What’s new in April (besides snow)

Hey everyone! Today is a little like a mystery flavor post. There’s just way too much great stuff going on to make cohesive sense, so I’m just going to mix it all together and call it good. It worked for Airheads, right? Anyway. It’s April 1, and it’s snowing. I want to say it’s some sort of April Fool’s joke, but who am I kidding. It’s just Minnesota.

First and foremost:
This month, we’re starting a month-long series on self-care around here. Why self-care? Have you ever heard the phrase, “When mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”?

Right.

For the next three weeks, I have three different voices lined up to give you their thoughts on how they take purposeful care of their personal lives in order to help them in their vocations. I hope you can glean something from their ideas and find a few new, practical ways to care for yourself. Check back in on Thursday for our first post!

Second:

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Well rested babies are happy babies

Sleep training for the twins is complete. No more crying it out. No more muscle jerking, ear-splitting, teeth clenching wails at 3:00 am. We are finally all sleeping through the night – as in 7:00 pm to 6:00 am most days. The twins stopped wanting their “dream feeding” two weeks ago, and since then, it’s been a solid, 11 hour stretch of beautiful sleep.

No swings. No rocking. No more pacing the floor required. Our bedtime routine now consists of changing diapers, putting on pajamas, and then bringing them to their dark room to lay down with their nuks and loveys. We turn on the fan for white noise, and off to dreamland they go.

It was a long, dark road. But we’ve now emerged in a pleasant place. God is good.

Third:
The twins aren’t the only ones who got trained. Some sort of switch went off for Ellis, and she is suddenly potty trained. I’m dumbfounded.

Two weeks ago we did another round of undies training (same as a year ago). This time she had a 50% success rate, and I ran out of carpet cleaner. Then she got sick, and we put it all on hold. I figured she wasn’t ready. But this Wednesday, she requested undies again, and kept them dry all day. Thursday was the same. Since last Friday, she’s only had one accident.

I have no idea why now was the time. Nor do I think I’m any sort of oracle for potty training wisdom. Best I can say is that she was ready, and in typical fashion, just made her mind up and went with it. She never ceases to amaze me, my spirited, sassy, stubborn little Swede.

Fourth:
We’re going to learn how to make yogurt! Okay, maybe I’m the only one super excited about this. But my friend Lacey offered to show me her tinkered, tested, and perfected method for homemade yogurt, and I feel like I inherited the moon.

We are going through yogurt like WATER at my house these days, and it’s eating my grocery budget alive. So if you A. hate paying $4.50 for a tub of organic yogurt, B. hate paying $9.00 for two tubs of organic yogurt, or C. HATE paying $18.00 for FOUR tubs of organic yogurt a week, you should probably check back in next week.

That’s all I’ve got. If you want a good giggle, here’s an adorable video of Ellis making the twins laugh. We are loving the 8 month stage.

 

 

 

 

Double Duty Meal Idea – Alphabet Veggie Mac and Cheese

Veggie MacHave I ever mentioned how much I love food posts? I could write about ingredients and texture and methods all day. However, my usual problem with food posts is this: I make something, think it was good, and then wish I would have snapped a picture and wrote down what I did. Or at least left myself a few leftovers.

So, while this is still fresh in my brain and littles are napping, here’s what we had for lunch. You’ll notice I called it double duty, because I try to get everyone (twins, toddler, and mama) eating together most lunches. It’s honestly easier that way, and it reinforces that we all eat what’s put in front of us. This is tricky though – the twins only have two teeth, Ellis is in a semi-picky toddler stage, and me? I’m just hungry. all. the. time.

Thus, today we put together homemade mac and cheese. It’s a little bit of a riff off this great recipe from Skinnytaste that my friend Jessica made for us a while back at her house, minus the baking and bread crumbs. Lunch has to be ready quick for my crew.

Here’s what I love- the alphabet noodles are small and soft enough that my 8 month old twins can eat them with a spoon, or with their fingers. My toddler was stoked that there were letters in her lunch bowl. And I liked how I secretly packed it full of carrots and cauliflower and kale. And cheese. Real cheese.

