Two Mondays came and went, and I hadn’t updated my blog.
Traveling internationally with twin toddlers is no joke. I had very low expectation to begin with, and it has still been very hard to be so far away from home and living off of suitcases. We are lucky enough that we stay at my parents’ and have their help, but it continues to be difficult to navigate a foreign (to the kids) world with them. The kids have tasted freedom of no stroller and no high chairs/boosters and they fight us every chance they have if we put them in one. They refuse to hold hands when crossing the street which often results in us carrying them while they are kicking and screaming. They have watched one too many shows on a digital device everywhere they go and I know that the road to detox screen time will be brutal at home. The public tantrums are sometimes too hard to bear.
But, everything is worth it when I see my grandma’s smiles while interacting with my kids. It is worth it when I see how comfortable the kids are with my family. It is so worth it to watch the twinkle in their eyes exploring the world many miles away from home.
We are leaving for India this evening. There is a whole new world out there for the kids to see. I hope I am able to focus on the positive rather than the hard work of the next three weeks.
This blog post is late for about… 14 hours.
I was trying to make a decision this weekend. This decision was weighing so much on my mind that I didn’t have the mental capacity or time to write a blog post.
We have been scheduled to leave for my home town in Asia and India this coming Sunday. I didn’t mention about it in my last blog post, but one of my worries of this upcoming trip was the unrest in my home town. There have been protests for democracy since June there and things have been escalating in the last week. Still, things seem to be fine if you avoid the usual hot spots for protests… until this weekend. Extreme violence and large scale damages and vandalism took place over Friday night that the mass transit there had to shut down the whole subway system. My dad had a difficult time finding public transportation to go home after dinner and he had to rely on my cousin to call him an U.ber. Some ATMs were smashed so my dad couldn’t get money. Banks, malls, and supermarkets were closed. Clashes continued to happen throughout the weekend. Subway system continued to be shut down due to damages. Honestly, during those two days, I felt that if we went as originally planned, I didn’t feel that I could protect my children. My gut was telling me to skip my home town and just transit to India directly and back. However, emotionally it would be heartbreaking for me to just transit there without entering to see my family. And I have been so looking forward to my grandmother meeting my kids. After all, my grandmother is going to be 100 and who knows when we would have the opportunity for my kids to meet her. I spoke with my best friend and my dad. Both felt that it would still be safe if we stay home and around the areas of my dad’s house and my grandma’s house. I wavered with my decision throughout the whole weekend. Finally, I posted on my college’s parenting group on FB about my quandary. Some of my fellow alumnae actually live there currently so they gave their perspectives. I’d say 100% of the people who responded said we should go. I prayed about it and talked to Bob, and we both agree that seeing family is more important. And we will exercise caution. Once the decision has been made, I feel that a weight has been lifted off my shoulder. I can now continue to pack our stuff for this first international trip/plane ride with our twins.
T-13 until our trip to Asia.
See this picture? These are some of the things that I purchased in preparation for the kids’ entertainment on our 14-hour flight. I walked around dollar stores several times and considered various toys and non-toy items that are novelty to my kids so they’d be occupied on the plane. Paper fan, post-it notes, little boxes that open and close, stationary pouches with zippers that they can open and close. And many more things. Oh and endless snacks. The kids are into opening presents these days, so I will take the advice of somebody and wrap these little items in tissue paper so the kids get to open them and be surprised. Anything to keep them occupy, right?
I will start packing our bags. The packing list has been modified multiple times. We will have to be away from our familiar routines on the other side of the world many time zones away for four weeks. (Why four weeks? Spending some time in my home town for my grandma’s 100th birthday, and going to see my in-laws in India for another 1.5 weeks. My husband will attend a conference in the town next to my home town. That makes four weeks.) I am hoping not to have to pack too many suitcases and still have all that we will need on our trip. Fortunately my dad has been in town and he is going home today so he will transport the kids’ diapers, wipes, and some snacks for us. You may ask, can’t you buy diapers there? Unfortunately my kids are used to the Tar.get brand and I don’t want to try using new diapers on a trip especially for my son’s sensitive skin. So I am grateful for the help that we will get for bringing some supplies to Asia. We’ll also have the traveling cribs, travel car seats, and double umbrella stroller. I get a bit stressed out thinking about all of this.
Considering the kind of tantrums that my kids have been throwing lately, I can’t imagine what traveling and being away from home for an extended period of time plus jet lag will do to them. I was told by my kids’ wise godmother to have very low expectations for this trip, and expect it to be a lot of work and no rest. I have had quite a few months to prepare myself mentally. Oh and Okra suddenly had two raised bumps on his hand today. I really really really hope that it is NOT hand, foot, and mouth disease. We really don’t need to have a sick kid on top of getting ready for the trip. But if he is sick for real, there is nothing I can do but to take the best care of him so that he is healthy to travel. At least he is not falling sick the day before the trip?
