Sunday, January 31, 2010

Too, too, too. Me, me, me

Here’s a Blind Item to start your Sunday morning:

Me: “Why don’t you come into the city tomorrow and hang out with me and girls? I can’t drive out there because Nicole and the car are in Massachusetts.”
Mystery Person: “I think I’ll take a pass.”

You’ll take a pass?! Who even uses that sentence construct when declining a “please visit me” request? You pass on stuffed mushrooms or chicken satay. You pass on the dutchie passed on the left hand side. You pass on a third shot of tequila. You don’t pass on people. Several excuses were rattled off. I give you, in no particular order: Too tired, too cold and too much. When will I stopped feeling stunned? My disappoint knows no boundaries, apparently. Who knows how to fence off rejection pain?

So, yes, that dark mood is still lingering.

Last night I kneeled at the girls’ bed, where they were both sleeping angelically together, put my hands on their backs to make sure they are breathing, and just cried. It was like a moment out of a movie. I could imagine a camera above me, circling around the scene. Maybe it’s hormones. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because they are so sweet and so innocent when they are at the most sleeping vulnerable, and I feel like a monster for ever losing my patience with them. Maybe I am just exhausted. Whatever it is, I am not feeling very balanced right now, but tears aren’t helping.

I put about $600 dollars worth of merchandise into my virtual shopping cart, which, of course, I ended up deleting, because that’s not going to make things better, is it? But my vices are limited.

I’ve had three cups of coffee and made big plans for the day in my caffeine high. And already I have a feeling none will see the light of day.

Pictured, Madeline, who manages to pull off a look that says both “bored” and “above you” like no one else. And Avery, happy as a lark.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Please, Please, Please Let There Be Light

I replaced light bulbs in an overhead light this morning, which involved a lot of stretching and balancing, and it is as if I want a freaking medal. This has been one of those weeks when it has been hard getting things done. I have been neglecting my wifely duties. Here’s proof: Nicole, looking at the mountain of laundry overflowing from the hamper: “Do you think you can do laundry tomorrow?” Me, sighing heavily: “We’ll see.” This week, Nicole has been at work late, and she is currently in Boston for the night. My sleep has been awful: I fall asleep sometime around 1:00 and then when the alarm goes off three hours later to go to the gym, I dismiss it. So I skip my run and sleep in, but while those extra few hours of sleep are needed and appreciated, I pay a heavy price for it all day: I’m lethargic, have less energy, and experience a general feeling of run failure, which I never handle well.

The girls, of course, sensing my (hopefully temporary) weaknesses, have ganged up and overpowered me, and I find myself giving in to their many, many demands more easily. Sure, you can use that paci alllllllll day if it will make you happy. You won’t put on shoes to go to the laundry room? Fine, go barefoot. They can eat an entire pan of brownies and Avery can keep her pajama bottoms on all day. I am too tired to negotiate.

Hold on, Avery just submitted a demand: “Momma, I need plenty more Cheerios.” This “plenty more” is her latest figure of speech. I think it stems from when she asks me for something, like more crayons, when she already has 78, and I say “You have plenty.” So now, she needs “plenty more” of everything.

OK, back. So it has been a tough week, and getting through today and tomorrow solo (no gym for sure, since Nicole isn’t here) is going to be tough. I think I am taking the girls to the movies today. I have the God awful choice of that Chipmunk movie or the Disney Princess movie. Nothing against princesses, but I don’t want to introduce that into our world quite yet. Avery is already completely embracing her inner, innate girl, which I find interesting, as her exposure to things girly-girl are very limited. She sees my manicure and wants one too (in pink, she says). She turns her blankets into gowns and runs around saying “I’m a snow princess Momma!” (I think she got that from the Dora Christmas special.) So if she sees a real Disney princess, I think she may lose it, and my life will be pink pink pink and there will be demands for tiaras and wands and mini high heels for the foreseeable future. I am grateful, at least, that she is also very much into her play tool kit. It’s all about balance, right?

I left the high heels I wore to Monday’s dinner on the floor all week. It’s like I wanted to be reminded that I had the chance to wear them, that I lead this life that involves wearing them and lipstick and contour eye shadow, at least every once in a while. Or maybe I am just feeling lazy and didn’t put them away because there was no medal or reward involved.

