It Took Me 32 minutes to Dress All My Toddlers in Snow Gear

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It took me 32 minutes to dress all my toddlers in snow gear – for HALF AN INCH of snow. Half an inch of snow made me sweat like the mom in “A Christmas Story” – but she only had one kid to wrestle into a fluffy snowsuit.

7:00 AM

Oldest son bursts into my room, saying, “It snowed!” Commence begging to play outside.

7:15 AM

“Yes, I told you we would play outside but we have to wait until the sun is up!”

7:30 AM

“Yes, the sun is up, but we have to have breakfast first!”

8:30 AM

“Yes, we’ve had breakfast, but we have to wait for it to get a little warmer.”

9:00 AM

I mentally berate myself for promising him I would take him out. How am I going to get all these kids into snow gear? I know it’s only half an inch, but it’s so cold that they really need snow gear. Where is all of our snow gear? I kinked my neck again last week by hoisting a huge twin over a baby gate and how am I going to have the strength to wrestle their fat bodies into snow gear? Maybe he’ll forget.

9:30 AM

He does.not.forget. Anything. Ever. I mentally walk myself through the whole house, mentally searching for boots, hats, waterproof mittens, and snowpants that actually fit – all while changing poops and cleaning up the kitchen. (Don’t worry: I don’t change poops in the kitchen.)

10:00 AM

It is warmer outside, the sun is up, the twins are going stir-crazy, breakfast is finished and cleaned up, and I have no right to stall any longer. I give myself a mental pep talk. I can do this. I can do this. I’m like a football player coming out of a huddle. I’m a bull snorting and about to charge. I’m a soldier. Hoo-ah!

10:01 AM

Commence Operation Search for Snow Gear.

10:02AM

I empty the hall closet of everything we might need. I find three winter coats in semi-appropriate sizes, and two pairs of boots. Miraculously, I find last year’s waterproof mittens in the bin labeled “mittens”. I whisper, “Good girl” to myself (even though it was probably my husband who put them there).

10:04 AM

I leave some twin fighting to run upstairs to find more gear. I can hear my oldest son begging for me to find the sled. I shout down that there isn’t enough snow for a sled. He shouts that there is enough snow. I shout down that I can’t reach the sled because it is high up in the garage. He shouts back that I can “just use Daddy’s ladder”. My brain feels like a ping pong ball.

10:05 AM

I frantically search the kids’ closets for snowpants. I find a thrift-store pair two sizes too large for my oldest (Size 7), and congratulate myself on my forethought. In the twins’ closet, I find two pairs of much-too-small snowpants (18 months). I realize that I have to either box them up or donate them or sell them, and a wave of sadness washes over me.

10:06 AM

I pity myself for just one minute because my babies are growing up so fast! They will never wear these cute little snowpants again. Were they ever this small? Woe is me.

10:07 AM

Pity party over. Back to my oldest son’s closet. In the way way back, I find two pairs of snow pants that are too small for him, but perfect for the babies (sizes 3T and 4T). I mentally congratulate myself for never cleaning out his closet. “Good girl,” I whisper to myself.

10:08 AM

I head downstairs again and am greeted by three crying children. I show them snowpants. The oldest stops crying and begs for me to put them on him. The younger two seem irrationally but unsurprisingly scared of snowpants and run away screaming, “NO!”

10:09 AM

I run back upstairs for three pairs of socks. I wonder if it’s worth keeping a sock bin downstairs beside the shoe bin. I mean, seriously, why are our socks upstairs in dressers, but our shoes are downstairs in bins? In fact, why don’t we keep all our clothes downstairs, like the “19 Kids and Counting” family on TLC? Screw dressers.

wpid-wp-1424879000565.jpeg10:10 AM

I survey the enormous pile of gear on the floor. It looks like the back of a Goodwill truck. I feel overwhelmed and want to quit. I know it will make me sweaty to do this. I know I will hurt my neck again. Sadly, I note that there are only two pairs of boots. I mentally thank my mother-in-law for giving those boots to the twins for Christmas, but mentally scan the house for one more pair. I futilely ask my oldest son to go find his snowboots.

