Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Week's Work

Last Tuesday, we moved into our new house (well, condo, but you know what I mean). After seven very long months, we finally got the place we wanted. I checked HUD listings everyday, hoping and praying the condo would be relisted after our initial purchase fell through. To my everlasting joy, I saw the condo was relisted the last day of January, and we immediately placed a bid. Two weeks later, our realtor called. I saw her name on the caller ID and said: "Tell me good news." And she DID!

This was miraculous for a number of reasons:
A) The house was relisted for less than 24 hours. Thankfully, I saw it.
B) There were multiple offers in this time period, but the two in front of us fell through.
C) We lost about $2,300 dollars the first time we tried to purchase the home. So, this time, we offered 3,000 less than we originally did. Our realtor told us to offer more because the real estate market had changed, but we knew we didn't want to spend the rest of our saving. Nathan kept telling me: "If this works out, then it really is meant to be." I guess he was right!

Only four hours before closing, we had a scare that some of the paperwork had not been properly completed. I handled the situation after speaking to the supervisor of the closing company and apologizing for my lender. Long story short, I resolved things 22 minutes prior to closing. April 15th was the last day we could possibly close and retain the home, and I finished signing paperwork at 6:15 PM that night.

As I drove home that evening, I couldn't stop smiling. The condo is officially ours--even though I keep waiting for someone to call and say, "Just kidding! Move out!" I know that can't happen, but this entire scenario has been ridiculous. Lessons learned:

A) Find a good lender,
B) Never trust that someone is doing their work
C) It's okay to ask questions and stay involved when purchasing a home.
D) Purchasing a HUD home is no walk in the park
E) I have the best real estate agent ever. If you are moving to Utah, call Stephanie Summers. She will fight for you. She let our lender have it, and she took care of business.

Final lesson: Sometimes, wishes come true.

About four years ago, Becca and Kyle moved into the same complex. I was obsessed with their kitchen the moment that I saw it, and I often joked that I would buy a condo of my own and live there one day. Nathan and I had just purchased our first home in Provo around that same time, and he said he would never live in a condo, so I would have to live there alone. I love how things change when the price (and the neighborhood and community) is right.

Nathan had finals, so we didn't start moving until Monday. On Tuesday, about 10 men from our church showed up to help move us across the parking lot and up three flights of stairs. This was some serious service. These guys are lifesavers, and I am so appreciative that they spent 2-3 hours helping us. There is no way we could have moved alone.

We spent the next few days going through boxes and trying to organize our lives. Again. We have moved 3 times in 3 months, and we are exhausted. This time around, Becca helped me do some thorough dejunking. I donated bags of items to DI, and it feels so good. 

In four short days, we went from this:

To this:
Progress, right?

The kids have had a hard time with all of the chaos of life. The twins, of course, got sick this week and were diagnosed with croup. Elliott wants to be held all of the time, which made moving difficult. Ezra feels a bit better than his brother, but spent a lot of his time taking cues from Elliott (which meant walking around the house crying).
Eliza has had the most difficult time adjusting to the change in routine, though. She spent the past few nights screaming (not crying) until 2 AM. The stress of moving combined with her refusal to go to bed has almost given me a nervous breakdown. I don't know what to do at this point because she will not back down and isn't afraid of any consequences or  disciplinary actions. It's intimidating.

On Thursday, she finally fell asleep after an especially long temper tantrum. Nathan and I have learned not to give her attention during these episodes because it just makes her even more agitated. Somehow, she managed to get the iPad (while we were unpacking somewhere) and played it until she fell asleep--with it on her face.
She had slept only 4 hours the night before, so we made sure to keep her sleeping even though she fell asleep in the middle of the room! Get around THIS barricade, twins!
We unpacked as much as we could before Monday morning. We woke up at 4:40 AM and headed to the airport. My brother-in-law, Ty, dropped us off at the Salt Lake City airport around 7 AM and my sister, Marian, picked us up in Charlotte around 5:30 PM. It was a long day, but the kids did great (for the most part).
I sat with Elliott and Eliza for both flights, and Nathan wrangled Ezra. Fortunately for me, Eliza and Elliott slept.

Ezra cried for about two hours before finally settling down. Nathan was able to keep him quiet by continually bouncing him, so not too many of the passengers were upset with us.
In fact, about a dozen people told us our kids were wonderful and handed us snacks and toys. Other people even offered to take a baby for us. My faith in humanity was restored!

