Thursday, May 29, 2008

Family Thursday : Getting Organized

In those early months with the boys, there was a lot of time in the house. Not down time, per se, but just time. We have never had satellite/cable round here until then. I was desperate for something to watch and we ordered it and had it installed. I was in DIY heaven, watching all the home shows and makeovers. There was one show, Mission Organization, that was on at 700 a.m. every morning. And I was watching it because it was prime baby feeding time. I watched as couple after couple received sage advice on redecorating and organizing their space. Places once cluttered and in utter disarray became serene oases for the family to enjoy. Many of these makeovers focused on families with youngsters. I remember glancing around our 'baby central' space, thinking it was not so bad, we were doing alright. Until a few months ago.

We had a toy box, tent and tunnel...and they all seemed to come at me at the same time. I think we are pretty good about not having too much in the toy department, but all of a sudden, it felt like chaos. Things everywhere, toys being thrown, ignored and lost. I started to really dread being in the baby room, which also happens to be the family room and the room which houses the TV (which actually is now only on for an hour during Sesame Street at 700. Hey, M.O. is all reruns).

So, we paid a trip to our local IKEA once again and, inspired by a friend's house, picked up a bookcase that would suit our needs. Oh, how very perfect it is for our needs.
Toy Storage

Tim (my handy carpenter husband) had that thing assembled and secured to the wall in the time it took us to take a morning walk, the boys played in the refuse from the boxes,
Trash is Fun
and before nap time I had everything in its place, and a place for everything.

Can I say, I LOVE THIS BOOKCASE! It holds all of their stuff, the bottom row is perfect with 4 Plastic boxes labeled to hold their small stuff,
Labeled boxes

the second shelf holds books and is their 'garage', and above are the toys I want to keep out of reach and 'give' to them selectively. The top shelf holds my stuff: books, laptop for work, coffee cup. And the top has a few cute things, including chairs that the boys currently tip over rather than sit in.

It has made a huge difference in a somewhat frazzled week to a somewhat frazzled Mama. I am hoping the big pay-off is that they eventually learn about putting away their bits ands find it fun and challenging to do so. Hey, a woman can dream, can she not?

I recommend you check out IKEA if you find yourself in the same boat, so to speak. The $200 invested is so worth the sanity it has bought. And though the floor is still padded in primary colors, I anticipate a future of sitting with friends watching a movie in a room that does not scream "kids" but maybe just yells it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Craft Tuesday : Needled

A few months ago I became obsessed with French knots. I was finding any excuse to use them, and then I found the ultimate French knot project. I remembered a post from Posie gets Cozy on her embroidered pillowcases and one had the initial A in French knots. I swore I would one day have one. Well, not the pillowcase, just the initial.
m for mason

I did this M a few weeks back and there is a linen square with an O waiting on me. I am not sure where I am going from here. I really loved the little quilts from Jcasa and I am thinking along those lines. We will see.
m for mason

These squares were just cut up to become an eye catching treat for some little newbie out there.
cut up

The finished product should resemble these, hopefully with better stuffing. This sounds silly, but I find stuffing challenging. Any tips would be welcomed. I am looking into getting a natural substitute stuffing called Kapok. I told my mom about it and she informed me that most beds/mattresses in Indo are stuffed with Kapok. It must be my heritage calling me to seek out these things.

And I have to add news on the boys because I am very in love with them right now. They are growing and changing at a crazy pace and we find a new thing out all the time. Mason is a parrot, constantly repeating words after us and making sounds that resemble whatever he is playing with (moo-ing and vrooming are his favorite).

Owen is really into furniture moving and pointing and is starting to get that frustrated squeal when he wants something and I am not accurate at guessing. They both have finally embraced drinking from non-bottles when it is not milk. Mason uses the sippy cup, but O loves the straw and will only drink from that. They both started going down the baby slides by themselves, sometimes in very weird positions.
backyard playtime

We have 2 upper molars in on the Mace (found them at bedtime today. Maybe this means a cease fire in the 4/5 a.m. wake category). And naps are what they are. I am letting go and letting god for a few days. The Aussies have a saying, "She'll be right, " I have it on a wood plaque that I brought home. I am gonna' adopt that wisdom in the nap category right now. Heck, we are having a lot of fun while they are awake, so, folks,any troubles you have, remember..."She'll be right."
bubbles with grandpa

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Graduate

I was there when he was born. 15 and waiting on this new brother. I was the one to help measure his weight and length., I vividly recall the nurse asking me to pull his fragile baby leg in order to get a correct recording of his length. I remember being so afraid I would break him.

