Feeling Apocalyptic

I was lucky enough to spend the moment 2011 gave way to 2012 at a wedding surrounded by friends and in formal wear. I’d almost, almost made it to 12 o’clock in my heels.

But when the countdown hit one and people cheered and toasted and kissed, the moment felt extra, extra exciting. And not just because of St.Matt’s midnight kiss.

It’s 2012.


SEND ME A SIGN comes out in October 2012. So, this means it’s FINALLY my publication year.  How could that not add an extra sizzle to the ball-drop countdown?

Yesterday, when The Schmidtlets woke us up after not nearly enough sleep—5 a.m., really? Couldn’t they tell we only got to bed at 2?—I had another  moment of IT’S MY YEAR.

In which The Wild Imp says: Who needs sleep? And check out my cute Apocalypsie shirt? Auntie Em gave it to me.

I know that realistically, 1/1/2012 is only ONE day nearer to October than 12/31/2011, but it feels so much closer. And I’ve always valued feelings more than facts.**

So, Happy Twenty-Twelve!

And while you’re waiting for October, do what I plan to do — keep yourself distracted by reading fabulous books by all the other Apocalypsies.

In which The Pip Squeak says: Go read Apocalypsie books RIGHT NOW!

What a fabulous year it’s going to be!

In which The Schmidtlets demonstrate how 2012 has shoved 2011 out of the way and The Wild Imp goes splat.

*This is what we’ve agreed to call it, right? Not Two Thousand and Twelve?
**Much to the dismay of my sainted engineer.

It took me 6 months to realize this?

Writing with infant twins is hard. In other shocking news: water is wet, books contain words, new mothers lack sleep.
Maybe it’s that sleep deprivation that kept me from realizing this fact until now. After all, I’ve had the Schmidtlets for six months.

Everything has changed in that last six months – I can spend hours watching little fingers grasp little noses as they try and get their thumbs in their mouths. Or in each other’s mouth. My world fits in the palms of those little hands and I’m wrapped around each of their little fingers. Often literally – they’re both very good at clutching my fingers, shirt, and hair.

It’s not solely an issue of detangling myself from their grasps, and it’s not just a where’s the 25th hour in my day? issue either. It’s an escapist one. It’s a first draft dilemma.
The revision part of my brain isn’t broken. I worked on revisions while I was still in the hospital. But that book is in Agent Extraordinaire’s hands.
And I’m faced with blank screens and ideas that need to be translated from thought bubbles to words on a page – and this is where the hard begins.
Drafting for me was always full immersion. I’d interrupt myself while having a conversation to say “what about…” or “what if…” and then scramble for my keyboard. I’d have 4K Saturdays while St. Matt watched or played tennis. I’d stumble into bed just hours before my alarm because I was being carried along by an avalanche of words. I’d watch my word and page counts rise with delicious pleasure. The real world seemed almost secondary or less tangible than the one in my head – as if it were the layer under which I super-imposed my story.
Well, baby spit up is tangible. And wet and smelly. Baby cries and giggles aren’t to be ignored. And while I’d like to put on my WIP playlist after the Schmidtlets are asleep, it clashes with the ceaseless repetition of the classical playlist on their sound machine. Or the tinkling of their mobile. I can’t tune those out, can’t shut the baby monitor off – and can’t close out this world to escape into one of my own creation.
So I’ve had to work around this, find ways to invite the babies into the world of my head, and find ways to incorporate that world into my reality.
Baby A’s definition of bliss is snuggling in my lap, so I’ve spent hours reading and singing pieces and scenes to him. I just try not to take it personally if he falls asleep. *makes note: scene needs more tension *
Baby B is a mover. He inherited his fidgetpants from me – so I settle both boys in their stroller and we head out on the walking paths. They watch trees and hunker down for naps and I brainstorm, scratching hasty fragments in the notepad I keep in the stroller for this purpose.
And the simultaneous nap? It’s as elusive as a unicorn and just as magical, but when it occurs, I take advantage. I may not be able to fully immerse myself in the world in my head – but with a reality this adorable, I’m not sure I want to.
Speaking of simul-naps. There’s one occurring right now –-  time to go unleash some words.

Maybe I Should do the Laundry…

Meet Churchill.

