Friday, June 27, 2008

Karma Lesson: Nothing Good Comes From Stealing

There was a moment of sheer panic today when my beautiful daughter ambled over to me, smiling as best she could considering there was an entire whole egg wedged in her mouth. Not a real egg, like we have for breakfast, but the same size and shape. In other words, hello choking hazard. This egg is green and filled with little shaky beads, and when not being eaten by children it is a rudimentary percussion instrument for toddlers who want to masquerade as jazzy beatniks who want to wear berets and hang out in smokey jazz clubs/living rooms.

Her lips were closed over most of it so all I could see was the green oval swatch that indicated my horror. How Avery managed to the whole thing in her mouth, I don’t know. I swear she is like a snake with one of those detachable jaws. My heart sank as I tried to figure out in three seconds or less what the hell I was suppose to do. No time to check a book or website. I tried to remain calm to keep her smiling because I am certain her smile muscles were the one thing that were keeping that egg in her mouth and not on its way down her throat. I then worked my littlest finger into the corner of her mouth, pop the damn egg out, threw it in the kitchen garbage and called Nicole in a cold sweat. It made me regret “borrowing” the egg (there were so many, and they made of four-month-old happy) from the instrument collection of the puppeteer at my nephew’s last birthday party. Just goes to show you stealing is wrong.

I was such a little shoplifter as a child. I used to carry a picnic basket into stores and fill it up with books and smurfs and stuffed animals. Once I stole The Official Preppy Handbook. I never got caught. I was in fourth grade, maybe fifth. It was bad. And then I remember one day my brother pocketed a fishing lure, all of 99 cents or something, and got caught by security. He got in so much trouble. It happened to be his birthday, too, which was even worse. I remember we went out to dinner but he had to sit in the car. And then when my dad got home from work at like 10 pm he had to call our grandparents and tell them. I listened to this play out from my lair, surrounded by stolen bunnies and toys and reading stolen Archie comics.

The houses’ balance of health is returning, thank goodness. After cutting her top two molars and getting over roseola, Maddie is back in fine sprits. This means she walks around with purpose, pushing buttons, rearranging books, and, her new thing, distributing flashcards around the home. It is as if it is her job to turn the DVR box on and off at least three times a hour and to make sure objects are placed into her toy cookie jar. She also manages to find every tiny scrap of paper on the floor and every feather that works its way out of the couch cushions. She also tries to eat said scraps and feathers.

So she spends her days with a smile on her face and performs all tasks with a dugga dugga dugga soundtrack (her latest “words”). I really feel like she is trying to communicate with us, and I think she thinks we know what she is saying. At least, I think she is understanding more of what we are saying to her. When I ask her where the ball she is, she fetches and brings it to me. When I ask Avery where Doggie, Maddie will go and find him ad bring it to me first sometimes. This could spell trouble in the coming months, as Doggie is Avery’s, and Avery knows it.

This is a far cry from the Maddie or last week, who cried and was in so much pain that she would throw herself on the ground (literally throw herself) and writhe around while opening her mouth and squinting. That, we have come to realize, is teething pain.

Avery, I should add, loves the word No. She doesn’t say it, but when I say it and shake my head, she smiles and laughs and shakes her head too. I think she knows that No means No but right now all she wants to do if show me her head shake.

I need a haircut. It has been a really long time. And I feel like the girls might need one soon. Their hair is suddenly very curly in the back. It is like they gave each other perms one night. But it is straight up front. Avery has a tail, and has since birth. It is a mini mullet, truly Business in the Front and Party in the Back. I am scared of Hair Responsibility for the girls: It is hard enough for me to make decisions about my own hair, let alone others. I don't know how we will be able to decide long vs. short and bangs vs. none. All i know is I really want pigtails for them.

It’s gonna be a busy weekend. We have a baptism on Sunday and a visit to friends on Saturday. And in between it all I need to start thinking about packing for our Cape Cod Adventures. The girls in the car for the 5/6/7/8 hour drive up? That should be interesting. But I love packing and, even more, I love packing for road trips. There is something about packing up the car, with luggage in the back and coolers on the floor of the back seat and everything in its proper place. Oh, the organization of it all.

Pictured above, three pictures sent to Mommy at work to prove that the girls were back to themselves. They are all grainy because I took them on my computer camera. I kinda like the grainy effect.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Standing on the Corner of What Now? and Why Stop?

Here’s how I see it: I put my life out here on this blog and talk openly about issues with control and weight and past bad habits all that. So making a comment about weight loss is fair game. I appreciate honestly, even if it is not what I want to hear!

A couple things have happened recently that has made me think more about the whole weight issue. First, Nicole hugged me and said she could feels bones in my back. I also noticed that lately my collarbone seems more pronounced, my skin just sort of sucks around it instead of encasing it and cushioning it and hiding its knobby-ness. And finally, and this was recent, I made Nicole retake a picture of me and Madeline because my neck and chest area looked bony, as it does when you are talking or clenching your neck and face muscles like you do sometimes when you laugh or speak. But the second picture produced similar bony, Skeletor results.

