Friday, May 30, 2008

The View From Here...And For All Of Our Edifications....

Greetings from Sunny Florida! The flight was great. Well, that might be an overstatement, but we made it. And we are here and it is wonderful. I don't ever want to leave.

I am posting Psappho's comment on gay marriage in NY because I think we all need the details explained...Check her website out, too. Smart, funny, scholarly, sardonic and irreverant, in one neat package. I put the link at the very bottom of this post. For the record, STILL no proposal from Nicole. (cough, hint, hint, cough). I guess I am to live in sin forever, since no one wants to make an honest woman outta me.

Pictured above: Me on the phone with Leif. Notice my smile. Below that, Nicole on the phone with Leif. Notice her....eyebrow. Below that, Miss Madeline spreading out and Avery talking a walk around the beautifully manicured gardens. And below that, is there anything cuter than a sandy baby bottom??!!

psapph0 said...
Gay rights correspondent Psapph0 here! From what I can tell, this has about as much relevance (at present, anyway) as if Gov. Patterson issued a directive stating that all New Yorkers are all entitled to own a Hovercraft, even though it is illegal to buy one in New York. At first, this sounds really promising and exciting- but if we take a closer look, the real question becomes, "OK, great... but where the hell am I going to get a Hovercraft???"

Only one state in the US currently sells Hovercraft, and you can only buy a Hovercraft in MA if it is legal to buy a Hovercraft in your own state. Note, NY now says it is legal to OWN one in the state, but not legal to BUY one. MA is out of the question for Hovercraft acquisition.

What about CA? I heard that they're going to start selling Hovercraft there on June 16th. That might work, if the courts that ruled it is legal to sell Hovercraft in CA don't decide to put a hold on their decision so that the old fashioned auto makers can put an amendment on the November ballot making it illegal to sell Hovercraft in CA. If that happens, CA will be out of the question as well. (Of course, if it doesn't, NYers will probably be able to go to CA and get Hovercrafts and transport them back, but we won't know that for months.) There is also the chance that, even if you DO get a Hovercraft in CA and bring it back to NY, CA can put out a recall on all Hovercrafts purchased between June 16 and November 4.

And what about Canada? Hovercrafts are legal all over Canada. Why not just drive North? Well, in the unfortunate case that your Hovercraft breaks down and you need to trade it in, you would need to return to Canada and live there for ONE YEAR before you could terminate your lease or sell the title.

There are, of course, some loopholes. In MA, you can buy a Hovercraft, even in you live in a Hovercraft-Free state, so long as you promise that you will be relocating to MA some time in the near future and will be bringing your Hovercraft with you. Plans can always change, right? And I think that there are some countries out in Europe that also allow the international purchase of Hovercraft.

All of that said, I am left wondering if it is worth the effort to try and get a Hovercraft into NY, or if I should spend my time and effort getting the Hovercraft Bill passed in the NY Senate.

Oh... and about marrying furniture... what exactly is wrong with that again? I have an extremely deep, loving and supportive relationship with my couch and, should anything ever happen to me, I want to make sure that she is well taken care of!

Psappho's blog: So Are You Two, Like, Married?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

It’s A Bullet List Kind of Morning....

• Avery needs a harness and Madeline needs a tether. Avery will go in every direction, fascinated and interested in every clump of atoms in her line of sight. She is like a little firecracker, exploding with joy all over the place, unable to decide What To Play With or Look At Next Because There Are So Many Options. A harness would help keep her contained. Madeline needs her space. She needs to roam far and wide and doesn’t mind not seeing us at all. A common sight in this house is her little body rounding a corner, and disappearing down a hall. A tether would keep Madeline connected to us while giving her the freedom she needs. Better yet, tie Madeline’s tether to Avery’s harness and they will form a Tasmanian devil-like vortex, spinning in circles.

• We are leaving on a jet plane (did you all sing it too?) later this morning and I am anxious. Very anxious. I just don’t like flying. I told Nicole that I need to be able to be Bossy today, telling her what to do before we leave, so I can feel in control of something. She gamely agreed. So starting at 7:00ish this morning I will be telling her to empty the kitchen garbage and wipe down the dining room table and throw the chicken out. I will be Boss Lady and all order will be restored in the world, one chore at a time.

• I have always said that I don’t look good in a one-piece bathing suit and look much better in a bikini. That seems so impossible to be true, I know. But let me explain: This is not to say I look like a swimsuit model in a two-piece. Far far far from it. But if I have to put on a swimming costume, then it will be a bikini and I will try to spend as much time laying flat on my back, stretched out a little, which hides all the little bulges, wiggles and jiggles that pop out when I stand/walk. Nicole has never seen me in a one piece so I dragged one out of the nether regions of my drawer and put on a mini swimwear fashion show. In the bikini vs. Speedo smack down, the bikini won by miles. Nicole even seemed a little shocked at just how unflattering the one piece looked on me. If I had any guts I would post pictures. It’s bizarre how less clothes sometimes covers me up better.

• Yep, Judy, you nailed it! You know exactly where we were over the weekend. It is a beautiful spot, no? I think I will be spending many an afternoon there, if anyone cares to join. Such a little New York City secret.

• There’s a story on that states New York will recognize gay marriages. Failing to recognize gay marriages is a violation of human rights. Do you see the crap I have to deal with daily? My human rights being violated. First step: Nicole and I will be legally recognized, thus making miles and miles of extra paperwork unnecessary and sending conservatives into a tailspin. Next step: Once we have the right to marry, we will lobby for the right to marry pets/furniture. Isn’t that what people are afraid of? Psappho, please explain how this will/won’t affect us New Yorkers. The ruling, that is,not being betrothed to furniture. And while you are at it, could you just create a cable access show so you can have a platform? That is your summer assignment, if you aren’t too busy. (Updated to add: Scrooge McLesbian I mean Nicole is up and when I told her the good news, she said it doesn't matter because we can't get married in Massachusetts because we have to be residents. So much fr her dropping to her knees and proposing this morning. If we can't marry in Mass then it doesn't matter if we have recognized marriages here in NY. I need a bat signal for Psappho.)

• On Tuesday Nicole flew up to Boston for a meeting. The meeting adjourned and she was back on the shuttle by 1:00 to speed back to NYC. She called me to tell me how she was just going to come back home and work from here for the rest of the day. Joy! But due to thunderstorms and such, she sat on the runway for EIGHT hours. On a Delta shuttle. With no book and nothing but a three-year old granola bar excavated from the corner of her bag. She didn’t get home until 10:Something. I told her if that had been me, we all would have heard about it on the evening news, as I would have gone crazy.

• So yesterday I go to the gym at my regular 5:30 a.m. time and the doors were locked. The person opening the gym forgot his keys. There was a small and growing mob of us who waited 45 minutes until someone else could come with a set of keys. Why Lexapro is Good: I waited patiently and didn’t freak out at all. A little bump in the road, this was, that’s all. In fact, I tried to make the poor guy feel better by making jokes about Mentos commercials and leading an aerobics workout in the lobby. Why Lexapro is Bad: Shouldn’t I have just gone home? Skipped a day? Thing is, I skipped the day before ad I thought I couldn’t possibly skip two days in a row. I waited because not going seem to have greater consequences. This requires more thought than I am capable of right now.

• My next post will be from sunny, sweaty, humid, pastel and neon-pink Florida. We are staying at Nicole’s parents. They live on a lake (does everyone in Florida live on some body of water? A lake, a canal, a pond, an intracoastal waterway…) and we look forward to watching the girls play along its shores. I’ll bet you all a dollar that Avery will drink the water. I’ll be posting lots of pictures.

• If you have the energy, please send some positive thoughts my way around noonish EST. That is when we will be boarding JetBlue and heading down to Florida. Traveling down the eastern seaboard, each of us with a baby on our laps seems impossible. The girls will spend less than 30 seconds on my lap before trying to wiggle down. So three hours? How?? I envision walking up and down the aisles for the duration of the flight with an antsy child. How Mina does this going to Japan, with two kids, I will ever know.

