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The Elf…

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Ok- raise your hand if you, too, thought this elf would be such a fun tradition for the holidays and now you are dreading pulling it out yet another time and coming up with 32+ “activities” or hiding places for your elf?  Seriously- kudos to the person that thought of this idea and was able to convince all of us naive parents that it would be a super great tradition.  Lies.

Or maybe you are one of the few that love the Elf and all the “fun” it has to offer.  Do you really exist?

At our house- we forget to move him.  (Buddy- our elf’s name is Buddy #creative).  We really just move him around and it’s a fun “where is Buddy” game every day.  But we haven’t had any reprieve.  We have had the elf since Aiden and Lu were little… and the way it’s worked out- it has rolled right into the Knox and the twins.  I seriously think we are on year 8 or 9 of this thing.  No joke. (It was created in 2005).  Let me tell you how fun it was on those sleepless nights with the twins realizing the damn elf didn’t move.  Enter Aiden.  That kid has saved us SO many times.  And yes- this year Lucy was on the mad hunt for Buddy when we realized we didn’t know what box he was in from the move. “Hey Lu- not sure if you know or not, but Buddy isn’t real and we need your help finding him.”  Her: “duh”.  After two days of hunting, Jeremy headed to Kohls and we now have a Buddy #3.

(Buddy #1 met his unfortunate death when we had him eating popcorn and watching the movie ELF when Lucy was little and Rockne ate his face off.  Seriously picture our faces… we left Buddy face down in the bowl of popcorn all day- went up to tuck them in for bed and come down and the elf has no face… the popcorn was also gone.  I can not even begin to tell you the middle of the night panic trying to replace the elf without a face… Jeremy going to every store was open and sending me pictures on our Razors (did they even take pictures??) and trying to find the one with exactly the right hair color.  Thankfully our secret was safe for many years… we finally just broke the news to her this year.  She was slightly devastated.)

But here we go again… another year of hiding the elf every night until the glorious morning of Christmas when most people are excited about presents and time together with family- we’re holding up our Christmas mimosas in the air to a break from having to scramble to hide the elf.

For total selfish reasons- I created a Virtual Elf Planning party on Facebook this year.  100% selfish.  I need all the ideas.  Although- one of my amazing neighbors ordered Reindeer from their elf last year!!  Seriously!! Real Reindeer!  In their front yard!  Amazing!  And another had their elf break their leg, and therefore be in a cast so they couldn’t move for a few weeks #genius.

Buddy is back though- and he will be back for at least a few years.  (or if the little ones are anything like Lucy- we have 8 more years of the Elf. *insert favorite cuss word*)

I have included my Elf on the Shelf Calendar for you all. #yourewelcome. Nothing fancy- but each day is split in half so the top half is for the idea and the second half is for supplies needed.  This way, if you are lucky enough to have helpers like me- you can all be on the same page and not have to guess what the elf does next.  Because it’s all about taking the stress out of the holidays, right? *insert spontaneous laughter*

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If you forget to move your elf, someone else (probably just like me) has created a list as to why the elf didn’t move.  Check it out HERE

And for those of you that were smart enough to have never introduced the elf into your house- I raise my mimosa to you.

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We now have Threenadoes- x2

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Man- if I had to pick one age I could bypass- it would be three.  I know, I know… it sounds horrible and heartless, but seriously, like overnight they have taken over my sweet (yet rambunctious two year olds) and replaced them with these beings that appear cute on the outside and full of sass and stubbornness on the inside (I blame Jeremy).  My babies are no longer babies!!

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No- they are no longer babies- we will probably always refer to Whitney as “Baby”, but the baby stage has packed up and left the Hillman household (or at this current point, my parent’s house because #moving).

As we approach the threenage years, I’m going to take a second and reminisce on moments… that I remember…

