“Twogether”

No, its not a typo. I intentionally wrote “twogether”, as in two-together.

Yesterday, my family and I went to the park to get some exercise. My husband happened to bring along my old camera and handed it to me to take some shots. I took a few good ones. But there’s this particular one that he liked so much, he spent a good deal of time working on it. He emailed it to me.

It’s true though. These boys have been together since day one. Since they were mere cells, they have been together. Spent 35 weeks or so together in my tummy. Just one incubator apart in the NICU, but still side by side. And now playing, fighting and loving together. In other words, two-together — twogether.

Even though they fight a lot, I can see their fondness for each other. When I go to the doctor bringing just Lorenzo, he looks over at Ignacio’s car seat and then at me as if to say, “Where’s my brother?” Yesterday, after having a huge fight over one of their toys, Lorenzo fell asleep. I thought Ignacio would be happy playing with said toy but instead he looked up at me as if to say, “It’s not the same playing without my brother.”

I wonder what they think of each other. I wonder if they realize that they are brothers and that they share the same parents. More than once, when I’m holding one baby and the other baby comes along seeking attention, the baby in my arms will try to swat away the newcomer. I have to say, “I’m his Mommy too.” I wonder if they understand.

I hope they become great friends when they grow up. I hope they stand up for each other and cheer each other on. I hope they realize and appreciate the special bond they share. I hope they know how much we love them.

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Dividing Time

As I write this, I am sitting at the dining table and drinking my coffee. The boys are still down for their morning nap, although I’m pretty sure they’ll be up (and very hungry) soon.

It’s now five minutes later and the boys are awake and are currently enjoying their favorite breakfast – Cheerios.  Thankfully, they already feed themselves (at least with their fingers) so while I am typing away; they are happily watching Team Umizoomi as they eat.

One of the challenges of being a Mom is dividing time between Mom duties (changing diapers, kissing booboos, playing Peek-a-boo and refereeing conflicts, among others) and other duties (in my case, housework, blogging and research on an upcoming project). If this wasn’t hard enough, imagine doing this for TWO babies who are the same age and have more or less the same needs. (It would be a different challenge I imagine, if I had two kids of different ages.) I can’t imagine how OctoMom does it or even Kate (as in Kate Plus Eight).

True, it’s a lot easier now that they have some measure of independence.  It’s not as tedious as it was when they came home from the hospital. (I still haven’t recovered from all the sleep loss after the boys were born.)

Nacho and Enzo at one-week old, just home from the hospital.

But here are some things that I do to keep myself from going crazy:

1. It is okay not to be able to do everything.

Repeat this to yourself over and over. Breathe. If there are dishes to be washed and laundry to be folded but the babies are screaming their heads off, breathe. Accept that you can’t do everything.  Instead of worrying about having a spotless house, enjoy spending time with your child.

2. Prioritize.

You need to prioritize. What’s more important? Feeding the babies or washing the dishes? I always take care of whatever the babies need first. For example, I periodically wash their bottles throughout the day but wait until after dinner to wash the rest of the dirty dishes.

I’m a list person. Before I had kids, I had post-its for everything. I like to know what I’m doing each day and what I’ve already accomplished. Obviously, this all went down the toilet the minute my boys arrived. I didn’t even have time to write anything down! So just to keep my sanity, I mentally list just one to three main tasks I need to complete each day – for example: continue my research, fold the laundry and go to the supermarket. This way, a) I remember my daily tasks and b) I actually feel like I finished something at the end of the day. I only write one to three tasks because more than this and chances are it won’t be completed. And I’ll just feel guilty.

3. Don’t forget me time.

I feel like a lot of Moms get burned out because they don’t spend any time on themselves. It’s important to have at least weekly me time. It could be as simple as taking a few hours to go to your favorite store for some retail therapy or reading a book or even taking a 15-minute soak in the tub. It’s important to detach yourself sometimes in order to recharge your batteries.

