Tuesday, September 30, 2014
And then he did balloon animals for the kids. They were so happy. I think it helped offset the trauma and stress we were all going through. Thanks, AJ!
Monday, September 29, 2014
Well, that turned out to be right in the middle of the big moving mess. We talked them into coming anyway. I am sure glad they did, even though it wasn't the fun, relaxing visit we were all initially imagining. It was wonderful to see them. I just love Aunt Kaa-- she is so awesome. She landed herself an absolutely top-notch husband. And their little boy (three weeks younger than Prince Charming and twice as big) is just about the cutest thing I've ever seen.
Saturday, September 27, 2014
It's cool and rainy in Utah today. I love days like these. I have always loved the sound and smell of rain in general, but there is nothing more beautiful than a rainy autumn day in the Utah mountains. The colors of the mountains themselves are a deep gray-- almost dark blue-- from being wet. The hint of fall color on their flanks seems to glow. And I love the way wisps of clouds cling to them here and there lower down, looking strange and mystical.
As I write this, I remember when I moved to Utah when I was fifteen, in June of 1994. I was very unhappy, despite the fact that I had always loved my vacations here, and the hot, dry summer seemed to go on for a very long time. The first days when I remember really loving Utah were the rainy autumn days just like this one. I hadn't been in Utah during the autumn since I could remember. The beauty of the rain-soaked mountains spoke deeply to my soul and I felt like maybe I was going to be okay here after all, eventually. It still took awhile, but I was.
That's what happened today. I had to go to the store this morning and as I drove I had some really beautiful views of the mountains. I felt so grateful to be able to experience another autumn along the Wasatch front. Something inside me felt fed, and I felt more alive. I remembered how much I love this place, despite how crazy the pace of life has gotten here. And I felt that maybe I was going to be okay here after all, eventually. It still may take awhile, but I know that I will be.
Friday, September 26, 2014
Whew, what a day. There is a lot to unpack and sort and assemble and organize. The Badger has been working very hard and I have been doing as much as I can in spurts, which is so much less than I want and need to do.
The kids are showing some signs of stress. One of them, who shall remain nameless, peed all over my mother-in-law's couch. She had to spend half the day pulling apart the layers of the cushions to get everything clean. Mom, I am so sorry. Thank you for being so nice about it.
Peanut is really having a rough time. She fights with her siblings and throws tantrums a lot. Today she bit Prince Charming-- hard-- and pulled the Rabbit's hair-- hard. This is a difficult adjustment for her and it's sad to see my sweet little Peanut acting so violent. We're trying, in the midst of all else, to be patient and loving, yet firm.
Before all this happened, I had drafts written for several posts that now seem a bit mundane and silly. But now I am thinking it might be nice to sit and write about something unrelated to this drama we're going through.
So how about we talk about baby names?
I love names. I have been fascinated by names and naming trends for years. I have picked out names for future children over and over since I was twelve or so.
The other day at the store there was an employee named Florence. She was definitely a senior citizen. As I left the store I thought how funny it was that Florence sounded so dated and old, and yet place names are pretty hip these days. Place names like Brooklyn and Paris are trendy, but not place names like Florence and Venice. And I think I kind of like Florence.
I think it's funny to imagine, decades from now, names like Brooklyn and Paisley and Miley being the grandma names that the young parents choosing names turn up their noses at.
A hundred years ago, the hottest trend in girls' names were names that ended in the letter S. So, if you wanted a hip, fresh name, you went with Gladys, Phyllis, Doris, Agnes, or Frances. I get such a kick out of imagining a baby shower back then with all the women exclaiming their love of the name Phyllis just like today they would exclaim over a name like, say, Chloe. Another trend back in those days was jewel names: Pearl, Ruby, Opal. It's interesting to me that Pearl and Ruby have made a comeback in recent years but not Opal, though not really surprising to me based on my own feel for what is appealing about a name.
As for the Badger and I, our own grandmas are named Doris, Pearl, Norma, and Edna. Considering that some "grandma names" are making a comeback (Evelyn, Isabella, Ava, etc.), I think it quite likely that although I am not quite ready to consider our grandmas' names for my kids I will probably end up with at least one granddaughter with one of those names. I hope it's Edna-- that one has been growing on me.
