Monday, September 24, 2007

Randomness With A Chewy Center

We spent a long weekend on Fire Island and it was amazing. We stayed at our friends house, but they weren’t there, so we had the whole place to ourselves (and the chatty caretaker). I had the irrational fears that maybe just maybe the caretaker would murder us in the middle of the night (unprovoked by anything…just my ridiculousness). This is how my mind works. Alas, we lived to enjoy ourselves. We didn’t do much, which is exactly what I wanted to do. Strolled along the ocean, collected seashells, walked the boardwalks, read a little. The scenery was great. We could see the water from our bed. Crickets lulled us to sleep (we didn’t even need to turn on the noise machine for the girls!). The weather was great. It was paradise, as it always is.

Every time we are there, we think how nice it would be to have a place there. We talk about it all the way home. And every time we reach the same conclusion: It is a barrier island that will someday be washed away back into the ocean. Not the best place to invest in real estate. Plus, while it is great that there are no cars, it kind of sucks that you can only bring out what you can carry on the ferry. And that is not much. Houses are sold as is with furniture. I can’t imagine inheriting a mattress, and I can’t imagine hiring a boat to deliver a new one either. Our friends renovated their house here and they had to hire a barge for the contractors to bring things back and forth.

My favorite snippet of conversation between two men passing each other on the boardwalk:

Man One: Hey! I’m having an underwear party tonight at 10!
Man Two: I’ll be there!

And at another point, I said “Hi beautiful!” to Avery, and a random man passing us said hi, like I was talking to him!

Speaking of Avery, she woke up last night at 3:00 am like it was the morning. She was laughing and cooing and smiling and kicking and ready to begin her day. All I could think was how awfully long the day would be if I started my day at 3:oo am. It took me an hour to get her to realize that it is time to sleep. These girls are four months. They still wake up once a night, sometimes twice. I am so ready for them to sleep through the night.

There is maybe an interesting development for me on the career front. It is way too soon to tell yet and a lot of things need to fall in place but there is a chance that I could become a college professor soon (well, one without a doctorate, that is, so technically an instructor. But professor sounds hotter). The classes I teach would be at night, which is very convenient. And I have all these dreams of getting a free doctorate to boot, wearing tweed, having office hours. Like I said, it is way too early to start jumping ahead. But I am excited. For the first time in a very long time, my career future doesn’t seem so far away (or bleak).

Pictured above are just a few of the 400 images I took this weekend! There are lots more HERE!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Whole New World

This is what it is like to shop with twins.

For reasons I don’t understand I feel the need to shop like I am preparing for a nuclear holocaust. Why buy one can of beans when you can have 16? Why only 2 boxes of pasta when you can have 25? A gallon of ketchup. Six pounds of frozen vegetables. We frequently buy in bulk at the friendly not-in-our-neighborhood wholesale store. And today I went shopping with the girls in said bulk store as part of a Shopping Expedition. By myself, as in alone.

This, of course, requires detailed planning. Getting the girls ready to get out of the house to walk to the garage alone is an effort that is exhausting. Loading the girls into the car while there is another car behind you at the garage waiting for you to finish is nerve-wracking. Not five minutes in the car and I had to pull over, climb into the back, squeeze myself between the two car seats and feed the babies, who wouldn’t stop crying. Yes, I tried to feed them before we left but no, they weren’t interested. Mind you I feed them both at the same time while also talking on the phone. That’s talent.

These are the only babies in the History of Babies who don’t LOVE to ride in the car.

Once their six-ounce bellies were full, we continued our journey. We started at T*arget. So I unload the girls, bjorn one, stroll the other and run into a store that is the size of a city block to return some unneeded bottles and pick up some formula (story of my life). This goes better than planned. Avery was laughing at everything and Maddie slept like an angel. So naturally I get cocky. This isn’t so bad. In fact, this is easy.

