Friday, December 31, 2010

Ahhh, The Romance....

I think I need another blizzard to get back into my mommy zen mode.  School vacation combined with my twin tornadoes and my somewhat crippling desire to maintain some semblance of order in this house has left me feeling all cranky and burned out.

Jude and Ellie are delightful but they can rip the books off the shelves, empty the kitchen cupboards, and strew every single toy inside these four walls with remarkable speed and determination.  No sooner have I replaced all my books when I hear the crash of CDs out of a cabinet they recently learned to open.  There are only so many high spaces in this house and we've maximized what we have.

So, in this frame of mind, I turned to my husband the other night and said, "Is it possible to adore your children beyond measure but hate your life?"  In his very psychiatrist way of being, he asked if the clean-up was getting me down.  Indeed, it is.

I recognize that while I *should* work on letting the chaos go, I just can't right now.  There isn't much that I can do to mitigate the sheer monotony of child-rearing and it is getting me down.  The only solution seems that time just has to pass but  even I know that isn't going to be the real answer.  One day, before I know it, I'll be longing for my children at this size.  I hear the echo of those darn know-it-all Buddhists reminding me to stay in the moment.  I hate that too.

Anyway, while I was cleaning up yet another mess in the kitchen, I noticed a white envelope on the counter.  It was a card from my husband thanking me for all I do.  Inside the card was a $20 tip.  I think it was meant to be a joke but I pocketed the money anyway.  The romance around here just never ends.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Blizzards

I love blizzards and we were hit with a big one last night.  After sunset, when the world was slowing and people were snug in their warm homes, I bundled up and headed out for a walk.  It was cold and windy and I was alone in my neighborhood.  There were no cars, no plows, and no noise other than the wind.   Houses were illuminated by the white lights within and the colored lights hanging from exterior eaves and railings.  It was lovely.

After all the chaos of Christmas and travel, it was nice to be home.  I was happy that we arrived back before the brunt of the snow hit and the girls were none the worse for all the time in the car.  As I approached the house at the end of my blizzard walk, I got to see my house and my life from the outside.  Vivi was running around in her pajamas, Jude and Ellie were dancing, the new toys were scattered around the floor, and my husband was half paying attention to a muted football game on television.  From the silence of the street, I felt grateful that the people, the house, and all the chaos contained within are  mine.

With that in mind, I took another walk tonight.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Attempts

Well hello again bloggy blog friends!  It's been a long time. 

I think I lost my blogging mojo sometime around Thanksgiving and I'm still not sure it has made it back.  (Sorry grandmas.)  It seems that I was cleaning up from Thanksgiving and then Hanukkah hit which shouldn't be a big deal but somehow turned into one and well, before long I was all in a tizzy about Christmas.  There you have it.

We have had a lovely month so far.  Hanukkah was a hit not only because of the presents but because Vivi learned the candle blessing which she proudly recites in near-perfect Hebrew. (Which she calls Spanish.)

In our house, Hanukkah apparently requires the removal of clothes.

Once Hanukkah passed, we made our annual trek out to Big John Leyden's Tree Farm.  (Frankly, who wouldn't want to buy a tree from a guy named Big John?)  Finding the perfect tree was a riveting experience for everyone involved.  See, just look at Jude:


Somehow we ended up in a field with mostly new trees so we picked the biggest one we could find. It called to us and everyone was in agreement that it would be our tree.  When we got it home, it was a tad... how should I say this.... Charlie Brownish.

This tree looks like my body post-Turtles.
Of course, Ellie is pleased with how "faaaancy!" the tree is and the ornaments have provided an endless array of new accessories for the girls. Every time we plug in the lights, Ellie stands in amazement and yells, "Whoaw!"  So, Charlie Brown or not, our tree has brought us lots of good cheer.


Once the tree was in place, I hosted my annual cookie swap with a few of my favorite ladies and we had the most impressive display of baked goods I have ever seen.  Of course, I didn't photograph it but it was a scene worthy of sugarplum fairies.  My ass is still thanking me for the extra cushioning the swap has provided.    