While there are a lot of contemporary names I really like, my tastes (and the Badger's) mainly run toward the classic and timeless. The problem we are having with these twins is that we have already used all the names we love most. We are both very pleased with the girls' names we have used so far. And there isn't much left that is mutually agreeable to us. Certainly not two names that both fit with our other daughter's names and also go together in just that magic fashion that makes for a fabulous set of twin names.
Of course, I have loved naming imaginary sets of twins for years and they have always had names that went together just perfectly: coordinating, but not cutesy. Oh, how I dreamed all those years of being able to pick a perfect set of names for real twins of my own!
I tend to favor alliteration when it comes to twin names. My friend Sarah hit the nail right on the head, in my opinion, when she named her twins Maddie and Morgan. Those are not necessarily names I would pick myself, but I absolutely love the way they go together without sounding the same. You're not going to get them confused easily because they sound so different, but the initial M ties them together and they both come from the same style pool.
If it were entirely up to me, I might name my girls Avery and Amelia. These names are going to be a little more date-stamped over time than our other girls' names, especially Avery, but I really like both of them and I love the way they sound together.
However, neither of those names are in the middle of the Venn diagram where my tastes overlap with the Badger's. We have had many discussions about names this pregnancy-- more than we have for years-- and at the moment we have a working pair of names that we are both reasonably happy with, that are timeless, that honor great women of the past, and that fit with our other daughters' names. They just don't exactly go together quite as perfectly as I think twin names ought to.
But the other day I read in a book on twins that if you give the two of them distinct names they will feel like distinct individuals rather than part of a matched set. I definitely see the wisdom in that, so if we do end up with the names we are talking about right now (which are not set in stone) that will be my consolation.
But none of the other coordinating combos we've thrown around have been quite right. Liberty and London: we both like Liberty but the Badger said "no" to London. He would prefer Elizabeth and Esther but while we are both okay with Elizabeth, I, for some reason I cannot explain, absolutely do not like the name Esther. My sister suggested Holly and Ivy (remember my December due date) and the Badger likes Holly and I like Ivy, but together they are a little too matchy for my taste. We talked about Elizabeth and Victoria (a subtle matchy-ness, I think, in America) but neither of us are wild about any of the nicknames for Victoria.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to name a set of twins. It's been a lot of fun to think about and discuss possibilities.
What about Florence and Venice?
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Last February, I wrote a post called "Saturday night ramblings." Toward the end I talked about how I had this big blank when I thought about the future, a feeling that there were unexpected things ahead I just couldn't see.
At the time, I was pretty sure there would be a pregnancy on the near horizon and I even had a bit of suspicion it might be twins. But I had no idea how completely being pregnant with twins would wipe me out and how difficult it would be for our whole household. So when that became apparent, I thought, "aha, hence the blank feeling."
And then this move. Here we are trying to sort through all these boxes and get organized and it just blows my mind that three weeks ago life was perfectly normal with no sign of this (at least to me.) Sorry if I go on about this... I am still getting over the shock.
The future still feels blank though. That's not surprising, since with the Badger looking for work we could go just about anywhere at any time, and it likely will be another crazy hairpin turn. Which is a little hard to think about right now.
And then there will be the reality of what it will actually be like to have twins. I try to imagine how crazy, exhausting, wonderful, and sweet it will be but you just can't fully imagine it until you're living it.
So there will definitely be big changes ahead: these, plus perhaps others I can't see right now (and I suspect this is the case.)
But that's just life. Nothing is ever certain. Things can change in the blink of an eye.
Last winter I was very aware of this and I would often in my prayers at night thank God for another ordinary, normal day where nothing too dramatic happened. Life was very busy then (perhaps a little too busy) but I was so grateful for the stability and the routine. I was especially grateful to go to bed every night with all the members of my family safe, well, comfortable, fed, and together.
We are still safe, well, comfortable, fed, and together, and that is far more important than stable and spaciously housed. I know that very well, especially as I watch people around me go through trials that make mine look like a case of hiccups. I am very very grateful for that right now. There is no guarantee it will last, and if it doesn't at least I can look back and know that I appreciated it while I had it, like how I feel good right now that I appreciated my life last winter while I had it.