Pictured above, the girls at the Zoo. On the entire walk up there, they talked about the penguins. We get there and head over to the penguin habitat and it is ….. closed for renovations. Try explaining that to toddlers who wanted nothing more than to visit the swimming penguins. The sleeping polar bears appeased them a little. And that is a picture of the sunrise one morning on the way to the gym. It is like I am walking into an oncoming train, which is exactly how this week has been feeling. Or is that the death light everyone talks about? Either way, I won’t be seeing that again until Saturday, when Nicole is home and I can get back to my morning run.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch....

Last night, Nicole and I went out to dinner here. I had a delicious pan-seared fish that I have never heard of (white, mild, on the small side), and thanks to our waiter’s thick French accent, I still have no idea what it was called. My one year of French in college did not prepare me adequately for this. But whatever it was, it was amazing, especially with a little Riesling sauce and on a bed of rutabaga and sauerkraut. The restaurant was beautiful, the service amazing, and it was nice being called “Madame” a lot, even though I still feel like a “mademoiselle.” I love how the waiter just assumed we would have the soufflĂ© for dessert: He phrased it like “And you will be having the soufflĂ©, of course?” Yes, of course. And it was amazing.

The best part of dinner: No kids. How nice to not have keep two toddlers entertained and quiet long enough to shovel some food into them and then into us. Ranking up there too in the Good Parts department was the fact that we were sitting next to a table full of celebrities who have starred at one time or another on The Love Boat, or maybe Celebrity Password. Connie Stevens and Joely Fisher and Lanie Kazan. Oh yes, nothing but the brightest stars in our orbit. Once upon a time, I used to run into and see younger, more relevant celebrities. Now, it’s like, oh look, there’s Betty White! Is that Red Buttons? I could be sitting on top of a Jonas Brother or a Billy Ray Cyrus offspring and have no idea.

Today was back to reality. It is relatively mild again so I figured it was a good day to go to the playground. I told Avery to hop in her stroller so we could go to the playground, but she said “No playground. I want to go buy presents.” Well then. Isn’t someone getting a bit demanding? I guess this is what happens when I come home a couple of times in a row with little gift for them. I have created a monster, a cute, pig-tail wearing, chunky little monster.

I managed to derail Avery’s one-track present mind and get to the playground. They have officially graduated to the Big Playground, though we still take a spin around the Little Playground on our way out. There was a swing meltdown: I like to take them to an entirely different playground for swinging, but the girls freaked out when I said it was time to go there. They screamed for almost an entire block but calmed down when I went into a deli buy myself a hot tea to fortify myself for Playground, Round Two and they realized they could get chips. The chips distracted them, so I was able to skip Playground Two and head home instead. Score!

It’s gonna be along week. Nicole is home late tonight, and she will be away for work on Thursday into Friday. I think I might take the girls to this place for dinner. It is such a great, easy place for kids, and for us adults too. And they have Tater Tots! I rarely do things like this with them without Nicole, but I think it’s time I start expanding my repertoire of activities with the girls and push myself to do things that make me a little uncomfortable. Any being outnumbered by the girls anywhere in public definitely makes me a liiiiitle uncomfortable sometimes.

Pictured above, on Sunday I made deep-dish, Chicago-style pizza with Avery, who was very much into shaving the parmagian. No one can handle a microplane like my baby! And Madeline loved it. She ate an entire quarter of a nine-inch pie. Very had a decent size portion too. Also pictured, delicious mystery fish dinner from last year. Quality is not so great because I took the picture with my phone. But trust me, it looked as good as it tasted.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Maybe All Transitions Need to Be Celebrated With Cake


Cake Party (Avery’s term of endearment for any event that includes cake of any sort for any reason) was a rousing success. The celebration began when Nicole came home with two You-Paid-How-Much-For-Those-Giant Balloons? The girls ran around ecstatically tugging their balloons, one shaped like Big Bird, the other like Winnie the Pooh, who Avery horrifyingly and bizarrely and instantly started liking without any formal introduction at all. I literally have no idea how she even learned that Pooh existed. But one day, she was all about Winnie the Pooh. I might need to have a talk with my niece Skye! Anyway, This was followed by a visit to their room and the formal introduction of cribs-sans-front panels, aka Big Girl Beds. Lots of “Wow! Look at your new bed! Bye-bye cribs! What big girls you are!” And the celebration was finished off with cupcakes and candles, with repeat blow-outs, as ordered by Avery.

We brought them to bed at 7:30. We read them a book (Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed) and then left. Madeline was upset at first, yelling for us and crying and shouting out her most heart-wrenching “Where’d ya go Momma?” But within about 15 looong hand-wringing minutes (I do not do cry-it-out well at all) she settled down and instead started talking with Avery. Here is a snippet of their actual conversation: .