• I’m off to the gym to try to pound of some anxiety on the treadmill.

• Pictured above: Look at them in the tub. She how Avery is all over the place? And Madeline has her back turned to Nicole? Below that, Miss Maddie, indulging in my picture taking. And below that, a memory that lights the corner of my mind: One of Madeline’s first baths at home. Or is that Avery?? Either way, look at her little belly button stump.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Celebrity Sightings in Central Park, and Other Weekend Adventures

First, I want to thank everyone for their comments. I reread them multiple times over this long weekend. I know that many people think that blogs cannot take the place of therapy, but sometimes I completely disagree. There were so many little nuggets of wisdom in those comments.

One that was really helpful was from Vera: She wrote that I should look at what behaviors enhance my life and which ones make it harder to get through the day. Maybe this is how most people operate but until I read that, I just never thought to look at it through that particular lens. Even as I am typing this I hate that I am making this reference but that statement was akin to an Oprah A-ha moment. I just assumed all organization behavior was a descendant of Control Freak-itis. While they share a common thread of control, the control manifests itself in good an bad ways. Not all control is bad. Making lists and menu planning enhance my life. Having the girls on a schedule enhances my life and theirs. Obsessing over a bag of pretzels makes it harder to get through the day. Seriously, with that one sentence alone I was able to take a honest look at the myriad behaviors and really figure out which were problems.

We had such a great, great weekend. We stayed here in the city, which everyone who lives in the city knows can be amazing on a holiday weekend, because the city is empty. Well, on Saturday I drove out to Long Island by myself for a friend’s BBQ. It was at 5:00, which is smack dab in the middle of dining time for the girls and close to bedtime, so we figured the most logical thing was for me to go by myself and for Nicole to stay with the girls. I was excited for this Me Time, and looked forward to the drive out, listening to the radio. I panicked when I realized that we just replaced the car battery so the radio wouldn’t work until we entered the code, which I did not have. I called Nicole in Disaster Mode, and she found the code, thank goodness, and all was well, because otherwise I would have missed hearing on the radio “Baby Got Back” (which, after listening carefully to the lyrics, really is a very empowering song). I have to say it was so nice to be able to talk with my friends and hold their babies and socialize. But I missed the girls and couldn’t wait to see them the next day.

Sunday was great. We walked around Chelsea and had lunch. Nicole commented that she felt human again, doing the things that we used to do. Sunday we went for a walk through the Bird Sanctuary in Central Park and saw a heron, an egret, a GIANT (size of a football-ish) goldfish and Jon and his family. That was the coolest celebrity sighting we have had in a long time. It reminded me that I want to Tivo The Daily Show.

And now it is back to business as usual. Nicole is in Boston today for work, which, believe it our not, usually means she gets home earlier than she does when she is in her office here in the city. If she gets on an earlier shuttle, she can be walking though our door before 5. Today on my agenda is packing for our Florida trip. We leave in two days and needless to say, the flying anxiety dreams are in full force. And I am wondering how these two walking babies are going to handle sitting on laps for the plane ride down. It was easy when they were five months, but now?

The girls will be One on Sunday. Where did this year go?

Pictured above, Miss Madeline and Mommy in the park; the girls in Chelsea on Sunday; me and the beautiful little Francesca; and Madeline, who does not want to be photographed and instead wants to walk around. This could be me in a couple days for three hours on an airplane, without the smile.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Alright People, I Need Opinions/Help/Advice/Guidance

Yesterday I visited my Siren Call bag of pretzels at Rite Aid. I didn’t want to, but I had to go to there because I needed formula and the Duane Reade didn’t have our particular brand in stock. So I had no choice, really. Maybe they were gone, because there were only a couple of bags. If that were the case, then problem solved. I didn’t want to buy them because I don’t feel I can control myself and not eat the entire bag. I went down the formula aisle and got what we needed and then detoured to Pretzel Lane and sure enough, there they were. . Not two bags, more like twenty now. Two long, neat rows, restocked, bursting with sourdough goodness. I did not buy them, but let me not underestimate that this was a struggle.

The anonymous commenter on my last post has got me thinking. Some of the things she said completely echoed what my doctor said: Lexapro should “calm down” the drill-sergeant, control-freak side of me and if it isn’t calming it down, then I might need an adjustment. By adjustment, she means supplemental medication. She wants me to see a psychiatrist to figure out exactly what cocktail would help to mitigate this part of me. I need to carve the time out of my schedule and figure out when I can see this new doctor. That isn’t easy.

I am disappointed that Lexapro wasn’t a complete and total, one-stop-shopping fix. But this is the confusing part, because I think it really did do its job and it did help a lot. It did put me back into a place where I felt more together, more competent and more optimistic. It got me through a particularly anxious time. It lessened any PPD-esque symptoms I was feeling, which might also have been your typical winter, lack-of-sunshine shut-in blahs, with a dash of isolation blues and adjusting-to-motherhood strains. I was able to get dressed before 11 in the morning. So I don’t think Lexapro failed; in fact, I would say it was/is wildly successful.

But this control thing is a big issue. Or is it? This is where I need help, because I am not sure what is organized and orderly and normal, and what is over-the-top.

I have the classic control-freak symptoms: A mild case of back-seat driving; issues with flying; wanting to do everything myself. “That’s ok; I can do it” is a familiar refrain of mine. I like things just so, MY just so.

But is this all destructive behavior? Isn’t some part of “control freak” good? I plan the weeks’ meals on Sunday and make shopping lists accordingly. This prevents last-minute ordering in or multiple trips to the food store. I lay my gym clothes out the night before. This prevents not-going excuses and makes the early morning ritual more about enjoying a cup of coffee before the gym and not searching for clean clothes. I never stand in front of the fridge or cabinet and think “Hmmm. What do I want?” because my meals are already planned out. My vitamins and Lexapro are organized in one of those pill container things. This prevents accidental skippings and “did I take my vitamin already?” The girls have regular meal times, nap times and bed times. This makes all of us happy. Toys are put away before bedtime; our pajamas are under our pillow; dirty clothes are rounded up and put in the hamper. Our home is, for the most part, clean, organized and mess-free, thanks, in part, to my controlling ways.

But what is too much? As the commenter has pointed out, I have struggled years with many issues. Smoking, drinking, toxic people and relationships. I have been so weight obsessed that I have weighed myself before and after meals. I have been gym obsessed and size obsessed. I have let numbers on a scale dictate my mood, my attitude, my day.

I have come a long, long way from that person. I don’t drink or smoke and I never weigh myself before and after meals. I don’t go to the gym twice a day and in fact I now take one day off a week, which is huge for me. I have shaved 15 minutes off of my daily gym routine, which is also a big deal. I stopped drinking Dr. Pepper. I focus on finding clothes that fit and I don’t obsess over what size they are.

But as we know it isn’t all rosy over here. I can’t buy those nuggets because I will eat the entire bag. Normal or not? I know eating an entire bag of anything isn’t normal, but surely others must have similar stories? Certain foods are on the endangered species list in this house, and those pretzels are one of them. Thank goodness this issue doesn’t translate to all foods for me.

Or this: We are visiting Nicole’s parents next week and her mom want to know what I want her to buy for us at the food store. But I want to do it myself. I even made semi-plans with Nicole to go the night we get there, after the girls are asleep. Not letting other people help and not delegating: Normal or not?

Or this: It drives me crazy that I have to fold Nicole’s socks in a certain way, which is not my way. It also drives me crazy that she likes to have her desk strewn with pieces of papers and receipts and cards and such, a state of organized chaos to her that is anything but for me. Or this: I am afraid to parent in a friend’s home because the girls’ schedule will be off and I fear I will be a hapless failure? (I still do contend that I will be more lax about this as the girls get older, but right now it is very difficult to care for two walking babies in an environment that is not there own.) Some of this has t be normal and some of it probably needs to be worked on. I just can’t figure out which is in what category.