This is getting rambly and perhaps sounds a little gloomy, which I don't mean it to be. So maybe I will just end by saying I know that with the help of the Lord I can get through whatever the big blank holds.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
The Badger has arrived with a big yellow moving truck jammed full of everything we still own. Of course, as always, there were things we had to leave behind. With a family our size you just can't fit everything on a 26 foot moving truck.
The Badger and I had the same conversation the other night that we have every time we move... about how hard it is to weigh the costs of transporting various items versus replacing them, and about how much moving always sets us back financially. And how we are always wanting so bad to just settle somewhere that we buy things and act like we're settling only to have to get rid of a bunch of stuff when we move: either the new stuff we bought or old stuff that has already made it through several moves. And how hard it is to live providently with a big family when you're always moving.
As much as we make careful lists about what to prioritize, when we get to the end we always wish we had loaded the truck differently. Something just doesn't fit that we really would like to have more than some of the things that are packed way back there.
This time the most notable things left behind were our couch and dining set. The couch we agreed on from the beginning because it needed some repair, but it was still hard to leave because, well, if you've been with me for awhile you know the struggle I have had with couches over the years and what it meant to me to have a nice leather couch. But it really couldn't be helped.
The dining set was on our "maybe" list but in the end it was hard to leave it. I kept meaning to do a post about it because it was so cool how the Badger made it himself to both be large enough for our big family and fit our narrow dining room. It has worked so well over the last year, with the benches we could put down when we didn't need them. It was perfect for our family in that house, but we have no idea where we will be next and if it will fit in that dining space. Still, the cost of materials to build it ran us several hundred dollars, and there was all the time the Badger spent on it, so it was hard for him to just walk away from it.
But we did keep the bunk beds the Badger made for the girls, and those will be useful no matter where we live.
You would think that by now I would be used to seeing all my earthly posessions rolling down the road in a big yellow truck but it still freaks me out every time. And so I never imagined that so many of the mileposts of my life would be marked by big yellow Penske moving trucks.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Happy Tuesday, everyone. I am sitting here with Prince Charming, who is playing with bristle blocks (at least that's what they were called when I was a kid.) The toys at Grandma's house are well-beloved and they haven't gotten tired of them yet. The other kids are on an outing with Aunt Crocodile in her fancy car (they were so excited about it that it was worth moving the car seats, which was a bit of a pain.)
Speaking of carseats... I recently bought Roo a high-back, belt-positioning booster seat. I would ideally like her to still be in a five-point harness but more and more often as she gets older she is riding in other cars with people and it is so much easier to move a lightweight booster than one of my Radians... the Radian is a fantastic seat but it weighs a ton. Anyway, even though she is small for her age she is eight and a half and I think the booster is a good choice for her overall right now. It has been so nice to be able to easily put it in the back of someone else's car. Now, if only it were so easy to send Rabbit and Peanut with someone else.
Life is full of compromises and pros and cons, isn't it? I have been thinking about that a lot lately.
I need to get the kids back in school asap, one way or another. I'm still trying to decide what is best. Ideally I would homeschool all of them, since it's theoretically possible that we might move at least once more before the end of this school year (sigh) and homeschool would make transitions less traumatic. My health will not allow me to do that. In fact, I don't even know if I can handle homeschool at all right now. It takes a lot out of me and that leaves someone else to do other things I should be doing like feeding people. A month ago that was working because we were in our own home and the Badger didn't work much so he could pick up my slack, but now he will be job hunting and/or starting a new job. Not being in our own home makes it harder to have the kids do things themselves and/or just let things completely go at times. And Grandma and Grandpa have been so good to us; I don't want to wear them out or take too much advantage of them. So I have been thinking about school options... there is a charter school that is possible for some of the kids and that comes with its own set of pros and cons. Lots to think about, but a decision needs to be made soon because the older kids are getting stir-crazy. When Bean and the Badger get back here with the moving truck we need to be ready to move on this.
I was so completely wiped out for the first few days we were here. Most of the time I could barely get up. I am regaining some strength, which I am grateful for because I still have as much as twelve weeks to go. I am never going to be really active between now and then, but mostly functional would be a good thing.
It blows my mind that I still have so many weeks to go because right now I am the size I normally am at full term-- which means I feel like I am full term, with all that entails. So not only do I get to go around like this for many weeks, I get to get even bigger! Wow. I just can't imagine, but I am grateful that I handle this stage of pregnancy better than a lot of people I talk to. My body can handle getting big, it's mostly having a hard time circulating blood through three people.
