Wednesday, April 30, 2008

When a Movie Represents Infertility Emancipation

Nothing like a random movie to remind me how lucky we are. The release of Baby Mama is a milestone for me. Two years ago, I would not have even entertained the idea of seeing that movie. Even living a mere hour and a half in a pregnancy movie is too difficult when you are TTC. I had to avoid movies like that, baby sections in stores and all pregnant strangers on the street and every freeking bump watch headline. But now, years later, with two beautiful babies, that fact that this is a movie I can see amazes me. And I still may not see it, but it is my choice. I am so grateful to have that choice.

One of my best friends just had a baby, a beautiful little girl. Since her birth a week ago and after holding her little body in my arms, I felt that ache to have a baby. I started thinking about the third embryo transferred into me. Who would that baby be? In my perfect little world, we have a gaggle of happy, healthy children, guaranteeing huge Thanksgiving dinners and college cost nightmares. But in my practical world—the one that includes a lot of years of struggle and hurt and pain and miscarriages—I don’t want to get back on that roller coaster. I look at our girls and I can honestly say I feel like our family is complete. More children would be such a gift, but I really am happy with the amazing girls we have. Wanting more is like winning the lottery and then praying to win again.

Though calling them girls might be overstating the case! Madeline is becoming a pacifier monster. She has always enjoyed it at nighttime and naptime, but now, rather suddenly, she has become attached to having at least one in her mouth and one if her hand at all times. If Avery somehow ends up with one, she wants that one, too. Madeline, we think, hides the pacifiers in places only she knows about (under her crib, behind things) and will later find it, pop it in her mouth and swagger around. When I say to her, like I did this morning, “Give Momma the pacifier. That’s just for sleeping,” she takes the pacifier out of her mouth and balls it up in her fist and won’t let me at it. Is she starting to understand us? Could that be happening already? Or is it coincidence? When we do wrestle it away from her sticky clutches, and put it out of her reach, she plants herself below where the pacifier is and cries and stretches and tries tot reach it.

I cannot stress enough how much the blackout curtains have changed nighttime. Before the curtains the girls were having a rough time going down t sleep. Who could blame them, as plenty of brightness filters through the blinds, giving the allusion of “It’s still playtime” as opposed to “It’s time to sleep.” Since the day we installed them, the girls have had only one wonky putting-down experience, and that, I believe, was de to a poopy diaper and teething issues.

Sleeping through the night is a different issue. I never thought we would get there. Avery sleeps 12 hours still: Put her down at 6:30 and she sleeps clear to 6:30 the next day. Our sleeping champion. She has been doing that for a long time. She has random night wakings, but more along the twice-a-month timeframe.

Madeline is doing great as well, but she has gotten use to coming into our bed. Sometimes she cries out and instead of letting her work it out and risk waking Avery, we swoop in, pick her up and bring her into our bed. Having two babies crying in the middle of the night is the worst. They sort of egg each other on and crescendo and escalate and then it becomes impossible to calm them both down unless both Nicole and I drag our sleepy selves out of bed and hold them until they are completely asleep. And completely asleep usually means an hour or holding and soothing and saying “No, Avery, this isn’t the time to stand.”

Truth be told I love when Madeline is in or bed. I love seeing her little body and holding her. I love how she wakes up with a shy smile on her face, stretching and yawning. Our sleep is awful, though, as both Nicole and I wake up often because it is nerve-wracking to have a mini-person between us. Last night, Maddie didn’t cry out at all, and this morning, I was sad she wasn’t with us. But we all get a better sleep in our own beds. And besides, I feel sorry for Avery, all b herself in the room, when Madeline is with us.

Pictured above, guess who likes pancakes? Well, let me correct that: Guess who liked Momma’s homemade pancakes yesterday but pushed them around refusing to eat them today? Children are strange eaters. Yesterday they ate the pancakes like their lives depended on it. Today, they wanted nothing to do with them. But they both are still loving watermelon. I ran out of watermelon, so I gave them some of mine from my own fruit salad, which is covered in lime juice, and they loved it. In case I haven’t raved about this already, lime juice squirted on watermelon is dee-licious. Really. Try it. I also put salt on my fruit salad.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Taking Baby Steps, Both Baby and Momma

Alas, the bucolic seersucker family portrait was not so easy to capture. Squirming babies plus a lack of a capable photographers on hand put us at a disadvantage. I had this vision of the four of us under a dogwood tree, its pink petals raining down on us. Ha. Instead it was the four of us in the yard with an eleven-year-old photographer. In the picture of the four of us, I look taller than Nicole I’m not). And the girls aren’t quite cooperating. We tried.

The girls were amazing this weekend. They went to church (their first time) and made through half of the communion service before we bailed. The honest truth is they would have lasted longer but we didn’t want to risk it, and we were sitting near people who seemed less than assumed that we brought babies with us. (to a communion service…what the hell I mean heck?). So we packed the girls into the car and drove around and then met the family at the restaurant. And the girls were fantastic there. Avery sat in her high chair and ate for a good hour straight. Madeline sat on Nana’s lap (Nicole’s mom) and was a little well behaved princess. It gave Nicole and I both such confidence that we can take them on dining-out adventures now.

Madeline is starting to take steps without holding on to anything. So far it has only been a step or two. And she did all of these, of course, when I was in the other room or not looking. So while Nicole got to witness these tentative steps, I instead could to experience Nicole calling me “Jennifer! Jennifer! She’s walking. Oh, she’s down.” We both assumed Avery would be first because she was the first one to stand and all that, but it just goes to show you that you really can’t assume anything.

On Friday, I experienced a computer issue that normally would have brought me to tears but I think lexapro allows me to deal with these situations a little more calmly. For no reason at all, the “m” on my keyboard stopped working, as well as the up and down arrows. Just out of the blue. You don’t realize how important that m is until you remember it is at the end of every .com. I have that apple care package but I couldn’t log on because I couldn’t type So I had to go to google and search “acintosh” to which it responds “Do you mean macintosh?” I guess I could cut and paste an M from a word document but really, who has time for that?

So I load the girls in the Bjorn and the stroller and go over to the Mac store and wait to meet with a specialist. After about 45 minutes of standing with two babies, I get called over to a specialist. He said it was weird that both the M key and the arrow keys stopped working because these keys are in different sections of a keyboard and usually the keys stop working in the same clusters. Did you understand that? I bet you did. I did as well, but there must have been a look of confusion on my face because the specialist then decided to explain it again in this way: “Say your keyboard is a zoo. This section is the bears and this sections is the lions. Usually one gate opens and all the animals escape from one section. But on your keyboard both the tigers and the bears escaped.” Am I two years old? It’s all good though because they replaced my keyboard and I can type again so I am over his pedantic explanation.

Recently I was around someone who, in the past, said that it was a good thing that I miscarried because it is selfish for us to raise a child without a father. As you can imagine, this makes it difficult for me to even see said person. It is one of those things I want to rant about and write about in detail, but the risk of certain people reading such rants now or someday hinders me (lets just say that the evil person deserves to be ignored but innocent people associated with said person don’t).

This loops back to who is this blog for? It is supposed to be my outlet, but censoring myself sometimes makes it less outlet-like. My purpose is not to drag people through the mud or anything but sometimes I think it is hard to get my point across when I am muzzling myself. The truth is, I have no idea who is reading this blog. And I do know that if you type all of our names into google this blog will come up. This space is for me to work things out and record things and keep track of my life.

Its funny how in my twenties I thought I had life all figured out. And now, in my thirties, it turns out I had really nothing figured out. Opening up now about some of the real issues that bother me (insecurities and bitterness and sensitivities and all that) seems to be mini steps in the right direction. At least i can do that on this blog. But let's say I needed to get that rant out, about the evil person who thinks it is appropriate to think that I deserved to have a miscarriage, where are those feeling going to go?

So who is going to come up with a secret blog so we can all rant and rave and have a safe and uncensored place to explore the deep, dark issues?