Overall, it was one of the craziest weeks we have ever had. A couple of other highlights:
1) Finding the remote control that was lost for a week. I woke up one morning and had the thought, "It's in the shower." And yes, it was! Silly babies.
2) Using space bags. Kyle and Becca promised they would change my life and they did. We packed SO many blankets, maternity clothes, and baby clothes away using these nifty storage bags. I also used a space bag to pack all of the kids' clothes, blankets, and some of my clothes into a carry-on bag for our flight. Success!
Lowlight of the week: Stepping on a dozen blood-filled, round, hard yet squishy earthworms. I am not exaggerating when I say it was traumatic. There was blood all over my TOMS and feeling them squish underneath  my feet makes me want to always look down to make sure I am avoiding any insect life.
That picture doesn't do it justice. Really.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Persistence Really Pays Off

I don't like paying full price for anything. Who does? So, when Nathan and I decided we wanted the loveseat to match our couch, I decided to look on Craigslist and the local classified pages until I found it. Almost daily, I would do a quick search for the name of the couch. 

For over a year, I did this and found nothing. I wasn't too surprised because the couch was still being sold at Macy's and a fairly new item. About a month ago, I was doing this daily search (expecting to find nothing) and found the exact same couch (not loveseat) for $200. The ad had been posted only a couple of hours earlier, so we were able to easily get it. I wasn't sure if I wanted a second couch because our living room is so small, but I was tired of having our friends sit on the floor when they came over. Nathan and I decided to choose function over form, and I think it works well.
The couch was in pristine condition and definitely a steal! We sold our vintage couch for the same price and used couches at the local thrift store have skyrocketed to at least $100, so I was happy to pay the cost.

My persistence may be annoying, but it feels good when it pays off.

Identical, but Really?

Genetically speaking, there is absolutely no chance that the boys aren't identical. But sometimes, when I look at them, I am overwhelmed by how different they look. RNA is amazing stuff.
I should submit photo this to this project.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Growing Up

Ezra and Elliott are nearly 17 months old. They are so big and so happy.

Their favorite activities include chasing Nathan and I around the house and laughing at Eliza and her cool tricks (like jumping on the couch, doing flips, and dancing). They are crazy about going on walks and will bring me their hats and jackets when they want to go out. As soon as the door opens, they run out as fast as they can and head straight to the stroller. I can push them around for over an hour without a peep from their little mouths. Once they realize we are almost home, though, they absolutely lose it. They push against the buckle of the seat belt and do their best to protest leaving the outdoors. It's been a long winter indoors, so I am really looking forward to spending the majority of the day outside once the weather is warmer.
They are such easy babies, and I am grateful every day that they sleep, eat, and play so well.

When we go anywhere with all three kids, at least a couple of strangers will say, "You've got your hands full!" or "I just feel so sorry for you!. And while I will admit that things get hectic with two climbing toddlers and a bossy three year old, I also realize it could be much crazier. What if my boys didn't sleep 12-14 hours at night and nap for 4 hours each day? What if they weren't so relaxed about everything? I would probably incredibly frazzled and my house would be (even more) destroyed.

Ezra and Elliott became toddlers so quickly. They have lost all of their baby fat and are just lean little guys. I still think of them as babies, and I wonder when or if that will stop. When they babble in their baby talk and say "mama" in their quiet voices, I sometimes get sad as I think this will stage will pass. And soon. And I may never be at this stage ever again with another child. That is one of the hardest things about them getting older. However, I have learned that each age is fun, and I am glad Eliza is older and sassier and no longer 17 months old.

That being said, three is a tough age. I keep wondering what Ezra and Elliott will be like in two years, and I just know I will be in trouble if they are as defiant as their older sister. Eliza is such a little girl with no traces of toddler or baby left anywhere. She is smart, energetic, creative, and fun to be around as long as she isn't having a three year old life crisis (which includes not being allowed to do 20 puzzles before bed and having to brush her hair). Eliza is a great big sister and she really loves her brothers. She always runs to get supplies for diaper changes and loves feeding the babies snacks. She makes sure Ezra doesn't steal Elliott's sippy cup (this is a usual problem) and is a strict enforcer (but not follower) of our house rules.

Simply put--Eliza is the best. We love her.
Earlier this week, a woman came up to me and said, "You are just so lucky. Your three children are precious. And I'm jealous...I always wanted twins." Strangers like that always make my day. We are so fortunate.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Never Too Old For A New Dress

Since I stopped nursing a couple of months ago, I have lost a considerable amount of weight. The clothes that I thought I would never fit into were given to Goodwill last summer in a bout of depression as I faced the reality that I would most likely never be that small again. 