My body responds very well (and usually very quickly) to exercise. It always has, and it is a trait that runs in our family, on both sides. I come from a line of strong, muscle-y capable ox I mean people. We are the people you call to help you move. We are not very fast, but we can carry your couch or help you move a refrigerator and we can laden ourselves down with 10 grocery bags in one trip, running them up and down our arms like tree branches. My grandmother built a house with my grandfather, lifting cinder blocks herself to create the foundation and holding and hammering up her fair share of walls. I have given my brother piggy back rides as an adult (and he is tall and solid). And my brother, I am pretty certain, could lift a car if it fell on me. I am beginning to see this power and strength in Avery, who has unbelievable muscle tone for a one-year-old. You can feel it in her thighs, her mini brute strength. (Madeline, with her height and litheness, is going to be damn fast!)

I am the Oprah of my little world: I gain weight a lose weight easily. A little exercise and my muscles wake up and pop out. But given bouts of inactivity, and they soften up and blend in with the landscape of my body just as quickly as they popped. I have worn a (tight-ish) size 6 and (a loose-ish) size 14. I have gained and lost weight enough to realize that I should never get rid of my 6-to-14 span in my closet. And while I’d like to say “Oh, this is IT. I am going to stay at this weight forever,” I am realistic enough to realize that this may not be the case.

When I was younger, I know that I pursued weight loss with a dangerous zeal, and my reasons were purely vain. I needed to be a certain size and a certain number had to be on the scale and I would do anything to get there. I went on dangerous, unhealthy diets. I trudged to the gym because I had to. But that was a long time ago. My ultimate goal is no longer weight loss. It isn’t vanity. Well, it isn’t entirely vanity, if I am going to be honest, because it is impossible to pluck all threads of vanity from any weight loss goal, I think.

And now I am in this position where I think I need to start thinking about stopping weight loss and pursuing a maintenance program of sorts and I am befuddled. I have always chased an ideal, one which was very much dictated by Hollywood and media when I was younger, and now that I have stopped chasing this mythical ideal, I don’t know what to do. I’ll admit that there are vestiges of the old me, and I still feel the hint of a need to see at a certain number in my weight before I cease weight loss. But I am very close to that number and the thing is, what difference really will a few pounds make?

My body has jiggle and shake and you can grab fistfuls of fleshy bits. So while there are parts of me that look thin, there are parts of me that don’t. There are parts that look bony and there are parts really aren’t. My goal is not to be a rail, my goal is to be strong. And to have the strength to keep up with two one-year-olds, who are perpetual motion machines.

And so, what to do now? This isn’t a cut-and-dry situation. And while I am pretty certain this is of no interest to anyone really, I remind myself that this is my record of thoughts and these are my thoughts about what to do next. Cutting back on the amount of time I spend at the gym seems pointless. If I am up, and at the gym, then I am going to stay there for 45 minutes. Waking up early for a 30 minute workout just seems so…why bother? Besides, 45 minutes already feels like a compromise: After all, I used to go every day for at least an hour, and usually an hour and a half. Now, going six days at 45 minutes, no more or no less, seems sane. And, as I have said, I truly enjoy it.

Eating more, I suppose, is an avenue, but I feel like I eat enough. I have three meals. I have multiple snacks. I avoid things like, say, garlic bread, because I am not sure how to limit myself to a normal portion. Half a loaf seems normal to me. One piece? Ha. I can put food away like I am storing energy for a winter’s hibernation.

Last week I made Nicole an ice cream cake, made out of ice cream sandwiches and peanut butter cups and chocolate chips. All for her, because she has a special place in her heart for ice cream cakes, like those from Carvel. There is stil a piece left and I made it over a week ago. See, that is normal. Me, I would have eaten the entire thing in two days! But, to give myself credit, this is not how I am with everything I eat. There are just certain foods that are on the Endangered Species List in my world.

I’ll figure it out. Somehow. Soon.

And any and all advice is (always) appreciated.

Pictured above, on Tuesday, Mina and I took the kids to the mini amusement park in Central Park. Go during the week and there are no lines! We didn’t have to wait for a single ride! I went on most of the rides with the kids, and felt sick to my stomach. They all go up and down and in circles and after a while it just makes me queasy. The first picture is Leif, who every time I see him seems to be getting taller and taller. And below that, my fearless Skye. That child knows no fear! She is such a strong little girl. She reminds me of Avery. Or Avery reminds me of her. This isn’t the clearest of pictures but I love it because look at the look on her face. I want to remember that look forever! I wish I could help her feel that all the time. I think that is what love is all about. That last picture is me and Skye going down the slide. It was scarier than I thought it would be! The two of us, on a slippery potato sack, cruising down a seemingly greased surface. How did we stop? At the end is one of those thick rubbery mats, kind of like the ones you see in restaurant kitchen by the sinks, for those of you who have worked in the food service industry like me. I screamed on the way down when I realized that me (and my dress) and my precious Skye cargo would come to an abrupt stop in four seconds. I think I have rubber burns on the backs of my thighs. The woman in the big hat told me I was very brave.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I Can Run A Marathon! [Over the Course of a Week, with Breaks]

So I read this snippet about a report in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, (which, incidentally, and interesting only to me, is owned by a publishing company I used to work for just out of college) that reported that you have to reach a certain mileage per week in order to lose weight by running. The mini paragraph didn’t offer many details, except this main fact: According to this study, you need to run about 30 miles a week in order to achieve weight loss. I can vouch for that as being true, because I am losing weight and I am running close to 30 miles a week. Running less than that can actually cause weight gain, due to muscle build up or from increased appetite causing increased eating.

