We’re Andy and Julie. We got married in August 2010 and lived in Brooklyn, New York for four years. In the spring of 2012, we found out I was pregnant, and at our first ultrasound, the tech said calmly after about three seconds, “You have twins.”
This is my new friend Jeff. He rescued me from a riptide in Maui.
That morning, my sister and I went snorkeling at Honolua. It was amaaazing. The sky was perfect. The little cove is totally protected from wind so there are zero waves. It wasn’t very crowded. There were sea turtles! We were snorkeling for maybe an hour, and I could have happily stayed another hour or two.
So I couldn’t wait to get in the water again when we had time later that afternoon back at our own hotel. There were waves out front, but I saw people out in the water. I made sure to read the sign again and I thought I understand. I asked the couple who was just coming in if it wasn’t too choppy out there. They said, no, it’s fine! and asked if I was alone. I said no, my people were right there on the beach behind me. They also said there was a good snorkeling spot right past the last buoy.
So I headed out with my rented waterproof camera and swam out. I was near the buoys, maybe five feet to the right. Around the last buoy I was noticing the waves were pretty rough and it was making me a little nervous. I ducked my head down to look under the water, took one quick photo, confirmed it wasn’t very clear, and turned around to head back to shore.
I started swimming and after a couple minutes realized I hadn’t gotten closer to shore, and was still just a few feet in front of the last buoy. I tried a little more and still made no progress. I was stuck.
It did not occur to me that I was in a riptide.
I hung out for awhile, watching out for the waves. They looked 3-4 feet high, and they freaked me out. I was worried about getting under one of them and being pushed underwater. Thankfully they weren’t really coming my way.
This of course was a bad thing and meant I was in the riptide! I did not understand this!
There were a few rolling waves that lifted me up, and one got some water over my head, which added a little more panic. Then I realized that I had drifted even farther out, now a few feet past the last buoy. This was not good.
So I decided to yell for help. I yelled out, HELP! as loud as I could. It felt weird because I wasn’t really panicking or in actual danger, but I was also stuck. I was starting to get a little bit tired and felt just a glimmer of a little panic. I yelled HELP! I NEED HELP! some more. Nobody seemed to hear me. I waved a couple times. I could easily see my family on the beach. They waved back and I waved my arms again, and yelled out a few more times. I should have waved a lot more.
Then I saw that they had heard me–they suddenly stood up. I saw my sister charge into the water and call something to me. But I couldn’t hear her. Then I saw two men start swimming out to me. Jeff might have gotten there first but the other guy was right behind. I don’t know if they knew each other or not. Anyway, Jeff swam up to me and just said pleasantly, Need some help? I said, yes please. He told me to take his hand, which I did, and he proceeded to swim on his back, towing me to the shore. Nice and easy. I introduced myself, and I asked if he was a lifeguard and if he had done this before. He said no to both, which really surprised me since he seemed so at ease rescuing me. He got me in, and everyone twittered around me freaking out. I hugged Jeff and thanked him a bunch, as did the family. He was like, aw no, you did all the work. (Which clearly I did not! He was just that nice.)
There was a bunch of talking and rehashing on the shore. Onlookers asked if I was okay. Official people from both hotels came to see if I was okay and if everything was alright. I assured them I was. My family told me that they only heard me yell once and that the extra waving of arms also told them I was in trouble, and that they had enlisted the help of the two men.
A couple minutes later, a lifeguard Jetski roared up! We assured him that I was fine. (He almost seemed disappointed that there was no rescue needed.) Then a couple minutes after that, a fire engine screamed up. Apparently someone at the hotel on their balcony, saw me yelling and called 911! So I had to chat with the firemen and give them my info and reassure them that I was fine and did not need any medical attention.
This all made me feel really silly and dumb. All that attention and people out of their way to help and rescue me. I was totally fine! What I kept telling folks was that I’d been fine, but I may not have been for much longer. If I’d still been out there long enough to be rescued by the jetski guard, I would probably not have been fine.
Which is weird, because I had been floating in the ocean all week. So I wasn’t in danger of drowning, right? The waves, though…I really really did not want to be stuck in the waves. Of course the water had calmed down by the time I was out and dry!