The frog, not the baby – that’s Brad.
 Here’s his brother, Winston.
Hippo = Winston, Baby= Asher
The pictures above represent approximately 0.5% of my photo collection of Schmidtlets with Winston and Churchill. The babies are Very Attached To Them.
Naptime isn’t naptime without Churchill tucked under the chin. And tummy time doesn’t work well unless Winston is within reach.
W & C are exposed to much loving and drooling, so last night unbeknownst to me, St.Matt decided to throw them in with the baby laundry.
This morning I went on the Great Churchill Hunt – called St.Matt – and eventually located both of them In The Dryer.
Winston is fine.
Churchill is crispy.
He must’ve gotten stuck to the vent, because he is definitely dryer-fried.
I took this pretty calmly – much calmer than overdue-for-his-nap Brad. I figured I could order a replacement and have it in a few days. Naptime until then might be a little rough, but it was a short term problem.
I even thought I’d be SMART and order a Back-up Winston and Back-up Churchill.
Churchill has been discontinued.
I can order as many Winstons as I want.
Churchill – crunchy, need-a-replacement Churchill – is discontinued.
And I can’t even find another one on Ebay.  I thought you could find ANYTHING on Ebay.
A much-chagrined St.Matt called Pottery Barn Kids customer service.  I bet he was calm and steady. The e-mail I sent them included lots of !!!!’s and HELP! and the line: Please save my naptime.
Even as I have this Mommy Crisis, I also have perspective.
It’s a toy. He’s 4 months old. This is more upsetting for ME than it is for HIM.
I know this moment is heightened by having sent my finished manuscript to Agent Extrordinaire, Joe Monti, this morning. Because everything seems more panicked after pressing *send*.
I know that even if Crispy-Churchill can’t be salvaged. Even if Pottery Barn Kids can’t hunt down a leftover Green Frog Thumbie, and even if one never appears on Ebay, Brad will be fine and I haven’t failed as a mother.
Even if it feels like it every time his lip quivers.
 You’ll let me know if you come across a Churchill, right?
***UPDATE*** We have a Replacement Churchill being shipped from Ohio and a Backup Replacement Churchill coming from Florida. Thank you so much, Awesome Pottery Barn Customer Service! *exhales*

Almost equally exciting – my cousin-in-law told me about the wash-in-a-pillowcase secret (thanks, Melissa!) now St.Matt can continue laundry-duties without fear!

Something to Celebrate

I discovered recently that not everyone dyes their milk pink for Valentine’s Day, or green for St. Patrick’s Day. This baffles me. Excluding those with dye allergies, why wouldn’t you?


I’m a big fan of celebrations. For big things, I know how to make a BIG fuss… but I like to make a BIG fuss for little things too.
Each year in my classroom I read the kiddos Byrd Baylor’s I’m in Charge of Celebrations because I love the narrator’s mentality of searching out the extraordinary in the ordinary and finding a way to honor it. 

With writing I honor the start of each new project by buying a set of my favorite pens – Staedtler Triplus Fineliners. And don’t forget about Revision Skittles — they’re a tiny celebration for every page completed.

Babies are made for celebrating. Everything they do is miraculous; they are snuggle-sized bundles of magic and love. And each day they grow, learn and change. If I don’t stop and celebrate their discoveries as they happen, it will be too late.
So St. Matt expects the phone calls at work:
Today Asher cooed at the ceiling fan.
Brad just rolled over onto his side – twice!
Oh my head, Brad’s learned how to smile, and he hasn’t stopped doing it all day.
Did you get the pictures?
When I sing Twinkle Twinkle to Asher and twinkle my hands, he twinkles back.
Guess what?! I was burping Brad, and every time I patted his back, his wee little hand patted mine.
We celebrate the ounces they gain and the clothing they outgrow. St. Matt celebrates when they sleep through the night… I mostly want to wake them up and cuddle.
And today we celebrate something momentous – they are 100 days old.
I know that celebrating a baby’s 100th day is a Korean and Chinese tradition, but I’m borrowing it. These past 100 days have been filled with more love and happiness than I have any right to deserve, but they’ve also been tinged with some terrifying moments too.
The twins were two months early. They were little. They both had trouble breathing. And maintaining steady heart rates. They spent their first month in the NICU. They’re both still on apnea monitors that go off with heart-shattering regularity and send St. Matt and I flying across the room to check for color changes and chest movement.
That first month left some physical scars on them and emotional ones on me.
It’s not possible to gaze through the Plexiglas of an isolette at the mess of gauze, tubes, wires, sensors and bandages covering your newborn and walk away whole.
 After just looking at those pictures and writing those words I had to wake little Brad up, snuggle him close, and reassure myself that he’s nearly tripled in size and is thriving.
So today, we will celebrate. 100 days. They may be little, but it’s no small accomplishment.
And tomorrow?
We’ll celebrate then, too.