Running was this sort of insurmountable thing that I never thought I could do, and doing makes me feel good about myself. I literally started running one minute at a time. Minute by minute I built it up. And now I can run a marathon. Over the course of a week. Four miles at a time. With breaks. But still, it is a marathon distance!

I love my mornings. My alarm goes off at five. Well, Nicole’s alarm goes off at five and she turns it off, nudges me and holds her hand up, fingers splayed, to indicate to me that it is five. She has it down to such a science that she doesn’t even need words. My gym clothes are in a basket in the bathroom, so I change in there, get my cup of coffee, which brews at 4:44 a.m. every day, pour in the French Vanilla fake crap, which I love, and repair to my chair in the living room, checking the weather and my email and a few blogs before I leave at 5:25 for the gym. This is my time, my me-time, and I love it.

Running is not just about weight loss. Going to the gym has ever been about just that for me. It is a reason, though, I am not going to pretend that it isn’t, but not the only one. I love my mornings in the gym. I love the energy I get from working out, and the way it makes me feel. If I don’t go to the gym, I am a slug in a bathrobe trying to keep up with the day. I’ve said before that I really think that I am the type of person who really feels the endorphins. After the first mile, I can literally feel a bounce in my step. It is my original antidepressant. I tend to not go to the gym when I am depressed, which begs the old chicken-or-the-egg thing: Is not going making me depressed? Or is depression keeping me from going.

So I run and listen to music and watch the little TV screen on the treadmill monitor and think think think. This is my time in the day, during which the girls and Nicole are usually still sleeping, and I cherish it.

If you are like me, then one of the things you might think about is “Why Can’t I just get married to my same-sex partner in Massachusetts, which is WAY closer than California?” Because, yes, I wish I could get married. And I think what would we tell our girls when they are older? When they want to know why we didn’t marry? But marriage is not about them entirely, it is also about me. This response from the incredibly smart and well read Psappho will clear it up for you. It is dripping in her trademark sardonic wit:

“Ok. So, first, it's not just a matter of residency. MA was the first state to allow blacks and whites to marry (1843), and, because MA was afraid of a backlash from other states, they passed a law saying that people could only get married in MA if their marriage would be legal in their home state (The exact text says: No marriage shall be contracted in this commonwealth by a party residing and intending to continue to reside in another jurisdiction if such marriage would be void if contracted in such other jurisdiction, and every marriage contracted in this commonwealth in violation hereof shall be null and void.) This way they didn't have to worry as much about other states being upset about lawsuits from interracial couples who married in MA and then went back to, say, Georgia, and wanted their marriages to be recognized (because black/white marriages were illegal in most states).

The law was passed in 1913. Then, for almost 100 years, no one really worried about the law. It was kind of like the one in Georgia that says that all cars driven by women must have a man running 100 feet in front of the car waving a white flag. Then, in 2004 when GLBTQWHATEVER couples wanted to go to MA and marry, Mitt Romney and his hideous fiends dug it back up. Only queer people from New Mexico, Rhode Island, California and MA can get married in MA right now, b/c those are the only states where there is no DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) no Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage and where the courts have not ruled that it is illegal in the state. Make sense?”

Is that man-waving-a-flag thing for real??!! Yes, Psappho, it makes sense. And it makes me angry. I am bitter that there is a whole lexicon of prohibitive words for (against?) me, making me feel so different. That I need to know things like DOMA. I know I lived on a boat and bought gifts for people outside of requested registry gifts and I know I live with a woman with whom I have two children, not exactly coloring in the lines here, but dammit I still want MY wedding. My parents eloped in a dusty park in the middle of a traffic triangle on Long Island; my brother and Mina went to City Hall, then had a traditional ceremony in Bali for fun. My family is not so much into the traditional wedding thing. And I am not really either. Although I did devour Bride’s magazines starting in grade 7.

The gaudiness levels waxed and waned but I always wanted mine. And now that I am older and wiser and richer than I was in my 20s for certain, I realize it wouldn’t be the same wedding I planned if I were younger. Its not just about little crab cakes and favors and all that. Or the new vocabulary that I get to use. And not even just about those thousand-plus rights I would inherit. It strikes an emotional chord, for me, for us, and for our family of four. Sigh.

Pictured above, Nicole tried teaching the girls how to snack and watch movies this weekend. Maddie was a champ, but Avery was a bit messy. Below that me and Maddie in elephant pajamas. Maddie, we think, has roseola. That explains the fevers and now the rash. Ugh. Avery just has a rash. From what, we have no idea. I guess I will be visiting the doctor tomorrow.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Objective: I Don't Want to be a Dictator or a Fool

So my cold/sinus thing goes on and on and on and now Nicole has it too. We both sound like we have been crying all night. On the bright side, we get to compare sinus pressure vs. sinus pain (I have pressure; she has pain) and have tossing-and-turning-at-night contests. Then on Wednesday, Avery decided to get a fever. I think this is the reaction to the shots she had last week. I know, it makes no sense, but my doctor warned that any reaction to the shots that the girls got at their one-year appointment would manifest seven to ten days after the shot, and today is Day Eight. She was ultra cuddly and wanted to be held, and Madeline was an angel, letting me dote on a sickly Avery without demanding attention as well.

