Saturday, December 15, 2012

how i feel

like every other parent yesterday, all i wanted to do was get my hands on my babies.
they were sleeping when i heard 28 people had been shot in an elementary school in connecticut.
20 of those people were children between the ages of 5 and 10.
i fell on my couch and started sobbing.
it is gut wrenching to think that 27 parents will never again hug their child from such a senseless and incomprehensible act.

i ache for brothers and sisters who got out of the car mad at their sibling.

but mostly, my mind kept going to the parents who were having a bad day.
those parents whose children were getting yelled at for running around the house, instead of eating breakfast.
the parents who wrestled to get their children in their car seats.
the parents who couldn't get to school fast enough.
because they had so much to do.
because they were over the fighting.

the parents who dropped their babies off, relished in the silence and promised a do over once the kids got home from school.
i thought long and hard and tried to convince myself that wouldn't be me.
but i wasn't able to convince myself.
i knew there was a chance.
and that is an extremely tough pill to swallow.

i know there is probably more than one parent that will be trying to fill that silence for the rest of their life.
my body aches for you.

the thought of people arriving to sandy hook elementary, waiting to wrap their body around a child that will never walk out those doors is unimaginable.
it makes me physically ill.

i pray for every one of those parents.
i pray through tears. through a grief i cannot begin to understand.
i pray they feel my love. i pray they feel your love.
i pray they feel my hugs.

i pray they remember every single thing about their children.
i hope they forever remember the smell of their skin.

i hope they can forever hear their laugh.
the big laugh.
the laugh that forces a child to toss their head back and make their mouths fly wide open.

i hope they remember the special way their babies said certain words.

i pray they will forever be able to close their eyes and see how every single hair fell on their child's face.

matt came home early.
we talked about how our twins could have been in in the same class.
we would have lost both of them.

i think they knew we needed them.
we scooped them up and squeezed them so tight.
i traced every outline of their tiny little bodies.
i touched every part of their face thousands of times.
i explained to them how i love them so much it hurts.
i drank them in with long, slow drawn out sips.
i watched every move.

i couldn't answer their questions without crying.
i paid attention to the way they said every single word.
i listened to their different intonations and committed them to memory.

i put them to bed with a heavy heart and a broken spirit.

i woke up at 1 and couldn't sleep.
i was aching for one of my babies to wake up.
to give me a reason to go hold them.

stella cried and my heart lurched. she knew i needed her.
as her limp flour sack of a body molded perfectly in to mine, we rocked.
we rocked to music for what felt like hours.
i know she felt my chest convulsing, i know she could feel my tears, but she didn't make a sound.
she laid there and let me love her.
heart to heart and cheek to cheek.

even though we will never know why, i take comfort knowing this country is crying together.
in times like these we are a family.
differing opinions fall by the wayside and we are united.

all we can do is keep breathing.
keep putting one foot in front of the other.

keep practicing peace on earth, good will to men.

Friday, October 12, 2012

the bad , the ugly , and finally......the good.

ya know,
being a parent is so hard.

instead of getting thanked for your hard work,
you get screamed at.
because someone wants milk.
and you aren't getting it fast enough. because you are cleaning up pee. on a random surface.
instead of getting a bonus?
you get hit. and thrown up on.

and the worst part?
you don't get a redo.

you can't make a phone call to your boss to fix your wrong doings when your bosses are two and under.
you are raising human sponges.
that watch your every move.
and they soak it up.

you can't have a quick meeting the next morning with three toddlers and explain to them that you reacted poorly because you are just done.
that their screaming all day makes you want to pull your mother loving hair out.
and you flipped out because surely you thought on the 1,347th time, you thought they would realize that you were serious about not reaching up on the freaking counter.

your actions are their example.

the way you react to situations is their model.
that is intense, people.

it is tough going to bed and replaying the day.
slamming your fist on the counter out of frustration? probably not your finest moment.
or cringing remembering the deer in the headlights look your children gave you when you screamed at them like a maniacal psychopath.

i have had way too many of these moments in the past two and a half years.
there has been a lot of cringing.
i wish i could redo a lot.

i can't.
and that is a lot to think about.
for the past two and a half years i have not been the parent that i imagined i would be.