Alphabet Veggie Mac ‘n Cheese

2 cups alphabet noodles
1 cup cauliflower florets
3 averaged sized leaves of kale, ribs removed
Handful of carrot sticks
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 tbsp butter
1 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup milk
Celery salt, Garlic to taste

Method

1. Bring salted water to a boil. When boiling, add alphabet noodles and cook according to directions.

2. Meanwhile, throw carrots, cauliflower, and kale in a food processor. Process till the mix resembles crumbs.

3. Heat a small frying pan with 2 tbsp of butter. Add processed veggies. Stir in a few shakes of celery salt and garlic powder, or real garlic if you have time. Stir occasionally for 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, and simmer on low.

4. Drain noodles, and return them to the pot. Still in the other two tbsp of butter, the milk, and the cheese.  When cheese and milk are incorporated, add veggies and any remaining broth. Mix well. If you want it creamier, add more milk. Or cream. Cheesier? You know the drill. Need more protein? I’m sure chicken would be a great addition. Make it your own, and put the box to shame.

Lent Log – Week 1

calendarIf ever I had a chance to get angry, this past weekend would have been it. Husband gone, babies teething, a toddler who found my secret stash of scissors – a perfectly brewed storm.

And yet, when my daughter went into stealth mode while I was nursing, and I found her a few minutes later with a pair of kitchen shears in hand, I took a really deep breath. I didn’t yell. I listened to her explain, in the animated half speech of two-and-a-half-year-olds, how she needed to cut the threads hanging from the shoulders of her dress-up Cinderella gown because they tickled her.

She wasn’t quite as forthright about why she had to cut her hair as well, but what can you do.

Meanwhile, one of the twins decided to get really cranked about her teeth coming in, and daddy being gone, and not understanding why MPR just wouldn’t ever come out and say what was really happening in the Ukraine.

On Sunday we were late to church. Monday we were even later to Play and Learn. Normally, being late primes my internal rage, pumping harder every hot minute that ticks past my desired leaving time.

And yet, somehow, the anger only circled, a dark shadow trolling the bay.

***

If you’ve ever baked bread, you know that there are a few key ingredients. Flour, yeast, water, salt. When those ingredients meld together in the right environment, they react. The yeast creates gas, which causes the flour and water to bubble and lift. Eventually, the whole mass rises.

When you control the ingredients, you determine the type of bread you’ll make. But the rise is always a mystery (at least to me). It is the least controllable part of the process, and the one that takes the most patience.

I started to think more about controlling my anger some more this past weekend when I was, vigorously punching, ahem, kneading bread dough.

What’s funny about anger is that sometimes I can control the situation surrounding it, and sometimes I can’t.

If I want to control the situations surrounding my anger, I simply need to plan well enough to keep the mishaps to a minimum. (Easier said than done, but in theory…?) For example, if I don’t want to be late, all I have to do is get us moving towards the door half an hour earlier than I normally would have started. Or if I don’t want my toddler giving herself a mullet, I should put all scissors under lock and key.

And in the situations when I have no control over the outcome? When I mixed everything right, used the right ingredients, and yet something still went horribly, awfully wrong?

I still have command over my response.

Slow driver in front of me? Busy restaurant server? Feverish baby screaming in my face?

Breathe. Practice quiet love the way Jesus did when thousands of voices screamed for his death.

***

I appreciate the practicality of finding ways to avoid being angry with a little time management and planning. But those situations don’t always cause me to think with my spirit.

Where I’m really seeing my Lenten practice start to sweat is when I control what feels like the uncontrollable rise of my anger. I need to understand the triggers that normally set me off and see them as just that – triggers. When I face the situation, I have to find that detached calmness (the one I wouldn’t normally be able to muster if I were to just blaze right into fixing whatever went wrong.)

I see Jesus in this. Jesus who, in his work with people, didn’t immediately triage and treat. Jesus who listened. When those around him were flustered and begging, he answered back with patience. When 5,000 people needed to be fed, he got creative with what he had. He used every opportunity as a moment to teach. To love.

After a week, it’s encouraging to see glimmers of change. I feel less defeated when I go to bed, no guilt-monkey twirling his tail around my arm. I don’t raise my voice as often, and have felt, generally, more pleasant. Kind. Less likely to snap.

It’s not been easy, and I’m learning which of my own rules I can bend, and which ones I can’t. The whole void thing? I’ve only used it once. But deep breathing? I use this every single time. Going to bed early is a tough one – I’m still fudging around, trying to figure out the optimal time. (I broke the rule altogether on Tuesday night, and paid for it all morning yesterday.) But for the most part, I think I have a solid set of ways to work with my emotions.