4. Use your kid’s downtime to your advantage.

When the boys were little, my Mom used to tell me to sleep when they sleep. Of course, you had to when they were waking up every three hours and it took one hour to feed one and then the other. Nowadays, unless I’ve had a bad night (like if one of the boys woke up screaming at 2am and wouldn’t sleep until 4am), I don’t use the babies’ nap time to catch up on some sleep. I use it to do other chores I can’t normally do when the boys are awake – like take a shower or do some writing.

5. Enjoy your kids.

A very good friend of mine once told me that you usually get more enjoyment out of other people’s kids. At the time, my babies were just a few months old, and I couldn’t quite understand. But what she meant was, sometimes we worry too much about our kids – are they getting enough nutrition? Are they on point developmentally? – that we forget to just enjoy being with them. And it’s so true! With other people’s kids, you’re free to just enjoy playing with them or holding them. Someone else is worrying about their well-being.

I don’t claim to be an expert about mommy time management. But one thing I learned so far, your children are babies only for a little while. They grow up so fast. My babies are boys now.

So as a Mom, you need to remind yourself that your children are not going to remember if you did the laundry or washed the dishes, they’re going to remember that you spent time with them.

Have a good weekend!

Where is Enzo?

My sons love to play peekaboo. One of their favorite games is to play it while running around me. (I am literally sitting, kneeling or standing in one place and the twins run around me.) They play it with Daddy, with me and even with each other. Sometimes, I would just find one of the boys hiding behind something (usually the sofa or the basketball post) waiting for me to say, “Where is Enzo?” (or Nacho as the case may be). And then he would squeal with laughter. Priceless.

Here is Lorenzo hiding under the bed and playing with his Daddy while working on the iPad. Talk about multitasking!

The Red Sticks

I know that “the Red Sticks” seem like a strange name for a Mommy blog. It seems more appropriate for a rock band (sporting red hair!) or a Chinese restaurant (as in the Red Chopsticks). But believe it or not, the title of my blog refers to my twin boys, Lorenzo and Ignacio.

For some reason, both boys seem to be particularly attracted to the color red. It probably has nothing to do with their red stroller, their red car seats or their array of red clothes. Nor the fact that their Mom’s favorite color is, in fact, the color red. (I’m being sarcastic here, in case you didn’t know.) So it comes as no surprise that they like toys that are red.

The boys have this toy hammering block from IKEA which has a series of sticks in various colors. There are only two red sticks and my boys love, love, love the red sticks.

These are their favorite toys!  They go everywhere – to the bathtub when they take their bath, to bed when they go to sleep and even in the car when we are driving somewhere. Unfortunately, because these sticks go everywhere, we also tend to lose them. If there’s only one red stick left, then be prepared for a lot of tantrums and fighting. We’ve actually already bought three sets of this hammering block just so there’s always a red stick for each boy.

But I’ve noticed that they actually like any red stick-like toy. Like today, Ignacio spent the whole day clutching a red Duplo Lego block. He had it in his hands from church to lunch to the supermarket and on the way back home.  When we go to the Children’s Museum in Houston, they like to clasp these red crystal sticks found in the TotSpot section.

So when it came time to name my blog, I thought of using a title that was both personal and reminded me of the two most important little boys in my life. Consider this a welcome of sorts to my blog. In the coming posts, I hope to share with you the highs and lows of being Momma to these Red Sticks. Have a great week ahead!

Photo courtesy of Ikea.

Becoming “Mom”

It took my husband, Glenn, and I forever to have kids. Nine years to be exact. Someday I’ll tell you all the details but today let it suffice to say that it took us down a long and arduous road.

And after nine long years of marriage, I was pregnant with — surprise! — twin boys. When these boys were born, they became the loves of our lives. Not only was I a mommy at last — but I was also the mommy of two, very different, and very strong-willed beautiful boys. I’m still learning the ropes but one thing I do know after 17 months of mommyhood — it is not easy. Nope. Anyone who tells you otherwise probably has never been a Mom herself.

During the nine years we were trying to have kids, people used to tell me that “you won’t understand until you’re a Mom yourself.” And it always used to bother me, like it excluded me somehow. But now I do understand. And I know they’re right.