10:11 AM

My oldest son wanders the house and cries because he can’t find his snowboots. I look in the closet again. I run upstairs to his closet. We can’t find them. I start to panic. Half an inch of snow doesn’t really need snowboots, but he was just so excited about those used junky snowboots that he can’t accept wearing boring old shoes. No amount of convincing will help.

10:12 AM

I send him into the garage for one last look, and he finds the boots! I thank him profusely. I try to bury my incredible surprise that he actually found something by himself, and I whisper a silent prayer of thanks that he finally learned how to open the baby gate to the kitchen/garage. (Hey, moms pray over some odd things, okay?)

10:13 AM

Commence Operation Put Snow Gear On.

I start with my oldest. He is the most excited, and thus, the most vocal. The sooner we get him in his gear, the sooner he can go outside and give me some peace. I pour him into his too-big snowpants, making sure the twins are watching and understanding just how awesome snowpants are. Mittens on. Why are you a limp noodle?! Make your arm straight and push! No, don’t punch me! Just push! Coat on… Nevermind. Mittens too big. Must take mittens off and put coat on first. Now mittens again. No, don’t punch me! Just push! Socks on. Boots on. Here, sit in my lap, maybe that will be easier. Push your feet! Maybe we should stand up. Stand up and push! No, don’t stomp on me. Just push. Why are there so many straps? This Velcro is all worn out. Maybe I should have sprung for new boots for him. Hat on. I silently thank my best friend, who, despite living in California, knitted them the most adorable and soft and warm hats ever. Oh, it’s backwards. Here, now you can see. Is that better? Okay, please go out on the deck! And take the dog! For the love of all that is holy, please get the dog out of here!

10:18 AM

Phew. I am sweating. But our numbers have been reduced by 50%, and thus, so has our noise and chaos level. The twins are dancing around me and starting their slow keening wail of jealousy that they can’t be outside yet. Twin B opens the door and defiantly follows my oldest outside in the snow. He is surprised by the cold! Thank goodness he’s in bare feet so I don’t have to get new socks. I haul him back in.

10:19 AM

I start with my Hurricane Twin B. I sit him in my lap and pull his snowpants on. He freaks out and acts like I am dressing him in tin foil. He does one amazing ninja move off my lap and out of his snowpants. He kind of acts like a snake shedding his skin in fast-forward. How did he do that?

Okay, fine, you don’t like snowpants? This is where having twins comes in handy. I will simply dress your brother and make you jealous.

10:20 AM

I sit agreeable Twin A in my lap and proceed to pull on snowpants. He doesn’t like it, but he lets me do it. I make sure Twin B is watching so he can see just how cool snowpants are.

Mittens on. Kind of. Where is your thumb? Do you have a thumb? Good thing your hands are the size of a college sophomore, because I actually get your mittens on. Coat on…. Wait. Mittens too big. Coat off, mittens off, coat on, mittens on. Hat. Twin B is crying out of jealousy or regret or irrational fear of snowpants– I can’t tell. Okay, new snowboots. Twin A looks at them warily. Stand and push. Is your foot in there? Oh, well, when you start walking, your foot will probably settle down in there, right? You can’t walk? Okay, then, push!!! Push! For heaven’s sake, push!

Okay. Done. Can you walk? Okay, just go on the deck. You certainly won’t get very far in that poofy outfit. I am sorry I will miss your adorable reaction to the snow, but I have to deal with your twin.

wpid-wp-1424793852241.jpeg10:25 AM

I turn to crying, angry Twin B. It’s snowpants time. Yes. Yes. You’ll be fine. These are special pants to wear in the snow. Aren’t they great? See, brother is wearing them! And other brother is wearing them! Don’t you want to wear them? I berate myself for encouraging herd mentality. Am I setting him up for a life of peer pressure and drugs?

He finally lets me put the snowpants on when he realizes there is a zipper – his new favorite thing – and that I will let him zip them. It takes about five minutes for him to work on that “zap zap”. That’s cool. I needed to stop sweating for a minute anyway. I look out the back door to check on my slow-moving meatballs out there.