Pictured above, Madeline and Avery love backing themselves into a corner and entertaining themselves by doing things like banging their heads on the wall. No one puts baby in a corner except baby, I guess. Below that, Madeline discovered that she likes to use boxes for hats. And below that, we have a climber. Avery will climb on her toys and stand on them, making her a danger to herself and others. She will also push her toys around and then use them as steps to get on higher objects. The other day she pushed this toy to a small table in her room. Nicole found her sitting on the table with the blinds string in her mouth. This weekend is al about finding a way to hide the blinds cords.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Grass is Always Greener on the Other [Forbidden] Side

My children are playing with a toilet paper roll and eating little bits of the remnant paper and I am not about to stop them. Taking the roll away from them will result in a dramatic series of moments that may culminate with one or both of them performing the wet noodle when I try to pick them up and re-seed them in a new, baby-toy filled location. Why are forbidden toys always more desirable? It’s evident to me now that from birth we are programmed to want what we can’t have. A million colorful, noisy, sparkly, toys and they want cardboard.

Madeline is completely waking now. She still crawls but she can walk across the room and she frequently does, so proud of herself. She still does it like a little baby Frankenstein, with her hands out straight in front of her. Avery loves walking on her knees. She can walk upright but chooses not to. And when she does, she does it in a different way than Maddie: It is hard to describe but she sort of bounces as she takes little mini steps. Yesterday, though, she was walking like a champ, showing off for her visiting cousin, aunt and grandmother.

I kind of sense a change in them in that they seem to really be understanding much more of what we are saying to them. Language is starting to click, instead of being an endless stream of noise to them. If I point to something or ask them to hand me something, they respond appropriately sometimes. After they eat and I tell Madeline to give me her hands, she holds them up for me to wipe. Little things like that. I am looking forward to the point when they understand enough language to accept brides.

And a note on food, another round of frustration regarding the capricious tendencies of baby appetites. This is a typical scenario: The girls sample a raisin that I plucked from cereal. They love it. They eat is with gusto and desperately look round for more. So I buy a little box of raisins. They eat the entire mini box in one sitting. So I buy a big box of raisins. You see where this is going. Raisins are now on the I Don’t like It Anymore list. Out of the blue they started to like yogurt, so got yogurt-covered raisins. Not a hit. Avery puts the raisin in her mouth, eats off the yogurt and spits out the raisin.

Their diapers enclose an entire food pyramid.

Every day is an eating adventure. Waffles are back on the okay list today. An entire peach was consumed (the last each I gave them was spit out). And the once favorite watermelon is now all over my floor. Wagon wheels pasta, breaded chicken cutlets, broccoli and pizza are constant crow pleasers. And pizza. I am pretty sure Avery’s first words will be “Hand over that pizza, woman!” The other day I was having leftover pizza for lunch, much to Avery’s consternation, while the girls had chicken and pasta. She went nuts with pizza desire. I had to take my slice over to the window and eat it out of Avery’s line of sight. A better mom might have shared her slice.

And speaking of food, I noticed that my absolute favorite pretzel nuggets have been restocked at a local store. I have had a hard time finding them since Christmas. But there they were in that shiny blue bag, one pound of delicious sourdough goodness, screaming out to me. I literally stopped in my tracks and looked at them for 20 seconds. I didn’t buy them because I don’t want a handful, I want the entire bag. They are my siren song of food. I want to eat the entire bag. And the only way I feel like I have control over this is to not have them in my home.

It’s pathetic. I am almost 36 years old and should have this under control. I feel like no one else has this insane relationship with a bag of pretzels. Last night I thought about putting my clothes back on and going out and buying them. But I didn’t. There are certain food that are triggers, so to speak, and those nuggets are one of them. This struggle is annoying. Thinking about them is robbing me of valuable thinking-other-thoughts time. Feeling like I have no control over a two-centimeter long piece of baked dough makes me feel so blah. And so my control issues manifests its ugly little head in the snack aisle too.

Pictured above, look at Maddie and all of her pacifiers. And Avery in Skye’s hand-me-down hat.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Because I Don’t Have the Energy to Get Into It: The Five Meme

What are five things on your to do list today? [for Tuesday]
• Pick up shoes and drop off dry cleaning
• Clean kitchen
• Listen to voice mail (yes, I have to have this on a To Do list)
• Send birthday card
• Wallow

What are five snacks you enjoy?
• Herrs Sourdough nuggets
• Haribo Gummi bears (Gummi Alphabets are yummy too)
• Tie: Junior Mints (refrigerated, preferably) or Sno-Caps (refrigerated)
• Tie: Kettle corn or Smartfood Cheddar popcorn
• Jell-O Double Chocolate pudding cups (latest constant craving)

What are five places where you have lived?
• A dorm on Washington Square
• In a 6th-floor walk-up on Bleecker Street
• In an illegal loft on 6th Avenue
• On a boat in the Hudson River
• Back on land in Hell’s Kitchen

What are five things you would do if you were a billionaire?
[My caveat: Other than the obvious good will/retirement/mortgages/college fund stuff]
• Book a golf/spa vacation (golf for Nicole; spa for me. The girls can enjoy the pool)
• Buy a house in Maine on the ocean.
• Make Nicole quit her job so we can spend summers in above house
• Buy a ridiculous camera/lenses to take pictures when at above house
• HUGE, huge bookstore shopping spree

What are five of your bad habits?
• Not putting on sun block/putting on baby oil and laying out
• Not returning phone calls in a timely fashion
• Not returning emails in a timely fashion
• Occasionally eating in quantities larger than one should (giant bag of pretzels lasts maybe two days)
• Bitterness. Oh, there’s bitterness.
• Yes, I added a sixth bad habit because I must include my paralyzing control freak thing

What are five jobs (labors of love) you’ve had?
• Procurer/baker of cookies/ice cream/cupcakes/snacky things
• partner (on-going)
• mother (on-going)
• aunt (on-going)
• friend (on-going)

Pictured above, pictures from my niece’s ballet recital this weekend. She wa adorable in her tutu. I loved that when she saw me she yelled JEN JEN! in front of the entire audience. (For the record, Leif and Skye call me Jen-Jen, since an appropriate aunt title is lacking in Japanese). Nicole wanted me to do an entire post on the essence of one of these pictures. Wonder if anyone can guess which one.... and why. If you do, then you just figured out what I can’t write about. Who doesn’t love a good esoteric mystery?

And I MUST make a mental note to ALWAYS stand behind Nicole in pictures. My head looks like something in the Thanksgiving Day parade next to her tiny oval face. Seriously, I need to be set back like 50 feet.

Friday, May 16, 2008

It’s My Imaginary [Wedding] Party And I’ll Plan It If I Want To *Updated

Maybe I am jaded but I am just not overly excited the California same-sex marriage ruling. It always seems progress like this is made, but there is some catch or amendment or referendum lurking in the background that could potentially undo everything. Exactly how long will this ruling apply? And really how does it affect me in New York? If I marry in California, New York won’t recognize it, right? I can’ keep it all straight (no pun intended). Psappho, the knower of All Things Gay marriage, must come out of the woodwork and clear things up for me.

But it is progress. A predominantly Republican Supreme Court ruled 4 to 3 to strike down the ban. Wow. And the Terminator Governor said he would respect the ruling. Wow. People I California can get married in 29 days. Wow.

It would be fantastic if this would somehow trickle to New York. Dare I dream? Because even though I know better, I think about a wedding. Don’t most girls dream of a wedding day? Not all, but most? I still flip through the new issues of Martha Stewart weddings. When I can’t sleep at night I sometimes plan our imaginary day/night. While I love the idea of a big, formal wedding, we would never do that. I want something more celebratory and casual, with hints of tradition. I have my bridal party picked out (they can pick out their own outfits in whatever colors they want). I envision the girls in it now, in little poufy dresses and maybe barrettes in their hair. A beach, a clambake, handmade little souvenirs. The four of us dancing a “first dance.” There are lots of children there. It smells like bonfire and ocean. Then there is the fall celebration. And the girls are in red and orange dresses, like little leaves. There is hearty food, like mashed potatoes and chicken in some sort of creamy sauce. And little souvenirs like maple syrup and pancake mixes tied in fall-colored bows. It comforts me to imagine these things.