As we prepare for Christmas,  I am delighted with the smell of the tree, the soup in the crock pot, and the wonder in my kids' eyes.  I've slowed down as they have sped up but it makes no difference.  We are together and we are full and the house is still standing.  

Monday, November 29, 2010

Let the Party Begin!

Jude loves people and has been known to climb into the lap of anyone who happens to glance in her direction.  She greets every person we pass in a store with a boisterous "Hi!" which leads to numerous head-pats and smiles.  She loves being the center of attention so we always assumed that Jude was the party animal of our Turtle duo. 

You have probably heard the old guidance counselor bit of wisdom:  When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me?  Well, I am an ass because in the last month Ellie is all party, all the time.


For one thing, she is all about connecting with her peeps.  Ellie climbs on my desk, pokes at my laptop, and proudly demands that it is time to talk with Kai Kai.  Kai Kai is Aunt Katie, with whom we Skype on a regular basis.  Well, that is if Skyping is defined by kissing the screen and hogging the webcam. 

The love doesn't end with the computer though. When I took Jude out for some errands, Ellie was not pleased to be left behind.  Upon our return, however, Ellie greeted us at the doorway with a big hug and kiss for her sister.  

Ellie has been known to accessorize like her big sister and then proclaim, "FANCY!"  (Hmmm.... wonder where she learned that?)  She will burst into her favorite refrain of "LALALA" while tromping around in my high heels.  She loves to wake me up in the morning by calling my name as she climbs the stairs.  I let her climb into bed with me knowing that she inevitably will repeat her favorite joke, "Mama.  Milk.  Aw Gone. HA! HA!" as she pulls up on my shirt.

Yet, to know Ellie, is to know that every night after dinner (and sometimes, many times before then) is her time to dance.  I put on the stereo and she puts on her shades. 


That's when the party really begins.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Traditions and Rituals

This past Friday we celebrated our first Shabbat as a family.  We bought some challah, lit a candle, said the blessing, and talked about what we are grateful for.  Jude and Ellie were clearly grateful for the bread.  I was happy that Vivi's earache and upset stomach from earlier in the day had subsided, and my husband was happy that we were all together.  Vivi just wanted to play with the matches.  Nonetheless, it went off without a hitch and we had a really nice dinner together.

Don't let this evening fool you.  We are not religious people.  My husband went to Hebrew school but doesn't consider himself Jewish.  (In fact, he has many negative associations with the religion.)  I was raised in a household that had no religion but I suppose that a week of free vacation bible school when I was nine would qualify me to be vaguely Christian.   It is fair to say that while we aren't exactly atheists today, we're probably pretty close.

This old time religion thing has brought up more questions than answers for us now that we have three children.  We feel religious education is important but we also want our girls to figure out what they believe on their own.  We struggle with how to celebrate the wonderful cultural rituals that my husband and I enjoy without invoking God. Is that even possible?

We're not sure but we're trying our best.  Friday nights are a chance for us to slow down and remind ourselves of all that we have.  Christmas is a time to think about others and to learn how to give as well as receive.  Hanukkah is celebrating light in the darkness.  The traditions and rituals that we set in our family connect us to all of our relatives who came before us.  Maybe those people believed in God.  Maybe they didn't but we are pretty sure that no matter what we do, we can't go wrong with modeling gratitude for our children.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Many Meanings of Suck

I haven't been feeling very victorious lately.  Vivi has settled back into being hell on two legs.  I'm tired and stressed out which is really getting on my husband's nerves.  (At least that is what he reports anyway.)  And, to top it off, my pants are tight.  Today I just gave in to the misery of it all and put on yoga pants.  The same yoga pants I wore all throughout my pregnancy with the Turtles.

SHOOT. ME. NOW.

I think I know what my problem is though. I weaned Jude and Ellie.  

You see, before I took off to NC, I had managed to get the Turtles down to one nursing session a day.  It was at 5 a.m. and it was so bloody uncomfortable, I was eager to be done with the whole breastfeeding thing as soon as possible.  I wasn't crazy about the idea of forcing it by leaving town but because I wasn't really on top of getting it done beforehand, that's what had to be done. I left the state with my breast pump in my bag and hoped for the best.

