Thursday, July 31, 2008

NOT Going to the Chapel…. California, that is. [Oh, yes, I am so clever, starting a sentence in the title and finishing it in the body of this post.]

However, in lieu of the go-go West Coast, we are heading up to staid and charming New England. In an amazing development, Massachusetts has just made it legal for Our Kind to marry in said state without actually being residents of said state. I am sure many of you know this already. And if you don’t, let me be the first to tell you: That thunderous sound you hear is the gays heading for hills of Massachusetts in droves, playing show tunes and the Indigo Girls in their fabulous and crunchy/localvore wake. (Yes, I just stereotyped.)

This is huge. Human rights and equality aside, now we don't have to plan packing up me and two babies and bringing a Helper Person and heading to California in September for a week while Nicole is there for work. The downside is we won't be packing up me and the babies and bringing a Helper Person and heading to California for a week (I was looking forward to it. I love San Francisco.) And the OTHER downside is I will be playing the role of single-mom-of-two for a week while Nicole is living it up—or working, as she calls it—in San Francisco. On a side note, the last time she was there she called me from the tub in her super luxurious hotel room, where she was about to read a book, and order in dinner and sleep a full night’s sleep all the while ensconced in a tower surrounded by San Francisco fog. And me? I was solo-flying for the first time in stained pajamas and an empty stomach with two babies. But who’s bitter? Actually, I am not bitter but couldn’t resist the split screen image of her night vs. mine.

So off to Massachusetts we’ll go. This is a double win for us because we have much fondness for that state and spend a lot of time in the lovely hamlet of Northampton and its surroundings. Talks of a vacation home in that region have been bantered about again. I have emailed a Justice of the Peace and asked her to officiate the ceremony. She has not yet emailed me back, which has stirred up impatient rage, I mean feelings, in me, but I will give her 24 hours and then I am moving on to the next J of the P on the list. We will write our own vows (a task that Nicole doesn’t relish perhaps as much as I do. Mine will be so long, I know this already) and we will most likely keep it small. In other words, just us and the girls and maybe our friends who just moved to Northampton.

I ask Nicole what she is going to wear and she didn’t even try to pretend that this has crossed her mind. Her wardrobe falls into two distinct categories: Work clothes (suits and jackets and French cuff shirts and the like) and her not-working clothes (pants and shorts with critters on them). Neither seem very appropriate for THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY OF HER LIFE. (Emphasis for Nicole, should she be reading this, to prod her into thinking more about her wardrobe. She should also start writing her vows because that is going to take her a long time and I require at least one page, one-and-a-half-line-spaced, and two pages if she chooses to use bullet lists, which she probably will). I haven’t thought too much about it what I will wear but I am thinking, just off the top of my head, maybe something with a strapless silhouette, a fitted bodice with a full skirt and all-over box pleats. Oh, and a back zip, not pesky side zip.

If I hold flowers (which I doubt) they will be hydrangeas. I will put much thought in the something old/something new/borrowed/blue requirement. There will be no Wedding March or walking down of aisles.

We have selected a date in the end of October because fall is our favorite season and October is our favorite month and the foliage will be spectacular. I can see it all now, those reds and yellows and oranges. And me in some clashing color. Hmm. I may need to rethink my wedding attire.

And while I won’t be wearing a gown by any stretch, I will be booking my appointment to try them on some time n September. And I can’t wait. I hope that we can take pictures because I will try on the puffiest dress and the most expensive dress and the tackiest dress and ones I like as well, and then create an album of me in these dresses, but I still think I have time on my hands to do such things.

But one step at a time. First the justice of the peace and the date will be set in stone. Then, in mid September, we need to travel to Massachusetts to apply for or intention to marry certificate. And then, staring in October, it will be very hard for Nicole to get rid of me.

If you are a justice of the peace and reside in Massachusetts and are looking to make a little $$ and don’t mind long-winded vows, please email me. And if you live in the area and know of some special little place that would be perfect for the exchanging of vows, I am all ears as well.

Pictured above, how ca you resist those colors? Nothing beats fall in New England. Also pictured, our first four-of-us family portrait. You could stick your fingers in my eyeballs and roll my head down a bowling lane. My head really looks like a bowling ball! Also pictured, Miss Avery playing. Was she perhaps foreshadowing with that bride-like veil/ fitted crib sheet n her head?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Weighty Issues: Starts with a 1, Followed By a 2, Ends with a No. <9

My sister in law shows up last night to baby-sit with a dozen roses for us. For our date night? How nice is that? She gets the sticker for world’s best baby-sitting Aunt.

She also brought that book Skinny Bitch. My first thought is, she could write that book (the skinny part, not bitch part) so why is she reading it? And she has never been concerned with weight and diets and body images and all that. But apparently the book is not what I thought it was. It is a pro-Vegan treatise that talks more about a new way of eating and a way of life than it does about vanity and diet per se. Mina is a very healthy and balanced eater. In fact, she has the healthiest approach to food that I have every seen. Lots of fruits and veggies and rice and all that. She can eat whatever she wants without gaining weight and while that does inspire immediate (and temporary) jealousy and resentment on my part, I am happy that Leif and Skye and my girls will have a living, breathing healthy eating role model in front of them. You never hear her inner food dialogue. You never hear her say “Oh, cake, I really shouldn’t eat that.” She doesn’t make pithy comments about gaining weight or needing to lose weight. She just eats, and enjoys it.

I am at a bit of a crossroads with gym and weight and losing weight and all that. Maybe crossroads isn’t the right word. Corner? Dead end? Maybe going round and round in a cul de sac? My first and most important goals were (are) to be physically fit to be able to take care of my children. This will be an on-going forever sort of thing. My vain goals were to fit back into my Girls’ Night Out vinyl pants and, inexplicably, to see a “2” on the scale in the tens number slot. Now the sad part is I can’t find the damn pants. They are not in the nooks and crannies in my closet or drawers. I have no idea where they are. None. I am thinking I might have thrown them out in a fit of “When the hell am I ever going to ear these again?” because, really, when do I have an occasion to wear vinyl pants? And besides, I never did figure out what shirt one wears with vinyl anyway. I know they would fit, so I guess I can check that off my list.