Well, I was wrong (this isn't supposed to sound braggy like, "Oh my gosh. I am so amazing. I lost so much weight after having twins"...even though I realize it kind of sounds like that). And now I have no clothes that I like.

When you don't like your clothes and you don't feel confident wearing shapeless items that don't fit you well, you tend to stay in sweat pants/pajamas all day. I know I do. Also, I don't ever feel the need to "look nice," and it isn't really priority these days with two babies who constantly get me messy. Recently, though, I realized I have more time and that I at least want to feel good about myself some days. That's not asking for too much, right?

All of that being said, adding clothing to my wardrobe is not a priority at this point in my life. Nathan and I students again, so I would rather buy Charmin toilet paper and Bounty paper towels (those things are worth splurging on) than clothes for myself. Thank goodness for mothers and their uncanny intuition. A couple of weeks ago, my mom called to say she was sending the boys and Eliza clothes for Easter. She then asked what I was wearing. I told her I was going to wear a dress I already had, but she could tell from the tone of my voice that I wasn't too excited about the prospect. I casually mentioned that most of my clothing was too large and she then casually suggested that she buy me--her 26 year old daughter-- an Easter dress, too. Of course, I told her no, but my mother is pretty insistent. She called a couple of more times and texted, telling me she wanted to do something nice for me and that I should let her.

When I saw a beautiful mustard dress on Pinterest a couple of days later, I decided I would take her up on her offer. Even though it arrived after Easter, I still consider it my Easter gift. I wore it to church yesterday and felt good about myself for the first time in months!
So, not to sound too shallow, but sometimes it is nice to wear something that makes you feel pretty. It doesn't necessarily have to be brand new, but just going outside and not feeling self-conscious really lifted my spirits. I usually don't care what people think when they see my out, looking frazzled and not put together, but feeling good about myself is something that I have needed these past few months...and by that, I mean 2 years.
Thanks, Mom, for always thinking of me. I guess my love language is gifts.
Also, this doesn't mean I am going to do my hair and wear make-up every day--even though you are convinced that is the key to happiness :) 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Kicking and Screaming

Anytime I see Toys "R" Us, I think about my little brother.

Hudson is the youngest child in our family and the youngest grandchild on both sides. He is also the only son and the only grandson on my father's side. Essentially, he was the long awaited heir to carry on the "White" family name, and he was loved by all. My dad likes to tell everyone that he was born looking "like a businessman" with his thick, dark hair parted to the side. He was a proud father the second he saw his little boy.
Because my dad is an only child (and we had very doting grandparents), my brother, sister, and I were quite spoiled when it came to toys. I remember telling my friend Joe that we had a couple of Teddie Ruxpins growing up, and he said, "What!? Do you know how expensive those things were!?" I had no idea they were a big deal. All I know is that my sister wanted one and my grandma bought them for us. We had dolls galore, puzzles, paints, and all the little things girls love.

Hudson was a whole new bag of toys though. When he began to like Power Rangers, he suddenly had every Power Ranger boy costume, a plush imitation of each character, and of course, a hoard of figurines. His room was decked out in Power Rangers memorabilia with everything from his bedsheets to his curtains and trashcan proudly displaying the multi-colored ensemble of ninjas. When he discovered that he liked other superheroes, his costume wardrobe grew to include Batman, Robin, Superman, and Spiderman. Some of my favorite memories involve him parading around our house constantly (and for years) in his different costumes. 

In short, he got what he wanted most of the time. And he was happy.

All of this being said, it was no surprise that he wanted a toy or two when we occasionally went to Toys "R" Us. Our parents gave us an allowance of 5 dollars twice a month, and we could save that money to get whatever we wanted. One particular trip, my mother and grandmother took us to Toys "R" Us so I could spend the money I had been saving. I, of course, wanted to spend every penny on acquiring as many Little Pet Shop animals as possible. Hudson, who had recklessly spent his money as soon as he received it, walked around the store with a frown on his face. 

However, once we came to a glass case which housed the Collector Barbie dolls, Hudson's frown soon disappeared and was replaced with a look of pure joy. He saw something he wanted. And he was convinced he would have it.
Yes. It was this exact Mattel Elvis Barbie that he wanted. 