I swear I read the sign about it before I went in, but I totally misunderstood what it meant. After I got out, everyone was like, oh you have to swim sideway/parallel to the beach to get out of a riptide. I was like, yeah, but I didn’t understand that I was in a riptide! My brain just narrowed focus to: “I’m stuck; big waves; I need to get out of here”
And for the record, like fifteen minutes later, Jeff and his brother had to go rescue a couple who had gone out on some paddle boards.
I went back to read the sign after the hullaballoo died down (and we took some sunset pictures). I had to stand there and study the thing for like five minutes and finally it clicked what it meant and how I’d misunderstood. Oh, and my sister said she’d never even noticed the sign at all, all week! That’s not good if the sign is not super clear and super obvious. To me, I think there needs to be a big sign–maybe a four-sided one so visible from all directions–that is all red and says DO NOT SWIM HERE. And/or they need a second set of buoys and make the sign say DO NOT SWIM BETWEEN THE BUOYS.
So that’s the story of how I got caught in a riptide. It sounds super dramatic and life-threatening, but it really wasn’t.
However, I spent a lot of time afterward thinking about it: re-hashing it, trying to figure out what I could have done differently, re-imagining being stuck out there with those waves that looked so ominous. (I mean, they weren’t giant storm waves or anything, but with the sandbars and reefs they were breaking not far from me, not just at the shore. Literally, looking at this picture I took out there even now gives me a feeling of dread and slight panic). Then imagining getting dunked by one of the waves. Then trying to re-design the sign to be more obvious. I felt kind of silly to put so much thought into it after the fact.
I guess the lessons are pretty obvious: Don’t swim alone. Look for breaks in the waves and avoid that. Don’t go out in choppy water. (Even the other times we’d gone snorkeling the waves weren’t that big or that frequent.) Always keep an eye on anyone in the ocean because things can change so fast. Don’t let small children anywhere near the ocean. And of course, if you’re stuck, swim parallel to the beach.
I never really posted about it, or even mentioned it to anyone in real life, but I was really nervous, even a little terrified, of having these babies. Partly because holy shit twins, and because I’d never had my own babies before, so I was scared of how hard it would be and what life would suddenly be like. But I realize now that I was also scared because I didn’t know *who* I would be. I thought I’d magically turn into/have to become someone different, someone who was beatifically selfless, and endlessly patient, and mother-y adult-y, and of course focused *only* on her babies.
A few days later, reading a comment somewhere, I realized the biggest, most important change that surprised me:
I still feel like myself.
I didn’t become a whole new person once I had grown two humans with my body. It didn’t magically change my personality, my likes and dislikes.
Now, to be sure, plenty of things about my life have changed. I have a lot less time to myself, weekends aren’t just for sleeping and lazing about the house anymore, etc etc.
But the core of who I am is still very much there. I’m definitely the same person I was before I had babies. I realize this shouldn’t have been a revelation, but I think in Western culture “motherhood” is such its own idealized persona and identity and pigeonhole. There isn’t a lot of open discussion about how motherhood and the rest of a woman’s life co-exist, with the exception of an awestruck, how did you do it all?! When the reality is that millions of women are doing all of it, all the fucking time, and just living their full, chaotic lives.
I do think motherhood is a tough, exhausting job. Stay-at-home-parenthood is an EXTREMELY tough job, especially with twins. (I only did it for a few months, and it wasn’t even full time.) I completely respect moms and dads who stay home with their kids.
But no, I don’t think it’s the world’s hardest job.
Many people say that having children is the best thing they’ve ever done. And honestly, I’m not sure I feel that way. I’ve had some incredible adventures in my life, all of which have made me the person I am now. Those past experiences can still hold up as something amazing that enriched me, while parenthood can feel like an ongoing experiment sometimes! And now I get to use my past adventures to enrich and shape my kids’ experience, and share things from my own life with them, seeing it through their fresh innocent eyes.
It is amazing to be a parent. To be the hero, the one who matters most, who is the end-all, be-all to a tiny person. I am incredibly grateful, and awed, that I am two people’s mother. That is insane! It’s such a gift, and it can be a burden too. (Sometimes the weight, the enormity, the miraculousness makes me tear up, even five years later.)
But I also still get to be me, an entire, well-rounded adult human outside of parenting.
