Friday, November 30, 2007


The scene:The witching hour (6:00 to 7:00 p.m.)Our peaceful dinner is complete and dishes cleaned, but it is too soon to start putting them to bed.The living roomTry us. We know every cartoon that is on during the witching hour on any network.The Source of the Aggravation:Bathing children and calls from work do not compliment one another.Around 6:30 mom will suggest that she go start bathing babies one-at-a-time, alone, upstairs, with one child, while the remainder chew on each other and scream with dad watching on. That generally works rather well, until the phone rings, and it is dad’s work.Mom is upstairs bathing one baby, dad sets another in the bouncy seat to go grab the phone quickly, the boys start running toward the phone unrelentingly believing that one of these days we’re going to let them answer it. It’s work. He moves to the back bedroom to get away from the toddlers, who are chasing the phone, still thinking that they are going to be allowed to talk on it. Where did they come up with this idea? The back door closes.Here you may start making judgments, but we have to make them sometimes as well. Two toddlers and one baby left in the living room. Dad is on a quick call with work in the back. Mom is almost through bathing a baby upstairs. The toddlers are a little wound up because they could have sworn that this was the time they would get to answer the phone. It takes only a moment to realize the freedom and figure out a plan. Seriously, I don’t know how they come up with these things so quickly.In his rush to grab the phone before the answering machine, the baby in the bouncy seat was placed in the bouncy seat, not buckled in the bouncy seat. One fresh baby later, mom comes downstairs to exchange babies. On her way down the stairs she hears “Reeeeee! Reeeee!,” coming from Benjamin (toddler speak for “Weeeee!”) and fits of laughter from Nicholas. She smiles because this is better than quiet. Quiet means something is wrong. She rounds the corner with a smile on her face getting ready to join the fun. And instead she sees Benjamin laying on the bouncy seat testing the engineering and metal frame by bending the top all the way down to the ground. In one swift movement he rolls, yells “reeeee!,” starts Nicholas laughing, and releases the seat, catapult-style, baby and all.For some unknown reason, the baby only lifts momentarily in the air and lands back in her little seat. Hence, the utter lack of protest from the baby to this point, although the repeated attempts have been nudging her out of the chair and she is getting close to simply falling out. And this is all far too aggravating to go grab the camera during, so we fortunately have no proof.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Is This What They Mean?

You know, in those parenting magazines, where they tell you to choose your battles and insist he eat some vegetables but let go and let the toddler express his fashion savvy. Yes, we have actually loaded up the car in this particular outfit; thankfully, we were headed for the drive through.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dinnertime At The Stubers

Where to begin?
I would like to say something witty here about the kids being so hungry for their mother's food that they start eating the toddler paints while they are waiting. But, it's really not the case, he just does that.
We do attempt to remember to wash our hands.Everyone says a prayer that involves being thankful that she didn't feed us that.
We just sit with the milk jug now because we got tired of getting up to get it out of the fridge to fill one cup, put it back, have another child start screaming "mow, mow" (toddler for more), and then say, "what do you say?" The child responds, "Peas," although we know he doesn't want peas, that means please. However, if we're having peas it might mean that he wants more peas please because, well they eat green tomatoes and for some reason love vegetables, but "peas" mostly means "please."
Meanwhile, mom gets up to grab a baby that is crying even though she was just fed/burped/changed by dad. Dad bends over to wipe up some junk from the floor that someone just threw down and the first time-out is threatened. As he picks up his fork to eat, a child starts asking for mow, but we don't know what. So we do the little "mow what?" dance. Then the other baby starts crying because she just figured out she is alone, and she didn't finish her bottle earlier so she's decided she's hungry now. Dad gets her and starts her bottle for the second attempt. Mom gets mow. Everyone sits down. The other toddler just decided to test the boundaries and throw some more junk on the floor. Dad threatens time out another time because he really just wants to eat a couple bites of food before getting up yet again. The other toddler decides he is finished and shoves his plate away and begins screaming for the get-down ritual. Dad gets up to clean him off and let him down. Mom puts the first baby down and grabs the second baby from dad. While feeding baby two, she shoves in two bites with her free left hand dropping junk all over the baby, which makes the baby laugh and stop eating her food again. (She feels a little guilty that she got two half-bites of food and her husband has only gotten one half-bite so far.) (She is doubly worried about the pervasive use of the word 'got' in her vocabulary these days.) The toddler that was screaming to get down is now eating his food for the first time during all of dinner. Everyone sits down. The first baby starts to protest in the other room. It is concluded that she must miss her sister, so baby two is taken to the other room for some face time with her. The toddler throwing all of his food on the floor has now decided that his napkin should go into the milk glass so that he can soak up all of the milk and suck on the napkin. "That's it. You're finished," comes out of mom and dad's mouths simultaneously, his food is taken away, and he is freed. The girls begin to get aggravated with each other because one is poking the other in the face, so they are separated. Toddler one has walked over to toddler two's chair and is now eating out of toddler two's hand. Except toddler two has now decided not to share any more, so he is holding food out to his brother and snatching it back at the last minute, much to his own delight. An aggravated toddler starts tugging at his father who has managed an amazing three bites. Mom has given up and started clearing dishes. Eat your pie. It's yummy.Are you crazy? I don't want that.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Not Thinking We'll Be Needing the Genetic Testing