M: Peek a Boo!
A: Peek a Boo!
M: I can’t see you!
A: I here Maddie
M: Avy
A: Maddie
M: Aaaaaaaaaavy
A: Maaaaaaaadie
M: What’s gonna work? Teeeeeam-wuk
A: Teeeeeamwuk

Yes, they are currently very much into the Wonder Pets and if you are my Facebook friend, you can watch a video Nicole uploaded of them singing this as a duet. They chatted themselves to sleep. I am fine with that. They are really starting to have this very basic, caveman like conversations. Maddie woke up once around 12:30. She didn't get out of her bed. I went in there, sort of curled onto the bed with her, which is no easy feat. She held my finger and nestled her head on my shoulder. All I could think was “This is sooooo nice but I can’t let this habit start.” I stayed with her for about 15 minutes and then went back to my own bed. And she was fine.

Of course, the success or failure of this cannot be determined in one night. I am curious to see how naptime goes today. And nighttime again, as Nicole won’t be home to participate in the brand new ritual. But I am optimistic. And also a little sad: How quickly time is going by. I remember putting them in these cribs when they came home from the hospital.

OK, off to the gym.

Pictured above, cake party. I am obsessed with macro pictures of sprinkles. I have never met a sprinkle that I didn't want to photograph. Also, to file under things I want to remember, Avery calls Nicole's cufflinks "quarters." I don't even remember her learning the word "quarter."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bad Mood Part II: Nice to Be Reminded That I am Not Normal

Yesterday, I was on my way out to Long Island, and I was checking my voicemail while stopped at a light on 9th Avenue, in stop-and-go traffic, when someone knocked on my window. Of course, I usually ignore such disturbances, as they tend to be not very savory people, but out of the corner of my eye I see the uniform. I roll (roll?) I mean, power down my window and Mr. License-and-Registration-Please opens with “On the cell phone, and you have a kid in car no less!!!” Actually, I told him, there are two kids. And I passed him my license and registration and patiently explained that yes, the car is registered to Nicole, but yes, it is my car too, because we are married. Always fun to see the pallor of lesbian-recognition cast onto another’s face.

Fine, give me the ticket. I broke the damn law. But really? I was at a stop light, meaning I was stopped. And not talking, just listening to voicemail. Me listening to a voicemail that I was about to switch to speaker phone at a stop light is not so dangerous. But whatever. I broke the law and I will pay the ridiculous fine ($130) and hope that my pullover and wasted minutes was the universe in action: Maybe if I wasn’t pulled over I would have rear-ended a truck on the LIE or something. Maybe there was a reason for this waste of time on the side of 9th Avenue beyond what I could possibly know.

Last night, Madeline refused, as usual, to sleep in her crib. I let her cry it out for about a half-hour, and then, when she was on the verge of hyperventilation, I went in. I took her out of the crib and put her and her pillow and blanket on the floor. And she was fine: She stopped crying and settled down instantly. Of course, this got Avery’s attention, who immediately gophered up and she started bellowing “I need floor, too.” So I settled Avery on the floor as well. I left the room, and they were fine. They would have fallen asleep lickety split is Avery wasn’t so excited to be free-range. She kept sliding over to Maddie and talking with her and engaging her, and when I approached the room, she would scamper back. But Madeline did not move AT ALL. It took a while, but both eventually fell asleep. I scooped up Avery and put her back in her crib and let Maddie sleep on the floor. She slept for a couple of hours and when she woke up, I picked her up and brought her to the couch and slept with her there. I could have resettled her on the floor but I was so tied and didn’t want to.

Besides, there is a new plan, culled from your various emails and comments: We are officially removing the front piece of the cribs and making the Stokke cribs toddler beds. This will be a celebration. We are having balloons and cupcakes (I made them this morning) and candles and presents and dancing and laughing. A new routine will be established, one we can stick with (I think it will be each picking one book to read together before lights out.). I have a feeling this really is what Maddie needs. She proved it last night by sleeping alone on the floor, and not in our bed or with us on the couch. It is not us she wants, it’s freedom. Avery, I have a feeling, will be the child we will need to lead back to bed 100 times an hour. But I am ready to get this party started. Wish us luck, and stay tuned for details.

And now, on to politics. Massachusetts just elected republican Scott Brown, the sure-to-be health care bill-killer. Health care reform has been destined to fail from the get-go. What gets me is not his party affiliation but rather the things he says. Take this, for example: “the idea of two women having a child is “just not normal.” You know what I think? I think people who think vile things like that are just not normal. How would you feel if someone called your family “not normal?” It makes me sad, then embarrassed, then angry. Very very angry.

