Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hibernation

The preparation for our winter hibernation has begun. Like a switch, we've gone from the hustle and bustle of warmer weather to the paradoxical illness and fortifying associated with the colder months. Being of old Yankee stock, I rather look forward to this hunkering down.

With the wind and the rain, the cold virus has swept into our home. It hit Vivi first and now the Turtles' are dripping and sneezing and all around feverish. They have still maintained their congenial temperaments as though they accept this as part of our transition. Their sleep is sporadic but when it comes it is deep and peaceful. As is mine.

Vivi has found a lot of solace in playing quietly and independently. She loves to sit at the table and practice writing her letters and her name. She is pensive and creative and seems to have absorbed that we're moving at just a little slower pace these days. The last vestige of summer-- Vivi's dresses-- are still present but they are on top of pants and shirts and underneath fleece.

Like any mammal preparing for the winter, my girls' appetite is unfettered. Vivi ate four pumpkin pancakes this morning and will likely need a snack before 10. She had two helpings of vegetables and baked ziti last night and still had room for some apple cranberry crisp straight from the crock pot. The Turtles' are navigating the world of solid food and were recently introduced to a second non-liquid meal. Despite their enjoyment of these new foods, I am perpetually engorged with their milk.

We are all full here and that fullness feels good.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Can't Hold It

Vivi has made peace with the potty. (Or perhaps more accurately, she has made pees with the potty. Hey, I really crack myself up sometimes.) The pants-wetting regression that followed the Turtles' birth is now thankfully just a distant memory and we are thrilled that she lets us know what her pottying needs are.

When the time comes for Vivi to make her deposit, her proclamations are full of movement and drama. She dances around grabbing her crotch and yells, "Ugh! Mama, I can't hold my pee! I gotta go NOW! It is coming on really fast!!!!" When Vivi dances, Mama jumps which is a real change for a mama who has had a baby on each breast for seven months now.

With this kind of success, Vivi is currently trying to capitalize in other ways on Mama's quick response. As I was loading her into the car this afternoon, she exclaimed, "Mama, I really need a snack. Ugh! Ugh! I just can't hold my hungries!" She has also had an attack of the thirties in recent days too.

What can I say? There's only so much jumping this Mama can do. The thirsties and hungries sometimes just have to wait.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Slumber Party

Vivi had her first sleep-over last night. Unbeknownst to me, she has been not so subtly asking all of her friends' parents if they would either let their child sleep at our house or if she could sleep at theirs. This made me wonder if my poor child is really aching to get out of the construction madness that has consumed our days or if she thinks yet another child in our basement would only improve the party.

Who knows.

What I do know is that my dear friend, Lovely Mama, agreed to Vivi's request and the sleepover went off without a hitch. Lovely Mama is a generous soul who loves Vivi in such a pure and beautiful way that my grinchy mama heart grows three sizes whenever I see them interact. Of course, Lovely Mama was probably a bit worn out today from dealing with my daughter and her son's sleep-deprived antics but she still didn't drop Vivi off at home until 2:30 this afternoon. 2:30!

Lovely Mama must also be Super Mom.



Thursday, October 22, 2009

$&#*$&

I am about to lose my shit. BIG. TIME. What started as a little renovation project that involved taking one wall down and putting one new wall up has turned into a bloody $*%(#)$ nightmare. And all the screeching and tears indicate that I am definitely awake for the whole stupid thing.

Two words sum up our problem: lead paint. Two more words make this problem especially upsetting: dismissive contractor.

Like most people who live in old houses, we've got lead paint. Ours just happens to be on the hardwood floor in the Turtles' future room. We didn't think much of this paint initially because it was under a piece of old shag carpeting that was in our walk-in closet. When the wall to the closet came down and the carpet came up, we saw that the floor was green and it looked a little incongruous next to the regular old pine boards. As we were about to embark on the refinishing project, it occurred to us that it might be a smart idea to check to make sure that lovely green wasn't lead. Well, duh.

That's when things started to get really tricky. Our contractor was just going to go ahead and sand it off with no extra precaution. After a call to the Rhode Island Department of Health, I put the kibosh on that. The contractor dismissed my concerns which really pissed me off. There I go again being an overly cautious mother because I don't want my three little girls (the majority of whom aren't even eight freaking months old) to breathe in lead dust. So I kicked her off the job. (The fact that our floor contractor is also bald because she is undergoing chemotherapy for ovarian cancer is not lost on me. Apparently, I am the only one seeing the irony here.)

We managed to get Vivi's floor refinished but the smell was so toxic that we moved out of the house for a night. The Radisson felt like an oasis of calm until bedtime when NO ONE would go to sleep. (Of course anyone with a half a brain could have foreseen the hotel disaster coming but my quarter of a brain has clearly been fully expended on the remodeling project itself.)

Now we are all camped out in the basement and waiting until Saturday morning when the lead abatement guy can come and tell us how he is going to empty out our savings.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Haircut

Vivi is a regular at Ernie's Barber Shop. While I tend to let my hair go until it is a frightening, frizzed-out, untamed mess, my husband can be counted on for a trim every few weeks. It has become the tradition that when my husband goes to the barber, Vivi goes too. Ernie gets a real kick out of Vivi and Vivi gets a kick out of Ernie's candy jar. It is a win-win situation.

