Thursday, September 30, 2010

tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther....*

When my girls are in bed, in cute jammies, sleeping soundly, I feel like the worst mother in the world for a thousand little reasons. Like I could have done better. Should have done better. More, better, faster, longer. I feel bad that I didn’t make magical Bento Box lunches, like the magical Briar. That they didn’t eat anything green today. I feel bad that I didn’t read enough books, and even snapped one closed when they were being too wiggly, and threatened to stop reading for good unless they adhered to my reading policiy. I let them watch too much TV, because we were stuck inside for most of the day, trapped by the threat of a massive storm named Nicole, which turned out to be not much of anything. (We made it to the playground, at least.) I let them eat way too many ice pops, mainly because I love watching Avery shuffle off to the kitchen, open the freezer, pull out a pop and hide it behind her back and then come and find me wherever I am, and say “Don’t be mad Momma. I just want a purple pop. Purple’s my favorite.” How can I say no to that? How? I can’t. But after three pops each, they explode into a sugar rush and play Let’s Move All The Cushions And Pillows into One Central Location and Jump! and I deeply regret my errors and lose patience.

But now when they are all nestled in their beds, Maddie tucked in like a bug in a rug and Avery, on top of her covers, which are already twisted up. And then I take comfort in the fact that I let them stomp in puddles at the playground, because that’s what kids do, and just gave them a bath when they got home. And I let them play “Slide” in the tub, even though it is, oh, dangerous. “Look Momma, you’re smiling” said Avery. Because it did make me smile, the way they stood up at the back of the tub and said “Let’s do it together” and then they would sliiiiide down and make a splash. The look of surprise on the faces, it made me smile. And I let them each pick out a snack at the store (Cheddar Bunnies for Avery and Scooby Snacks for Madeline). So maybe that is the balance there. I try to remember that a good mother doesn’t have to be perfect all of the time.

Back up to Massachusetts tomorrow. It is stunning up there now, with the leaves changing color. It’s bulb planting time. I think the girls are going to love doing that. Maybe almond asiago pesto pizza with farm-fresh leeks and squash and corn. Maybe a movie on the couch at night, while I wait, hopefully, to hear the owl calls. Taking lots of pictures and waiting to see if one of my pictures receives an honorable mention in a photo contest I entered. That would be nice.

* Thanks Fitzgerald. He gets credit for that quote.I always loved that. Seems an apt description of motherhood.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Political Parties, Potties, Personalities, Pink Sauce

I am thinking about switching my voter registration to republican, but not really switching parties. Here is my maybe-not-logical thinking: If I register as a republican, I can vote in their primary elections. And if I vote in republican primary elections, I can select the lesser of republican evils. Before people start yelling, I am not calling republicans evil. Well, not all of them. But there is a special place in hell for Cheney, don’t you think? Also, not a fan of the recently deceased Kl.u Kl.u.x senate member Robert Byrd. So if a republican is holding a public office, then I would prefer a liberal one, who supports gay rights and stem cell research and a woman’s right to choose, etc. And the republican party is on the cusp of change and evolution, and these divides are becoming quite prominent. They are becoming so much more dynamic than democrats.

What good is my democrat primary vote doing anyway? The democrat party is white-washed and the candidates are too close in positions to make any real difference to me that I tend to vote for The Woman, my own political version of affirmative political action. As a democrat voting in primaries, I am basically practicing feminism, and not true political decision-making. But if I were voting in the republican primaries, I am pretty certain I would be paying more attention to the subtle nuances of character and record, and looking deeper into their positions. And when it comes down to general elections, I can make an informed decision. Or, at the very least, be able to defend my selection with more facts.

