling the store a half dozen times without a decision, I made up my mind for Arie.

"Okay let's go get the yarn for the lion costume. End of story."

In the yarn aisle Arie resignedly looked for "lion colors" when he came upon a spool (is that what yarns come in?) of rainbow yarn. His eyes got big and he gasped while exclaiming, "MOM! I CAN BE A RAINBOW FOR HALLOWEEN!"

Finally! A decision! And one he was excited about! So John took the babies on a little walk around the parking lot while Arie and I dreamed up how to best make a rainbow costume. We gathered our supplies and $30 later (Ouch! Defiantly did not save any money making it ourselves!) we were at home working on the costume. Here's the end result:

I'm so proud of him for showing off his creativity with this costume!

Ira and Roman were a giraffe and a lion, wearing costumes I had picked up second hand back in August. Someone commented that we could have done a Noah's Ark theme. Too bad I wasn't more on the ball to put that idea together! John would have made a great Noah.

Last week we took a road trip to New York City where John's sister Amanda celebrated her marriage to our new brother-in-law Eddie. We had a fantastic time! The drive to New York City is about 13-14 hours from where we live. We split the trip into two days, staying overnight at my parents' near Toronto which is about halfway. While I would not recommend going on a two day road trip with six-month-old twins, it truly went so well. All three kids were awesome in the car and John and I managed to mostly stay positive with them and each other.

We had a day of free time which we used to explore Central Park. What a lovely park in an awe inspiring city! I hope we can go back someday when I'm more well rested. Like I mentioned last time, I'm so exhausted these days I can barely remember what happened yesterday. But we took some pictures and by looking at them it seems like I was having a great time. ;-)

I am thrilled to be entering the holiday season. I feel all kinds of giddy and sentimental emotions as we approach our first Christmas as a family of five. Last year I decorated our tree feeing nauseated and joyful because of my pregnancy and this year we will have two little babies watching us prepare to celebrate our Saviour's birth. This advent is going to feel holy to me in many ways.

Until next time,



Day in the life (with 6 month old twins!)

Today is one of my favorite days on social media! Today on instagram people from all over the world document a typical day-in-the-life and use the tag #onedayHH.

I like to use my camera rather than my phone and write up a blog post rather than record on instagram. Its fun to look back over the years and see how my days have changed! You can check out 2013 and 2014. Last year I did not participate in #onedayHH because I was feeling terrible with morning sickness and most of my day was just me laying on the couch. This year I chose to document my day one day early because today Arie goes to his grandma's house after school and I didn't want to include a whole day without him in it!

Here's what a typical day looks like for me as a stay-at-home mom with one school age child and six-month-old twins.

My days all blur together right now but let's just start the clock at midnight:

12am- I am sleeping! Wonderful sleep, so hard to come by since my twins were born last April.

My first wake up call for November 1, 2016 comes at 2:43am.

That may seem awful but I am actually happy about this because my last wake-up was shortly before midnight which mean I slept for nearly 3 hours. I covet three hour stretches of sleep these days!

It's Roman who is awake. I nurse him, put him back to sleep and go back to bed myself.

But not for long.

3:26, Ira wakes up. I nurse him, rock him back to sleep and go back to bed myself.


4:08 Roman wake up again. Repeat the whole nurse/rock/sleep process. Go back to bed for a few hot minutes when...

4:41am Ira wakes up again.

One final nurse/rock/sleep routine and I get back to bed around 5am. John takes over with the twins at 6am every morning so I can get one last stretch of sleep before my day begins. They end up both waking at 6:30am and I sleep until 7am when Arie's new alarm clock goes off and he carries it into my room because he can't figure out how to turn it off.

I stay in bed until 7:30am when I hear the babies crying for their morning feed.

Downstairs they are all smiles to see me. I imagine them cheering, "THE MILK LADY!!!" when they see me in the morning.

Before I feed them I pour my coffee and pop a bagel in the toaster. Arie is sitting in front of his breakfast talking about his candy haul from trick-or-treating the night before. I start my 5,000 reminders for him to "Take a bite!" so he goes to school with something in his belly. He's wishing he could take a bite of the candy he's eyeing!
One coffee, heavy on the cream. And the sugar. I am nursing two babies after all!
Once my breakfast is ready I take it to the couch where I nurse the twins and eat at the same time. John takes his shower, gets Arie's backpack ready for school, and helps him brush his teeth.

8:10am- Arie and John are out the door on the way to school and work respectively.

8:30am The twins are rubbing their eyes so I take them up to nap.

While they nap, I get myself ready for the day.