TWO-Minute Update

I’m living my life in twos right now.
  • Two bassinets perched at the end of my bed.
  • Two binks to locate when they drop from two little mouths.
  • Two bottoms to diaper and two million loads of laundry to keep them covered.
  • Two distinctly different cries that correspond to two very different personalities.
  • Two downy heads to kiss and two sets of ears to fill with whispers of your mommy loves you so very much. 
Two little Schmidtlets who are two months old!*

Baby A & Baby B – aka Acorn & Bean Sprout – aka Asher & Brad, arrived on November 16th.

Since then they’ve been busy making St.Matt and me the two happiest people in the world.
*which means this post is two months overdue, but in my defense, they were two months early in arriving.

The Nursery that IS

Back before there were Schmidtlets, we used to refer to their room as the NTB: Nursery To Be. It was my favorite writing room — how can you beat whiteboard walls?

But they’re not my whiteboards anymore — and I’ve spent the past few weeks fussing over every other detail of the NTI. You’d be surprised that it’s possible to spend 12 hours researching knobs, but when you’re Bed RestLess, why not?

So, mayhaps finishing the twins room became a minor obsession. Thank God for the internet, which made assembling the room a snap… well, a snap for ME.

St. Matt and my in-laws had to do all of the hard labor I lay on the daybed and supervised – while my bed rest bodyguard went into stealth mode and scrutinized every move I made.

Without further ado, I present the Schmidtlets’ room!

But just because the room is ready, doesn’t mean the twins are.  Stay put, Schmidtlets!

Sticker Charts and Schmidtlets

I’ve always been a rules girl. Sticker charts were made for people like me. If I set the table I got a sticker. If I made my bed I got a sticker. If I went a whole day without a time out in the Naughty Chair, that was worth at least three stickers. 

I’m not going to say I never tried to manipulate this system (comforter pulled up over a tangle of sheets never works, does it?) but this method of rule à reward had always worked well for me.

Um, it still works well: Revise one page, get one Revision Skittle…

Which is why bed rest baffles me.

I’ve followed the rules. I spend all of my time confined between the headboard and footboard of my sleigh bed or down on the couch in a flurry of pillows. Bathroom visits are a field trip – but only require a couple dozen steps. Food is the same: St. Matt emptied and carried our wine fridge up to the bedroom and stocks it daily with a large enough food and liquid selections for a woman who’s carrying at least quintuplets.

All that’s required of me is that I stay put – and the payoff is healthy babies who also stay put.

Which is why bed rest baffles me.

I’ve done my part…

… the Schmidtlets don’t seem to want to do theirs.

I may gripe a bit and I may complain of BedRestlessness, but, in truth, my role is easy.  I’ve got an engrossing WIP to play with, shelves of books we’ve stockpiled (I read seven last week alone), TV’s with DVR, friends a few keystrokes or phone digits away, and a saintly, saintly, truly saintly husband who has gone out of his way to envision things I might want, before I’ve even dreamed them up.

What’s not easy:  knowing I’ve followed the directions with NASA precision, and the results aren’t in my control.

We’ve started steroid shots to advance the Schmidtlets’ lung development. We’ve started packing our hospital bag. We’ve started prioritizing the to-do list for the what-if?

Preparation is great, of course, but it doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t grant me a second more of pregnancy if the twins decide that NOW is when they want to arrive.

But they haven’t picked Now, or Now, or even Now and every second they continue to grow is a blessing.

So, stay put little ones. The world is waiting to love and cherish you, but it will still be waiting in a few weeks. And your momma will put extra stickers on your sticker charts if you make it a month or more. Stay.