All this mosque controversy and Quran-burning ridiculousness (A church with fifty followers? I feel like I could establish that by dinner. Think of the tax breaks!) and the mid-term elections and DADT and double-dip recession talk and, in international news, France and its Burqa ban, has got me in a political/religion-discussion mood. Anyone else? I miss the conversations and debates and even the flame wars that everyone was having around the presidential election time. Everyone, including myself, seemed much more engaged way back then. Now bitterness and anger and I-told-you-so’s are the flavor of the day, in both camps. There’s the “Nobama” camp and the previous Obama supporters, who are a tad more defensive than I would like. Is he a Clinton or Carter? Only time will tell, but history has proven it is too early to know that answer quite yet, so we should simmer down, live with our decision, for better or worse (after all, there’s no going back now) and focus on the critical November elections.

On a completely different note, my children cleverly justify any annoying sound they make with “But Momma, I’m trying to make music!” This makes me feel like I’m interfering with their artistic expression if I ask them to stop banging with a wooden spoon or hitting their potty with a block. Other expressions heard round here include “But Momma, I’m trying to make a cake” and “But momma, I am trying to make a pool.” These situations usually involve big messes. And then there is Maddie’s all-encompassing line: “But Momma, I’m trying to do something” and “I’m practicing.” This is what she says when she is doing anything wrong.

There are two potties here now and we are in the throes of potty training. We started last week in Massachusetts, and it was touch and go. In other words, frustrating, messy and traumatic for both of them. Then, on Sunday, something clicked with Avery. She is suddenly using the potty exclusively and using a pull up at night. Nicole warns not to get too cocky; indeed I have heard horror stories of reversals. My fingers are crossed that she is transitioned.

Madeline is taking a slower path, but she is wearing underwear and is making it to the potty 75 percent of the time, so I am grateful for that. When I start to get frustrated I remind myself that they are two different children with two different personalities and two different internal schedules. This is abundantly clear when they dance: Avery channels Bob Fosse while Madeline prefers a Twyla Tharp approach. Still, potty training is going a lot faster than I thought, which is in general how I feel about everything since having kids. It's 2010. When did that happen?

OK, time to make pink sauce for dinner.

Pictured above, scenes from last week, including a rare picture of Madeline, the Marlene Dietrich of the twin set. Well, technically, I have so few pictures of Madeline because she is so kinetic, not because she is private. It’s hard to get her to stand still, let alone smile at the camera and say cheese.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Le Grenouille Has Nothing on The Big Y

On Saturday, Nicole and I had a hot date at a food store. I am not kidding. This is the fabulous Massachusetts food store that features free childcare (for up to two hours!) that the girls tried earlier in the week and loved. I guess they forgot the horror of this past winter’s “gentle separation” class. Avery calls it “store school."

While “store school” was in all likelihood created so parents can shop undistracted,and thus spend more money, we used store school for our own advantage. The catch is, we can’t actually leave the store, but that is fine. Freedom is freedom, and it is easy to find a meal in a food store. The girls waved goodbye to us and went in like they do this every day. Nicole and I held hands as we walked down the romantic pet-food aisle (nothing says I love you like a 50-pound bag of kibble) and positioned ourselves in front of the surveillance TV in the Meat Section, where we spied for a moment on our oh-so-happy children, who were playing with the Childcare Specialist like it ain’t no thing. I think I may food shop every day we are up here.

Assured of their well being, we went to hunt and gather lunch. First we sampled a free baked clam (appetizer!) and picked up lunch at the Grinder Station. We sat in the lovely gardening section, surrounded by fall flowers, and enjoyed our childless meal. All that was missing was candle, which I could have picked some up in Aisle Four. Next time. For dessert, we sampled free Starbucks instant coffee. Cheap, convenient and tasty, like how I like my women (JUST kidding....).

It came to an abrupt end because we were paged by the Childcare Center. When we got to the Center we found a pacing and anxious Maddie. The caretaker thought she was tired, but we knew otherwise: She had to get on the potty, quick. The girls have been in intense potty training boot camp all week. We raced out to the car and improvised with a box. It’s exhausting, this potty training stuff, and sometimes requires MacGyver fixes. But they are making headway. Anyway, we didn’t get to buy the mums that we wanted, but all things considered, it was a lovely meal. We might spend our anniversary there. And unless someone wants to come up to Massachusetts and babysit, that is not a joke!