Pictured above, the partners in crime climbing the stairs. I love their dresses (a gift from their Auntie Jenni). Below that the four of us and below that, how cute is Avery there? She was smooshing her little face (her cheeks always smell like cookies, even when she hasn’t had any cookies) next to mine. So cute.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Our Routine Routine, Which Is Not Always Routine

I am all for unions and strikes, I really am, but when said union is striking six floors below me at the building across the street, and they have a drum, cowbell, a veritable marching band and, inexplicably, a coffin, I need to draw a line. I applaud their theatrics, and I do get a bit of a lump in my throat as I watch gray haired men carry sign asking for safe working conditions and the right to not be exposed to asbestos. But my union support ebbs temporarily at naptime. I have no idea how the girls are going to sleep through this. As it was, Avery was bopping to the music during breakfast.

And they really need this nap. It as been a packed few days. I have been out two nights in a row—once to visit one of my best friend’s new baby and the next night to see my friend’s uncle’s band in the Village. Staying out late two nights in a row is not the norm anymore. And wow am I tired.

Their daytime routine has been disrupted as well. Yesterday I walked over to the east side for a play date with our friend. The girls were thrilled to be in a new playroom with new toys. Madeline laid claim to all of the maracas and both girls marked their territory by chewing and drooling on every toy in the room, which was no easy feat (sorry about that, Auntie G). It was fun to spend time with my friend and see the girls interacting in a different environment, but lunch time was a nightmare. My friend’s daughters are out of high chairs so I had to feed my girls in the stroller. Avery went on a hunger strike and refused to eat: If her meal time morsels aren’t splayed out in front of her on a tray for her choosing, then she wants nothing to do with it. Madeline did a little better but in the end only ate a few pieces of chicken bits from my salad and a thousand strawberry puffs. They didn’t get their afternoon nap, which threw them off too. These girls are such creatures of habit and I think they really like their routine, and their routine is eating and napping at home. When their routine is disrupted, they get confused, as if they are thinking “Should I be happy now? Should I be screaming now? Is this the point when I demand to be held?” Like mothers, like daughters.

After that, we walked over to Mommy’s office on the way home. Everyone there is so nice, but sometimes I wonder if they really like me and the girls or if they know they are supposed to like the boss’s wife and their kids. One even offered to baby-sit, and it isn’t even bonus season. The girls loved crawling around on the floor and Avery entertained us by crawling into the glass wall many, many times. She thought she could crawl through it, like some sort of baby super hero. It was very funny to watch. I wonder what Nicole’s employees thought as we sat their laughing at Miss Avery trying to walk through walls.

On Friday and Saturday we will be on Long Island to visit with Nicole’s parents, who are up from Florida for Russell’s communion. That means next two days will be off schedule as well. So today is all about getting back to the routine. Nothing is on the schedule but a trip up to Kate’s Papiere to buy cards and a nice walk outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. And pudding for me.

Is there such a thing as giving your children too much pasta? I feel inclined to say to the girls that they are gong to turn into a piece of pasta, as my own mother told me, because they eat it so much. But, she also said I was going to turn into a piece of chicken, English muffins, Alba 77 shakes with peanut butter, and pretzels, and I never did. The girls are loving pasta with tomato sauce, so much so that I even gave them some for breakfast today because they have recently started to refuse to eat toast or waffles. I started giving them Corn Pops, but Nicole informed me that they are filled with sugar and used to be called Sugar Pops until the marketing committee realized consumers were stepping away for things that were bad for them, or at least things with names that reminded them that it was bad for them. They still eat Cheerios and fruit (on and off) but otherwise breakfast is a challenge. Lunch is pasta and cheese or chicken cutlets and veggies. And dinner is the same. I need to start using a little more variety. I can eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner for weeks on end. But should I subject my children to that?

I started taking vitamin B-12 supplement and think I have noticed a significant increase in energy. It could be placebo effect or the spring weather, but still, I feel like it is working. Does anyone else take B-12 and if you do, do you feel like it is helping energy levels?

Coming Saturday, seersucker family portrait!

Pictured above, Avery and Mommy getting some work done. And below that, sisterly love!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

More is [Not Always But Sometimes] Better

I had an epiphany the other day doing laundry: I don’t need to use two capfuls of detergent for every load. The directions call for one capful, to the upper line, but I usually fill it up to the tippy top because I [erroneously] think I can get my clothes extra clean. I thought about it and realized I never once in my life noticed a difference between using one capful of detergent or two. My clothes weren’t getter extra clean or extra fresh or extra white. The only thing that was happening is that I am going though the soap twice as fast. Which means I need to buy more soap. Which is exactly what Tide or Cheer or whatever we use probably wants. So I am going to start using the minimum.

I have a history of using things to excess. I’m slightly ashamed to admit this but I used to be a member of a gym that used Origin products in the showers. That’s not the shameful part. There was this delicious mint shampoo, which, to this day, is my favorite shampoo ever. I used to take the big rectangular top off of the top of the shampoo dispenser and put my entire hand into the shampoo and scoop out handfuls of shampoo for my hair (shameful part). I loved the feeling of a cup of frothy bubbly minty stuff coating my entire head. Again, I wanted my hair extra minty fresh. Talk about wasteful.

On Friday, I experienced an excess of worry. Mina came over with Leif and Skye and we took the kids to Central Park. I had three panic attacks because three times, on a playground the size of Guam, I was unable to locate Leif. He was all over the place, running and climbing and swinging and crawling through play tunnels. Mina is very laid back and practical (in a good way) so she was used to this and was calm and convinced he was around. I was running about looking for him, yelling his name in a shaky voice, and wondering at what point do you call the police. I am the type of parent that considers getting those child leashes. Seriously. Skye, my little angel, does not run like a maniac and instead plays in plain view of us, never getting out of sight. After the park, we took the kids to Jamba Juice and Madeline and Avery got a little peach-mango shake mixed into their bottles with water and loved it.

Then on Saturday Nicole and I took the girls to go watch Leif play in his first Little League game, a.k.a. chaos on the field with preschoolers. After that we went back to their house for lunch, a.k.a. chaos at the table, during which Skye not once, not twice but three times raised her glass of apple juice for a toast. Later after we went home Mina sends me this text message: “Leif said best thing that happen today was u came to watch him. And he wants 2 moms. Me and my mom. He made me cry.” Of course, this brought tears to my eyes. I very much want to be the type of aunt/mother who goes to games and concerts and plays and events because I didn’t have that growing up. The fact that Leif said that just melts me.

And I love that children are so innocent. Leif sees nothing wrong with two moms. I have been with Nicole since before he was born so the whole two-women thing seems natural to him. He needs to be taught that same-sex anything it is “wrong” or evil (and he won’t be). Instead, Leif sees two moms as an advantage. So, in this case, more is better. (Mina’s mom died two years ago of cancer, which makes the two-mom choice even more poignant).

My mom hasn’t seen Leif or Skye since Christmas. I’m too weary to even begin to discuss again how sad this makes me. What’s that saying, about being grateful for what you have and not lamenting about what you don’t?

All I know is when Leif was born, all of the crap (loads) and drama (lots) and setbacks (many) I experienced dulled a little to make room for his little shine. I had to become a better person because of him. Same thing when Skye was born. And then when Madeline and Avery came, almost a year ago, again. And through Nicole, I inherited two more nieces and a nephew. This is not a version of “children made everything in life perfect,” rather it is an observation of how my world is becoming more populated with new, untarnished relationships, via mini people, it so happens, which means the good is beginning to outweigh the bad. In this case, more is better, too.

A new poll: This time, another lovely uplifting topic. Were you emotionally or sexually or physically abused as a child?

Pictured above, my Little Miss Skye. Below that, Man vs. Nature: Leif scaling the rocks of Central Park. And below that me and four reasons to be happy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Gym Worlds and Body Image and Droopy Dawg Stomachs

My gym is a ghost town at 5:30 in the morning. There are usually only a handful of us there. There is the one man who sits of the reclining bike and studies sheet music. There is the beefy body-builder type who walks around on a slant with a bounce in his step, like he is listening to jazz on his iPod.

I always run first. There are 28 treadmills in two rows (I counted this morning) and I was the only one on them this morning. Then a woman came in and sets herself up on the treadmill right next to me. I know there are no rules or anything, but does she have to pick the one right next to me? Why so close? So there were both were doing our own thing, right next to each other, when she abruptly stops her treadmill and gets her towel and moves about eight treadmills away. What is that about? These are the things I think about when I am trying to distract myself from the mileage counter ticking away ever so slowly.