time was lost.
i needed to just make it to breakfast.
then to lunch.
and then in a few short hours, nap would be here.
then please lord let me make it to dinner. will i even make dinner?
bath time
and thank you, bed time, for coming through in the clutch and saving the day.

i am here to tell you, that is no way to live, my friends.
but that's where i was.
just trying to survive.
and just trying to make it through the day.

the good news is, there has been a lightening around here.
those days are far and few between.

i am seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.
the fog is lifting.

i am no longer surviving.

i am living.
with my children.

and it feels so good.
we are laughing and hugging a lot.

so i haven't been around here much because i am making up for lost time.

i may not ever make up for the past couple of years.
but it feels really good trying.

it is amazing experiencing days that i am used to reading about wondering when things would calm down enough around here.
so we could all just be happy.

we are all growing up around here. especially me.

but surely.

and we are having so much fun while doing it.

Monday, October 1, 2012

ballerina girl.

you are so
lionel richie anyone?

it has been a hot minute, huh?

i'll explain more later.
really there is no explanation needed other than i've been real busy.
that's it.
so i guess i won't explain more later.

and as much as i want this post to be heartfelt and deep and meaningful,
it's not.
because i'm too tired and the little girl in the photos is so stinkin' cute that i want to share her with you guys right this very second.

it may not be normal to cry at your child first "dance cwass", but i never claimed to be normal.
and i was chill enough to walk away when the tears were really obvious.

but i was just so ridiculously proud of her.
dancin' out on that floor like she owned the joint.
i think she was the best in the class. wink wink.

she glues herself to my knee when she is uncomfortable and talks to me with her eyes.
so i knew doing something by herself would be good for her.
and she pranced out there and did it.
she didn't need me. she didn't need her brother. she just need her "spwinkle weotawd."

i love this little girl madly.
she's my partner in crime.

and if buying your little baby girl her first pair of tap and ballet shoes doesn't shatter your heart?
well, then i don't know what to tell you.

Friday, August 10, 2012

stella's birth story part one

you were due august 1st, 2011.
i knew that was not going to happen.
i had to kick the twins out and despite everyone telling me the next one always comes earlier,
i knew you were comfy.
and i was ok with that.

i wasn't ok on august 8th when they told me i was still barely 1 cm dilated.
the same exact place i had been a week prior.

i was straight up anxious on august 11th. You were ten days late.
that night, i went to get a manicure.
for the second time.

i also got a manicure on august 1st just in case.
what a waste of money.
i got to spend precious time with nicole.
nicole, one of my sweet friends from high school, also does my nails when i need more than just a manicure.
she did them right before your brother and sister were born, too.
she took me in at the last minute because she knew it was pre-baby ritual.
it was 6:00 p.m.
we chatted away.
she joked about putting me in labor.
we talked long and laughed hard.
i remember watching my belly bounce
and wondering if it would be one of the last times.

i got home around 9:00.
a nearly three hour manicure is good for the soul. especially from someone you love.
your twins had been asleep for hours
and daddy was asleep, too.

i laid down around 10:00 and not long after that, i remember feeling a tightening in my belly.
i was so excited.
you were ten days late and i knew they wouldn't let me go much longer without an induction
i so wanted to go into labor spontaneously.
so terribly bad.
i knew God had a plan.
and i knew you would come.
on your own.
i waited for a while before i woke daddy up but i knew this was it.

around 11:30 p.m. i woke him up and told him we were having a baby.
i was so excited i was laughing.

you see, i kicked him out of our room a long time ago.
he was sleeping in your room.
you made me not sleep.
a lot.

i called the doctor's office to let them know i was in labor.
except the doctor slept through the answering service's call.
three times.
when she called, she said i sounded too calm and not in enough pain to be in labor.
um. ok.
she also told me this was common in a first time labor.
i politely reminded her that i had given birth to twins a year prior.
and that she delivered them.
i think she was still asleep.

nonnie jumped out of bed and flew over.

around two a.m., daddy and i packed up and headed to the hospital.
neither of us had bags packed.
my stomach was in knots realizing i would not get to say goodbye to the twins, but i was over the moon excited to say hello to you.
it is so scary when people tell you that your heart will to divide into another equal piece, but you don't understand how that can happen.
it is so beautiful when you realize, after it happens, that it has.