Yesterday I was there when he walked down the gym aisle to graduate from high school. There with my husband and young sons as witness to this momentous event, the first of many more to come as he moves into his adult life.
the guys walking

My brother is such a stellar young man. In a day that fosters discontent and abandon, he is a young man of strength and focus and the quicksilver smile that lights others’ hearts when they see him coming.

I have watched him grow and change and stand here in disbelief at the fact that he is done with this chapter. Moving out and on, soon to be north of us, experiencing the joy and challenges of college and life outside of his bubble of the now.

What an honor, to watch this young man. His companion through high school has always been Liz.
the grads

My Mace has been in love with her since he could see straight. Though now it appears that he cannot see straight when she comes over, he literally walks into walls when she is around. Another example of youth in this day that can be right and well and healthy. A beautiful young woman with a lovely person and the quicksilver smile that lights others’ hearts when they see her coming. Especially my Macies’. I told Ricky he better be careful, in a few years I thing mace might make a move on that lady.

I am so proud to know these two and wish them all the joy and love and freedom that comes with this transition. I love not living in isolation of these things. To be witness is so powerful. A powerful reminder of how quickly we move through time. How deceiving those four a.m. wake ups can be. Mine will someday walk the aisle of some school, to be released into a world of change and flux and not mine. I find it difficult to do with this young man I call brother. I find it difficult only because it was yesterday that I pulled out that fragile leg to record his coming into this world. And now he towers over me and walks down one of many paths that will not be directly parallel to my own.

the brothers

Little and Big Brothers

I love you Ricky. Your big sister loves you very, very much. I wish you the best of a full life, of the challenges and crossroads that come when you step out of your zone. And I want you to know there will always be a place for you to sleep here at home. Kisses, Little brother. And congratulations.

Tim says thank you for all the wonderful birthday wishes...he really felt special. You are all such great people.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Family Thursday: His 31st

I was going to do a post about naps.

Then I thought I would post about my family situation and all the positives and negatives that come from living communally.

But then I realized that today is my husband’s birthday. And that has to be what my post is about. Because really it is what such a huge part of my life is about.
happy birthday daddy!

Today he turned 31. He was a new dad last year at this time, only 4 weeks into the journey of a lifetime. Already he was shining.
holding daddy

Now he is a seasoned pro. He does all the things I imagined my partner would do; he plays, makes bottles, sings off key, accepts open mouth kisses, and laughs. I have never seen him laugh so much.
kissing daddy

My husband is a pretty reserved guy. Not shy, not anymore. But reserved with his words, his actions, always has he moved with intention. But in this last year he has become so much more, he has found his inner joker, his inner laughter. He was meant to be father to these boys he calls sons.
happy daddy

I am so proud to be with him, stand beside him, call him my own. I never thought that marriage and parenting would be what it is for us, I never was a girl to imagine that far ahead in the future. We have been celebrating birthdays together since our late teens and they mark something special to me, they mark our fortitude and commitment to each other, our belief in each other and our desire to be united in our lives.

This day was also my ‘due’ date for the boys. The first time my doctor told me the predicted date I felt a little funny. Like I should know that date for a reason. It did not hit me until I was on the way home from the appointment that this day was significant for more than one reason, it was Tim’s day too. I do not know why the thought did not occur immediately upon hearing the date May 22, maybe because I once (and only once waaay at the beginning ) messed up his birthday date. We did not know about the twins yet, so I fully expected to deliver right around this time. Well, once we knew I had a feeling it would not be on this day and I was okay with that. We will let Tim retain all the specialness of this day for himself.
handsome daddy

So, this post is for my MCD. Welcoming another year, one step deeper into the decade that I think we will both eventually reflect back on as our shining time. I love you, Tim. Your Amiee loves you very, very much.

Little note for full disclosure : Last year I made Tim a cake and I was so proud of myself...first baking I had done in months. And it was from a box. This year I was determined to make it from scratch. Hell in a hand basket when I found our oven dysfunctional, then mixed it anyway and took it to Grandpa and Gramma's to bake, spilled batter in the car, overfilled a pan and dirtied up the oven, watched both pans fall, took them out too early to frost them with buttercream that had waaay too much butter and ganache that stayed too thin. I did not even take a picture because it was so ugly. But he ate it and asked me to make him this cake for the rest of his birthdays because it was just how he likes it. So, now I just have to rely on a series of unfortunate baking events in order to duplicate his now favorite cake. Perfect.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Craft Tuesday : Round Up

So, these projects did not occur over this single week, a few have been sitting around, waiting on their blog entry. I had fun with the sewn projects, I am really quite a sloppy sewer and dare not the close up shot yet, but I think I will slowly improve. Knitting comes easy, but for some reason I get a little panicky at the sewing machine. I will have to practice some Zen breathing or something while machine sewing.