I guess I don’t appear very friendly at the gym because one regular patron who I have seen for a couple of years started talking to me once when we were next to each other on the bikes, and she said that I always seemed like I was in my own world when I was there. She then called over one of her gym pals to meet me and said “Look, she speaks!” Apparently I was the Greta Garbo of the gym. Other people were summoned over at for introductions, so I got to meet the regular cast members of my gym. They all made some comments about how they didn’t know I spoke or smiled, etc. Then I was like a guest on Jay Leno’s couch and they were interviewing me. They asked me if I was a doctor because I was wearing scrub bottoms (gifts from my friend Jen’s surgeon husband: If you know anyone who works in a hospital setting, try to get a pair for the gym. They are amazing, thanks to the string waist that adjusts!) They asked me who that woman I was with (Nicole, years ago, in the old gym that many of us migrated from). Anyway, so now when I see this woman in the gym, and on the street (she is everywhere all of the sudden) I have to exchange hellos. Not that that is a bad thing, but she was right in a way: I really am in my own world at the gym and I like it that way. I listen to music and enjoy me time and feel good about energizing myself for the day.

The final results on the body image poll: 62 percent have a negative image of their bodies. I’m included in that pack. It is unbelievable to me, that high number. Again, I think this is higher than the national average. But I guess it isn’t a fair poll, as I have a very specific set of women who read this blog, so the element of diversity is entirely lacking.

What I do know is that, for me, the image thing is all in my head. I have felt the same way about my body both thick and thin. I shimmied into once-upon-a-time size six jeans and thought “Wow! I look like crap!” I have also shimmied into size 12 jeans and felt the same way. Regardless of the number on the scale or the size of my clothing, I still look in the mirror and think train wreck. I rip all the tags out of my clothing because I don’t like to be defined by that number. Besides, clothing sizes vary dramatically from one store/designer to the next. I can be in three different sizes in one day. I turn from mirrors. And I rarely walk around without clothes on.

So I have no idea how this all changes and wonder if it will be this way until I am very, very old. One commenter said something about remembering that right now, where you are at is someone else’s goal weight. That is clever, and I think I have felt that. But, when the negatively is so entrenched in you, it is hard to even scrape a little off and feel the true spirit of a sentiment like that. It’s easy for me to say that, but to really believe it? That’s a different story.

My father’s sister is very obese. She weighs close to 500 pounds. She had lap band surgery, but it failed. She then did weight loss surgery and from what I hear she is doing better with the weight loss. I don’t know because she has never really been a part of my life at all (her choice, not mine). So I have always had a healthy respect for serious weight issues. You think this would help me with perspective.

My stomach has a light coating of what looks like fish gills on it and soft little moguls from the stretching of pregnancy. My C-section scar serves as a little ledge for the extra fat in my tummy area. I never thought I would have a ledge on my body. When I bend over to blow dry my hair, my stomach droops. My belly button is now a belly oval. My entire abdomen section kind of looks like Droopy Dawg’s face. It is a sight.

I think, though, that I am getting slightly better. Knowing that this is all from the wake of pregnancy helps. And the other side of me is just too busy to devote lots of extra energy to caring. So it is interesting to see how this will all evolve. But now it is not negotiable. I need to move past this because I do not want to raise two daughters with body image issues. And if I keep this up, then I will have two daughters who will turn into women in their thirties who will look at themselves in a mirror ands say “My thighs look like tree trunks.” Talk about incentive. I am just not sure how to get there.

Pictured above, Droopy Dawg, whose face looks surprisingly like my abdomen. And yes, my boobs look like his eyelids.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

One Giant Ball of Confusion (Hey Hey)

I should have added in my last post that I am very, very unnerved at the thought of people touching my laundry. I used to drop my laundry off and have it washed and folded into perfect little pieces. It was so easy and convenient. But as I got older, it became another one of those things that I could no longer handle, like eating on the subway or rollerblading through Manhattan streets or pressing elevator buttons with my fingertips (I try to use my knuckles). I don’t want people touching my underthings, my overthings, my anything. Once I was doing laundry in my building, and an eccentric man who lives in the building casually fondled a tee shirt of mine on the top of my wet pile of laundry that was headed to the dryer and I almost threw the shirt out.

A housekeeper isn’t out of the question down the road, but right now I feel like I can handle keeping the apartment clean on my own. Plus, I really like cleaning, which may sound weird, but I really do. Also, what I said about my laundry applies triple to how I feel about my stuff! And I am very particular. I need things done in a very certain way. I know, I am a control freak, and years of therapy hasn’t managed to break that cycle yet.

I know I need to embrace day care and babysitters. It’s inevitable, I know. But for the time being I am dragging my heels, bitching about my lack of help instead of bitching about my refusal to take the paths given to me. Ideally, I wish I had a babysitter who lived in our building. Once upon a time, before I even had the girls, I had my eye on a teenager on the third floor, this sweet-looking, polite girl who I would see in her Catholic school uniform every day. Then one summer, she literally morphed in front of our eyes from a sweet, innocent girl to Aerosmith-esque groupie, decked out in tight, tight jeans and tight, tight belly shirts. And that polite child who used to smile hello now screeched into her cell phone and yelled at her mother in the elevator, rolling her eyes a lot. So much for my image of a babysitter working on her chemistry homework at our table while we went out to dinner. And I know I can’t judge a book by its cover, but I have to be honest: She now kinda scares me.

Madeline I think will be very particular about who babysits her. She sometimes looks at me with this expression, as if she is thinking “Philistine!” It’s like she came out of the womb reading The Economist and the Wall Street Journal cover to cover and she is just biding her time with us until she gets a loft in the Meatpacking District. She is such a thinker. She looks at things, and you can almost see the gears in her head moving. When I play a silly game, like hiding a ball under a cup and then lifting the cup to reveal it, she will sit and watch me for minutes, which is light years in baby land. Avery, on the other hand, will barge over like Baby Godzilla and grab the cup or ball. She is much more tactile. Maddie needs to look and see; Avery needs to touch and feel. At least, tat is how it is this week.

Maddie has been having a hard time going to bed at night lately, because she discovered it is infinitely more fun to fall asleep on Mommy’s chest while getting a head rub and back rub. Who can blame her? But it was turning bedtime into a way-too-long ritual.

Now that the sun is going down later, it is getting harder to bid the girls good night because the sun tricks them, I think, into thinking it is still Awake Time and therefore Fun Time. Their room has blinds but for some reason a ridiculous amount of sunlight still seeps in between those wooden slats. We have been looking for curtains but everything we have found was too pink or too green or too dark or too stripe-y. Have I mentioned that I have such a hard time making decisions lately? I spent an entire day trying to decide what color water bottle to buy. Green. No, blue. No, red. No, green. Yes, green. No, blue. All day. The curtains decision, it was like I was picking a college to attend.

Yesterday, after not one but two trips to Bed bath and Beyond (I guess I logged in about three miles yesterday, all because I didn’t measure properly), the girls room is now sporting blackout panels, the kind used in Vegas to shut out the sun so gamblers can get shut-eye during the day and win/lose money all night. These blackout panels make their room perfectly dark. Instant Nighttime. They are plain white and are designed to go behind curtains, but I am fine with these minimalist white curtains acting as the Main Curtains. Call off the curtain search. During the day I am tying them back with a pretty ribbon and they look great.

I don’t want to jinx it but last night Maddie night right to sleep in her newly dark room. It was the first time in a long time she didn’t insist tuck-in service. I am crossing my fingers that these curtain were the magic bullet. I feel like I am always crossing something and hoping something is some sort of magic bullet.

A Chop’t salad bar opened in our neighborhood and I am beyond ecstatic. There are only a few in NYC and none of them are particularly close to us. I love salads and salad bars, but this one is really good. They chop the salad up (hence, the name) and while that may be gimmicky it is enough to get me to walk a few extra blocks. Eating a chopped salad is so much more civilized then trying to fold giant leaves into your mouth. Yesterday I got a salad for lunch (mesclun, grilled chicken, edamame, apples and tomatoes) and it was enough for my lunch and for both Nicole and I to have with dinner. I got the lemon-lime vinaigrette and it is the BEST salad dressing I have had in a decade. I love lime, and citrus things, and light dressings. I could drink that dressing. No, I am not affiliated with Chop’t and I am not getting paid to write any of this! I just really, really love my salads! And I am so glad this place opened in our neighborhood.