Next step is to find some good, easily accessible reading to drive my focus on the Cross. Any suggestions? Or anything that’s helping your Lent practice stay strong this week? I’d be glad to hear them!

The trenches of babyland – 4m vs. 6/7m

Note: Hi friends! I started this deep-in-the-babyland-trenches post in November. Yes, it’s the end of February. The last few months have been the hardest mothering of my life. But here are some of the technical things that were happening for the babies at four months, and now at 6 and 7 month. Sorry – it’s totally a posterity post.

Ugh. I can't believe mom is still talking about us at 4 months.

Ugh. I can’t believe mama is still talking about us at 4 months.

4M According to the professionals: Gabrielle – 14 lbs, Lucia – 13 lbs

6M According to the professionals: Gabrielle – 16 lbs. Lucia – 16 lbs

4M Motor: the girls are starting to move. Half rolls, inchworming, and sitting up in their bumbo seats are a few of the major accomplishments. It is exciting, until I remember that this is all precursor to crawling and walking. They are also pretty interested in their hands, and any toys that we put in their grasp. They are big fans of the Velcro wrist rattles and plastic rings. Gabby may also prove to be a thumb sucker.

6/7M Motor: We are now working on sitting up unassisted, which equates to slowly falling over most of the time. We also practice standing at the activity table and the ottoman.  The girls solidly love to hold things, and will grab anything in their reach. Toys, carrots, and fistfuls of mama’s collarbone skin are the preferred items.

Brown chair comparisons - Four months

 Four months and we got things to celebrate y’all!

4M Eating: This one is big news, folks. We finally mastered the art of tandem breastfeeding. Right around 3 months, I noticed they seemed to be equally as full whether bottle or breastfed. I opted to forge ahead with breastfeeding and start phasing out the bottles. As of this month, the only time they get a bottle is if I’m away for the evening.

In other news, we started solid food. I know – it’s a little bit early. But our doctor gave me the go-ahead for single-grain rice cereal, which I mixed with formula since I’m not regularly pumping anymore. On hungry nights, I mixed the cereal with four ounces of formula. On average nights, I left it at two ounces. The first few feedings were super messy, but after a couple of weeks, they both got the hang of the spoon.

Eating. Yes. We love eating.

6M – Eating. Yes. We love eating.

6/7M Eating: Still breastfeeding. (Hooray!) It’s more challenging the more they move, and tandem feeding is bit like feeding an octopus. We don’t always do it anymore. Luckily, the older they get, the quicker they get. I totally forgot that about breastfeeding, but it’s really great. Meanwhile my milk supply has kept up, so we forge on.

As for solids, we discovered that rice cereal gave the girls gas, so we gave that up after a month of fussiness. Onto bigger and better things, like bananas. Did you know bananas have tryptophan (the same sleepy chemical residing in turkey)? Me either. But now we eat a pureed banana every night before bed. Daytime snacks are mostly fruits and veggies – pureed or whole food (jicama sticks, carrots, celery, and apples go over well.) We also love yogurt. Wow do we love yogurt.

4M Sleeping: Sigh. They were doing really well sleeping seven hour stretches at night… until now. I don’t know if that had anything to do with switching to breastfeeding, but it’s something to note. We usually get up once, if not twice, to eat between 10 pm and 6 am. (This is also where I am super thankful we can breastfeed – it’s a little less of a production to slide into the arm-chair in their bedroom instead of standing at the stove warming bottles with two screaming babies in my arms.)

I think we are going to switch to separate cribs soon. Sleep training twins will probably be a whole different ball game, but I think it’s time to try.

6/7M Sleeping: Sigh again. The girls are getting better at sleeping through the night, but it wasn’t without two months of full-blown, hour-long, cry it out scream fests at 2 and 3 in the morning. We are slowly getting past that stage. The challenge now is working with each baby separately. One or other has started to sleep through the night, but the other one usually has different plans. Someday…

4M Postpartum update: Thankfully, the body is starting to get back to normal at this point. I can wear almost all of my pre-pregnancy clothes (except the ones that were really fitted in the stomach) with relative comfort. My stomach continues to reduce, although the shape of it is still a little off kilter. I try to squeeze in two or three 20-minute segments of yoga off of You Tube (search yoga and knock yourself out – there are hundreds of video classes to try) per week, although Ellis makes this a challenge. Apparently yoga time is synonymous with horsey time.

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Thank you, polar vortex. This is the reality of what I face for outdoor exercise these days.