With two older sisters who made him play with Barbies constantly and a love for costumes, how could Hudson not want this doll!? The Barbie was $59.95. I will never forget my mom telling Hudson that he didn't have any money to spend and that the Elvis doll was just too expensive to purchase. Hudson wasn't very used to hearing "no" and he did not like hearing my grandmother and mom telling him that he couldn't have this very precious doll. He looked over the glasses he wore (he was about 5 years old at the time) and just screamed, "Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" as long as he could and for as long as his longs would possibly allow.

He was a force that could not be reckoned with. The only thing left for my mother and grandmother to do was to carry him out of the store. My mother calmly picked him up, held him tightly against her chest, and did her best to keep his swinging legs from hitting anyone else. My Little Pet Shop animals were left behind, and we hurried out of the store. I was humiliated. It was embarrassing to be seen with a screaming tyrant. I was also sad that his inability to control himself had ruined my fun outing. However, I wasn't mad at my mom or grandma for forcing me to leave my things behind. I understood. And even then, I was impressed with my mom's ability to remain cool, calm, and collected. There was no yelling or screaming. There was no severe reprimand. Instead, my grandmother and mother did their best to explain the situation to Hudson. He eventually calmed down, but we didn't go back to the store.

Now that I am a mother, I think back upon that day often. In fact, I thought about my mother's example a couple of weeks ago when I carried Eliza kicking and screaming out of the Disney Store. She wanted a $50 dollar Ariel dress and even though she has one (that was $2.00 at a yard sale), she knows it's not the official Disney Store one. Ahh! 

So, when I thought I was about to lose my patience, I had the vivid memory of my mother calming Hudson and trying her hardest to help him understand. Eliza doesn't often want material things, but she does cause me to lose my calm quite regularly. She wants a specific dish, she wants her blankets arranged a very certain way, she wants to eat only sugar...you know, the usual three-year-old behavior (all of that is normal, right?). 

She looks at me over her glasses ALL the time and says, "No!" just like my little brother used to do, and somehow, I am learning to be more like my parents and offer her explanations rather than frustration. It's a work in progress, and I am learning--but I am trying. I love Eliza, but her obstinate personality has been a real struggle for me! Fortunately, I have Hudson's example, and I know that she will eventually mellow out. She just really wants to be like her uncle, and that's not a bad thing at all.

I love you, Hudson. 
(Let's take an updated picture when I go home. This one is...umm...6 years old).

And my grandmother totally went back once the Elvis doll went on sale and got it for Hudson. The story has a happy ending for him :)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Why I Love Target

This buggy. It is amazing. All three of my kids are happy (and contained)!
Also, check out the popcorn and the ICEE. I bought one bag of popcorn and the nice lady working at the counter suggested that she divide the one bag into three separate bags. Ezra and Elliott agreed that it was a very good decision indeed. They hate sharing popcorn.
So, thank you, Target, for your deluxe buggies and tasty snacks. Moms everywhere thank you for such wonderful planning.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Easter Festivities

Things got so crazy last week that I didn't have a chance to blog about Easter. We were able to do a couple of Easter egg hunts this year. One was with our friend Stephanie and took place during a crazy snow storm. Eliza wore her snowsuit for the first time, and the twins were bundled up as we went outside in 30 degree weather. In spring.

Eliza liked looking for eggs in the snow, but I wasn't a fan of hot chocolate at an Easter egg hunt. I'm from South Carolina, and that isn't normal!
We also had a breakfast and Easter egg hunt at church. Eliza enjoyed looking for eggs again, and the boys were actually able to participate this time around (we didn't let them run around in the snow at the last egg hunt).

Ezra refused to be held and screamed in pure joy as he ran across the field after the other children. He didn't realize he was supposed to be hunting eggs and not chasing kids.  Meanwhile, Elliott giggled as he found eggs. He was so proud of himself!

I handed Ezra a couple of eggs and ran across the church parking lot, screaming with happiness.
We eventually had to drag Elliott and Ezra away kicking and screaming. They really just wanted to hang out on the grassy field all day.
Cheryl came into town that weekend (my poor mother-in-law had no idea how awful the visit would be). She had Easter gifts for the kids, so Eliza got quite the stash of candy and puzzles on Easter morning.
We tried to get a picture of the kids before church, but someone wouldn't cooperate (any guesses who that might have been?).
My mom got the kids cute Easter outfits, and I promised her a picture, but taking a picture of three young children is nearly impossible. Eliza was a bit happier after church and we lured her into smiling for this photograph by promising her a big piece of her Easter bunny.