Pictured above, then and now. Maddie as a salad when she was six weeks old and Maddie as a salad now.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Why Me-Time Feels Like Child Abuse

Weekend fights suck.

For the past week or so, my need to get a break from the girls hit an all-time high. My patience levels, which are not that high anyway, started dropping to dangerously low levels and my enthusiasm for playing hours games, including “Let See What Happens When I Pull Momma’s Hair” and “Let’s See What’s in That Drawer”, was taking a toll. I love my girls to pieces, but I know that I would be a better mom if I had a break from time to time. Like every month or so.

I have not spent more than an hour from the girls (excluding sleep, of course) in I don’t know how long. Literally can’t remember the last time I didn’t have them around, that we weren’t in each other’s orbits.

The thing is, I am lucky because Nicole is very involved and very much around. Her office is a twenty-minute walk from home, and if she works at her other office, it is a mere five-minutes away. Sometimes, when she is working at the close office, she comes home for lunch. She gets to work early and tries to leave by 5:00. She is around on the weekends and takes off when I need to go to the doctor or need help taking the girls to the doctor. A lot of people have to deal with a partner’s longer commutes or partners who don’t get home until after the kids are in bed or who work on weekends. So I am grateful for what we have. It is one of the things that makes living in the city very appealing.

What I don’t have is help, the kind of help most people get from their family, extended and otherwise. My mom never offers to come in and lend a hand, and when I ask her, she usually says yes, but then, on the day she is suppose to come in, she usually cancels because it is raining or she doesn’t feel well or she heard a truck was pulled over in downtown NYC for possible terrorism concerns or she is afraid of track fires because it is hot out (these are all true). So I have stopped asking, as the disappointment of the usually inevitable cancellation stings. Why doesn’t she want to spend time with her daughter? Why doesn’t she want to spend time with her grandchildren? File this under Things I Need to Accept and Stop Thinking It Will Ever Be Different. It is a very thick file.

My sister in law is around to help, but she works, and when she is off, she has two kids of her own. Minding four children, when you are not used to it, that seems like a lot to ask. Besides, I want to spend time with my niece and nephew, so when she is over during the week, I want to be there. And friends who come in, it’s the same situation: I want to spend time with them, not trot off on my own for a few hours.

Here are two obvious solutions that I will shoot down: We have free daycare (20 days a year) at a fabulous place in Rockefeller Center, but the idea of dropping the girls off and leaving them makes my stomach drop. I am not ready for that. Yes, I know I am my own worst enemy when it comes to this but drop-off day care is just not an option right now, even when it is free and convenient. I understand that this is a right of passage for parents. But it is one that I am not ready to entertain.

And then there is a babysitter. Call me overprotective and an alarmist, but I still can’t shake the idea that I leave the girls with someone—a stranger, really—and by the time I get home, the girls and babysitter/abductor are halfway to the Czech Republic (nothing against Czechs, I was just picking a random country). Again, I know this is defeatist as well, but it is not an option.

Still, the need for a break was hitting critical mass this weekend. Which turned into a fight/disagreement/tension with Nicole. She was trying to get me to get out on Sunday and take a break but I just couldn’t. She was frustrated because I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do. I couldn’t motivate to leave the house, Instead I was grouchy and frustrated and staying home and lamenting the situation. There are many, many layers to this:

1.) I am not accustom to leaving the girls. I have no idea how hard it must be every day to get up and go to work and leave them. I don’t think I could do it. But perhaps it gets easier over time. Leaving them raises my hackles, not to mention amplifies every little imperfect moment. Like suddenly I feel guilty that I didn’t spend more time with them or I sat down and opened my computer the day before instead of playing with them or I let them linger in their cribs for a few minutes longer than necessary so I could finish cleaning the counters. Instantly I am a child-neglecter, borderline abusive. Instantly I feel like I should have done better.

2.) Weekend time, to me, is family time. I don’t want a break when the four of us can be together. I want a break between noon and three on a random Tuesday. I want a break on a Friday morning. Basically, the only person who can provide such a break for me is someone like my mother, and we have already established how that isn’t working. But the weekends, when we can all be together, is very important to me. When I leave the three of them, I feel like I am missing out. I hate to feel excluded. And I don’t want to start a trend of me going off on my own every weekend.

3.) Taking some me time on a Sunday makes my life harder during the week. When the two of us are home, it is a thousand times easier for me to do the laundry and go to the grocery store or cook. Pretty much everything is easier. So me taking off on a Sunday means that I will make my Monday (Tuesday, Wednesday, etc) a little harder. Doing laundry in the basement with twins? That is probably my number one most difficult task. Haul everyone down to the basement; put laundry in; go back upstairs; go back down in 25 minutes to put laundry in dryer; go back up; go back down to get laundry in half hour and try to fold as much as possible before the girls try to squirm out of their non-moving stroller. And in case you are wondering, our condo board doesn’t allow washer and dryers in our apartments because they are mean (well, something about plumbing not being able to handle it but whatever. They are mean. And yes, Nicole is on the board).

4.) The concept of me-time is so very foreign to me at this point that it is hard to embrace the things that I might have done. Like sit in a book store café and read magazines. Or go for a walk in the Village. Or walk over to the Hudson. Walk around a marina. Visit Chelsea Piers and Chelsea Market and my other old stomping grounds. All of these things seem so abstract to me now, like pieces of someone’s life that I read about in a fabulous book. And they seem ridiculously indulgent. They are activities difficult to pursue when I feel the weight of so much responsibility of me. Maybe that doesn’t make sense, or sounds dramatic, but the way I see it is it is hard to enjoy a walk along the river, chatting on the cell with friends, on my way down to Chelsea Market, when I feel like I should be doing laundry and taking care of the girls. I like to feel a sense of responsibility-closure. I used to stay at work late to finish an article because I didn’t want to bring it home with me. I’ll work to ten so I can go home and feel that weightlessness of No Work To Do. I will unpack as soon as I get home from a vacation or a weekend away so I can sit on the couch afterwards and feel free. But with parenting that pressure never, ever lifts. You always feel like you need to do something. And until we hire a team of house cleaners, cooks and launderers, I will always feel like there is a sink to clean and a pile of laundry to do and bookshelves to dust. I have a hard time enjoying myself when there are loose ends.

Anyway, I finally made it out. I went to see a movie, which initially I was resisting because my stomach was bothering me and the idea of popcorn wasn’t pleasing and I very much NEED to eat a medium popcorn with lots of butter (medium if I am alone; if Nicole is with me she usually makes me get a small) when I go to the movies, even though it pretty much always makes me feel sick to my stomach later (what we call in our house “popcorn sick.”). So if I am not having popcorn, I won’t go. But I ended up going, and didn’t have popcorn, sadly, regretfully, and saw 21. It isn’t going to win any awards, obviously, and the reviews were kind of awful, but I enjoyed it. The problem is, though, I think the point of the movie was Cheating is Wrong and Can Lead to Very Horrible Things, and yet I left the movie thinking I need to find a book on how to count cards and I need to get myself to Vegas asap and start my career in card-counting. I then went for a manicure, during which my manicurist clucked several times, letting me know I waited too long between appointments.

But I don’t like tension and I dislike fights more than the average person because for someone like me, my first thoughts are usually, “Well, I guess this relationship is over.” I get that they are a part of life and relationships but it still sucks. I didn’t really see healthy disagreements growing up. I saw messages written in lipstick on living room walls and the occasional police car in our driveway. And then, of course, divorce. Not the best message to impressionable youth.

I know that children have changed the landscape of our lives in so many great and amazing ways, but it is still going to be a struggle to find a way to balance family time with me time and us time and friend time and, someday, special alone time with each daughter. It is harder than I thought it would be. I still can’t shake the concept that if only my mother would offer to come in once a month or if only my mother would offer to come in once a season, then that would a carrot in front of me. But this isn’t my mother’s fault and she doesn’t owe me anything. I know I will be different when I am a grandmother, so I guess that is enough.

Tell me that three months down the road that I am going to have a popcorn movie lunch without sacrificing family time and without having Nicole take time off from work and without destroying the delicate balance in our household. I still think this is a riddle to solve when it might just be a reality pill to swallow.

