Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pillow Pet Passion

This is my 200th blog post. Congratulations to me!

I gave into the craze, and bought two Pillow Pets for the girls this week. They were a good deal, compared to what they normally go for, but more than I usually spend on toys. Still, they were totally worth it, because Hadley and Leila LOVE them. They carry them everywhere, watch TV on them, wrestle with them, kiss them ... as you can see.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Just Getting By

Life, in one slightly embarrassing picture.

I'm overwhelmed.

For a few months, we went through an "easy" phase in development. Hadley was (finally) walking. Leila was practically running, and both girls were learning all kinds of new words. Discipline was well-received. Tony was able to mention the thought of another baby without me collapsing on the floor in tears. (That didn't really happen, and no, we're not pregnant.)

Alas, most of these phases, good or bad, only last about three months. Now, we're in this phase: "How did you get up there?" "Don't eat that!" "Do you know where your sister went?" "Where did you find that?" "Don't draw on the wall/floor/yourself!"

Add to this recipe the annual six-month contract I have with The National Day of Prayer Task Force. On top of that, I have two speaking engagements on couponing scheduled, and I'm co-planning a baby shower. I'm trying to wear many different hats, and since I work at home, the line is constantly blurred about which hat I'm currently wearing.

Worst of all, the whole family was feeling the effects of my stress. Leila is teething, and suddenly became physically velcroed to me. Because of that, I feared Hadley would be forgotten as she was being so good. I was spending every moment in my day either parenting, working, or cleaning, without taking any time for myself, and the television was babysitting my kids WAY more than I was comfortable with. Tony became "honey, will you unload the dishwasher?" instead of a spouse.

So, this weekend, I had a chance to talk with two fantastic moms about being overwhelmed. Then, Tony and I went out on a date (thanks, Martha!), and had a chance to really talk. We discussed things that are really important to us, and things that are just taking time away from other things. When we came home, I actually made a schedule of the coming week. I included the things we had discussed, and made "a place for everything, and everything in its place". I wrote down silly things, like "get dressed". It forced me to make a time slot for things I normally procrastinate doing. And, most importantly, I didn't schedule something into every minute so that I can rearrange as needed. Already, two days into having our days written down, I'm breathing a sigh of relief.

Here are our new priorities:
  • We will eat every meal as a family. (In the past, we sometimes fed the girls first so that Tony and I could have real dinner conversation. Or, I would quickly do some work during their lunch.)
  • I will interact (read: be on the floor) with the twins for a significant period of time, several times a day. No walking away to quickly check email!
  • I will not feel guilty for letting Hadley and Leila watch Sesame Street while I shower, or Dora while I prepare supper.
  • One of us will play with the kids in the evening, while the other cleans the kitchen and living room. Then, when the kids are in bed, we have time for each other! (Thanks, Amy!)
  • Instead of setting an item down when we're done with it, we will immediately put it where it belongs.
Yes, those things are ridiculously simple. And you can laugh at me for writing down the details for our tiny little lives in our tiny little corner of the world. But I've regained "control", and tonight I plan on doing absolutely nothing!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


You know it's been a good night of sleep when you wake up like this...
(Leila / Hadley)

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Little Valentines

And today ...

This was the best picture I got. What do you expect with two 1 1/2 year olds? Anyway, see how their hair is long enough to pull back into full pigtails now? Awww....

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Salt Lake City: Days Three & Four

I'm behind in getting these last two days out ... but I'm okay with that. :)

Happy Birthday to me! Our third day in Salt Lake City happens to be my birthday. Tony informed me that I could do whatever I wanted today. I chose to go to the Mormon Tabernacle. I don't think that's what he expected. :)

I wanted to go there to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, since I'm musical myself. We walked over to the Tabernacle, only a couple blocks from our hotel, and were quickly informed that children are not allowed in the sanctuary when the choir performs because it's a live broadcast and the audience has to be quiet. So, Tony graciously agreed to wait in the visitor center while I listened to the choir. The performance was amazing, of course, although it felt pointedly non-religious. I was expecting to hear more about Mormonism. Anyway, when I went to get Tony and the twins ... poor guy ... he had to spend those 30 minutes being "witnessed to" by several sets of Mormon missionaries. He practically dragged me out the door. :)

After lunch and a nap, we went to Park City, where the Sundance Film Festival was just wrapping up. Unfortunately, we didn't spot any celebrities, and after enjoying their Main Street, we headed back toward Salt Lake City. On the way, we stopped to tour the 2002 Olympic Center, which was a little anti-climactic, but still fun.

(Our one attempt at a family photo. Yes, it really was that crooked.)


Day four was our "travel home" day. We didn't do a lot before our flight left. We went swimming right after breakfast, then packed up. After lunch at Buca di Beppo (and a free birthday brownie!), we all napped, then headed for the airport.

Unfortunately, even the best laid plans of Heather VanHorn are susceptible to flight delays. Our flight was delayed by an hour, and our already "travel tired" children got even more tired. The flight home was less enjoyable, but even so, I'd like to think that nobody on the plane was giving us dirty looks.