6/7M Postpartum update: Feeling pretty much the same as at 4M. I haven’t lost any more weight that I can tell, and I think my body is holding on to a little extra while I’m still breastfeeding. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. Exercising sans gym during this particular Minnesota winter limits me to snowshoeing, walking, or doing exercise videos…in the dark. Ugh. Someday it will be green again.

I don’t own a scale, so I’m not sure where I’m at with weight. I’m also usually the one holding the camera, so I don’t have any pictures to compare. It’s kind of like I had twins, and then photo evidence of my existence stopped. 🙂 Anyway, I’m trying not to consider the breast-feeding year a time to get serious about weight-loss. After that, I’ll be happy to pick back up with a regular lifting and cardio routine, but until then, the body gets a little more grace. Besides. Carrying thirty-two pounds of baby and down the stairs numerous times a day has to count for something.

The year I ruined Valentine’s Day

I didn’t mean to be a jerk on the holiday of love. It just, well, it happened.

It was never destined to be a frosted, heart shaped sort of day at my house. The girls were needy, and I was empty. I slogged through the morning edgy and dry. And then the radio announcer would make a comment, or I’d see my Google search covered in hearts, and something in my brain would cackle that I was supposed to be celebrating my loves.

Vday card 2014We tried. Honest. I took a cute picture of the twins for the grandparents, and made a card on a fun site called Fotor. And when the girls went down for their tiny afternoon nap and Ellis woke up early, we baked cookies. Unfortunately the activity lasted for seven minutes, at the end of which Ellis and I both consumed an unhealthy amount of cookie dough and my kitchen became a shrine to measuring cups and spilled flour.

Meanwhile, my Love with a capital L was in the throes of tonsillitis. He came back from the doctor’s office with a new prescription, a jug of orange juice, and barely enough energy to make it up the stairs before collapsing into bed.

I knew our plans of dinner with friends and snowshoeing were out.  Along with them went my fast-waning patience. The girls cried. The house vomited princess dresses and Mr. Potato Head pieces.

And I wanted nothing to do with this messy, imperfect side of love.

Love was easy in a new dress and candlelight. It readily accepted the flowers and blushed gracefully at the card with its polished sentiments.

Love at 4:17 in the afternoon was grueling. It had unwashed hair and flushed cheeks. It ran out of tolerance as I packed the girls in the van, dropped them off at church’s childcare, and spent the next three hours alone.

***

A few days earlier, it had been my birthday.

If I’m allowed to admit it, I LOVE birthdays. Particularly mine. Because something happens on my birthday that I have a really hard time doing on any other day of the year.

I give myself permission.

Flashback Atlanta 2008, roomie bday breakfast

Flashback Atlanta 2008: roomie birthday breakfast

Let me explain. During college, my roommates and I started this tradition of crazy celebration. The day started with Bruegger’s bagels and bright red strawberries, coffee, coffee, coffee. It ended with the four of us around a restaurant table of really, really good food.

My celebration wasn’t just reserved for mornings and evenings though. One year I ditched class and spent my birthday wandering through the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The next year I planned my way through IKEA. I bought myself cupcakes from Lund’s, buttercream icing piled high. I never, ever, worked.

Slowly, things changed. My roomies all got married and the bagel tradition fell by the wayside. I stopped taking the day off. I realized, in true I’m-a-grownup-now-fashion, that the expectation of celebration needed to be consistent with life’s current circumstances.

So this year, when my birthday started with my toddler announcing (in her best outside voice), “MOM IT’S NOT DARK OUTSIDE ANYMORE. GET UP!”, I decided to institute a new phrase into my day.

So what? It’s my birthday.

I repeated it, even though the words felt dumb. Yes. This would work.

No one drowned!

Birthday swim day – no one drowned!

The twins were jabbering and cooing in the next room already, so I gathered my girls, made some sort of elephant herding maneuver down the stairs, and settled into the kitchen to make French toast. (The nearest bagel shop is probably 37 miles away.)

And when Ellis spilled syrup all over the floor, I said to myself, So what? It’s my birthday.

When we were half an hour late meeting Jules and crew for our swimming play date and the van was out of gas… So what? It’s my birthday.

When we ate lunch out and both babies started to scream and wanted to eat at the same time?

So what. It’s my birthday.

***

I’m not uptight. I think I just get tangled up in the difference of how things should be versus how they are. (Wait, still? Didn’t we talk about expectations, ahem, a year or so ago?) I guess some character follies just keep coming back up, whack-a-mole style.