Actually, I a beyond angry I in the realm of fucking pissed. Of course, this sort of stuff bothered me before, but now, these evil thoughts and opinions directly impact my children. Look my kids in the eye and tell them that they are products of a not-normal family. You be the one to tell them that they don’t deserve the same rights as everyone else, unless they grow up and can prove that they are card-carrying members of the “I Love The Opposite Sex Club.”

I am probably preaching to the choir and screaming in the wind here, but I just don’t understand how we are able to get away with saying things like that. Yes, I am all for freedom of speech, but the fact that people can say things like that and get elected say SO much about us as a society. How can we let this happen? I can’t fix this. I can’t make this better for my girls. I just wish for a better world for them.

I would love to write more but my not-normal self has to make frosting for our not-normal cupcake party and then go pick up the dry cleaning, go to the post office and stop at the book store to buy a special not-normal book gift for the girls. You know, all sorts of subversive and not-normal activities like that.

Oh, and I am keeping my eyes peeled for a baby backpack for another not-normal couple I know who are expecting a daughter in June. The kind you can hike with. If you have one and want to sell it, leave me a comment!

Pictured above, my not-normal wife and our daughter pursuing yet another not-normal activity: Learning to shovel snow. And our not-normal snowman. Our lives just scream not normal.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Couple Reasons Wy I'm In a Bad Mood

I am kinda tired of seeing earthquake survivors on TV announce to the world that they survived because God wanted them to. Riiiiiight. And he really wanted to wipe out those other 200,000 people. They all deserved to die? Was their painful deaths on top of God’s To Do list that day? I am not denying the miraculous survivals of some of these people, and I am not trying to say that they can’t have their own faith and, yes, there but for the grace of God goes I as well, but I just think these “God saved me” announcements must really sting those who lost loved ones.

Yes, people are looting and shooting and beating now. And I would too, in a New York minute, if I were in a situation like that and needed to feed my daughters. Or get them health care. I might go to any lengths necessary to get my children medical attention if they were on the verge of death, God forbid. How judgmental the world can be. And there is nothing like a disaster to bring out all the self-serving, look-at-me people.

I was listening to some talk radio program this weekend and I heard a really interesting discussion about disasters like this. The radio man (don’t know who he is) said that his uncle, who was in the military and specialized in disaster planning, told him that if ever something catastrophic occurs, like this earthquake or something like a nuclear attack, there are two things you must do. The first: Do not gather where the government tells you to gather. Yes, a military man said don’t listen to Uncle Sam. You can go your own way, as the song says. And, two, you have 72 hours to get out of town. The reason is this: In the first 24 hours, everyone is so nice and helpful and generous. By the second day, looters emerge, and gangs begin to form. By day three, gangs are running amok and anarchy rules. Again, this is in the event of a HUGE disaster, like a nuclear attack or a terrorist attack that affects more than just two towers in the city. Interesting advice.

If I ran the world, this is what I would make happen: We would make Haiti a Perfect Nation. A model country, if you will. Completely raze Port au Prince and create a green city, with parks and trees and gardens and recycling centers and humane housing for the poor and medical clinics for the sick and staffed and stocked orphanages for the children. Try to create an industry so this country would have something to export. Build playgrounds and schools (in that order) and museums and some tourist attractions. The best and brightest in every field would help create this new and improved city. New infrastructure. New policies. New everything. Most of all, new architecture: I read that when California experienced a 7.1 magnitude quake (which is TWICE the magnitude of Haiti’s 7.0) 200 died, as opposed to 200,000 And this was in a city of 2 million. The difference: Buildings in California are built to specific earthquake codes. Not so in Haiti. How awful hat so many people died because the nation is too poor to build to code.

Can you tell I’m in a bad mood?

I am also in desperate need of sleeping advice. We have been lucky thus far with naps and nighttimes: Daily two-hour naps and 7:00 p.m. bedtimes, sleeping 12 or 13 hours every night. But that has come to a screeching stop. About a month again, Madeline absolutely refused to go to bed at night in her crib. She does naps in her crib fine, and plays in it during the day, but when night comes, she screams for HOURS. And she does this in the city and in Massachusetts. She literally starts shaking when we say “OK ladies, it’s time for night-night.” Of course, we handled it all wrong: Tried to let her cry it out; did a modified Ferber method; brought her into or bed; slept with her on the couch; sat in her room holding her hand or rubbing her tummy for an hour or so. Every night, a new plan. Talk about unstable. What do we do? Does this mean she needs a twin bed? Did she have a nightmare and now is afraid to sleep at night? We tried leaving doors open and adding nightlights. Everything. I am at my wit’s end, because now my day, which usually ends with two hours or so of quiet time for me to work, relax and chill out, is now occupied with this non-sleeping paradigm. Any advice at all? Please help us! Please! I don’t think I can survive another night of hearing Madeline scream “Momma where did you go?”

