Yes. It really is this hard.

Let's not sugarcoat it.
3 is hard.
Toddler is hard.
There are some amazing moments --- a lot of them actually. But there's a whole lotta hard mixed in there.

I have a kid.
For almost 2 7/8 of her life, she slept without complaint. Anywhere, anytime.
Gigi bragged about it.
I felt really good about myself.
Darn, I am good.

Then hit potty training. Whoa, whole new beast

She's doing amazing. A couple of accidents but otherwise we are good.

Sleep has gone by the wayside.

And the irony of it is that the child still needs sleep. I see it in her eyes.
(My mom told me that for years and it used to annoy me to no end. Generational annoyance continues)

Yes, yes, developmental changes. I know this. I have googled it. Over and over and over.

Ryan continues to sleep happily and anytime we ask. Mostly. Unless he is missing one of his 8 bazillion toys that I impale myself on when I try to tuck him in. 

(*author's note; since I wrote this, R is potty training. I am again going granola and letting him figure it out himself. So unlike my personality but it's working. 4 days ago he screamed emphatically "NO POTTY" and now he has just decided it's cool. Or the M&M's are cool. Either way. Big boy pants and no looking back)

Soooo, hello summer.

Very little schedule. No preschool until September. Swim classes full until late July.

So what do we do?

Fill our days with swimming play dates. 

We alternate - because, you know, sometimes Mommy actually needs to work or grocery shop. 

My goal each day is to wear them down. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not. 

And I say again, is there anything worse than a child that so desperately needs a nap and won't take one?

(Or a Momma for that matter - needs a nap but can't get one???)

We live in Houston. 

Which means our "outdoors" activities (free) are limited to certain hours or quick stretches of time.

The indoor activities, with blessed air conditioner --- well, you have to pay for that. And then it usually costs you $14.97 at Chick Fil A on the way home.

Still trying to figure this all out. How to survive summer.

I know this. We had 5 swim dates in 8 days. Kids non-withstanding, the adults are tired. 

I feel badly. Work is slow right now so I have time to "take them to the pool". But it's not as glorious as it sounds. I am on hyper-vigilance so no one drowns, burns, or starves. And ironically, I usually am the one who ends up burning or starving. And have we mentioned that I have a heat/sun allergy? So I look AWESOME once those hives come out. But don't worry - a good dose of Benadryl at nighttime and I almost look normal again. Which doesn't speak highly of my energy level the next day. 

And so the cycle continues. It will get better. This I know.

Summer rants.

But there have been some awesome moments ---- and to see the kids enjoying their friends, the water, the relaxation, and the relaxed schedule - well darn it, don't you wish you were 3 again??? I just wish they understood the beauty of climbing into cool, clean sheets with cool, clean clothes after a 2 1/2 jaunt in the pool and sun. 

That's just a good life.

But dang it, they are cute.

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Q Summer Cardiology Update.

Well, we have "survived" yet another appointment. 
I'm breathing again and looking forward to a celebratory cocktail tonight. 

Quinn was a rockstar. She didn't even cry when I dropped Ryan off to play today. She just waved and said "Have fun, Ryan! I go to the heart doctor!"

The appointment was much of the same - EKG, blood pressure, weight & height checks, the "fun" echo, and then a chat with our cardiologist. And through it all, Quinn smiled, giggled, and never whined a bit - even when they pulled off those horribly sticky EKG stickers.

And that girl has the best memory I've ever seen. After her last appointment way back in February we hit up Nordstrom Rack for some "special treats". Randomly as she was laying on the echo table (and I was subsequently complaining to Matt about the freezing room), she turned and said "Mommy, how about that special treat after?" I almost died laughing. I had mentioned nothing of special treats today or made any promises. But lord, she remembered.

(Another side note, I was a little worried about such a long appointment since we are so newly potty trained --- I brought 2 changes of clothes just in case. That girl asked to go potty three times and went all three times successfully. Yay!!!! Next up is Ryan but that's going to be a whole other battle and a whole other post. He could care less if his diaper hung down to his knees.)

And I know some people think may I go overboard on my obsessiveness with these appointments. They see Quinn running around at church or school or playdates and they wonder how anything could be going wrong. And rightfully so. They see a perfectly healthy little girl - and maybe if they look closely - a deep scar peeking out the top of her dress. 

But these heart kids are soooo tricky. You just don't know how long the equipment or repairs are going to hold out. Or how the anatomy can change in a 4 to 6 month time frame as she grows. Thus my anxiety builds each appointment. Just the "not knowing". 

Let's equate it to someone with cancer. Most often, long before a person has symptoms or feels badly, those evil cells are starting to multiply. And if you don't catch it early, the results can be fatal.

Same thing here. 

Quinn has these monitoring appointments because her branch pulmonary arteries will continue to narrow overtime and will eventually put too much pressure on the right side of her heart and lungs. And her pulmonary valve at some point will just give out. But by careful vigilance, we can catch it in time and do procedures (cath or open-heart) before it becomes life and death.

But we got the best possible news today. I think the good doctors know the best thing you can say to parents who have just watched multiple images of their child's heart bouncing around on a screen that in no way can you interpret is "Well, ALL GOOD NEWS FOR QUINN TODAY!"

Praise Jesus. 

Much of the same report as our previous appointment. The narrowing is there but it hasn't worsened since 4 months ago. In fact almost all of the measurements were duplicates of the last echo. Right side of the heart is pumping great and looks good. Pulmonary Valve is hanging in there. Her weight and height gain is on track --- which means my child will never be huge -- but again, she doesn't come from huge stock either :) She's running at about the 25th percentile. As a child I was 10% or below, so I'll take this news happily!