And the “2” thing. Starting several weeks ago, I have seen a “2” on the scale, dipping into the upper 120s, and it isn’t exactly the happy shiny moment I thought it would be. Very anticlimactic. It is just a number. It’s cliché, but true. I can be in the 120s and still feel unhealthy and out of shape and large and puffy. Body image issues are not mitigated by numbers or even by accomplished goals.

I am back at the point where I am thinking seriously about maintenance. Again, this is not to say that my body is runway ready or anything. But I have evolved and I need to say that this is good enough. I am not going to diet my way down to a size smaller. I am not going to obsess over staying in the 120s. I am not going to try to maintain a number. I am not going to weigh myself and be in a shity mood if the number isn’t what I want it to be or think it should be or any of that.

But shifting to that place is hard. I watched my weight fluctuate through years of infertility drugs and pregnancy and miscarriages. I watched my weight creep up to over 200 pounds when I was pregnant. I watched my weight slowly go down. Every day I get on the scale and revel a little in the fact that the number on the scale is going down or staying the same. So to get on the scale every day and not see the number go down but stay the same….it doesn’t seem like progress or success when in fact it really is. But I need to train myself to think This Is OK. The number can stay the same. Or go down a little or up a little. I am trying to maintain a life. I want to keep running. I want to feel strong and capable and like I can lift a car if I have to. I don’t want to have my life revolve around a freaking scale and a bunch of numbers.

With that in mind, I am thinking about throwing out the scale. I am thinking that I will let how my clothes fit tell me whether or not I am doing well. I know that eating a package of Milk Duds and popcorn, as I did last night at the movies, is not healthy to do every day. But I am not going to beat myself when I do eat it. I want a piece of coconut layer cake and I might get it today. I am not going to obsess over these decisions. Do you hear the desperation in my voice? Hear the bravado? My obsession about not obsessing? These are not easy steps for me. I want to think about food and approach food much like Mina does, but it is not something that is intuitive for me. And not very easy. But, I’ve said this before, I don’t have much time to get this all under complete control. I don’t want my girls growing up and being like this. Aunt Mina, yes. Me, not so much.

I have so much more to write about this but that’s for another day.

And last night was fun. We saw The Dark Knight and it was great. Very, very violent but great. Heath Ledger was amazing and he will win the Oscar.

Pictured above, our little ladies in the pool. And Madeline modeling the latest in baby swimwear. Less exposed skin means less sun block we need to put on them.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

….My Brain After Too Many Onomatopoeic Words

It’s a family-events centered kind of weekend, saying hello to one side and goodbye to another.

Keith and Mina and Leif and Skye leave for Hong Kong/Japan in less than a week. This is the trip that we vacillated on for a while but ultimately decided not to take part in because I couldn’t imagine setting up shop for an extended period of time halfway across the world with two one-year-olds. I also can’t begin to imagine the terror that is baby jet lag and the horror that is feeding babies with very capricious food tastes and whims. But now that they are leaving I think “That could have been us too.” My dad lives there and seems to have no interest in returning anytime soon so I imagine we will have another chance to go. Nicole’s brother is also in town from Florida with his wife and their daughter for a golf tournament. They are staying on Long Island so we are going back and forth between families.

I will share this next embarrassing story because I’m an over-sharer, even if it makes me look bad. We arrived at Keith and Mina’s on Saturday afternoon. Mina looks at the girls and laughs. We then had this interesting exchange:

Mina: Oh, so cute. Is Maddie all sweaty? [looking at her hair]
Me: No. Why?
Mina: Oh, her hair [touches hair, her hair is crunchy, not wet]
Me: That’s just food in her hair. It makes it stiff and crunchy.
Mina: I want to give the girls bath now. [She proceeds to give the girls a bath.]

It sounds better if you can hear Mina’s Japanese/English accent and if you were there. But the gist of the story is the girls were so dirty that Mina felt the need to bathe them herself immediately. No playing or eating or anything. Baths first. But in my defense Mina experienced firsthand how difficult it is to bathe two babies the same age at the same time.

In more messy news, the girls have graduated from their high chairs to…. New high chairs. We got two Stokke Tripp Trapp seats, the kind that push up to the table and make you feel like you are all eating together. It is, so far, great having them (the girls, that is) closer to the table and across from each other. And I love even more getting rid of the bulky seats that we were using. And now we can fit eight at our table (six big people and two little ones) for ALL those dinner parties we have (note the sarcasm).

We are also transitioning them to eating from bowls. This has so far been a disaster. They love to take the bowls and turn the contents onto the floor. I bought those suction cup bottoms kind but, well, they aren’t exactly living up to expectations or suction, for that matter. Avery and Madeline can easily break the suction and lift the bowls off the table. I am considering using duct tape till they get past this stage, if they ever get past this stage.

Yes, this post is just one exciting development after anther. It can’t all be drama and strife and wedding news, can it? I had awful awful awful dreams last night. They were so real, these dreams. I am afraid I will have them again. So now I have insomnia because I am afraid to go to bed. Which is why I am writing this meandering post.

Tomorrow it’s back to Long Island, and then Date Night back here in the city. Because I can’t keep a secret I told Nicole we are going to see The Dark Knight. I wanted to get tickets for the Imax showing but they are all sold out till next week (unless we want to go to the midnight show or 1:00 pm show). I wanted to keep it all a secret but then I didn’t want her to get her hopes too high up. How disappointed she could be when I say “Surprise! We are going to a movie!” when she was expecting, I don’t know, a private concert with George Michael or something. But the best I could come up with right now is a movie and maybe something delicious from here. I could so go for some coconut layer cake.

Another surprise: I pushed my Everest documentaries to the bottom and put The Golden Compass on top of our Netflix queue for Nicole. The book was recommended by our esteemed Librarian friend. Nicole loved it. Tore through it in a few days and we went to buy Book Two and Three today. On a disturbing note, our ten year old niece received a notification from her [church] school saying that that book was banned reading. It also said that they couldn’t watch the movie. If I had the energy right now, I would get into the stupidity of t but I don’t have the energy right now. Suffice it to say it is stupid. And now I want to take the book and read it in the back pew in full view of all. At her age I was reading Flowers in the Attic and The Thorn Birds and Deenie and Wifey and all sorts of soft porn geared toward lonely housewives or curious preteens and I turned out just fine. If true faith can be shaken by a mere book, than I doubt said faith was that true to begin with.