T-13 days. I am a bit stressed out. But think about the blessings. Traveling to my home town with my own children has been a dream. I am about to have my dream come true. I should really hold onto this thought when I get stressed out.
Two is such a fun and challenging age. It is so much work. And then there are two of them, but the work doesn’t seem only doubled. It feels more like exponential. Okra has been having a meltdown right when he wakes up from his nap on a daily basis. You don’t know what he wants. I bet he doesn’t know what he wants. He’d ask for milk but would push it away while whining for it. This yes-no-yes-no pattern makes it so tiring. He resorts to throwing, hitting, and biting almost immediately when he gets angry or frustrated. I am quite sure he is not feeling well somewhere. He has been pointing inside his mouth and says “Hurt” so I am sure the second year molars are coming in. Bunny gets affected by Okra’s emotions much more easily than before. Sometimes when he cries, she starts crying and wanting me to hold her. Two crying, inconsolable kids make afternoons so much fun (not). Bunny does not have a meltdown five times a day, but when she does, it takes forever for her to get over it. Often times 45 minutes to an hour has passed and she is still not recovered from her meltdown. It. Is. So. Tiring. When I am holding one or both of them while they have their crazy meltdowns, I remind myself that in an hour, all is going to be fine, and they will get over it. We will have fun together again. But those minutes are so hard to get past at times. Needless to say, I am often exhausted by the time they go down for the night. There is light at the end of the tunnel though. I met up with my lovely friend Random Squeaks when she was in the area. We had a very fun morning with the kids at the zoo. Our topics of conversation surrounded her 5-year-old twins and my 2-year-old twins. She tells me that her five-year-olds are delightful now. I have been reading her blog for years and remember how difficult the toddler years were for her. I am so so glad and relieved that she enjoys her twins much more now that they are older. There is hope that life with twins will be easier and different in the future. Despite my exhaustion and the incredible meltdowns, I sometimes smile when I am holding a kicking and screaming child. Compared to the heartaches and the hopelessness I felt during my dark infertility days, having two screaming children feels so much better. Thank goodness my kids sleep well at night, otherwise, there would not be a chance for me to recover from the exhaustion during the day. I hope I didn’t just jinx myself!
Here is a picture of their adorable backs on a hike with my dad.
Our babies are no longer babies. They turned two yesterday.
A couple days prior to that, we sent our gestational carrier a gift certificate for a massage. We are so grateful for her and want to celebrate her on our kids’ birthday as long as we can. She loved the gift and was texting with me a bit. When I told the babies about her, they wanted to see her. We actually had a video chat that evening for the first time with the babies ever since they were born. It was so much fun! Bob had just gotten home from work so he also got to join in. The kids were drawn to her, her kids, her husband, and their dog. They smiled and spoke a bit. Annie truly loved our kids. You can tell from her smiles to them. We should have done a video chat much sooner, but this is not too late! We will try to video chat more often in the future.
This year’s birthday celebration was a low-key one. In the morning we opened their bedroom door and sang happy birthday to them. They were so excited they jumped up and down. It was so cute to see! Now that they understand about their world much better, birthday and birthday celebration are a fun concept for them. They were in love with the Thomas happy birthday banner that we hung on the wall. I made them special smiley pancakes for breakfast.
After nap time, our family and close friends came over for a little play time, dinner, and cake time. These are all people that the kids know, love, and enjoy being around. This is about them and I wanted them to be as comfortable as possible. I ordered these T-shirts for them that say “Two Two” with a train on it and their names at the bottom. They wore these shirts as well as train engineer’s hats for their party. They played. We got Chinese takeouts (ordered waaayyyyy too much food). My niece made a cake. Funny story. I asked her to make a cake for the babies. I was expecting a round cake like the one she made for herself on her own birthday. I bought two Thomas trains to put on it for decoration. My niece showed up with a bear cake! I wasn’t going to put the trains on the bear’s face! So later on, I decided to put the trains below the bear’s ears. It looked like the bear was wearing train earrings. Hahaha. When it came to cake time, Okra spotted the trains and would not settle down. So I gave him one of the trains with chocolate frosting stuck all over its wheels. When it was time to blow the candles, Bunny got too close to the candle and her lips got burned by the fire. When we were not paying attention, she picked up the number 2 candle and chewed off the top. Haha. All the mishaps. The highlight for me was the bread pudding that the kids’ godma brought over for me. I hadn’t had one in a long time and it was so scrumptious. We had a lot of leftover food that we gave away to our friends and family but I had kept all the leftover bread pudding to myself. Haha.