Beyond all that, of course, is the emotional component. I want that piece of paper. It doesn’t change our relationship emotionally, but it makes a difference for me. And, of course, I want the same rights, because who knows when I need to pull out that I-can’t-testify-against-my-spouse card? Bonus: It solves the issue of what-do-we-call-each-other.

Pictured above, me in a bridal party. As much as I would love something like this, I know a huge thing like this is not in my future. I am glad I got to experience something like this, though. I wonder if people can pick me out of the crowd. i am wearing so much makeup I barely recognize myself! I am so tan. Those were the days. Also, can you pick out the bridesmaid who is pregnant with twins?

*Updated to Add: Psappho's Comment. No one can explain rights/rules/laws and such like she does:

OK, so, as I understand it, here is what can/might happen in CA:

One month from now, queers can start getting married in CA IF...

1. The court doesn't stay the decision. The court has already been asked to stay the decision, meaning that it puts a hold on the enforcement of the decision, until the end of June when...

2. Conservative and religious groups prove that they have collected enough signatures to put a State Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage on the November ballot. At present, it is believed that they did manage to collect enough signatures, but the petitions are being gone over by the court. If they failed to collect the signatures, then the court would be able to put aside the stay and enforce the decision.

If they do have enough signatures, the Amendment will be put on the CA ballot in November, and it is likely to pass.

Things get more interesting if the state of CA DOESN'T stay the decision and allows people to begin marrying but DOES decide that there are enough signatures on the petition. Then, if a vote in November added an Amendment, there would be the question of what happens to all of the marriages that took place from June- November.

Of course, if the issue goes to vote and fails, then people can begin marrying in November, I think.

Also, with respect to New York, there are some municipalities within the state which honor a marriage from someplace else (Nyack and Ithaca are two), but, as a whole, the State of New York will consider a "gay marriage" from someplace else to be equal to a domestic partnership in the state of NY, and DON'T get me started on that (for more information, feel free to visit my own blogspot blog!) So yes, you could hop over to CA from NY, get married and bring it back to NY and admire your pretty piece of paper, but, if you already have a domestic partnership, it's kind of redundant (and not a very fuel efficent way of getting one if you don't already have one).

It could also happen that, even if CA does go or marriage equality, the Powers That Be dig up an old law, like the 1913 law in MA, saying that you can only get married in CA if your home state will recognize your marriage (which is why, at present, only gay people from Rhode Island and MA can get married in MA.)

Whew. So. Yeah. To top this all off, I have two weddings to attend this summer... all people who have been in their relationships for a shorter period of time than I have but, what the hell. They've promised to come to my retirement-home wedding some day. Guess that will have to do for now.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

For Some Reason Out-Of-The-Blue I Randomly Miss Lucille Ball

Because I am insane, I bought a pair of white pants and am under the delusion that I will be able to keep them white. They kind of remind me of something Katherine Hepburn would wear. Well, wide leg, like Katherine Hepburn and cropped, like Audrey Hepburn. Or maybe Lucille Ball. White pants are a bad idea, period, but white pants with two almost one-year-olds is just plain ridiculous. There isn’t a moment when they aren’t sticky or gopey or drooly or the host of a smooched raisin or masticated clump of pasta. Usually my uniform includes a tee shirt, which doubles as a chin-wiper, nose-cleaner and milk-wiper-upper. I guess I could just wear the new pants at night, after the girls are in bed, and then I could feel oh so stylish as I watch The Office finale. [Is it just me, or does it seem like we only had three new episodes of this show, thanks to the strike?]

Right now as I type this Avery is using her bottle as a giant crayon. She realized she can paint with milk if she turns the bottle upside down. This is her new favorite pastime. And Madeline just turned the television off by pressing the cable box button. I guess she doesn’t want to watch the news. And along this stream of consciousness, my children still won’t watch TV. No cartoon or kid show or Sesame Street. Nothing. On the weekends, whenever I get back from the gym, I usually see that Nicole has once again unsuccessfully tried to indoctrinate the girls into television watching. It’s not that I want them to be addicted but it would be nice to be able to have them engaged in TV for limited amounts of time so I can do things like cook dinner or go to the bathroom without having little “helpers.” I guess I should be careful what I wish for.

Since this post is going along the lines of absolutely no segues, let me comment on breakfast. The eating habits of children perplex me. A while back I introduced them to waffles and it was love at first sight. Then, a couple days later, they would not touch a waffle with a ten-foot ole. Same thing with buttered toast. But the tides change daily so I have no idea what is on the Good List or Bad List. There is no rhyme or reason but it makes sense in their mini worlds.

This morning, they each had waffles, toast and yogurt, all three things that they refused to eat the day before. And you would think I could at least get them interested in cookies. But every cookie I give them they won’t eat. Animal crackers were not a hit, and neither were a selection of animal cracker-esque cookies. What baby doesn’t love animal crackers? I got them some all natural version of animal crackers (called Snackimals, I think) and they won’t eat them. I ended up eating the entire bag. Almond cookies were also refused. And Goldfish…they only really like the plain ones, not the giant tub of Cheddar ones we got at the wholesale store. I really don’t want to stress about it because the reality is they won’t starve, but making sure their little tummies are full is more stressful than I thought.

I do get stressed out by how much food gets wasted. No matter what I do, giant handfuls of food end up thrown out every meal. I usually try to save what I can, but when watermelon chunks are mixing with chicken pieces and broccoli clumps, I just throw it away. I never figured out how much money we spend on food a month but I have a feeling it is huge. Once a week, we order pizza, which is my favorite food on the planet. I love pizza and would eat it every night if Nicole would let me. But that would be overkill (who, me?), so I look forward to pizza night once a week. I never thought about how much that costs, but that little pizza addiction costs us $80 a month (the pie is $17 but I usually just give the delivery person a $20 and don’t ask for change. Because asking for a dollar back seems so silly.) Almost $100 a month on just pizza. Our coffee is more expensive than others, adding another $12 a week, so that is $50 a month. Pizza plus coffee equals $130. The rest, I have no idea. I am a little scared to even calculate, because rising food prices plus crazy NYC prices combine, I’m sure, to make our food bill crazy high. A brick of Polly-O mozzarella (it’s a pound) costs $6.59 at my grocery store. That just seems so high. I shop more at the fresh fruit and veggie market, where the prices are really low, almost half of what it is in the stores. A bunch of basil is $1, as opposed to the $4.99 I pay in Gristedes. That’s a bargain. The problem is selection is random, so I may not get what I need.

If only life’s issues were always this mundane.

I can’t watch/see coverage of the China earthquake. It is so tragic. Those pictures of wailing parents crumpled on the ground in grief after finding out their child has died. It really affects me. My father said that China is much better than America in terms of mobilizing to help the victims, so that is a good thing. God knows they are doing a better job than Myanmar/Burma. In China, troops are marching in by foot with supplies and help. ran a story saying something like how parents are extra upset because many have lost a child and it is the only child they have, thanks to the one-child only rule (which applies, by the way, to populated city areas, not all of China, according to my dad). This is a quote from the article: “Not only must thousands of parents suddenly cope with the loss of a child -- they must often cope with the loss of their only child.” Maybe it is just me, but I don’t really see what that has to do with anything. I don’t know a single parent that would think “Well, at least I have another child,” even after the initial shock wears off. I don’t know. It just bothered me.

It seems like Mother Earth is really angry at us. Earthquakes a tornadoes and all these killer storms.

Pictured above, apparently in the wild giraffes eat zebras. And below that, Madeline, plotting her next move. And then, Avery with Mommy when Mommy is talking to Nana.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Controlling Control and Controlling My Hair (Help, Please)

Sundown officially happens at something like 8:09 p.m. but it our house it is more like 6:30. Thank you, black-out curtains, for tricking my daughters into believing that 6:30 is the day’s end.

We are having good and bad sleep issues. First, the good: Avery sleeps like it’s her job. She actually lunges for her crib at bedtime. She sleeps 12 to 13 hours without a single peep. Sometimes I have to hasten her morning awakenings my opening her bedroom door. Naptimes are regular and solid as well. It is amazing and I am so grateful for that. This is the sort of sleeper than parents dream about.