I load the girls back in the car and drive to B*Js. This is when things start getting interesting. I bjorn Avery and carry Maddie in her car seat to a shopping cart. But once Maddie and her car seat are safely in the shopping cart, I realize there is no room for anything else. And since this is all bulk items (24 rolls of paper towels…124 rolls of toilet paper ….) I come to the horrifying realization that I will have to drag a second giant shopping cart, to fill with thousands of pounds of stuff, behind me. This makes getting through the aisles—even as large as they are—extremely difficult. I am a force to be reckoned with. A baby in a cart in front, me with a bjorned baby in the middle and a cart behind me, traveling at the speed of a snail to stock up on dishwashing liquid and chicken cutlets. Oh, and the wheels on both carts were not quite right.

Check out is laborious, but it’s the trek back to the car, with the loaded shopping cart and the Maddie cart, that is borderline dangerous. It’s hard to steer using only one hand! My wrist muscles are getting much stronger. I unloaded all of the bulk items and then the girls and I went to the regular grocery store to stock up on regular-sized items. The groceries are SO much cheaper than at our local store. Like 50 percent cheaper. My ice cream, which I eat every night, is two dollars cheaper. I walked out with three bags of groceries for $40.

So back to the car, load the groceries and girls back in and we head home. A half hour later I am in front of my apartment building wondering how I am going to do this. How am I going to get all the groceries and the bulk items and the babies home? Luckily the doorman and the porter ran out and helped. They unload all of my goods onto a cart and kept them in the lobby while the girls and I drove to the garage and walked home.

The girls will be four months on Friday. Four months they have been here in our home. Cliché as it is, time really is flying. Last year one this date was Day 9 of the IVF cycle that produced these babies. We are rapidly approaching Conception Day, which is two days after Nicole’s birthday.

Pictured above is Maddie looking at Avery…and Avery looking so weary. And below that are the girls in Halloween hats. Who can resist such cute hats? Only $1 at T*arget!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Morbidly Speaking

Tomorrow we visit out attorneys to have our wills drawn up. (What does this mean anyway, drawn up?) We have selected guardians for the girls and picked executors and decided where our ashes will be spread someday. That was depressing.

The attorneys said that we shouldn’t make wills very personal. It should all be straightforward. Money and assets. This makes me sad because I kind of envisioned wills like yearbook bequeathals. Something like this: “And to Jenni in Jersey I leave my Pyrex collection and a stick of butter to grease herself out of the booth. Ten Jen Ten. I’m turning into the letter C! Never forget BBQ 2007! Twinz Rule!” In other words, an arcane and annoying-to-read private joke filled with references only understand by two.

And I also envisioned the reading of my will. A bunch of people sitting in the attorney’s office. They all listen patiently and quietly, dabbing the corners of their eyes with cloth handkerchiefs, blinking back tears by looking to the sky, while the executor of my will reads out who gets my pictures and my dishes and my books etc. Inevitably, someone will raise a fist to the air in a Why-God-Why? moment and let out a wail.

Apparently this only happens in movies, though I like my version better.

We may not be getting personal in the will but we did get all technical about our ashes, creating quite a little journey for the girls some day! Ugh, morbid again.

Back to the present: One of the pluses of staying at home with children is having the ability to catch each and every milestone. Ostensibly I will be here when the babies take their first tentative steps, when they utter their first slurry two-letter words and when they discover they can fling applesauce across the room. So what happens today? Nicole comes home from work, changes her clothes and then settles on the floor next to Maddie, who is having the time of her life on her play mat. Maddie sees Nicole, smiles and three seconds later, Maddie rolls over. It was as if she was saying “Ta Da! Look what I can do, Mommy! And I saved it just for you!” This is also the child whose first smile was at the ceiling fan. Is this a sign of things to come?

I realize my role as parent is to impart wisdom/teach lessons to the girls. But they are already teaching me a thing or two. I have to say I am really learning to live more in the moment, because you never know when your next moment is going to come when there are two babies running around (in a sense). This is hard for me though. I am such a pleasure delayer and always have been. For example, why eat a bag of Gummi Bears when you can wait to eat said Gummi Bears and look forward to eating said Gummi Bears for a long time? I am also a pleasure combiner. Why just eat Gummi Bears? Why not eat Gummi Bears while watching an episode of 24 and flipping through a magazine? I like to put off things that I look forward to AND combine them with other pleasurable things. If you know this about me you will really understand what makes me tick.

