Just Survive...

I get asked a lot, "How do you do it?" My answer is always the same: "Just survive..."

As you may (or may not) know, Hershey and I work together at the high school that I graduated from. Hershey teaches history and I teach English. Our workloads are not exactly light, with all of the writing that our kids do in the subject areas we teach, and we can't just put on a video and wing it all day. So we put a lot of energy daily into planning and grading. We work our butts off all day long at work, through our lunches, and preps, and duties. There is just no other way.

Jane and Emma are also in "school" again this year, at the same Early Learning Center that they were in last year. They are there 3 full days, and then one day they go to my mom's house and the other day they go to my mother-in-law's house. It's a great set up, because they get the mental stimulation of learning and socializing at school, and they get personal time to bond with their grandmas. Plus that lightens up our purses a little bit in terms of child care costs.

Our daily schedule during the school year right now goes like this:

5:35 Hershey and I wake up

(Emma has also been getting up with us or earlier lately, so we purchased the girls these Teach Me Time clocks, which we can set to turn green at a prescribed time. So far, they have been working out! We told them that Sunny Sally brought them and that she wants them to stay in bed until the light turns green.)

6:45-7:00 Out the door. On days that the girls go to school, we need to be out by 6:45. Grandma Squad days are 7:00. Either way, the moments leading up to our departure are always a whirlwind of screaming and tears and me wrestling the girls to get dressed and do their hair while Hershey drags 97 bags of crap out to the car.

7:45 Get to to work. Our work day goes from 7:45-3:30/4:00 depending on the day. When Hershey coaches basketball during the winter months, he usually doesn't get home until 8:00 p.m. No matter what, we usually don't get home until...

5:00 Arrive back at home. Unload the 97 bags of crap and put all of the dishes from the day into the dishwasher. Prep dinner. Jane and Emma either settle in on the couch with their Kindle Fires, or watch an episode or two of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Either way, they are decompressing and zoning out for about an hour, which they usually really need after their day on-the-go.

Side note about the Kindle Fire:
My mother-in-law bought these for our kids at Christmas, because they LOVED playing with everyone's cell phones and iPads. The Kindle Fire kids edition comes with a foam outer box, which is awesome because I promise you that my kids have dropped theirs down the stairs like 400 times at least and they still work great.

It also comes fully loaded with educational videos, books, and apps for them to choose from. The kids quickly learn how to navigate all of these options, and it gives them freedom and independence to choose what they want to watch or play with.  Additionally, you can program the Kindle to spend a certain amount of time on each app (more time for books, less time for videos) and to turn on and off at specified times.

Also, in terms of security, the kids can't purchase ANYTHING without switching profiles on the Kindle, and in order to switch to a parent account they need to know and be able to type in the password. So far I have ZERO complaints about these little gems, as Emma has even started getting hers off of her charger when she gets up before the green light in the morning and then lays in bed watching Daniel Tiger or Blue's Clues and we can get a few extra zzz's.  It's a win-win.

6:00-6:30 Eat dinner. We sit down to eat dinner together each and every night, except some Fridays when Hershey and I have HAD ENOUGH of the girls' screaming and throwing food around at dinner time, so we order in after they go to bed.  On the nights that we decide NOT to eat with Jane and Emma, I set them up in front of the TV and they hang and watch a movie and eat together.

7:00-7:30 Bath Time. We've been using all kinds of calming bath additions lately, since Jane and Emma tend to be totally wound up at night.  Their favorites are this Babyganics chamomile bubble bath and this Everyday Shea lavender bath. We then finish up with Babo Botanicals lavender lotion.

7:30-8:45 Bed time for Jane and Emma.  By this point, their clock night light has come on and they know that it's night-night time. Depending on whether they took a nap or not, they go to bed any time in this hour time frame.

9:00 Hershey and I crash into bed. This doesn't leave Hershey and I much time for ourselves or each other, but we definitely make up for that on the weekend, taking the girls out on excursions and spending time together and with friends and family.

It's also worthwhile to note that:
1:00-3:00 Jane and Emma "nap" wherever they are. This means different things in different places. At home, they usually will lay down and nap until around 2:30, at school they have started laying down and napping for the full 2 hours, they sleep about an hour at my mom's house, and they take no nap for my mother-in-law, so they usually just sleep in the car ride from her house to our school (about 20 minutes). Their napping is totally erratic and inconsistent, so we've started adjusting their bedtimes according to what they did with their naps during the day.

