Thursday, August 31, 2017

Missing Milestones

As a mariner wife, I have become accustomed to my husband, Ryan, missing birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. It's just an accepted aspect of our unique lifestyle. It doesn't mean it's easy when he misses these things, but it's almost as though you learn to put up a wall and push through your emotions knowing that quality time and celebrations will be abundant once he returns home. The thing that is really hard is when he misses milestones. There will always be more birthdays and holidays--those come every year. But what doesn't come every year is taking first steps, losing a first tooth or getting on the bus for the first day of kindergarten. Yesterday our twin boys boarded the school bus together to embark upon their first day of kindergarten. Just as the bus was approaching our house, my phone rang. It was Ryan calling from Guam. I was floored that even with the crazy time change between us, the call came at the exact moment I wished he was standing beside me in the driveway. I took it as a sign that somehow we were spiritually in sync even a world away from each other. Unfortunately, I had to rush him off the phone in order to capture the moment in photos. As soon as I waved goodbye to the kindergarteners and watched the bus turn around the corner, the tears welled up. I called Ryan back and as soon as I heard his voice, I broke down and my voice shook as I tried to give him a thorough account of what had just transpired. My heart hurt for him as well knowing how much he would have loved to have been here to see his first-born children ride off to the start of their academic career. But in all the years that we've been doing this, I've learned that dwelling on the fact that Ryan isn't here for certain things does no good. It brings you to a dark and lonely place--a place I cannot let myself go as a mom. As soon as I hung up the phone with Ryan, I made myself snap out of it and just forge ahead to the next item of business for the day. That meant dropping the girls for their first day of school and breakfast with my parents. And now we are one day closer to Ryan coming home! Even though yesterday was an emotional day, I didn't let it break my spirit. Instead, I made myself think about all of the things we have planned for when Ryan gets home. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, "With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts." 

Monday, July 24, 2017

New motto: 39 and Feeling Fine!

I turned 39 last week. I've always touted that age is merely a number and that I do not feel like I am in my...ahem...late 30's. Then, I recently signed on to do the musical, "Cabaret." "How hard can it be?" I asked myself. I have years of dance experience on my side, but what I forgot about was that those years of dance experience were in my teens and 20's prior to giving birth to 2 sets of twins. 😳 We went around last night and were talking age amongst the "Kit Kat Girls and Boys." I am the oldest by a significant amount. I have been feeling like I may have made a mistake by doing this show--that I wouldn't be able to keep up or that I would be "that" ensemble member who sticks out like a sore thumb and the audience thinks, "How did she get cast?" But then I thought about how I ran 2 5K races last month--something I hadn't done in 8 years. It wasn't easy. It took discipline and conditioning. Did I want to throw in the towel at times? Yes. Did I doubt myself? Yes. Bottom line--I stuck with it and I accomplished my goal. It was exhilarating. I think that I will just need to treat this show in the same way. I have let my insecurities get the better of me many times throughout my life--not this time. It won't be easy. It will be a challenge to push through at each rehearsal. But I'm committed--not only to the cast and to the director, but most importantly--to myself. Who says 39-year-old moms can't be sexy?! Stay tuned...this Mama is on yet another journey! 

Friday, July 7, 2017

You Never Know Who You are Inspiring

Around the end of April, just before Ryan headed back to work, I began a Couch to 5K program in preparation to run 2 5K's in the month of June. One race was in memory of a good friend and colleague, Stephen Kanode, who lost his battle with brain cancer in January and the other was in memory of a little girl named Sydney from our twin community who passed away unexpectedly two years ago. Both losses have impacted me strongly in different ways. I thought about how Stephen and his family were warriors throughout his illness and how his wife continues to be a warrior in navigating a new reality with their two young boys. I thought about how Sydney's mom, Heather, and dad, Shane have had to endure unimaginable grief while trying to carry on for their two boys. I also remembered that shortly after Stephen was diagnosed, he posted about how he had become more health conscious in an effort to live each day to its fullest. He even chronicled his Couch to 5K journey and I remember being so inspired by his posts. The combination of all of these things inspired me to begin my own Couch to 5K program. But anyone who knows me, knows I'm kind of a fair weather fitness person. I will usually stick to something for awhile and then fall off the wagon. This time it needed to be different because if I didn't complete the program, I felt that I would not only be letting myself down, but Stephen and Sydney as well. 
I made the decision to document my journey on social media as an effort to keep myself accountable. I figured that even if I didn't get feedback about the posts that I was having my own proof of progress. I thought that people would probably just scroll passed my sweaty gym pics and stats, but I was amazed by the support and feedback I received. There were days I was literally dragging myself to the treadmill wanting to give up, but then I would receive words of inspiration and it kept me going. I didn't want to let others down and didn't want to let myself down. A month ago, I ran my first 5K in 36 min and a week later, I ran the second race in 34 minutes, 30 seconds! Both finishes gave me such an incredible sense of pride and satisfaction that I had followed through with my goal and proved to myself that I am still capable of achieving fitness goals even with my crazy lifestyle. Summer has been tough to maintain the same training schedule, but I am still exercising and looking to run another race in the fall. From this experience, I truly did realize that inspiration can be passed along from one person to another. Because of the people who inspired me, I was able to inspire others and that is an amazing feeling! 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Call Every Parent Dreads