Now we are back in the city, where two hours of daycare would run us about $85 dollars and food shopping is an obstacle course with a double stroller. We were in Massachusetts for ten days and it was bliss. I was witness to the subtle shifts from summer to fall in ways that I just can't see in NYC. I have seen trees go from all green to green with spots of orangey, fiery red, in just a week and a half. Crunchy leaves fall on our driveway, and skitter across when the wind blows them. There is a chill in the air that makes me look forward to turtlenecks and sweaters and scarves. Fall is really here and I intend to appreciate every moment of it. Starting with the cardigan that arrived here in the city in my extended absence.

Pictured above: The cafe; the appetizer; the dessert. Jealous?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Thanks. I’ll Be Here All Week.

We are in Massachusetts for the entire week. Nicole is working from home (perk of the new job) and, sadly, she really is working. Part of me was hoping “working” meant playing, gardening, going for walks, shopping and exploring. Ha. Instead, there are conference calls and laptops and phones and ssssshhhhhh, I’m on the phone. You know, actual work.

So the girls and I are having a fabulous week of adventures. Nicole keeps stressing about us having to keep our distance so she can work, but it isn’t bothering me at all. We are taking long drives, purposefully getting lost and letting the GPS take us home. We are getting a baseline for the soon-to-change foliage. We are going shopping. We are discovering new bakeries. We are making cookies. Playing in the yard. Even mundane activities are exciting. I took them food shopping today and they asked to go into the free daycare center there. How great is that!? Free daycare in the grocery store for up to two hours, and my children WANT to go. And there are TVs all over the store so you can spy on them. I went there for seltzer and coconut but spent a good half hour just walking the aisles and chatting on the phone while my girls made castles with a CPR-trained child specialist. They were having such a good time.

We managed to work in some fun before Nicole’s work week began. We took the girls to another fair (party carnival, as they call it) and let them eat crappy fair food (lemonade and ice cream and caramel apples) and ride on the rides. We went to the nursery and bought black-eyed susan’s and a forsytia plant, which we planted. We took them outlet shopping. OK, maybe that wasn’t fun for them, but we let them ride those coin-operated things while I waited on line for twenty minutes to buy underwear.

Everything seems better surrounded by nature. I am sitting here blogging, listening to the wind through the trees, while my children are playing outside. Leaves are literally falling on the deck. Fall is really here, and we are witness to it.

And now, we have to go to the dump….

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Once Upon a Midnight Dreary

It is dark here, Very, very, very dark. I am up in Massachusetts, alone with the girls for the night, and I would be lying if I didn’t admit to being slightly terrified. OK, maybe not terrified, but let’s just say I am not exactly comfortable. And I am wired and hyper-alert. So this might be a long post.

First off, it is a personal accomplishment that I am even here. I had the ultrasound today and it was, from start to finish, a pretty miserable experience. The technician was humorless. Her first comment to me, after slathering on that cold, cold gel, was “Your bladder is empty.” And then she pouted. I’m not kidding: An honest-to-goodness pout. She might as well had put her fists on her hips and stomped her foot. I pointed to my Nalgene and said that is my third one in the past hour. Plus four cups of coffee this morning. And just or good measure, I told her I had to pee. “No you don’t,” she said back to me. Which is incredible because no one has ever told me if I really had to pee or not. And I most assuredly had to pee (and did, five minutes later, before the wanding).