Pictured above, just a reminder of what we have to deal with when Avery eats. It is ALL over her. Below that, Skye in the tub. She had second shift bath after the girls. And below that. Madeline in her new seat. She looks quite comfortable, don’t you think?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Dose of Live George Every 20 Years Does a Girlfriend Good

I’m coming down from a George Michael high.

I loved him in the 80s, when he was a part of Wham. On a side note, thanks to my sheltered life, his sexuality never, ever crossed my mind. In those days it was pretty much assumed that every one except Billy Jean King was straight. At least by me. It was normal for men to have gorgeous, flippy hair and to wear very short and very tight shorts. I looked at Boy George and thought, oh, he just likes to dress all flashy and do fun things with makeup and hair. I had a lisping, affected male teacher who wore an ascot and was pretty much the poster man for Stereotypical Gay Man and still I was clueless. I had a mulleted female gym teacher and never really thought she might be gay, either. Richard Simmons was another straight with a very flamboyant style in my fantasy world. I lived in a fancy, label-free world. Such innocent times.

Anyway, back then I used to sing the words to Careless Whisper so emphatically, as if lyrics like “Should have know better than to cheat a friend” and “I feel so unsure as I take your hand and lead you to the dance floor” actually applied to my life. Like I lived those lines a hundred times. Oh my, the histrionics.

I loved him I the 90s, when I was in college, in a time when things on my To Do list included “learn the Hammer dance” and “buy more Fun Tac for new Monet posters” and “figure out which deli has the best muffins.” His album, Listen Without Prejudice, brings me back to those days. It is still one of my favorite start-to-finish albums. Perfect.

The concert was great. He was so energetic, the crowd was so alive, and I have never seen my girlfriend so happy. She actually danced and grabbed me (in a playful, dancing way) at some points. She loved George when she was younger, as did one of her good friends, who came with us to the show. Our seats were beyond amazing. I feel spoiled by such amazing seats because once you have them you never want to sit I the back row again. We were so close I could almost see George’s plastic surgery scars (kidding. I have no idea if he has had surgery, but let’s just say his face has held up very, very well over the years. Hmmm.)

So let’s revisit Nicole for a second. She was in Heaven. Some might say, the Edge of Heaven. Ha. While she is a content person, and has smiley moments like the rest of us, she isn’t one to display feelings of joy or happiness in an effusive way. She is not extravagant with her emotions. She isn’t the type to scream out the lyrics (like me) or dance like a fool (also, me) or add in studio-version song touches (again, me. I hate when concert songs don’t match studio versions to a Tee). But last night she was feeling joy AND showing it. Dancing, screaming, clapping and holding her cell phone in the air in demand of an encore. Anyone who knows her knows this isn’t standard behavior! She chalks it up to her adolescent crush on George. And also because it was 18 years since she last saw him in concert. I had a great time, but she had the time of her life.

We didn’t get home until midnight and, as luck would have it, Madeline woke up and decided she needed, absolutely needed to sleep with us. So she came into our bed and proceeded to try out for the Baby Olympics for at least an hour. If not more. I eventually saw her drift off to sleep, her eyes getting heavy, her breathing becoming deeper and slower, and it is a beautiful thing to see. But I was so tired that I didn’t cherish that moment quite like I should. Instead of thinking awwww so precious and cute I was thinking FINALLY. I didn’t get to sleep really till closer till two in the morning, I’m guessing, and then I was up at 6:00 with the little miss early bird. So it has been a long day.

Nicole and I have a date night on Monday. Last night counted, but not entirely since we had a friend with us. Monday my sister-in-law is coming and we are going out. I have a plan but it is a surprise for Nicole. It is so important for me to have something like that to look forward to. So there is that. And then Nicole took off Tuesday so there is that. And we are going to Florida at the end of August so there is that. And maybe a trip to Northampton in between. And this weekend we will see Leif and Skye, because they will be going (with Keith and Mina) to China and Hong Kong and Japan for the entire month of August. Can you tell my brain is in schedule mode? The more life feels like an endless treadmill and the more my brain starts shifting into overdrive, the more I try to calm myself down by thinking about these things to look forward and the simpler one too, like my coffee in the morning, that, now that I think about it, I need to set the timer.

I have been instructed to stop making Nicole milk shakes. My best effort was a cookie dough milkshake, with real cookie dough and vanilla and brown sugar. And I liked the peanut butter cup one. And the Oreo one. I need to work on consistency so if anyone knows the trick to making them more frothy, please share. On tomorrow’s menu is a Nutter Butter milk shake. And then a pudding milk shake. And then I will heed Nicole’s plea to stop.

Thanks for all of the great comments/stories/words of encouragement in the comments from my last post. It all means a lot to me. And the bathing comments were helpful Believe it r not, I never thought to bathe them one at a time. I think with twins you are just conditioned to think is pairs. And I did bathe with them till about a month ago. Literally me in the tub with the two of them. But I like to relax in the tub after the girls go to bed, so taking a bath with them first sort of sucks the pleasure out of looking forward to my own bath. Yes, I know that I am ridiculous.

I just joined Facebook and opened a NetFlix account. I am finally getting with the times.

Pictured above, us at the concert. And below that, this is how close we were. The pictures suck (we finally got with it a snuggled a small camera in like the rest of the world) but it gets our proximity across.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I’m Making a Molehill Out of A Mountain, She Says. Indeed.

I know. Sorry for the secrecy. I do not appreciate when others do the same on their blog. Because I need to know everything! Unbloggable things drive me crazy! No reader left behind and all.

But sometimes, just when I am ready to open certain emotional valves and let them gush, I chicken out and start thinking way too much about what to share and what not to share.

