Sunday, March 30, 2008

Good Grief, The Coffee Maker is Set for 4:45 a.m.

After a few rounds of “how to fit it all in” conversations, Nicole and I discussed the necessity of waking up earlier. Nicole usually gets up with the girls in the morning (which now, post daylight savings, means usually between 5:30 and 6:30) and changes them, gives them their bottles and settles them into their chairs to watch “Sunrise Earth.” When she needs to leave for work she wakes me up and gives me the “I have to leave in about 15 minutes” nudge. Between one and fourteen minutes later, I drag myself out of bed, put on my glasses and move to the living room, where two unnaturally awake and alert boundless-energy babies demand more attention than my exhausted self can provide.

This is why I need to go to they gym in the morning. I need that buffer time, the just-me time, so I can get through the day. Plus, working out gives me huge amounts of energy. I literally get more done by ten a.m. than I would on a non-gym day. And it obviously gives me strength, which I really need right now as I am pushing around about 100 pounds’ worth of baby and stroller and accoutrements.

Sometime earlier this year (2008 is flying) I fell of the gym wagon. This happens to me almost every winter, when the weather changes and the mornings are so dark and it gets harder and harder to drag myself out of a warm bed. This year, my daily 5:30 a.m visits were impossible to keep up with as my insomnia peaked and the girls went through a rough sleeping patch. I’d fall into a fitful sleep ’round midnight and be woken up by a baby in an hour or two and maybe another a few hours after that. When the alarm went off at 5:00 I had no problem telling Nicole to turn it off (it’s on her night table) and rolling over to sleep until Nicole needed to leave.

The effects of gym-skipping was (is?) ten pounds and an all-time energy low at a time when I needed to have an all-time energy high. The ten pounds bothers me and doesn’t, if that makes sense. I hate tight clothes and yo-yo-ing and all the vain stuff. But, on the other hand, what more can I do? Every ounce of my energy goes to the girls and our home. Every single ounce. And I would rather have happy children and a happy home than rock-hard abs.

I try to cut myself some slack, but for a pseudo perfectionist such as myself who is all-or-nothing all of the time, it’s hard to give myself a break. And I want all: Time with the babies and time with Nicole and time with my friends and time by myself and time to do creative things and time to read and time to learn how to make quilts and time to go the gym.

But I am taking care of two babies by myself, with no breaks until Nicole gets home from work (about a half hour before they go to bed). I have not spent a stretch longer than maybe two hours away from the girls in the past six months. (Meaning, I go for manicures and such and get breaks when Nicole is around, but it is not like I am taking off for a full day of shopping or planning a weekend away). I love my babies to pieces, but I need a break from them sometimes, I really do.

Going to the gym at night just doesn’t work. I am not skipping out for an hour when Nicole gets home. Besides, it gets me revved up and I have a hard time sleeping (surprise). The morning really is my only time. The benefits are many but getting up that early, I am dreading. Dreading.

So Monday morning the alarm is going off impossibly early and I will drag myself out of bed, put on my gym clothes begin again. There will lots more on that subject, but that’s enough for now.

In other news, our sixth anniversary is on Tuesday, which lead to this exchange today as we went out to pick up lunch:

Me: I just want to point out, for the record, that Tiffany is only a five-minute walk from here.
Nicole: It’s too bad you can’t wear your mother’s house on your finger.

Touché! However, one year I got Nicole a tool box for our anniversary so I feel like I have no right to make demands. And besides, I was only joking when I said that. Sort of.

The cheating poll is so interesting. It is almost 50/50, which is way above every poll I read in books and magazines. I think it’s time for a new poll. Lots of blogs lately have been focusing on sex life (or lack thereof) which makes me wonder how often are people really doing it? What we admit to friends is usually WAY different than what really goes on. I am so curious what the truth is.

Pictured above, the little troublemakers. We need to make a clean sweep of our home and remove all tempting things from their level. But I am just not ready to do it yet. But Avery just ripped off the cover of an old but not too valuable copy King Kong, so I think the complacent clock is ticking….

Friday, March 28, 2008

It Ain't Easy Being Green

I am not exactly the epitome of environmentalist but I would like to consider myself earth-friendly. I do what I think will eventually be deemed (when the earth implodes) not good enough: I recycle; I bring my own bags to stores; I use a Nalgene for my water; I don’t let stores like J. Crew wrap my purchases in tissue paper; we use cloth napkins; I turn off the lights when I leave a room; I follow the “if it’s yellow let it mellow” toilet routine, unless company is over; I don’t run the water when I brush my teeth. These are all things that I didn’t do when I was growing up, so in a way it feels like progress.

Sometimes it makes me feel good, but there are times I suffer from “What good does it all really do?” For example: I have to rinse out all of the glass and metal I recycle, which uses water, so am I robbing Peter to pay Paul here? I might have added some plastic or glass to the recycling bin but is it at the sacrifice of our dwindling water drinking supply? And when I am stuffing my groceries in my canvas bags, but the shopper in front of me is asking for double plastic bags, I wonder is it all a wash? Maybe my actions cancel out the actions of the double-plastic bag shopper, but will it be good enough? I was interested in using cloth diapers, but I got caught up in the which is worse game: Tons of my baby’s diapers in a garbage heap somewhere, or using all that water to clean the cloth ones. In the end, the combination of twins plus a no washer and dryer in our home lead me down the plastic diaper route.

So now I am saddling the landfills with double the amount of gonna-last-a-thousand-years diapers. So this is where the dilemma begins: How can I be even remotely earth-friendly with children? I won’t put their bottles into the dishwasher (which in itself is one of Earth Enemies No. 1) so I rinse them in copious amounts of water. I clean and sterilize their nipples in hot water. I take baths with them. We run their sound machine in their room all night and during naps. Our laundry has doubled, and I am pretty sure the washers and dryers in our building are not energy- or water-efficient. I run the dishwasher at least once a day, if not twice. I buy toys and accessories for them that are cased in ridiculous amounts of plastic and cardboard. I feel like I am always at the sink, running water to clean something.

Just watching all of that perfectly fine, drinkable water go down the drain seems indulgent and so wasteful. It know it seems implausible on a planet that is 98 percent water, but I do believe that water and drinking water especially will be the oil of the future. Signs of it have already happened: I can remember growing up there being drought measures, where sprinklers could only be used on odd numbered days, or something like that. And this is during the go-go 80s and 90s, when environmentally-friendly wasn’t exactly the fashion. (Remember those hugely wasteful CD boxes? How many millions of acres of trees died for that?) If that isn’t a signal I don’t know what is. I don’t have any idea when, whether it be in 100 years or 1000, but I feel certain that wars will indeed be fought for potable water. Yes, I am one of those. And here I am now just watching it all go down the drain.

I am not sure what the solution is, because I am not going to forgo hygiene or give the girls dirty bottles but it is so frustrating because I, like so many people, am trying. But I am just not sure it will be good enough. I feel like Sisyphus.

I remember visiting a friend in Austin in the 90s, and she composted and recycled methodically. She said (if I remember correctly) that where they lived, they paid for garbage removal by pound, So everyone had the financial incentive to recycle, reduce and reuse. It seemed like a brilliant idea: Environmentalists by way penny-pinching. I wonder why that isn’t more widespread?

I know we will raise our girls to be earth-conscious. They will recycle and use cloth napkins and not accept plastic forks and knives when they get take-out food. They will have their own canvas bags and will hopefully never, ever use a plastic or paper bag from any store. They will be taught to turn the water off while they lather up the soap on their hands. We will try to instill in them an appreciation of nature and an urgency about preserving it as well.