You probably already know The Honest Toddler and Bunmi Laditan, who is the genius behind it. She is goddamn BRILLIANT. Follow her immediately if you aren’t already. I read this post of hers and was like YES OMG YES:
I thought having children would make me a mother. Instead it made me a person with children.
I look in the mirror and instead of seeing the beloved, timeless archetype, I’m just me.
when the word “mama” slips out of my youngest’s lips I’m still surprised and honored. You talking to me? Surely, there’s someone more deserving of that title, I think, looking around, but no, he’s addressing this unkempt collage of contradictions and reluctance. The keeper of all things.
We’ve had bath letters for a long time (two sets, of course, so they could both spell their names at the same time #twinproblems), and then I found some little water toys at Target. We had those retractable bath crayons, but they broke almost immediately. And that’s disappointing for toddlers and grown-ups alike.
Awhile back, I decided to add some new fun to bathtime. I found some different bath crayons that looked a bit more hardy, and some water-coloring tablets.
Both were a resounding success! The crayons held up beautifully to lots of scribbling–zero breaking. The color drops are really vibrant, and fun to watch dissolve.
Also I have to tell you about this little thing that changed our lives–the Lil Rinser, a bath hat hair cover thing. Our boys HAAAAATE having their hair washed, mostly because they haaaate getting water in their ears and in their eyes. If you hold this thing on their head while rinsing, the water does not get in their hair and eyes!! TODDLER MAGIC!!
Other popular bath toys include plastic cups and funnels for filling and pouring, and a collection of rubber duckies. They get them at our dentist and we’ve gotten some as little tourist trinkets, and they play with them a ton in the bath!
What are your kids’ favorite bath toys?
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This was our longest family trip away from home–a full week! And it was awesome! We all had a really good time.
When thinking about gear for this trip, originally I had thought okay, we’ll bring our car seats to save money, in the car seat rollers (which I borrowed), and their single umbrella strollers. And somehow we’d manage all that along with three suitcases…which is hilarious. Happily, we found a much cheaper car rental (Costco!) so even with the car seat rental, it was still not expensive. And Andy realized that *two* single strollers would be stupid, so we switched in the double umbrella that we still have in the garage.
The double umbrella stroller was a really helpful thing to have for sure. Four-year-olds do a lot of whining, especially when there’s walking to be done. So it was perfect for the airport when it was so early in the morning and they were drowsy and we had to keep them corralled anyway.
OH–and check out these adorable backpacks! I found them on craigslist and we stuffed them with their own entertainment: notebook/coloring books, markers, books to read, water bottle, small friends, a toy car. It was really helpful to have their stuff separate from ours (that it wasn’t in my backpack with all my crap too), plus they were excited about carrying their own bag.
The flight was at 6am, which means that we had to be at the airport at “ass o clock” aka way too early for humans. I assumed that the boys would sleep through most of it—that we’d just pick them up in their jammies and put them in the car. (Didn’t everyone have that experience as a kid?) However! They woke up! At like pre-4am when Andy got them out of their beds! And then they stayed awake for the entire day.
The day went really smoothly. The flights went great, and we had plenty of time on the layover to get to the second flight. We boarded very near the end of the process, because why on earth would we want to be sitting in the plane longer than we need to. We had a row of three to ourselves plus the aisle seat next door. It worked great.
The boys watched tv basically the whole time for both flights (we were on Delta with screens at every seat). And I was really totally fine with it. It was way, WAY more screen time than they’ve literally ever had in their lives. But who cares. It made life super easy and it made them happy. Win-win for sure. (And they watched zero television for the next week until our return flights, so it all balances out.) (Also that meant we could watch our own screens! I watched two movies!)
We rented a car and car seats at the DC airport. Somehow it took a freaking HOUR to do the entire car rental process. (Partly because we had to wait for seriously half a dozen elevators) We had a ‘free upgrade’ to a bigger car, a Ford Expedition. It was a freaking beast! I loved the extra space in the backseat and the huge trunk space; it was perfect for all of our assorted baggage.
The drive from DC toward Lexington went smoothly for awhile, even the traffic getting out of the city wasn’t bad at all. It was supposed to take 3.5 hours or so, but somehow it took SIX to get there. We stopped for dinner and run-around time at Cracker Barrel, which abruptly ended with a kitchen fire and evacuation. We finally arrived in Lexington at 11pm. It was a long, long day. But overall it went so well and so smoothly!