On one hand, this is my forum, my space, my journal, my life, so I want to be able to write about whatever I want. I do it for cathartic reasons as well as because I like to have a snapshot of my past, a blueprint for my future. And also because I just like to write. But is it my place to expose another’s life, even if it does intersect with mine? If a friend tells me about second thoughts she has about her husband, can I write about that? About how it makes me think about commitments and relationships and how the grass is never greener on the other side? Obviously I would omit names and identifying details, but it still feels like an invasion of her privacy. So I don’t. I censor myself and those thoughts and feelings get bottled up. But if this were a journal I wrote in and kept between my mattress and box spring, you better believe it would include such pontifications.

I haven’t exactly made it a secret that have a difficult relationship with my mother. While this doesn’t make me unique, I do think that some of our circumstances are. When we have a fight or a situation or whatever you want to call it, I get into details with friends, or with Nicole, but these are just little glimpses of moments, peeks behind the curtain, just quick scenes from a life. They hardly tell the whole story. But a moment does not a relationship make. Everyone responds in appropriate ways and then act as my coach or cheering section or just the ear who listens. I am always amazed that most people can intuit exactly what I need in particular moments.

But like the proverbial onion, there are so many layers here. I can tell you about a blow-up, but that hardly presents an accurate picture. And while I like having an outlet, I also want solutions. I want someone to make it better for the future and I want one of those Clorox pens to erase emotional stains of my past.

I read Tori Spelling’s book because I heard that she talked about her notoriously difficult relationship with her own mother in it. I tore through the book at record reading speed (no easy feat with two babies). And I was disappointed, because I irrationally expected Tori (yes, we are on a first name basis) to provide Answers. But she didn’t have any. Her relationship was tattered and stitched and torn and broken and healing and suffering, just like mine. I left wanting more.

And I got more in, of all places, on her reality show. On a recent episode she lamented her relationship with her mother. She looked incredulous as her husband suggested she just cut all ties with her. She looked sad and wounded and hurt. But she really hit the nail on the head when she said that she is excited that she will have a good relationship with her daughter but laments that she never had it herself with her own mother. Yes yes yes. THAT is what her book should have been about. That is what I want to talk about.

So now people like her and me, we embark on motherhood without a roadmap, with the best of intentions and many, many fears. I feel very lucky to be in this position (one of the aftershocks of infertility) but at times I am scared out of my mind. And I still [irrationally] feel like I need to heal the past and protect the future with my mother. This is, after all, one of the most important relationships in our lives. Yet it seems to get the shaft, as we grow up and focus more on relationships with spouses and friends and our own children. A parent has unconditional love for their child, but does a child have to have unconditional love for their parent? To me, a relationship seems lopsided if they don’t. I will love my daughters no matter what. But I expect them to love me too, no matter what. For me, that reciprocity is the ultimate glue in any relationship. Maybe I am alone in that thinking, but I stand by that.

Maybe my expectations are too high and maybe I just have a hard time accepting reality. Maybe I just need to protect myself, my girlfriend and my children. But, in situations like this, what might be best to do isn’t the easiest thing to do.

So now I focus on my own girls. I want my daughters to be proud of me. I want them to love me unconditionally. I want them to be annoyed with me, and get past it. I want them to think of me as a keeper of traditions; a creature of habit; a baker of delicious cookies; a popper of popcorn for movie night; a recorder of their memories. A reader, a writer, someone who does crafty things. I want to be their fan, their coach, their ear and cheering section, as my friends have been for me. Most of all I want to be someone who is always, always there for them. Someone who can slide her own issues and priorities to the back burner for them. As we tell the girls all the time when we play Flying games with the girls, Mommys are always a soft place to land. And I mean that metaphorically as well.

The above title, a comment my mother made to me recently. Hello, Freudian slip. Indeed at times I feel like I take this mountain and reduce it because to deal with it had-on is just way too daunting.

Pictured above, despite everything, will I be able to be a good mother? I look at their little faces and I hope like I have never hoped for anything in my life that I can.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Round and Round and Round and Round I Go

The weekend has come and gone, and not without incident. Why is it we are drawn to bad relationships? Why is it so hard to close doors on certain people? Because I need to live up to my arcane title every once in a while, let me be mysterious and annoyingly coy, but I have to say I am done with the trials and tribulations with one particular person. [Regular readers may have figured out the culprit already. And regular in-the-know readers can read all of the gory details soon in the down-low forum.]

Now it is Tuesday and the fog of the weekend has lifted and it is back to business as usual. My patience is a bit short these past couple of days. Not very auspicious timing, considering I think Avery is teething. I’m not sure, but I put together runny nose and lack of appetite and giant white thing pushing through fleshy gum and came up with teething. I’m a genius. This makes her a bit cranky. And by a bit I mean Good grief just PLEASE just calm down for two seconds. Teething for Avery means she wants constant attention, an impossible feat with two babies. And this teething is coinciding with her desire to climb everything in sight. I mean everything. Now the peek-a-boo game of Where’s Avery? is not so funny when “where” turn out to be on top of the couch or on a table. So it is PAY ATTENTION TO ME plus watch-me-try-to-climb-out-the-window.

People seem to bathe their children far more than I do my own. Meaning, their hair is crusted with food sometimes before I attempt the whole bath thing. I blame my own limitations/desire to not be radically uncomfortable on this. It is hard, minding two slick, squirmy and excited babies who refuse to sit down in the tub. Avery loves the water. She tries to drink it. She like to splash it. And she loves, above all other things, standing up in it. Madeline is more likely to sit on her chunky butt and not move as much. But when she gets it in her mind that it is time to stand there is no telling her otherwise.

Both girls seem to understand no, and gleefully shake their heads back and forth in imitation of me. Both girls also see the word “no” as a chance to turn any activity into a game. Pulling books off the shelf is just a task or chore that they must do with regularity. But as soon as I say NO it becomes The World’s Funnest Game. [Yes, I know “funnest” is not a word.]

So leaning over the tub, at the end of the day, trying to keep the girls safe from porcelain harm is just not my idea of a fun time. A quick survey of others indicated that I am way below the national average of baby bathing. I usually wait for Nicole and we do it together but I know this isn’t fun for her either. I like to have the girls feed and in their pajamas by the time she gets home so we all can just have fun, relaxing family time. Not Bath Hell time.