If we ever screw up and put Elaine in a solid pajama and Alida in a print pajama, the whole balance of the universe will be knocked off allignment because it is NOT getting easier to tell them apart as they grow. Byt the time they can start exerting their will regarding their own clothing, I am hoping they have some hair so that I can start cutting it different lengths or just shave a letter into each head.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Oh, I Get It

The reason they don't remember the first couple of years is because their mother can really screw up the whole tradition thing a couple of times. Apple walnut oatmeal will not be part of the tradition. Staying in our pajamas all day and not going out shopping will stay on the day-after-Thanksgiving itinerary however. Well really, staying in our pajamas the whole weekend has felt like a pretty good tradition, especially since the girls seem to have forgotten how to sleep at night after a pretty encouraging start. We got the call at 11:45, 2:10, and 4:00 last night--for no apparent reason what-so-ever.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Why I am Thankful

A chilly Thanksgiving Day wok.
Sharing secrets already.No sun in the sky ... doesn't matter.
As night turned into Thanksgiving Day and morning broke, the girls woke up a 6:00 in not such a good mood. They had been up at 3:30 and were now inconsolable as a clouded sky shielded the morning sun. We had expected that the grey day would perhaps afford us sleep until 7. That was not the case this morning, and we each took a baby off to a different room in the hopes that at least one of us would get one of them quiet and that it would happen before the boys were torn from sleep. We met again at 6:45, walking down the stairs, heads hanging, pajamas unusually rumpled, what hair we have left a mess, and praying that we would have 15 minutes before the boys started throwing books.We poured coffee and sat down next to each other to catch the news before the television was put into service for the toddlers. We sat and drank our coffee and talked for a few minutes, which brings me to why I am thankful. I am thankful for the chaos. I am thankful for the chaos because I shared a cup of coffee with my husband this morning and truly enjoyed it. The chaos gives us a whole new sense of accomplishment. The chaos often results in laughter, and sometimes it results in sheer wonder. The chaos draws nearly everything into sharp contrast and makes those small moments, like sharing a cup of coffee, meaningful.Mostly though, the chaos has stripped me bare and left me in awe. We are constantly planning ahead, and at the same moment we are constantly dealing with the here and now of four children in diapers. We are tired and frazzled. But there are those moments in the constant circle of days where I am thankful. When we look down and Benjamin has laid down between his sisters with an arm around each and all on their bellies, or when the immense energy of Nicholas brings him screaming into the living room at full speed, I wonder at what I ever really enjoyed before these people arrived. When Elaine comes three quarters of the way toward rolling over, I imagine there is no one I will ever cheer for more. When, at 4:30 in the morning, Alida will not eat her food and I suddenly hear her laughing, I can’t help but smile and my heart swells. And in all the chaos, I hope we continue to remember that we are thankful. We are thankful to God for the chance to be the custodians of these four little people as they make their way up in the world.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Four Month Stats Are In