That’s a problem. I stink at whack-a-mole, and seeing life in terms of should means I’m using someone else’s measuring stick. When that happens, the results are bound to be different.

Seeing life as it is and accepting it as such means I throw out the measuring stick. It means I stop getting upset when something turns out differently than I expected. It means I give myself and the world around me permission to be imperfect. Not unkind, just imperfect.

In that permission, love can survive. It might be messy. It might have snot stains and markers on its pants. But permissive love doesn’t keep track of what went awry – it simply acknowledges that when things don’t go as planned, when the babies cry and the knight in shining armor is in bed with a fever, it’s not the end of the world.

That love says, “So what”, and then goes on with a certain steadiness. Circumstance may prune it down some days, but the results are always a branching (LM Montgomery) that will, eventually, bloom bright.

Defining “Hygge”

1779301_10152138179680502_1263730929_nEvery year, our annual winter getaway with friends grows a little crazier.

More children. More bags. More dinosaurs, more story books, more baked goods I never, ever want to stop eating.

But this year, I went as a single parent. Jason has been sick for almost a month now, so he (very sadly) opted to stay home. I totally understood, but I was also a little desperate. I needed to double over in laughter with friends. I needed winter sun in my eyes and four feet of snow under my shoes. I needed towering pines.

I needed to broaden the narrows of my winter.

So I packed up three pack ‘n plays, two bumbo seats, a doorway jumperoo, three bags of food, two backpacks worth of clothing and diapers, five blankets, and three children under the age of 3 into the van.

In theory, it was possible. In reality, it was madness. In retrospect, it was very, very good.

***

1239733_10152138170690502_1027633142_n I read a great article a month or so ago about a mystical Danish word called “Hygge”, (pronounced HYU-gah). The word has no direct translation in English, but instead sounds like a conglomeration of emotions: well-being, contentment, camaraderie, coziness. The article says it’s kind of like Christmas, just not limited to once a year.

I was fascinated with the idea – this non-translatable word for something so meaningful. Really – when you have a second, you should definitely read the article. Anyway. I put it on my bucket list of words to study, ideas to play with.

I haven’t started the word study. (Go figure.) But after this weekend, I think I have a new word to add to the mix of not-quite-there-but-close definitions for hygge.

Collaboration.

Because without collaboration, hygge can’t happen.

Without collaboration, I would have driven North alone, praying through clenched teeth that nothing would go wrong. (Instead, I caravanned with dear friends who drove out of their way to let us tag along.)

Without collaboration, I would have made seven or eight trips to unload my van. (Instead, four very kind gentlemen made an extra trip or two each to shuttle in my babies and belongings.)

Without collaboration, I wouldn’t have gotten to snowshoe in the woods, feed babies, make supper, take a shower, read bedtime stories, or ever really just sit down. (Instead, there were open arms and helpful hands in every situation – even the darkness stumbling, nook fumbling, face rubbing, please-just-go-back-to-sleep-for-the-love-of-everything-good-and-holy-because-it’s-bedtime moments.)

IMG_2881But it wasn’t just about helping me.

Collaboration is what makes weekends like this possible. From finding accommodation, to organizing meals, to bringing toys and gear, to caring for one another’s children, it is our combined efforts that create an environment for hygge to happen.

And in that moment, the glow of the fire, the children asleep, the roar of laughter, the pine paneled walls and windows full of stars, hygge comes. It widens our hearts. It fills us with thankfulness. It becomes the thing we can’t describe.

ab377e29-7a2c-4d0f-9c0e-ad7a59cb4d77.1.10Maybe that’s okay. This word hygge, this word with no translation – maybe it’s meant to stay nebulous, a little mystical.

Perhaps hygge’s blessing is simply the bright consciousness of experience, our windows blazing light against winter’s dark, our laughter rising through the chimney and spreading like sweet smoke into the night.

Embrace it?

Two weeks ago, we got a decent amount of sleep and it wasn’t freeze-your-face-off cold, so we did baths, dresses, scrounged out some hair bows and shoes, and went to church. After the service, I was lamenting with a friend about this current, sleepless phase of life. She looked at me, smiled, and put her hand on my arm. “Someone once told me that whatever phase my kids were in, I should just embrace it.”

My internal hackles shot up. I finished listening to her story, and I think I even smiled Minnesota nice. But all the way out the door I ranted to myself.