She accepted those terms...and then asked for some jellybeans, too. She drives a hard bargain.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

We Survived

I think the worst is over. Everyone is eating today and there doesn't seem to be any chance that one of us is going to suddenly throw up. Nathan and I are pretty excited to have a healthy family again. The twins have been so sick, so it was heartwarming and incredibly relieving to see them smile again today. We've missed their little grins!

Thank you for dinner, Kimberly and Jeff! It was a great re-introduction to solid, flavorful food!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Busy Bees

Nathan, Ezra, Elliott, and I have norovirus

The silver lining is that Eliza escaped with only being sick for one day. Additionally, Cheryl is still here and holding the family together. 

It's 11:00 pm and this is the first time we have been able to sit down today. I started tracking the amount of dirty diapers, baths taken, and pedialyte/water/milk consumed by the twins today. After going through the motions of changing outfits every 45 minutes and stripping the sheets countless times, we lost count of everything. Looking at the totals, I don't know how we survived today. Thank you, Cheryl. Thank you, thank you.

39 total dirty diapers today.

28 total baths.

Each baby managed to keep down about 22 ounces of fluid. 

We saw the pediatrician today, and he told us that Ezra and Elliott are both moderately dehydrated. He doesn't want to do IV's or admit them to the hospital, so he recommended that we give them 5 ml of pedialyte ever five minutes for 4 hours. We were then told to give them 2 ounces of fluid each hour for the next 4 hours, and 2 additional ounces anytime they have a dirty diaper. Crazy, right? I asked the doctor, "What happens if they continue to vomit and have diarrhea? What if they won't drink anything?"

His response: "Keep trying. Use a syringe. Force them to drink."

So far, they have enjoyed drinking out of the syringe. They are so sick and lethargic. It is breaking my heart to see them so miserable. Nathan and I are feeling somewhat better. I wasn't able to help Cheryl at all yesterday, so I know I am improving because I actually contributed today. 

The doctor said their symptoms could last for two weeks and that they would need to be seen again if they continue to have so many dirty diapers. I am really praying that they feel better tomorrow.
On a positive side, here are a couple of things that made me happy:
1) Our neighbor brought us by some ginger ale. I'm really excited.
2) Our friend and neighbor, Kyle, offered to get us anything we needed and deliver it in his biohazard suit. Becca, you really married a winner :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

No More

Those are the words that are going through my mind right now.

No more. Please no more. I just want my children happy and healthy again.

Yesterday morning began with our two little boys throwing up. After changing the sheets and bathing them, I went to wake Nathan up for school and noticed he had our designated throw up bowl beside him on the night stand. That definitely wasn't a good sign.

Nathan was so nauseated and weak that he stayed in bed until nearly 4:30 pm. He missed his classes and couldn't eat or drink anything. Meanwhile, my mother-in-law, Cheryl, helped me tend to two very sick babies. She arrived on Saturday for a week long visit and was immediately put to work! We have been two busy ladies as we change outfits, sheets, and clean carpets.

I told her, "Well, at least it isn't as bad as last spring break!"

I probably spoke too soon. A few hours later, once the twins were resting and the frenzy of taking care of everything settled down a bit, I realized I was feeling sick as well. Cheryl sent me to bed, and I awoke to the babies screaming a little while later. They were feeling so miserable and continued to throw up and have horrible diarrhea. They had never thrown up before so their faces of scared confusion were the saddest things I have ever seen. Over the course of the day, we bathed them five times, changed the bedsheets at least four times, and continually encouraged Ezra and Elliott to drink water and eat.

Finally, we managed to get them to bed for the evening. A few hours later, they were covered in throw up again and up for the night. Nathan was still sick, and even though I felt awful, I did my best to help Cheryl take care of Ezra and Elliott. Nathan tried to help as much as he could and held Ezra after he asked for "Dada." It was so adorable that we all about cried when he was asking for Daddy.
We finally went to bed around 4 am, and unbeknownst to me, Cheryl was back up at 5 am with both boys.

Today wasn't any better. Ezra and Elliott had no energy and just cuddled with us all day. Ezra's diaper rash is so awful that he spent most of the day naked. He cried when anyone tried to put him down, so, of course, we just held him all day.
I'm hoping tomorrow is better. As a mother, the hardest thing to see is your children in pain. I just want to take it all away and help them in any way possible. Despite all the sickness going around, I am fully aware that Nathan and I are lucky to have Cheryl here visiting. Even though this may not be a very fun spring break for her, I have no idea how we would be surviving without her help. Two sick toddlers and a sick husband is not something I want to handle alone!