It's the call every parent dreads. The call from the school telling you that there is a medical situation with your child. This happened to me two weeks ago in the middle of the grocery store. I heard the voice on the other end of the phone say to me, "Mrs. Wall, how soon can you get here? Liam has had a dizzy spell and we have called an ambulance." The words took a moment to sink in, but once they did, I tried my hardest not to panic as my girls were with me. I took a breath, pushed the overflowing cart of groceries to the front of the store and quickly explained to the manager why I had to abandon the unpaid merchandise. She was very kind and understanding as we are regular customers there and after our brief encounter, I made a beeline for the door. As I got in the car, I sent a brief message to my mama group. We often reach out to each other in times of crisis for reassurance, prayers, and moral support. I included briefly how I abruptly left the grocery store. I also spoke with my sister-in-law Jen, my mom, and Ryan in the 20 or so minutes it took me to get to the school. I was feeling so fortunate to have an immediate support system, not even knowing that the words of support were just the beginning.
When I arrived at the school, my poor little Liam was on the stretcher with the paramedics looking scared and pale. He had had a dizzy spell of sorts--presenting similar to vertigo. This is not the first time it has happened and we have been exploring the issue for several months through a series of tests and doctor visits. Thus far our only diagnosis is that the dizziness may be a certain type of vertigo that could turn into a migraine disorder later in life. It has been a journey without any real answers. The last episode was in November and so when I dropped him off at school last Friday, it wasn't even on my radar.
Once I de-briefed with the teachers and paramedics, it was decided that Liam should be transported to the hospital for further care. As we were loading him into the ambulance, I called my sister-in-law, Jen, and she came right over to the school to pick up the other three kiddos. It was such a relief to know that I could go with Liam and that the others would be taken care of.
At the hospital, my phone was blowing up with offers of help and support. I know that we have so much love around us, but when something like this happens, it becomes even more apparent.
Everything was amazingly seamless. When my sister-in-law had to leave for work, my friend Lisa from my twin mama family picked up the kiddos and was with them until Liam was released from the hospital. 
And, while the kiddos were being well taken care of by family and friends, I found out my friend, Natalie, also from our twin family had gone to the grocery store, rescued my abandoned cart of groceries and delivered them to my house. Not only that, but I found out later that there was a veritable bidding war within the twin mama group for who was going to get the groceries! I mean, seriously!! I was truly blown away by how people went above and beyond the call of duty for us. 
These situations are never easy, but when you are a mariner family and Dad is at sea, it's even harder. Not to mention that poor Ryan gets the call and feels helpless and anxious being so far away.
Ryan and I just want to thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts for the endless love and support. There really are not enough words to express our gratitude. We love you all. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

"Surround Yourself With People Who Get It"

I know that I often sing the praises of the twin mom group I belong to called Keeping Pace with Multiple Miracles. Sometimes I stop and think about where I would be without these families and I truly cannot imagine my life without them. Over the past two days, I've encountered a couple of twin families that I hadn't seen before in various places around town. I did what I always do and told them to check out our organization. I've literally become a walking advertisement for the group as we all have because we are all just so grateful for the support we receive there. I will often say in my spiel about the group how nice it is to be surrounded by people who get it. Life with multiples is certainly unique and challenging, but when you surround yourself with people who can identify, some days feel a lot less daunting. 
Take today, for instance. I had decided to make a run to BJ's with all 4 of the kiddos as the fridge was in desperate need of re-stocking. I normally try to go shopping when at least 2 of the kids are in school, but it doesn't always work out that way. So today we all went to the Stoughton BJ's. There are no car carts there, so the cart seating situation becomes a little challenging. If we have 2 in the child seats, the other 2 pretty much have to walk because otherwise there is no room for the food in the cart! Just as we are trying to figure everything out, we run into some friends from our  multiples group. It was my friend, Deb and her teenage triplets. Now, this family has helped me out several times over the past few years and her kids are always so good with the littles. We happened to see them just as our shopping adventure began. As we chatted, Deb asked if I needed help, and if it were anyone else, I probably would have just said, "No, I'm good, thanks!" and muddled through the shopping excursion as normal. But I feel like I can let my guard down a bit with my fellow multiple families and I accepted the help. Deb's son, Thomas, grabbed a second cart right away, so that we could have a cart for children and a cart for food! Sometimes the stars have a way of aligning! Side note--the kiddos got new fancy water bottles last week so are now obsessed with drinking water. It's not a bad thing, but their water guzzling did, in fact, lead to three trips to the bathroom during our time at BJ's! Had I been by myself, I would have lost my mind by bathroom trip #3! But having Thomas there to watch the carts while I brought the kiddos into the bathroom each time was a huge help! We even got to order the girls' birthday cake with minimal chaos! So bottom line--when I joined this multiples group, I found another family! And I just had to highlight today's scenario as it perfectly illustrates everyone's willingness to help each other out based on our common bond.  Not to say that I don't have wonderful, supportive people in my life outside of the multiples group, but it is helpful to surround yourself with people who have either walked in your shoes or are currently walking beside you.Thank you, Gelman family for being in the right place at the right time today!! 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Parenthood is a Daily Roller Coaster of Emotions

