New Wheels

The twins turned two in September. Granny surprised them with their first trikes. Jack and Annie adore their new rides. I adore them too – I haven’t had such long stretches to sit and read outside since the twins were born! They haven’t figured out the pedals yet, but love scooting to the top of the driveway, then racing down its gentle slope toward the street (over and over and over…) while screaming with delight. I park the van across the street end of the driveway, then sit by it in a folding chair with a book or an infant and bottle.

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We also have a new-to-us stroller courtesy of old friends. To date, when taking the three out alone I’ve had to carry the baby while pushing the twins in their double stroller, or have one twin walk holding on to the stroller while the baby and the other twin ride. Both options work but aren’t ideal thanks to my back injuries and the distractable nature of two year olds. We spend a lot of time in doctors’ offices these days, and I hate letting my toddlers out of the stroller in waiting rooms. There are so many sick people touching every surface as they, too, wait for the doctor. We’re avoiding illness as much as possible this year because of the risk to the baby’s immature preemie lungs. Toddlers licking germy arm rests and rolling on the floor do not help.

Most new triple strollers are very expensive, and Craigslist in our area did not have any good options. I asked for stroller reviews on facebook, and an old friend offered me a free triple stroller she’d gotten used when her bigger kids were small. My parents picked it up, vacuumed and steam cleaned it, broke it down, packed it up, and shipped it off to us. It’s heavy (what would one expect when pushing three children…) but does a great job containing our herd of babies:

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The twins had mixed reactions to their new sister. During a normal pregnancy there are many months to talk about a new baby, read books, and watch parents prepare the home. Even with all that warning sibling jealousy may flare. In our case, there were two weeks between “hopefully we’ll adopt again in a couple of years” to “Surprise! New sister!” In addition, the twins’ weren’t even two yet, so they barely understood what was happening. We ordered a few books from Amazon about being big brothers and sisters (“I’m a Big Brother” by Joanna Cole, “The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby”, and “The New Baby” by Mercer Mayer) and read them a few times a day with the kids to introduce the idea while waiting to bring the baby back from the NICU. When we brought her home, Jack responded very well. From the books, he’d learned that you rock the baby, give her kisses, etc. and he jumped into big brother role immediately with almost no negative reactions. Annie, on the other hand, exploded. She was already upset from having Mom gone so much (the NICU was a three hour round trip away), and from having family and friends in the house caring for her (not a fan of strangers). Add in a severe speech delay that makes it hard for her to say what she thinks, plus a loud new blob disturbing her sleep, monopolizing Mom’s lap, and upending the routine and Annie morphed into an outraged, screaming, tantrumming toddler. The moment we let down our guard she would try to hit the baby, claw at her face, or pull off her legs. After a week Annie started to settle down. These days, she loves her sister. At the beginning, though, one thing that helped was the classic “look, we have a new baby and she brought you each a present!” trick. The kids love helping to push the big strollers, so we got them each a doll stroller. They love racing around the neighborhood pushing their babies and stuffed animals, and the new surprises helped tire them out and keep them occupied in those first crazy new baby days before naps had developed.

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The last set of new wheels around here is our van. I bought my first car, a Subaru Forester, in the half year between graduating from college and getting married. It served us well on many runs around town, cross-country road trips, back road drives, wilderness camping expeditions, and kayaking runs. In six years it hasn’t had a single maintenance issue and we love it. We planned for it to be the family car, but couldn’t predict that we’d start off our family with a double baby special. Suddenly, our roomy car didn’t feel so roomy. There was no room for a third car seat in the back, even with the twins strapped into the narrowest car seats on the market. When we found out we were adopting again we had to get a new, three-kid capable car in a rush. After a lot of research and test driving we settled on a Honda Odyssey. My pride hurts a bit at moving from an SUV to a minivan, but it’s an ideal car for hauling a host of young kids, with plenty of room to carry visitors and accommodate future children.

All in all that’s…how many new wheels around here? 22?

Here’s a gratuitous baby shot to wrap things up:

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9 thoughts on “New Wheels

  1. When I brought Marian home from the hospital, Charlotte tried to kick her. 😦 Now they are best buds and partners in crime. I’m so sorry that Annie had a bit of a rough adjustment, but I’m glad things have settled. Love the “trick” of having the baby give them each their own strollers! We’ve spent a lot of time pushing stuffed animals down the street, too. 🙂 And I was wondering which minivan you settled on. “Gratuitous baby shot”?…. no. Gratuitous cup holders in said minivan?… yes.