And now, to lighten the mood, a few random bullets:

• Avery and Madeline got a tool kit for Christmas and they love it. They know their wrenches and screwdrivers and hammers and saws. I think our next toy for them might be a workbench.

• When I offer Avery two choices, she used to pick one. So I would say “Do you want applesauce or yogurt?” She would always pick one. Now she will say “No either.” We are in trouble!

• I am in a media heaven. I am reading two great books (Game Change and The Privileges) and enjoying the end of season one of Big Love. Life is sweeter when you are reading a good book and watching a great show.

Pictured above: Avery looks so chic in sunglasses! Also, I took Maddie on her first Momma/Maddie date this weekend. We went for ice cream at Herrell’s in Northampton. She is a very different child when she is alone and not under the spotlight/glare of her sister. She talked more, explored more, and showed little snippets of a personality I don’t see much when they are a dynamic duo. I have a feeling Avery will be the same. I really want to try to add more alone time dates with both of them, as well as with Nicole. Also pictured, the new furniture came. Avery proved how comfy the new couch is by promptly drifting into a soft slumber after sitting on it for a few minutes. And Madeline seems to think snow is a beach. All she needs is a frothy drink and a beach blanket.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

When The Rain Falls, It Don't Fall on One Man's House Top

Thank you, New York Times, for snapping a lot of us back to reality with the constant stream of graphic, horrific, unbelievable photos of what is going on in Haiti. How can you look at a picture of a man sitting with his head in his hands in front of the dead body of his ten month old daughter and not feel instant, penetrating grief?

The older I get, the more these things resonate with me.

Maddie is still having a problem going to bed at night in her crib, and it is creating sleeping havoc for Nicole and me. I don’t feel like leftover pizza for lunch. These are not problems in life. I am in the middle of a minor emotional upheaval right now (life related, not Haiti related), but it all seems so petty. Instead, I need to focus on the fact that I am sandwiched between Madeline and Avery right now. Maddie’s leg is thrown casually over mine and Avery is leaning her head on my shoulder. This is what life is all about. We are healthy (knock on wood) and have a home and a fridge filled with food and all the water we need. I think we tend to forget that if you have those basic things than you are luckier than something like one-quarter of the earth’s population.

Others abject grief remind me how lucky I am. This in itself is such a first-world privilege paradigm. Why can’t I just feel grateful all the time? Do I really need to see bruised and bloody people who have just lost everything to make me pause and think, “Wow. We are so lucky.”

In my own defense, I should add that these past few years there has been a sort of shift in me and I look at life in a different way. Again, I chalk this up to getting older, getting settled and getting wiser. But, whatever it stems from, I appreciate things more. I respect things more. I know how good I have it, and everyone in my life too. We are all so,so lucky.

This is what I want to do: I wish we could sponsor a family. One particular family. And send that family food and shoes and clothes and toys and things they need. Hold our own fundraisers to raise money for whatever heath care they need. Help them get the basics until the bigger charities help with the bigger issues (housing, infrastructure, health care, etc.) . Helping a family just seems so much more personal than writing a check. Alas, I am not sure such an organization exists. And I don’t know any Haitian families.

In the meantime: I want every airline to fly at least one plane a day of relief workers and volunteers over to Haiti for free. I want Fed Ex and UPS and all the shipping companies to send one plane of supplies over to Haiti every day for free. I want every major diaper company and formula company to send over at least 250K worth of free goods. I want every major food company to send over at least 100K of food. I want every clothing manufacturer to send clothes. Every shoe manufacturer. You get my drift. Maybe some of those athletes who make $30 million a year could step up to the plate (no pun intended).

Even being in this shitty mood seems indulgent.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

ThIngs That Go Bump In The Night In My Head

My children are still sleeping (it is almost nine!) so I put on the news, hoping to hear the latest in Haiti, but instead am greeted with a very important segment on cruises. What is wrong with this world? Can we not as a nation as least pretend to have a collected interest and concern with what is going on over there? Thousands of people are trapped under rubble even as I type this. But, really, let me hear more about the all-you-can-eat chocolate buffet.