Pictured above, what Sundays used to look like (newspaper reading!) and what weekends were all about (laying in the sun with crabs!). Those days are very, very long ago. I feel like I have moved onto a more fulfilling life, but I still feel the need for a dose of that old life too. Yes, I like crabs.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Against Chemicals, Except Those That Make Babies

So I spent almost forty dollars on two Sigg water bottles and a lot more on BPA-free Born Free bottles for the girls (which we probably should have used from the beginning, thus saving hundreds of dollars). Sometimes I feel like we just hemorrhage money.

This whole Bad Plastic situation changes so much for us. I keep a Nalgene on the counter with water in it so it gets to room temperature, and then I use that water when making the girls’ bottles. This way I didn’t have to run tap water until it got to the right temperature or use cold water from the fridge. Easy. Again, here I am thinking I am saving time and effort and the earth, but in reality I was (maybe) pouring leaching chemicals into bottles with more leaching chemicals. Meta leaching. Great.

Now I am only worried about their bibs, toys, carpet, cribs, sheets, clothes and the dirty city air. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration but I feel like we are surrounded by these chemicals and the only way to escape them is to move out to the middle of the country and live in a field. But then acid rain would get us. Is there still acid rain? Why don’t we ever hear about acid rain and the hole in the ozone layer anymore?

Yesterday, I took the girls for their first grass experience at Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park. Madeline loved it, and crawled around, happy as a clam. Avery was a bit skeptical and preferred that I hold her. Both tried to eat the grass and the dried leaves.

A father and son came over and started talking with us. When we got to the lawn, he was a good distance away, but I saw his two-ish year old child looking at the girls and pointing. They made their way over to us and he started talking to me. It almost seemed like he was flirting with me, which made me a little uncomfortable. He wasn’t wearing a wedding ring and talked in the “me” and not “we” way. I am clearly wearing a wedding ring, so I don’t want to jump to (narcissistic) conclusions, but we was very attentive.

The conversation took a disturbing turn when he asked if the girls were identical or fraternal. I said fraternal, and then he said something about twins and higher order births being commonplace today. I replied with my usual “Well, my mom is a twin so it runs in my family….” And was about to say “…but these girls are compliments of IVF” when he interrupted and made some obnoxious comments about fertility drugs, IVF and trying to have a baby the “non-natural” way. I was flabbergasted.

I wanted to say something but I thought it is just pointless. I am not going to debate fertility rights in the middle of Sheep’s Meadow with someone who thinks that IVF is wrong. And I am not going to buy into the theory that all IVFs must end in only one baby. For many, twins are a blessing. Women who have had miscarriages or are getting older or don’t have the time or money to do multiple rounds of fertility treatments or who are battling disease or who have difficult pregnancies are more than happy to have two babies at once, effectively buy-one-get-one-free. Twins are hard, they really are, but I am so grateful for both of my babies, even on the hard days, because I wanted two children and I have two children. If I only had one, I have to be honest, I am not sure we would have gone through the TTC process again. It was so long and hard and heartbreaking, not to mention wearing on my relationship with Nicole. I look at my two amazing girls and think “which one could we do without” and the answer is obviously neither. They were a package deal and I am grateful for that. So all those people who think what I did was wrong, hopefully they will never be in my shoes and have to confront compromising their own morals for their own gain. Close-minded people like that are the first, sometimes, to change their opinions drastically when they are ones in difficult positions. It made me really appreciate the internet community of bloggers and the opportunity to find people who empathize, sympathize and appreciate without judging.

Pictured above, Madeline and Avery discovering that concrete and carpet are the only things under their feet.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Turns Out 7 Is Really An Unlucky Number

If anyone missed the Today Show on Wednesday, let me summarize: Your water bottle is going to kill you. I know I might be the easily panicked-typed and I tend to assume worst-case scenarios, but after the segment, I stopped using my water bottle immediately.

The segment reiterated how some plastics are bad for us. We all know this already, right? I never really paid attention to all this because I don’t use plastic that much and the plastic I do use (baby bottles) I never put in the microwave or dishwasher. Well, I did put bottles in the dishwasher at first, but stopped pretty quickly. I am a huge fan of glass ware and have been using Pyrex glass containers for food storage for a decade now. Not because I was scared of plastic, but because I never liked how plastic warped, stained and got all gross. The only plastic I used was my Nalgene water bottle.

The segment clarified what we need to look for on plastic: That little triangle with the number in it, numbered 1 through 7. The evil ones are 3, 6 and 7. The MOST evil one is 7, which is what all of my Nalgenes are. Matt Lauer asked about using a water bottle with a 7 on it and the doctor said “Throw it out.” Ouch. No mincing of words, no equivocation. There goes $50 of Nalgenes that I (and Nicole) have been suing for years. Great. And, now that I think about, one year, Nicole bought dozens and gave one to each of the employees. Now they probably think she was trying to hurt them. I bought one for my mother in law. I gave one to one of my best friends. I bought a mini one for my nephew. I was practically a Nalgene spokesperson.

This morning they did another segment to answer more questions and a different doctor said 3 and 6 are kinda okay, but she would err on the side of caution and not use them. But, she said, backing up what the first doctor said, 7 is evil and stop using 7 immediately.

So yesterday I stopped using my Nalgene and staring just using a glass (so old-fashioned) and today I will go out a buy an aluminum Sigg water bottle. I also went through all of our plastic. We don’t have much but we have lots of baby bottles and plastic sippy cups. The thing that is scary is that most of the girls cups have NO numbers on it. Their bottles have no numbers on it. WTF? I have some Born Free sippy cups and a couple of cups with a “5” on it, which everyone says is completely safe. So that will stay in the Keep pile. Everything else, I’m afraid, is getting tossed into the recyclable bin. I just don’t want to take the chance. I don’t know what to do about the bottles. I am trying to find out what number Avent are. It might be late in the game, but I might just invest in Born Frees or glass for the girls remaining bottle days.

All of this stuff really scares me. Some experts are saying that these leaching chemicals can cause infertility, breast cancer, attention problems, the list goes on and on. But the real damages we won’t know for another twenty years or so, because long-term studies can be conducted on humans, and not just animals. So we won’t know for years and years if there is a problem, and even then, it will take more years for the government to establish regulatory practices. So by the time someone says “Yep, they cause fertility problems and breast cancer” it will be too late for too many. And then, once regulations are re-established, will they be enforced? It’s like the whole lead paint in toys issue: Even though regulations were established toys were still being manufactured with lead paint.

Today is my Gym Day Off and it makes me feel a little uncomfortable, skipping a day. I am that bad, that all-or-nothing, that prone to switch mindsets just because I break a routine. In days gone past (in my 20s) when I skipped d ay at the gym I would punish myself by either not eating ALL DAY except for something tiny like a piece of fruit or I would go to the twice the next day. Fortunately I have moved past those extremes but I still very much have the mindset that I am doing something wrong when I do something like skip a day. As I said ad nauseum, moderation has never been my strong suit, but I am trying to make that suit fit.

Speaking of fitting, my $40 seersucker dress from Target came yesterday and it fits great! I LOVE it! Thank you to the commenter who found it for me. I really don’t think I would have checked Target and might have ended dup spending much more just because I am that set on a family portrait in all seersucker! I owe you!

The Office has a new show tonight!! I am so excited! The preview showed Pam asking a question about dinner which was SO something Nicole would say, right down to the tone. And The Memory Keepers Daughter was made into a Lifetime movie, which will air this Saturday. And I rented There Will Be Blood for Nicole and I to watch at some point, She never saw it and I am excited to see it again. So it is a good TV week.

Pictured above, Miss Madeline and Avery drinking form their “safe” number 5 sippy cups. I have no idea if they are age-appropriate. I put some water in it and tried it myself to see how fast the liquid came out.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Whole What-to-Call-Ourselves Debate: Solved [Maybe]

I wonder if the girls know their names. Sometimes I will call “Avery” and Avery will look up at me and I think, she knows. Then I will look at Avery and say “Madeline” and Avery will look at me, and I think, she’s confused. And then I will say something like “Yellow bucket” and she looks up at me and I think, she’s clueless.

Maybe Nicole and I both being “mommy” confused them. This is how heretofore we both referred to each other. Surely they will be able to ascertain that two separate objects can have the same name, right? Maybe not.