It was certainly the right decision to do the early flight and then do a long drive all in the same day. It made for a long-ass day, and some crankiness, but it was really good to get all of it out of the way. We all woke up feeling happy to be there, and had an entire, easy, full day to begin our vacation.
We spent four days there with Andy’s parents, and his sister and her husband. It was all very relaxed, easy-going, no-stress. The weather was perfect—warm and 70s/80s. The boys loved playing around the house—Andy’s childhood legos, a ton of dried beans and cups/containers, some new and old books to read, tons of great yard space, and lots of grandparent and auntie/uncle love and attention and playtime! We hit up a couple local playgrounds too, and went for ice cream at the local shop, but we actually did less ‘outing’ stuff than I’d figured. Oh, and there was a tennis lesson thanks to Grandpa! That was really fun! We so rarely see them try such a brand-new activity, and with a stranger.
As a nice bonus, we were there for Easter weekend! On Saturday, the boys dyed eggs and baked some Easter cupcakes with Grandma. On Sunday morning, they were very excited about the baskets Grandma and I put together, and played with them enough for me to slip outside to hide all the eggs around the big front and backyards. They loved running around and finding all the eggs! I loved watching them have so much fun. I love Easter egg hunts! (I would totally do a grown-up Easter egg hunt; who’s with me?)
I think this timing ended up being really perfect. It was a fantastic time of year with the weather, and this age was just great. They’re young enough to be excited about a lot of things, and old enough to understand and have conversations about what’s going on. We are excited to go back for another trip next year!
Big, giant, articulate four year olds. Who give spontaneous hugs and kisses, who fall to the floor yelling about not enough cheerios in their snacky cup, who scale couches and counters, who can entertain themselves and each other, who sometimes share nicely and who sometimes fight like dogs over jammies or toys, who can recite entire books, and so much more.
Physical changes: they are definitely taller, and they’re wearing size 9 shoes right now. Their enunciation has improved dramatically–they don’t sound like toddlers anymore; they’re articulate like little kids now. Fully in the “actually” stage.
No more naps, not even car naps. We found that bedtime was easier without them, and though they definitely get noticeably cranky sometimes in the afternoon, it’s usually fairly smooth to just make it through.
This summer we did nighttime potty training, which involved us waking them up overnight to go potty while they were still half asleep. We started this process in June, I think, and we gradually changed the times, and in October we stopped waking them up, and they made it through the night! There have been just a few accidents since. Overall a massive improvement in all our lives to have that taken care of!
Also, the whining. So much whining. Can you hear the whining that was happening in this picture? I’m probably a terrible person for taking a photo, but this child whined nonstop for at least twenty minutes the first day we went up to Salmon Days (a local festival near Seattle). There is also near-daily whining about food, either because someone wants food or wants more food or wants different food. I think one of the theme phrases for right now is “I’m hungry still” in a whine.
Related to the whining, they get mad at us for things like making them eat their dinner, or telling them not to stand on their chair, or other unreasonable things. They constantly say things like, “You’re being mean! That’s rude! You can’t come to my birthday party!”
However, they also run up and give me spontaneous hugs and kisses. They love playing chase games and tickling games. They say, “You’re my best friend!” M tells me that he’ll always be my baby even when he’s a grownup, because that’s what I tell him, which is too adorable. They are really sweet and wonderful boys like 85% of the time. It’s just that that 15% is SO very annoying.
Since the last post, we had some good summer adventures, like a million fruit-picking days (fresh raspberries are the best!!!), and two trips to the coast. Our annual 4th of July trip to the Hood River Valley to pick cherries and visit Mt Hood was a success. The boys were a little confused with the snow.
We all went bowling together! They wanted to roll their bowling balls just like us, and they actually did really well. E won the first game! With the bumpers, obviously.
After admiring the roller coasters at the Clark County Fair and at Oaks Park last year, this year they actually went on those kid roller coasters! M especially loved the Oaks Park one; he went like five times on the last trip there this fall. Here he is with A on the Clark County one. At first, E didn’t want to do the roller coaster, but after he saw M do it, then E wanted to. And he was so excited about it!
We got in a few trips to Oaks Park too, and they were tall enough for just about all the kiddie rides. The Froghopper was a favorite for all of us.
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