Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Dark, Seedy Underbelly, With Extra Rolls

It isn’t all days of non-alcoholic wine and roses, as we discovered on Sunday when I flipped out after Nicole asked me if I was going to shower.

Let me set the scene: We just put the little monsters down for their naps. I was dressed already in my clothes for the day. Nicole was still in pajamas. We were alone, together, the two of us with no babies hanging from various limbs. I wanted to enjoy what precious few moments we had, and, for a change, not shower and change and jump through things-that-must-be-done-in-the-house- loops.

And so this little spark, once given a little attention and fuel, sparked into a big fire of “We never spend time together” and “You don’t pay any attention to me. It always work, work, work and the babies.” Those, if it isn’t obvious, were my gripes. Hers to me: I shut Nicole out when I feel like this (oh, irony). Nice little mess, eh?

This is just a squall (sudden, violent and brief) but it still highlights an underlying problem with parenthood: When life becomes All About The Babies, where does that leave us? Singular (me) and plural (us).

Throughout the day my first concern is for the girls (Are they safe? Content? Engaged? Fed? Clean-diapered? Eating staples found in the carpet?). There are brief interludes devoted to me (Can I shower? Can I eat? Can I open my computer and read something for five minutes? Can I get another cup of coffee?). And between it all are the tasks I must accomplish throughout the day to keep this house in order (empty the dishwasher; wash the bottles; clean the floor and the counters and the nooks and crannies; do the laundry; cook dinner; make baby food; buy the food, the list goes on and on). Similarly, Nicole has her priorities and obligations and things she needs to do. But where does that leave us? Most times, out in the cold.

When Nicole comes in with so many kisses and hugs for the girls (I do get a “Hi, Mommy” kiss), and little sweet nothings and lots of attention, for a split second I am jealous. I do come to my senses but still, it is hard finding that balance, where everyone gets what they need.

Once you have kids your life goes from Me Me Me and Us Us Us to You You You. Or, in our case, Them Them Them. I knew this would happen, and I can remember some dark days of sadness and grief when I would scream about how much I wanted our lives to have a focus other than us. So now, the weekends roll around and we are not debating if we should go to a movie or not or if we should go out for dinner or not or if we should just lay around all day and do nothing or not. The truth is sometimes I miss it, the sheer indulgence, and the luxury of having a day stretch out in front of you with not a thing to do.

I’ve said this before but I am grateful that we have a strong foundation. It is so clear to me now how couples can easily fall apart once a baby comes into the picture. But even with a solid foundation, it is hard work. A relationship can just fade so slowly that you don’t even know it is happening till it’s too late. Why aren’t there more books written about this sort of thing?

Pictured above, Miss Avery, my little dark beauty. She looks nothing like me! Also pictured, Madeline with Mommy. Is there anything cuter than a baby in a baseball cap? Or a baby trying to help do the paperwork?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Comments on The Comments

First of all, thanks for all of your warm and fuzzy comments about my drinking post. I think drinking issues strike such a chord with people because pretty much everyone knows someone who has an issue with it. And yet it is so hush hush. Yet another thing I wish we could all be more open about.

I remember I went to a doctor once for a check up and he asked “Do you drink?” and I said yes. He followed up with: “How many drinks do you have?” And I replied in an as casual and offhand manner I could muster, “Oh, I don’t know, maybe three or four.” He was jotting down my answers, sort of talking out loud, and said “Ok, so… three… of four drinks…. a week…” and I was talking per night. I didn’t correct him, because I was at that stage (which lasted a long time) when I was aware enough to be embarrassed but not strong enough to admit I had a problem.

But who has one drink a night? Or just two? If you have two, you might as well have three. If you have three, you might as well commit the evening to drinking. Or so I thought, in my twistedness. If I went to a bar, I stayed for at least one hour and I could drink three beers in an hour. That is why I liked to drink at bars: At home, I could see how long it took to drink a bottle of wine (not long) or a case of beer (not much longer). At a bar, you lose track, and that is exactly the point.

Drinks now are in gigantic portions. Wine glasses are the size of a pond. It seems like half a bottle fits into one glass.

So I don’t have to deal with paragraph transitions, here are some bullets:

• “The addiction also kills the people around the troubled soul:” Exactly. Exactly.

• My brief stint with AA: In the beginning, when I was trying so many different ways I quit, I tried AA. I really, really wanted it to be the magic bullet, because I have heard so many positive things and I am a huge fan of community. Besides, I needed support and AA was the only support group I had ever heard of.

But my AA experience was not so great. One of the first meetings I went to was a complete catastrophe. I felt so out of place, even though we all had this invisible thread connecting us, which I thought would compensate for all differences. The meeting started with sharing and the stories were dramatic, appalling and just plain frightening. To wit:

“Hi my name is Bob and I am an alcoholic. I realized I had a problem when I burned down my house when I was drunk. So I was on the streets for seven years and picked up a nasty crack habit. I was hospitalized twelve times but I still didn’t get the message. It wasn’t till I lost my wife, kids, job, family and friends and went to prison after murdering my cousin did I realize I have a problem. I sobered up in prison and here I am.” The details of his story have been changed because, well, it IS supposed to be anonymous, but that really was the basic gist. Then a homeless man stumbled in, literally, smelling like stale smoke and like he was doused in liters of vodka (I don’t care what anyone says: It does have an odor). He passed out in the aisle. Right in the middle of the aisle. A couple of people helped him into a seat, where he proceeded to hurl insults and yell curses throughout the meeting while lighting cigarettes that the moderator kept asking for him to put out.

Then it was my turn, (HI JENNIFER!) and there I was, terrified and confused (what do I say?!), feeling so out of place in my skirt and cardigan and LL Bean backpack. Hell, I might have even been wearing a pearl necklace. In my head I was thinking “This is so not me” and “I don’t really have a problem. These people are the ones with drinking problems. Not me. No no no.” So for a brief and shining period, AA had the ironic effect. I felt myself sliding backwards. I thought I was so different from those people; I thought I was just a girl who drank to much from time to time and ended up dancing on bars. I was fun! Alive! Exciting! A party girl! Drunks are people that get the shakes when all alcohol has evaporated from their system and who wrap forty ounces in paper bags as they troll the streets.

I did try other AA meetings and I never really found a fit. But, I have to admit, I didn’t try too hard because I found it easier to try to slay this particular beast on my own. I couldn’t say “I’m an alcoholic” to a group when I didn’t even like to use those words in my head. Yes, I realize that is the one of the points of AA, to get used to that and deal with that, but I made it through those difficult first months anyway, with Nicole’s support and by sheer will power. Besides, because of my addidictive personality, I was slightly scared of becoming enveloped in the program. I tend to get hooked on things like that.