And yes, I know how hypocritical it is for me to then now whine about my own pales-in-comparison issues, but here I go.

First, I have a random blind-item poll: Someone I know is sick. They are suffering with pneumonia. This person claims to have a very bad headache in the back of their head that they can’t get rid of. Yes, I am using “they” on purpose. This person has had this headache for a while, though it comes and goes. This person was so scared about the headache that they claim they were up half of the night crying and not sleeping, such was the extent of worry. (That may be an exaggeration.) So I tell this person to go to the doctor today. Do not pass go, do not wait another day. Go to the doctor. I am rather firm about it. And this person gets angry at me and tells you to stop causing aggravation and worry, etc. “I don’t need to hear this from you now.” “Why are you getting on my case?” “I don’t need you beating me up.”

What?! Beating up? This is the only person I know who gets angry when I show concern for them. I am wrong? Should I just back away? Of course I should back away. Toxic alert! Let me add that I have been calling every day to check in, to make sure all was well, to be an ear, and to ensure that there is food. Oh, the drama. Drama drama drama. When will I learn? And yet I seem to be drawn to this drama like a moth to flames. But the choice isn’t terribly fair: Ignore this person and seem heartless and distant and unconcerned or call this person and get sucked into drama. Because while I recognize the centrifugal pull of the drama circle, I am so for unable to escape its pull.

Now there is a segment about a dog without hind legs who uses wheels to get around. I can totally see how that is more newsy than, oh, an entire country digging out of the aftermath of a giant quake.

I was planning on driving up to Northampton today with the girls. This sort of scares me: I am completely afraid to spend the night without Nicole. A house in the middle of the woods with lots of windows and occasionally intermittent cell service. Yes, I know how ridiculous it sounds, but it’s true. I am a scaredy cat who even is afraid to sleep without Nicole even in a doorman building with video cameras surrounded by neighbors in the middle of the city. I still check in closets and behind shower curtains. I hyper analyze each and every sound. I let my imagination run very wild and work myself up into a state of panic.

We will be in Northampton for the three day weekend, but I am so happy up there and so are the girls, so I thought we could get a jump start on the weekend. A little extra time for the girls and I while Nicole plugs away another couple days at work. Nicole could take a train to Hartford on Friday and we could pick her up. But my father is in town and I may or may see him today, so I need to stick around and see how that plays out.

Is anyone else afraid to sleep alone? Anyone else sleep with a cell phone and a Mag light under their pillow? Anyone else drawn to drama? Anyone else figure out how to maintain your dignity when dealing with a drama-prone individual? And while I am asking questions, anyone else planning on reading Game Change? It is sold out of EVERY book store in NYC. This, of course, only heightens my interest. I told Nicole if she sees a copy on someone’s desk at work, she is to steal it. I love reading some in-depth reporting now and then of the yellow variety.

Pictured above, guess who slept in our bed again last night? And I would like to point out she slept until 10:00 a.m. Nicole is trying to break her by forcing her to cry it out. I insist that she will go back to her bed like she always does when she is ready. Like in another week or so. In the meantime, the only one getting beauty rest around her is Madeline.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Soooomebody's Been Sleeping in Our Bed. Maybe Bette Davis.

Madeline speaks with a tone/accent that I can’t quite place, but it is a dash of the Bette Davis clipped staccato (how’s that for a random reference?) with a Boston consonant dropping tendency mixed in. “Pictures” are “pitch-ahs” in her toddler Bette Davis speak. She drops the R from Avery’s name and calls her “Avy.” That, of course, I find adorable. I wonder all the time if others can understand her without us translating, and worry because she is definitely behind Avery in the talking department. I’ve done my research and there doesn’t seem to be any major issues going on here. In the words/speaking department, Avery seems slightly above average and Maddie seems just slightly below average. But Maddie is more physically adept than Avery. Compare compare. When will it end?

This past week I have spent a lot of one-on-one time with Madeline. She has been going through one of her season sleeping issues. Usually, every three months or so, Maddie will cry out every night around 11:00 for a few days in a row. We just run in a get her and bring her to our bed (we don’t want her to wake Avery). And then it randomly stops and she stays in her crib all night and life goes back to normal.