Well, as it turns out, I never needed the breast pump because I didn't have any milk left.  (Huh, guess that's why nursing was so uncomfortable.) Jude and Ellie woke up while I was away but all they wanted to do was snuggle.  (Huh, guess they didn't need those feedings anyway.)  I was pretty clueless but it all managed to work out.  The babies hardly seemed to miss it and I was saved the mastitis nightmare I endured when I "weaned" Vivi.  A disaster I was glad not to have repeated.  

This forced end to breastfeeding has left me all discombobulated though.  I've put on five pounds and I feel raw and vulnerable.  On the one hand, I am so glad to be done.  On the other hand, I am sad it's over.  My babies aren't really babies and since I won't be having any more, I feel like it all went way too fast.  Then, of course, I remind myself that I would NEVER REPEAT the first year of their lives.  Then I feel bad that I feel that way.

Like I said, shoot me now.  (But before you do, could you bring me some chocolate cake and a margarita?)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Good Examples

I just ate a piece of chocolate bundt cake for breakfast.  It was homemade by moi and smothered in chocolate ganache.  I sat at the kitchen table and ate it right off the serving plate. (At least I didn't eat it while leaning over the sink. A woman has to have some limits.)  The worst part was that it wasn't even half as delicious as I had hoped and I still ate it.

Since I was setting a bad example for my Turtles who sat at the table with me, I decided to share my cake breakfast with them.  They seemed to think it was delicious.  So maybe the worst part was NOT eating it while leaning over the sink.

So, in a span of about ten minutes, I was able to turn a perfectly okay morning into one where I feel bad about myself, my mothering, and my complete lack of coping skills.  

It's certainly fair to say that I have had a lot of stress the last two days.  My sister had major surgery yesterday and while the operation seemed to go smoothly, this particular procedure has a high rate of complications.  I feel like her doctors pushed her into this before they exhausted other options and that makes me angry.  Being married to a physician has only added to my stress since he is well-versed in all the potential complications as well as all the potential routes for treatment my sister didn't pursue.

After the surgery, one of my other sisters called to update me.  Off the cuff, she asked if I knew how my brother's wife was doing.  I thought it was an odd question since I'd just seen her around Halloween and don't generally keep in touch between visits.  She told me that my sister-in-law has been in the hospital since Monday with a very dangerous kidney infection that had been leading to sepsis.  Of course, in typical fashion, my parents never called to tell me so I found out accidentally.   

I guess I've identified the reasons for the chocolate cake.  Now, I just need to let it go.   Begin again, and as irony would have it, go break up Jude and Ellie who are now fighting over a piece of wooden birthday cake.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

These Wings Were Made for Flying

Vivi and I had a great trip to North Carolina.  She was such a fantastic little traveler and I was at my mommy-best.  We had no arguments.  There were no lost-tempers and no real schedule.  Vivi thrived with all the attention and I was the most relaxed I have been in a very long time.  Oh, and I got my first full night's sleep in nearly two years.  It was on my sister's couch and it was wonderful. (Yeah, I know, couch and wonderful aren't usually used in the same sentence.)

Unfortunately, things didn't go quite as smoothly on the home front.  The Turtles were okay for a day but once they realized I was gone, Daddy found himself with a lot of babies holding tight to his legs.  The nights were the hardest, particularly for Jude, who woke up yelling for me and could not be settled.  She tried searching the house for me in the middle of the night which left her distraught and Daddy more than a little exhausted.  That, of course, made our homecoming sweet for everyone.  

Here are some highlights from our trip:


Pumpkin custard makes us all this happy.


Snuggling with Aunt Katie


1-2-3 Split!!!


Relaxed Mama and happy Vivi


Even gymnasts lose their fancy pants sometimes.


Didn't you know there are some killer waves in Raleigh?


Dressing Aunt Katie to be fancy for their Single Ladies' dance

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hush Little Baby

I know I complain a lot about the sleep situation around these parts.  Well, brace yourself, because here we go again. For the most part, Jude and Ellie go down with little trouble but it's the sleeping through the night that is challenging.  I know I am not the only one with this problem.