But today, I want to buy them one of those pushing toys that they can stand behind and walk behind. I know it will come with a tree’s worth of cardboard and a pound of plastic, but until there is a company that sells recycled-plastic toys, package-free with warranties and instructions online only instead of in little wasteful booklets, what better choice do I have? And even though I will carry it home without a plastic bag, I wonder what damage I am doing and what contradictory lessons I am teaching my girls.

Pictured above, someday will dew be our only drinking water? I wonder if there is a sci-fi movie with that premise. Below that, don’t be fooled by the cuteness. These ladies are Earth Enemy No. 2.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Has it Come to Skorts? Really?

I saw this skirt in a catalog and fell in love with it, but I didn’t act on my intense urge to buy. The intense urge to buy something occurs roughly 17 times a day, or more, depending on the number of catalogs that arrive in the mail. A Pottery Barn catalog can spin me into an existential crisis, one in which I run the gamut of I Need It All to I am Renouncing All Worldly Goods. And then back to needing it all.

The way I suss out what I really want is to see if I am still thinking about it the next day. And then maybe another day after that, depending on how expensive the item is. It really works for me. And that skirt passed the “still thinking about it” test, but by the time I decided to buy it, it was sold out.

This is obviously not a tragic situation or major crisis, but I really loved that skirt. So I decided to try to find it elsewhere and it is nowhere to be found. I even emailed the catalog and asked if they were going to restock it (nope). Somehow I ended up on another site and found this this skirt in paradise aqua, which I thought, while not an exact replica, it was still kind of fun. But it turns out it is a SKORT. I am not a fan of skorts. I never wear shorts because I don’t like the way mini pants feel on me. I never have. And given my personal dimensions, shorts never fit right. Too loose in the waist but too tight in the butt. I am a huge dress and skirt wearer, but I can’t deny how, going forward, with the girls and all, skorts are about 1000 times more practical than dresses and skirts. I just am not sure if I am ready to make that jump to skorts. That seems like an inch away from high-waisted jeans and Keds.

In a way, though, being a caretaker usually means your needs are second, or third or fourth. There are still days when I skip lunch because I am doing things with/for the girls, or I realize I have really needed to pee for about a half hour. Personal appearance and sense of style are given causalities. I can’t believe I used to wear heels and lipstick. Where did that person go? Now I can wear the same t-shirt day after day because if I don’t leave the home, who is going to know? What difference does it really make? And there is no point in make up or lip gloss. Which slides into why wash your hair everyday? And when I do, why bother blow-drying? This is not the best attitude and I need to fix it, but right now it is what it is. Once spring and summer come, and this hibernation is over and I can get out into the great outdoors for extended periods of time, things may be different. But right now, I just feel so pale and desperate in need of a makeover.

Madeline had a turkey meatball yesterday and mozzarella cheese and she loved it. She is, for the most part, such a good eater. Avery refused to try the meatball, but agreed to play with it if I put it on her high chair tray. Avery is a lot pickier, like I am, and it doesn’t bother me really at all. As long as she is gaining weight properly I am fine with whatever crazy food patterns she wants to have. I give them cheerios, the regular kind and the fruity kind mixed together, and Avery will eat the regular kind only. As a picky eater myself, I have lots of sympathy for this. I am still making their food, which is decidedly easier as they get older, but find I need to make smaller portions because their idea of delicious is not necessarily eating the same vegetable soup with pasta for six meals in a row. I think I need to mix it up a bit more. It was so much easier when they were just eating pureed things.

Pictured above, my new little thumb sucker. Out of the blue, Avery finds her thumb last week and starts sucking. Already she is a pro. Notice also how her tummy sticks out in a delicious way. Also notice the mess on my shirt. That was a turkey meatball accident. Pretty much everything I own now has some sort of stain like that. Also pictured, this is what happened when Nicole tried to donate her platelets. The process is bizarre: They take your blood, pull out the platelets and then put the blood back into your system. Nicole’s veins were too small or the collapsed, according to the nurse. This bruise is getting bigger every day!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

And What Would You Do With 10 Million A Year?

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that most people who read this blog are women. So I find it very interesting that my little cheating poll comes back WAY higher than the national average. I agree with anon commenter, that many women keep their relationship indiscretions hidden. There are some close friends of mine that I have never told myself. We all hide a lot.

Yesterday, out of the blue, Avery had a fever. Another mystery illness. Where do they come from and how are they not spread to the rest of us living in the household? She was very cuddly all day, and didn’t want me to put her down. Initially, I was fine with that, because what’s better than holding a compliant baby and besides, Madeline was happy to play around me and was doing a good job of entertaining herself . But eventually I came to understand that Avery didn’t not want to be put down in ANY circumstances—bathroom breaks, pouring something to drink, trying to open a can of soup for lunch were out of the question. Were she maybe 15 pounds smaller, I think I could handle it, but holding a twenty-pound baby while using a can opener in not my strong suit.

Her fever spiked to almost 104, which got me a little panic-y, but then it came down. By five last night, it practically went away, but then when we put her to bed, she was warm again. She ended up sleeping with us because 1.) she is a cute little cuddle monster and 2.) the whole sick thing.

I don’t know if this had anything to do with her sickness, but she smelled like taco shells yesterday. So Sunday it was sausage McMuffin and yesterday taco shells. I find it strange that she smells like foods that we never eat.

Despite being sick and sleeping most of the day, Avery still trotted out her three tricks. First she sticks her arm in the arm and moves it in a sort-of circle, indicating the ceiling fan. This is called Round and Round. Then she claps. This is called Clap Clap Clap. Then she does something we call Nana’s Legacy, because my MIL taught it to her when she was up a few weeks ago. But today, Avery did all three in a row, in this s-l-o-w, laid back, sickly sort of way. Like she was saying “watch this…and now this…and this.” Then she put her hands back down, turned over and buried her little head in my shoulder.

Madeline was the trooper, like I said. I spent a lot of time feeling crappy because I felt like I couldn’t give Avery the attention she needed or Madeline the attention she needed. Such is the indulgent issues of a mother of two. But while I feel so lucky to have this issue, it really does challenge me at times. I feel like I am better when I am not so spread thin. And two kids spreads you really thin. Pretty much across the board, I feel like I am better one-on-one; with friends and family and nieces and nephews. Everything. The polygamist life would SO not work for me.

Political rant: So McCain isn’t really an “economy” guy, which I think is a fuzzy place to be in this economic climate and perhaps not the best thing to emphasize when you are running for president. Behold your republican candidate: McCain said it is not the federal government’s job to bail out people and banks who make bad decisions. And I quote: “It is not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they are big banks or small borrowers.” Yep, it’s those pesky, irresponsibly acting middle and lower-class borrowers who are bringing the economy to its very bruised knees. And now they expect to be rewarded for their irresponsibility. Please note that this is being written with sarcasm. It just sounds so callous, the way he says it. Besides, the economy wouldn’t be so bad if we weren’t spending a trillion dollars a second for this “war.”

I’m obviously not a master economist so I can’t get terribly technical here. Doesn’t it take two to tango: The lenders and borrowers both bit off more than they can chew. And isn’t this the inherent risk of sub-prime lending anyway? There are millions of people who wouldn’t be able to afford a house if some lender didn’t take a chance on them. So it seems like it’s a win-win situation…until it just blows up out of control.