All in all, it was a great birthday celebration. Small, intimate, and very appropriate for our kids’ age. I can’t believe that it has been two years since the kids were born. Two days ago, I thought about the journey that we were on to become these particular kids’ parents, I became teary-eyed. It was not a guarantee that we would become parents even with the amount of effort and money that we had poured into this process. We are extremely lucky and blessed to have everything lined up exactly the right way for these kids to be our kids. I do not take them for granted even for a minute. I just realized that part two of the kids’ birth story has still not been published yet. I had hoped to have it done by their second birthday. Well, they are now two and it is still not done. But I WILL get it done because I truly want to document how amazing those first couple of days of parenthood was for us.
A couple of weekends ago my maid of honor and I had a lovely time exploring a new restaurant in town for brunch to celebrate her 40th birthday. It was a super nice and sunny day. I picked her up from her new condo and drove to the vicinity of the restaurant. That neighborhood is notorious for the scarcity of parking spots so I snatched the first one that was about 10 minutes walking distance from the restaurant. Along the way we actually saw quite a few open spots but it was okay because we were just walking and catching up. From the time I picked her up to the time we parted, we had about three hours to chat. It was just so wonderful. This whole time, despite the distance that I did feel with her in the last couple of years after my babies were born, reminded me of the reason she is one of my best friends. We just have such great time together. It warmed my heart that the first thing she asked about was my children. She listened attentively and asked questions. Of course we talked about many other things. I asked her about her feelings turning 40. She told me that she feels quite good being at this age, but of course feels a little sad about not reaching milestones that she thought she would have reached at this point in her life, such as having a spouse and children. It is hard sometimes for her to watch others at her age move forward in one direction while she is going another direction. She told me an example. She has had a group of friends from college who also moved to this area at the same time with her, so they have been friends for about 20 years. One of the guys recently had a birthday party celebrating his 40th as well. She went to that birthday to support her friend, but it was hard for her to be there. She was the only person there without a spouse or kids. Everybody’s topics of conversation inevitably surrounded kids. It was particularly hard for her when all the kids went up there to sing Happy Birthday. She said, remember how you avoided all the baby showers? This is similar to that. But she was brave and still went because of her friend. I was trying to put myself in her shoes. I am not so sure if I’d be brave enough to attend. I am grateful that she shared her thoughts and feelings with me. It gives me a glimpse into the possible reasons of why there was a distance between us ever since my kids were born. Sometimes it is just hard to see the ones who are closest to you move forward in life, to have what you don’t have, even the ones who struggled to have babies. Spending time with her allows me to be more compassionate about her emotions as they remind me of my own feelings when I was in the throes of infertility. A little empathy goes a long way.
The kids are going to turn two in a couple of weeks. Lately they have been screaming for more independence: resisting to sit in the stroller and wanting to walk instead, fighting when we put them in the high chairs, etc. I wasn’t willing to fight the battle of the high chairs on a daily basis anymore, so I put their travel booster chairs that we usually take to restaurants on our dining chairs and let them sit at the dining table. They are so much happier. However, the problem is, 1) they want to climb on the chairs but still have a difficult time with the boosters, and 2) their feet are dangling without a firm support of a footrest sitting there. So I have been on the quest to find these used Stok.ke high chairs they can climb on themselves. I have set a price so anything over a certain price point wouldn’t work. Being new on buying used things, I made a rookie mistake of asking too many questions when this person was selling two of those high chairs (one with a harness and one without) at a very good price. He sold them to someone else. When I eventually saw another deal that was great and this time both chairs had harnesses, I jumped on it and made the purchase right away. I am so thrilled that the kids finally get to climb on their own chairs and sit at the table with us. Bunny loves it so much that she has been asking to read and draw at the table all the time.
Another purchase of used thing I bought to promote independence is the learning tower. I finally bought a used one and put it in good use this past weekend. We made pizza at home and the kids helped me put toppings on them. In the process they put raw bell peppers and mushrooms in their mouths, and kept on asking for more. These are things that actually never wanted to try when I put them in their plates. They just stood in the learning tower to wait for the pizzas to be done and continued to be munching on the raw veggies. They just stood in the learning tower to eat what they had made for themselves. I have got to say that it was so much fun to watch them do something for themselves and look so proud.
Seeing them gain independence and be happy about it is worth it for me to search daily for these tools to purchase and drive around the area to pick things up for them. It is so unbelievable to me that it feels like they were born just yesterday, but in reality they are soon going to be 2 years old. I can only imagine one day soon they don’t need any of these tools and can just do things themselves. I just don’t want that day to come too soon… Kids growing up too fast is a common problem, isn’t it?