• Closet Alcoholics.: I probably could have maintained my level of drinking for the rest of my life. I might not even have suffered any health repercussions or job issues or friend loss. I had a relative who was an alcoholic who lived a long and healthy life. I see plenty of examples of functioning alcoholics.

When I stopped, some of my friends and family members were shocked that I even had a “problem.” There are people who still offer me drinks, and when I remind them I don’t drink, they go down that road of “Oh, come on! You don’t have an issue! Just have this glass of wine! You’ll be fine!” Now I keep my mouth shut a lot because I don’t feel like defending my choices and convincing people that I was/am in fact an alcoholic.

Like I said, for me, it was just time to stop. I thought about it (and tried in different ways) to stop for years before I managed to do it. So on one hand, you could say I failed myriad times. Or, on the other, you can say I kicked it cold turnkey. Perspective.

The more I slowed down my drinking, the clearer I saw things. For me, I would throw away the chance to have a relationship with Nicole if I continued to drink. And then, a few months into the Not Drinking Life, my nephew was born and I was slammed with a tidal wave of this new and indescribable love. And he, in his tiny little eight pound package, gave me some will power to continue. I wanted to be around for him, to be Super Aunt, to spend time with him. I didn’t want to make Leif compete with a bar.

After a while, a momentum takes over, and, like I said, I just become enraptured with the clarity of life, and feeling feelings instead of numbing them with drinks or twisting them into a falsely positive light after many glasses of anything and drunken talk. (I was so good at that.) Without the fuzzy lens of alcohol I finally was able to look at my life and see what I needed to change.

Which is not to say there aren’t days when I miss it because there are days when I REALLY do.

Could I have lived a life while still drinking? Yes, and functioning just fine, most of the time. But there were scary nights, like when I fell into the Hudson River and almost drowned. Or the night I stayed out till closing and had a borderline dangerous experience with two men at a bar (thank you , stranger who rescued me). And the liquor-fueled evening that lead me to do things in the middle of First Avenue that I wouldn never consider doing sober. All of the liquor-loosened conversations in my previous relationship, I wish I could rewind and erase them. There were good drinking memories, too. But they were fewer and farther between.

For a while though, I was damn happy as an alcholic. And then I wasn’t. Maybe you will get there yourself. If you want to get there, I am sure you can find so many people (who understand) who would help you.

• Children of Closet Alcoholics: Yep. I second that theory that the damage is incredible. Every person I know you has a drinking problem has a parent who had drinking problem. Every single one.

• Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp: I read it and loved it. It should be required reading for all women who even think they may have a drinking problem. I loved her other books too, especially What Women Want, about how a woman’s appetite for food, work, love and pleasure is shaped by culture. It is so sad that she died. Just when she figured life out, she dies.

• Why Hillary: Neither Barack or Hillary are a perfect fit for me politically. But at the end of the day I would LOVE to see a woman in the White House. I was talking with my friend Chris about it and he brought up an excellent point: This very well could be the last time we see a woman make a legitimate run for president in our lifetime. Once upon a time I was idealistic and thought others would be in the running. Maybe Nancy Pelosi but, wow, Madame Speaker has been a bit of a disappointment, no? I think there are fifteen or sixteen female senators, and I only know that because there was recently one of those “Let’s trot out all the ladies” photo opps. Bottom line, again, I want to see a woman running this country. Even republican, such is my desperation. And I feel like that is not going to happen in my lifetime. Sexism, even more than racism, is still very much alive and kicking in our society. Sad. (that a whole ‘nother post.)

Pictured above, this is the cry face Madeline makes when she is sad. Or disturbed by something loud, like the vacuum cleaner or the blender. In this picture, she was reacting to Avery making one of her loud “Arkkgghhllrrr” grunts. Do you think she will be psychologically scared when she remembers how I laughed when she made these faces?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wishing and Hoping and Drinking and Stopping

Why can’t you stop someone from drinking? Intellectually I know this is impossible and I can hear the echoes of “You can’t make anyone do anything they don’t want to” but I still harbor this hope that it is possible.

I don’t drink anymore. I stopped a while back. August 28th, 2002 to be exact; an anniversary I celebrate every year. I stopped after years of trying. I tried all those crazy things, like drinking only every other day or drinking only on the weekends or drinking only once a week or drinking only at social occasions or drinking only wine. I did those things to prove to myself that I didn’t have a problem, that I could schedule my drinking; that I had power over it and I could stop when I wanted. Ha. All those experiments ended spectacularly bad, usually with me drinking six glasses of scotch at some bar and waking up the next day wondering how I got home.

But I didn’t black out all the time. I was not a fall down, passed-out drunk. That caricature of the alcoholic is so outdated and dangerous, because it makes it easier for others to think if you don’t look like the drunk on the street than you don’t really have a problem. Similarly, that old adage about “if you can’t stop drinking, then you have a problem” is flawed as well. I stopped drinking AND I had a problem. But that sort of logic tricks me into thinking trick “Wait…I don’t really have a problem because I stopped for years! Pass the scotch, I can drink again!”

I could drink all night and go to work the next day. I was fuzzy but I was there. I paid my bills and kept my promises and went to the gym and stayed healthy and fulfilled my obligations. I might have been able to keep it up for the rest of my life. But I probably would be alone.

I stopped on my own. Well, not on my own, with Nicole. I couldn’t have done it without her support and guidance and bright-and-shining example. It was the beginning of our relationship so there was a lot at stake. Nicole had quit drinking a year and a half before and deep down I knew it wouldn’t work with us if I continued to drink. I didn’t want to lose her because I couldn’t say not to a wheat beer with a slice of lemon. But Nicole wasn’t the only motivating factor: I wanted to stop for myself too. I didn’t want to feel fuzzy anymore; I didn’t want to dull my emotions and reactions anymore and schedule my evening or weekend around what bar I was going to.

So it was hard and after years of stops and starts I finally quit for good. And it felt so much better, for me. The best way I can describe it (cliché as it is) is that when I was drinking I was in this fog and when I stopped that fog lifted. I became addicted to the this new clarity. It is addicting as well.