And it just seems that the trickling effects of a hugely expensive war are to blame too. Regardless of whose fault this is, as families face foreclosure, and families and children and are at risk of being put out of their home, should we be pointing fingers and saying “You were irresponsible. Now suffer.” (ok, that isn’t the exact quote, but that is so what I inferred.) Just hearing that above quote (the real one) from a politician sort of makes my skin crawl. I’m not sure what the best solution is, for our economy and its future, but I do think a tenderness around the subject is in order. And I just get tired of hearing that everything is the fault of middle class or lower class people.

An interesting statistic I read the other day: The CEO of a major insurance company (I think Aetn*) gets over 10 million a year in compensation. Remember that the next time you are trying to get your meds paid for or are denied coverage of your medical needs. Ten million dollars. I know this has nothing to do with McCain’s comment, but it all just makes me wonder.

Pictured above, this is what a sad, feverish baby looks like. Her shirt says: “It was’t me. It was my evil sister.” And below that, this is what her busy and some might say evil-ish sister—who spent the day stealing sick baby’s pacifier—looks like.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Secrets II: Maybe I Shouldn’t Be Telling The Story About the Chick at the Pool Table, But Here's The Info on My Night Table

Thanks to cheating governors and presidents, cheating is in the spotlight. I am so curious about this. Statistics says that 50 to 75 percent of men have cheated or will cheat on their spouse (holy crap!). Only 14 percent of women have affairs (bodes well for the ladies with ladies). I have a few friends who have cheated, but are still happily married, and their husbands don’t know a thing. So many cheat and then keep it secret. While others cheat and tell a friend but never the victim. I put a poll up because I am curious. I kinda feel like it will be a cheaters’ landslide. And since it is anonymous, we can all admit it without fear of getting caught.

We need another secrets post. So I can finish stories like this next one:

Yes, I have cheated, and no, not on Nicole. And then there is the “Does this qualify as cheating?” situations. Once, in my last relationship, we were playing pool with some friends and a woman came over and asked if she could join. We said sure, so she got her stick and started shadowing me around. She started flirting (asking these coy questions, looking me up and down, complimenting my awful shots, brushing up against me and apologizing with an oops and an eye lock) and her flirting was so overt that two of our friends with us pulled me aside and said “She is totally into you. She wants a three way with you and D. Go for it!” That night we were staying at our friends’ apartment and they completely condoned a three-person sleepover. I went back to the table and then gave up after she did that move where she leans over the table on top of you, brushing certain body parts onto certain other body parts, to show you how to set up the shot. I needed breathing space so I went to the Ladies’ Room and Poolstick McMakingAdvancesAlot followed me there. I guess I should stop this story here.

Because everyone is DYING for the latest meme! Here’s the nightstand meme:

My nightstand: There are two stacks of books, which include the following books: The Logic Of Life; History of Language; Parched; The Second Nine Months, Wild Trees; Life Doesn’t Begin 5 Pounds From Now; No Cry Potty Training Solution; Non Marathoners Marathon Trainers Guide. Each one, non fiction or a biography. Wow, what an insight into who I am right now! Also on the stand, a tube of Aquaphor (dry skin), Aromatherapy smelling beads in delicious eucalyptus/mint smell (a few tokes of that and I am nice and relaxed), our land line (rarely use), a picture of my nephew (so cute) and my personalized tissue box cover, which I made in a crafty streak after five years ago. If you really want to see interesting, we should open the drawer and snap pictures of what’s inside. No alarm clock. That is on Nicole’s side.

I’ve been reading a lot of crap lately, and while I am enjoying every moment of it, I do need to wash their taste down with something good every now and then. So I reread this amazing piece by Gay Talese, one of the writers who helped usher in the literary journalists age. That article, Frank Sinatra Has Cold, is brilliant on 16 different levels, not the least of which it is a profile and Gay never interviewed Sinatra. And he pulls it off. The article made me want to be a journalist and made me realize I never could be the journalist I want. Double whammy. If you have 15 minutes, go and read it. It balances any bad crap you have been reading!

Anyone watching L Word? Please explain how a group of friends drops their lives, packs a whole wardrobe and participates in a bike run in another state for several days. Does this happen in real life? I can barely organize a brunch date in the city for multiple friends, let alone a three-day biking adventure that requires tons of clothes, food, tents, airplanes and drama.

Pictured above, my nightstand. And my Skye, with her newly pierced ears!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Even with a Runny Nose and Croupy Cough and General Malaise, the Easter Bunny made it!

Happy Easter all. It was not exactly the most exciting first Easter for the girls. The night before, Nicole and I talked a lot about the sort of traditions we want to start with the girls, but when Sunday came, we did a whole lot of nothing, as planned. Traditions will start when the girls’ cognitive development include long-term memory, which means not for a couple of years. Today we just wanted to relax. I am still trying to get my energy back after spending all week sick and we just wanted to do nothing.

My brother and Mina and the kids spent the weekend in Rhode Island, so they stopped by here on their way home. They picked up BBQ on the way over, and that was our not-so-traditional Easter dinner. Nothing says Christ Had Risen like a chopped Cobb salad and pulled pork sandwich.

More traditionally, however, we told Leif and Skye that the Easter Bunny stopped at our apartment and hid baskets for them, which meant the Easter Bunny (us) had to run out to the carrot patch (Rite Aid) and spend crazy money on baskets and candy that you know will be 75 percent off in less than 12 hours. A bag of mini peanut butter cups in pastel foil for six dollars? It’s just wrong. I’m not even sure Leif and Skye will eat them. These kids are little Haute Cuisiners. A basket filled with Uni and shrimp and curry noodles and bizarrely flavored Japanese potato chips is probably more up their alley. I’ll tuck that thought away for next year.

Madeline seems to have a decreased mealtime appetite, and I think that is because she is eating all the paper she can get her little hands on. She makes a bee line to the paper shredder to eat whatever she can find there. If I drop so much as a scrap on the floor, she will find it, crumple it into her fist and push it is her mouth. Yesterday, she grabbed a whole sheet and I started to chase her and she actually looked at me, squealed, and the took off, with a bounce in her step. So I think we just played out first “I’m Gonna Get You” game. Madeline also stood with no hands for the first time this weekend, for at least ten seconds! Getting closer….

Avery is clapping, but only if you clap for about 20 minutes for her while saying in a high-pitched voice CLAP CLAP CLAP. She likes to warm up by watching us do all the work. Avery also started sucking her thumb yesterday. Just popped it in her mouth. We are trying to put an end to that. Also both discovered this past week that they really love eating breaded chicken cutlets!

And both babies smelled like Sausage McMuffins today. Which is strange, since I haven’t had on of those EVER and Nicole’s last one must have been close to a decade ago. Sausage McMuffin and strawberries. Strange.

I have been on a reading binge. This happens. Normally I’ll read maybe one book in the span of ten days, so like three a month. Now I am putting away a book almost every two days. I’ve been reading at night instead of watching nothing on TV, and since I was sick, I spent a lot of time laying in bed and reading or laying on the floor with the girls, reading while they attended to their very important work. I just finished a fascinating book about a woman who escaped a polygamist cult (the Warren Jeffs one). And I am now reading a book written by a surgeon about, well, surgery. I’m officially in biography mode. All I know is life is better if I have a good book to look foreword to reading. Links to all the books I am reading are in the sidebar.