9:15am I'm swiping my mascara when I hear Ira crying. I hurry to get him before he wakes up his brother. Roman is still fast asleep so I try rock Ira back to sleep, in hopes of keeping both babies on the same schedule. No such luck.
I'm awake Mom! Not going back to sleep! 
I take Ira downstairs and play with him for about 30 minutes until Roman wakes up.

9:45am Roman wakes up. He's all smiles when I get him from his crib which makes me all smiles too. How cute are my babies!?

10am time to feed the babies some solids! I always feed them before I change them out of pajamas and into their clothes because they are super messy eaters! Today they are having oatmeal, prunes, and banana.

10:30am I change them into clothes for the day.

10:45 I nurse them both again.

11am Play time!

11:15am Ira is getting fussy and tired. Roman is happy and wide awake. I try keep Ira happy and awake for a while so I can put them both down for a nap at the same time, but... no such luck. By 11:30am I put Roman in the baby swing and bring Ira upstairs where I nurse and rock him to sleep.

At this point my camera battery dies so I take over with my phone's camera until it charges. While Ira sleeps, I play with Roman, eat my lunch, and clean up our kitchen. Over the next two hours Ira wakes up and Roman goes down for his nap, I nurse them again, empty the dishwasher, and fold a million pounds of laundry.

3pm Time to go get Arie from school. Yay we are leaving the house! I put both babies in their carseats and buckle them up. They both poop. I unbuckle them both, change them both, buckle them both up again, and race out the door hoping I will not be late for parent-pick up!
"Let's go get Arie!!!"

I'm not late! I'm a few minutes early, even. I admire the beautiful fall leaves while I wait for the school bell to ring.

Both babies cry in the car because they are only okay with being in their carseats if we are moving. As soon as we stop, a symphony of babies cries echoes around my minivan while I practice deep breathing to not let their cries or my helplessness in the situation to get to me.

Soonish we have inched our way forward to where big brother is waiting for us. As soon as the van door pops open the babies go from crying to cooing at their beloved big brother. Arie hops into his carseat and buckles up for the drive home.

4pm We are home again. I get Arie a snack, nurse the babies, and then start cooking dinner. I had planned on making beef stroganoff but when I open to the recipe I realize it was a slow-cooker recipe. Whoops. Also I don't have any egg noodles.

So I flip through my cookbooks looking for a new recipe with ground beef and find I have almost everything I need to make "real food sloppy joes" from the new 100 Days of Real Food cookbook. Hopefully I can substitute water and tomato paste for tomato sauce (it turns out I can!).

4:40pm Ira is getting ready for a third nap and won't let me put him down so I cook dinner as fast as I can with a baby in my arms, put Roman back in the swing, and bring Ira up for a nap.
Stain on my shirt. #momlife
5:15pm I hear John come home while I'm rocking Ira to sleep. Once I get Ira in his crib, I come down to this sweet scene:

Roman loves John. He kicks and squeals when John comes home from work. I love their sweet relationship!

5:30pm We call Arie to dinner. He's been watching TV and begs us to let him just finish this one show. We give him 5 minutes and then sit down to eat. Ira wakes up from his nap so John runs up to get him. I swallow my sloppy joes whole so I can use my hands to feed the babies some yogurt, peas, and carrots for dinner.

It's my mom's birthday today so while I'm feeding the babies and we're all at the table, we call her on Skype to wish her a happy birthday.

6pm dinner is done and it is time to get the babies in the bath. Arie plays upstairs while John cleans the kitchen and I bathe the babies.

6:30pm Arie has to read three books for school so we sit on the couch all five of us- each parent with a clean and pajamaed baby- and listen to Arie read his books. He's getting so good at reading! I'm so proud of him.

7pm time to get the babies in bed. I nurse them both then put Roman down first while John carries Ira up to Arie's room and tucks in our big boy early (he's extra tired today because last night was so late trick-or-treating).
Reading Roman a book before bed. 
7:15pm Roman is sleeping and I get Ira down next.

7:30pm I peak in Arie's room to see if he's still awake, waiting for a kiss from Mom. He is. I give him a kiss and stroke his hair for a few minutes until he's sleepy.

7:45pm I put my pajamas and join John downstairs. I pour a glass of wine, pick something from Arie's Halloween candy stash, and sit down to watch an episode of The Good Wife with John.

8:15pm I finish neither the episode of The Good Wife nor my glass of wine because Ira wakes up. He does this every night- wakes up after his first sleep cycle. I rock him back to sleep and then tell John I'm going to bed myself.

8:45pm Roman wakes up. I rock him back to sleep and climb back into bed, hoping both the twins make it to midnight so I can get three hours of sleep in a row.

I almost do.

And that is a day in the life.

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