Now I see all these celebrities in rehab and I am almost jealous. I had to battle my own drinking demons from the confines of my own home, in the very living room where I once got drunk, and through the very city streets packed with bars and liquor stores on every corner. All of my bad habits and patterns were right in front of me. Celebrities get to kick their addiction in spa-like havens with pools, saunas, gourmet meals, round-the-clock attention and daily mountain hikes. They can check out of their lives for months on end if they want. Me, like most people, had to deal with drinks out with friends and coworkers and dinners with wines and all the triggers from the get go. In the end we are all battling the same thing, no matter where you are, and it is ridiculous to feel jealous of how someone else battles their disease. But I still hear about these celebrities going through rehab and think how lucky they are to have that opportunity.

I am at the point where I know I will never drink again. I can go to bars and be around others drinking and sit at a backyard BBQ and not feel like I am missing something. Sometimes in my dreams I drink, and that is disturbing. I wake up in a panic, because it feels so very real. It isn’t hard most of the time, not drinking. But there are days (and nights) when I think how much would love to sit at a bar with Nicole and just drink till I get the buzzed feeling. Or on a cold winter night to be able to have a glass of scotch, straight up. I love the way it felt going down. It was like drinking a burning fire at first. By the third sip or so, that fire became a became a hazy liquid gold. It was like drinking sunshine.

The whole point of this is that I feel so helpless sometimes because there is someone in my life who drinks and I want desperately for her to stop. I don’t want to name names but those who have read my blog in the past probably know of whom I speak. It makes me feel helpless. It sometimes makes me feel bitter. It’s not that MY way of life is the only way to live, and I get that people should be allowed to live their own lives, in ways I may not approve of, and it may work for them just fine, but when it directly affects me (as it has in the past) I get upset. The question is, how do I watch the destructive patterns play out and not do anything? How do I pretend like it doesn’t exist when I see her or talk to her, especially when she is drunk? Ignoring it is dangerously close to denial for me, and that is repeating bad patterns of my own.

Pictured above, if I didn’t stop drinking (and if 10,000 fertility planets didn’t align) I would never have these babies. Not a bad trade-off.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Screaming Into the [Political] Wind. Or, Why I Am Disenfranchised

Below is an email I sent to Hillary Headquarters. It is self explanatory, I think. By posting it, I am ensuring my eyes aren’t the only ones that reach the bottom. It makes me feel a little better.

When the CIA starts tapping my phone calls, this letter will probably be the reason why. I reread it and thought, "It doesn't sound like it was written by a maniac,” but who knows what secret clues they look for in email missives. Besides, we all have our own definitions of maniac.

Lest you think I have too much time on m hands, I pounded this out in about ten minutes. Thus the repetitiveness.

Above is a picture of me at the White House a few years back. Guess I won’t be invited there anytime soon.


Recently I received an email from here asking me to respond and write about how the economic catastrophe is affecting my family. In turn, the email said, I would be told how Hillary Clinton’s economic policies/ideas could help my family.

So I responded. And I wrote a lot—probably more than anyone wanted to read—but it felt good to have the chance to unpack the ideas in my head and process the myriad ways a multitude of bad decisions on the current administration’s part has affected my life.

As I hit “send,” part of me thought, I am just screaming into the wind. No one really reads these emails and no one really cares about my bottom line but me and my family. The other part of me thought, wow, a politician has asked ME about how the economy affects MY life. A politician—a person we will elect to make decision on behalf of us—actually cares and wants to listen. I felt that renewed sense of hope that has eluded me for most of the past seven years.

But then, no response. I didn’t think about for a while, but after a few weeks, then more, I became very disappointed and disenfranchised again.

I am a realistic person. I know this wasn’t a personal email from Hillary. I know that her campaign officials aren’t sitting around a table saying, “You know what? Let’s email Jennifer and see how she is doing. Let’s get HER opinions on matters before we move forward.” And I know Hillary wasn’t sitting around saying “Did she email back yet? Did she respond??” Emails, though, they play tricks on you. You feel a sense of connection, a personal connection, even when you know an email is being sent to millions.

But I did expect, at the very least, some sort of canned response. Would it have been so difficult to send out an automatic reply cc’d to everyone with some of the fine points of Hillary’s economic plan? Something pithy but poignant, short and sweet. Something that said in a simple way “We hear and we cared.” Isn't this what Mail Merge was created for?

Yes, we voters are a needy bunch. But a silly little economic free-write email gave me hope again, and then snatched it back. I know, it seems extreme, my reaction to this, but these are precarious times and we voters out here feel vulnerable. There are many ways to feel disenfranchised and marginalized. I am looking to hitch my hope on anything, and, believe it or not, that email was something.

I am a democrat, through and through, and at New York’s primary, I voted for Hillary. At election time, I will vote for whoever gets the party’s nomination, and I hope it is Hillary. I realize I am expendable now, and no one at her campaign headquarters has the need or impetus to sway me because I am firmly in her camp already. It’s just sad, though, because for a fraction of a second I felt that hope again. I felt the tide changing and I felt a difference and it felt so good to believe again. And, yes, one silly little emailed request for my economic story did all of that for me. Like I said, we voters are a needy, vulnerable, desperate-for-something bunch.

I know that even now I am just screaming into the wind again. I don’t expect a reply. I imagine that not a single set of eyes but my own have reached the bottom of this letter. But I wanted to get this off my chest. And now I can get back to my life.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

View From The Top

Sorting through some computer files, I came across this not-so-lovely log, from exactly two years ago to the date:

Friday Feb 17th 2006: Started bleeding in the morning. Dull pain in left side. Cramping and lots of internal pressure. Had difficulty walking and sitting was very hard. Blacked out twice during the day (one complete black-out; a second was an intense dizzy spell but I could still see.) Pain was coming in waves. I think I took 3 pills. It felt like a balloon was expanding in me. Felt weird spasms. Intense, intense pain between around 10 am and 4 pm. At 4 pm I fell asleep. When I woke up an hour and a half later I felt slightly better. Still pressure though. Couldn’t cough or sneeze without causing pain.

What a time warp. All that pain turned out to be an ectopic, which meant the D&C I had over a month before just eliminated one baby, and not the surprise one in my tube. January and February and most of March of 2006 was just one living nightmare. I never thought I would make it out of that pit. Hell, the whole year was a pit.

Last night I went to Persepolis and it was awesome. I love that in this age of ultra-fancy cartoons, something can be stripped to its bare bones and still be beautiful and entertaining. It was such a great story from beginning to end. I know that two-sentence review won’t exactly cause a stampede to the next showing, but it is so worth seeing if it is playing in a theater near you or, at the very least, when it shows up on cable.