Pictured above, us on Easter morning. Below that, all of us, minus Nicole and my brother. Below that, Maddie and Avery mesmerized by Skye. And, finally, sadly, below that, our nesting dove lost a baby today. Two doves are making a nest under our AC. Her egg rolled out of her nest today and crashed on the AC unit below our window. So sad. I wonder who the bird community mourns this sort of loss? Inexplicably, she then ate parts of the egg. I’m sure this makes sense in the bird world

Thursday, March 20, 2008

On the Mend, Little By Little

It feels like I have been sick for a thousand days. Yesterday was borderline awful, but much better than Tuesday. I sort of dragged myself around the apartment, keeping tabs on the girls, laying on the floor whenever possible. I was their jungle gym (where does this word come from anyway? Jungle gym?) and trampoline and soft place to land, as always. They were good, which made the day infinitely more tolerable. Nicole came home from work early to relieve me, but the girls were taking a late nap, so we got to lay down on the couch and watch the previous night’s American Idol, that train wreck.

We also played an adjective game. I saw this on another blog and thought it was a interesting exercise in Who You Are and How Others Perceive You. The idea is, write the five adjectives you think best describe you, then ask someone else to write the five adjectives they think best describe you. So this is how I described myself, in no particular order:
1. loyal
2. craft-acular
3. strong
4. funny
5. hard-working

And Nicole used the following to describe me, in no particular order:
1. creative
2. witty
3. bright
4. sexy
5. loyal

So there was overlap, in the loyal category and the funny/witty category and the creative/craft-acular category. “Sexy” seems like a stretch, especially as I was sitting there in pajamas and a sweatshirt with messy hair and a foghorn cough. Interesting. I think of myself as strong (emotionally and otherwise) and hard-working, but I guess those are also selective qualities, in that I am not always strong and I am not so hard-working, if it is something that I don’t believe in (or don’t want to do).

And then I used these to describe Nicole:
1. generous
2. stable
3. beautiful (inside/out)
4. sacrificing
5. mellow/go-with-the-flow

And she describes herself as:
1. practical
2. logical
3. loyal
4. witty
5. generous

So in this case, there was overlap with generous and I argue that “stable” is a by-product of “logical” and “practical.” And another interesting thing: Even though it is in no particular order, I put “generous” first on her list and she put it last. On my list I put “loyal” first for me and she put it last. That is interesting.

Not putting witty on my list for her was an oversight, especially since, as Nicole reminded me, she was voted Class Wit in high school. I also like to use every opportunity I can to point out that she was also Homecoming Queen or Prom Queen. And class president. And sometimes she wore ties to school. And she played softball. And was the stage manager for the play productions. And she had NO idea she was a lesbian!

In happy sleep news, the girls went to bed at 6:30 last night and slept until 6:30 this morning. A few little cries in the night but both slept in their cribs and we slept alone in our bed.

And on the embarrassing book front, I just finished two that qualify, I think. One was Tori Spelling’s autobiography; the second was Kathleen Turner’s autobiography. I read both for specific reasons: The first because Tori has been very upfront about having a difficult relationship with her mother. And really, when you think about it, there aren’t too many books that dissect this interesting and often difficult relationship. I wanted to read about another woman’s damaged relationship with her mom. And there was lots of anecdotes and lots of moments to relate to. In the end, though, I wanted more. I didn’t feel closure, and I suppose Tori doesn’t either. “It is what it is” is one way to get through life, but that way of thinking doesn’t sit well with me. I want to know why things are the way they are. This book didn’t really answer that, but I think that is because Tori hasn’t cracked the code yet herself.

And the Kathleen Turner book. Now I got this book because I read somewhere that in it, she talked about her drinking problem. And I love books in which people talk about addictions and how they overcome them. People who overcome addictions are my heroes in life. Truly.

One of the surprising things I learned was that she is much more of an activist than I ever knew. And she gets a little dishy about some of her co-stars. But most of the book seemed like a response to stories about her. Like: “Remember that time when the world thought I was forgetting my lines on the stage? Well, I was really sick that production….” That is not exactly what was said, but it is the idea. I’m not being heartless or anything but she made a lot of excuses for a lot of behavior and I think I would have respected her more if she didn’t.

And her drinking, wow. She went to rehab, but she talked about it an such a detached sort of way. Even though she abused alcohol for so many years and went to rehab, she still drinks. She says she knows when to say when, and maybe I am just jealous that I can’t do that, but for some reason I doubt that she can. Very few people return from the stumbling drunk category back to casual drinker. She says she asks herself if she is drinking because of an issue or is she drinking because a glass of wine will add to a fun evening with friends. That might explain the first drink, but what about the second sand third and fourth and fifth?

Something both books had in common was a strong voice, not necessarily in a good way. You literally could hear Tori and Kathleen talking. Their vernacular, little catchphrases, it all was so casual. It makes me miss good literature.

And in terms of bad literature, I have read almost all of the VC Andrews library! At a young age, too. Flowers in the Attic I read in fourth grade. Talk about inappropriate. I remember calling bookstores to see if they had the new book in whatever series by her. I devoured every word she wrote. Sometimes I think about rereading some of them, but there are just so many books I want to read, and they kept getting pushed to the bottom of the list.

Pictured above, Avery scooted across the floor on her knees like that, while Maddie watched closely. You have to wonder what goes on in little minds. What was Avery thinking? And what was Maddie thinking? Below that, a rowing machine, still in its box. It is still in its box because once it is out of its box, Nicole has to start using it. And if she uses it then I have to stop buying her cookies and making her cakes and feeding her candy and other crap. You can’t really blame weight gain on another person, but I can take at least half of the responsibility for any weight gain on Nicole. Maybe I am not the one making her eat tater tots but I certainly bring them into the house and cook them for her and put them on a plate with ketchup and mustard!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sick Sick Sick Sick and, Oh, Did I Mention I'm Sick?

I had a feeling being sick and having kids was going to be really tough, and I was right.

Sunday I woke up feeling blah. I was middle-of-the-road sick: Feeling too run-down to go escape at a movie for a couple of hours, but not too sick to get a manicure. But by the afternoon (and post-manicure) I was full-on feeling crappy. I started having trouble taking deep breaths, so I took a bath and then I did that whole steamy shower thing. But it didn’t work, and I started feeling much worse, almost suddenly. I couldn’t breath out of my mouth, and breathing through my congested nose wasn’t getting me very far. This, in turn, lead to panic, which didn’t make things easier. And my voice just sort of disappeared. I went from feeling blah to really sick in the span of an hour. It was like a squall. It was freaky.

I called a friend, who is a doctor, and then I called my doctor. Then I realized I just need to go to the ER. No doctor friend or doctor is going to diagnose “breathing difficulties” over the phone. As much as I hated it, I had to go alone, because the ER is no place for the babies and Nicole and a double stroller.

I should also mention that when I am sick, I need more attention than normal. Once I was really sick and Nicole was up all night watching me to make sure I was breathing. To this day I think back at that and feel reassured. Every time I opened my eyes, she was there, staring at me, kind of smiling and kind of worried looking, pushing the sticky sweaty hair off my head. That is what I need when I am sick. Constant attention, even more than normal. I don’t need to explain where that all stems from, do I?