I did what I was supposed to. I was thoughtful and consistent.  I read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, a book that did help me give up the guilt when it came to "crying it out."  What it did not do, however, was help us with what to do with children who do not stay asleep.  Some nights will be fine.  Other nights, one will wake up and will NOT go back to sleep.  (I'm talking OVER AN HOUR of SCREAMING!)  Sometimes they just want to see me, other times they want to be held for a moment and then put down, and sometimes they want rocking and singing and constant contact.

So Dr. Marc Weissbluth, I am here to tell you that your theory that all kids can become good sleepers is a bunch of horse shit.*

I am thinking about this now that I am on my way to North Carolina with Vivi to visit my sister. I am taking the good sleeper with me and leaving my husband to fend for himself with Jude and Ellie.  I love him and hope that a sleep miracle occurs in my absence.  (Then, of course, I can feel grateful he survived the weekend and resentful that the sleep miracle didn't happen to me. That's just the kind of wife I am.)


*OK. OK.  I know Dr. Weissbluth has a relatively new book about twins and sleep but I absolutely refuse to take advice from someone who does not have multiples.  In my experience thus far, those experts have no clue.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Jude

I'm convinced that my little Jude is a genius.  

Here's how I figure it:  If children need sleep to build the neuro-pathways that allow them to remember what they experienced during the day and my Jude has several new words a day, all without sleep, then it stands to reason that there is something really special about her.

Really.  How can a kid that wakes up every %*#& hour and still be able to function NOT be some sort of genius?  It's like sleep is a hobby and not a biological necessity.

And, yet as exhausted as I am and how completely OVER the novelty of waking up twelve times a night as I am, I can't hold a grudge.  How can I when she comes up to me with arms open saying, "Mama, hug! Hug!"  And after I snuggle her in nice in tight, she plants a kiss on my lips and gently purrs,  "Niiiiiiice."

Yes Jude, you're right.  It is nice.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Terror on Two Legs

Sometimes, I could just throttle my four-year old. Make that my four-and-a-half year old-- an age which she very proudly exclaims when she is being either exceptionally annoying or exceptionally charming.  It's usually the former.

I don't know why Vivi and I butt heads but that seems to be all we do lately.  This morning when I met her in the hallway with my usual greeting, "Good Morning!  I am so happy to see you."  She responded with, "You are a gross woman."  It's true that I had not brushed my teeth nor was I wearing pants but I think I deserve a little more respect than that.

That is just one example of the nastiness.  Vivi has called me an idiot, a rat, told me that she hated me, threatened to kick me in the face, and proclaimed that she would "kill me in real life." (My mother would say that this is my comeuppance but my nastiness didn't really come out until high school which, at the very least, is expected.)

This all started around the time she turned three and her sisters came along.  I think it is a safe bet to say that Jude and Ellie threw us all for a gigantic loop but Vivi was likely the most affected. Everyone told me she would get used to it and it would be better but a year and a half later, it has not improved.  In fact, it seems to be worse.  We have a zero tolerance policy for name-calling and hitting but all the time-outs and cool-downs in the world aren't helping.

So, in the interest of either self-destruction or promoting our mother-daughter bond (I've yet to decide which it is), I am taking Vivi to North Carolina on Thursday.  It will be just the two of us and we are going to visit my sister, Vivi's beloved Aunt Katie.  I hope that all the attention and one-on-one time will be good for her and help improve her behavior... if only for four days.

Monday, November 1, 2010

October

October seemed to come and go in one fell swoop and for the first time in a very long time, I actually know what happened.

First it started off with Vivi's fall on the neighbor's porch which led to a very loose tooth.  It only took one day and a bite out of an apple for the tooth to fall out.  From what we can surmise, she swallowed the tooth along with the apple although that didn't stop her from writing a note to the tooth fairy letting her know where she can leave the money.   Here's Vivi in all of her toothless glory and one whole dollar richer:


Seems that the same thing happened to her father at about the same age:


He only got a nickel.

Jude and Ellie are up to their usual antics-- climbing, playing, and learning to talk.  I am convinced that there is nothing better than a child between the age of 12 months and 24 months.  They are so full of curiosity and energy but not yet testing their boundaries.  They also haven't fully grasped the power of "no."  It is exhausting, of course, but for the first time since we found out I was growing twins, I am so happy to have two babies.  The joy is more than multiplied by two.  