I have a connection to Iran now, since our donor was born in Iran. He is not Iranian, though, he is 100 percent Armenian, to match Nicole’s heritage. Apparently there is an enclave of Armenians in Iran. Or, was an enclave. I have no idea what is going on there now. Our donor must have left (but he was living there during the revolution, I surmise) and somehow ended up where he ended up in America. The randomness of it all, it boggles my mind, that there was some random Armenian boy born in Iran who grew up to someday provide the genetic material I needed to have babies with the random girl in my high school who randomly became the love of my life. Life never makes sense in linear moments but looking at the time line from above, I can really see how everything—the good, the bad and the heartbreaking—all happened for a reason. I imagine that wherever the donor is, he might have seen Perseopolis, because of his own heritage. It’s all so strange.

And here’s a conversation that our parents didn’t have: We are discussing the whole sibling registry thing. We are going back and forth because this isn’t a decision to take lightly. I have read such wonderful stories, though. The question is, do we want to add this dynamic to our family for the girls? Of course, I have no idea if there are any registrees with our donor, so all this talk is speculation over whether or not for us to register.

Pictured above, what $1200 a night is NYC looks like. This is a view from the top floor (54th) of the Mandarin Hotel, a super swanky and chic hotel a few blocks form our home. This room, on the top floor, has an amazing view of Central Park and, on the other side, the Hudson River. Look how tiny the cabs look! It was like looking at a miniature world in a snow globe, without the snow. Alas, it wasn’t our room: It was a old friend’s room, who has a pretty big secret of her own.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Custody Agreements and Unfunded Foundations

Nicole reminded me that Valentine’s Day is a Hallmark Holiday, so I guess I have thank Hallmark executives for my new iPod. My Hallmark thank-you card is in the mail.

In general, I am on the fence at V Day. Part of me wants the flowers and candy and gifts and dinner at the ridiculously romantic One If By Land because that is what Society tells me I want, and I am, sadly, very good as listening to Society and caving into Peer Pressure (hello, eighth-grade perm). The other part of me wants to eschew all that and purposefully ignore the day, refusing to buy into the superficiality of it all. In the end, I lean slightly toward the later because flowers die and I am not a chocolate fanatic and I don’t really like lightly smoked quail a la plancha with jicama kim chee and peanut aioli. But I don’t really like to eliminate the idea of the gifting aspect of the day because Nicole is very good at picking out very good presents for me.

So last night was an oh-so-romantic dinner of pizza and Dr. Pepper for us, which is fine by me. My nephew and niece called to wish us a happy Valmintime’s Day, which was adorable. And besides the appearance on the stunningly beautiful new iPod in our house, yesterday was just another day.

Embracing the best of the holiday, I did have a few moments of gratitude for our relationship. Perhaps I have Lexapro to thank for that? When I was younger I never understood why some couples would separate after dealing with huge issues, like death. I thought it would just bring people closer. It wasn’t until going though TTC and miscarriages did I actually realize that it is so easy to get sucked into the dark vortex of depression and misery and spiral into going your separate ways. That is why we said the last IVF we did would be our last: We saw the toll this process was taking on us and felt the distance between us growing. How much more could we take? If we didn’t stop or take a long break, our relationship would have been shredded. I was not happy at all about that decision, but what good would it do to bring children into our relationship if our relationship eventually fell apart? Or, if we never had children, was it worth it to destroy what we had for something that couldn’t happen? It was a gamble, and I was gambling the best thing that happened to me for the chance (and it was just a chance) to make it even better. It’s like winning big in Vegas and throwing it all on the roulette table on red.

Of course, the happy ending was the last IVF worked, miracle of miracles, times two, and here we are. If the IVF didn’t work, I am certain she would have glued us back together and made us better. I am so grateful for Nicole and who she is and everything she does. I attribute the success of our relationship completely on her stability and patience. I am the storm and she is the calm. I fall apart and she stays together. She makes me want to be a better person. I feel so ridiculously lucky sometimes. I said to her the other day I would gladly sign a legal paper saying in the event of separation I will relinquish all rights to our children because I am that certain it will never happen.

Besides, if she hasn’t left because of my ridiculous eating habits than nothing could drive her away. Everyone jokes how I am a cheap date because I don’t not really enjoy most foods. It’s funny how bland my food tastes are, especially considering my parents and brother will all eat anything that comes in front of them. They are a bunch of extra rare-meat eating, sushi-loving, raw-oyster gulping, carnivorous Republicans. I am definitely the black sheep of the family. I once went out for a tastings menu dinner here and course after course arrived, these stunning little dishes with microscopic portions of beautifully appointed foods, and I couldn’t eat a single one OR drink the vodka served in bewteen. Chicken (and turkey) is the only meat I eat, and even then, it has to be off the bone and with no skin or fat and cooked just right. I don’t like mayonnaise. I don’t like creamy salad dressings. I don’t like sushi or mushrooms or most breakfast cereals or sausage or toppings on pizza. And I wouldn’t even eat chicken cutlets cooked with breadcrumbs until last year. I live mainly on variations of breads and chicken and apples and pretzels, so it is amazing that I can keep weight on me at all. Poor Nicole is subjected to my tastes, since I am the one who cooks, and if it weren’t for take out, I think she might protest.

A woman was just on the Today Show because she is suing Best Buy for 54 million because they lost her laptop. They gave her about four thousand dollars and a $500 gift card, but she decided to sue anyway and claims it isn’t for the money. Are we EVER going to see lawsuit reform in this country? I know she has a snowball’s chance in hell of winning but still, I look at people stuck in the cycle of poverty or people struggling in the awful economy and people working two or three jobs to make a better life for the family and can’t help but think that woman is about greed greed greed. I have yet to hear one story of a person suing “Not for money; for the principle” start any sort of foundation to further said principle or donate said money to another worthwhile charity. If you have heard of such a story, please share.

Thanks for the hair advice. I never would have know to look for “golden” or “warm” in the name! Insider’s tips! Those are exactly the sort of things I needed to read. Maybe I will try this weekend.

Pictured above, Miss Avery has learned a few things form her sister, including carrying toys in her mouth. First the pacifier and now this.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Money Made You Mean

It’s rainy and gray here and all the pretty snow that fell last night is a slushy mess on the street. The girls are sleeping in their cribs (Stop the presses: At the same time!) so I’m cooking up a double batch of broccoli rabe for dinner. I make it the same exact way Nicole does but hers always tastes 100 times better. I think all food tastes better when someone else makes it for you.