We’ll see if it sticks, but right now Nicole is “Mommy” and I am “Momma.” We still mess it up sometimes but we are getting better at referring to each other as such. I think part of me wanted “mommy” because it seems like the kinder, gentler name. Mommy bakes cupcakes with you; Momma keeps you locked in the attic with no food. (Hello, influence of Flowers in the Attic). Plus, I never really like Momma because I had a grandmother named that who was not a nice person. Not nice at all.

On the other hand I wanted to say “mommy” because I never did. Maybe that seems twisted? Calling my girlfriend Mommy? Have a field name with that one. I never called my mom “mommy” or my father “daddy.” Well, I guess maybe I did when I was young but I don’t remember. Mom has always been mom and dad has always been dad. And my parents refer to each other as “your mother” and “your father.” So formal, and always with a pronoun. I was always envious of people whose parents referred to the other parent without a pronoun. Anyway, I like the idea of being able to say, at a baby hand-off, for example, “Go to Mommy, Avery.” It feels like capturing a little of my own childhood in a bizarre way. Or maybe I should say creating my own childhood, because recapturing is not what I want to do.

The good thing about being Momma is the girls will say my name first!

So on American Idol last night that little boy I’m Loving Angels Instead, which really pissed me off. Well, maybe I should say it took me down a dark road because that was the song I played on loop on my iPod as I walked across town to have my second D&C (and little I know that there was a twin in my tube). Why that song, when I have thousands to choose from, I don’t know. I was crying and in pain (physical and emotion) and looked like a mess. As I walked through the heart of Midtown, more than one dapper man and distinguished woman gave me concerned looks. That song is now tied to a period of much pain. So I don’t want to hear it ever again. Thanks, tiny Idol singer.

The body image poll is starting to tip into the negative, which I thought would happen. Why do so many of us women look in the mirrors and not like what we see? I wish the positives could teach us negatives how they do it.

Pictured above, dinner, all over their faces. Last night I mixed spinach with ricotta, melted mozzarella on a tortilla, slapped another tortilla on top and cut it all up into bite-size chunks. They loved it. I then made a tortilla sandwich with cheddar and avocado. They loved that too. Of course, all that can change on a dime….

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

This Is Going To Make Me Seem Very Mean and Catty, But…

I am not a fan of K*thie L*e Giff*ord and I am not thrilled that she joined the Today Show. Her trademark mix of self-deprecating humor and annoyingness has never appealed to me.

First, as I have said before, these news programs in general just bother me. All they talk about it the weather and traffic and the fluff pieces are beyond inane: Today on Today there was a segment on “How to Lose 10 Pounds in Six Weeks.” OK, I’ll bite. The advice? Eat only one serving of cereal in the morning (instead of two or three); don’t put mayo or cheese on your sandwich; skip the late-night dessert or snack (and brush your teeth instead!) and don’t put butter on your toast. Do all these things and in six weeks you will lose ten pounds. The thing is I don’t eat cereal, I don’t eat mayo, I don’t eat sandwiches, and I don’t have toast for breakfast. So I will lose exactly zero pounds. Not helpful. Besides, was this segment helpful to anyone? Did anyone learn for the first time that eating half a box of cereal is not the way to go? Or that ate-night trips to the fridge are a bad thing?

This segment is followed by another insipid segment on sneaking vegetables into your diet through purees, because we as a country can’t seem to just eat vegetables. The thing is, the things you need to sneak the vegetables puree into (guacamole dip, pasta sauces, etc) are probably things that you aren’t eating anyway if you don’t eat vegetables.

As you can see, these shows bother me yet I don’t turn the channel. There just isn’t anything else. CNN is too repetitive and I am not a fan of biased news. Plus I need the company in the morning and I want to know what is going on. The TV is on in the background and every 45 minutes or so I will sit down, fast forward through most of it and watch whatever segments seem interesting, so I am not a captive audience. But even in fast forward I find the news annoying.

So today the aforementioned woman started on the Today Show and it was so awkward to watch her throw donuts at the camera, complain about working two weeks and not getting paid, holding up hair extension pieces from her own head in the make-up room, pull out a football helmet that her husband used in some football game (lest we forget she is married to a football player), make jokes about her husband wearing adult diapers (he is like in his 80s so that isn’t that funny) and yell at a siren in the street, saying “Excuse me I am making my debut.” (I hope the person being rushed to the hospital in the ambulance apologized to her). She then interrupted her way through and interview with Harvey Firesten and was inappropriate when an audience member asked him “What is the first thing you notice about the opposite sex” and she said to him: “That isn’t the one you care about, right?” Harvey gets a comeback award for his response: “That doesn’t mean I don’t notice them.” Go Harvey. And of course there was a requisite fish-out-of-water piece that had K*athie wearing weird stilt-like things and fumbling around, pretending to fall, making exaggerated faces.

Other current events bothering me include the raid at the polygamist ranch. Over four hundred children in state custody. This is very much on my radar, since I read that polygamist escapee book. I feel so sorry for the children and women who are trapped in those walls and are taught that the outside world is evil. Those kids must be so frightened, being pulled from their homes and taken away from their environments. I know this will save children who are beaten, raped, and forced to marry at young ages, but still, imagine being seven and going through this.

That girl in Utah who was kidnapped (Elizabeth Sm*art) was taken by a extremist and was brainwashed in 9 months. Nine months. She was taken into public by her captor and wouldn’t run or reveal her true identity. Imagine what growing up in a community with hundreds or thousands of people can do to your head?

And, like I said recently, I am learning so much about the Mormons. They have been tortured, killed and brutalized since the religion began less than 200 years ago. In the 1800s, states (Missouri, I think) declared civil war on them. They were driven from town to town by angry mobs of people who didn’t like their religion. They were killed in cold blood. To me, it doesn’t mater what they believe in terms of Jesus, God and the afterlife: It is wrong to be killed for religious beliefs, period. We as a country condemn other countries for things like this, but, once again, our history isn’t exactly a paradigm of perfection.

And now Mormoms are always mentioned in the same breath as polygamy, which is an edict they turned away from so many decades ago. And they are always associated with these polygamist sects, which are extremist sects that break off from the main church and have nothing to do with Mormoms.

I want to know what is happening with those children and the women and how they are being treated. I want to hear discussions about separation of church and state. I want to hear people debate whether polygamy should be allowed to exist in private communities if it is done in a way that ensures women have a choice (and aren’t forced at age 14, like they are now). But the news covers none of this is on the news because they are devoting segments to “Secrets of K*athie Lee” and “How the Fabulously Rich Spend Their Money.”

The body image poll is neck and neck! It is reassuing to hear that at least half of women have a positive imagine. More on this topic another day....

Pictured above, post-dinner Maddie, pulling her shirt off. She ended up topless by the end of the night. Sounds like my nights of many, many moons ago.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Where Are Those Mormon Missionaries When You Need Them?

Turns out babies are finicky eaters. What they like to eat one day might be completely eschewed the next. The lasagna continues to be a hit, plus cut-up mini raviolis. Peaches, which were coveted with a baby-like intensity I had not seen since the introduction of Cheerios, are now promptly thrown onto the floor or pushed away. The previously adored blueberry waffles have fallen by the high-chair wayside as well. They loved the waffles two days ago. This morning and last, not so much. Nicole insisted it is because the first time I made them, I slathered on about twelve tablespoons of butter. The second time Nicole made the waffles and she brushed on barely a hint of butter. More like the innuendo of butter.

Topping the hot list this weekend, courtesy of Mommy (the other one), is grilled cheese. The girls split a grilled cheddar cheese sandwich for lunch and ate with gusto. It was repeated for lunch on Sunday and it was still eaten with gusto. They also ate rotini with broccoli and loved that. But I bet if I give them broccoli tomorrow they will spit it right back out. Sometimes I think they like something and then when I take them out of their chairs, there are cupfuls of little bits of food. Such is the capricious nature of babies. We’ll see.

Kitchen scissors are my baby-feeding best friend. I learned this technique watching my friend Jen feed her twins. She pulled out some cheese and snipped it into baby-friendly bites with speed and ease. It is so much easier than using a knife and cutting board. I snip everything. I snip toast into bite-sized pieces. Their waffles, the few times that I have made them. I snip strips of mozzarella cheese into cubes. I snipped their chicken cutlet on Sunday night. It makes life so much easier.