on our way, daddy kept asking me how i felt.
i told him i was good.
i said we should stop to eat because i knew once i got there that food was off limits.
but i was explaining to him that even though i knew i should eat, i just wasn't hungry.
before i could finish that sentence, he said "oh no!"
"what! what is wrong" i said through contractions.
and he said "we should go back home and drop my truck off at my parents for louis in the morning."
"huh? why?" i asked.
he stated that it would be easier for louis to pick up his truck at gran and papa's since he would be working for daddy while we were with you.

ummmmmmmmm. hi.
i'm about to push a baby out of my vagina, but whatever makes things easier for louis is obviously what we need to do.

i told daddy "do you realize what you are saying right now? you want me to follow you in my car, to drop off your truck, while i'm in labor, so things are easier for louis?"

he started laughing when he realized how insane he sounded.

he admitted that he, too, did not really think i was in labor because i was calm.
and laughing,
i think he was looking for some oscar worthy labor performance.
but i felt great. and i was excited. and happy.

until i started second guessing myself.
would we be sent home?
was this not it?

we checked in and marveled that we had been in this exact same place a year and a half with no babies.
and here we were a year and a half later, hours away from meeting our third.
a little girl.

we sat.
and waited.
until we were called.
we moseyed through the hallways.
i vowed to take everything i felt in.
every smell.
every color.
every nurse.
every name.
to record it in the "i will never, ever forget this" portion of my brain.
i know how fast it goes.
i wanted pictures of everything.

i sat down in a cold plastic chair.
i was wearing sweat pants and a turquoise tank top.
a man took my blood pressure.
he led me to a triage room where i laid down and laughed with daddy.

i will cherish these times with your father forever.
i get emotional when i go back there mentally.
in the hospital, crawling of the edge of our seats, dying to meet our babies.
we were so in sync. him taking care of me, me taking care of you.
all we wanted to talk about was you.
would you look like chloe?
because you were a girl?
you would have to have blonde hair, right? right?
in between giggly and dreamy conversations where we felt like we were dancing in the clouds, we watched tv.
he had it on espn and a nurse marveled at his audacity to have it on a sports channel while his wife was having contractions every three minutes..

a few minutes later, it was three a.m. and the nurse came in and said today was going to be your birthday.
i couldn't wait.
and i was so excited to be right.
i wished that we would have taken daddy's truck back.
it would have made for a better story.

i couldn't wait to see you.
to hold you.
to see your teeny tiny purple little finger nails
i couldn't wait for the earth to stop when they put you in my arms for the first time.

we called nonnie, who was home with the twins, to let her know she was in for the long haul.
we weren't coming home without our baby girl.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

and just like that.......

in one week, she is one.
there are so. so. so. so many pictures in this post but i just couldn't stop.
i want to remember you just like this.

you now eat with a spoon. 

actually, that is a lie. 
kind of.
you're about 50/50.

a lot of the time?
you just like to play with one.

tonight i asked you to be a monkey and you said "ewwww eww, eww ewww eww."
in a very high pitch. exactly like a monkey.
for real.
daddy heard it too.
 we now think you're so much smarter than the twins were at this age.
we have no idea what the twins could do at this age.
it just seems like you're too young to be that smart.

you're favorite word is "no."
shocker, right?
between your twins and me, you probably hear it 6,436 times a day.
you say it just like chloe.
this terrifies me.
i can't handle two of her.
i'm serious.

you have given me the greatest gift.
for the past week and a half, you have slept from 7:30 - 8.
thank you.
thank you.

you are the toughest cookie i know.
you get beat the up on the reg. and you handle it.
it's impressive.

you are most definitely a mamma's girl.
me likey.
let's keep it that way.

food is a big deal to you.
that makes me happy.
i want you to appreciate it.
savor it.
and you do.
just like c&c.
as of now, affording to feed all of you for the next 18 years seems far more daunting than college.

your brother and sister are ridiculously in love with you.
they run in to your room every morning and say
"good  morning, baby."
my heart shatters into a million pieces every time.

i hope it stays that way forever.
your aunts and uncle are my best friends.
i want that for all of you, too.