I had a bad Mommy moment last night. Ugh. Nothing like filling up with unnecessary anger to make you feel like the worst mother in the world. It was past bedtime and Avery was having a hard time getting to sleep. This is the second night in a row that she has decided to scream through being put down in her crib. Her crying woke Maddie a couple times so I was dealing with both for a while (since Nicole was at a promotion celebration at work, I was on my own). The situation was exacerbated by the fact that Avery stands up in her crib and can’t get down, so even if we wanted to let her cry it out we can’t because we need to help her get down.

I feel like I have no right to complain because we have been putting both girls down at night with zero issues for the longest time. They are so good about just rolling on their little sides and going to sleep. Two-nights-in-a-row hardly an issue makes.

But last night, no luck. I was tired and hungry and had about ten things to do before I could just sit down and relax. I needed Avery to sleep, even if she didn’t feel like it at the moment.

So I walked with her and sat with her and rocked with her and did everything I could think of to get her to relax. She wasn’t happy in any position and kept crawling out of my arms and then back into them, in this “I want you/I don’t want you” manic cycle. I got to the point where I was asking her questions and half expecting her to answer: “What do you want?! What do you need?! Why can’t you sleep?!” The low point was when I put her on the floor in the dark living room and just walked out. She cried more and started crawling in the dark to where I went. I came to my senses in about five seconds, and, feeling like a monster, picked her back up and walked around with her shooshing until she feel asleep in my arms, an hour and a half after Madeline.

Nothing like things like that to make you feel like a shitty, ungrateful parent. But today is another day, and all I can do is try again. No one (and no book, no movie, no blog) prepares you for what that feels like, that pressure to be a good parent, to stop the cycle of issues imparted onto me, to give more than what I was given, to do everything in my power to make their lives (and Nicole’s) a good one. I see and hear myself do and say things sometimes and recognize the dysfunction in my words and actions. I literally have to stop and try to rewind the situation. I’m trying to teach them, by my example and my reactions and my affection, but really they are the ones teaching me.

On a completely different note, does anyone have any experience with hair color in a box? If I want to make my brownish hair lighter-ish, which means stripping it of some color, can I use a box for that? I don’t have the time or patience really to have my base done and highlights added every six weeks. And every time I have my hair colored it comes out with a reddish tint.

I see all those happy little boxes of instant new-and-improved self-esteem on the shelves of my Duane Reade and think, could it work for me? My hair stylist says that it is crazy to try but why would he want me to think I can do it myself for $7.99 when he can do it for me for $250 plus tip? The time and effort and money to upkeep lighter hair just seems so… time-consuming and laborious and expensive. So any hair color-in-a-box suggestions are most appreciated.

Pictured above, Avery found her sister’s pacifier and finally figured out what to do with it! I look at her little face, made extra cute with that pacifier, and think “how could I be such a monster?!” Also pictured, my hair color as it is now. Well, as it was back in August, but it is the same color, just with more gray.

And the blog title is in reference to the Indigo Girl song playing when I went to hit publish. I’m too uninspired today to come up with a title and that seemed just fine.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Information Age: 1; Passions: 0

Today I am mourning the sad and inevitable milestone: I am not the center of my five-year-old nephew’s world. Perhaps today was an aberration but deep down, I know the tide has started to shift.

Leif and I have a mutual admiration society. Parting ways is traumatic for both of us, and usually involves tears on his part and sometimes mine. We invented a very long goodbye ritual, which includes a lengthy “Last nose kiss; last eye kiss; last chin kiss” routine that can go on for minutes.

But today, Leif couldn’t take his eyes off of his new video game (heretofore to be mockingly referred to as NinPlayBox ) as I tried unsuccessfully to get him to hug me goodbye. He was like a little zombie with his new obsession. It was awful, watching his little hands use those controls. He was in love, and it wasn’t me. I am consoled with the fact that while I was with him, he did dance with me and cuddle with me and sit on my lap and show me his drawings. But how long until that is over too? How soon until I am completely erased by video games and iPods and other electronic distractions? I love my iPod and computer, my own electrical distractions, but not at the sacrifice of other people, lest of all people whose ages are in the single digits.

Nicole and I were talking about the changing tide at dinner and it made me think how the Information Age is destroying society bit by bit. Well, maybe that is an exaggeration, but it sure seems like it. Nicole’s dad said something interesting at Thanksgiving, about how eBay ruined collecting for him. He is an avid collector of many things, a passion he passed onto Nicole. But, he said, collecting was more fun when he had to seek out what he collected, by going to stores and flea markets and estate sales and garage sales. It was a treasure hunt. I can see how it would be gratifying to find that final baseball card to finish off a team or a set, how rewarding that would be. At long last, finding the final piece to a passion puzzle. Now all you have to do is type in “Luke Gehrig 1933 Yankees card mint Goudey” on Google or eBay or whatever and BOOM there’s your card, the last piece. No seeking or hunting or searching or trial-and-error or exploring required. Where is the fun in that?

Lately I have become enamored with making a quilt. I love the idea of learning to sew and making beautiful patchwork creations. Back in the day (way back, like junior high) when a passion like this was born I would nurture it without leaving a carbon footprint. For example, I wanted to learn how to cross stitch when I was in 10th grade. So I hopped on my bike, rode to the only fabric store the next town over and talked to the owner about how to get started. She helped me select needles and a pattern and thread and showed me how to tie an end knot and thread a needle. She walked me through the process, in that stuffy little store that smelled like my grandmother’s house. I peddled home and by the flickering glow of the television (no Tivo, lots of commercials, small carbon footprint) in the solitude of my room and I started creating.

But now, the idea of learning something new, like quilting, is overwhelming. There are three shelves of quilting books at Borders. Google “how to make a quilt” and you’ll get 859,000 sites: That is almost a million sites to wade through to find the one that Speaks To Me. There is an entire neighborhood in New York City dedicated to fabrics and buttons and notions. There are gorgeous Japanese fabrics with hedgehogs or giraffes or elephants or mushrooms or trees or fruit, and that is just from the first page of a fabric emporium web site. Etsy and Crafster, two of my favorite craft sites, have volumes and volumes of information and ideas, each so different and nuanced that I don’t even know which I like best. There are hundreds of blogs with step-by-step pictures and instructions. I can’t even imagine where to begin, so I focus on buying a sewing machine, and find myself stuck in Square One because I’m having a hard time narrowing down what sewing machine to get. So I put this budding passion into a holding pattern until something just clicks.