  • Finding out there were two:  Seriously- will never forget that moment.  In the Dr. office, not expecting great news.  I had had an ultrasound the week before (at 5 weeks) but Dr. didn’t say too much and said let’s repeat it in a week.  For someone that had been through multiple early miscarriages… I wasn’t expecting great news.  I had symptoms, but I also had symptoms with Jeremiah, the baby we lost in the second trimester due to a Partial Molar Pregnancy (ugh- needles in the skin just typing that phrase out).  So I sent Jeremy to his bowling meet, had my mom meet me at the Dr. to watch 7 mo old Knox in the waiting room so I could find out maybe good news/probably bad.  It was a new tech… had an internal ultrasound because it was so early… and before she flipped the switch on, she goes “Well, it still might be too early to see both their heartbeats”.  Me: “Oh, you must have the wrong chart, we’re just checking for a viable pregnancy.”  Her: “Lisa Hillman?  Yeah, they didn’t tell you last week there are twins?”  Me: “Uh… no… you’re kidding right?  Oh my gosh, I can’t breathe… can you go get my mom?  I definitely need my mom?  She’s sitting out there… go get her please?”  Her: “Uhhhh… I just can’t leave this inside you…” Me: “Oh, right”.  I don’t really remember the rest of the appointment besides the moment of my just handing my mom a picture of “the babies” and watching the realization of what was happening wash over her face.  Let’s just say she was a little more excited than I was.
  • Telling Jeremy: Have you all seen it?  It’s on YouTube… I’ve never seen my husband speechless before.  Watch it HERE.
  • Team Green: Being Team Green was SO hard… especially with twins…and especially with a High Risk Doctor that had a hard time keeping secrets.  But we made it and it was SO worth it.  We had an idea that Baby “B” might be a girl… the nurses referred to “her” as a Diva because B was always the most difficult to get the readings on and never cooperated.  Fast forward to the delivery and “A” came out with “It’s a girl!”… we start crying and then go… oh man, two girls!!  Imagine our surprise when two minutes later “B” comes out with “And it’s a boy!”  Uh, what?!?!  Welcome to the world, Griffin  (who still has Diva-tendencies)
  • The Delivery:  First “Gentle C-Section Delivery” at Copley.  So great.  We had a clear curtain so I was able to see them immediately.  They put Whitney on my chest right away and had Jeremy wear a button down so he had Griffin right away for some skin to skin time.  Well, both of them wouldn’t settle down and kept crying, so the nurse did a quick switch and sure enough- we had a daddy’s girl and a mama’s boy from the first minutes of life.  Totally different from the C-Section I had had with Aiden 13 years prior that I didn’t get to hold him for over an hour and barely saw him before they whisked him away for all the tests and bath.
  • The feedings:  Dang- that sucked.  Neither twin would latch.  We. tried. everything.  Lactation consultants, nipple guards, different positions… nothing worked.  Which left me to pump.  And pump.  And pump.  I missed out on a lot of life in the first few months.  We would feed them, burp them, change them, get them settled, then I would pump for about 20-30 minutes (for a good feeding) and I would have about 30 minutes before the process started all over again.  Fed is best and my life became insanely less stressful when we introduced formula.  And the babies were so much more happy and content as well.  I repeat.  FED IS BEST!  for everyone!! including my 3 other children and my husband.
  • The support:  The meals, the help, the holding of babies.  It was all so great.  It takes a village and our village sure picked us up and helped carry us when we were too tired.  Showers were so glorious and it was so nice to have someone come and just sit there so the shower could happen uninterrupted.
  • The first year: Nope.  Don’t remember it.  I don’t remember who rolled over first, who talked first, who crawled or walked first.  Nada.  I got nothing.  I remember moments of success… like figuring out how to carry both of them up and down the stairs at the same time, when they could feed themselves a bottle, when I got them both to relax at the same time… even if it was for only 30 seconds.  I SWORE I would not take any moment for granted with them.  Sleep deprivation beats memory.  Hands down.  I do remember buying a Franchise when they were 3 months old.  Who doesn’t start a franchise when their twins are three months old?
  • The gear:  So much gear for twins.  Not necessarily two of everything, but two of a lot.  So many bottles and bottle parts (Thanks, Dr. Brown), the pack and plays, the diapers… so many diapers.  We used to order our diapers from Amazon- and it would look like we had a body delivered to our house every month.
  • The real world was not twin friendly: I gave up going places eventually.  I remember pushing one cart and pulling the other cart through a store.  I remember getting so mad when people would take the “big cart” at Target for their one child.  I had to remind myself they have no idea.  I actually pulled into Target once and left because I couldn’t find a big cart.  I would take the double stroller places, but that didn’t fit anywhere (which double strollers are the same width as wheel-chairs, which made me super sad).  Grocery stores put milk at the back of the store.  No quick trips.  This now made Jeremy the sole-grocery shopper.  And trying to get twins through a parking lot is like herding drunk cats.
  • The Chaos:  It’s never calm.  What’s calm?  There’s no calm.  There is always something going on.  Someone crying.  Someone yelling.  People fighting.  Something lost.  We’re late.  We forget things.  We haven’t forgot kids yet, though.  Yet.
  • Their bond:  They maybe aren’t as close as some twins, but they sure have a bond that none of the other siblings share.  They have a special sense that they can tell what is going on with the other when we can’t.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not butterflies and rainbows… they fight… but they love each other fiercely and don’t like to be apart from each other at all.  They watch out for each other.  I would take them to the church nursery to interact with other kids, and they would just play by themselves.  Now, they will tell you they are each other’s best friends.  Melt my heart.
  • Boy vs. Girl/ Nurture vs. Nature:  So with boy/girl twins… there’s not a whole lot of time to promote “girl” toys or “boy” toys.  Since they started playing toys- they gravitate toward the same gender toys.  Our biggest thing has been Griffin (and Knox) wanting to paint their nails or wear dresses.  Who cares though, right?  Why can’t boys of pretty nails?  Or wear pretty dresses?  Why is it so much more appropriate for girls to wear “boy” clothes, but not the opposite?