On a completely unrelated note, I was in the food store the other day and it was hot and I was cranky and tired and weighed down by gallons of milk and juice and other staples that I seem to need to buy on a more than regular basis. I am waiting on line to pay with Avery, who is attempting to Houdini her way out of the now-not-moving stroller and Madeline, who is trying to wrench herself out of the Bjorn. These girls do not like to stop and wait on lines. And this man in front of us looks at Avery and says “Looks like she needs a tissue.” To which I reply “Oh, look at that. I don’t have one.” To which he replies (doesn’t anyone else agree the banter should have stopped there?) “Wow, but she really needs one.” So I lean over (no easy feat with a 23 pound human strapped to you) and lift Avery’s shirt and wipe her nose with her own shirt. Problem solved. Now leave me alone, strange, talkative, nosey, interfering, tissue-obsessed man.

Tomorrow night is the George Michael concert. I am excited. We have amazing seats. Part of me is tempted to sell my ticket (they are going for as much as $1,000 each for our seat area online!) but that wouldn’t be fun, would it. Apparently there is an intermission. I am not sure how I feel about intermissions in a concert. This is a concert, not an opera.

Pictured above, Miss Avery. She looks a wee cranky in the bottom picture, no? She climbed on my lap while I was typing this and pitched a it till I hoisted her up. And she loves to look at herself on the screen, hence why I have thousands of pictures just like these.

Friday, July 18, 2008

It's Bulk Shopping Day and Yes, That excites Me

First, the delicious Northampton donuts came from Atkins Farm market. Those cream-filled ones (vanilla and chocolate) are amazing. Their cider donuts are out of this world. Nicole and I once picked up a bag for Annie and Nancy but ate the entire bag on the car drive back to NYC. We had the best of intentions.

We are off to New Jersey to shop like it is the End of Days. I am meeting up with my sister in law and heading to BJs and the food store and Bed Bath and Beyond and maybe other suburban delights. I will pack the car to the gills and then somehow drive home and unload it all and get the girls in bed in time for their afternoon nap. I love a challenge.

On Wednesday night I went to the Billy Joel Shea Stadium concert with my brother and Leif. Leif was so adorable. He brought a portable telescope to look at the moon! How cute is that?? I said to him that I was excited to share his first concert with him and he said “Is this your first concert too?” Cute. I then told him that his daddy and I used to listen to Billy Joel when we were his age. The Glass Houses album I remember explicitly. I must have been eight or so. Leif let me sing to him and hold his hand and he shared his Cracker jack with me. We ended the evening by running full speed down the ramp.

I felt very, very, very old because during “New York State of Mind, “ a guest joined Billy on the stage. It was Tony Bennett. My brother jabs his finger toward the stage, which is about 6 miles away from our nosebleed seats and says “That’s Tony Bennett!!!” He was excited. This, my brother, who loves classic rock and Led Zeppelin and The Dead and that sort of stuff was excited to see Tony Bennett. The younger Keith might have feigned insouciance, at the very least, even if there was a deep-seeded interest in Tony Bennett. Older us can’t help but show our appreciation for older crooners.

But how fun was it to be in a giant stadium for a concert like that?! I had a great time. The audience cheered when he sang “Oyster Bay” during Billy the Kid (that is the town next to the one I grew up in). We left early because Leif is five and neither Keith nor I wanted to battle mass exodus of a stadium-sized crowd all trying to leave at the same time. Besides, he has tickets for tonight’s show as well.

Avery is full-on climbing up chairs, couches and low tables to reach toys or laps. Nicole says this is a milestone. I am still waiting for them to kiss. I was devastated to see that the lovely Beckett, who is a full two moths younger than the girls, kisses on command. I ask for kisses and the girls just look a me blankly. And Avery still points at the ceiling fan when I ask where is Momma. It occurs to me that I should be spending more time teaching them things, but so far, I am enjoying their learning via osmosis. Very easy for me, them having these sponge-like brains.

I must have some secret, hidden desire to turn Nicole into the size of a house because my latest obsession is making her milkshakes. I like a milkshake every now and then but in general they are no temptation for me. But I really enjoy experimenting with making them. Last night I made a peanut butter one that was really good. I was proud because I made up the recipe myself. I have one planned for tonight as well. I also made a strawberry version and a chocolate version, using some Max Bennet chocolate powder and vanilla ice cream.

I just discovered that Nine Inch Nails make for a great running soundtrack. And Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy seems to be my standard pace.

Pictured above, Madeline loved playing with Beckett, who was winsome and charming. Avery stared at him for a while but eventually warmed up to him. The next day she took to pushing her toys around a la Beckett!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Eat It • All By Myself & Corporate Skullduggery • Binges• Poison

Four things:
1 • Why is it that the little ladies will turn their little button noses up at food when they are in their high chairs, but as soon as they are released and free range again, they will gobble up food from the floor as if they are starving? I really do have a hard time understanding the capricious food whims of children. One day peaches are coveted and eaten with relish (not relish relish, but relish) and the next the carefully cut up peach ends up in the garbage. Pizza seems to be a consistent hit, as well as pasta with red sauce and ricotta. Everything else is on their Thanks For Making Me Chicken Cutlets, But You Can Just Throw That In The Garbage Because I Don’t like It Anymore list. I cannot handle food waste. It seems so…wasteful.

2 • Why is it is took Nicole and I thirteen months to realize that we are not always in after-work, end-of-the-day sync? After a day of being with the girls allllll byyyyyyy myyyyyselffff (that song is in my head), I really look forward to the paradigm shift that occurs when the other mommy comes home. I like the company and family time, first and foremost. But I also like the help. Having the chance to do something while the girls are completely occupied and out of my eyesight is an amazing luxury. Instead of a half hour to fold the laundry, I can power through that task in 15 minutes. I can make dinner without having to relocate little girls who like to get underfoot, literally. I can run down to throw laundry in without strapping a baby on my chest and strapping one in the stroller and dragging the heavy hamper with one hand while pushing the thrashing-about baby in the stroller with another. I can put things away and organize and clean up without feeling like Sisyphus.

But but but, and this is important, after a day of dealing with corporate skullduggery and pressures and hassles, Nicole just wants to come home and not get swept up into the Chores Olympics. She only has about an hour with the girls (if that) before they go to bed and corralling them away from whatever I am doing is not top on her list. I can see that, because as soon as the girls figure out I am doing something as fantastic as folding laundry in the bedroom, they MUST be involved and will bang on the door until they are let in. It becomes an exercise in Relocation and Attempted Distraction, which usually doesn’t end well.