The kids are in bed. I SHOULD be folding laundry. I SHOULD be catching up on paperwork and correspondence. I SHOULD be continuing to deal with the end of the pantry moth infestation in my kitchen. Bottom line--there's a lot I SHOULD be doing, but instead I wish to share with you the reasons why my almost 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds had such a tough day. Sometimes I just need to sit back and laugh at toddler problems. 
It all started bright and early when the kiddos woke up and decided to play camping and spread their favorite blankets next to each other on the floor. Seems harmless enough, right? Wrong. What followed was a classic fight of, "Your blanket is touching my blanket!" and "You're blanket is too close to mine!" Seriously guys, I get it. Personal space is tough in this house. The whole scenario started my day off on the rough side too!
Shortly thereafter, I gave Liam a yellow spoon instead of his usual green spoon. You would have thought I was making the child eat pickled herring and liver. (No offense to people who enjoy those foods!) The boy was in a puddle of tears in the middle of the kitchen floor over the yellow fork. I am proud to say I stood my ground, and in evil mother fashion made him eat with the yellow fork. Please don't anyone call the authorities. 
I must have been on a roll with dinnerware today because at lunch I accidentally gave Mallory the purple plate instead of the pink plate. I know what you're all thinking...the cruelty I inflict is never ending. 
Skip ahead to Target after school today with all four children. We went there to claim the coveted prize from our weekly sticker chart--"blind bags." For those of you who have not been introduced to the blind bag phenomenon, please reference neverending YouTube kids videos where children open these blind bags and talk at length about the figures inside. I don't get it, but the kids find it captivating. At the checkout, after the woman scans the blind bags, 3 of the 4 are happy with the results of the big reveal. Liam is devastated with his. I basically tried very hard to explain that blind bags are a gamble and you have to accept what you get, that it's part of the fun! I It went over like a lead balloon. But lo and behold, an hour later, it was the best thing ever!!! I can't keep up!
These are just a few highlights...or lowlights from today! In between, there were sweet and funny moments, but after going over today's meltdowns and negotiations in my head, I am reminded even more about why I am so completely drained at night! Kids take you on an emotional roller coaster ride all day, every day and your job is to make your ride and theirs as smooth and enjoyable as possible. So remember parents, take a deep breath when you get up in the morning because that's your ascension before that first drop in your day...only at bedtime does the ride come to a complete stop! 

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Hamster Wheel Called Life

Moms, do you ever feel like you're on the hamster wheel of life? That's kind of how I have been feeling as of late. I'm attributing it to the fact that the rainy, cold spring weather  has been keeping us holed up in the house for the past couple of weeks, but even still, I feel like I am constantly doing the same jobs over and over again with no results. It's almost getting to the point where I don't even take pride in completing a task anymore because after I complete one, there are twenty more waiting for me! Take for example the laundry in a household of 6 people. Some days I literally do 3 loads in a day, but by the time it all gets folded and put away, the hampers are overflowing once again! Also now that I am a stay-at-home mom, I've diagnosed myself with HADD or Housework Attention Deficit Disorder. I can be folding a basket of laundry one minute and then one of the children will ask me for a snack or drink in the kitchen. After I have gotten said snack and/or drink, I have completely forgotten about the basket of laundry in the living room and will turn my attention to loading or unloading the dishwasher or even cleaning expired items from the fridge. And then there are the toys. Oh the toys. Although I love our house, we don't have the luxury of a separate playroom in which to hide all of the toys. They are "organized" in bins in our living room. Every once in awhile, I will do a toy re-boot where I downsize and donate toys that we no longer show an interest in. But as per Murphy's Law, the day you purge a toy, is the day the child asks you where it is.  Some days I wonder to myself what the house would look like if I just got off the hamster wheel for a week or so and just let it be. Then I laugh hysterically and realize that the time it would take to dig out from that would be even worse! 
I shared my woes with my twin mama group last week just to gauge whether I had fellow hamsters. And low and behold, everyone could relate. Since receiving feedback from the meeting, I went back into teacher mode and created a sticker chart of chores and behaviors for the week. It always seemed like a chore in and of itself to implement something of this nature, but I have to say, that it has been so worth it. Granted, it has only been a week, but these kiddos are certainly old enough to start contributing to the household. Sometimes just a small change, can improve the household dynamics and mama's mental health! I know I will miss these years. I know that I will. And I know that one day my house will be clean and we'll have nice furniture, but those little giggles and moments that take your breath away will be mere memories. So, I'm trying to separate myself from the hamster wheel and not "sweat the small stuff."