I know this post doesn’t make it seem all great.  It is.  I swear.  I was never a person that wanted twins.  I was actually shocked when I found out there are people in the world that wish for spontaneous twins!  I wouldn’t change it for the world.  They were the perfect finale.  The perfect caboose to our train.  Quatro and Cinco.  I can’t imagine life any other way.  I enjoy the questions.  I enjoy watching their bond grow.  I enjoy the chaos.  I embrace the chaos (somedays).  I love that we have a huge triple stroller named “The Beast” and I love Black Betty.  I love that we have this large family and that I have 5 kids that are all so uniquely different.  But I don’t love 3’s.  3’s are rough.  I’m sure I will be celebrating in a year when we reach the 4’s.  Until then- que sera.

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5 Mom Must-Dos for Back-To-School

School starts here in about a week.

I have 5 kids entering 3 different schools- (note: next year I will have 5 in 4 different schools- eek!).  This is the twins first year in preschool and this is a whole new ball game.  Making sure all 5 kids have their health forms, and we have all the appointments scheduled we need to schedule, and I’m making sure I’m not missing a back-to-school meeting at any of their schools.  I seriously could use a personal assistant just to keep me on top of it all, and they would be busy all.the.time.  Which got me to thinking- we do some much for them during this time of year… what are we doing for us?

While it’s important to make sure your kiddos are set for their “best year ever”, it’s also just as important that you are taking care of YOU.  Back-to-school can be just as stressful (if not more!) for moms than it is for the kids!  Let’s be real- have you felt totally lost and overwhelmed in the Target back-to-school section finding the exact color of folders, highlighters, the right number of markers, and telling your kids “no” to all the “extras” they want!? Or keeping track of all the paperwork and emails from the schools, only to find out you still don’t have it right?  Plus, we’re at the end of summer- and while we all started out with great intentions about “the best summer yet”, most of us are probably secretly… or not so secretly… counting down the days.

The overwhelm is real.

So what does a mom do?  No worries- I’ve compiled a list of some Mom Must-Do’s to fight the back to school overwhelm.

  1. It’s ok to say no.  Seriously.  To your kid… to friends… to the HSO committee (sorry!).  A wise person once told me that every time you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else.  What are you gaining or sacrificing by saying yes to something?  Analyze what you are saying yes to!  It’s ok to say no.  (you can tell this to your kids too, they don’t have to sign up for everything under the sun)
  2. Move.  Whether it’s walking, running, working out, yoga, horse back riding, dancing, Zumba, whatever… just move.  There’s this whole science behind movement.  It can make you happier, relieve stress, help you sleep better… the list continues.  It doesn’t have to be long or intense- anything is better than nothing.  (and I mean, I may know a place that offers great classes with other moms… just saying)
  3. Take advantage of Sundays- they are a great way to reset for the week with your family.  Take the time to go over what is happening in the week ahead.  Practices, games, meetings, projects, big assignments… put it all out there and make sure everyone is on the same page.  This will help you prepare for events and not be caught off guard.  This can also help with meal planning!  Have games and meetings all afternoon Tuesday?  Sounds like a great night for a crockpot meal that can cook all day and people can eat as they come and go.
  4. Create a happy space… and go there.  Maybe it’s your kitchen, room, office.  Spend time there alone each day.  Maybe it’s waking up 30 minutes before your kids do and enjoying a cup of coffee or your favorite book or journal and spending time just being able to focus on you.  Maybe you’re more of a night person… spend time then focusing on you and setting your intentions for the next day.  Give your mind time to breathe.
  5. Drink water.  You think I’m kidding and I’m not.  It’s easy and it’s simple and the health benefits are abundant.  Half your body weight in ounces of water.  You’ll thank me.  Maybe not the first few days (or nights!), but eventually you will.  You’re future self will thank you as well.