I am also trying to just give them whatever we are eating. Meaning, I am not making special little pureed meals for them that much anymore. I have stopped checking to see when babies are “allowed” to eat something and just trust my instinct instead. I won’t give them nuts or honey but pretty much anything else (that is, other than the dulce de leche fake-sugared Jello pudding crap that I eat and such) is fair game. My doctor approved, and that is good enough for me. The other night I made macaroni and cheese with broccoli and that will be their lunch tomorrow. It is all homemade so I know the ingredients, and I can cut it all up with the scissors.

By the way, the dulce de leche fake-sugared Jello pudding crap is delicious. It is my new ice cream bar, which I used to eat every night, which fell by my arm chair wayside. Since the Jello is made with Splenda it has like no calories. I could eat all six little cups and it would still not qualify as a caloric binge. Not that I am trying to binge.

This weekend I took a gym-day break. This was a big, big step for me because normally my train of thought is “Oh well, I missed a day so I might as well stop going for the month. Or more.” I am so all-or-nothing and such a (failed) perfectionist. I said that I am going to start taking one day off a week, and I am trying to stick to that. That seems sane. Six days of gym, one day of rest. So I took off Saturday and went on Sunday. And then Monday, back to the 5:00 a.m. grind, hopefully. It is so hard mustering up the energy but when I am on the treadmill I am glad I made the effort.

There are a coupe of great articles about recurrent miscarriages and the causes of repeated stillbirths in the New York Times. There in the Health section. And in the Home & Garden section, check out “A House Not for Mere Mortals.: That is the most bizarre/provocative house I have ever seen. I can’t even begin to describe, except to say there are poles all over the house to grab if you lose your balance.

I am reading a book about Mormonism and it is fascinating! (the book and the religion.) Now I wish one of those missionaries would come and knock on my door. In the book (Under The Banner of Heaven) the author (Jon Krakauer, an amazing writer) makes the point that one can’t intellectually argue about the veracity or lack thereof of any religion since it is all based on faith, which, by its very definition, means not being able to prove. So what the Mormoms believe or Wiccans or Catholics or Jews or Scientologists or the scripture-quoting homeless man or anyone believes is not more or less preposterous than the next religion. With that in mind, it makes it easier to sift through these religions and find the good, the tragedy and the hope. I am not a religious person in any traditional-religion sort of way, but the older I get the more interested I am in learning about all of this. I wish I were more spiritual, I really do. I wish I belonged to a religion and had a church. Thing is most religions would espouse crap about how Nicole and I are sinners and that is exactly the sort of crap I don’t need my babies learning.

The poll, that was so interesting. Thanks to all who voted. 69 percent are doing it three times a month or less. Almost 80 percent four times a month for less. And the brave 20 percent at five times a month or more. Go, you sexual Olympiads. But I guess everyone else reading this can interpret that just as well as I did. I have no special insight other than my wondering of if the 20 percenters are in boy/girl relationships. Women in general just tend to not be so prolific, for lack of a better word. Hard-core cuddling and talks, yes. Quickies, not so much.

Pictured above, Leif and Skye and Avery. They came over on Friday. Leif has a big-boy haircut, but I miss his bowl cut so much. They are in bathing suits because they had swimming lessons. Leif said the first time he jumped in the water without swim fins, he was scared. The second time, he was less scared. And the third time he was even less scared. It was so cute, the way he told it, in that typical five-year-old way where all the details are shared, each and every one of them, using his whole body to tell the story. I am glad they are taking swimming lessons because I don’t want them to be like me, an adult who is afraid of the water. And yes, I lived on a boat but was afraid of water. Growing up, I doggy-paddled in pools and the ocean like I was being chased by a shark and to this day can’t swim in lakes, thanks to a scary near-miss with a snapping turtle. I can’t tell you the last time I have been in open water.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Rain, Habits, Calcium, Bedtime, Lasagna, Shoes

Another dreary, rainy, gray, damp April-showers day. Even still, I made it to the gym this morning, which usually is a good sign that I am back on track. To keep me on task I created an Excel chart, like the kind you make for toddlers who are potty training, with ten columns of things I should be doing every day but am not, at least not consistently. Things like drinking two Nalgenes of water, taking my vitamin, flossing, going to the gym and taking my calcium supplement. You would think that I could manage taking my vitamin ever day but I don’t. I didn’t yesterday, or the day before. My days whirl by and things like that end up on the wayside because sometimes getting up from the couch to get a vitamin seems like too much effort. The point system might seem silly, but I like the idea of striving toward something, even if it is a meaningless number. A row of checks is not enough, but a “7” or a “9” is. I think that says a lot about my personality. But I really believe the theory that it takes three to four weeks to create a habit, both good or bad, so this will help me make sure taking calcium supplements are habitual.

But even with the extra dose of gym energy, it is still hard getting through the day. The girls usually go to bed around 6:30 p.m., without issue, but last night, and a few nights recently, they clearly did not like that plan and screeched in their room until we caved and emancipated them. It has happened enough that we wonder if they are leaning toward a later bedtime.

Last night we let the happy little monsters play in the living room for a while then put them down around 7:30 and they just rolled over, closed their eyes and went to sleep. That’s all well and good for them, because they have unending stores of energy, but that makes my day a l-o-n-g 14 hours. I am trying to make sure I am in bed by 9:00 so that gives me just over an hour of quiet time, which really isn’t enough.

On a side note, Avery ate almost an entire adult-size piece of spinach lasagna for lunch yesterday. She loves it! And Madeline ate raviolis. They also had blueberry waffles for the first time and they were a hit. The more adult food they eat, the easier it is to feed them, but the harder it is to change their diapers without a Haz-Mat crew.

Thanks for all of the shoe suggestions. I am so shoe-backwards that I swear I never even thought of navy shoes. Navy, which would match the navy seersucker. Yes, I am that clueless. I would have stood in the mirror in black heels wondering why it just doesn’t look right. I have never enjoyed shoes or shoe shopping, I think in part because my feet are so big and extra wide. They are size 10 (or nine and a half, sometimes, depending on the shoe) but the wideness makes it hard to find shoes that fit. Clogs and flip-flops are my friends and I tend to wear them a lot. In the summer, I wear almost nothing but flip-flops, until someone told me that I could ruin my feet that way. I am going to wait for the dress to come (it shipped yesterday) and then try to get out hopefully this weekend to find a pair.

Pictured above, the smug Miss Madeline, who enjoy another round of playtime after bringing her mommies to their knees with her extra-high pitched screeching. Clever girl. And that thing she is playing with is their new walker. Both of them have made it across the living room pushing it. The both are staking steps when they hold onto our hands or furniture but haven’t made the leap yet to doing it on their own.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Bringing Back Gatsy Era, One Seersucker Dress At A Time

Project Seersucker is in effect! My searches for the perfect seersucker dress for me turned up not so much. They were either really dowdy (to the ankles with big collars…wtf?) or way too deconstructed and modern (Nordstroms). I was wallowing in Brooks Brothers, trying to make myself like the seersucker dress they had (I didn’t), which was the closest to normal I could find, and swallow the ridiculous price (I just couldn’t). Thanks for the Target recommendation. It was brilliant! I found a really cute dress at a really, really reasonable price (forty dollars!) I bought two (in two sizes) and will have to return whichever one doesn’t fit well. It’s a spaghetti strapped with a boat-collar and A-line skirt. The skirt part will fit fine, since it is A line, but the bust is always an issue. I don’t want it too tight because porn-star cleavage is not appropriate at my nephew’s communion. I guess I need to dig out my strapless bra. When was the last time I did that? Nicole already has seersucker pants and jacket. So we are set!

Except for, what shoes does one wear with seersucker? All I have are black heels, flip flops and my ultra-comfy fuzzy lined Lands Ends shoes. And rain boots. Seriously, I have NO idea. And there is no way I am wearing white shoes. So what do I wear?

