Are all of those kids yours?
Yes and no. Chris brought Lucas & Avery into our marriage, but I have been in their lives since before they can remember. Although the ex-wife and the previous marriage are two things I protect and will not discuss here, you should know this: We are all friends. We get along great. And we all want what's best for the kids. Sometimes, the boys' mom will come to get them and end up staying for hours. She absolutely loves Ames. He'll sit on her lap and she'll feed him snacks while we all visit and I'll get mushy inside about how potentially nightmarish this dynamic could have been and how thankful I am that for the most part, it's easy. Sure, there's occasionally conflict. But when it comes up, I treat it just like I would with any other family member. She's my family now. Because those boys are my family. We are all in this together, on the same team.
What's the story behind the pigeon?
Several years ago, I listened to Andrew Blechman talk about his book on NPR. After the interview, I immediately called the bookstore and secured a copy. I finished it in just a few a days. That same week, Chris came upon a dead pigeon in a parking deck. Now, my husband is a very sensitive and romantic man, so I can only imagine what this image did for him. While he debated going around or over the poor dead bird, he noticed something else - the bird's mate was standing nearby. It eventually came right up to the dead thing and then looked up, almost as if confused. And wouldn't you know it, but that little bird spouse stood guard over its fallen partner. It refused to move, forcing Chris to drive around the sweet & epic couple.
After hearing this story and reading that book, I was hooked. Hooked on pigeons. Without boring you for paragraphs and paragraphs, I'll highlight just a few things I love about the birds. They are excellent communicators. They are strong-willed and committed, in the sense that they will die of exhaustion from a flight before they take a break. They mate for life. They are an urban, street-savvy breed of the dove species (which means a whole heck of a lot to me and my faith). They are perseverant and resilient, able to assimilate in nearly any environment. They are breathtakingly beautiful.
Sushi while pregnant?!
I got this a lot when I carried the twins (and Ames, for that matter). Although it doesn't really apply anymore, I'll leave this one on the faq page in hopes that all of you knocked-up ladies and anxious husbands might relax a bit! [Note: this is from my personal research, which is a few years old. Open to feedback.] It takes a LOT of mercury from a REALLY BIG fish to enter the danger zone. In other words, small amounts of small fish aren't dangerous. In fact, small amounts of big fish are most often safe as well. In addition, whatever would make a pregnant woman sick would probably make anyone sick. It's the same with caffeine. The recommended amount for a pregnant person is what's advised for non-pregnant people as well (300mg/day, if you're interested. That's four 20oz bottles of soda).
The point is, we should take care of our bodies. We are supposed to be extra careful when we're building a tiny little person inside of us. But in my opinion, we are to be just as careful when that baby is born, and we're breastfeeding. Or when they're toddlers or school-aged kids, and we're serving them dinner. Anyway, I digress. Sushi. I prefer the vegetarian rolls and the cooked stuff anyway, but I did eat some raw fish when I was pregnant.
What kind of nurse are you?
I work on a medical/surgical floor. This means I see a little bit of everything. I take care of patients when they get their knees replaced, and I encourage them to stand up on their new joint. I take care of patients when they admit with nausea, and I encourage them to fight like hell when they learn they have cancer. I take care of patients who can't remember where they are or what year it is, and I encourage them to drink more fluids so their lab values will resolve. I love it. I spent a few months on night shift last summer, and you can read about it here. Before this job, I worked with kids at a behavioral health facility. I loved that, too. In fact, I wrote those sweet children a letter shortly before I left. You can read it here. Basically, I just love being a nurse.
What is a "marriage-centered family?"
I only wish I could claim the rights to this phrase. Chris & I have been living this out since we took our vows, but Andy Stanley gave us the words and logistics. We believe that the best gift we can give our kids is a healthy marriage. Healthy marriages grow when two people love each other completely selflessly, putting each other before everyone else - even themselves, and even their kids.
It might sound backwards, but it makes sense to us. If we are in the middle of a conversation, and one of the boys runs up to us, they are to wait until we are finished (they have permission to interrupt if it's an emergency and have been briefed on what qualifies as such - basically just copious amounts of blood or loss of consciousness). We make efforts to get out of the house alone as often as we can. Let's be honest - a lot of marriages crumble after kids are grown & gone, and spouses barely recognize each other. When all the years have passed, it'll be just he & I. So, yes... I put my husband first. He comes before our five precious, vulnerable children. And because I am a wife first, I feel that I am a better mother.
What kind of cloth diapers do you use?
Cloth diapering is both a fun & overwhelming venture! Having three babies in cloth was much different than just one. When it was just Ames, I probably owned one of almost every cloth diaper known to man. I liked trying them all, and I didn't mind sorting and matching and stuffing them.
But with the twins on the way, it became serious business. We stripped it down to the basics. All of the babies wore prefolds & fitteds, with both PUL & wool covers. My favorite prefolds are unbleached Indian cotton (various brands), and my favorite fitteds are Goodmamas. We used Thirsties and Bummis covers, as well as a hodge-podge of mama-made wool soakers/shorties (I also like Disana & Sloomb). You can read about our cloth journey here and here. Ames is now potty-trained by day, and we recently chose to eliminate cloth completely. I no longer have the time or the energy to fight off the ammonia, so we're going to graciously coast to the end of our diapering career in disposables.