The most important thing is to not forget about you.  Take care of yourself so that you can be the best version of you for your kiddos as they are about to start the next school year.  Don’t get lost in the overwhelm.  You got this, mama.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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you might be a toddler if…

Hey- I’m Knox- I’m 3.  Maybe you remember me.  Its been a while since I’ve been able to write about life as I know it… so here I am.  Back again.

Its been so long since I was able to sit down and write that I should fill you in on a few things.  First of all- I’m 3 and in preschool and loving every minute of it.  The twins- yeah, they’re still around and they are 2 (and craaazzzyy).  Didi (Lucy) is in 5th grade and Charlie (Aiden) is in high school now and I LOVE hanging out with him and his friends.

So this post is all about me.  Yup, just me.  Thought I would fill you in on a few of my favorite things to do:

  1. TAG-TEAM:  Many of you know I used to like to pick on the twins.  Especially Grif (only because he cries all.the.time).  But its crazy.  One day it just happened.  I realized Grif was bigger than me.  And he bites.  And he can fight back.  So I don’t pick on them (as much… let’s be honest… I still do, sometimes) and instead I have learned that I can get a lot more accomplished if there is more than just me.  So I recruit them.  Like when I need to reach the fish food on the shelf, or dump toys and electronics into the fish tank, or get food or candy I’m not supposed to, or fill up cups of water and dump them on the floor… you get it.  It definitely helps having power in numbers.  The twins are pretty helpful when it comes to this stuff.
  2. PAINT: I’m super good at painting.  Painting with paint, water, play-doh.  I paint on paper or walls.  Anything works, really.  Play-doh on walls works really well (and I guess is super hard to get off of walls- who knew?)
  3. HAMSTER HELPER: Didi got a new pet.  I want a pet too.  Mom says no.  So instead, I try to help Didi as much as possible with her new pet.  Her name is Ginger.  Didi keeps her door locked now so I can’t get in to check on Ginger anymore.  I used to check on her while Didi was at school, and one day Ginger looked lonely so I got her out to play with her and she just ran away.  She came back to dad though and crawled into his hand, which is good.  I was worried.  But ever since then- I’m not allowed in Didi’s room.  So now I have my own pretend Hamster named Ginger that I take care of (though she isn’t as fun as the real one).  She lives in one of mom’s bird cages on the shelf and I like
  4. FISH FEEDER: So Charlie has a bunch of fish in our house and I’m really good at feeding them.  Fish are hungry.  A  lot.  So I feed them as much as I can, whenever I can.  I even put in some toys and XBOX remotes one day for them to play with, but mom wasn’t happy.  Have you ever tried fish food?  Its not that bad.
  5. OUTDOOR EXPLORER:  Being outside is my favorite.  I love being outside.  I love to go for walks and see new things like the diggers at the end of the street and talk to my next door neighbor Mr. Franklin.  He’s one of my favorite people.  He has a cane and just laughs at whatever I say.  I told my mom I want a cane like that for my birthday.  I also can open doors now and have tried to go for a walk a couple times on my own, but mom doesn’t seem to think that’s a good idea.
  6. SUPERSTAR: I guess mom and dad used to like to karaoke a lot.  So mom set up their old karaoke machine in our basement and it has TWO WORKING MICROPHONES!  Griffin and I are really good at singing duets.  Our two favorites right now are Happy Birthday and Go Cubs Go.  Do you know how loud it can get when him and I are both yelling into the microphones?  So loud.  Its awesome.  We also have some pretty intense dance parties and Whitney is a really good dancer.

 

So those are just a few of the things I like to do to keep me busy.  I love my family and love hanging out with my older siblings and get super excited when dad comes home from work.  The twins are ok, but still get in the way sometimes… ok, they get in the way a lot.  And even though my mom gets upset sometimes, I love snuggling with her and giving her lots of hugs and kisses.  She loves snuggles (and taking deep breaths and reminding herself that this is all a phase and that it goes by too quickly).

 

 

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Knox’s Top 10

Well its been awhile since my mom has let me update this thing.  Can’t imagine why.  The twins are on the move.  And by “on the move”, I mean “tag team partners that climb, fall, walk, run, roll, hide, and move… sometimes together…but usually in opposite directions making it entertaining to watch mom and dad reel them back in”

See, its funny… they think they are big.  Like me.  They aren’t.  But I let them think they are.  So they copy what I do.  Which never ends well.  Griffin usually ends up in tears.  The kid is always crying.  I take great pride in knowing exactly what to do to push his button.  It really doesn’t take much.  Sometimes just a quick chase down the hall is enough to bring the tear flowing.  Mom gets mad.  Thankfully the kid hasn’t figured out he is as big as me yet.