So I get to the ER, all flustered, and a Not So Nice Security guard informs me that there is someone before me in the Triage line. So I sit in those uncomfortable plastic chairs with the ass scoops, breathing in staggering breaths, trying not to cry. The man next to me, who smelled like an ashtray doused in booze, asked me if I was having trouble breathing. I nodded, not in the mood for small talk or for confirming the obvious. He then so gallantly offered me up his next-in-line spot. He said he was just in the ER for rehab anyway, plus, I spoke English, and that was good enough for him. This really really threw me for a loop, such a blatant racist comment. I wondered what it is about me that makes him think that I would abide such disgustingness? Is there something in me that looks racist? We were in a room filled with patients that represent New York City diversity and the last thing I wanted was for everyone else to think I am racist too. Since he was drunk he wasn’t exactly what I would call subtle. But I was trying to breath and had a hard time talking so I just ignored him and looked off to the side while he continued to shat me up. I took some satisfaction in thinking, what would he think if he knew he gave his spot up for a homo or fag or whatever derogatory term he could think of to describe me and my kind?

As soon as the triage nurse saw me, she told me to follow the blue lines on the floor to the back. It was a freaking maze. I accidentally followed the green line and ended up at the wrong window and a doctor had to direct me back to the blue lines. I finally made it, and the nurse back there checked my vitals and I was given and bed and oxygen and steroids and pills and nebulizers. I saw several doctors, who all pontificated on what could possibly be the issue. The best guess was the croup, which is practically unheard of in the adult population. The suddenness of the breathing thing made them think it might have been an allergy to something, but I didn’t eat anything out of the ordinary. One doctor asked if I have left he country in the past ten days. I laughed and said “I’m lucky if I make it to the corner. I have twins.” And he just looked at me blankly until I said “Ummm. It’s a joke. No, I have not left the country. In forever.”

They gave me a gown and asked me to take off my clothes and change into it and as I did I though, hmmm, I should have worn underwear.

They suggested I stay for a few more hours for monitoring but I kindly declined, as I was breathing better after the steroids and treatments, and said I wanted to go home. I figured I would go back if there was any more issues. I just wanted to be home.

Monday I felt like crap, and I sounded much, much worse than I felt. I had that whole foghorn voice thing. I spoke with my niece and nephew and they both sounded a little scared of me. I spent most of the day laying around on the floor while the girls played around me.

But then Tuesday I woke up feeling so unbelievably crappy. I had a fever and chills and I was so dizzy, like a hangover kind of dizziness. The bed was spinning and our bed is too far off the ground for me to put me foot down to stop the spinning. At first I told Nicole to go to work and I would just plow on. I figured I could make it till at least their morning nap, and then maybe she could clear her schedule and come home. Luckily she didn’t listen to me and my fever-induced craziness, and took a Family Care Day.

I slept until 3 in the afternoon, waking only to drink more and pee. My fever broke and I feel much better now than I did this morning. I still feel like crap but considering the past couple of days this is good. This is on-the-mend. I hope.

I called my mom and told her I was in the ER on Sunday and I was super sick and feverish and I needed help with the girls (and me) and I didn’t want Nicole to keep taking days off of work (after all, Nicole just had to take a day for the closing…) but, alas, my mom can’t come in to help me since she has previous obligations. I picked, she said, an awful time to get sick. File this under Things That Don’t Surprise Me.

My biggest hope is that the next two days fly by and the girls nap well. Then Nicole is off on Friday and we have the weekend. By next Monday, I HAVE to be 100 percent better, right? Apparently there is some scary stuff going around, sicknesses that linger on for weeks. For the record, my symptom list: Crazy dry foghorn-like, unproductive cough; sinus congestion; runny nose; scratchy throat (probably from the dry coughing) and a pulsing headache, which I realized this afternoon was caffeine withdrawal (I took some Excedrin and it’s gone). Luckily the fever, chills and dizziness were short-lived.

Pictured above, nobody puts baby in a corner…except baby. Maddie got herself into this little nook and needed help getting out. Of course, I needed to take a picture of it first. Also pictured, it’s hard to tell, but the Sunshine-eating Avery was trying to pick up sunshine yesterday from the floor. Using her little pincer grip, she would try to lift up a shaft of the sunlight off the carpet. I think this means we need to take the girls outside more.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Deed Is Done: Pun Intended

Lots of signatures and lots of checks and it’s all behind us. Sort of.

We all went—Nicole, me, the girls and my mother—to the closing. The bank’s attorney, our host, was not exactly what you would call polished. But he did seem avuncular and knowledgeable, two qualities I appreciate in a lawyer. His office was old-school: A Mr. Coffee coffee maker with a foggy brown, overused carafe; a Styrofoam cup with red plastic coffee stirrers; little packets of sugar; a mini fridge in the bathroom (toilet seat up); stacks of papers and files all over the place; thin, worn-out, brown carpet, rubbed almost bare in parts; uncomfortable chairs and really tacky framed Norman Rockwell prints hanging in no discernable pattern on the walls. (I had a lot of time to study the details while Nicole and my mother signed a mountain of paperwork.)

I’ll save the dirty details of this unfolding situation for another day, because who really wants to her me bitch about it again? But I was grateful that my mother did finally offer up a thank you, even if it was buried in a quick goodbye hug. And suffice it to say that some roles have been reversed, officially, finally, irrevocably.

The expense of it all shocks me. First, there are the closing costs, which amount to five figures for forty-five minutes of paper-signing. I know more is going on behind the scenes, but it is ridiculous, how much taxes and fees and commissions add up to. Also, glancing at the bottom line, the whole Truth In Lending page, which basically says you borrow X amount of dollars, but, by the end of the mortgage, you will pay back X plus 300K or whatever it is. So why do we even list a home at a million if, after you finish paying for it, you have actually paid 1.6? Or whatever it is. Truth in lending, aka reality.

I am still trying to come to grips with the situation. There I go, bitching about it again. You would think it would have settled in by now, but it takes me a long time to process these things. I feel guilty, sad, relieved, frustrated, bitter and grateful. It’s not the first time I’ve felt that toxic tangle of emotions. Hello darkness, my old friend. I’ve worked hard to reduce my emotional baggage from a complete set down to just a carry-on. I don’t want to start adding baggage again. And sometimes, this whole situation feels like a lot of baggage. But, as my old therapist would tell me, I have the power of perspective and the ability to not let things like this shape my emotional landscape.

And so I am trying to focus on the good. I have Nicole and the girls, and if that isn’t enough for one person, I don’t know what is. But then I fear you can’t have ALL that good and no bad. It is yet another version of waiting-for-a-shoe-to-drop. I feel like at any moment my happiness will be shattered by…something. Isn’t that what always happens? What if this is the shoe? What if this is the shoe that breaks the camel’s back? (sorry for mixing my metaphors…)

I might struggle still in some moments, as I adjust to mothering multiples and my role in life in general, but I like my life, I am so grateful to be able to stay home with the girls, and I look forward to our future. And I’m learning from my past. Cliché as it sounds, everything happened for a reason. Everything I have been through has lead me to where I am now. So even this, this house-buying event and bail-out for my mom, it is happening for a reason, which may not even reveal itself for many years to come. At least, this is how I sleep at night.

The highlight of the day: Avery, completely oblivious to what was going on on this important day, was in her car seat, quietly holding her hand out, palm up, staring at the sunlight that was shining in her palm. She then tried to eat the sunlight, multiple times. She put her palm up to her mouth and took a bite, then pulled her palm back, seemingly confused as to why the sunshine was still there. My daughter tries to eats sunlight. She IS sunlight, all shiny and pure and golden and warm.