I'm hoping that with summer coming and more outdoor time, Jane and Emma will settle into a better sleeping pattern and we will get some extra time to do the things we love, things that don't revolve around the girls. As much as we love our kids and want to spend time with them, doing things for ourselves is important, too, and while we struggle to find time during the school year to even BREATHE, the warmer months bring with them some time to slow down and spend time relaxing and rejuvenating.

So when someone says to me, "How are you doing it?" my answer will always be, "We are just surviving." Because most days, that's exactly how it feels.

I hope that you have a great Easter weekend! We are prepping to dye some eggs and put together an EPIC Easter egg hunt over here. Wish me luck that we don't end up covered in egg dye!

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Terror-tastic Twos

Every year I make the same resolutions about this blog. Write more. Link to good stuff. Make some money.  Bah! It never sticks.

So now I am vowing to do what I love: Write.  I'm going to write like no one is looking. Because, let's face it, that's the only way that I can paint a clear picture of what a working-mom-of-twin-toddler's life is like.

Terrible Two's have kicked in full-force over here at #groffnation. This year has been so difficult in terms of teaching lessons and having patience and finding time. Jane and Emma are UBER-independent/stubborn. And if I hear one more person say to me, "Yeah but that's GOOD! It will serve them so well when they grow up!" fists are gonna fly. Hell hath no fury like a woman toddler scorned...

The fact of the matter is, they are adorable angels when other people are around.  The Grandma Squad -- FORGET IT. It's like we are having two different conversations in different rooms about different people when we try to talk to our moms about our kids. 

But when Hershey and I are home alone with them, the GLOVES COME OFF.  


It's frightening.

Emma is Miss Independent.  She can go upstairs to her room and play by herself very nicely for 45 minutes straight without us hearing a peep out of her.  Not a crash, not a whine, not a yelp for help. But if you go in there and do ONE THING that she doesn't want you to do, all hell breaks loose. The other night I made the mistake of putting lotion on her arms. Let me repeat that, I PUT LOTION ON HER ARMS.  She screamed and kicked and cried hysterically on the floor for about 5 straight minutes before Hershey could even get near her to pick her up, at which point she dissolved into a sniffling, red-faced mess on his shoulder.

In the meantime, Jane is a Princess. She refuses to do anything for herself, and if we even DARE suggest that she try it before I go ahead and do it for her, she acts like you just ran over her favorite baby doll with a tractor and throws herself on the floor and then refuses to do anything that you ask of her for at least 20 minutes. 

"Janey want some chocolate milk?" 
<Zuul from Ghostbusters voice> "NOOOOOOOOOOO....."

And then, in the blink of an eye, she is climbing into my lap saying, "I love you Mommy you so pretty and I love Daddy, it's so nice to have you at home Daddy! Can I have a lollipop?"  It's freaky, folks.

So for now, we are just riding out the waves and seeing what works. They are incredibly curious, and talkative, and sometimes infuriatingly sweet. They are beautiful, and kind, and they are quick learners. They are polite, and they love their friends, and they LOVE their cats. They are also hellions about very specific things that Hershey and I have not been able to figure out yet. In a 5 minute span this weekend, Jane peed her pants and then threw a deck of cards all over the living room, Emma ate a yellow crayon and then kicked the ottoman right out from under her sister, and Jane punched Emma in the face with a science flask to which Emma responded by back-handing Jane in the face. And people wonder why I love grocery shopping (without my kids).

Oh, and they are both, pretty much, POTTY TRAINED. We still have one or two accidents a week and wear a pull-up for nap and bedtime, but otherwise, we're finally there people. After 3 long years of double diaper duty, I can finally say we are at the end of the road.

Besides time-outs and threatening to run away from home, what's working with your terrible two-ers? Please tell me you feel my pain! I read some mommy-blogs that talk about enchanting leprechaun breakfasts and leisurely strolls and baking chocolate chip cookies with their kiddos and I want to run to their houses, ring their doorbells, and drop my kids off there for a week just so that they can get a glimpse of "the real world".  Who's with me?!?

Have a great week, everyone!

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