Growing nicely, thank you. Elaine is in pink and Alida in green.
13 lbs and 8 ounces
24 1/2 inches tall
13 pounds 11 ounces
25 inches tall
She's really a happy baby except for those days she is yanked from the house and given a shot.
However, Elaine took the prize at the doctor's office. When dad called to give the update, he began the no-nonsense conversation with: "It's your turn next time. Elaine went crazy."
"Oh, poor thing didn't like her shots?"
"No, we walked in the door and she went crazy and DID NOT STOP until we were home."
"Did the nurses do that thing were they tell you the babies can sense that you're stressed and it stresses them implying that you're an uptight parent?"
"No. You're kidding? They do that? It's a good thing no one started in with that while I was there."
Apparently the girl was making such a racket, the doctor forgot to mention starting the girls on solid food; does that mean we can skip it? Oh yeah, it's fun with your first baby (even your first and second babies together), but the idea of four children's seats in the kitchen and the coordination of feeding times is not high on the to-do list. We're sorry Jenny, but it's on the way. We'll hold off as long as possible.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Zoo Take Two

Saturday, the Veteran's Administration threw Patric a little party to thank him for serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and they invited the whole family.
Nicholas got all of the doughnut holes they handed out at the entrance because independent Benjamin was too busy walking off/leading the march into the zoo. Gee, the guy's been there once, and he just walks right in like we have a pass or something.
The boys were a bit more impressed with the cats this time around. Here we are looking at some slinking cat with big teeth.
The lizard house was a bit more deserted so we took the opportunity for a coffee break to discuss Lizard Music. Yes, Starbucks was all over the zoo that morning handing out free coffee and thankfully empty paper cups to the little ones.
(Sarah and Joe these look about the right size for the Saturday morning gymnastics crowd.)
Then we had hot dogs and chips with some seriously strong lemonade. We're learning that sitting next to the trash can speeds up recovery at the end of the meal.
The ladies came too. But they were a little unimpressed and working up those noses for the Saturday evening festivities...

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Stubers Announce: Five Little Noses

Four of the human variety and one of the saline variety. The bulb syringes have been put to the test, and the ladies fight them off as well as the boys ever did. We're so proud. Saturday and Sunday nights have been full of snuffles and snoring and sucking, poor things. And an extra thank you to Gracie's whole crew: Jen and Mark and Elvetta and Larry for babysitting through the beginning of our first snuffles and loving babies with stuffy noses. We swear, we had no idea the congestion was going to get that bad while you were on shift...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Un-Fried Green Tomatoes

As we approach the door at the end of a wok, the boys generally start to whimper until they realize that around the corner are the tomato plants. Then they take off, at least in the same direction. Dad can usually heard them back to the door once they have each plucked a tomato--red, green, turning black, doesn't really matter. Benjamin will usually eat at least 3/4 of a full tomato and Nicholas will eat his until it is 100 percent gone, including all innards and stem matter.(Yep, we still have crazy green tomatoes growing on the vine here in November.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Family Photos

It all started with a sweet moment. Benjamin sat down by his dad, held out his hands and nodded after his father asked him if he wanted to hold a baby. Then mom looked up from whatever she was distracted with and it all went downhill.
Mom ran to get a camera. Seeing the camera, Nicholas ran to get in the shot.
Elaine was whisked away from her comfy play on the floor and inserted. For one brief moment, there was a wonderful shot of all four happily nestled together on the couch. This was not that moment. It happened somewhere between clicking the button and the camera taking the picture.
And then Benjamin started getting antsy.
And it was all over for Alida.