Madeline is not as enamored with sleeping as her sister. For the past few nights she does not want to go to bed at night, even though she is clearly tired. She yawns and rubs her eyes and burrows into your shoulder for split seconds, but put her in bed and she rages. Ad she knows we will not only get her, but cuddle with her together on our bed ad spend the entire night sleeping with her. Our little princess.

Two nights ago, she cried for a half hour. Then we got her, and Nicole layed with her in our bed until both she and Maddie fell asleep (at 7:45). Last night she cried for 40 minutes before she settled down. We didn’t get her and it was torture, for her and us. The only person in the house not suffering was Avery, who is in the same room, but did not stir once, even with all that screaming.

I am not a fan of cry-it-out and if we had one child I am pretty sure we would be much more into attachment parenting. We would turn their bedroom into an office or something and all sleep together. But that just isn’t possible with two babies. Listening to your baby cry and not getting her, under the guise that she is learning to soothe herself and all that, is just plain awful. Madeline, thank goodness, isn’t always like this. It seems to come in small waves, which usually coincide with teeth coming in (she has her molars popping up now). But still. I hate that she is unhappy and that she is crying.

Avery’s roseola seems to have dissipated and Madeline, amazingly, remains unscathed. After a few feverish and clammy days she has returned to normal temperature….and no bumps. They may still be coming but right now she is in the clear.

Maybe Maddie doesn’t want to sleep because she is discovering the joy of walking. She staggers around the room, like a mini baby Frankenstein, with her hands out in front of her. Sometimes she gets across most of a room before she falls. Other times it is three or four steps before she falls on her chubby butt. And once, she did this crab walk: Hands and feet on the ground and butt way up in the air as she scampered to the steps. Nicole and I just looked at each other in shock because she was so fast. I have a feeling that once she masters the walking thing she is going to start running.

Currently on my need-to-get-under-control list are my control issues. Is that possible? To control control? I feel like I am getting this parenting thing finally. I feel capable and confident and secure. I can get around the city with two babies. I can take them shopping or out to run errands or for walks. I have them on a schedule of two naps a day and their mealtimes occur within the same half-hour span every week day. It works so well and the three of us are happy.

My huge issue is taking them to other people’s houses. Parenting on the road. I want so badly to visit my friend, who just had a baby, but I can’t let go of the control. Her house is child-friendly but all I can think is I will be chasing two babies who will be going in two different directions. They won’t nap and they won’t eat as the normally do ad chaos will ensue. And I will be hapless and unnerved and insufficient and then I will feel like a failure.

So every week I think, OK, I am going to do it this week. And I don’t. I have no excuses. I have a car in a garage so I can’t use the I-don’t-want-to-lose-my-street-parking-spot excuse. The schedule is my security and my comfort zone. I have a feeling I just need to push through it once and then I will get a lot easier. And once I do I feel like our day-to-day will get a lot better.

But what is not going to happen, at least this year, is a trip to China. My dad is trying to get us to come out a visit him, and it is very, very tempting. He is all excited and talks about going to the Great Wall (a three-hour flight from his southern China locale) and days trips to Hong Kong, just an hour away. But I just can’t wrap my mind around that, not when the girls are just a year old. I hope we don’t regret this someday. It would be so great to go to China. Not to mention the crash-diet impact: I would lose probably 20 pounds in two weeks because I would eat almost nothing, such is my pickiness.

And now, hair help. I know I have asked before, but I can’t remember what to do. I can’t be making appointments every six weeks to get highlights or have my roots done. I think I need to move to boxed color. It is easy and convenient and cheap. Perfect.

My hair is multi-color. Medium-light-ish brown I guess is the best description. It turns blonder when I am out in the sun for a season. The issue is highlights on me tend to eventually turn reddish. I didn’t want that.

So what do I need to look for in a color? One with the word “ash” in it? Or one with the word “golden?” Does anyone have any experience with hair coloring in a box? Good brands or bad? Are the results good? My hairdresser warns me not to do it, but I can never tell if that is because he wants my business or he really thinks it is awful. But highlights with him cost almost $200 a shot. A box is, what, $10? And I don’t need to sit in front of a mirror and make small talk for two hours. Sign me up. But any advice is most appreciated. And I apologize for making some of you reiterate!

Pictured above, Miss Avery, the little sleeping genius, with Mommy. And Avery with the magic curtains. Look how excited she is. Below that, the curtains double as a toy, proving once again that anything from a toy store is not nearly as appealing as things not designed as toys.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Third Time's The Charm: A Mother's Day Tale

It’s Mother’s Day and for the first time in a very long time, this is a joyous day. This is a letter I wrote for Madeline and Avery, which I will put in their scrapbook and book:

We had a new protocol, a new attitude a new clinic, one of the best in New York. The fact that we had to pay out-of-pocket for this IVF and I quit my job to give this final IVF the best shot further buttressed our feeling that this time it might work. Everyone knows that the more money you spend and the more inconvenient it is and the more sacrifices you make, the higher the probability of the IVF working.

The day of the transfer I was alone. Mommy was on a business trip in Arizona and on her way home. We had hoped she would be there in time for the appointment but there were no guarantees. She had been there for everything else, from the blood tests to the sonograms to the retrieval, when the eggs I created with the help of 15 pounds of drugs were plucked from my body. The fact that because of work she couldn’t be there for the transfer was killing both of us.

Before an embryo transfer, the doctor wants you to drink a exorbitant amount of water. This fills your bladder, which in turn presses on your uterus, which helps the doctor guide the embryos to their (hopefully) new home. So an hour before my appointment I started the steady drinking of water. The clinic was about a mile away, so I took the scenic route and walked through Central Park, sipping water along the way. I stopped at the corner of the Park, and there, under a huge beautiful tree next to the pond, I scaled a giant rock and called Mommy. She was at the airport. I started crying when we spoke because I wanted her there so badly. We talked again about how many embryos to transfer. Conventional wisdom is two; anything more than that just increases the chance of having a multiple birth. So two it was, and under no circumstance should I let the doctor put in more. I brought up valid, possible scenarios and Mommy reiterated: Two. Period.

I didn’t intend to go against this plan, but sometimes, things happen.

I got to the clinic and was ushered into a changing room, where I was instructed to take everything off except my bra and lock up my valuables and put on the gown, opened to the back. Inside my bra I stuck a mini picture of Mommy of a tiny religious medal giving to us by your Aunt Jenni for luck. I also had Aunt Mina’s mom’s ring. Our good luck charms.

Then I went into a the room and waited for the doctor. My file—a huge, phone-book thick sized mass of papers—was in the holder on the door and I wanted to open it up and look at it, but I felt strange doing that, even though it was mine. So I waited, with a full bladder, in that blue gown, in those little slippers, my hair in a net. When the doctor came in, I was sad to see it wasn’t our regular doctor, the one who confidently said “Let’s go get you pregnant” and filled us with all kinds of hope. I was hoping that he would be on duty that day.

You don’t find out abut the embryos until the day of the transfer. The doctor could have come in and said that I had no viable embryos. It was nerve-wracking, to say the least. He asked me how I was doing and was being cordial but I interrupted him and cut to the chase: How were the embryos? He paused, he flipped through the papers and then, horror of horrors, he made a face that indicated that they weren’t the overachievers that I had prayed for. “Well,” he said, carefully, in a measured tone, “they are good. Not great, but good.” The expression on his face made it seem like he was being generous with these comments. He said that considering my history and my miscarriages and the quality of the embryos, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to put in three. Two of the embryos were good, and the third was so-so. So three it is. The doctor said it. Despite my promise to Mommy about no more than two, I agreed. Put in three and please don’ let this be a failure.

So I went into the operating room feeling low. I was upset. I thought it wasn’t going to work. This is doomed, I thought, not for the first time this cycle and certainly not the last.