So, here is my first apron. Found the pattern vis this magazine
pattern source

picked up at random during the all too frequent JoAnn trips (funny, it used to be Michael's. Ah, how the times change). I am loving the whole magazine, it has some great bags and other simple projects that do not intimidate. I plan on making all three versions to practice my ruffle and seaming techniques.
first apron

This version was the simplest and I have to admit I spent a few weeks reading the pattern and visualizing the 'how to' before I even sat down to cut and sew. I think this helps me to execute things better and it is something I have always done with knitting projects. Though I admit I had a hard time joining the waistband and ties, that required a seam ripper...twice.

This little kimono took no time at all (relatively speaking, of course).
edge detail

It is from the Mason Dixon book and is destined to travel north once seamed. For my little Kayda Rose who is by far the best dressed baby girl I have ever seen.

And the second incarnation of Le Box Bag with some delicious Heather Ross fabric and another teal zipper.
box bag deux

This one is shorter and squatter and fits a nice ball sock yarn that is slowly creeping into the lace scarf that required more attention than I can give it right now.

I have to say when I write these Tuesday posts (all two of them, woohoo) I am a little in awe that I have something to feature. I honestly do more than craft all day, I work sometimes (except yesterday when I drove all the way out to Timbuktu to be told by a cranky old person that they wanted not my help. That sucked), I take care of the boys and I am trying to keep the house in a state of semi-shambles. But I guess I am just finding those precious moments that bring me a bit of the time that I need to do this stuff.

There was a great post at the HDYDI blog about taking off our 'perfect' mama faces and letting down our guard a bit and showing each other that we are not always the Mama that I know I look at in public and think, "Damn, she looks like she has it all together". In this spirit, I will tell you I am blogging while the boys run willy-nilly, in dirty pajamas with filthy feet and a little crazy from my desire to push them into the one nap thing. So, that means I gotta' go. Because the un-craft world calls.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Recap Friday : So Many Changes

I received a spectacular Mama Day present that I forgot to write about. Mace started dancing this week. Really dancing.

I put on DCFC and he was doing the craziest dance move. Like a cross between the funky chicken and a body roll (any modern dancers out there?) He loves the music and totally freaks out whenever he hears a song he loves. When I was 4 months pregnant we went to a DCFC concert, I wonder if that is why he seems to love them as much as I do.

Owen has picked up the ability to perform long raspberries, even better open mouth kisses and do the Indian call (you know, patting hand on mouth while saying wawawawawa).

He is also obsessed with climbing and was found multiple times by multiple people on kiddie tables at the twin playdate we attended this week. He also has taken to swiping at table surfaces above his head to see what he can come up with. Fun times.

The new backyard access has been much appreciated by all,

Both boys love running through sprays of water and Mace drinks from the sprinkler head with great zeal. I will get a few shots of water fun as it looks like our heat has come upon us and it not letting up for awhile.

Nap times have been interesting, to say the least. Transitions are as hard for me as they are for them so I tell myself to take it one day at a time and not stress too much. My biggest concern is always for them and they are doing okay. A little tired, a little more cranky as they sort out their sleep needs, but doing okay.

Funny, they are sleeping now as I write this and the hard parts of today have faded back, leaving me with thoughts of the fun we had, their enthusiasm in all things, their utter joy in discovery and it makes tomorrow look very, very bright. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Photo Wednesday

In a previous post I told ya'll my son can hold himself on the monkey bars...because he is a monkey. Here is the evidence.
Hanging Out

The other one really likes olives. And I like to stick them on his fingers and pretend like he is in that really sweet commercial from awhile back.
Olive You

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Craft Tuesday : A Reflection

Months before the boys came I was always on this blog, dedicated to Mamas and their knitties. I loved communicating with others there, but it has been awhile since I checked in...mainly because my knitting has come to be the bare minimum and I have too little to share.

I thought it would be good to review a project that I knit before the boys came and posted about there. The pattern is theDaisy cardigan found over at Knitty.