Jude and Ellie are very generous with their kisses for each other.

By mid-month, my handsome husband turned another year older and we had a little celebration.  To commemorate turning 54, he has decided to train for another marathon.  Naturally....


I made a rather fabulous apple pie for his birthday which somehow did not make it into the picture.  I did work very hard at buying the chocolate cake from Whole Foods, however.

And, because things aren't busy enough around these parts, I decided to enroll in a Jewish education class for non-Jewish parents who are raising Jewish children.  Now, I am not exactly raising Jewish children but I am not exactly NOT.  (Yeah, we are all pretty confused around here.)  My husband couldn't care one way or another about preserving the Jewish traditions he grew up with but I think that our girls will be better off for having the exposure.  I don't see the need for absolutes and since I am picking and choosing what we are celebrating from my vaguely Christian background, why not do the same for his?  

Of course, it wouldn't be October if I didn't have a glue gun and the duct tape out.  Vivi was set on being a lollipop for Halloween and we decided to continue the candy theme and turn the Turtles into M&Ms.



They couldn't have been less enthused but they got lots of attention around the neighborhood.  Two teenaged boys actually told me they were adorable and a lady walking down the street exclaimed, "Oh the M&Ms, I've heard about them!"  Now, if I could  just figure out how to keep them this cute forever.

Onward to November....

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fun in the Sun

Unlike my husband, I never feel compelled to run for fun in the hot, hot sun.  Ever.

With the beautiful fall weather, I do feel compelled to make green slime smoothies and feed them to my girls while watching the neighbor take down his 100 year old maple tree.


I feel compelled to go for walks with Vivi and pick up pretty leaves which may result in various art projects.


I feel compelled to cook a pound of dried great northern beans because a Tuscan bean soup sounds really good on a cool, autumn evening.


And, after all that, we feel compelled to put on our jammie jams, sunggle in tight, and read a book.


Happy Fall!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hello Again!

Sometimes I think being a parent to twins and an older child is akin to doing an extended  stint in an Iranian hard labor camp. The incessant demands, the never-ending cleanup, the desperation and deprivation all make me wonder what sort of cruel universal joke landed me in this predicament.

In many ways, that punishingly difficult first year is starting to fade. Vivi has more or less accepted that her little sisters are here to stay and she delights in how much they obviously love her. (She is less enthused with them touching her stuff, however.)  The Turtles are no longer colicky blobs of ceaseless crying but instead are two disparate bundles of personality. They are speeding around and beginning to talk and when asked how much Mommy loves them they'll throw their arms wide and yell, "Big!  Big!" 

But, it is still not easy.  I realize with twins that it never gets easy.  It just becomes less hard.  Or, at least, some things do.  While the babes are on a schedule now and can be counted on to sleep several hours at a stretch, we still find ourselves up a few times a night with them-- a different child at a different time.  It feels like our sleep deprivation will just never end.

Then there's the joy and hassle of their constant movement.  The other day, while I was cooking in the kitchen with Ellie Bean at my feet, Jude starting crying in the living room. I checked on her and found that she had climbed into the toy bin and couldn't get out.  When I returned to the kitchen, I found Ellie sitting ON TOP of my knife on the cutting board on our island eating raw butternut squash.  (She had climbed a chair, crawled across the table, and then up on the island which holds our cook top.  Thank heavens it wasn't on or she didn't stab herself or fall or...or...or....)  I freaked and put her down.  She toddled away and five minutes later both she and Jude returned to me soaking wet.  Vivi had forgotten to put the toilet seat down and they had used their toys to scoop all the water out of the toilet and onto themselves and the floor.  

And most every day is like that.  I get angry sometimes that Vivi doesn't intervene when she sees them doing things like bathing themselves in the toilet but then I have to remind myself that she is four and her job isn't to be a little version of me.  Sadly, the reminder usually comes after I've yelled at her but before I've apologized. 