When I was on the table, bladder uncomfortably full, and the doctors and nurses started preparing me. They did a sonogram and the doctor said my bladder wasn’t as full as he wanted it. I was devastated because I thought I drank so much water. More gloom and doom.

I watched the entire transfer on a giant screen suspended above me. The doctor threaded a long, thin catheter into my uterus and with one quick plunge, released the three embryos into the darkness of my womb. I felt a little sting, a little pinching feeling. I was rolled to the recovery area, given graham crackers and told to wait for a half hour before I left. But I as allowed to use the bathroom this time instead of a bed pan.

The next day, instead of laying on the couch with my feet up wishing for implantation, Mommy and I took a walk to Central Park. This was completely against protocol. I was glad to get out of the house and happy to have an outlet for all that nervous did-it-work energy. We wandered through the Brambles, and it was peaceful and beautiful and surprisingly calming and I wonder if it was there, in that hidden oasis under that thicket of tress that you both burrowed into the lining of my uterus and decided to stick around.

You are supposed to have a blood test ten days after an IVF to see if you are pregnant. But few women, impatient and nervous and determined, ever can wait for that date. You mind plays tricks on you during that long ten-day wait. Every nuance, every little twinge and pull and zap is analyzed. Is this a sign of success? Or a sign of failure? Waiting for a needle prick and blood results is excruciating.

The easier way out is taking a home pregnancy test. And while many will say that they are not accurate or they cannot detect pregnancy too early, I have found that they are terribly accurate. My first IVF rendered a positive test at 10 days past ovulation. My second IVF rendered a positive around the same time, though much, much fainter. So on this third IVF, even though I promised Mommy I wouldn’t take a test, one morning, while she was at work and I was unable to concentrate, I slipped into the bathroom, peed on a stick and waited.

Actually, I peed into a plastic cup and dipped the stick in, because my aim was never that good. I sneaked a peek about 5 seconds after the stick’s extended dip and saw what I thought was a faint line starting to develop. My stomach dropped and my heart flipped and I was filled with instant optimism. But the mind can play tricks on you.

I brought the stick into the living room, where I was ironing and watching Martha Stewart, and I carefully placed the stick on the top of the television. I ironed for a few moments, trying to wait three minutes or so, but I couldn’t take it. I went back over to the stick and saw, for certain, two thin, pink, beautiful lines. Little did I know how fitting that would be.

I was surprisingly calm. I remember feeling so relieved—we jumped the first hurdle of a positive test—but I also remember feeling the burden of so many other hurdles to come.

Mommy had to know. I thought she might be a little upset because we agreed that I wouldn’t put myself through the torture of testing. I have been know to take ten tests a day. And she too knows all too well that a positive test doesn’t mean a positive outcome all the time. But she needed to know. So I called her at work and said I was going out for a walk (another lie) and that I would meet her at her office, the one closer to home. She was going there in the afternoon anyway, so it was perfect. Our plan was to meet on the street and then get lunch or coffee.

I can remember what I was wearing, the mint green cable sweater. The white shirt. Jeans. I walked over to Mommy’s office, stomach filled with butterflies and the positive test clutched in my hand. She was a little late. This was not like her. So I called her work phone, I called her cell phone and she was not answering. I paced back and forth in front of our appointed rendezvous and waited, not very patiently.

And then I saw her. And she was not alone. She was with Catherine, her manager, and I had never meet her before. They walked over to me and as they got closer I surreptitiously pushed the pregnancy test—which was clutched in my hand— up my sleeve and shook her hand. We made some small talk and then she excused herself and disappeared into the giant building and Mommy and I were alone. I pulled the test out of my sleeve and handed it to her. She was excited but cautious. And so hysterically business-like because we were on the street in front of her building and surrounded perhaps by her employees and colleagues. We hugged and looked at the test some more and I vaguely recall making more promises I didn’t keep, like not taking any more tests and not searching on the computer for horror stories. Ha. Alas, no lunch or coffee for us because Mommy had a meeting she had to go to.

We had been at this point before, so we were both very wary. We knew we had so many more hurdles to jump. But, dare I say, it felt a little different this time, just slightly. Maybe that is hindsight (since we know this story had a happy ending) and maybe I am rewriting history, but I just felt like this is going to work. I had almost no symptoms to reassure me and no signs that you two were properly dividing your cells and growing inside me. But each appointment for blood work and sonograms yielded more good news. It was working. I was pregnant, with two growing, thriving, amazing, beautiful babies. And you two stuck around for thirty-seven weeks and five days, at which point you made your highly anticipated grand entrance into the world and our lives.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Who Me, Obsessed?

So my doctor gave me a lot to think about yesterday. She is very, very, very thorough. She noticed a little red mark near my toe and investigated it, so serious. What is this? When did it happen? How long has it looked like this? And it was just a blister, caused by flip flops. She was very concerned, offering me a band aid to prevent infection. She examined scratches all over my body (the girls’ nails, which I can never seem to cut into anything that doesn’t resemble/feel like little knives). And, this is the best part, she noticed little bumps which she thinks might be roseola. I had no idea adults could get roseola, but somehow am not surprised that I may get it. I’ll probably start teething next.

I spoke about my dizziness and she determined that I am dehydrated. This could very well be true, as I scaled back on my water consumption purposely (in hopes of needing less bathroom trips when I am out and about…have I mentioned how much I hate public bathrooms?). Also, I forgot that Lexapro dehydrates and coffee sucks the liquid out of us as well. And water, no matter how much you drink, won’t stick unless you have salt in your body or a sugary or electrolyte drink, like Gatorade or Pedialyte. Who knew? I drink about three cups of coffee in the morning, then switch to water and that is all I drink all day. No juice or milk or Gatorade or anything. Which is all running right through me and not doing its hydration job.

Another interesting tidbit I learned recently: Did you know, as a general rule, the smaller the fruit, the more nutriuos it is? Makes sense, if you think bout how things like watermelon and pineapple and almost nutrient-free, whereas blueberries and raspberries and amazing for you. It makes me look at the fruit section in a whole new way.

OK, so then my doctor started talking about my gym routine. I told her I go every day and take one day off a week. I am quite proud of this, as this is an accomplishment for me, but she was startled. She asked what happens when if I miss an extra day. I say that doesn’t happen. She pressed: But what if it did? But it WON’T, I insist. And IF it did, what would happen? Well, I said, it would be a hard day. I would have less energy and feel, I don’t know, disappointed.

Her: Why do you feels this need to go to the gym every day?
Me: It’s not a NEED per se, it’s more like something I look forward to.
Her: So why do you go every day?
Me: Well, it’s my time. It the only just-me time of the day.
Her: And what else?
Me: (really thinking here) Well, I also respond well to the whole endorphin thing. It gives me a rush. I know that seems cliché but it is true with me.
Her: And what else?
Me: Energy? It gives me energy? To deal with two babies all day? (At this point I could tell see had an answer in mind and I obviously wasn’t giving it).
Her: And?
Me: (Flustered) I…. don’t….know… I just enjoy it. (I really do.)

The conversation ended with my doctor disappointed. She thinks, I can tell, that I am obsessed. In a bad way. And she is disappointed that Lexapro didn’t “calm it down,” as she says. I get where she is coming from, and I know I have issues with organization and control, but I am not sure I would want my life any other way. Meaning, I am never going to wake up in the morning and say, “Let’s see where the day takes us! I am gonna go with the flow today!” That will ever be me. And a lot of people are like that. I am not sure we all need drugs to make us not like that. I am always going to want organization and consistency. I’m not sure that is so bad.

That said, I do think that I suffer a bit from the extreme end of this spectrum. I have already written about my incessant need for order with the girls and how this sometimes makes it hard for me to take the girls on the road, literally. I don’t know. I’m still looking for balance, I guess. I wanted to tell her how in my 20s I would count calories obsessively and go to the gym twice a day sometimes. Or how I would punish myself and not eat if I thought I ate too much earlier. Or how cigarettes and beer substituted as dinner for about, oh, a decade. So going to the gym and running six days a week and doing it because I look forward to it and because I truly and sincerely want to is a huge accomplishment. I am not the type of person who dreads the gym. I love it.