But being 28 weeks left means we're getting close to meeting these two sweet little people and that is so, so, so exciting. They will be worth all the difficulty.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
This is the fourth time in my life I have lived in Utah. I was born in Utah, to start with. We moved to Minnesota when I was three. We moved back to Utah when I was fifteen and I lived there all through high school and college, for a total of six years. Then the Badger and I moved to Idaho, Oregon, Kansas... and then back to Utah for eight months while he was between jobs. That was five years ago. And now here I am for the fourth time.
In between all the times I have lived here,
I have visited many times, since most of my extended family live here. I grew up taking a yearly family vacation to Utah to see grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. When the Badger and I have been living away from Utah we have tried to do the annual trip so that our kids can see grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Currently, my parents and the Badger's parents live less than a mile away from each other, which is incredibly convenient.
So I feel like I know Utah pretty well. I am well-versed in the culture (at least the culture of the Wasatch front), some elements of which I like and some of which I do not. But, with all its quirks, it has felt like home to me.
However, after spending the last year and a half living in a quiet, remote small town, coming back here has been a shock to my system. Utah has grown a lot... when I moved here in 1994 as a teenager I did not think Salt Lake was a big city, compared to Minneapolis and St. Paul. But in the last 20 years it has exploded and now I would definitely call it a big city.
Bumping along I-15 the other night, pulling our overloaded little trailer, with all the traffic whizzing past us, my senses were shocked at all the commercialism: the huge stores, massive car sales lots, billboards billboards billboards.... this stuff used to be normal to me, but I have gotten used to my quiet town with minimal shopping options, and even the larger town we would travel to for stuff like Costco was not this big or crazy.
All I could think was, do I really have to live here? Utah didn't feel like home anymore. Country mouse wants to leave the city and go back to her little pastoral burrow.
But I am sure I will adjust. I will get used to driving in traffic again. I will be glad I can quick run to Target for something instead of having to wait a month or two. I will go get a salad at Cafe Rio and enjoy every bite. And the more time I spend with my family the happier I will be to be here again.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
This last week has been a whirlwind. And it has been amazing. The amount of help we have had has astounded me. So many people have showed up with meals or with boxes, watched my kids, or helped me pack. There were times when I had more people offering to help than I had work for them to do. Wow. I can't even begin to express how grateful I am.
Just a couple more days and then we leave. Things have come together faster than I ever thought they could.
I have been concerned about my health but when I saw the doctor this week everything looked great. The babies are growing just right and I passed the glucose test. My pulse is rapid (which makes it hard to rest) but the doctor isn't worried about it. After all, I am pumping blood through two extra people. The lightheadedness, the overwhelming exhaustion, and all that just go with the territory.
I did go to church today, and I even made it through all my meetings. I also cried a lot. I love the people here in this ward so much. It's so hard to say goodbye.
Meanwhile, my family has all but filled my social calendar for the next several weeks. There is so much to look forward to.
The kids are all soooooo excited about being with family in Utah. There have been some manifestations of stress, but overall they are handling it very well.
Here is a quote that struck me today: "sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can fall together." Something wonderful must be coming if this beautiful life of mine here in this place is ending.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Last Friday, the Badger went in to work and was informed that the company he works for no longer has enough volume of business to continue to employ him.
The Badger will tell you he did see this coming. For months now he has only been flying once or twice a week and he has often said to me "I don't know how long they're going to keep on paying me when I do so little for them." He had even been looking at other jobs here and there over the summer, but in the end decided that he should hold off on a serious job hunt until next spring, because of the twins.
But I was sure it would work out. I didn't even take his spring job hunt plans seriously. After all, we were guided here by the hand of Providence. The children are absolutely thriving. We have been living in the biggest, nicest house we have ever lived in, which we obtained under "how'd you get so lucky?" circumstances. I have felt totally at home in this amazing, wonderful place. It just couldn't end so soon! If God brought us here, He could keep us here!
The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
After much prayer and earnest discussion, we decided over the weekend that we needed to move back to Utah. Over the next few months the Badger will be going through a process of applications, interviews, and perhaps new job training that could take him away from us at possibly very inopportune times. If we are living in Utah the children and I are right smack in the middle of a big group of family that can support us through the arrival of the twins no matter what happens with the Badger's work.