The rest of the time I parented from a prone position, which is protocol when I don’t feel well. So I lay on the couch or on the floor, surrounded by pillows, and basically just make sure the girls don’t put their fingers into electrical sockets or bite each other. Anything else was fair game. It is hard to be engaging when you feel like crap. Even though I felt awful, I can’t help but to think how far I have come: Nicole left before the girls were up and didn’t get home until after 7:00. So I took care of the girls all day and night; three meals; a ton of diapers; a feverish and unhappy Avery; and got them to bed, all with no major meltdowns/breakdowns on my part. This is a coup. I can’t quite pinpoint when it happened, but this is all getting much easier. We are far from the days when I used to call Nicole on the phone at work, crying and overwhelmed. Thank goodness.

The control issue…. I ended up buying that bag of pretzels after all and said to myself that I can handle having them in my home and not inhaling the entire bag in one sitting. So I have been (and this may sound crazy) eating two pretzels a day. Just two. I may up it to three. Call it an exercise in control. I am trying to get control under control, which requires control. So the way I must control control is to use control? It’s a riddle. I am proud of the fact that I have been able to do the two-pretzels a day thing. I know it seems silly, but baby steps and all.

I kind of reminds me of this great quote from Bruce Barcott, in his review of David Guterson’s new book: “Wisdom isn’t the embrace of everything we rejected at 19. It’s the understanding that absolutes are for dictators and fools.” How great is that quote? I don’t want to be a dictator or a fool.

His review of Guterson’s book was great. I think I may buy it tomorrow. I need to wash the taste of Sail (James Paterson) out of my mouth. What can I say: I wanted a quick, suspenseful read, and it was Number One on the bestseller list before Tim Russert’s books edged it down. Plus I am a sucker for any books with boats, a talisman of my living-on-a-boat days. I feel all special when I can understand boaty things like through-hull fittings and SeaTow. The book promised twists and turns and suspense. But it was awful. First of all, all twists and turns were almost cartoonish. You could guess the twists and turns, sort of like how you can in a Scooby Doo episode. Really? He’s a bad guy? Didn’t say THAT coming. (Get a sponge to mop up the sarcasm). Second of all, it was 125 chapters, or something like that, but each chapter was a mere two pages, sometimes three. So one scene would be chopped up into eight chapters. It made skimming quite easy. In fact, so easy that I finished the book in two days, over two nights in bed and one afternoon while I lay on the couch resting while the girls napped. I skipped a lot, because once, for example, I could ascertain that a chapter was about, say, an extramarital affair, I could move on. And I did.

Wednesday was also my sister-in-law’s birthday and when I called her, I made some joke about getting older. They were on their way to dinner, and I could hear Leif and Skye in the background, and she said she was happy. She said that she is grateful to be alive and healthy and getting older should be something to celebrate. This is how she has felt since her mom died. What a great perspective. It makes complete sense. I can guarantee that on my death bed, I will flash back and think about those days when I lamented getting older and I will feel like a fool. It really is a gift, health.

I think yesterday was a full moon. Anyone have crazy stories?

Psappho, if you are reading this, can you explain to us why we can’t get married in Massachusetts? Why do we have to go all the way out to California when Mass is just a few states away? Do we need residency?

Pictured above, this is how Miss Avery wanted to spend the day. So cute, but I feel sorry for my feverish baby. I sent these pictures to Mommy at work, hence the “see hat I mean?” look on my face. Is that mean?! Also, I kinda look like a frog.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

She Is A Tall, Cool Guinness and I am the Warm, Flat O’Douls; and It’s Okay

I am sure their baby love for us is equal, but when Nicole is around, I am almost invisible. They clamor to get picked up by her, to ride high on her shoulder or just be in her orbit. I hold out my hands and say “Want to come to Momma?” and they rapidly turn their heads away and bury their chubby cheeks into Nicole’s shoulder, while tightening their grip on her. So that would be a “No.” It doesn’t bother me, which makes me wonder if my children have helped erase some of my jealously issues.

In other “no” news, I think Avery is starting to shake her head no. I was telling her No yesterday and shaking my head and she copied me, multiple times, with intent. Of course she did the opposite of no, but how exciting that they are starting to communicate more. Madeline loves to play with the ball, and if I tell her to get the ball, she will, and she will bring it to me and I will toss it away and she will go and get it. Repeat for minutes. Avery will also retrieve the ball and Doggie on command. It is like seeing slow-moving miracles, watching the girls learn to communicate. You can almost see the cartoon light bulb pop up above their heads.