Embrace it? Embrace the fact that I haven’t slept more than 3 consecutive hours in over two months? Embrace the bone-tired ache that accompanies me through most of my days? Embrace what must look like some horrible comedy in the middle of the night – the crying baby, the startled eyelids, the tensing of every muscle, the parade of untangling myself from the covers, struggling with my bathrobe, and stumbling in to whoever is crying before the rest of the house wakes up too?

Embrace THAT?

***

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6 months and chubby cheeks (Gabby left, Lucy right)

On average, the girls are still waking up at 12 and 2. And sometimes at 3. I don’t really know what to do at this point. I’m not feeding them in the night anymore, (both girls hit the 65th percentile for weight and 70th for height at their 6 month appointment – clearly they aren’t starving) so it’s just a matter of calming them down and getting them back to bed.

Ellis is also joining the middle of the night fun. The other night, Jason heard noises across the hall around 3:40 am. He went to her room only to find every light on, and Ellis buck naked, jumping up and down on her bare mattress. Her reason? She was just happy, daddy.

Apparently everyone just needs a little calming down lately. The days may be getting longer, but the darkness still slides too quickly into the afternoon. I’m never ready to start the evening’s tearful tango sessions all over again.

Which is exactly what I was doing, two Sundays ago, somewhere in the middle of the sleeping hours.

My bare feet were cold. My ponytail was somewhere off the left side of my head circa 1986, and in my haste to get to the baby, I had put my bathrobe on inside out and couldn’t tie it. I had some sort of back and forth sway motion going, and Lucy was fighting going back to sleep, her hot little fists alternately waving and gouging into her eyes.

I thought to myself, “Ha. Yes. Embrace it Rachel, just emBRACE the moment.”

And then I stopped. I want to say I had some sort of beautiful, shining epiphany. You know. The moon, the comforting sounds of the house, that kind of thing. But I didn’t. Nothing happened. I just realized, in the stupor of being half asleep and half awake, that I was probably overreacting.

That in the grand scheme of things, this wasn’t so bad.

So much of how I see things depends on my perspective. And when I’m half awake most days and nights, my perspective is pretty puffy-eyed and narrow.

Sure, not sleeping sucks. Literally. It sucks every last bit of energy of my living soul and by 4:30 pm every day, I’m on zombie autopilot. But still. I’m up because I have babies. Healthy (albeit not sleeping) babies.

Not so bad.

When things are difficult, I think I have a tendency to mentally hang on the hardship of it all. It’s as though quantifying the difficulty gives me a pass, for the time being, to do X. Or not do X. Anything, really. I don’t feel like I have to hold myself as accountable when circumstances are not in my favor.

But that’s not what good character is, or does.

So every time I leave the babies’ room at night, I pray “please let them sleep”. And then I add “and when they don’t, give me strength.” Just because I didn’t rest does not mean tomorrow won’t lighten the horizon. Ellis will need breakfast, the babies will wake with their own set of demands, and life will explode into chaos in a very short time span if I can’t gather myself up and go on.

Excuses be danged.

***

Meanwhile, “This week has been a disaster, Faye.” (Yes, we recently watched What About Bob?)

It disarmed me starting off – seven hours of sleep in a row on Sunday night. Glorious. But Monday and Tuesday passed in blurs of (what I’m guessing is teething) rage, which totally cancelled out any victory in the seven consecutive hours. Maybe I’m just spoiled – the girls are normally very mild and easy during the day. This week, not so.

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A not so happy moment

I’m talking SCREAMS. And in case you weren’t aware, apparently my girls all have the lungs to be opera stars. These are the red-faced, squint-eyed, inhale with all your power and blast out the most horrible manner of noise possible for a human being to make type screams. The don’t put me down screams. Don’t feed me screams. Don’t stop feeding me screams. Don’t change my diaper screams.

It’s daunting at best, demoralizing at worst.

Whatever that was about, we all caught a break and had a better day today. And tonight, everyone was sleeping by 8:30 pm. Jason included. (The poor guy can’t get enough uninterrupted sleep to combat a month-long battle of being sick.)

I’m not going to lie. I simply can’t embrace this week. That feels a little like opening my arms to a hungry, stink-eyed grizzly. But I will keep trying to remind myself that with a little perspective comes the reminder that it’s also not that bad.

And sometimes, that’s all any of us can hope for.