Later that night, when we were home and getting the girls ready for bed, I told Nicole a new idea I had about the bedtime ritual that I thought would be more streamlined. Nicole listened and paused and then—obviously distracted and in work mode, not Mommy mode—replied: “That model is not sustainable. It won’t work.” It is a brief reminder that Nicole juggles several very different roles. It’s funny when she mixes them up at home, but I bet it isn’t so funny if she mixes them up in the office.

Pictured above, I don’t let Nicole pull rank over me in the kitchen. Oh no. Madame Executrix might rule the roost at work, but in our kitchen she has to separate the indigestible corn from the girls’ mixed vegetables, just like the rest of us.

*Updated to add: Holy sick. I was in the ER today with breathing problems. If you want to see a doctor stat just say you can’t breath and stagger around clutching your chest. I wasn’t faking but wow, I got attention quick. More details to come. I will be fine. I am home now and need to convalesce. So if I ignored your emails of phone call, that is why.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Trap Less Traveled?

Robert Frost got to a lovely crossroads and opted to take the road less traveled and it made all the difference in his world. We la-di-dah for him. You could say that I am at my own crossroads, in front of two paths. Not pretty, wintry-scene with a forest canopy paths, more like loud, crazy, noisy paths, littered with bombs and strange animal creatures.

And “path” might be understating it a little. It’s more like “traps” that disguise themselves as paths. My option is Trap One or Trap Two. So Trap One sucks. Trap Two sucks. The question is, which sucks less? Which is the trap we want to tell our daughters we took? (excellent filter)

Today, we close on my mother’s house. About 700 signatures and 700 checks and it’s done. My mother no longer pays the bills or mortgage or taxes or anything. That is our responsibility now. This role reversal is astounding to me. Isn’t she supposed to be tucking money into my bag when I visit? Isn’t she supposed to show up at my home with bags and bags of groceries? Little outfits for her grandkids? Isn’t she supposed to be reminding me to contribute to a 401(k) or IRA? Offering financial advice and real estate tips. Telling me to save more money, especially in this economy.

I’m still in the role I never wanted to play. This time, it is very expensive for me. Old habits die very hard, indeed.

There are about five different things I need to get off my chest about this. I censor myself a lot, but am beginning to question why I need to do that. I am telling the truth (at least, my truth) so what do I have to worry about? It’s my damn outlet, this blog. I guess I don’t like confrontation and I don’t like arguing, and sometimes my truths tend to lead to those places. Truth can be such a weapon.

I am reading a very embarrassing book right now. Maybe we can do another secrets comments thing and admit our embarrassing books! Mine’s a doozy…..

A video! This is from today’s lunch. Please be kind about my dancing/singing. Avery likes to dance and if she sees us do it, she is likely to follow in. Also, I wanted to capture the way she knocks on her high chair when she is eating. Like she is bored with a Powerpoint and is saying “let’s move to the next slide.” It is very cute.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It Was Bound To Happen

Sickness has infiltrated our home. I can’t complain because this is the first time, really, this winter. It started with Madeline, who developed a runny nose and then a super high fever. She was panting and had a dry cough (not a croupy cough). It got to over 104 in the middle of the night, so I had to get in a very uncomfortable bath with her to bring her temperature down. We called the doctor, who said there is a virus going around with runny noses and high fevers, but it should be gone within three days. Fingers crossed.

Madeline has been sleeping with us for the past couple of days and I see no earthly reason why this child would want to return to her crib. She gets to sleep in a big bed between her two mommies and when she stirs, both mommies reach out to comfort her with gentle massages and soothing words. What baby in her right mind would walk away from that? I anticipate a difficult return to crib-sleeping.

Avery, in the meantime, is sleeping like a champ all by her lonesome. It makes me sad, with the three of us in one room and Avery all by herself in another. But without Madeline in the room, she sleeps a solid 12, 13 hours a night, waking at a leisurely 6:00 or 6:30, as opposed to Madeline’s much earlier risings.

So far, Avery seems to have dodged the sick bullet. But I am sure that is just an allusion. I am prepared for anything.

On the current events (entertainment-related…I am too tired to talk about the Spitzer mess), is anyone else annoyed at the Lisa Marie Presley thing? That she was forced by the media to defend her fatness by telling the world she is pregnant? And she is pissed. I read somewhere also that she is suing some tabloid because she didn’t want to have to tell the world she was pregnant. And the thing is, she didn’t HAVE to tell, but she couldn’t sit back and let people think she was fat (like that is the worst thing in the world, to be fat). This all is probably not making sense, so let’s just wrap up with I think she is overreacting a bit. That’s just my opinion.

Shouldn’t Lexapro should be taking care of this sort of thought process? Or am I expecting too much from one little pill? I was hoping it would be a bitter-vacuum, and that it would suck away these sort of thoughts. Is this an appropriate thing to be upset about? It isn’t keeping me up at night (that would be the sickly Maddie), but it is obviously bothering me enough to write about.

So I was researching Lexapro last night and discovered Oxycontin. Sign me up! Did you know it can produce feeling of euphoria that can last up to eight hours! Why is this an illegal drug!? I’m kidding—I know this is the Hillbilly Heroin (which seems like such an elist/classist way to describe it) but part of me really does wonder why something like this can’t be packaged in a more user-friendly, over-the-counter sort of way. Because euphoria feels really good. I can totally see how people get hooked on these sort of drugs.

Pictured above, the little trooper, Miss Madeline. Yes, she is shirtless in a bib and in a high chair, eating peas and carrots. She spent the day in her diaper. We did everything we could to keep her body temperature down, which isn’t easy in a NYC apartment/sauna.

* Updated to add: Take that sticker away from Avery. After I posted last night, she woke up and proceeded to stay up for HOURS. She would fall asleep in my arms, and I would put her down and she would cry. This happened three times, over the span of two hours. Nicole came in to give it a go and I went and cuddled with Maddie. It took Nicole another two hours before she went back to bed and stayed in bed. WTF???

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Oppressed Baby Has Become the Baby Oppressor

Times are a-changing in our house. Madeline, who was once the baby from whom toys were taken, is now coming into her own. She no longer sits passively and lets Avery snatch away Polar Bear With Paws You Can Chew On or Intriguing Small Red Block with a Hole in the Middle without a fight. She’s hung up her Miss Tractable cape, it seems, for good.

Oppressed babies usually take one of three paths: They resign themselves to their doom (Maddie’s first eight months of life); they pursue nonviolent resistance a la Gandhi and MLK (a few weeks, max, for Maddie); or they resort to violence and their own version of oppression (hello, current reign of terror).

Maybe “oppression” is too strong a word here (I am prone to hyperbole, as we all know) and maybe I am the only one who applies Paolo Freire’s principles to the playmat, but it really is fascinating to watch the infant oppressed/oppressor evolution. Avery has definitely been, shall we say, the more aggressive one and Madeline has been the passive one. Not to label them or anything, because I’m sure that will start annoying them in about three weeks.

I was stunned when Avery started taking toys away from Maddie, which began maybe a week after the girls learned that fingers were for holding things. I thought we had a couple of years before that happened, the taking-things-from-each other part, that is. At first, Maddie was so easy-going about it, accepting another toy from us in place of the one Avery stole, or just content to sit, watching wide-eyed and intrigued, curious to see how Avery played with it. But then those looks of bemusement started. Her eyebrows practically knit themselves into question marks. She’d cast panicky looks our way, as if to ask “Did you see what she just did?!”