Her second comment: “Wow, they really botched you up inside.” She was referring to the placement of my internal organs. I am not accustomed to people talking smack about my internal appearance. Our tense conversation then went something like this:

Me: Really? You can tell that?
Her: Oh yes.
Me: It was a rough C section. Will this have any sort of effect on me in the future?
Her: [silence]
Me: I mean, it’s ok if everything is slightly askew, right?
Her: [scrunches up her mouth and nose]
Me: OK, tell me this: Does this just mean I am not pretty on the inside anymore, but it doesn’t negatively impact me any other way?
Her: Yes.

Of course the screen was turned away from me, but I could catch a reflection of it in a Plexiglas wall covering. I saw her measuring my ovary. And then something else. And then she stepped out for a minute and came back with a doctor. Who did some more measuring and looking and typed some things and left. Mr. Bedside Manner. He was gone again before I could ask him why the hell he was there. That freaked me out, because it is never good when a doctor shows up. Next up, the wanding, which was extra painful, because it seems that my uterus is quite crooked now, so I must be really probed.

I tried to fish out a morsel of info from the tech, but she was tight as a clam. I sighed and asked how long till the results make it to my doctor. She said two to three business days. That meant I would be lucky to get a call on Tuesday.

Imagine my horror/shock when I missed a call to my home number AND cell a mere two hours later (I was in the middle of a toddler fiasco). It was my doctor’s office, calling to discuss the results of the scan. My stomach flipped and my mind started racing. I called the office back but, of course, the doctor was on another call.

All this as I was about to leave for Massachusetts with the girls. I literally sat down and thought, I’m not going. I can’t get on the road and not know why my doctor is calling two hours after then scan. I can’t go anywhere until I speak with my doctor. But I got up (sticker, please) and loaded eight bags and one toddler potty onto my arms (sticker, please) and took the elevator downstairs, where Nicole was meeting me with the car (sticker for Nicole).

I tried to get Nicole to admit that the two-hour turn-around time doesn’t bode well for good results, but she was quite even. Maybe later she will admit that it was alarming, but she didn’t let me drive off thinking that that was anything less than totally routine.

How much longer can I draw this out? To be honest, there is no real answer to my medical woes, and the call was anti climatic in that of course it requires a follow up. When I spoke with my doctor, she said the report indicated what they think is a cyst. I need to follow up with my ob. My doctor asked if I had followed up yet with my ob (she even had my ob’s name) but since we just switched insurances, I said no, I am looking for a new one. I mentioned my difficulty finding one that is accepting patients before Oct/Nov, but told the doctor I would search anew and would make an appointment after the holiday weekend. Why all the details here? Because Nicole tried to assure me that if they were super concerned, they would have told me I need to see a doctor right away. But the way I see it, I said I WOULD see an ob right away, so I can’t tell if my doctor had a sense of urgency or not. Cyst? Tumor? Is it getting bigger? Smaller? Good? Bad? Don’t know.

But it comes down to this: I can’t worry if I don’t know what I am worrying about. I can worry over biopsy results or worry over will a scan show something (it did: Worry justified!) but I just need to make the next appointment and see what to worry about next. So I guess I am pulling down the covers and tucking worry in for the night. Because this week of worry really drained me and I need to get a break from it. I just wish I would stop the bleeding. It is a constant reminder that something is not quite right.

And besides, now I can worry that my transmission light on my car is blinking. What is that all about?

We are up here for the weekend and aaaaaaaaall of next week. The girls and I came up early for two reasons: To beat the holiday traffic and to counter any potential storm traffic. The combination of the two could create a veritable perfect storm of traffic woes. Nicole is taking a train up tomorrow and the girls and I will pick her up. This is my first time alone here, and it has taken me almost a year to work up to this. Yes, staying here, in the woods, alone with the girls, scares me. But I really want to get comfortable with this. I mean, it was a perfectly wonderful evening: Dinner out, followed by rousing rounds of Memory on the carpet for a half hour followed by jammies, playing house and a trip down the street to see the llamas. They went to bed fairly easily and here I sit, on the couch, blogging and reading and waiting for the sun to come up.

Pictured above, Avery in town; the girls at dinner.