And now, it is as if each on of my passions waned as the information age waxed. Even one of my favorite passions is taking a hit. My first exposure (ha ha) to photography was through my father and his now-ancient 35 millimeter Pentax camera. He created a dark room and showed me how to develop pictures. I was judicious with taking pictures because film cost money and developing each print cost money too. The one exception is when I took 13 rolls of film in the “It’s a Small World” attraction in Disneyland because I was absolutely floored by how amazing I thought it was and couldn’t wait to share it with the rest of the world. I thought no one would believe me unless I provided evidence. My, how my tastes have changed.

Today, I think nothing of taking 200 pictures (or more) in a single day on my digital camera. I’ve been known to top that at weddings and other festive events. I took many variations of the picture above, trying to get the perfect shot. And when I don’t get the perfect shot, I can fix it all with a click of the mouse pad, so I don’t even have to bother to learn about lighting or shutter speed. But I really want to learn those things, so I think about taking a photography course, but, once again, I am overwhelmed by the options. And when I get overwhelmed, I tend to do nothing.

I just miss my passions and I miss having new ones.

Amy Winehouse is performing on the Grammys tonight and I am so excited. I hope she sings tears Dry On Their Own. I like that song a thousand times more than Rehab.

Pictured above, the weekend’s Crème Brule French Toast. It was very very sweet. Here’s the recipe. Alas, it wasn’t all that it was hyped up to be. The bottom part was delicious, but the top was a little soggy. I think I need to fine tune it. Regardless, it won't be my signature breakfast. So the hunt continues. Don’t even get me started on how overwhelming Epicurious.com is.

Below that a picture of me in Leif in the Cozy Days. Of all the pictures, I select this one because I look ridiculous. In my defense, let me say that camel rides are bumpy. I hope these days aren't gone.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Back in [Blog]Business

You would think I won the lottery, having the internet back. It was the highlight of my week. The Cable Man came this afternoon, and it was touch-and-go for a bit, while he tried to narrow down the issue. Avery and I sat on the couch, tense, watching those damn blinking lights, waiting for full power to come back. Well, I was tense, but Avery was quite wary of the strapping man. She stared at him, without blinking for minutes on end, wide-eyed and stunned, the entire time he was here.

I was so giddy when it came back up. I’m still floating on Cloud 9. I have a lot of blogs and emails to catch up on. Not to mention phone calls. And letters. And visits…..

When I can’t fit into a bathing suit this summer please remind me that I made my own bed, mainly out of pasta, cheese, peanut butter, ice cream, Junior Mints and pretzels. Right now marinating in the fridge is Crème Brule French toast, a marvelous concoction that includes a stick of butter, half and half, five eggs, and a cup of brown sugar. I got the recipe off the Today Show, the morning program I love to mock. I also made a cake tonight, for no reason, and just finished my first slice. So the weekend’s menu includes cake with buttery chocolate frosting and Crème Brule French toast with buttery everything. It’s all downhill from here.

Nighttimes have been very disrupted by Madeline, who is going through Something that requires our constant nocturnal attention. Two more teeth are coming in, and I am not sure of their formal name, but I think of them as her fangs, as they flank her two front middle teeth, so maybe that is it. Who knows, really. She slept with us one night, snuggled between us, and I absolutely loved it. We have a No Baby Left Behind policy, so I was reluctant to keep Avery in her crib all alone, but we all can’t fit in the bed. The next night, Nicole said no, but when she cried, Nicole went and got her and brought her to our bed and told me sternly, “This is the last night.” Maddie turned toward me and nuzzled all night long. Night Three, Madeline wakes again, and Nicole dealt with her and got her back to sleep, but I got her during the second cry-out and ended up just sleeping with her on the couch. After getting over the wonder that is a couch cushion, Madeline fell into a deep sleep. Avery sleeps twelve hours, with very few exceptions, thank goodness, but I have had children long enough to know that can change in a moment. The lack of consistent, quality sleep, though, is getting to me (and Nicole).

Lexapro is going well. I feel stable, for lack of a better word, like I don’t want to run into the oncoming traffic of chaos and confusion. I feel like my reactions to things are a little less emotional. I feel less overwhelmed. I have avoided a couple of confrontations of sorts that I would, in normal circumstances, just jumped into, like a cow to the slaughter. (Yes, I am the cow in that scenario). This could be for a plethora of reasons, but I credit Lexapro. It’s been almost a month I think, so those little dolls must be working close to peak performance.

I am so glad it is Friday. By the end of the week, I am ready for Nicole to be home with us, for the dynamic to change, for the adult company, for family time.

Pictured above, The Today show missed the mark once again with this graphic, designed to show men how to measure their waistline to determine if they are at risk for heart disease. On one hand, you think, hurray, this is a step forward! But mocking men, making fun of their bodies, it isn’t appropriate either. You would never, ever see a graphic depicting a woman looking like that. No matter how realistic it would be to have a graphic of a not-stick-thin woman—one the most of the female American population can relate to—the powers that be would never agree. Instead, the women will have a stick thin graphic and the jolly men have this jolly graphic. This might be over the top, and I find it subversive. What would Gloria Steinem think of it? There is more to all of this than meets the eye…

Why didn’t I take an Women’s Studies courses in College?

Also pictured, the Girls on Canvas. My father sent it from China, where he lives. It is quite large, as you might be able to tell. The canvas, not China. Well, China is large too. Anyway, it is not framed yet, and I Blue Taped it to the wall (crooked) but I don’t think it is staying. Nicole says it is too big. A picture without a home….

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Can’t there a more modern and efficient way to vote in this country? It just seems so messy. No one asked me for identification: I just showed up, told them my address and name and signed on the dotted line. They gave me a voter card, which I then handed right back to them (there must be some sort of law that states I must touch the card) before I stepped into the Vote-a-Tron machine. The machines we use look like something out of , I don’t know, Communist Russia. That giant lever, that dirty vinyl curtain, the weird mini knobby things? Pulling the lever over all the way to the right, it makes the loudest chunk-chunk sound. It just seems so shady. Is this really the best and most accurate way to record my vote? I feel like we might as well go back to the system of dropping colored marbles into a jar.

Nicole and I brought the girls, who were the punch line of many “Starting young, eh?” jokes, as well as the “starting early, eh?” joke, which I wasn’t sure were referring to their tender age or the fact that it was barely seven in the morning. The Democratic Inspector (the best title I’ve heard in a long time) showed a fondness for the girls and was filled with all sorts of advice, including the horrifying suggestion that we should let the girls chew on chicken bones to help with teething.