Maybe I have a sinus infection, because I feel this crackle in my sinuses and a sort of pressure, but not pain per se. I have felt like crap for the past few days. I scared Nicole the other morning because I passed out on my way to get her some coffee. I slammed the almost empty coffee mug in the wall as I collapsed, spilling it on my lobster skirt, which annoyed me most of all. As far as pass-outs go, it was of those good ones, when for a split second you feel this clarity and lightness and suddenly you believe in ghosts and Heaven and the Unseen Universe and you understand infinity and the secrets of life. It is peaceful, really. Then the world pixelates, fades to black, and I hear the slam my body makes before I feel the slam, as if I am an observer of myself. It is like a drug-induced rush. Nicole asked if I was okay, and I stupidly said yes, then thought better and called out for help. I heard her hustling to get Madeline off her lap and rush to my side. All told, twenty seconds or so of drama. I chalk it up to low blood pressure, which means I should take my time getting into a standing position, which I never do. I also blame four cups of coffee and no breakfast yet.

Pictured above, scenes fro Sunday’s BBQ. We had a great time and the girls were well behaved and they were home and in bed by seven. We changed their diapers on Auntie Annie and Auntie Nancy’s bed, and there at their bedside was a picture of our girls. I can’t even put into words really how the makes me feel, our children, adored and loved, by people who are so important to us.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Home, Where My Loves Lie Waiting Not-So-Silently For Me

Do people who live in warm climes have busy summer weekends too?

It’s like the world around here wakes up from winter hibernation and spring modified-hibernation beginning in late May. And then, suddenly, the summer is booked. Almost every weekend in the month of June, we have a BBQ or party or baptism or Event to go to. July is filling up too. We’ve booked trips to Cape Cod and Florida over the summer as well. I enjoy it all, but deep down, at the very core, I am a homebody who loves to be in my own space. Is that so wrong? Going out sometimes is just a chance for me to experience the joys of coming back home.

Today we are off to a graduation/moving away BBQ for Auntie Nancy and Auntie Annie. They are moving up to Northampton, the site of our vacation-home hunting until we had to do the whole buy-my-mom’s-house thing. So now our vacation home is not quite a vacation home, but rather a giant Freudian transference representation in house form, an ever-expanding distortion of my unresolved issues, a whole house-full of them. Those closets are deep. But that is another topic for another day.

Annie and Nan…they have a home (with three bedrooms! Plenty of room for us!) and Annie secured a teaching position and Nancy has PT prospects as well. I love when things work out for the people I love! In our prime, we would head up to Northampton every six or eight weeks. I hope we can continue that, because it really is a different world up there, and we love it.

I am fighting an awful cold, which must be remnants from the girls’ various illnesses. Both had a runny nose for a while, and since there is very little spaces in our togetherness, it is no wonder I feel like crap.

This upcoming Wednesday is a full moon. Does anyone out there believe in that theory that when there is a full moon, things get crazy? Last month, I can’t remember what happened, but I do recall wondering out loud if there was a full moon. When I was home I checked on the calendar and sure enough, there was. So this week, on Wednesday, please let me know if anything crazy happens to you.

I asked my Psappho friend if marrying in California would mean Nicole doesn’t have to adopt the girls but alas, she would still have to adopt the girls. She sent me this very helpful link which lists the rights we would acquire. It is a great link, but I still count on her to disseminate all the info for me! She has a way with words, that one. Anyway, emotional benefits aside, I wonder in the end how much of a legal difference it would make for us to be married. I am covered under Nicole’s insurance and her company treats us like married people. We have all sorts of attorney documents that gives up rights of property, etc. Wills and health care proxies have been drawn up. Yes, we had to do this all the hard way, but it is all done.

As a consolation prize for not being married, I’d like to think that there is some truth in this quote, from Armistead Maupin in an article in the NY Times yesterday: “Straight people have grown up thinking they’re entitled to a fairy-tale wedding,” Mr. Maupin said. “One of our great advantages as gay people is that we’ve been forced to forge relationships without that fantasy. In doing so, we’ve figured out what’s at the core.” This is not to mock the concept of wanting a fairy-tale wedding, but to reinforce the theory that just because you don’t get the wedding and the bridal showers and the gown and the ring and the life that we have been conditioned to feel is our right doesn’t mean there still can’t be a happily-ever-after.

I am about to be 36 years old and I still want to wear a giant wedding dress. I don’t want to own the dress, but I just want to go to one of those bridal salons and try one on and spin in front of the mirror. I want to be in a Princess gown for just a few moments. I think a decade ago, I would have been more focused on those superficial parts of a wedding. The dress and the reception and the favors and all the superficial details. Now I see marriage in a very different light. That’s aging for you. And I see it as something important for the girls, because I want them to grow up with married parents and a positive example of what marriage is all about.

Pictured above, my Little Princess! They are becoming so much more expressive these days. Avery is really good at pointing to things she wants. And if we ask her where Doggie is, so goes and gets Doggie. Could they be understanding us more now? They also ignore us a lot, especially when we use the word “no.” Below that, me with both of my Little Princesses.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Head, Shoulders, Knees, Toes, Hand, Foot and Mouth

Tuesday can be boiled down to three events. The First Doctor Visit; the Second Doctor Visit and the Poop Incident.

First Doctor Visit: The girls had their one-year appointment today, on Day Three of this heat wave that is currently sucking the life out of the East Coast. Taking the girls outside in this scorching heat is not desirable, but the pediatrician’s office is just about a mile there and back, so I figured they would be okay.