We never interfered and instead, heeding the wise words of Freire from his wise book Pedagogy of the Oppressed (we can’t be the only ones who consult that book for parenting tips, right?), we decided to let Maddie find her own way: “It is absolutely essential that the oppressed participate in the revolutionary process with an increasingly critical awareness of their role as subjects of the transformation.” Well, she is transforming indeed. The revolution has begun. Now Madeline doesn’t take toy stealing laying down. She grips harder, pulls, pushes and puts up a fight. So much for passivity and nonviolent resistance.

Madeline learned a few tricks from Avery and now we have two little toy-grabbing tyrants. They can spend minutes taking toys from each other. Back and forth, back and forth. It is almost like watching some sort of sports match. Nicole and I watched an exchange today: Maddie grabbing a toy from Avery; Avery screeching and taking it back; Maddie pulling it out of Avery’s hand and then holding said toy above her head; Avery standing to get toy back when Maddie is distracted by a noise or shadow or toy or, well, anything. It is so amusing to watch, not only because I enjoy seeing the metaphor of oppressors/oppression and social justice in the infant sect play out, but also because I really want to see who wins. They are evenly matched, these two, so it a toss up whether Avery’s brute strength will reign or will Maddie dominate with her cunning moves and slick baby-ninja style?

This isn’t exactly how I thought I’d be applying Friere’s theories in life, but perhaps even Freire would agree that conscientization, no matter how you get there, is a pretty good goal.

Daylight Savings, that hobgoblin of annoyingness and mind perplexer, is here and I am scared to it affects the girls sleeping habits.

Pictured above, A TOY TRIPTYCH: In the first panel, we see Avery snatch a toy; in the second panel we see Avery playing with her new toy and in the final panel we see that Maddie was the ultimate victor. The toy was a bottle of child-proof-capped vitamins. Nothing but the finest for our girls.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Siren Song of a Good Mystery/Solving My Own

I have a love/hate relationship with mysteries. I love to read them but I am so impatient that I can barely get through them. I always want to know NOW how it ends. I’ll scan-read paragraphs on a page—for pages at a time—trying to hasten my progress, and then I will get frustrated and go back and reread each and every word all that I just scanned. Because I don’t want to miss a word.

I had been hearing good things about A Quiet Belief in Angels by RJ Elleroy. It is really big in the UK (Number 4 on the bestseller chart on British Amazon). I couldn’t find a copy in America. And who wants to pay shipping from England? I discovered the author had a blog so I left a comment on it, asking how one gets a copy of his book here in the Colonies. And would you believe that he not only responded (!) he sent me a copy of said book (!!) and some copies of his other books (!!!) I have renewed my faith in the kindness of strangers. Oh, the humanity.

Anyway, so many mysteries have a big whiz-bang payoff in the end, but the book is tedious or just so poorly written that it isn’t worth the effort of reading. I just don’t get it. It seems its rare to find a modern writer who is an expert at plot and usage of language. This thriller, I’m happy to say, satiates my desire for beautiful prose and a great ending. The story unfolds in both present tense and through reflection, which is such a great plot device to keep tension up and get you motivated to read the next chapter.

It takes place in Georgia and New York City. Ellery was so spot on with syncopations of language and the subtleties of manners and idiosyncrasies of American culture that I can’t believe he isn’t from America. The book deals with World War II and racism and human rights all those things that would have been so nice to leave in the past. It boggles the mind, that here were are, in 2008, and we are still in wars and dealing with racism and human rights.

Elleroy’s style is evocative of writers like Dennis Lehane—they both write books that are filed under the Mystery banner but they are much suited for the literature category, like To Kill a Mockingbird. This book, I can totally see as a film.

And I am now freaked out about feathers, because in the book feathers symbolize death and bad things happen whenever they turn up. I saw some today out on the street—one drifted slowly slowly slowly onto the stroller—and I freaked. Plus our couch and cushions are stuffed with feathers so I see those little buggers everyday. Last thing I need is another talisman of doom.

On a side note, I was the editor of the Mystery and Thriller section of a now-defunct magazine about books. The best part was I was so not knowledgeable about mysteries when my editor gave me that beat. So I had a lot of reading to do to get me even partially up to speed. It really makes me miss the days when i was paid to write, edit and read. Please, again, someone explain to me why that wasn't making me happy? Because now it seems like heaven. Do I suffer from Reinvention of History?

I have ten books stacked on my night stand tat I am not paid to read, so many emails to respond to and phone calls to make. I’ve been writing more lately (things not posted here, which feels like cheating) and that goes a long way to giving my nights and life a little purpose and direction. But there just aren’t enough hours in the day, and not enough answers to my own damn mysteries.

I am always looking for a good book recommendations. So if you have any, put them in the Comments!

Pictured above, Miss Madeline and Miss Avery exploring books that we don’t want them to touch. Avery’s hand on Madeline’s back is maybe the cutest thing I have ever seen. Below that, looks who’s feeding herself. Madeline has a great little pincer grip going on but about half of what she tried to put in her mouth end up on her lap. Here’s yesterday’s lunch. Notice the lone blueberry. She managed to get most of those in her little mouth!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Baby Fear Factor: We Have A Grand Prize Winner

Warning: Those with a weak stomach or highly sensitive sense of smell (even over the internet) may wish to stop reading this post. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

This morning I had one of the grossest experiences of my life. I put the girls down for their morning nap and about a half hour into it, Madeline started to cry. This wasn’t her typical “I’m bored, get me outta here; I’m ready to explore more” cry. There was a certain sense of urgency in her little cry. Now I realize this was her way of saying “Mom, get in here NOW and see what my sister is doing.”

In my haste, I had left a diaper next to Avery’s crib. You see where this is going. Avery discovered the diaper and tore it apart and played with what she found inside, which was poop. Thank goodness it was a hard poop, but nonetheless, there was poop everywhere. One little lump rolled between the mattress and the bumper. The rest was in Avery’s hair and on her fingers and in the crib and in her eyebrows and on her pajamas. Everywhere. It reminded me of a puppy I had who once pooped on her paper and then stepped in it and left poop prints all over the kitchen.

The best part was Avery was not disturbed in the slightest. You think she would be the one screaming, not Madeline. Instead, pure joy and enchantment. I came in there and she looked at me like “Look at this wonderful thing I found! So moist and fun to play with! And it comes out of my own butt! My butt makes toys!” Now I am afraid she is like those sharks that develop a taste for human meat. Except insert “baby” for “shark” and “poop” for “meat.”

That was just one of the highlights of the day.

The next highlight occurred mid afternoon, while Avery was napping, apparently exhausted from her morning poop eating/smearing experience. I was in the kitchen with the non-poop eater Madeline, boiling water to make little pasta wagon wheels. For the girls’ dinner. Though Avery might just want poop. Anyway, I noticed a burning smell, but, unlike most people in the world, I love the smell of all things burning. So when I smell something burning I am lulled into some sort of bizarre sense of calm.

After inhaling these delicious burning fumes for a little bit I went to look out the window to see where this heavenly scent was coming from. Again, you see where this is going. It was coming from my stove. A small piece of paper was stuck to the bottom of the pot and was on fire. About a thousand thoughts ran through my head, including “I need to grab the babies and run” and “Crap. I haven’t backed up my computer in a while” and “Who gives a shit. If this place burns to the ground, so will the back up external hard drive.” I couldn’t let the place burn down because I just cleaned the bathroom. I tried to remember when you use water and when you use flour and why oh why don’t we have an extinguisher. Common sense took over and I grabbed a baby bottle, filled it with water and dumped it on the small fire.