Mittens on. Kind of. Where is your thumb? Do you have a thumb? Seriously, there is no way that tiny thumb is ever going to be found. Oh well. Coat on… wait. Mittens too big. Coat off, mittens off, coat on, mittens on. Where the heck is your thumb? Hat on. He hates it. Hat off. Oh, no you don’t! Hat on. He takes it off. I win by putting it back on and tying it in a knot under his chin. I briefly wonder if it will choke him if he pulls his hat off. Boots on. Thankfully, Twin B gets super excited by any and all new shoes, so these are a breeze. They even have zippers for him to play with, although he can’t really bend over to try it. He gets frustrated. Hurry, let’s get outside!

10: 32 AM

I usher him out the door to join his brothers. I have no shoes on. I have no coat or hat. It is 25 degrees. I go back in to throw a coat on over my bathrobe, a hat over my unwashed ponytail, and unlaced boots over my slipper socks. I look like Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation. I wish someone was here to laugh at that. I’m so witty.

I can breathe now. I can sit down and rest on this snowy patio chair and watch my beautiful children enjoy their first snow of the year. It will be so peaceful and joyful.

Okay, who pooped?!

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Don’t worry: He got to use the sled during the next snowfall.

Screwing Up Christmas: The Stories Behind the Pictures

I cannot stress enough to my readers – or to my children – how much effort it takes to do normal things in this house. If unloading the dishwasher is nearly impossible, the idea of Christmas is, um, whoa. “It was like trying to borrow a dollar, getting turned down, and asking for fifty grand instead.” (Although, don’t Google that High Fidelity quote, because it’s about sex, not Christmas.) You can look at the pictures of our Christmas season, and think, “Oh how cute/picturesque/normal…” BUT IT’S NOT! It’s only okayest, at best. I want my children, as well as other overwhelmed mothers, to know that providing anything “normal” these days takes great strength, planning, and patience. The pictures do not tell the whole story in my house, and I sure hope they don’t tell the whole story in your house either. Here are a few normal things that took Herculean effort in this house.

First snowman

Photo: Perfect cute snowman

Photo: Perfect cute snowman

Wow, so cute. So normal, right? Well, Daddy had to be home for this to get done. Momma couldn’t quite manage to get all three kids dressed in boots, coats, snow pants, hats, and mittens. I break out into a sweat just getting them dressed in a diaper with regular clothes. Plus, I don’t think we even have enough snow gear for all of them- they might have to share.

Reality: Babies hide snow gear and get stuck inside while crying "BUBBA!"

Reality: Babies hide snow gear and get stuck inside while crying “BUBBA!”

So, when Daddy was home, I asked him to take R outside to play in the snow. Getting him dressed involved about seven trips up to the bedrooms and down to the basement to dig out appropriate-sized snow gear (to include two boots that are the SAME). Meanwhile, the babies ran amok. I finally got all of R’s gear piled in one spot, and, while we wrestled him into these clothes, one baby managed to run off with the boots and hide them. The other baby took off with the mittens and dumped them behind the dog crate, I think. We finally got R dressed and out the door, and then the babies stood at the window, crying “BUBBA!” (“Brother!”) My mommy-guilt was sky-high. Daddy built the snowman with him, though, so I’m gonna go ahead and call this a victory.

Christmas-Tree Farm

Photo: Cute family at the cute Christmas Tree Farm

Photo: Cute family at the cute Christmas Tree Farm

Looks so picturesque, right? Looks so easy, huh? Let me impress upon you the amount of planning it took to even GET to the farm in the first place. Here is a window into the conversations going on between Mr. and Mrs. Okayest before and during the tree farm trip:

1)      What vehicle would we drive? We used to take the 1988 pickup truck. I used to squeeze in the middle, between Mr. Okayest and a carseat. Now, our family is too big. I would prefer just to throw the babies in the bed of the pickup, but we’d probably get arrested. So we would have to take two cars this year. Wait, no, maybe the tree could just fit on top of our VW? My husband found an old yoga mat to use as a pad on top of the car. Yep, we’re good to go. We would just take the VW to the Christmas tree farm this year so we could all ride together.