So when evening rolls around and the girls are all in bed, I sit on the couch.  That's it.  Sometimes I read while I'm sitting.  Sometimes I sew.  Most times I just think about all the energy it is going to take to do it all again tomorrow.  

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wanting More

If there is one thing that I was absolutely clear on the first year of Jude and Ellie's life, it was that I was done having children.  Did you hear that? DONE.  D.O.N.E. At no point in the future would I be birthing or raising any more children. Period. We were pretty sure at the start of our second pregnancy that we were going to stop at two children.  Then we got our bonus baby and that likelihood became a certainty.  The plan is to accept our fate as a party of five.

So there.

Last Saturday, I visited my dear friend who is 33 weeks pregnant with her own set of twins.  Like me, she has an older daughter.  Unlike me, she has had a difficult pregnancy and is now on hospital bed rest.  I wonder how it is all going to work out for her and I feel both trepidatious and concerned.

My friend has seen how hard the first year of my twin's life was.  She was witness to the marathon nursing sessions, the short tempers, my inability to hold a conversation due to extreme sleep deprivation, the marital strife and stress, and the substantial regression of our older child.  She is under no illusion that what she is about to embark upon will be easy.  

So, it shocked the hell out of her when I said that I might one day want just one more baby. (Clearly getting just one more may not be an option for me, however.)  You see, after Vivi, I didn't feel like I really experienced all the wonderful things that come with babies:  the tiny toes, the curled up fingers, their coos and smiles, and the ability to curl into a tiny little ball and fall asleep anywhere.  What is burned into my memory are the colicky afternoons and evenings, the chaos, and the sleepless nights.  Ironically, it is their birth that I remember so positively.  The baby part, not so much.  Somehow, I blinked and Jude and Ellie turned into delightful toddlers and we're all much happier.

Thank heavens for that.

When thinking about a new baby, I long to have those newborn cuddles.  Then my brain kicks in and reminds the rest of my body that I am NUTS. It is not going to happen because my sanity depends on it not happening.  Besides, my friend is about to have two so I'm sure she won't mind if I savor the baby moments for her.

Isn't that what good friends are for?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Summer's Bounty

The bounty of summer is upon us and Vivi and I have been two little worker bees in the kitchen. Last week we picked up a few pounds of kirby cukes at our local farm which we promptly turned into pickles.


My husband and Vivi are real pickle connoisseurs and they both gave them two enthusiastic thumbs up.  The babies were also impressed.  If you want to give it a go yourself, here is the easy recipe from Real Simple.

Saturday took us to the Farmer's Market where I picked up about thirty pounds of perfectly ripe tomatoes for $10.  It was a bargain that I couldn't pass up even though I had no idea how I was going to fit all those tomatoes in the stroller. (Luckily, my husband showed up just in time to carry them the mile home.)

Vivi and I blanched and peeled the tomatoes resulting in six quart jars.  Here is just one:


Before I became.... hmmm... how should I put this....encumbered by these rascals:


I would have properly canned those tomatoes, just like someone's grandma used to do.  Alas, I had neither the time or the energy, so I just put those jars in our deep freezer.  That's when Vivi and I made an unusual discovery.

The placentas from Jude and Ellie's birth.

(Aren't you glad I didn't post a picture here?)

Now before you get all grossed out,  (is it too late?) I was not saving these things to consume later. That would be freaky and really disgusting. What happened was my midwives put them (all wrapped up in colored plastic and not visible in their bag) in the freezer until trash day.  Well, trash day has come and gone about 90 times since my Turtles were born and we have just never remembered to put them out.  (In the freezer, out of mind so to speak.)

So when Vivi and I discovered them, we decided to take a look.  We let them thaw in their plastic for the entire afternoon.  When they were ready to be uncovered, we sat in the backyard and opened them up.  It was fascinating.  Jude and Ellie's sacs were so well defined and the cords connecting the placentas to their belly buttons were completely intact.  I was amazed that not only did I grow these organs I was now holding in my hands but I also grew the two little babies that lived inside.  Needless to say, Vivi was enthralled and wanted me to explain every little bit to her.