in one week you will be one.
one year ago, at this very moment, i was watching my belly move.
i was wondering if it would be the last time, every time.
i was imagining you in one year.
what would you be like?

little did i know you would be one of "them" so soon.
that's right, you took off your diaper tonight.
thank goodness you walked right to the trash can to throw it away.
right when i thought i was in big trouble, you turned it around.
let's keep it that way, k?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

when the ish hit the walls

so yesterday i went to get the kids from nap.
i got four inches from their room and i knew it. i smelled it.

you guys.......
poop everywhere from colton.
and the worst part?
they peed through their diapers that morning.
so i took the sheets off.
and they were still in the washing machine for nap time.
why would i have remembered to switch them before nap?

so nap meant no sheets.
and no sheets meant poop all over the mattress.
i obviously started crying.

because when your children are white and look brown you cry.
not because you don't want brown children. it's because when you have white children that are all of a sudden brown, it means they are covered in poop.

after cleaning colton's disaster, thirty minutes later, chloe did the same thing.
i did a lot of research and i knew i had to put them in a cold shower.
warm bath is positive reinforcement.
my kids laughed in a cold shower.
this took my anger to the next level.

while i was giving colton a "shower"
chloe smeared a bottle of toothpaste all over her body.

while i was cleaning chloe, colton emptied a bottle of body wash all over the floor and played in it like a slip and slide.

while i was cleaning the body wash, and letting the mattresses dry, i walked in to this.


after this,
we had a long talk.
probably too long for two year olds.
but we connected.
they felt me.
we agreed that poop was disgusting.
the first thing colton said when he woke up was "i no touch my poo poo"
bravo, buddy, bravo.

until today.
same stuff. different day.

the twins laughed in their cold shower taking me fromm a ten, to a fourteen.

i burst into tears and called my mom.
she came to the rescue.
she helped me clean.
and she left.

after i got my mind right, i started to cook diner counting down the minutes until bed time.
and during dinner chloe came out crying. with bubbles coming out of her mouth.
apparently i left the lysol with bleach wipes too handy and she decided she needed a drink.
you and me both, sister. you and me both.
luckily peggy, at poison control was a lot more friendly than judy.
she assured me that choe would be fine.
she said to give her something to eat because there was alcohol in the container.
i debated doing so because i thought alcohol would ensure a good nights sleep.
against my better judgment, i fed the child.
i actually fed all of the children.

and snuck away to call matt to inform him of the debacle of the day we were having up in hurr.

that's when i heard a bowl shatter.
which meant someone threw their food.

so obviously i cussed matt out
because i can't cuss my children out.
i informed him i would be leaving.

luckily he got in the nick of time and i did what any girl on a carb free diet would do.
i put the kids to bed and poured a glass of wine and ordered pizza.

and then i proceeded to google "why the hell are my two year old twins smearing poop all over the place someone help me before i lose my ever loving mind like right now please."

and then i got annoyed because people were referring to their children as 35 months old.
ummm isn't that pretty much three?

and then some crazy person said it's completely normal. until four.
let me tell you something.......if this happens one more time i won't be around until my kids are four.

one woman said the most important thing is to stay calm. and remind the child in a very sweet voice that poo poo is yucky! it stays in diapers!
she obviously doesn't have twins and is more than welcome to come and try that over here.

some people said this is a sign that they're ready to potty train.
done and done.
well, kind of, they wear diapers for nighttime and nap time.
guess why?

because they smeared poop all over the place when they wore undies to bed!

so hear we sit. my stomach hurting from pizza and my house still smelling like poop.

Lord help me. help me please.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Reason #6,369

 it is so great to be a twin.
you are born with a best friend.
you always have someone to dance in the rain with.

and if your mom is tres cool like ours is?
you get to dance in the rain past bedtime.

and when you fall down?

 someone is always there to pick you up.


that makes it so much easier to get up and dance again.

you are my best friend.

and i promise to love you forever.
and live with you forever.
even when we are married.
and have kids.

oh wait.
that's our mom talking.
chill mom,
you're freakin' nuts.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


that's what i called you.
or sweet and low.
you loved both.
i will never forget your giggle.