A couple of months ago, I wanted in on the action and decided to take Vivi with me to the hairdresser. I figured she would enjoy the hustle and bustle of the place and the old ladies who congregate there would love to see her head of curls. Plus, I was going to be transformed from long-haired mess to short-haired super-mom. (Well, that is what I was hoping for at least.) Who wouldn't want to witness that?


Well, it wasn't quite the wonderful bonding experience I had imagined. Vivi was bored out of her mind and while the old ladies did fawn over her curls, she just tried to hide behind her coloring book. Oh, and my transformation? Let's just say my daughter was less than impressed and I'm still waiting for those super-mom skills to kick in.

With such an uneventful trip to the salon, I was surprised when Vivi recently started asking to have her hair cut. It is certainly long enough but one wouldn't know that by looking at it. The curls are so tight they have yet to become a nuisance. Plus, we seem to spend a lot of time these days making her look "stylish" with every sort of elastic band or hair clip we come across. Short hair would put an end to that.

It took me a while to realize what was going on with her. It wasn't about the hair. It was about the scissors.


Too bad it took seeing numerous disembodied curls throughout the house to finally tip me off.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Making Progress

I find that I am both a perfectionist and
a people-pleaser and this is unfortunate. Now that we have undertaken this little renovation project and I've put my home in someone else's hands, I have been all full of angst because of these traits. Ugh...

It all started on Friday when we were taking in our contractor's progress. At first glance, I was happy with how the rooms looked but when I started really looking, I noticed that the baseboards he installed were made of medium-density fiberboard. MDF is a cheap, engineered wood product and it isn't in keeping with the architectural integrity of our 88 year-old house. It is also quite toxic. (The glue used in its production is particularly egregious.) I wasn't happy.




So, what to do? I didn't want the MDF there but I also knew that our contractor had done a lot of work that would need to be undone if I wanted it changed. I was upset that he didn't clear the MDF with us in advance but then I thought maybe I should have clarified that we expected him to use wood. I'm so eager to have this project done but I also didn't want to have my girls sleeping in rooms when I knew the baseboards would be off-gasing all sorts of crap. See what I mean about angst?

Then my husband, the voice of reason, made it very clear. We are doing this now and we are not doing it again. We are paying him to do it how we want and it needs to be changed. So, in my husband's very diplomatic way, he laid it all down for the contractor. I think the contractor was annoyed but he agreed. (His defense was that since we would need to paint the baseboards anyway, why not use the MDF since it would look the same as wood once painted? That's where I got a little psycho Earth Mama on his ass and started ranting about toxic glue!)



And so what did I do yesterday? I baked him cookies as a peace offering.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Construction

The remodel has begun. We are in the midst of two by fours and old horse hair plaster, hammers and saws, and hope and horror. Our little two bedroom home is being converted into a little three bedroom home and while I am optimistic about how the change will improve the quality of our lives, I am not exactly thrilled to have to do it. We are sealed in plastic and still covered in dust.

The construction zone used to be our bedroom. It has two windows, a large walk-in closet, and enough floorspace to accommodate two cribs, two dressers, and a queen-size bed. There is a door at either end of the room which made us realize that, at some point during our home's 80-year history, our big room used to be two small rooms. With that knowledge, our plan was hatched.

And this is what that large room where my Turtles entered the world looks like now:








My home's bones are laid bare before my eyes. The nakedness makes me want to turn away out of respect to its history. I am uncomfortable, in a deeply emotional way, with destroying a part of something that has given me so much. Yet, with a bonus baby in our family, we can't live as it was before. The house and I will need to compromise. I'll try not to look too deeply at its cracked facade if it can promise to accommodate our family.


Then, as if awaking from a dream, I am jolted by the sound of our contractor's voice. He is yelling to his older, orthodox Jewish assistant, "Hey, Ma! I'm gonna need the Sawzall."

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Vampires

Much to the neglect of my family, I am fully engrossed in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga. I will be the first to admit that a young adult book about vampires who have sworn off human blood wouldn't normally be at the top of my must-read list but I am sucked in (pretty clever pun, eh?) and with only a book and a half to go, I must finish.

Normally, I am not the type to jump on the mass-market book bandwagon. I missed the whole Harry Potter thing while I was in Peace Corps and never felt the desire to pick up the book upon my return. Science fiction has never really been my thing so when my friend MiNa gave me the Twilight book "just in case" I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, I thought that I would politely return it to her a week or so later with the usual "too busy" excuse.

Then I curiously read the first few pages and well, you see where this is heading. It's not that the book is well-written. It isn't. The story, however, is something that I find incredibly fascinating. What if vampires could fall in love with humans and vice versa? Ahhh, the complications!

Since vampires seem to have settled in as part of our cultural ethos, it is only natural that one of my dearest friend's books should be part of this literary coven. Soulless by Gail Carriger is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking. Who could ask for more?

The book is being released today and I encourage my readers to check it out. Like Gail herself, it is bound to be entertaining.