The stats: Avery is 22 pounds, 8 ounces and 33 inches. Madeline is 21 pounds, 8 ounces and 33 and three-quarter inches. All was going swimmingly (babies playing with tissue paper, lots of smiles, babbling, only a little crying after the shots) until the doctor uttered the words “Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease” and “Madeline” in the same sentence. I panicked (always my first reaction) and who wouldn’t when the word “disease” is dropped so casually. My only recollection of this illness was the hoof and mouth version that was killing cows left and right a few years back. Turns out the human version is common and it goes away, but it can make children uncomfortable in the process. In a strange twist, a certain Beckett has the same illness. An outbreak, perhaps?

I asked the doctor about food restrictions and she said there were none. I asked specifically about peanut butter and honey and she said “sure.” I told her I was going home and giving the girls peanut butter on toast, a favorite of mine that I eat daily for breakfast. I couldn’t wait for them to try peanut butter. And peanut butter cups! And the realization that I would have another food staple in my artesenal of lunches overjoyed me.

Second Doctor Visit: So I take the girls home, put them in their high chairs, strap on their new palstci bibs and serve up a delicious peanut butter sandwich. You see where this is going, right? Within five minutes, Avery is scratching her head. She has peanut butter all over her face and in her hair, so my first thought is “Oh, she is a sticky mess. I wonder if I can get away with no bath and just wipe her down.” My second thought is “There is effing peanut butter everywhere. I’m going to have to give her a bath. No more peanut butter until the girls can eat it without wearing it.” And my third thought is “OK, something is not right.” Her face started to get very red and a rash started forming all over her body. Within minutes. She was crying this sad, sad cry, which she has done from time to time when she doesn’t feel well. It is a soft, mewing kind of cry which sounds like she is having breathing problems (she’s not, but the cry makes it seem that way.)

Commence the mad dash to find my cell phone, which always tends to disappear when I need it. I place frantic calls to the doctor (goes to voice mail) and to Nicole. I eventually got the doctor on the phone but it disconnected so I did what I knew I had to do: Bjorn Avery and put Maddie in the stroller and run up to the pediatrician's office. Sweat was pouring off of me, but the more Avery mewed in the Bjorn and scratched at her head, the faster I went. I made it to the office in record time, truly.

It was hives, a reaction to the peanut butter, and the best part was by the time I was at the office, Maddie had some hives too! Thank goodness it wasn’t one of those reactions where the throat closes and bad things happen. So both girls are clearly not ready for peanut butter. The doctor gave them Benadryl there and then I took them home and they slept for three hours and only woke up because I woke them up. Despite the three-hour nap break, I was a mess, checking on them every ten minutes and worrying like crazy, so I didn’t even notice the extra time.

So no peanuts or peanut products for a very, very long time.

The Poop Incident: Later on, after the girls had dinner and Nicole and I had dinner, the four of us were relaxing in the living room. I was sitting on the stairs and turned and looked at the end table. There was a giant smear of something brown and chunky on it, like refried beans. Is that poop? It can’t be poop. How would poop get there? I asked Nicole to investigate, and a few gagging seconds later, it was confirmed: It was poop.

I go to get some cleaning accouterments when I hear “Oh my God. Oh my God” being repeated in the living room. I turn to see Avery in the entryway, playing with a pile of poop on the floor. It is in her hands, on her feet, and I was afraid to know where else. Nicole scooped her up and brought her to the tub for a hose down (she got her bath after all!), while I cleaned up the end table and other messes.

We tried to put the pieces of this poop puzzle together after and the best we came up with is this: Avery’s diaper wedged in a thong way, so the poop didn’t go where it was supposed to go. Avery first put some on the end table, moved to the rug and left some shitprints there, played with her ball and left a little there, then moved onto the entry way, which is where we noticed her.

The funny highlight of the day: In the tub, she was standing and drinking the water from the faucet. She loves to drink water from places she shouldn’t, like in the tub, in Nana’s lake and from washcloths that swipe her face after meals.

It’s Wednesday morning and I woke up wired before 4:00 a.m. I couldn’t get back to sleep. There is the potential for this to be a very long and tiring day, as any day is that begins when there is a 3 on the clock.

Pictured above, Avery caught with her hand in the cookie jar. There better be no peanuts in those cookies. Below that, what an allergic reaction to peanuts looks like, just so you know if it happens to you.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Day Begins With Me Half-Naked in My Building's Stairwell

Because I am slightly afraid there is Someone Out to Get Me, I take the stairs in the morning when I go to the gym. I have this fear that I will be in the elevator at 5:20 a.m. and it will stop on the, I don’t know, 4th floor and the doors will open and someone will pounce in with a knife and slash me down to the first floor. Completely irrational and completely unfounded, but the older I get the more I become aware of vulnerable positions, and being in the elevator alone at the crack of dawn, even in my safe, doorman, locked building, is a vulnerable position.

So this morning I am going down the stairs and, ever the multitasker, I start to tie my comfy, roomy, stomach-indulging drawstring gym pants, as I do every morning on the stairs. I fumbled for a few seconds, trying to gather the string ends with my tired fingers, and then I realized my pants were inside out.