People all the time comment that Avery looks like Nicole. And she really does. I think Nicole has very defined, striking features, and Avery seems to have that same look about her, the lucky little monkey. She has distinctive eyebrows and eye color. Everything about Avery reminds me of Nicole; not a carbon copy but a really good knock-off. We were talking the other day about the girls’ Armenian heritage. They are 100 Armenian from the donor’s side and I said that they are 25 percent Armenian on Nicole’s side so that is 75 percent…until Nicole interrupted my thought process to point out they don’t biologically share her heritage. In my head, we created these babies together. Oh, right, that is not biologically possible. It is strange how the mind plays tricks on you.

Madeline is now becoming a Professional Stander, like Avery. She is a little wobbly and can’t stay up without holding on to something for more than maybe ten seconds but it is a step. I was thrilled and she was clearly nonplussed by my hysterically happy reactions whenever she stood on her own. She has also taken to crawling over to me when I am on the floor and nuzzling for about five seconds. She will just lay her head on my chest or neck and just smile and make happy noises. Avery, on the other had, came over to me yesterday and bit my belly button hard enough to leave a mark! Well, that’s not entirely fair: Avery always comes over to us when we are on the floor to stand near us and interact. She is such a little people person, which is a relief because at first it seemed like she did not like people at all.

I dragged myself to the gym again. In the end, it is worth it, because my energy throughout the day is much better. But it is so hard to get out of the cozy bed and get dressed in my workout clothes and walk through the deep dark and cold morning to the gym. And sometimes it seems so futile. I have seen the same gym-goers for years now at the two gyms I have been a member of in my neighborhood. A lot of people at my old gym go to my new gym. And for years now, they look exactly the same. No weight gain or loss at all. Well, maybe there is, but to the naked eye, they look exactly the same. So you have to wonder is it worth it? All this waking up early and going to work out? I know the answer is yes, because the energy I get throughout the day is important and we all know that every doctor, report and research paper says that we humans need at least a half hour of exercise a day. But still, when I am on the treadmill sometimes can’t help but to feel like it is a big metaphor.

Pictured above, the dress from Target! And pictured below, exercise equipment for toddlers. A bit young isn't it? Can you picture a three-year-old going 45 minutes on an exercise bike that goes nowhere? If this bike was for rehabilitation purposes of developmental purposes, I'd get it. But the catalog I saw it in was billing it as exercise equipment for toddlers. Next up, kindergartner marathoners.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

What Wide Nose and Chubby Cheeks Can Cause

There won’t be any pirate wear this summer. Avery’s eyes are just fine, thank goodness. Turns out the cross-eyed appearance is just an optical illusion. Her nose bridge is wide and the little fatty pockets in her cheeks smoosh her eyes in a way that make them appear cross-eyed at times. Isn’t that unbelievable? I am grateful because even though lazy eye muscles is not a huge issue, my mind, of course, runs in the direction of “It is a sign of a bigger problem.” I panic at the littlest things. I know it is cliché, but I just hope for healthy children.

The appointment was great. The doctor was so gentle and, since he was a pediatric specialist, obviously he was great with kids. Avery loved him and acted like HI NEW FRIEND! while he examined her eyes. There was one point when he wanted her to focus on a TV screen about 15 feet away and I thought, well, it’s over now, because neither Avery or Madeline will watch TV. Making matters worse, the video on the screen showed mechanical stuffed animals barking and roaring and meowing, looped on repeat. It was a little grainy and looked like something from a horror movie. But Avery was captivated and watched intently.

I just don’t get it. I have tried to get them to watch TV—things much more engaging then mechanical toys making tinny noises— and they are not interested. Their morning routine used to involved watching a DVD called Sunrise Earth, which literally was an hour of watching the sun rise in different locations. The barest of documentaries, if you will. They seem to like that, but I think they were just tired and zoned out. Now that they are older there are times when I wish I could engage them in a show (educational, of course, not CSI or anything) for like a half hour so I can get things done. I don’t want them to be couch potatoes but I do at times need a little time to do things. But they just won’t watch anything.

The whole TV issue weighs on me from time to time. I have read the articles and watched the new reports claiming that TV will make children illiterate monsters, but I am not sure I entirely agree. After all, I am most of my friends watched television growing up and I think we all turned out just fine. But there are so many other distraction that we didn’t have: Computers and cell phones and hand-held games and video games and the Internet and HD TV and DVDs and IM and TM and I could go on an on. I spent my formative years playing with neighborhood in a Lord of the Flies-esque way in a tree house in our backyard. I climbed trees and roamed around in the woods. We played on the street by with other kids until the street lights came on, with not a single parent watching us. Big Wheels and Legos and blocks and Xanadu records, that is what I remember. TV, in comparison, seemed so boring. Well, except for The Muppet Show and Little House on the Prairie. But keep in mind back then there was no cable, no remote control, very little children’s programming and not Tivo.

Sometimes I think of raising them with no television (but occasional DVDs) but that is so hypocritical. Nicole and I watched TV, so how can we not let them? There is a giant TV in our living room. The room is organized around that giant TV. It can only be a matter of time before they start showing interest and we will have to introduce moderation.

Speaking of moderation, the girls ate their first grilled mozzarella sandwich yesterday and loved it. They also ate some spinach lasagna. I never even though t give it to them, but their (Italian) Aunt Jenni was over yesterday and was like “Yeah, sure, give it to them.” They liked it too. I love that they are moving toward more adult food.

I made it to the gym again this morning, tired, for certain, but I was there, dammit. My energy levels do seem slightly better, but I am having more dizzy spells. This sometimes happens to me, I guess because I don’t eat much meat or other proteins. That is my very unqualified guess. Truth is I have no idea why it happens. But I have been dealing with it on and off for years. My blood pressure tends to be low so it could be that too.

I was thinking of putting one of those weight tickers up here but I don’t know. I don’t’ want to focus of numbers and sizes and weight, like I usually do. I am trying to have a healthy attitude. But at the same time, I gained ten pounds and I want those ten pounds gone. Having a ticker just keeps me focused in a way. But at what cost to my mental health?

Pictured above, those aren’t crossed eyes. That’s a wide nose and chubby cheeks. Below that, new dresses for the girls from their Aunt Jenni. I love this dress. I am trying to convince Nicole that the girls should wear these seersucker dresses and I wear a seersucker dress and Nicole wears seersucker pants. Nicole agrees only because I think she knows I won’t be able to find myself a seersucker dress any time soon!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Dragging Myself Along One Gym day at a Time

I emptied the dishwasher, cleaned the just-used coffee maker and set it up for tomorrow, made the bed, fed the girls, organized various messes, took out the garbage and recycles and was polishing silver this morning by 8:00 a.m. That is what I mean about the gym giving me energy. The gym, and the four cups of coffee I consume.

I almost didn’t go. Avery woke up around ten on sunday night and acted like she was ready to party. We brought her into our bed and tried to cuddle her to sleep but she was more interested in clapping, standing, making new noises with her mouth, poking, laughing and chewing on whatever was around. Oh, and also climbing either Mount Mommymajaro. It must have been an hour before we got her settled. And then I spent all night waking up, on and off, until the alarm buzzed rudely at 5:00. I just lay prone and said “I can’t do this. I don’t have the energy.” But I kept telling myself it will give me energy and help me get through these long day.

So I found myself in my gym clothes with my iPod on the street at 5:25 a.m., on my way to the gym. I had a good run and came home, newly energized and feeling great that I accomplished something even after an awful sleep night for me. Stickers. I need stickers.

Tuesday I don’t have to get up so early. Nicole took the day off. It is our anniversary (lucky number 6) and we have to celebrate by taking Avery to her eye specialist appointment. If she has to wear a patch, prepare to see some pictures of her dressed as a pirate this summer. Patch or no patch, she will look adorable as a pirate. Maybe either way we will do pirate costumes.

I told Nicole not to get me an anniversary present because we just got tickets to see George Michael at Madison Square Garden for a crazy amount of money. But it’s 14th row!!! On the floor. I am so excited. July 23rd can’t come soon enough. And The Cure is coming too! I might need to see that. All I need now is some Erasure and maybe Depeche Mode. There needs to be an 80s version of Lollapalooza.

The Getting Busy Poll is very interesting. Seventy percent are doing it twice a month or less. We’ll dissect this more after some more people vote….

Pictured above, tonight’s dinner: Lots of sautéed shallots plus chopped parsley plus freshly grated parmegian cheese and spaghetti equals delicious.