When our inspection was done, it was time to dispose of the placentas.  I had really mixed feelings about throwing them in the big green bin since they felt like anything BUT trash. Still, I was not prepared to dig a really big hole and knew the freezer was not a suitable home for them either so in they went.  At that moment, I said a little prayer of thanks for my body, my children, and the wonderful food we grow and prepare as a family and community.  These things are the bounty that will last long after summer passes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Getting My Craft On

With Vivi at camp and the babies napping in the mornings, I've recently become reacquainted with my sewing machine.  I tend to do most of my crafting in the cooler months when night seems longer than day but lately I've gotten my hands on some fun fabric and a few neat ideas.  Plus, as I mentioned in the beginning of the year, I'm trying my hand at making as many gifts as possible.  Trying is the operative word here folks.

In the past month, I've made a chef's hat, a sundress for Vivi, a fabric party hat, my own (pathetic) version of a fabric trapper keeper (remember those?) and more than a few embellished headbands.  Of course, it did not occur to me to photograph any of these items but I'm turning over a new leaf.  Here are photos of some plain tank tops that I gussied up for Vivi's friend Charlotte's birthday party last week:







Lucky for me they only involved minimal swearing and were a total hit with Charlotte.

Currently, I am in the midst of a tutu and a baby quilt.  The tutu is simple and should be done in the next few days but the baby quilt is going to take a while.  (I only know how to quilt by hand.)  If I'm still able to type by the time I finish it, I will post some pictures.

Anyone else getting your craft on these days?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lonely

Here I am.  It's 7:30 on Sunday morning and I am in bed typing on my new laptop.  I should be sleeping.  This is my big chance, after all.  My husband took all three of our girls to New Jersey this weekend to visit his parents and to give me a break.  It is a break that I have needed for... uh.... I dunno.... about 17 months but now that everyone is gone, I'm lonely.

Don't get me wrong.  Since they left yesterday morning, I have really enjoyed my freedom from parenting.  I got a haircut and put stacks of photos into albums.  I picked up the house and balanced my checkbook.  I didn't cook.  It's been pretty enjoyable to come and go as I please.  As day turned into darkness, however, I started to feel unsettled.

You see, as much as I desperately need a good night's sleep, I don't like to be alone at night.  I'm not scared of the dark but the house feels way too big for just me.  When I am not able to check on the girls before I go to bed, that loneliness is compounded.  My routine is upset and then I never quite bounce back.  Last night, I stayed up way too late trying to find some company through the home and garden channel on Hulu.com.

Then at about 3 a.m. my breasts became so engorged with milk that it was impossible to sleep comfortably.  I got up at six to pump but 15 ounces later, it was impossible to get back to sleep.  So here I am.

It is all very riveting, I know.

Have you ever spent a night alone without your children?  Do you dance in the street to celebrate? Oh, and how the heck do you wean twins when one is ready and the other is not?  I don't ever want to face that breast pump again.  

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fancy Withdrawal

As much as I have avoided emphasizing my daughter's appearance, Vivi is all about being fancy.  Fancy is synonymous with being "stylish" but I can't quite figure out if my kid is fashion forward or just a walking advertisement for lack of parental supervision.

What I have come to understand is that fancy isn't about being a princess or owning lots of things.  Thank goodness for that.  To Vivi, being fancy means wearing a skirt or a dress with tights, regardless of temperature.   The more colors and patterns you have in one particular outfit, the better.  Oh, and you can never go wrong with multicolored polka dotted rain boots.  (Those are known as her "high heels.") 


So, it has been with no fair amount of grief that Vivi has been engaged in activities that require her to be "boring."  First it was gymnastics camp which required shorts and a t-shirt, then a camping trip with her Dad last week, and now it's zoo camp with a similar dress code.  My kid is going through some serious fancy withdrawal.

Fancy Vivi asleep on the naughty step

When I informed her that for she couldn't look fancy for her camping trip, she looked at me with suspicion.

Mama, is that a rule that I have to wear shorts?
Yes.  You get very dirty while camping so it is important not to ruin your fancy clothes.
For real?
Yes.
In the really real world is that true?  Mama, how do you know?
It is true and I know because I used to go camping and that's what they tell you.


So when Mamas and camp counselors tell you that you must wear shorts and sneakers, what is a fancy girl like Vivi to do?