The extremely hard part was back at the minivan. Thanks to the flight delay and a very slow shuttle back to the car, it was well past any normal child's bedtime, and Tony was desperately trying to reinstall car seats and scrape very thick ice from the windshield, while I tried to keep both of the cranky children occupied. I hit my limit when Hadley threw a tantrum at exactly the same time that Leila had a huge blowout diaper. *sigh*

Eventually, we headed home. And once we got moving, the girls gave in to sleep. And I got to take pictures of them sleeping, which always makes my heart happy.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Salt Lake City: Day Two

I’m starting to get the feeling that I’ve been in this situation before. I’m sitting in a dark hotel room at 6:55 pm, listening to my children snore, while Tony works out and gets a Redbox movie. Oh, that’s right, I was here last night. :)

Some people would miss their freedom in a situation like this. I, on the other hand, like the chance to live life slowly for a few nights. It stretches out the vacation time and makes me feel like I’m truly resting.

Let me take a second to show you the brilliant contraption that Tony made for the hotel room before bedtime last night. We brought dark sheets, intending to cover the cribs with after the twins fell asleep so that we could turn on lights and watch television, but the "getting to sleep" part was the issue during the epic failed nap yesterday. Tony attached the sheets to the hotel curtains with safety pins, creating a tent, so it covers them immediately without a chance of them pulling it off, or it falling into the crib. I think they like having their own little rooms. AND I can sit in bed like a normal person, instead of the bathroom like yesterday's nap! Thanks, hubby!

We had a great time today! The girls slept until 8:00 am (yep, if you’re doing the math from my last post, that’s 13 ½ hours) – which I’ll attribute to the 45 minute naps yesterday and the little colds that they’re working on. We took our time getting out of the room, and by 10:00 am we were on the road.

After a leisurely stop at Cracker Barrel for brunch (where both of our servers were twins, oddly enough), we headed to The Great Salt Lake. We drove to Antelope Island State Park, which is supposedly the best place to see the lake. Um, apparently, that’s in the summer, because I think we could only see about 400 yards in front of us. It was weird – not foggy, not overcast. The signs on the highway said “poor air quality Sat – Sun”. I guess that’s what it was. :)

Anyway, even if we couldn’t really see much of the lake, the marshes near the roads were really cool, and we saw antelope, buffalo, and coyotes! The twins fell asleep in the car again (yes!), and slept for about 45 minutes again.

On the way back, we ate a late lunch / early supper at In-N-Out. We saw it on the way to the lake, and since Tony hadn’t ever experienced it, I decided we had to stop. The burgers, fries, and shakes were amazing, of course, but our family vote is still for Five Guys.

Back at the hotel, we went swimming again. Leila is getting really brave and will jump into our arms from the edge of the pool. Hadley really likes being supported on her tummy and kicking her arms and legs.

So, now that the kids are in bed, we’re going to watch “Salt”. I didn’t even realize that we were watching it in the right city until Tony mentioned it!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Salt Lake City: Day One

**Now that we're home, I realize that this post was a little "rambly". I must have been tired. But I'm going to leave it as-is and let you enjoy my stream of consciousness.**

We're taking a pretty big trip with the whole family right now. As I write, we're in Salt Lake City. Yes, I know, it's not what most people consider a vacation destination (especially since we're not winter sport enthusiasts), but we found incredibly cheap airfare, and I wanted to fly with the girls before they were too old to be lap children on a plane. And that's the story of how we chose Utah. My plan is to blog every day while we're here, although I won't be able to publish the posts until we get back.

We kicked off our trip by staying a night in Denver, since we had to be at the airport by 5:30 am for our flight. Leila spent her time at the hotel making pretend phone calls. :) I worried about the twins getting up that early, but they woke up with the alarm just like Tony and I, and have been doing great all day long.

We checked the stroller when we checked in, instead of checking it at the gate. I thought it would be more hassle than help, but I definitely reconsidered when my arms were shaking from holding my 24 pound child and my bulging carry-on for miles. And miles. And then again on our way to baggage claim after the flight. Lesson learned.

We flew on Southwest Airlines. It might have been my first time on that airline ... I can't really remember. Anyway, the airline AND the twins were awesome! The flight was less than half full, so Tony and I each took one of the girls, sat across the aisle from each other, and had an entire row to ourselves! We had a fantastic flight attendant crew who kept "sneaking" stuff like crackers and juice to us. I think they really just wanted to keep visiting the twins, who barely even made a peep during the flight, thanks in part to Elmo.

Once we got to Salt Lake and checked into the hotel, it was definitely time for a nap. I gave the girls over an hour to fall asleep, and they never did. Not fussing, just hanging out, so once again, it's my expectations that need a change. By then, I was annoyed to the point of almost crying (Mommy wanted a nap, too!), so we piled in the rental car to get lunch and they fell asleep in the car. Hallelujah! I'm pumped that maybe, just maybe, the girls have outgrown the "I don't sleep in the car" phase. I guess we'll see tomorrow when we take a day trip!

So, after that, a great time swimming at the hotel pool, an early supper, and exhausted kiddos in bed without protest at 6:30 pm. Then, since our hotel is across the street from the Utah Jazz stadium, and there was a game tonight, Tony decided (with my blessing) to attend his first NBA game. I hope he ate a pretzel or some nachos for me!