I chose this pattern because I love hoodies, but I just realized when I went back to link to the pattern that it has the esteemed Yarn Harlot as it's designer. I knit 2, one for each, in a substituted yarn. I chose to knit with Classic Elite Premiere in a light blue and a nice green.

So, now, over a year later, with both pieces having seen a lot of use and abuse, I am happy to give both yarn and design a big thumbs up.
Back detail

The pattern was fun, lots of seaming, but small enough to not overwhelm. The construction is that of knitting fronts and backs and sleeves, which I am not overly fond of, but it did not bother me because this yarn is a real pleasure to work with. It is not terribly hard on the fingers despite the cotton content and the sheen is lovely. And it has proven to be the perfect yarn for baby knits, long wearing, little staining and not too much pilling.
'Daisy' cardigan

I have washed both of these so many times and they emerge from the dryer rumpled but wearable.

I never quite got around to any of the suggested embellishments, I wanted to embroider some cute felt animals onto the front lapels (ah, to dream, combining knitting and embroidery, to have the time). The sweaters are plain as is, but I think my boys dress them up nicely. One thing I would recommend is to sew in a light zipper or add afterthought button loops because unless the boys are stationery in stroller or backpack, these sweaters rarely stay on. I have resorted to safety pins on fronts.
'Daisy' cardigan

I am such a lazy knitter.

Taking these photos today made me realize they actually have a lot of room left in them, I say they will likely use them until Fall. The sleeves are long but can be turned up or sucked on by teething mouths, the hoods fit perfectly.
Sleeve detail

I think they have been wearing them since 6 months or so, but I cannot remember what size I chose to knit. Overall, I highly recommend both yarn and pattern for anyone looking to make a useful handknit for yours or to gift.

Now, onto a new project. I finally decided to try my hand at the simple Log Cabin blanket as described in the Mason Dixon book. I know, waaaaaay after the craze, that seems to be my trend, wait until it is no longer trendy.
Log cabin blanket

I am using stash acrylic yarn because I want to get rid of it and I have another crochet afghan in the same yarn that has lasted years. It actually has a fairly pleasant hand and the garter stitch cannot be beat. And I cast on for this just in time to welcome 100 degree temps predicted for this weekend. Again, my timing is impeccable.

And last, this delicious stuff was a wholly unexpected and hugely appreciated gift from a lovely friend.
Handspun from SA

She is from South Africa and recently returned from a month visit to her family's farm...her family's sheep her Mama raises Merinos. This is yarn from those sheep; hand sheared, hand spun and just waiting to be hand dyed. It is unbelievably soft and luscious, and smells like fresh clean sheep (I admit I have buried my face in the pile a few times. Just a few).
Close up uf wool

I am thinking of using Knitpicks and their dyes and eventually turning these piles of handspun into 2 Toddler Tomtens. I have always been really inspired by the Tomtens this lady churns out and want to try my hand at designing a colorful combo for the Boys.

Whew, a lot to say on this Tuesday. I think we will leave it at that so as to not overwhelm.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Wonderful Day

Last year on my first Mother’s Day it was all so new. They were so new, barely 4 weeks old.
Their First Mother's day : 2007

Skin not yet filled, limbs that still flailed aimlessly whenever unswaddled. I was in the midst of the after hormone high. Nothing could stop me, nothing could make the newness of Mamahood be anything but shining.
First Mother's Day : 2007

That all changed a few weeks later as I came crashing down and found myself in a fairly deep well of sleepless exhaustion and unstable emotions, of questioning of myself and all others around me and never feeling like I had any of the answers.

This year I look at those once fragile limbs, now sturdy and full of purpose. Those limbs now carry them steadily from one mission to another.

Those legs climb and conquer grass and dirt and steps. Those legs also love to walk right out the front door if given the chance.

Those arms carry and find and pull and push. Those hands, last year enclosed in socks to prevent scratches and scrapes to delicate face skin, now squish all things of all matters, from food to dirt to unyielding rocks that you eventually surrender to me after a few entreaties.

They confidently stack block after block, open drawers, and close doors.

Motherhood is so unexplainable, sometimes unendurable but always, always unbelievable.

We have taken to going into their room at night before we turn into sleep. I retrieve the Ipod and use the backlight to check each boy, to see them once more before my day is done, an odd kind of compulsion seeing as I have been with them all day. Invariably we find them in positions that speak of their individual characters, as loudly in sleep as they do when awake. .Mason is usually in some convoluted shape, head flung back, arms wrapped to one side, blankie tangled impossibly under body…soundly sleeping. Owen is in a luxurious sprawl, arms flung above head, legs fully extended, taking up as much crib space as possible. His handsome face always makes me pause, in sleep his boyness so pronounced.