Do not pass Go. Report directly to BED

 My last day of school was Friday. I’ve spent the past seven weeks very conflicted about today – the battle of exhaustion versus my desire to teach. I wasn’t surprised to discover that I woke up this morning feeling a little lost soul-ish.
I spent the morning as a flitterbug —  popping from one task to the next without accomplishing much of anything. Any progress I might have made was hindered by Biscotti. She’s been a wee bit overprotective as of late; she will not let the Twin Belly out of her sight. Today she added a new trick:  doing her dangdest to herd me back to bed.
I should’ve listened.
This afternoon we had our first NONstress test. They hooked up monitors to capture the babies’ heartbeats and a third monitor to my uterus.  In typical Bean Sprout fashion, he showed off for the doctors by doing all sorts of barrel rolls and squirm-worm maneuvers. And in typical Twin Belly fashion, my uterus reacted to his movements by having what I thought were Braxton Hicks contractions.
They weren’t. Apparently they’re the real deal.  And regular.
The doctor took one look at my printout and announced: Bed Rest.
St. Matt and I exchanged a look that said everything: But wait! We’re not ready yet. It’s my first day off work. You said I’d have some time to run errands and take it easy. I was going to make cookies tonight. We were going to walk the dogs. I have plans tomorrow. We have plans this weekend. We’re NOT Ready.
Out loud we said, “Okay, what do we need to know?” because none of that matters. And we’ll do just about anything to make sure these two little boys stay put and stay safe for as many weeks as possible.
So now I sit. And wait. Thursday AM’s our next NST and I’m hoping for better results.
In the meantime, Biscotti, bodyguard puggle extraordinaire, is thrilled that I’m taking her advice and lying down. If a puggle could gloat, that’s what she’d be doing, from her supervisory post at the foot of my bed.

A Practice Separation

Today my class was supposed to be going on a field trip that includes a nature hike and sploshing around in a river, picking up slippery rocks and looking for macroinvertibrates. I wish there was an emoticon that truly captures the look my doctor gave me when I asked him about it. Part: Are-you-serious? Part: Don’t-even-dream-of-it. Part: Do-I-have-to-chain-you-to-a-couch-and-feed-you-a-diet-of-Common-Sense-&-Caution.

Outcome: I won’t be going; apparently nature trails and river explorations are not acceptable activities for people who can no longer see their feet. So I took the day off… and woke up to it bucketing out and the trip being postponed.
I am not handling this well. My parent chaperones received four different e-mails with instructions for today (& then cancelling today) – and this was only partially due to baby brain causing the omission of important details like WHEN they should show up at school. I also called the substitute at home twice to give her directions and left her two sets of plans: one for the trip and one for in case the trip was cancelled. My cell number is circled in red in case she runs into any questions. Not that she’ll need it, the kiddos in my class this year are the definition of angelic.
And here I sit, at home, fighting the urge to pick up the phone and call in to my classroom to make sure there are no last minute questions. Did I mention that the school day only started 15 minutes ago?
If I need to, (once I finish typing this) I will sit on my hands. Hide my phone. Go outside and pace the backyard — *looks out window*. Maybe not that last one. And, er, maybe I shouldn’t hide my phone. With baby brain it’s likely I’ll never find it again.
I will not, however, call, e-mail, or go visit the school to check on the kiddos. Will. Not.
Can you sense that I’m having some separation anxiety? There are two weeks until I have to walk out of my classroom door and teach myself not to look back. After October 15th, they are not MY class anymore.
Once the Schmidtlets arrive, I know I’ll be far too enamored with my bundles of baby to miss them. But it’s the interim weeks, the couch rest leading into bed rest weeks, that keep me up at night.
I’m not a sitter. I’m not a TV watcher. I’m not a do-for-me-what-I-can-do-for-myself girl. And more than all that, I’m not good at good-byes or letting go. Each year I cry at elementary school graduation as my kiddos prepare to leave for the summer and middle school.  This year I’ll be the one leaving, and I need to learn to be okay with that.
So today is practice. And just in case I’ve forgotten the reason for all this sitting, I’ve scheduled an ultrasound for this afternoon. One look at those squirmy Schmidtlets on the screen and I’m sure I’ll find all the strength I need to park my Twin Belly on the couch. It’ll be a great reminder to stop looking backwards and to look forward to a time when those babies are out of the Twin Belly and in my arms.

This IS A Post About Italy

I leave for the airport in 9 hours for the Goldblatt Agency retreat. I still haven’t packed – this surprises no one – and I still haven’t blogged about the Italian adventures that took place between my last two airport experiences.

Some of you have been demanding photographic evidence of the trip – and pictures of the Twin Belly. I can satisfy both requests simultaneously – and quickly – and then go pack!

Sorrento – and a Twin Belly! That’s because after 48 hours after WE got to Sorrento, our luggage finally caught up with us. I’ve never been so happy to change clothing.

Capri – The island is gorgeous. And hilly. LOOK how hilly. I was a brave little trouper and made it DOWN the hills, but we need a taxi to cart the Twin Belly back up.

Naples – There are castles in Naples. CASTLES.

Castles make me curtsey.
And, no worries, St. Matt came, too!

Packing. Now. Really.