It’s official. Avery has roseola. She woke with a rash all over her little body. Lots and lots of red bumps, on her tummy and back and face and arms. Thank goodness it doesn’t itch. Madeline has been clammy all day, but not feverish quite yet. You can tell what kind of day Maddie is having by looking at her hair. The curlier her hair is, the crazier her day was. When she works herself up in a frenzy (stealing Avery’s toys; collecting and hiding pacifiers; banging wood toys on wood floors) she gets all baby-sweaty (more like a dampness) and her hair curls right up, all soft and flowy like cotton candy.

Today it was positively kinky. Madeline is being a mini devil, but, I must say, in an adorable way. Avery just wants to chill and be held but Madeline terrorized her all day. Madeline came over to her and whacked her on the head for no reason and started laughing. She took every toy Avery had, and played with it with vim and vigor, going so far as to almost taunt Avery with it. And then she spent the rest of the day crawling around with not one, not two but THREE pacifiers. I was just trying to keep it together on this rainy, no-outside-walks day.

And Blue Pearl, alas, that was not me. I am on the west side of NYC but I was not up in the 160s at all. So the mystery of who was calling my name remains unsolved.

Pictured above, don’t be fooled by that angel face. Below that, Miss Avery and some of her face splotches. Most of the roseola bumps are on her tummy and back, so far. And below that, Madeline moving in on Avery’s toy.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Doctor Visits, Squared*

Today I feel like I have a half day because at 3:00, Nicole is coming home and I am going to the doctor. I have never been so excited to sit in a waiting room flipping through magazines until after the girls were born. This is free time, in a way, and then I get to be the one who walks through the door at dinnertime and have two happy babies crawl over to me with big smiles on their faces (I hope).

I’m afraid my doctor is going to lecture me because I have failed to get an MRI to rule out bigger issues in the mystery of my one-sided hearing loss; I have not seen a throat specialist for my thyroid and I have neglected to have the dermatologist check out a semi-suspicious mark on me. It is on my ass, so can you blame me for not wanting to rush to the dermatologist, take off my clothes and roll over so my ass can be inspected? Part of me doesn’t want to do these things because sometimes I prefer to live in the safe darkness rather than in reality. The other part just doesn’t have the time to go to these appointments. Having Nicole take off from work every time I have to go to the doctor is not a good use of her time. And my mother, who would be the perfect babysitting candidate, is notoriously not reliable for these sort of things.

Today I am taking Avery to the doctor. She has a fever, as she has for a couple of days. Today it is in the 103 range, which makes her very mellow. I still wonder if it is teething-related, but who knows. She also has a weird finger issue. Last weekend in Target she was sitting in the cart and I accidentally jammed (in a semi-minor way) her little finger when rounding a corner. I feel awful about it. She cried like crazy at first, but then was fine. Now there is a little bump on her finger. She can bend it and it doesn’t seem to cause her pain, but there is that bump. Is the fever related to that? I have no idea. So off we go to the doctor today, in the rain, to check out that bump and the fever.

Avery just wants to be held and cuddled and that is impossible with two children. I want so badly to just lay around all day with Avery, napping with her and feeding her and cuddling her. But there is no way I can do that.

What I really want to write about is Mother’s Day. Not from the perspective of My First Mother’s Day, but from the perspective of a daughter with a rather complex relationship with her own mother. But that will have to wait till after Avery’s appointment.

On a side note, did anyone see Kathie Lee interview Heather Dooce Armstrong on yesterdays’ Today Show? Wow, what a hypocrite KL is. It really reinforced that I don’t really respect Kathie Lee. And I think I will officially stop watching her, as much as I love to watch her to complain about her. The things KL said were offensive and disrespectful, I think, to Heather and to all bloggers.

And by the way, to the blogger who thinks she saw me on the street: Did you really call out my name? I do sort of recall thinking I heard someone call my name and then thinking that's crazy. Do you remember where we were and when? I can tell you if it was us!

Pictured above, yesterday in the spirit of enjoying the weather I strolled the girls down to the waterfront. There is a park there, with a wide, open lawn. I thought I would let them crawl around and enjoy the fresh air. Alas, we got there and the entire lawn was covered in goose poop. Oh well. And I am so pale. SO pale. And since I promised Nicole I would never tan again (a bargain/promise we made when I got pregnant) I feel this pressure to remain pale. But oh how I want to have a golden tan.

*Updated to add: We are back from Avery's doctor visit. it seems that she may have roseola. Symptoms include a fever that lasts for several days and swollen lymph nodes in the back of her head. When the fever breaks, she will devlop a rash al over her little body. So we are in a bit of wait-and-see.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

No New Tale To Tell

What can I say? Literally? I feel like life has slipped into an easy sort of rhythm and balance so much so that something silly like the release of a book rocks my world. Yes, I will be at my local Borders to buy the new Barbara Walters biography. I saw her give a speech once and she made me cry, so I am hoping she brings some of that candor and honesty and tear-producing passion to her book.

My life is pretty much divided into two types of days: The ones with me and the girls alone and the ones with me and Nicole and the girls. During the week when it is just the girls and I, the day revolves around their two naps and three meals and, weather permitting, two walks. The days are very structured and it really works. On the weekends, when Nicole is home, we usually do something big (“big” is defined as anything that involves a car) on one day, and the second day is a more relaxing, homebound sort of day.

During the week, when it is the three of us, I want to hop in my car and go places with them, but that can get overwhelming. I get scared to get them off of their schedule. I like things orderly and predictable, and when we are home things are orderly and predictable. I am not a fan of surprises. I obviously suffer from control issues, but who doesn’t, really?

Babies crying in a car is really hard for me to deal with alone. I’m usually on highways so I can’t just pull over and make them feel better or pick up tossed toys or adjust sun shades. And then, wherever I go, I am dealing with two babies. So if I go to visit my friend, I end up chasing after the girls the entire time, leaving little room for socializing/relaxation. It’s just much harder for me to do my mother job in different locations. It’s a lame excuse, I know, and I am trying to get past it, but it is just difficult at this age (their age, that is, not mine, but I guess old habits are indeed hard to break). It will be easier when they get older, but I would prefer not to put life—mine and theirs—on hold till then.

So I make a plan in my head and I think in excruciating detail about what I am going to do (Bjorn one baby, stroll the other, pack their bag, go to the car. I literally try to plan every detail and try to factor in possible issues I might deal with. Traffic? Missed naps? Feeding two babies without a highchair (which, by the way, if a nightmare)? A day out with the girls means Anything Goes and Parenting on the Fly and that is an adjustment for them and me. I am just now getting a handle on this whole mom thing, and it has been 11 months. Sometimes I feel like I am not good at taking the show on the road, so to speak.

Having a child instantly makes you a mom on paper but I really think it takes a long time to figure out how that translates into actions. I’m working on it. I know the girls need to get out and socialize. And I do too. I miss spending time with my friends, a lot. I need to learn how to let go of control and go with the flow.

Once, in my 20s, I drove cross country with a friend and that was such an amazing exercise of letting go of control. It was one of the best experiences of my life. And we had lots of little bumps and unexpected things happen. We spent three days in a small time in Michigan (Traverse City…it was beautiful!) because we had to wait for a faulty brake part to be shipped (lesson here: Don’t except to find parts for German cars in American Car Country). We hit detours and weather delays. We got sick some days; we were hung-over on others. Each day was unplanned until the moment we got in the car. We traced routes on a map spread before us over breakfast in a coffee shop (alas, these were the days before internet and GPSs in cars and Mapquest). We changed our itinerary in Minnesota and South Dakota to include stops at Little House on the Prairie sites. We made bed and breakfast reservations on a car phone (they were kind of rare in those days!) every day, using a guide book for phone numbers.

It was such a good experience for me. But now, years and years later, I see that it was an aberration for me. And even though I enjoyed it so much, the freedom and the flexibility and the go-with-the-flowness of it all, I still haven’t managed to make it back to that point. That is what makes us humans so strange: Even though we know something or some way is better, we still cling to what we know instead.