Avery and Madeline have just started to wave hello and goodbye. Both of them. Madeline waved to a bagger at the grocery store. He was smiling and talking to her and she loved him. I asked if he was free to baby-sit and he laughed. I was kind of not joking.

And now, Housekeeping. On March 2nd, my beautiful Skye, my perfect little diamond tornado girl, turned three years old. I remember being at work when I got the news, frantically struggling to find a place where I could get good cell reception to hear my brother say “It’s a girl.” We all thought it was a boy, as two sonogram technicians concluded she was a boy before she was born. An on March 3rd, a sad day to remember the emerald in the sky.

Pictured above, do you see what I see? I never realized tortellini could look so dirty. If that isn’t a naked woman in a tutu bending over I don’t know what is. Also pictured, the one mittens and poop. Look at that intensity she has eating her mitten. Now picture that with poop. See what I mean?

Anonymous Quitter: How goes it?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Everything Counts in Large Amounts*

Sometimes I think about going back to grad school and working toward a doctorate, because a girl can’t have too many degrees with no discernible career path, as far as I am concerned. Then I think, someone who can’t make heads or tails of daylight savings doesn’t deserve a doctorate.

Work this out with me: In a few weeks, we spring forward. So that means what used to be 6:00 p.m. now becomes 7:00 p.m. Which means it will be darker later and lighter earlier? Or darker earlier and lighter later? See, that is where I fall apart. I can’t figure it out and year after year—twice a year—I am absolutely befuddled. I just can’t wrap my mind around it. I will withdraw all applications immediately and move to one of those ignoring-daylight-savings states. New Mexico I think? Or is it NeVAda?

The girls just had their nine-month appointment, a logistical challenge made easier since Nicole’s mom (visiting from Florida) accompanied me to the appointment. Madeline is about 19 and a half pounds and Avery is about 20 and a half pounds. Fiftieth percentile and seventy-fifth, respectively. No wonder my arms are tired. All went well, until the doctor asked me if I noticed that one of Avery’s eyes looked a little turned in. Why, no, I didn’t. Seriously, I had no idea. I noticed when she looked down at things that she would be a little cross-eyed, but I thought that was normal and even a little charming and endearing. My pediatrician says it looks like she has a slight case of lazy eye, though she used a more vanilla-pc term than that. Now I can’t look at her without thinking “OMG her eyes are COMPELTLEY crossed.” Which they aren’t.

Since I want both sets of my children’s eyes to be cross-training/aerobic superstars, we are off to an eye specialist, where the recommended course of action might be an eye patch. I had the same lazy-eye issue as a child, but I had the joy of eye-patching as a kindergartner, not as a baby, when you can be dressed in Technicolor elastic clothing and not care, let alone worry about headgear or eye patches. Having at patch at five, now that is tough. Nothing says “sit at my table and share my crayons” like a pirate patch on your face. Red Rover doesn’t let patchy come over. So if Miss Avery does have to wear a patch, at least she won’t experience childhood alienation.

Naturally I am worried sick that this is the tip of a health-crisis iceberg, that a doctor will uncover some disease that I have never heard of whose number one symptom is lazy eye. Then I remember, wait a minute, this happened to me as a child. And it is common. Then I worry again. It is an endless worry/denial cycle.

I have been ridiculously negligent in keeping up with the two baby journals I swore I would update on a regular basis (I got so tired of crossing out “daddy” and scribbling “mommy” above it). So I need to record a few milestones here:

1.) Avery has started dancing (literally, on Friday the leap day), and is particularly fond of the musical stylings of her Fisher Price picnic table. She also loves the British bus that plays tinny, ten-second ditties. She bends her knees and bops up and down until the music stops. I play music during the day and when I have had enough caffeine, I have been known to bust a move in front of the girls in a lame attempt to get a giggle or solicit a smile. Lately, though, orchestral music has been tops on the play list, which you really can’t dance to, so a few rounds of La Cucharacha is rocking Avery’s world.

2.) Madeline eats like a machine. If she sees me with any food, she drops what she is doing and crawls over to me, with an attitude, I might add. She practically punches her arms out, splatting her starfish hands on the floor, and moves her legs in double time, head down in concentration. Then she climbs up on my chair or my legs or wherever I am at tries to get at whatever I am eating. She has seven teeth and a couple more on the way, so my guess is she is looking to practice. This weekend, she ate a Vienna Finger (not the crème, just the wafer). That was Nana’s doing (Nicole’s Mom). Nicole and I took the girls to a children’s bookstore with a cupcake café and shared a donut. Maddie freaked until we gave her little bits of the donut insides. She also eats Cheerios like she is trying to qualifying for some Olympic Cherrio-eating game. Pretty much anything you offer her is eaten with glee. She even starts to eat books and magazine covers, until I intervene.

3.) They both babble a lot. Avery must be taking some foreign language courses in her spare time because she speaks a form of German or Yiddish. A lot of “dut” and gudt” and yat” with the requisite mamas and dadas and nanas. Madeline is more likely to concentrate on the softer sounds, the little delicate snowflake that she is. At times they both will say “Mahmmm” and look right at me or Nicole, and my eyes almost fill with tears. Then they will go over to the magazine rack or the file drawer and say “Mahmmm.” So either they think we resemble dark wooden furniture or they haven’t quite figure out names go with faces.

4.) Both are crawling, both are standing, both are edging, both have stood on their own without holding onto anything. And both squat so much that I can’t believe they don’t have baby buns of steel. Both have chubby butts and chunky thighs and perfect puffy cheeks. They go to bed between 5 and 6 at night and sleep until around 5:00/5:30 in the morning. They usually go down without a fight; We have been lucky on that front. On a good night, no one gets up, But on random nights, one will get up for no reason in particular. Nicole surmises that it is teeth-related, because interrupted sleep usually coincides with interrupted baby gums. Who knows. Once upon a time I thought babies learned to sleep through the night and then BOOM, done, every night, for the rest of their lives. Not so.

It’s been a busy week made dreadful by some sort of ear infection. First there was that stinging pain in my left ear. Then Nicole poured peroxide in it, saying this is a healthy ear maintenance procedure. Then I felt that same stinging pain and that swimming-all-day clogged feeling. So my hearing is off and I have had a few dizzy spells and I know I must go to the doctor, but that ain’t happening. I also need to get a throat sonogram and an MRI and bloodwork and some non-healing mole/shingle thing checked out, but I am not doing any of that either. Ugh. I want to take care of myself and all that but in reality with the girls, it is hard. The god thing is, the ear feels a little better today so perhaps it is heading down the healing road.

Nicole and I still struggle to find the balance of them and us. Singular and plural. And Lordy, it is a struggle. I told her tonight that since we don’t get to go out spend time together like we used to then every moment we are together counts, like, thrice fold. So a brief verbal exchange over sizzling turkey meatballs now carries the same weight as an afternoon movie. A trip to the park is a weekend away. Two minutes on the floor with the little ladies is a dinner out. Every little moment counts. And when they all aren’t Precious Moments, with a porcelain figurine to match, I don’t react well. I am an imperfect perfectionist, an out-of-control control freak. If we can’t spend the afternoon lounging on the couch watching bad movie and eating nachos then I want every word and sentiment in this house dripping with sunshine and happiness. That comes out a tad more aggressive than I mean it to. I will elaborate on another post. Now I need to hit the sack.

Pictured above, Madame Madeline’s buns of steel. And below that, Miss Avery. Lazy eye, my ass. That eye is merely exercising its right to not work as hard as the other.

*Title from Depeche Mode.