Our internet is not working properly, which means I don’t even know if I can post this. Cable can’t make it to our apartment to fix it (hopefully) until Friday. So until then, we have very intermittent service. When I do get online I have no idea if I have three seconds or three hours. I know I don’t comment much, but I read so many blogs in the pockets of free moments in my day and it is torturing me, not being able to check in on other people’s lives.

I had another feminist existential breakdown watching the Tuesday’s Today Show. I know I could just change the channel, but the other options are really not much better. There needs to be a televison version of NPR (PBS doesn’t cut msuter).

They keep extending these morning news shows—The Today Show is up to four hours—so that means they need to fill these four hours. The end resut is ridiculous, empty, worthless segments.

It’s a pet peeve of mine, but I am tired these shows that beg you to stayed tuned, and promise to show you how to fight insomnia after the break, promising solutions, and then they showcase the same advice we have heard for a century. Don’t eat a big meal before bed. Don’t drink caffeine later in the day. Try a hot bath or warm milk. Don’t stress. Make your bed a cozy and comfortable haven. This is new? These are solutions? I take issue with the “Don’t drink alcohol” right before you sleep advice: Speaking from experience, drink enough alcohol and you will have no trouble sleeping through the night and most of the next day.

My feminist breakdown started with a segment on dressing, during which one expert offered this stunning advice: Accentuate your good body features: Because I thought of drawing a giant red bull’s eye around my “flaws” and accentuating them. Can I go back to the concept that men’s bodies are never discussed in terms of their so-called flaws? Or as fruits. We women are described as pear-shaped, apple-shaped, bottom heavy, top heavy and, my favorite, boy-shaped, because apparently our lexicon is so limited that we can’t think of adjectives that describe our body that doesn’t nod to our paternalistic society. And all of these descriptor are said in a negative way. Men’s bodies are rarely discussed, and if they are they are never referred to as “squash shaped” or heaven forbid, “girl-shaped.”

There was also a segment on the various treatments women can pursue to prevent and hide wrinkles, blotches, “turkey wattle” and other imperfection on the neck. Great, all this time I have been worrying about my hips and thighs and butt and waist and chest and ankles and face. I never even thought of what an eyesore my neck is. What’s next? My toes? After said neck segment, they offered a second segment called “Dressing Your Neck,” and showed how to wear scarves and turtlenecks to HIDE your ugly neck. The first model said her issue is that she has aged and her neck has gotten gaunt and skinny. By the way, she was 45 years old, so I guess “aged” women are those in their 40s. The solution created for her by the stylists: They added hair extensions (!), put her in layered shirts and drew attention away from her ugly ass neck with a tangle of 10 or 15 necklaces. Is this for real? Do people really add hair extensions to distract people from the supposed train wrecks that are their necks? Does this really happen?

I dragged myself out of my cozy home on Monday night and saw There Will be Blood. It was amazing. I am dying to talk about it with someone who has seen it! It was great in ways that I can’t describe, so limited is my film vocabulary and background. I think I can safely say it is an instant classic. The soundtrack blew me away; I bought it yesterday.

Pictured above is nothing, as I am sure that the internet will crap out before I can load up a picture.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Enemy Number One, In a Line of Many

On my way to drop off the recyclables down the hall, I realized I might have a problem. In my hands was a pizza box, an empty carton of International Food Coffee Creamer in Non Fat Vanilla (aka, creamy coffee sludge) and an empty two liter of Diet Dr. Pepper, that delicious nectar of the chemical gods. Since, I am not in training for the Olympics or incubating life, I hardly feel the need to go over my diet in excruciating detail. But a closer look at it might be in order.

The coffee sludge was introduced to me over the summer at my friend’s Jen’s house. We were sitting in her backyard enjoying lunch and nature and good weather. She brought out iced espresso, which is completely unappealing to me, as I am not a fan of bitter. She then produced an oversized wholesale-club sized container of Nonfat vanilla creamer, which rendered the espresso so palatable that I was instantly addicted to it. I went from a person who drinks coffee dark, hot, no sugar, to a person who drinks coffee so light with so much creamer that it looks almost like milk and is about as tepid, since adding that much cold creamer to a hot substance substantially lowers the temperature of said hot liquid. It’s bad.

A commenter suggested I post everything that I eat for one week, to see if what I eat contributes to my severe insomnia. Intriguing idea, but it makes me feel so exposed. All of my bad habits would be right there for all to see/read, and then I couldn’t live in denial, as I am fond of doing. The coffee sludge is just the tip of the bad-habit iceberg. For example, I’d have to admit that while I am typing this I am eating 100 percent corn, bite-sized tortilla rounds, something that I wouldn’t normally crave or eat, and am only doing so right now because they are in my home. Yes, I’m one of those.

I would have to admit that I stopped drinking water. I used to drink two or three Nalgenes a day. I finished my first Nalgene by 8 in the morning. Now, I drink pretty much no water. I go from coffee (with the aforementioned awful creamer thing) in the morning to Dr. Pepper in the late morning/afternoon/evening. No water, no juice, no milk, no nothing else. I know, not healthy. And there are plenty of other bad eating habits that I have picked up over the years.

While I tend to think it is the two babies that live in the bedroom next to ours who cause (directly and indirectly) my sleeping issues, I can admit that perhaps food and drink plays a part. So I might try that, writing it all down and posting it for all to see. At the very least, it will force me to really look at what I am putting in my body. I tend to think I am a healthy eater, and for the most part I am, but when I am carrying Dr. Pepper empties and pizza boxes and empty vanilla creamers to the recycling I have to start rethinking my definition of healthy.

It’s sad, but I discovered that it was snowing outside by watching the Today Show. That is how little I look out the windows in this apartment, how disconnected I am from nature and the world outside sometimes. On a side note, can someone explain how the weather forecasters are telling me that it might rain later today and tomorrow and even five days down the road, but they somehow missed the fact there was a weather system right now that would produce snow? Is weather really this much of a mystery for us?

There is a story on the news today saying how chemicals in baby soaps and shampoos may cause infertility later in life. So baby powder is the latest addition in a long line of fertility gremlins. I’m sure many more tests will come out to prove or disprove this, but I’m not taking chances. I have been using wet paper towels instead of wipes since the girls were born because, to me, it just felt wrong to expose two of their orifices (they don’t have many) to an onslaught of chemical-soaked wiping towels. I’m not quite sure what is in wipes and that makes me nervous. I’m not saying that those who use wipes are throwing their children in the line of fire. But for us, we decided that paper towels and water were just fine. Of course, the bleach in paper towels might in the long run cause its own version of nasty damage. It’s all about picking and choosing your environment and chemical battles, I guess. For me, wipes, bad; Pop Tarts, good. There are flaws in my approaches. People who use cloth diapers are my heroes. I wasn’t brave enough, considering I had the two obstacles of having twins and not having a washer/dryer in my own home.