OK, we’re off to buy Barbara. Oh, happy day.

Pictured above, the girls love when Mommy gets home. And below that, after an intense hour of playing with Mommy, Miss Avery rather suddenly got very cuddly and cozy and warm. We think she is fighting a fever, perhaps brought on from teething. She shows no other signs of sickness, so it must be her teeth. Right? I hope so because I don’t like surprises.

Monday, May 05, 2008

I’ll Have What She’s Having…Or I Will Scream Until I Do

The girls are going through some stage (I hope) in which it seems they both happen to want exactly the same toy at exactly the same time. What are the chances? If Madeline is playing with Polar Bear With Paws You Can Chew On then suddenly Avery needs the bear rightthisverysecond. The bizarre thing is we do have double of some toys and even if I give each one of the doubles, they look longingly at each other’s toy and when the moment it right, snatch it away, abandoning the exact same toy. They do this with their pacifiers too. Sometimes I like to give them each a pacifier and then watch them tussle. They will grab each other’s pacifiers for minutes on end. But this occurs to me that it might seem a little like cock fighting or dog fighting: Cruel and only for the spectator’s enjoyment and illegal in most states.

Avery, who walks like a champ behind her walker toy, and who takes steps here and there without any support, has now taken to pivoting. She will step with one foot in a circle, leaving her other foot firmly planted. I feel like she is executing some folk dance or something. The urge to clap in a rhythm and yell up something in Russian or Greek overcomes me. Regardless, this has to mean that walking is soon to come, right?

The weekend whizzed by as usual in a blur. Already I forgot what we did.

On Sunday I had a minor blackout. It is sort of like a Dizzy Spell Extreme. I am prone to moments of dizziness, most likely due to low blood pressure or getting up from a sitting position too quickly or maybe just too long between meals. Sometimes those momentary spells last a longer time, but those happen to me few and far between. But every time it does happen, it is scary and exhilarating, like a roller coaster. All those little dots swirl in front of my eyes in a tunnel-like way and the ground sort of slips from below me and I need to grab something to steady myself. The one I had yesterday was a little strange because it lasted a beat longer than normal and instead of just holding onto a wall I found that I was making little “uh uh uh” noises. I felt like I wasn’t getting out of it and that totally freaked me out. Sometimes I wonder if this is what death will feel like, the world slipping away and me slipping into this altered state. It is peaceful, in a way, and it has this strange aura to it, like I can figure out the secrets to the universe. But then I come to and it is over.

Strangely, I have a metallic taste in my mouth, which was the first sign of pregnancy for me every time I was pregnant.

The weather is supposed to be nice this week so I am looking forward to getting out of this apartment with the girls and getting some fresh air. I can’t believe it is May. I can’t believe they are going to be one in less than a month.

Pictured above, I stood on the chair to get this picture. That’s my toe on the left side. Below that, the girls in the tub. Notice they both have to have their own washcloth to suck on. And Avery sharing dinner with Mommy. I made roasted chicken with carrots and zucchini and rosemary. The girls really loved it. And I loved that we all ate the same meal at the same time. Usually the girls eat first and we eat later and usually I am making special meals for the girls. How liberating to make one meal that we all can enjoy.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

In The End, I’ll Probably Wish I Ate More Kettle Corn

I must open with the dramatic news that Madeline took about six steps yesterday. We all were in the kitchen. I was sitting on the floor with the girls and Nicole was in a chair. Madeline was standing by the fridge and I held out my hands and said “Come to Momma” and instead of her typical reaction (laugh at me; crawl in the opposite direction; act like I don’t exist and work her way over to Mommy) she walked six little steps right to me, with a huge Maddie smile on her face. Not confident strides, more like onetwo pause three pause wobble fourfivesix fall. She did it on the last day of her tenth month, so heretofore I shall be saying that my daughter started walking when she was 10 months. Avery walks around holding onto furniture or pushing anything that can be pushed but she hasn’t made the leap to doing it on her own yet.

Today I am so very tired, which is unusual because this sort of lethargy usually doesn’t hit until Friday, after I have run the marathon of a week. Vitamin B-12 has let me down. When I put the girls down for their morning nap I so desperately wanted to nap too. I haven’t felt like that since the dark dreary days of winter, when sometimes I didn’t get out of my pajamas until eleven (if at all) and I would parent from a reclined position on the couch until the coffee did its job. Right now we are in the kitchen and the girls are pushing around a teak stool that I so loving varnished myself (almost asphyxiating myself on the fumes in the process) while I sit here contemplating my tired ass. It is post-lunch, which means playtime for a while, which then slides right into naptime, which means I will get a break.

The thought crossed my mind that maybe I am not eating enough, and maybe that is why I am really tired. I have had more dizzy spells lately, which could my low blood pressure, but the dizzy spells plus lethargy usually adds up to not eating enough with me. I am running about four miles a day, except for my break day, when I run zero. When I exercise like that I typically do need to eat slightly more than I usually do. But but but there is the rub. I am not good at moderation. Not at all. So telling me to eat a little more means in my head, fine, I’ll add a jumbo bag of gummi bears, or a huge bag of pretzels and/or nightly ice cream to my diet. I don’t know in-between.

Say I buy a bag of my favorite pretzels, the Herrs Sourdough nuggets. I open the bag and have a few nuggets, then clip the bag and put it away in the snac-ibet (snack cabinet, which also holds cereals, oatmeal, nuts and crackers). Roughly four minutes later I will reopen the bag, take out another handful and re-clip. I can do this until the bag is gone in two days. You would think I would just eat from the bag or get a bowl, but I won’t. But I will use one of our mini-bowls and refill that 17 times. It’s sort of like how even after almost a decade of smoking I never once bought a carton of cigarettes. Oh wait, maybe I did in customs, but never outside of an airport. I smoked up a storm, one pack at a time. Talk about denial.

Back to food. Now my flawed logic is this: I am going to consume the entire bag at some point. Maybe a week is an acceptable amount of time; maybe five days. Regardless, each and every perfect nugget will end up in my belly. What difference does it make if I have the whole bag in one day or seven? So if it makes me happy can’t I just sit around and eat the entire bag in one day?

If I ate like that daily, then that would be a problem. One bag of something each day for seven days equals not good. But, to be honest, bags of pretzels beget bags of pretzels. And gummi bears. And Wheat Thins. The occasional pint of ice cream that Nicole and I will share at night. The mini boxes of Junior Mints. The movie-theater sized boxes of Junior Mints. I can eat my way through every aisle of the food store. And don’t put a package of Girl Scout Somoas in my fridge because I will eat that in one day, if not one hour. I embarrassingly ate my ay through a box at a friend of Nicole’s once and blamed it on my pregnancy. Little did she know I could eat that many cookies even when I wasn’t incubating two life forms.

Just like drinking, it is easier for me to just abstain instead of moderate. But that is not to say I don’t eat. I have three solid, normal meals a day and two snacks. I don’t buy skim anything or lite anything or fat-free anything (except for the dulce de leche pudding, which only comes in fat free). I have a pudding cup every night. (Pudding cups are this season’s ice cream bars, which were last’ summer’s dessert for me. ) Tonight is pizza night and I will gladly eat my two slices and then slice away very long-sided isosceles triangles of pizza from the remaining slices until I have consumed roughly half of another whole slice. I will have my pudding cup and maybe two, since they are a ridiculous 60 calories a piece. And I am not hungry. But eating more might make this lethargy and dizziness go away.

Or, and this is a big or, the girls are just draining the energy out of me.

Pictured above, Avery models their new bathing suit for an upcoming trip to visit Nana in Florida. It seems so tight on her and it is 12 to 18 months. I would get it in a larger size but it was sold out. And the price was great: ten dollars each at Old Navy! They will be “swimming” in their first pool soon and that means either Mommy or I will need to get into a suit too. I must say i would sooner get into a bathing suit than see another picture of me smiling. For some reason, my smiles look like they were carved out of the fleshy part of my face with a blunt object. Seriously. What is up with that? Oh well.