We confirmed again - NO RESTRICTIONS! Swimming lessons in full force come July. Hopefully soccer in the fall and maybe some gymnastics thrown in there. She can do whatever she wants. Amen.

Thank you all for your faithful prayers and dealing with my neurosis every four to six months :) We are blessed by each one of you who sent up a prayer for a good appointment today. Again, the prayers were heard, received, and answered. We love you all.

Next cardiology appointment - 

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And then you were three.

Dear Ryan and Quinn,

Last night your Daddy and I put down our little two year olds and in just a couple of hours I will wake up  big, sleepy three year olds.


How is that possible? It's so cliche, but darn it, this has been a fast year.

Ryan and Quinn, you are joy personified.

In three short years, you have brought more light into our lives than we could have ever imagined or dreamed of. I never knew how much I could love until we had you. Your very existence makes every.single.day worthwhile and full. 

Two years to three has been a year of discovery, challenges, excitement, and all sorts of "firsts".

Your first swimming lessons.
Your first full year at two day a week preschool.
Your first year of "talking" and expressing.
Your first year of making friends.
Your first move to a new house.
Your first big boy/girl beds.
Your first nights without a pacifier (Quinn).
Your first understanding of holidays --- Christmas, Easter, and your birthdays (yup, it's a holiday!)
Your first voiced prayers.
And so many more...

The passion that you start each day with is inspiring. Oh, what I would give to have that energy and vivaciousness of your age again! Every day is a new adventure --- even if it's just to HEB to pick up "ninas" (bananas) or shoe shopping with Mommy.

As I was reflecting last night on your lives, I realized that your daddy and I never really call you "the twins". I know that's how the world sees you. And there's nothing wrong with that at all. In fact, it's amazingly special. And the bond you share is indescribable. You truly care for each other. Always checking in with each other, attempting to get the other in trouble :), comforting one another when you are hurting, and loving the other to the moon and back. You have this built-in playmate that quite honestly, you take full advantage of, so now our roles are regulated to that of supervisors most of the time. My heart melts when I see the two of you head to head and toe to toe laying on the floor watching the latest Mickey Mouse episode. And the conversations you have? Hilarious. The fights you have? Not so hilarious but part of the deal.

But I think the reason that I don't think of you as "twins" so much (except remembering that you were born about 30 seconds apart), is you both are so very different. Almost every part of you is a yin/yang of the other. You are a perfect compatible match of opposites. And I love that. It keeps us on our toes, that's for sure. You are individuals and we celebrate that.

And let's not kid each other either. This past year, there have been some rough days. Some days that I would stare hard at the clock and will the hands to move in super sonic speed to nap time. Hey, guys? I think this is normal. And I think some days you probably wished it more than me. Toddlerhood is not for the faint of heart, that's for sure. Were there days that we all fought? Yes. Were there days that Mommy yelled more than she should have? Absolutely. Were there days when we threw things? Oh, yes. Well, technically Mommy never threw anything out of anger, but wanna know a secret? Sometimes I really, really wanted to.

There were days that I wanted nothing more to escape, to breathe, to listen to whatever music I wanted in the car, and just be. The ironic part? No sooner than I would make my escapes - whether to the grocery store or a night with girlfriends, I found myself missing you guys with all my heart. Wondering if you were happy. If you had a good bath. If you were laughing and smiling. And most likely you were. Because your daddy is pretty much the best at all those things. But I always would miss hearing you cracking each other up, overhearing your stories of the day, and playing silly games.

But you know what? Most days were great. Mommy is learning not to let a whole day be defined by super perfect slices of time. Instead, I am learning to seize a few great moments and call it a success. And by that measure, we've done well. You and I. We've laughed and learned, hugged and kissed, held hands and cuddled, discovered and played. Last night your Daddy and I were sitting outside while you guys ran your nightly obligatory "circles" on the driveway. I don't even recall now what was so precious, but we looked at each other and squeezed each other's hands as if to say "Wow. This is really our life. Our miracles, running full speed without a care in the world and laughing the whole time." It's more than we could have ever  hoped when we set out to have you. 

People say two is hard. I say two was pretty darned cool. And I think three will be as well. We are in for a ride this next year, Ryan and Quinn. I'm sure it won't always be easy. 

There will be tough moments. New challenges. New obstacles. New blessings. 

But there are a few things I guarantee: 
We will get through them together. The four of us with God leading the way.
Our love for you will grow even more. My heart has already tripled since you made your way into this world. And every day it just blossoms even more.
We will have so much fun LIVING each day. Taking it as it comes. And just a whole lotta smiling. 

My prayer for you this year is simple. Just enjoy. Live life with the same zeal and zest that you did at one and two. Three may sound pretty grown up to some because you aren't technically "babies" anymore. But guess what? You kinda are. My babies that is. Every day I wrestle with wanting to freeze time so you don't grow and letting you expand your wings to take flight. Just don't fly too far away from me yet, ok?

 I want this year to be full of fun, laughter, learning, and growing for you. I think sometimes we as parents feel the need to rush you through milestones so you can get to another, and another and another. And a vicious cycle ensues where we never celebrate where we are in that moment. Let's celebrate together, okay? And let's not rush it. Trust your momma: there will be plenty of time to rush around and "be grown up" in your future. 

Three is not the year for it. You just BE. Be yourself. Love yourself. Love each other. Love your Mommy and your Daddy. And love your God, with all your heart, mind, and soul. Because without Him, this THREE year journey would have been impossible.

Happy Third Birthday, my special little ones. I love you more than you could possibly fathom. 

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