    • Ha! Absolutely gratuitous cup holders. Honda must have mistaken us for camels – who could possibly drink that much? You were right, though. I balked at a minivan, but the vast amounts of space have completely won me over. It is such a well-designed vehicle for families with the great storage, flexible seating, etc. When the twins cried in the old car, I felt responsible for making it stop – hand them a toy, shush, sing, discipline – whatever seemed appropriate. It may be poor parenting, but in the minivan I have the blissful sense that it’s not my problem because I can’t possibly reach the middle row, let alone the back row where they’re tantrumming :). We just roll right along and they eventually stop, proving they didn’t need my intervention in the first place.

      I’m glad to know my daughter wasn’t the only one with homicidal instincts toward the newbie!

  2. We had a fair bit of jealousy when Tom Kitten came home. In the end I ended up having to let Ginger watch TV to let me feed, otherwise we had kicking and scratching during our feeding sessions – oh the Mummy Guilt! Incidentally, my husband apparently tried to smother his baby brother when he came home from the hospital (again he was a baby who had been in NICU and was taking a LOT of attention). No lingering homicidal tendencies that I know of:)

    My all time favourite book for that was “Aren’t You Lucky” by Catherine Anholt. It deals with the negative feelings, as well as the idea that eventually the baby will become a play mate. It was Ginger’s favourite book for months after Tom Kitten was born. Incidentally, I think the 2 year age gap is difficult, having had it ourselves, at 2 they are not small enough they can’t remember a time before the baby, but also not old enough that they want to be independent.

    I had to laugh at your choice of car – even here on the other side of the world we looked at a Honda Odyssey when we thought a baby would surely make an appearance any time soon since we wanted another…. a year later we are still waiting. But, it did look a nice van!

    • I agree that age two is hard – they’re little enough to still want and need to be babied a bit, but also big and strong enough to do some real damage if they pitch a fit around an infant, plus not yet that independent at playing alone for an hour long feeding.

      Prayers for you as you wait for a little one! We’ve certainly been there, and it can be incredibly hard. We had to roll our eyes when we finally settled on the Odyssey – it feels like half the families in our church drive one! We figured “good Christians drive an Odyssey” must be hidden somewhere in the subtext of the catechism 😛 – why else would EVERYONE drive one? Once we realized we wanted passenger seating for our family plus at least two guests on a regular basis, the options narrowed down significantly – either a van, or one of the very large SUVs like an Expedition or Suburban. Station wagons or smaller SUVs with pop up third rows weren’t designed to regularly carry the extra people, and took up most of the cargo space when the seat was in use so we ruled them out. Safety/reliability ratings cut the vans down to the Toyota Sienna or the Honda Odyssey, and costs on the large SUVs (Sweet mercy! HOW much?) ruled those out. In the end I liked that the Sienna had all wheel drive for our backwoods camping trips and drives, but the Odyssey handled much more nicely and had more flexible seating arrangements for everyday driving with the kids. And that, I suppose, is why everyone in our church had made the same decision, catechism footnote or not 😛 .

  3. i could write odes and sonnets to the minivan. its the best thing ever. so much room for activities!

    And brilliant on the strollers! Those pictures are adorable! Every good sibling brings a bribe (a dowry of sorts?) for his or her bigs to smooth the way 😉 I’m a big believer in that philosophy :-p

  4. also, i’m not sure how on earth you ever accomplish anything b/c clearly all your time must be taken up eating those cheeks. cheeks for DAYS!!!! ❤

    Just curious (and totally respect if you're not comfortable sharing), how is little miss doing? I know you said lots of doc appointments, so i was just wondering how's she getting along.

    I mean clearly her cheeks are doing well, but maybe not everything? 😦

    • When not nibbling at her cheeks, her toes are also delicious.

      She’s doing really well, actually! Day to day she acts like a very normal healthy baby with a great appetite, good sleep, and a very happy easygoing temperament. Most of the specialist appointments are either nutrition/therapy or issues we’re following long-term but that don’t affect her health and happiness now – cardiology and eye followups, skull abnormality, etc. They watch micropreemies pretty closely early on because there are so many unknowns in the first year (cerebral palsy, developmental delays, learning disabilities, etc.) and you want to catch and address as early as possible when/if they do crop up.

      • ahhh gotcha, makes sense. so literally just check ups/checking to make sure she’s continuing to be a happy, healthy little clam ❤

        Whew!

        awww baby toes. my 2nd favorite.

        Ok no, 3rd. i'm partial to tiny bums. SO CUTE 😉

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