This time, she won’t go into her crib at night. She will nap there, but when we try to put her down at night she screams till she hyperventilates and insists on our bed. So we bring her in there, tuck her in and she is just fine. When she wakes in the morning she spends AN HOUR (or more) there alone, talking to herself and reading through her books, and just lazing about. I’ll ask her if she wants to get up ad she will say no, bed. This morning, after I showered, I climbed back into bed with Maddie and she read, napped, cuddled and just relaxed until almost 9 while I sat next to her and read and did some work online. It was so sweet and bonding and I imagine parents of one child have experienced moments like that a lot. Maddie and I stayed there till almost 9:00, when I decided we better wake Avery up otherwise she will sleep the day away (Avery sleeps forever when Maddie isn’t there to wake her up).

I am amazed at how relaxed Maddie is, how low key she is, how different she is when she is without Avery. I am always dealing with the two of them as a duo. Always. They have a personality dynamic as a duo and then a different dynamic when they are solo. This reminds me how important it is to have alone time alone with each of them. And how much they need time alone so their own personality’s can grow and shine without being in the constant shadow/glare of their sister.

Speaking of personalities, I worked out this week with Jackie Warner! It was some special event done with Us magazine to promote her new workout DVD. That means I got a free DVD and a bag full of swag. The workout was great: I am still sore two days later. This reminds me that I really need to cross train because running is not enough, and it never makes me sore anymore. Jackie was a force to be reckoned with. All blonde and taut and tan and tight, tight abs. She seemed so more human and approachable in person than she does on TV. She had some great tips an great advice: My favorite was she said to put spinach in morning fruit shakes and she said that you wont taste the spinach. I was doubtful, but did it this morning and she is right: I couldn’t taste the spinach at all. She also says to always add fresh lemon to your water. It helps with liver detoxing or something and ups your calorie burn by 33 percent. So there are two little changes that I will test out. And I will be doing her workout DVD too and see if I end up blonde, tan and taut. (Hey, a girl can dream. I need to remind myself that she didn’t endure massive pregnancy weight gain and a C section.)

We head back to Northampton tonight. It is going to seem like such a short trip after our ten days there at the end of December. I can’t wait to leave. I made triple chocolate cookies and oatmeal raison cookies for our neighbors, who plowed our mountainous driveway, and for my friend Annie. Somehow I have a feeling all the cookies won’t make it up in the car. We four might be able to plow through a tall stack before they reach their intended destinations.

Pictured above, look who looks riiiiight at home in Mommy and Momma’s bed. Avery eating carrots: Proof that it isn’t all nuggets and fries! If you like Avery's shirt, my friend made them and sells them here on Etsy. Avery asks all the time to wear her BoBot shirt! Last picture: My shirt. Alas, no bobots. It was an impulsive spring buy: I am already looking forward to the spring thaw and summer heat!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Confession Number One: Let’s Start Out Small and Work Our Way Up

I told you it was a slippery slope. So slippery that I slid right from never, ever, ever to “I need to go out and buy at least 15 pairs of stretchy pants with elastic waistbands.” My comfy pants day experiment, needless to say, went swimmingly. Why wear starchy, hard, body contouring jeans when I can laze about in soft cotton that positively swims on me? I loved this new winter dressing paradigm so much that I even ventured outdoors (to Chipolte, to buy dinner. See a pattern here?) in these thermal pajama-like pants. These pants have officially been upgraded from “pajamas” to “casual day wear.” Next stop: High-waisted mom jeans. (never, ever, ever.)

So on to my confession: I let my children eat Wendy’s chicken nuggets and fries with abandon. These days, giving fast food to your kids is akin to child abuse. At least, that is how I feel sometimes when I tell other people. Like if I am not giving them a five food group four course gourmet meal, then I am an awful mother. The thing is, I dislike fast food (since I don’t eat beef or bacon cooked anywhere but home), and I know that it is not good for you, and I know how many toxic ingredients each menu item contains. Thanks to my limited palate, I can only eat a plain chicken sandwich from Wendy’s. So not eating fast food isn’t a huge sacrifice for me. (Note: Fast food French fries from any fast food restaurant are divine. I could eat any of those all day.) But how can I ignore the convenience of fast food? When the girls are in the car, I can just pull up to a window, yell my order into a little microphone and pull to another window and viola, bag of food. I then pass the food back to the girls and I can check lunch (or dinner) off of my to-do list. You can’t argue with the convenience. Or the price. And those leftover nuggets heat up nicely in the oven.