2 days ago it was your birthday.

lora said that if she wasn't pregnant with your
great grandchild,
she would have had a
on the rocks.
with a twist.
for you.

don't worry,
i've got lora covered.

i realize i've never written for you like i should have.
trust me.
i've sat in front of this very screen 1.6 million times.
and every single time i have felt i haven't been able to do you justice.
i hope you know,
my gift has been my silence.
i hope you understand that.

how do you put this face to words?

i haven't been able to.
i still can't.

i will always remember you this happy.
that's why it is so hard to write.

you have made me a better wife.

you make me a better cook.
every time i call mom for one of your recipes i want it to be exact.
i want it to be just like yours.
why didn't you give her prefect measurements?

just like yours.

you make me want to dance.
to have fun.

to just live life.
the rest is just details.
and who wants to deal with those?

you make me want me to love my children,
more than anything in this world.
that's what you did for my mommy.

i hope to do that.

i hope to give them the christmas you gave her.
every holiday .
i want to do that for them.

you were an amazing wife. you were an even better mother.
and you were an even more phenomenal grandmother.
i want to take my kids to the "bogey inn" in dublin.
we'll play bocee ball.
and we'll go to the "popcorn factory".
and we'll learn how to make popcorn.
from the owner.
and i'll tell them that they can pick out three flavors.
and i'll buy them fourty two.
just like you did.
and i want them to play golf.
for you.
and for grandpa.

i want to be you when i grow up.

thank you for always wanting to be the life of the party.
i now know where i get it.
and i'm ok with it.

thank you for always inspiring me to dress to the nines.
right now?
i'm shooting for the threes.
i promise, i will make it to the sevens-ishhhhh.

thank you for letting me try on all of your jewelry.
i realize now that i was trying on a lot of carats. and lots of colored plastic.
thank you for letting me try it on like there was no difference.
i promise to do the same to my babies.
and their babies.

thank you for taking me on thee most ridiculous shopping sprees to the Limited Too and Gap.
i got whatever i wanted. i still remember the smell of those stores.
you made me feel like a princess.

you have no idea what i have taken from you.
what i will make live on.
i want you to be proud.

i wish you were here to see it.
i wish you were here for me to tell you all of the reasons i love you again.
but i will.
in heaven.

i love you grams.
happy birthday.
you are my special little firecracker.
i waited for you on the fourth of july.
it was so very good to see you.

xoxo sweet and low, i love you.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


my name is stella.

my mommy and daddy can't get enough of my piggies.

so much so that my mommy has done an entire blog on them.

so here are too many pictures of my piggies.

i'm sorry for that.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

because i'm nicer than your friends

so, team stratton embarked on our first ever family vacation.
i've taken the twins to my dad's beach condo which is just a couple hours away a few times.
we went when stella was two months old.
each time i said i would never do it again.
traveling with three, one and a half and under sucked.
and then i got brave and took all three to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's house for my nephew's birthday last month.
it should have taken three hours.
it took five and a half.

it was a disaster.
but i paid close attention because in a few short weeks i knew we would be driving eleven hours to tennessee.

i am a routine nazi so i kept them in their undies.
big mistake.
they learned quickly if they said the word poo poo that i would fly off the interstate and they would get to get out of their car seat.
they're liars.
big fat liars.
so this game continued for
i don't know
two and a half extra hours worth of driving.
i wasn't giving in.
so dumb.
we left during nap time.
they didn't sleep.

for tennessee we resolved to leave at 11:00 p.m.
the kids would go down at normal bed time.
business as usual.
matt would sleep from 5:30 - 10:30 and drive.
i would wake him up,
we would transfer them.
they would sleep all night.
and so would i.
nahhh so much.

see the cute snack bags?
i slaved over having every detail planned out for when they woke up the next morning.

they didn't sleep.
the whole way.
actually, stella was nice enough to give in at 5:00 a.m.
for an hour.
who are these people?

and the twins didn't nap the next day.
they were up for almost twenty four hours.
i wanted to confront them letting them know that i was fully aware that they had a drug problem
but, matt told me i was crazy.
he insisted that they were too young.
but really? what does he know?

but, we made it!
and really, would i expect anything less than an insane trip?
we're the stratton's.
and things are never normal.


because i'm nicer than all of your friends i am going to tell you the real secrets to make traveling with kids easier.