But now, there is no way to plan for pleasure. I feel like it is my right to eat one ice cream bar a night. And I do, one a night since the girls were born. I look forward to it and enjoy it the most after the girls are in bed and I am sitting on the couch in my pajamas and glasses watching some ridiculous show. But most nights this is not possible. Now I eat that ice cream whenever I can. Without the TV on. And not sitting on the couch. This may seem petty but it is huge for me. Letting go of plans, relinquishing power and letting the chips fall where they may. It’s a whole new me.

It’s the same thing with reading. I used to have to have everything just so to enjoy reading a book. Now I read a page here and a page there. I’ll hold a book in one hand and read two pages while rocking the stroller with the other hand. I read while blow drying my hair. While the girls nap on my shoulder. Whenever and wherever I can. Last night in the wee small hours of the morning I finished reading A Thousand Splendid Suns. What a great book. I thought it was weird that I read the part of the book that takes place on 9/11 on 9/11. Another morbid thought.

Anyone have any good book recommendations? I already read Water for Elephants, Memory Keeper's Daughter and Glass Castle, which seem to be the books making the rounds on book lists these days. On my night stand I have Away (Bloom), Still Summer (Mitchard) and The Tenderness of Wolves (Penney). On my to-buy list is Stephen Pinker’s new book on how language is a window into human nature. What else should I read? You know, in ALL my free time? (I like to have stacks ready to read). Middlesex? Is that any good? The Road, by Cormac McCarthy?

Pictured above is Maddie, showing Nicole privately what she can do. Pictured below that are Maddie and Avery. Notice Maddie is already torturing her sister by putting her finger in her ear.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Paripatetically Speaking

Another reason why I love my new gym: There are clean, fresh-smelling towels rolled into cylinders and piled in pyramids all around the gym floor and locker room. I’m a sucker for presentation.

Last night Nicole and I stayed up to the wee hours of after 9:00 pm to watch the much ballyhooed Britney Spears comeback performance. It was really really….lackluster…. but I thought she looked great, especially for someone who just had two babies in rapid succession. Imagine my surprise this morning when I watched various news programs and every single one of them panned her body and talked about how awful she looked. Were we watching the same performance? It’s bad enough that news programs are devoting time to the Video Music Awards train wrecks, but to use those minutes to pick apart a body? It is ridiculous. Down the road we will wonder why today’s little girls are going to grow up with eating disorders and body image issues. She looked great and looked much better than the many of the stick-thin lollypop-head half-starved women currently in the news, on TV and in the movies.

I know I go to the gym, but for me it is more about endorphins and relieving stress and getting energy to spend a 12-hour day with two babies that need constant attention. It really has nothing to do with fitting into clothes or how I look. Taking care of these girls is exhausting. On mornings that I don’t get to the gum, I find that my day is harder and I’m much more lethargic. So I try to squeeze in a work out. Any little bit helps.

Last night the girls went to bed at an unprecedented 7:00 p.m. I didn’t know what to do with myself. Just when I thought we were in the clear, both began to fuss about an hour later. We managed to soothe them back to sleep. Miracle. It was payback this morning when Avery woke up at 4:45 a.m., wide-eyed and hungry and happy. I fed her and tried to get her to go back to bed, but she was cooing and smiling and generally in no mood to sleep. It was very cute. But it is going to be a long day, since Nicole is at work all day and then has a board meeting at night.

I planned to walk down to Union Square with the girls but the humid air has me reconsidering. Getting around with them is difficult alone. I would take the subway but not all stations have elevators to get me to the train platform. How do people with wheelchairs and canes and walkers get around? It amazes me that this city isn’t handicap accessible. How do subway stations get away with that?