At last check, Secrets comments up to 66! I will neither confirm nor deny that maybe one of mine is buried in there...

Ugh, I just got my second mini bowl of 100 percent corn, bite-sized tortilla rounds. This is not a good start.

Pictured above, sour cream donuts, which is another thing that I will consume mass quantities of if they magically appear in my home. By “mass quantities,” I mean all of them and by “magically appear,” I mean I buy them.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Letting One of the Cats (Kitten, Really) Out of The Bag

The Secret. It’s going to be anticlimactic and most of you will be disappointed because it isn’t really juicy or salacious or terribly deep and dark. But it is life-changing, at least for us it is. So without further ado, we are buying my mother’s house.

OK, now that my heart has started beating again, let me explain. Or rather, let my bullet list explain:

• First and foremost, we are not selling our apartment in the city and we will continue to live here. Leaving NYC anytime soon will cause a minor heart attack. Because we are insane, we will be paying two mortgages instead. Well, to be more accurate Nicole will be paying two mortgages, since I get paid in that cliché way of kisses and hugs, which the banks aren’t accepting as payment these days (thanks, subprime crisis).

• Yesterday was Bonus Day and Nicole got promoted to the very fancy title of Executive Director. This is a big deal in corporate world and in our own little world as well. And this is her second promotion in three years, which makes her a bit of a rock star and legend. She is such a hard worker and is so good at what she does. She has succeeded in a male-dominated industry (in fact, I think of her 30-plus employees, only ONE is a woman). I am so proud of her, and so proud of the example she is setting for our daughters, who have no idea that they are sitting and pooping on the lap of a Super Fancy Executrix, now Ultra Deluxe Edition. I hope they grow up to be just like her, but with a stronger interest in Lifetime movies.

• This house-buying event is a financial bail-out for my mother. She isn’t working (limited prospects for a woman in her 60s) and the only money she has is the equity in her house. She did the whole home equity line of credit thing and has spent most of that money, just on day-to-day expenses. We can’t sit back and watch a selling-short scenario (it hasn’t gotten close to that yet, but it could, in this economy) or a foreclosure scenario or watch her sell it for WAY less than it is worth just to get out of it. My mother has no savings, no 401(k) and no retirement money. Nothing at all. She is counting on Social Security to get her through to, oh, death. Without an intervention, she is certain to be yet another by product of this shitty economy. Thanks, President Bad Decisions. (perspective: some people have paid for these bad decisions with their lives.)

• So we will buy the house and take over the upkeep, etc. And my mother will continue to live there. Then one of two things happen: When kindergarten comes, we move out there, completely gut the place and renovate it (it is so dark, literally and figuratively) and get my mom a condo in the area. And the girls will attend grow up in the same town I did (and one town over from where Nicole grew up). Or. Perhaps if the real estate market corrects itself, we sell the house, my mom gets a small house or condo and we buy something else out there in that area. Well, and then there is the third possible option of moving somewhere else in the tri-state area, but we are wondering where the logic is in moving to a place where we have no friends or family. Bottom line, we will have to move at some point, and there is as good a place as any.

• Sour grapes: The color palette of that town is mainly shades of white, pink and light beige, if you know what I mean. Not a lot of ethnic diversity. I don’t want my girls growing up like that. Plus, we will most likely be the only two-mommy family, and, let’s face it, I’m not exactly a trailblazer or have dreams of being the Norma Rae of Somewhat Conservative Suburbia. And there is lots of old, old, old money (the median household income is 220K), which means lots of Rolls and Bentleys and Ferraris driving around to tell you that your car isn’t fancy enough. Also, did I mention it is my hometown? And the house I grew up in? The one in which I don’t have the best of memories? And Nicole’s commute to work in NYC will be just short of two hours each way? Because even though this town is a mere 30 miles away it takes forever to get there by train (driving on the LIE every day is not a sane option).

• Lemonade: I have some friends who live within a ten-minute range; friends that I have been friends with for more than two decades. My other super close friends still have parents who live in the area and so they make frequent trips back there. Nicole also has friends in the area. And Nicole’s sister and our niece and nephew are a town over. It is a beautiful town and it has a great school system. The girls would have a good childhood there, filled with nature and beaches and maybe nights of playing Capture the Flag in a backyard. (Is it me, or is that a game that really has no real rules? I feel like no two people play it the same way.)

Of course, all we need now is bank approval. There are lots of rules and laws and regulations, thanks to the new, tighter, post-sub prime economy. Gone are the go-go days of unlimited credit and sky-high mortgages and who could forget the leveraging issues of the 80s?

So that is the big secret. One of them, anyway. (Who's to say that one of my secrets isn't buried anonymously in the Secrets and lies post?) Like I said, it may not seem like a big deal for many people, but it is for us. There are so many layers here, which will all come out in the near future. I am grateful that we are able to swing this, financially, and that my girlfriend is ready and willing to do something like this for my mother. I can’t even begin to explain how it makes me feel. This is not “oh, I’ll pay that cable bill.” This is “I will save your mother’s financial life and her only asset and seek nothing to gain myself.” That pretty much sums up who my girlfriend is. That, and the words “Executrix” and “Bad Sci-Fi Movie Watcher.”

Above, Madeline covered in stars. She uses her fist to push them from her face into her mouth, and if there is anything cuter than that, I don’t know what it is. Her Aunt Jenni made her this delicious vegetable soup with pastina concoction and she loved it! Avery, on the other hand, is not as good with the chewing thing. I put four little stars on her tongue and the poor thing choked on them. She stares at me all wide-eyed with this look of “what now?” while I look right back with panic and start pounding on her back.

**By the way, it's up to 54 secrets in the comments below! Some of the secrets are making me very sad. The woman who was sexually abused by her father; the closest alcoholic; the woman who is sexually harassed by her friend's husband. These little bits of stories are heartbreaking. The woman who has fantasies of her partner's death. It takes courage to wrote about something like that, even anonymously.I'm sure you are not the only person who has wondered what a fresh start would be like. And to the raisingtwins.wordpress.com woman, yes, that counts for certain. That blog is a great start....why didn't you continue writing?