Flip Flopping

Uncle Brian reminded us the other day that we are late on our registry for baby gymnastics for the GIRLS. Now if you know the brood, you know that we spit some coffee out on the monitor while scoffing at the baby gymnastics article, choked a little bit, and then started a diatribe on economics/child rearing/loss of common sense/accompanying lack of social discretion/and working mothers, and this exact diatribe was spewed out for the 50 millionth time and has really become a stump speech that those closest to the brood are sick of hearing.On further reflection, we would like to announce that the brood is publishing a policy change effective immediately. We support gymnastics for your baby; we support all forms of structured activity for your baby, whatever age. We support you spending the money that you spend on it. We support your choice to provide developmentally appropriate activities for your 4-month-old baby; we support your well-thought-out plan to socialize with other baby's parents; we support your need to fit in with the other parents in paying for classes for your baby; we support you.Because when you do that, we get this:

That's right, our own private park at 10:00 on a beautiful Saturday morning. See all those cars over there? We guess they were all carrying the children off to their classes at the community center.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


7 Months ago hanging out with Gracie for the weekend.
When did that happen? The little guy looks like he's ready for college.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Happy Veteran's Day Dad

Elaine is wearing her hair similar to her father's this year, except perhaps she has a little more.
A little pre-lunch bonding with Alida.Watching football with dad on Sunday afternoon while brothers are tucked away sleeping.Thanks for all you do for our freedom and for all you do for us.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Toybox

I don’t know what all the excitement was about that stick in the last post, but we’ve not seen it again. So I guess it must not be that big of a deal. We did want to show you our favorite toy box in the house. One day when we came home, all of the cupboards that we could previously open were mysteriously locked. But we did figure out that the stove was still open. The first time we tried to get in, Benjamin pulled so hard that the drawer popped out and hit him in the mouth. Mom was a little more freaked out about the blood than dad was, but she still lets us get in here. At the end of the day, she even just starts shoving random toys in there so we can find them again.

Friday, November 9, 2007

We Remember

"[L]et us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us re-consecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain."

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Wok! Wok!

When we hear these words, we don't usually imagine that Nicholas is yearning for some stir-fry. Our first clue is generally the pounding on the garage door that accompanies the demand. So we load up and we're off.
In different directions.with a widening gap.
Or we come together for inspection.
After inspection.
Who didn't believe me when I said our grass was invasive?
Here is how the wok usually ends: A girl starts crying. Not that we can't tune out the crying, but we pick her up because we don't want the neighbors calling the police. Nicholas promptly plops himself in the free seat of the stroller. This sets Benjamin off because he becomes suddenly tired of woking. So we pick up another girl and let Benjamin in the stroller in a further effort to quiet the clan. Now the second girl is mad because she was comfy in the stroller. So mom and dad attempt to each carry a screaming baby AND guide the stroller together with one whimpering Benjamin and a pleased and proud Nicholas. Yep, we're usually at the farthest point from home when this happens.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Mother's Day

Mother's Day 2006: An old-fashioned spirea planted well before the toddler's could toddle giving it a chance to firmly establish itself in our clay-filled soil. The white blooms in the spring are wonderful to gaze at in the morning with a cup of coffee (at 5:30 in the morning mind you because that is the only time of day to actually sit with a cup of coffee and enjoy your Mother's Day gift.)
Mother's Day 2007: The old-fashioned lilac never had a chance against the now-toddling toddlers. But I show you all of this in order to set the scene for the following:
We made it through National Guard weekend in October without much drama. And success means that we only had three blood incidents, none involving a doctor or hospital. A certain sing-songy rhyme came to mind when I looked up and saw Nicholas with his green pale go bottom over teacup down the hill then come up with a bloody lip. Yawn. We’ve seen that before. I should maybe have listened to Benjamin when he was begging for the chapstick before dinner, but I really thought he just wanted the colorful tube. The next morning, the poor guy’s chapped bottom lip had busted and bled a little. But the winner in originality involved my beloved Mother’s Day gift pictured above.
As the bush sits there dead in our yard waiting to be dug up, the boys periodically wander over to crinkle the dead leaves or pick them and bring them to a parent or break off a brittle section to run around the yard with and threaten to whack someone. Who would have guessed though that Benjamin could take part of the dead branch still attached to the bush, shove it up his nose, and pull out a bloody twig before anyone, including him, could even comprehend what he was doing?
Mother's Day 2007 Do-Over: The butterfly bush was adopted as the beloved gift.But it didn't take long for the boys to pull it apart, dive into it in their run down the hill and use it as a landing pad for wrestling matches. That is a branch of the butterfly bush in Nicholas' hand that Benjamin finds so funny.Mother's Day 2007 Do-Again-Do-Over: The variegated privet. Originally planted to cover an ugly corner of the yard, it will now be gazed at fondly over coffee at 4:30 in the morning with a flashlight since the end of daylight savings time has pushed our mornings forward an hour.