+ car seats
upon entering my cousins car with my sister and another cousin, i was taken aback by look of her car seats.
i questioned her as to why they were so reclined.
all three of them looked at me as if i had said something along the lines of
"i'm supposed to diaper my newborn?"
my car seats weren't reclined.
they were shocked.
and then it all came together.
no wonder they didn't sleep.
their bobbly little heads couldn't get comfy!
how was i supposed to know?
so, on the trip home? car seats were reclined and they slept for a whole hour!
and hour out of eleven!
i still think they are doing drugs, fyi.

when you think you have enough, double it, then triple it. then you should be good.
put them in individual bags so you can chuck them at them from the front seat to shut them up quickly.
you don't want to wake the baby that doesn't do drugs.
the one that is sleeping like a normal person.
multiple varieties of snack options are a must.
ones that take a long time to eat.
think clean snacks so you are not hurriedly giving them a white trash, wipe bath three minutes prior to meeting family members that they have never met.
oh, and also know that it is good to pack healthy stuff too if your children are used to eating that way.
i went the unhealthy route in hopes of maximizing the happiness potential.
not smart.
note that if your children aren't used to eating like that, it may result in throwing up.
this happened to 2/3 of our children.

have one wipe container per kid.
make sure they are within reach at all times.

+travel bags
my mom made thee cutest travel bags packed full with things to keep them distracted.
i got them a mickey pad with some invisible marker. three minutes in and they were done.
we still had ten hours and fifty seven minutes to go.
thank god my mom gave us these bags. they were our saving grace.
they had stickers, a dry erase board, drawing pads and snacks.
waste all of your money in the dollar bins at target to keep them busy.

+give up control
i'm not good at this.
it's imperative.
relinquish all parenting rights to your children.
don't have a time table.
stop when you need to stop.
let them color on themselves if it keeps them from screaming.
but, make sure the markers aren't permanent. i am a road trip rookie. my markers were permanent.
this makes the white trash wipe bath a lot harder than it needs to be.

let them drink juice! through a twizzler!
pacis all day, every day for everyone!
let them watch as much t.v. as they want.
fruit snacks are your new best friend.
whatever they want.
deal with the repercussions later.
although, i will tell you, re-training vacation kids back into normal kids sucks.
i am currently explaining to the twins every 40 seconds why doughnuts, french fries and candy is a thing of the past.

**but, you're not home yet! so don't think about that.
stay in the now.
and the now is getting to wherever you are going while maintaining the greatest level of sanity.

bring 4 pacis, per kid, per hour.
for example, we were traveling for eleven hours, so each kid needed 44 pacis total.
that, times three equals a total of 132 pacis.
we were short. big mistake.

plan ahead.
find every drive through starbucks prior to leaving.
stop at every one that is within 2 miles of an exit.
alternate between a doppio espresso and a venti red eye.

+staying calm
make a promise for one parent to be sane at all times.
never lose your minds together.
this is non-negotiable ya'll.
it must happen.
if two parents lose their minds at the same time, all children do as well.
and that situation can be unrepairable.

+car choice
get a mini-van.
i know
i just threw up in my mouth realizing that i said that out loud.
we have the twins in the back and stella in the middle.
we have the other seat folded down.
that is where i sat.
i am ready to admit the mini-van is right for our family.
i'm not happy about it but, know that traveling with three small babes is so much better with a mini.

+grocery bags
bring 736.
use them as trash bags.
i needed 736 more.
lesson learned.

put them on.
you will save an extraordinary amount of valuable time.
we didn't have to re-potty train. at all. and they have only been potty trained for three months.

when in doubt, feed them.
baby included.
and bring formula and a bottle. even if you nurse exclusively.
it's too hard to pull over to nurse. and we all know a bottle or a boob typically quiets a babe.
i can scratch nursing a baby strapped in a car seat going 80 mph down the interstate off my bucket list.
that takes a ridiculous amount of talent, agility and flexibility my friends.
i apologize, but i'm truthin' it around here.
i'm here to make your lives easier, not paint pretty pictures.

don't have any.
that's all.
just don't have any.

follow all of these rules and you are on your way to stress free travel, my friends.

you're welcome.
but really,
the car seat recline is a necessity.