I made the girls pancakes this morning. Little golden silver dollar size pancakes. Did they eat them? Nope. Did they even touch them? Nope, again. Smell them? Nope. I even put blueberries in some for Maddie and chocolate chips in some for Avery. It is so frustrating. I hate wasting food and wasting time, and feeding toddlers frequently falls into both of those slots. I asked Avery what was in her tummy and she said “French fries and chicken.” She hadn’t actually had a Wendy’s power lunch in maybe a week but how scary is it that?

So maybe that isn’t a juicy confession. I have a few more up my sleeve. But right now I need to motivate (thermal pants off and jeans on) and dress the girls and put on their hats and gloves and coats and socks and shoes and blankets and take six elevators and two trains to get down to Union Square. Have I mentioned how over winter I am? (In NYC, that is. I don’t mind winter in the winter wonderland that is Northampton).

Pictured above: Sunday night dessert: A caramel apple spice donut and vanilla donut with sprinkles; and a cookie dough cupcake and red velvet cupcake. As you can see by the after picture, none were too pleasing to us. Also, pictured, brussell sprouts. Because after a few weeks of sugar loading, that is what is for dinner. Oh, and Nicole and I gave up on the brown rice cleanse diet on Day Two. So much for stamina! I am still doing a modified version, though.

Monday, January 04, 2010

The First List of the First Day of the New Year in the New Decade

First read text message from: My brother (“Happy New Year!”)
First food I ate: Red lentils
First drink: Coffee
First person I spoke with: Nicole
First thing I said: Good morning
First sent email: to my MIL Nancy
First song I heard from start to finish: “Be Without You” by Mary J.
First breakfast: Egg and cheddar and caramelized onions on a roll at Sylvester’s
First referred toddler fight: Over sunglasses
First phone call: To my friend Jen
First purchase: A hodge podge of things from Target: Two organizational boxes; two organization cubes; a bird lamp; a nightlight; and several Christmas candies that the girls grabbed
First unappreciated joke: (while counting birds while bird-watching with the girls): “Ladies, we are Counting Crows.”
First time I apologized unnecessarily: On the way to breakfast, when I realized I left the camera battery charging in the wall and we needed to turn around. I must stop this pesky apologizing insanity.
First playlist: Nicole’s “Today” play list, which is this crazy mix of Shawn Colvin and Dave Matthews Band and Patty Griffin and Counting Crows and more….
First dinner: Asiago pizza with arugula and balsamic
First dessert: Burnt sugar ice cream with homemade hot fudge and chocolate sliver sprinkles

That about covers it. We are now well into 2010. Four days already. The year is zipping by, no? Today starts our annual beginning-of-January food cleanse: For the next week, nothing but veggies and brown rice and fruit shakes and hummus sandwiches. It will be a nice detox from all of that extra holiday sugar. I am not sure if this actually cleanses the body in any real, measurable way, but it certainly does psychologically.

Needless to say, with this cleanse on the horizon, the weekend was a feast of the tasting senses. I went out with a bang. To say I made poor food choices might be an understatement. This is the problem with “Start Monday” diets and such: The time leading up to the start time is usually a very slippery slope into destructive eating and drinking and a period of true excess. It backfires every time at least for me. So in effect the cleanse just undoes the damage of my pre-cleanse binge.

I went out for brunch with friends yesterday. We played a conversational game that I sort of invented: Each person asks a question and the rest can only answer with a yes or no. Afterwards, we can discuss more in depth. The questions were really hard: Would you ever get divorced? Would you leave your spouse if they cheated on you? If you won the lottery would you share money with the people at the table? Do you have a secret that no one at the table knows? Good deep, thoughtful, conversation-provoking questions. It was a great way to start off the new year.

But now it is back to reality. After an extended vacation with Nicole home, she is back at work, and we are back in the city and it is back to life as we usually know it. It is frigid today, which means errands to the post office and food store are going to be challenging. Annoyingly, it is supposed to be cold all week. The girls and I will get cabin fever for sure. I have deemed today comfy pants day: The girls and I will all be wearing thermal pants (me) or stretch pants (the girls). I can say this with certainly: This is the first time since the girls were born that I have worn what can be described as pajamas pants during the day. As a general personal rule, I never wear sweat pants or stretch pants or anything like that because I feel like for me it is yet another slippery slope: One day, stretch pants, the next, I am living in sweatsuits, and wearing shiny sweatsuits for special occasions. But I am going to embrace comfy pants today and try not to feel like a lazy, slobby slob. New year, new leaf and all.

Pictured above, January 1st self portrait. And the girls in all of their cuteness. Madeline started the new year with a great breakfast: Whole wheat pancakes with Oreos and white chocolate chips. And the house, in the beautiful snow. I miss it already.