3 • Why is it no one has written the article “Anatomy of a Binge?” If I could magically drum up an extra three hours every day I would write the article myself. Maybe I will. Maybe I will dust off my old journalism credentials and sharpen my pencils and flip open one of those Reporter’s Notebooks and start making some phone calls. Maybe maybe maybe.

The article would talk about how “binge” is relative, so while on one hand, eating 15 pounds of candy for one person might qualify as a binge, eating two big pieces of cake might qualify for another. And both are equally traumatizing for the binger. What I find so interesting about binges is that they are single moments and decisions that set forth a gush of motion that is hard to stop. So after a bad day someone might eat half a pint of ice cream, then go to bed. That’s not so bad, right? But what is bad is that is sets off three weeks of bad choices, misery, despair, feelings of being out of control, depression, and apathy. Well, at least it usually does for me.

I am not in a binge mode now. At the tail end of vacation, I did overdo it on donuts, which lead to the next day of overindulging in my own way, which lead to a third day and maybe a fourth, I don’t remember. And my binge is not textbook scary. But for me, it represents no control, and that is not good. But it is over and done and I have moved on to normalcy and control. I don’t always. Usually I hit the Fuck It wall, and it is a really hard wall to scale.

This phantom article might dissect the reasons why people binge and explain how to get back on track quickly, instead of lingering in that bad place for weeks. Most important, it will explain how a day or two of binge eating (or gym skipping or any unwanted behavior, really) will not destroy your health or body or sanity or mind. We can bend without snapping. That is what I am trying to learn myself.

4 • The final piece of my random pie: Why is it we humans are so drawn to dark, toxic, unsatisfying relationships? I am a participant in a toxic relationship that rears its head every now and then. And when it did rear its head this time, I wanted to rear back in a negative and unhealthy way. But I didn’t. I just left it all as if and walked away. At least for today I did. We will see what happens tomorrow and the ext day and the next. It is so easy to get sucked into the undertow of negative. But for now, I made the right choice.

Pictured above, the donut and cake that spurned a few days of bad choices. It’s kind of pathetic to say that my mind thinks “Well, since I ate two slices of birthday cake, I might as well eat everything until I explode” but I would be lying if I pretended that thoughts like that didn’t cross my mind from time to time.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Yes, I’d Like the Cucumber Eye Wrap, But Please Don’t Kill Me

Saturday was one of those days that I pleasured-delayed for so long because I was really looking forward to it. I had carrot and sesame body buff at Bliss Spa and it was truly amazing.

But let us look beyond the pleasurable parts the and take a closer look at the awkward/bizarre parts. I am lead into a tiled room with drains in the floor, not unlike the autopsy/dissection rooms you see on TV. In the center is a table that is lined with some sort of plastic-y wrap and aluminum foil. I realize that I will b wrapped up like a giant burrito. I am given the smallest pair of underwear that I have very seen and told to strip down, put on the tiny undies and lay on the table. So I am mostly naked, on a table, in a tiled room with drains on the floor, waiting for some woman I paid to come in a rub carrot mulch all over my body and wrap me like a burrito.

The woman was very nice, but very talkative, and I like to sort of chill during these sort of things and not feel pressured to make small talk while someone is folding down the blanket covering my breasts and rubbing hot oil on my chest. She told me, among other things, that I should grow my hair out because it would be “so awesome” long; asked if I was Southern when I told her my children’s names and three times asked me about my husband, to which I politely inserted “well, actually, I have a girlfriend, not a husband.” I am pretty certain she thinks that I am raising my babies with a friend of mine who happens to be a girl. I didn’t know how to be much clearer without drawing a diagram. Thanks, society, for leaving me without proper pronouns and titles.

Turns out it is rubdowns I love, not massages. So I loved this treatment. Massages hurt and force muscles and bones around in a way that is not very pleasing. But rub downs are amazing. Absolutely amazing. The best part was the Vichy shower at the end, which is basically a shower you take laying down. Five shower heads appear over my body and wash me clean of all the carrots and salt and oil and honey and milk. A shower while laying down, it felt oh so Jetsons.

There was one point when she placed a cucumber mask over my eyes, which was refreshingly pleasing, but then I started having all sorts of nightmares like “What if she tries to kill me?” and “She could just stab me in the stomach and no one would here my screams over the Muzak piped into the rooms.” I actually removed the mask for a second, such was my fear, and looked at her and she was wearing a giant white apron, like the kind butchers wear but vinyl. Seriously, my brain as in overdrive. But in the end, I actually was lulled to sleep while I was wrapped and I enjoyed every over moment of the event.

Afterwards I walked up to here and picked up a chocolate pizza for my visiting niece from this amazing place I will definitely be visiting that place in the fall and winter.

The weekend was lovely but short, which is my weekly complaint. It ended on a rough nighttime note: For some reason, Maddie woke up after being put down and screamed. Then Avery was started and woke too. She usually always sleeps through Maddie’s scream fests, so we know Avery was upset. We tried various methods and permutations (me with Maddie in the living room while Nicole was with Avery in the bedroom, etc) and switched babies and locations in an attempt to calm them, which we did and then put the in their beds (which made them scream again).

It ended with the four of us on our bed and the girls were laughing at each other, making dolphin noises back and forth and in general being the cutest that I have ever seen them be. It was as if they just discovered for the first time that they had a sister. Such a metaphor for life, I said to Nicole. Here were are going through this hellish night and not able to see a light at the end of this sleepless tunnel. I was cursing our luck, and lamenting the loss of my free time this night. And it ended on such a beautiful note. First, all that laying on the couch with a baby on my chest gave me much needed quiet time, time without the distractions of talk or TV or internet. Time to just think. And then that lovely family interlude with all of us on the bed. That is a memory that will far outlast the restless babies night image. But for that hour before, I was all doom-and-gloom and fume. Once again, life shows me that I have this image and plan and idea and this silly thought that I have control over anything. And life takes a turn and while it seems like this is all wrong in the moment, in the end it proves to be all right.