Today's Perfect Post Goes To Sarah

...Goes to Sarah, who has compiled an invaluable list for any person who associates with twins and their families--whether close relative or relative stranger passing on the street. The Stubers agree, especially with that part about heaping compliments on us. We like that a lot.THE DO's AND THE DON'Ts

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Year In Pictures: Benjamin

Turning 1
Enjoying Ravioli
Relaxed at home
Taking over the world
Finally, new towels
Taking a break from protecting his sistersIndependent Ben has surprised us this year. The boy who came into the world screaming and didn't stop for three months, now marches forward with purpose where ever we are, saying "hi" to all he meets. He began the year walking and has now mastered kicking a ball around the yard and rolling down a hill ever so deliberately sometimes stopping to make sure he isn't out of control. These days it is likely that we'll find him laying on the floor with his sisters talking to them and laughing at his own jokes or singing them a song. When I come home at night now, I'll often get a wave and a "hey" with a smile before he goes back to watching tv or flipping through a book.

Reporting for Duty

They were all ready to go see what this National Guard thing was about, but dad said that ladies aren't allowed in his unit. Only 2 days this time, but still 4 babies despite the girls' effort to go with. No blood incidents this time, but stay tuned for the story of last month's drama. (Alida on the left and Elaine on the right...or is it the other way around? I think we're in trouble.)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Toddlers Celebrate Halloween

Dragons like Twix bars too.
The Hoot Owl hooting (not sure where the devil is headed over there).
The Introduction to The Nightmare Before Christmas was riveting, and an encore presentation was presented when the tears came at the end.

The Babies Celebrate Halloween

No words necessary regarding Alida's cuteness.
Elaine, the little devil, takes a pretty break in her pink chair.
Alida is correctly nervous about making a deal with the devil.


Dad's pumpkin made its appearance last night. A wolf howling at the moon. You know, just something he just kind of cut out of the pumpkin. Certainly at least one of the children will inherit his talent.

Halloween--A Scary Day

The day began with our best Frankenstein's Monster impression.
Thank you for the masks Jenny!
Nicholas was not pleased with his vampire cupcake until he could dissect it and figure out the mystery.Benjamin just didn't want to be a mess from foolin' around with the cupcake.Thank you Jenny for dealing with the mess that came anyway.Art Project time! Spiders from hand prints and ghosts from foot prints.Jenny! You had a mess of a day, thank you!In the background, dad left work early to get the boys to take them for flu shots, ran home to relieve the nanny, got dinner ready and fed boys, fed the babies and got the movie ready for the evening. Mom ran to the grocery store to load up on a week's worth of groceries on her way home from work, unloaded, laid out clothes for the following day and bedtime, cleaned up dishes, and dressed babies for the festivities. Whew.The mandatory sit everyone down and attempt a photo shot. Yes, they are all watching the tv.Wait for trick-or-treaters. Poor Nicholas got his hand slammed in the door after one customer. It was a little spooky having screaming Nicholas, feeding babies for bedtime, and passing out candy all at once. His fingers still bend though, so we think he's good.

Look Who Showed Up to the Party

And he had to be drug kicking and screaming out of the costume at the end of the night.