Whitney- well- I try not to mess with her.  She’s some kind of crazy.  I try to do the same things to her that I do to Griffin, but then usually I’m the one that ends up crying.  Embarrassing to admit, but its true.  Mom and Dad keep saying she’s tiny but mighty.  And they say she’ll beat anyone up that tries to mess with Griffin.  Thankfully she hasn’t tried to beat me up yet.  I mean – I could totally take her…right… totally…  Anyway- she feisty when she actually lets dad put her down.  Its crazy… she has dad wrapped around her finger.  He literally tries to set her down for two seconds to do something and she hits the floor like an angry elf and sure enough, he picks her right back up.  Her game is on!  Maybe she’ll give me lessons…hmmmm….

Charlie and DeeDee (you know them as Aiden and Lucy) are probably the best big brother and sister ever.  They let me hang out with them and do big kid stuff.   I help Charlie feed his fish and get to sit in DeeDees room with her and watch TV.  They say its so I don’t get in trouble from mom.  I think its because I’m a cool kid and they just want to hang out with me.  I watch out the window every day for them to get off the bus and miss them when they aren’t home.

So because its been so long- I’ve decided to make a Top 10 list of sorts.  The Top 10 things in the Hard-Knocks Life of Knox right now:

  1.  The Pantry.  Not only is it stacked with food, but now mom and dad only keep the food on the top shelves and the bottom shelves are totally empty.  Don’t worry.  I figured out how to climb it.  (as are all the other shelves that are low to the ground in our house… all empty… hmm… wonder what’s going on).
  2. The Front Door.  It opens.  I can open it.  I can open it half naked and run down the sidewalk.  I run fast.  Have you ever seen mom sprinting frantically down the sidewalk chasing a half naked boy?  You should.  Its funny.  (Hint: best time to attempt this is when she’s in the middle of changing a messy diaper…trust me…I know)
  3. The Toilet.  I can go on it.  When I want to.  Its a really fun guessing game for mom and dad.  Whitney’s starting to mimic me.  Dad thinks she will be potty trained before me.  That’s what he thinks.  I’m really potty trained.  I just like to make life interesting.
  4. The iPad.  Mom lets me watch it a lot when she’s “working”.  Fine with me.  There are these great songs about Mommy Fingers and Daddy Fingers that I listen to on REPEAT!  They’re the best.  And the videos with kids opening up toys.  Genius.  Kids open toys.  That’s it!  And they’re all over YouTube.  All day.  Every day.
  5. Mud.  And Rocks.  And Dirt.  And Ants.  And Worms.  Worms are my favorite.  I save them when it rains.  But you shouldn’t eat them.  That’s gross.   I tell everyone.
  6. Naps.  Mom wanted me to write this so I remember this one day.  She has Griffin and Whitney and I all taking 2 to 3 hour naps at the same time.  Of course, its when the babysitters are here and mom is at work.  But she seems to think this won’t last long and wants me to remember when I loved naps.
  7. My Birthday.  Mom keeps saying its coming up.  She’s been saying that for awhile.  I’m having a Captain America Birthday party with a very specific invite list and a chocolate Batman Cake.  I just keep walking around singing Happy Birthday until it actually happens.
  8. Chocolate.  Except I never get it anymore.  Mom says I’m crazy when I have chocolate.  I love chocolate.  Chocolate’s my favorite.  And sugar.  Does syrup have sugar in it?  Then yes.  That’s my favorite, too.
  9. Stroller Strides.  Mom started a new company and we get to go workout with her.  We sing songs while the moms work out.  I play games and eat a lot of snacks.  I love yelling really loud when she’s teaching (I actually love teaching the class but she won’t let me) and then as soon as class is over, we talk about how it was such a fun Stroller Strides class.  Griffin, Whitney and I each have our own stroller at home, so we get to have our own classes when get home.  I have a lot of muscles and can do a lot of pushups.
  10. My family.  I love to play with dad, wear his baseball hat, and ride in his car.  Mom gives me snuggles and takes me outside.  Charlie lets me feed his fish and hang out with him building trains.  DeeDee watches out for me and tries to keep me from getting into timeouts.  Whitney is alright.  She thinks I’m funny and laughs at me as long as I’m not picking on her.  And Griffin is alright too.  He’s finally not a baby anymore and will play with me now.  But he still cries a lot when he doesn’t do what I want and I have to hit him or take a toy away to get him to listen. But he will learn one day.  I do love to make them all laugh.  They think I will be the class clown… like my dad.

Life as a big brother to twins is hard… but someone’s got to do it.  Hopefully mom will let me on here some more so I can keep you all up to date on them and all their craziness.

-Knox

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