Pictured above, my little partners in crime.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

When Not Having a Glimmer is a Good Thing

Thanks for all of the sweet comments! I am definitely excited, for many reasons, not the least of which is the idea that there is something that I can plan. I am a happy planner, and I look forward to each and every step of the paperwork, hassle and itinerary that I need to work through.

Technically, this is not the first time Nicole proposed. Several years ago (five?), she pulled out two platinum bands and asked me to spend every eve of Christmas eve with her for the rest of our lives, appropriately, under our Christmas tree on the eve of Christmas eve. And even before that, we knew this was a forever thing. From the very beginning, we approached our relationship with the attitude that this is forever, or we are not going forward, which isn’t for everyone but it works for both of us. I have to say it wasn’t even a leap of faith to make that promise. There was just something so solid between us that felt strong and real and safe and impenetrable. I remember the first time that she told me she loved me and I remember the second time she told me too. I remember the first panic attack I had, when my heart was racing and I couldn’t catch my breath, because I though What if we don’t work out? I remember when we first started talking about having a family and I remember the night I came to bed and sat next to her and said that yes, I think I did need to try to have a baby with her. It all seems so long ago and yet like just yesterday. And the fact that she likes to make my every wish and dream come true is just the icing on the cake!

Something learned: If you marry in California and then want to divorce, one of you needs to be a resident of California for at least a year before you can divorce. What a hassle. I skim those parts because I am cocky and confident that that will ever be us. Famous last words, right? But I do feel immune from that. I have asked divorced friends if they knew, when they were getting married, that this might be a mistake, that this might not be the right person for them, and they all admitted that yes, there was a glimmer of “this isn’t right.” I had the same glimmer in my last relationship before Nicole. I wonder if any of you with relationships that ended had the glimmer too. I get how one might have that glimmer and then proceed, because hope does spring eternal, after all. I don’t have that glimmer at all, which makes me feel even more resolute in my choices.

It is disconcerting to day that I am still sick. I have a cough I can’t shake and a lethargy I can’t deny. This is the second day in a row of skipped gym. I have collapsed in bed each night really early, exhausted and congested. My cough kind of rattles a little and I keep thinking maybe it is getting better but then it seems not so much. I know I should go to the doctor, but then I think why not just take a round of antibiotics and call it a day? Getting all the way across town to see my doctor is such an event.

I am entering Concert Season. We are seeing Melissa Etheridge tomorrow, George Michael next week and I might be seeing Billy Joel with my brother and Mina the following week. To think I have been fans of all three performers for over 20 years. Now I feel old. But not as old as I will feel when I take my niece to see the Jonas Brothers in August.

On a side note, I continue my run as the World’s Worst Blog Commenter. I have not made a single comment in, oh, three months maybe. Please know that I am reading and following and celebrating and lamenting and commiserating and sharing in all of your stories. And you bloggers with password protected posts are my bane! (You know who you are!) I can’t even manage to email for the password!

Pictured above, the ring. I am trying to get a picture of it on my hand, but holing my heavy camera to shoot it is hard and my hand always comes out looking like an old witch's gnarled hand. Also pictured, my little ladies. Avery seems to be test driving a new smile. I love that they get milk spray on their faces when they tip the bottles into their mouths!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Mystery Solved and Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

Where to begin?

Cape Cod was great. Green, lush and verdant, all hydrangeas and gray, weathered shingled homes and lobsters and sour cream donuts. The night we arrived, a cold front was moving through, so I got to sit outside on the deck and listen to the wind rustling through the trees, which has to be one of my favorite sounds in the world. We heard birds tweat and saw lightning bugs flit by. Even the rain was soft and beautiful.

The Red, White and Blue Riddle was partly solved on my birthday. Not content to just let me try to randomly guess what my birthday gift would be, Nicole decided to give clues that created parameters and confusion. Red white and blue figured prominently. That is apropos, considering I was born on the fourth of July. The first gift, which I opened before we left for the Cape, was the sewing machine, which has me so excited that I almost need to take a sleeping pill to calm my brain down at night. I have about 100 projects that I want to do (unsuccessfully at first, I’m sure). And yet I have no idea how to operate the machine. I have a lot to learn.

The second gift I opened on my birthday. It was early morning and the girls were up. The four of us went into the screened porch. Nicole gave me a birthday card, or, rather, a birthday postcard of the Golden Gate Bridge. This of course doesn’t seem unusual to me because she usually leaves card-buying to the last minute, which means cards don’t get bought, which means she scrambles for something appropriate within reach on her desk. She then pulled out that blue Tiffany box, and I am thinking, riddle solved. It was a snowflake charm for my bracelet. I love it! Yes, I am like a grandmother, excited about my sewing machine and charm bracelet. Next year, I am asking for a crocheted afghan and doilies.

Fast forward to Sunday. We are in Northampton and it’s about 9:00 am and the girls are napping in Auntie Annie and Auntie Nan’s extra bedroom. So Nicole and I go out by ourselves for a little Just Us time. We are out of the house, alone, and on our way into the town of Northampton. On the way, as we are speeding along, I saw a black bear on someone’s property. I was in the middle of a coughing fit so all I managed to get out was “Bear. [cough cough] Bear. [cough] Bear” while Nicole braked, then sped up, then swerved, then braked again and finally pulled over, confused because I offered no other directive other than “bear.” That’s me, under pressure, losing the ability to form sentences and make any sense at all. But she saw him lumber across the street in the rear view. It was so cool! At least, from the vantage of a completely enclosed steel package of a car that can outpace a bear if necessary. Not sure how I would feel if I were out walking. But wow, we saw a bear!

Nicole said we should go to Smith campus because the lighting is good to take pictures (I had my camera with me, as always). I had visions of sitting in the Haymarket drinking coffee and reading the paper, like we used to do. But the lighting was great, so Smith won. We parked and walked over to Paradise Pond, a frequent destination of ours.