Yes, we did this five years ago. And when we left Kansas for Utah at that time it was very hard. But looking back it was exactly what needed to happen, in so many ways we could not foresee at the time.
So my first reaction was one of faith. I know we will look back on this and say, "boy, it was a good thing we did that." And things will work out. We agreed when we got married that we would let God be at the helm of our ship and while He has steered us straight at some pretty big scary waves we have always come out on top.
But then I started to think about all the deep roots I had to pull up. The children's ideal school situations and incredible teachers. Band, orchestra, ballet, football, children's choir. All our awesome friends. Our wonderful church congregation. Life in a small, out-of-the-way town with very little traffic or crime. As I tried to process the idea of leaving a place where I feel so comfortable and safe, there was an immense sense of both grief and vulnerability. 26 weeks pregnant with twins is not a time when you can easily handle these kinds of changes.
I cried all weekend. Sunday I couldn't go to church or talk to anyone on the phone because I was such an emotional mess.
But on the other hand, I have a large group of people in Utah who are saying, "YAY!!! Birrd is coming! We can't wait to do X, Y, and Z with you!" And I'm thinking of Autumn in the Utah mountains. And the holidays with food and family coming out our ears. And all those family members saying, "Yay! Cute squishy snuggly twins! Let us help you!"
And as of yesterday, I am of necessity focused on the logistics of the move. So I am moving forward with faith, allowing myself to be sad at what I am losing but not to dwell on it.
We have had a huge outpouring of support and offers for help. For starters, dinner is coming every night between now and when we leave. It has been so humbling and heart-warming. There is very little I have to do, which is good because there is very little I can do in my current condition.
At the moment I wish I could just wake up in Utah and have it all be over. But we will get there. And while right now we feel this is the right thing to do, in the end when we look back we will know it was the right thing to do. And everything will be okay, including me.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
The children are settling in to the school routine. Activities are starting back up again, though we will be participating in less this fall than we have in the past. Roo and Rabbit will be in the same ballet class, so that will be only one trip a week to ballet. Roo and Fish will be in Children's Choir (Bean can't anymore because his voice changed.) Bean has football, but it's after school at the school so it just means picking him up later. Roo and Fish may be in orchestra and/or folk dance programs through the school... we're still working that out. No more Cub Scouts: Bean and Fish will both go to Boy Scouts on Wednesdays nights so that is another way things have been simplified. Come January we will simplify even further so I don't have to run around too much with two newborns in car seats.
Looking back over our summer and what I have blogged about over the past few months, there are a few happenings I want to make note of:
At some point during the summer we threw all the pacifiers in the house away. No more binkies for Prince Charming, and no more Peanut and Rabbit sucking on his binkies. There were a couple of rough days while Prince Charming figured out some new cues to help him sleep but now things are great and those dratted binkies are a thing of distant memory.
Early in the summer the trampoline broke. One of the big thick metal joints snapped and one side fell down. Luckily, the kids who were jumping on it at the time were not hurt. The Badger said that it happened because the trampoline had been sitting on uneven ground. We had always moved it around quite a bit and tried to keep it on level ground, but I guess the ground wasn't as level as it seemed. We intended to buy a replacement part right away, but somehow never got around to it. So we have not had a trampoline for most of the summer. Oddly enough, the kids-- including Bean-- have never complained or bugged us about it.
Roo goes to sleep happily on her top bunk every night. The Rabbit falls asleep in our bed, after which the Badger moves her to her bed when we go to bed. Then during the night she migrates back into our bed. Same with Peanut from her toddler bed. Most mornings we wake up with Prince Charming, Peanut, and the Rabbit in our bed. One morning I had a kid on each side of me and one draped across my feet. I don't mind. One day they won't be there anymore and I'll miss them.
That's the thing about kids. It's amazing to look back six months, a year, and see how much they've changed. How stages that seemed like they would never end are long-gone and forgotten. How cute little mannerisms have been outgrown. Look back longer than a year or so and you'll feel like you're looking at a distant dream, mostly forgotten. That is why I am so determined to record as much of this wonderful, crazy journey as possible.