So I end up walking a lot. Last week I walked to my friend’s apartment on the east side. It is about a mile and a half each way. It’s kinda a haul with a baby strapped to you and one in the stroller but I would walk for days and days if the girls liked it unequivocally. Inevitably one baby starts to fuss and it becomes very complex. With a baby bjorned on me I can’t really pick up a fussy stroller passenger. And if the bjorned baby is upset, it is hard to stop and tend to her without causing the baby in the stroller to freak out. With my girls, strollers must NEVER stop moving, even in elevators. Even slowing down could cause a little whimper that will crescendo to a full-on whine should velocity continue to drop. They are picky, these babies.

This was one of those weekends when I don't heart New York. Maybe it was because we spent Saturday at my friend Jen's beautiful house for a BBQ, where there is lots of fresh air and green grass and tall tall trees and bedrooms with walk-in closets bigger than our babies' bedroom. I want space and nature and room to roam and a driveway. I want to walk outside at night and see stars. A washer and dryer in my own home! We know we will move before the girls start kindergarten, and we are not sure where, but we are trying to hold out as long as possible in the city. Nicole's commute is an easy 20-minute walk; if we move out of the city Nicole will be spending much more time commuting, which means much less time with us. If she gets home at 7:00 at night, she will have mere moments before the girls would (idealistically) go to bed. There are plusses and minuses to leaving and staying. All I know is we are staying put right now and spending our weekends getting away from the city as much as possible.

Pictured above are us and them at the my friend Jen’s weekend BBQ. Below is Auntie Annie with a sleeping Avery at said BBQ. The great outdoors and fresh air are good for the girls, and me.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Fall! Fall! Fall!

I, for one, am thrilled to bits that summer is over. I have never been a fan of hot, humid, sticky weather. Fall is my favorite season (leaf peeping, apples, crisp fall night air, apple cider, cozy sweaters, impending holiday season…) so Labor day, celebrated (or lamented) as the unofficial end of summer for most, is the unofficial start (celebration) of fall for me.

Exactly a year ago on this day I have marked on my iCal that I had a therapy appointment at 2:00 and I had to take the BC pill. What a time warp. I was in the middle of the IVF cycle that would result in the little monsters babies who are both sleeping peacefully right now, thankfully. Thankfully that they are sleeping and that they are here. I still look at them and think what little miracles they are.

Anyone catch Bill Clinton’s interview on the Today Show? Wow, he really fumbled the Larry Craig question. I’m sure he wanted to steer clear of any talk of sexual impropriety in politics. And then Gov. McGreevey’s ex wife is on the show to comment on this scandal? Do we have so little to talk about in current events that the pithy thoughts of a politician’s ex is relevant?? Too much pith for my morning. And, as far I know, this Senator Craig did not come out of the closet as a Gay American (yet), like McGreevey.

In my own current events, I finally quit my gym and joined a better one. My old gym, named after a precious metal that is both beaten into baubles and held on deposit in the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, is filled with lots of grunting men built like superheroes who walk around drinking water out of gallon jugs, as well as dirty, broken equipment and televisions constantly set to ESPN and infomercials. You can wring the sweat out f the little mats. It has this dank smell, half basement and half sweaty men, with a touch of steroids. I stuck it out for four years because it is a three-minute walk from my apartment and it opens at 5:00 a.m. I am one of those freaks that goes that early and we all know that gym attendance is based on location, location, location.

I wanted to join the gym named after the event when the sun is directly above the earth's equator, but they don’t open as early. Plus, it is a (gasp) ten-minute walk from home. The ubiquitous NYSC also opens later than I like, and I don’t like the ones in my neighborhood. So I joined this gym and I love it. It is such a nice, airy space and the equipment is all new and the locker room is amazing. And it is a six-minute walk from home! It is so nice to be back at a gym that I can enjoy being in.

Pictured above is maddie in her first bathing suit. We were poolside over the weekend, but she did not swim. I’m not even sure if they are allowed in chlorinated pools yet. But she (and Avery) looked very cute in their suits.