Here’s my quandary: I can’t go back up to my apartment and turn them inside out and leave again because that qualifies as Backtracking. And I such a firm believer in not Backtracking that even a floor out of my way, I won’t return. [discuss amongst yourselves] You can imagine the panic attack I once had when Nicole accidentally drove past the highway exit we were supposed to get off at and the next one was twenty miles away. Forced backtracking is the worst.

I thought maybe I would just wear them inside out. But then I noticed the seam is very visible and there is a giant tag I the middle of my ass, looking like a primordial tail of sorts. I tried to rip the tag, but I felt that sort of tug that indicates that if I proceed with this plan, the tag will indeed rip out along with a nice big hole in a place I don’t want a hole. So what do I do? Can’t go back upstairs; can’t wear them inside out. Solution: Right in the stairwell, between the second and third floors, after listening carefully for anyone and silently slipping off my sneakers, I pulled my pants off, rendering me naked from the waist down for two seconds, turned them inside out and put them back on the right way. This is not as daredevil as it seems, as no one is awake at this early hour in my small building and the stairwells are wide enough and private enough that even if I did hear someone, I could change quick enough to avoid any awkward situations. Or at least out-run them, which would result in me naked on the street, which is its own set of challenges, I suppose.

Sunday was the girls’ Long Island Birthday party at Aunt Lizzie’s. It was small, with just family and friends, most of whom we have known for at least two decades. The heat was horrendous, but the kids all managed to stay cool by swimming in the pool. Us adults wilted, moving between the air conditioned comforts of the indoors and the sweltering, baking heat of the outdoors.

Liz made all the food and it was all fabulous. She is an amazing cook. There was couscous salad; orzo salads; green bean and potato and lemon salads; homemade guacamole, tomato, basil and mozzarella; wet and dry ribs; grilled chicken; burgers and hot dogs for the kids. She grilled up onions and peppers and veggies. It was incredible.

We didn’t get home until after 8:00. W-a-y past bedtime for the girls, and dangerously infringing on bedtime for Nicole. The girls played with some of their new toys for a while. A new addition is a baby doll, which Avery kissed multiple times (this kissing thing is brand new!). Madeline was frustrated with the doll because the doll has a pacifier and Maddie kept trying to use it. They received lots of fancy, shiny new toys but the standout favorites so far are tissue paper, wrapping paper and boxes. Still.

Today is all about getting them back on a normal schedule and getting three solid meals into them, since they skipped dinner last night. Tomorrow is their one-year doctor’s appointment. That is about as far as I can look ahead in the schedule without feeling overwhelmed.

Pictured above, getting ready to blow out the candles on their cake. That’s the dress I had strapped. The cost was $55 to make those two straps and re-hem the bottom. Highway robbery, I say. Below that, Madeline in oh-so-chic sunglasses. And below that, Avery, in her ultra-adorable SPF 50, floating swimsuit, asleep in Aunt Lizzie’s arms. Maybe it reminds her of the womb. My womb, specifically. It better be my womb she is thinking of.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

And The Winner Is… A Giant Dog That Barks Xmas Carols

I have been waiting patiently for the girls to select their “comfort” objects. We have a shelf filled with parent-approved choices: A stuffed lobster; a stuffed octopus; a stuffed crab. Do you see our seafood theme?

There are a few non-seafood creatures too. I was pushing for Fimbles, this adorable pink- and-green striped creature, about half the size of a banana, that apparently is the star of a British cartoon series. If not Fimbles, I was hoping one would take to Woolsworth Aloysius, a.k.a Woolie, my very own, very old, very tattered stuffed lamb that saw me through toddler hood and, sigh, childhood. And if not Fimbles or Woolie, than I really wanted one of the girls to select the stuffed brain cell or the stuffed MRSA virus that I bought. “Oh, isn’t that cute, what is that?” “A brain cell.” Or: “The MRSA that coulda killed Mamma.” Here is a link to the great site that sells these crazy stuffed things.

But what does my darling daughter choose? A giant, not-so-adorable dog that BARKS Christmas carols. Avery has already learned how to push the button on the dog’s paw to commence the cacophony that is barked carols. I do recall writing on this very blog that I would consider it is success if I got through the holiday season without hearing a barked song. And well, now, I guess I got my wish, but clearly I should have been much more specific.

So the Aviator drags this Doggie around by its ears and Santa hat, pressing the paw button to hear her very own concert. Nicole asked her earlier where is Doggie and Avery went into the bedroom and got the dog and brought it to her. Genius child, she is. The dog itself is not so cute but it is adorable how Avery loves it. Him. Her. The dog is still gender neutral.

Sunday we are having a small party on Long Island for the girls birthday. Nothing big by any stretch. My friends have had birthday parties complete with Moon Bounces and catered food, but we are doing low-key. My brother is BBQing, Aunt Lizzie is making some food and we are just going to hang out. Not the splashy first birthday arty that I feel like we are supposed to have, but I figured we’d save that for when the girls were old enough to appreciate it. In like 15 years. Of course the girls are sick. We make it through a winter with maybe two incidents of illness, and now they get sick. Maddie slept with us last night (and the night before) and tossed and turned in a fashion that we refer to as rotisserie chicken-baby. Avery is hit harder with this cold, which defies all logic, since she was the one who had the most breastfeeding/breastmilk as a baby.