We are on the path when Nicole kind of herds me over to a rock overlooking the pond. I stand on the rock and start taking pictures and she asks me if I ever figured out what the red was in the gift riddle. Well, no I didn’t, I admitted, but I didn’t think too much about it because I really thought she just made up random, esoteric clues to throw me off the scent, like she usually does. But I am concentrating on taking pictures now, trying to get the reflection of the trees in the calm pond water, not solving riddles. Then she asks if I thought it was weird that she gave me a postcard of the Golden Gate Bridge as a birthday card. Again, not raising any flags here because she is usually pressed to find a card on the day of whatever occasion and she goes to SF a lot for work and is always picking up postcards to send to little people.

But I turn around (or did she tell me to turn around?) and she is standing there with a little black velvety box and a ring and tears in her eyes and says “Will you marry me?” I am astonished and drop my jaw, but once I regain composure, I confirm that she is crying (“Are you crying?”) and then try to find out more (“Why are you crying?”) and then I am crying too. So we are just two girls crying and hugging in the woods around Paradise Pond on Smith campus. I’m guessing we aren’t the first, or the last.

Of course I said yes. And that is how I became a betrothed woman.

So the red was for the Golden Gate bridge, in California, where we will marry. (Not on the bridge; in California) And the blue is for the Tiffany boxes in part, and also for the sapphires in the ring (it is a diamond and sapphire eternity band). And the white, I go with snowflake and sewing machine. I think I cleaned up well on this here my 36th year.

I get that it is just a piece of paper and I know that people say that marriage doesn’t really change anything, but for me it is a very important piece of paper and it changes everything. And now, for the treacle: I feel like the luckiest person in the world. I am so happy. I feel like I got everything that I didn’t know I wanted, which just goes to show I shouldn’t be upset when my plans don’t go as planned. Something better is waiting around the corner. It’s hard to have faith in that, but I have to say it that consolation has yet to let me down.

And I thought, given the illegal nature of our union, that discussions of marriage would be relegated to dinnertime conversation during which we work out the logistics and paperwork and nightmare that is marrying in a state completely across the country. And though we will still have to do all of that not-fun business, we also got to have that private, special moment to look back on. And there is a place we can go to and someday take our girls to and say “This is where it happened.” I like thinking in this huge world, we have that special spot, and we had that moment that didn’t have to happen at the dining room table.

There are no big, flashy plans, but I really do want to go to one of those bridal stores and just try on a big, poofy dress and take a picture. An ironic photo perhaps. I wonder if you are even allowed to take pictures in those stores? Anyway, it’s not about a dress or a party or any of that. It really is about that piece of paper. And maybe a honeymoon!

Pictured above, the new and improved someday-to-be-sorta-legally married version. And me with my ring and the rock where it all happened.

Home Again; Red White and Blue Mystery Solved; and More Later

We are back from our mini vacation and it was great. The red white and blue present mystery has been cracked! I want to write all about it but I need to settle in and put everything back in its place. But here are some pictures for now, and I will have some big news in my next post!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A Red, White and Blue Color-Theme Riddle

The difference between Nicole and I is that I plan themes and then execute my themed plans, whereas Nicole executes plans and then discovers themes. For example, I might plan a dinner party around the theme “cave-aged cheese.” Whereas Nicole might plan a party, order some cheese and then realize, off the cuff, “Wow, I certainly have a lot of just cave-age cheeses, don’t I? Maybe we should run to the store and get some cheddar.” See what I mean?

My birthday is on Friday, so I am eagerly anticipating this gift-receiving occasion, which always helps to numb the pain/annoyance of turning another year older. Nicole said that my gifts are— appropriately—red, white and blue. An unplanned theme, she discovered, after buying them, I might add. I opened the first one tonight because she thought I would figure it out just by seeing the large, rectangular box. For the record, I wouldn’t. I ripped the box opened and was shocked to see a sewing machine because 1.) Although I did mention it several times over the past year, I didn’t think it was really registering with her that I really wanted one and 2.) a rational person would fear my making them shirts and pants and such on my new sewing machine, which, I am certain, will not be executed well for many years.

I am so excited and already plan on making oilcloth lunch bags and aprons and maybe pillows, loath as I am to own “toss” pillows. I am trolling Etsy for ideas. Some people are so damn creative.

The machine is white, which leaves red and blue unaccounted for. I will open that gift on my birthday. She is throwing some esoteric clues at me like “The color doesn’t matter” and “Just because I say it is red doesn’t mean it is red. It could symbolize red.” What the? I really have no earthly clue what the next gift is. Red and blue. Red and blue. All that comes to mind are blueberries and strawberries. Noting else is leaping out at me. Unless when she says "red" she means "read" and it is a book. And "blue" maybe for a grape (work with me) and it is a signed first edition of The Grapes of Wrath! Alas, this is most likely not the gift. Besides, she already gave me a first edition (though not first printing)of The Grapes of Wrath, and she is not one to repeat gifts. A while ago, I thought boots were a shoe-in (no pun intended!) for a birthday gift because I have been thinking about getting them for a while. Now I pray it is not red-and-blue boots.

We leave tomorrow for our Cape Cod adventure, which will be toped off with a night in Northampton with Auntie Annie and Auntie Nan. Saturday early evening I plan on getting my arugula pizza at Paradise. And then my Herrells ice cream. And then my walk through the stores in town. And then back to A&N’s swanky place. And then on Sunday back to home sweet home.

My mom came today. She had a brief Tour of Duty babysitting with my brother’s kids, and stopped by my place on her way back to the island. It’s great having someone around to hang out with the girls because I can get so much done. It is ridiculous how much I can do. I knew she was coming so I looked forward to do it all, planning how I would do laundry and clean the bath tub and go to the vegetable market alone. I even got my hair cut, which I haven’t done since February or so.

Pictured above, we went to a baptism over the weekend. On the way there we got so lost, which resulted in us being late. Very late. Then on the way home, there was torrential rain. It stopped by the time we got to the garage. Well, slowed to a drizzle, so we all got a little damp on the walk home. Look at the girls' hair: It is all sweaty and curly and messy! I wanted to get a picture of all four of us, since we were all dressed up, but we never got around to it, thanks to our lateness. So when we got home I called into the bedroom and told Nicole we should take a picture, but she was already out of her clothes and into her PJs. So there's me and the little uncooperative ladies. Also pictured, Avery giving me one of her trademark kisses! She is a biter!