I wonder if we will find them in their future beds, together, Mason jammed against wall, Owen taking up the majority of bed space. I wonder if they will want to be in the same bed, want to be that close. I wonder if they will be like those boys we met in the park the other evening, those seven-eight-nine year olds fascinated with our twins. We spent the better part of an hour watching as the older boys careened about the grass with ours, entertaining them with their antics, swooping in for a hug, unfazed by the sticky drooley faces of the babies. I wonder if I will be able to raise boys of such caliber, such ease with both child and adults. I wonder if they will someday resemble the adolescents we saw today on our walk, in tight jeans and clumsy skate shoes, strolling together down the trail, faking exhaustion and ribbing each other with good natured smiles. And I wonder if I am going to survive the 2 to 1 nap switch with twins.

Then it hits me. It is all about wonder. My life is full of wonder. Every moment of every day is wonder filled. The wonder does not always look pretty, or behave well or fit conveniently. But it is wonder nonetheless. And that is what my journey of Mamahood has come to be about.
Wonder Woman

When I was growing up there was only one woman I idolized. It was Wonder Woman. She was so strong and beautiful and cool. She was able to take on the world and wear an outrageous outfit and use a lasso. She was the end all be all in my young girl life for quite some time. I am now able to see that she was Linda Carter. But I can also now see that I am finally the Wonder Woman I wanted to be, part of so many things, Mama and other. I hope I am Wonder Woman to my boys and that they will always know how very, very much their Mama loves them.

Happy Mama day to all my Mama friends out there. I know you are all Wonder Woman in your own lives.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Friday : Recap on the boys

Yesterday we went to a great park, one that has a pretty big playground. Not truly appropriate for toddlers but cool nonetheless. I though I would see if Owen's amazing gripping ability would pan out on the monkey bars. The kid held on for ten seconds. My child is officially stronger than me at the age of twelve months, two weeks. Ha. He is unbelievably strong, I promise I will get a shot of it when the lens returns.

Mason has taken to stacking blocks 4 or 5 high. He calls his blocks "Buddy" and every time he places one he screams "buddy" and dances backward. We have video but Flickr video hates us. Um, now Flickr likes us so click to see video of the cutest Buddy ever.

We also were gifted a lot of outdoor toys and both boys get huge kicks out of being pushed on the tricycle and pushing each other on their new fire engine thing. The toy cracks me up, it has little buttons that tell the boys, "Look both ways when crossing the street," or "Call 911 if you need help". Never too early to prepare your children for the rigors of our modern world. Ah, innocence.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Check ...1 2...

Been thinking so much about writing, about changing my blog, about getting really into writing things that I think in my head....and then, time, time gets in the way. Not enough time. I have been really occupied with all the other stuff, part of me is okay with that.

The 30 Days was great but burned me out a little bit. The malfunction of our lens (which is on its way back home) took the proverbial wind out of my photographic sails. The sickies that hit the boys later in the season and their inevitable switch from two daily naps to one (which is proving to be quite a difficult time for all involved) has kept my attention and brought a different type of exhaustion, not as bad as the early days but not super fun.

I love blogging and, it seems, more so reading others blogs and imagining that I could someday keep my posting up to speed like some of my favorites. But that just has not happened in the time I have been writing, even before babies. So, where is all this going?

I think I want to continue writing, style myself a little bit like Tracey over at Silverbabies with short and fun updates about the boys, a little bit after the mamas over at HDYDI with a few posts here and there about how I have tackled the challenges of twin parenting, a little bit like my favorite crafters who keep wonderful photo journals of their projects. But those are all thoughts, not yet come to fruition.

I will continue thinking on this, maybe give myself some structure with a day of the week assigned to a particular something. Maybe restyle my pages to please my eye a bit more. Maybe get a little more into some of the Flickr and Ravelry groups.

Maybe not, time might not agree with all these thoughts. Maybe I will just have to see.

I have decided to change the monthly updates about the boys to, um, whenever I can get them in updates. I loved writing about their first year, but they are changing so rapidly, becoming people so quickly that I am thinking about doing a letter to them every 3-4 months or so.

Don't worry, Gramma Mona, there will still be plenty of pictures. I promise that.