A puzzle for savvy sew-ers: I bought a dress that is strapless that I love. However, strapless doesn’t work well with me. My boobs end up looking like a log that is being dragged down by gravity. So I brought my dress to Buffy, our local seamstress/dry cleaner, and asked her to cut a ring of fabric off the bottom of the dress, re-hem the dress, and use the fabric to construct two straps on the dress. How much do you think this should cost? Let’s just say I was completely stunned at the price. (I’ll post the answer next blog. Don’t you love a cliffhanger?)

Pictured above, Avery dragging Doggie around. Below that, this is what happens when you leave the girls alone with a bookshelf for twelve seconds. Below that, is it me or did Maddie start doing “I can’t hear you!” And finally, cookies I made for the girls birthday celebration at their Ant Lizzie’s house.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Back on the Solid Ground

We are back, and except for the nightmare that is flying, it as a great trip.

The girls were actually fine on the flights, but I cried, oh, four or five times. Why do the flight attendants get on the intercom and announce before a flight takes off that it will be a bumpy ride? The flight attendant did that on the way back, so I spent the entire pre-flight waiting time in a state of sweaty panic, fearing the worst.

On both legs of the trip, I was seated next to people who placed their arms on the shared armrest, thus making it impossible for me to change the JetBlue TV channel. The first seatmate was an extremely large man who couldn’t keep his arms folded on his chest or in his lap, so he had no choice but to use the armrest. Same with the woman on the way back. The thing is, when Maddie was napping, as she did for about an hour each way, wanted to be able to flip the channels to distract myself, and I couldn’t. If anyone needs to be distracted while flying, believe me, it’s me. I’d rather be distracted with two Ambien and a long sleep.

Holding squirmy babies on your nap is challenging. I found that keeping Maddie in the Bjorn even while sitting sort of contained her and worked well. She doesn’t have the same understanding of personal boundaries as we do. When she would get restless, I would just go to the back of the plane and hang out with the flight attendants. I asked one on the way back about how much time was left on the flight and to my horror she called the captain in the cockpit. I was like “NO!! Don’t distract him! He needs to fly this bird!” and envisioned awful things happening because I needed a countdown. Just like how envision awful things will happen if I don’t touch the outside of the plane twice as I walk into it. At least I know I am ridiculous.

But it was worth it because we had a great time. At one point, I laughed at myself, as I was driving in my mother-in-law’s car, down one of those eight-lane roads, listening to a country music station on my way back from the YMCA, because I actually enjoyed it all. And if you examined those components singularly, no of them are quite my style. Sunrises over the lake were beautiful. The girls loved the beach and sand and water and little pool and all the sunshine. And they slept like angels: They took every nap and went to bed just like they do at home. Nicole played golf. We went to Target every day. We shopped at grocery stores the size of Chelsea. I read on the deck at sunset. We saw stars. We watched Mama martins feed baby martins. And I managed to not step in the path of a lizard the entire trip. We’re going back for Thanksgiving and I think we are going to try t plan a visit between then and now.

One funny story: One of our vacation goals was to go out together, just Nicole and I, and see a movie. The only night we could do it was Monday, because Nicole’s brother was visiting as well until then. So Monday night we put the girls down t sleep and of COURSE this is the NE night when they don’t just go down peacefully. And Avery wasn’t feeling well: She developed a little cough and was warm with a low fever. They were fussing and we didn’t want to leave them. So we thought, ok, no movie. But then they settled down and so we got our things together (which, for me, was a cut-off white demin jacket borrowed from my MIL to wear in the theater. I was a Floridian fashion plate) and we left. On the twenty minute drive there, we went back and forth: Should we go? Should we go back home? Avery’s fever was worrying us and we didn’t want a sickly baby to wake up and not have s there. We debated the entire trip, but decided in the theater parking lot to go in once we got a phone cal from my MIL, assuring us al was well. So we buy our tickets, dick into the theater and settle into the previews. Then suddenly, the lights flicker. And the screen goes dark. And then the lights flicker on, then off. After a few minutes, we went into the lobby, where a panicked teenager manager informed us that the entire mall was without electricity. Another teenage worker runs over t us and tells us to go back into the theater, in case they have to evacuate. That was good enough for us. We left the theater and the mall and went home. If that wasn’t a sign, I don’t know what is! All I could think was, maybe this is fate in action. Like if we stayed for the movie, we would get hit by a drunk driver on the way home. After all, we are about a billion times more likely to meet an untimely death driving then by flying.

I’ve done a shitacular job with comments lately, but I have been keeping up with all the blogs. Life is crazy these next few days. And both Madeline and Avery have a cold, which is perfect timing for their Long Island birthday party at Aunt Liz’s.

Pictured above, me with a happy Madeline, just a day before her little cold started. I think it's funny how our heads are tilted. And dare I say this is the first picture where I can see a resemblance between her and I. Below that, Maddie and Avery getting into things at Nana’s.

Sunday, June 01, 2008


They are one. They wear bows now. Avery loves chocolate cake. Maddie, not so much. One years old and I love them more now than I did a year ago. How is that possible?