2)      When would we go? Every Saturday is filled with obligations and/or chores and/or homework. Okay, we could go on one of Mr. Okayest’s Fridays off. Yes, that would work. Wait, what do you mean the tree farm is only open from 2-5 PM on weekdays? That’s naptime! We have to skip nap to get a dang tree? Uh-oh. It’s worth it, right? It’s only once, right?

3)      How would we get around the farm? Hmmm. Our babies can walk, but they can’t exactly cover great distance on uneven, snow-covered, mud-puddle-ridden ground. We usually take the triple stroller with off-roading wheels for situations like this, but we knew that with the recent snow melt, it would be far too muddy for that. Hmm. Maybe we could use the Ergo carrier and the hiking backpack? What is the weight limit on those things? We haven’t used them in a few months. Would the babies still fit? Would they tolerate not walking? How would we wear an Ergo with a coat again? Would the buckles of the hiking backpack fit around my big husband and his coat?

Reality: Daddy has to saw the tree down with one twin on his back, while R saws with a plastic saw and cries.

Reality: Daddy has to saw the tree down with one twin on his back, while R saws with a plastic saw and cries.

4)      How would Mr. Okayest cut the tree down with a baby on his back? Maybe he could take the hiking backpack off and set it on the ground, with the baby still in it? Oh, wait, it’s too muddy this year. He could just cut it down with a 28-pound kid on his back. Saws and babies – that’s cool, right? Yes, that would work.

5)      How would we make sure  R is included? R insisted on bringing his own saw to the tree farm. He has three toy saws (hand saw, hack saw, and chainsaw), and he knew the right one to bring. How could we argue with that? (You can see him using it in the pictures. He got a face full of sap for that.)

6)      How would we even pay? What do you mean you only take cash or check? Holy crap, we never carry cash or check. Ugh.

It would have been so much simpler and cheaper to get a tree from the grocery store. I’m not even going to write about how long it took us to get loaded up to go home.

Putting up the tree

Photo: Perfect Tree

Photo: Perfect Tree

1)      First, where would we even put it? We bought one of those baby fences (actually two), but we ended up using them around the fireplace and the speakers and other untouchables. Hmmm. With one kid, I totally trusted him (or could just watch him well enough), so this wasn’t an issue. With three kids, I can’t manage. I just can’t. We decided to put it in the dining room and keep the whole room gated off.

Reality: To get this done, we had to gate ourselves into the dining room during the babies' nap, while Momma had a migraine. R put a million ornaments in one cute spot.

Reality: To get this done, we had to gate ourselves into the dining room during the babies’ nap, while Momma had a migraine. R put a million ornaments in one cute spot.

2)      How would we do the ornaments? There is no time – or, more accurately, no energy. Last year, we put lights on the tree, but never got around to the ornaments. This year, R was old enough to be excited about decorating. (He says  the word “decorate” in about 17 syllables.) I had to find the energy to do this. I had to. Mr. Okayest put the tree in the dining room and got all the lights on it – but the ornaments were up to me. I had a 4-day migraine. I could barely see or handle basic life, but I had to do this. I got the ornament box from the basement, gated R and myself in the dining room during the babies’ naptime, and started to unwrap the ornaments. R was tremendously interested and gentle. He helped me for a good hour with his lengthy attention span. He put about 25 ornaments into two square inches of tree, but it looked cute and I left it that way.

I fail at a lot of things with this many small children. I can’t make the cookies I used to make; I forget to put Christmas music on; I am not reading them Christmas stories; we have no Christmas lights on the house this year; all their presents are hand-me-downs or consignment sale toys. But, THIS, this is the one thing I did right:

Photo IS Reality: My son plays with the nativity that his Great-Great-Grandma made by hand, and learns about the birth of Jesus. Win.

Photo IS Reality: My son plays with the nativity that his Great-Great-Grandma made by hand, and learns about the birth of Jesus. Win.

And it’s the only thing that matters. Here is a picture of R playing with my nativity set that my Great-Grandma made – and by “made”, I mean she hand-cast the porcelain and painted it. He was playing with his Great-Great-Grandma’s nativity, and learning about the birth of Jesus. It’s the only thing that matters. I did it.