Accessorize, apparently.

Friday, August 13, 2010

One of Those Days

Have you ever had one of those days where your kids run you ragged and you just feel like you are thisclose to being hauled away to your friendly neighborhood mental hospital?

Of course you have.

Have you ever photographed that day?

Of course you haven't.  That would be crazy.

Ummm...  well, I guess the verdict is in for me.





That's right.  100% nuts.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Is Daddy the New Mommy?

It seems my little Jude Bug doesn't like me anymore.  Lately, in a rather strange turn of events, Jude seems to prefer her dad.  And by prefer I mean she cries hysterically when he leaves for work.  She refuses to let him put her down when he's home and she will not let me get her out of the crib after nap time until she is certain that Daddy isn't in the house.  Oh, and here's the kicker, she looks utterly dejected as she literally swats away my advances. 

This is the face I am greeted with:


Daddy, of course, finds this whole situation quite humorous and is delighted by Jude's intensity of feelings toward him.  There's just one little hitch...

Jude calls him Mommy.

We've been very perplexed by this whole situation.  Jude clearly knows that her father is called Daddy but if I am around, his name is Mommy.  When he walks in the door after work, she runs to him yelling, "Mom-meee!  Mom-meee!"  Hmmm...

As the whole going-to-work meltdown played out this morning, my husband had an epiphany.  It appears that this child who we both adore immeasurably seems to be feeling a bit left out.  Daddy (known to the non-bloggy world as  child psychiatrist extraordinaire) surmised that there isn't enough Mommy to go around (well, duh!) for Jude so she is having him fill the role.  She doesn't want to share. 

It makes sense, I suppose, but I am unnerved by the idea that I am not meeting the emotional needs of my child.  I understand kids go through periods of favoring one parent over the other but I've never heard of the intentional misidentifying of parents.  I just hope the whole thing gets worked out sooner rather than later. 

After all, what's Daddy going to do those useless nipples?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Show Me the Love

My girls are all about the love these days.  Jude delights in running up to Ellie, resting her head on Ellie's chest, and putting her hand on Ellie's mouth which is what Jude thinks is a kiss.  Ellie used to scream in annoyance but lately they both have been giggling at their own affection for each other.  It really is a delight to see.   

Ellie, the most reserved of all my girls, has been doling out her own kisses lately.  While nursing, she will occasionally pull herself off the breast to look up at me and hum.  That's her sign that she wants to give me a kiss.  (Maybe she is sensing my increased discomfort with nursing and is trying to entice me to keep at it a little longer.)  At five this morning, while nursing both of them in my bed, Ellie finished and pulled herself off, crawled across my chest over to Jude, and gave her one big, wet, milky kiss.  This lead to lots of sleepy giggles and whatever hope I had of getting them back to bed evaporated at that moment but it was nice to see them interacting so lovingly.

Even Vivi, who has had more than her share of disdain for everyone in this house, has been extra affectionate.  The other day she said, "Mama, do you know that you grew two adorable babies in your belly?"  When I told her that I actually grew three adorable babies but one of those babies is already four years old, she said, "Mama, I will love you forever and ever.  Even after I die, I will never stop loving you."

Well, gosh.  I can't imagine any thing being better than that.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Whole Foods Ruined It

I hate mayonaise.  Truly.  I find it absolutely disgusting.  Mix mayonaise with a decent food like tuna fish and I just about lose my marbles.  Why, oh why, does it have to be so?  Can't there be a better way to have your tuna sandwich?

Well, it turns out there is.  Several years ago, I discovered a tuna salad at Whole Foods which was mayonaise-free.  It had olive oil and lemon and all sort of glorious other ingredients.  It was delicious on everything but I particularly liked to eat it on French rye with a slice of Swiss cheese.  (Very international, I know.)  I started making my own and it became the perfect light summer meal.  Here's the rough recipe:

Mayo-Free Tuna

1 pkg. of solid white tuna
juice from one lemon
olive oil
1/4 cup minced onion
1/2 a green apple
handful of dried, sweetened cranberries
salt and pepper

Mix together. (All ingredients can be altered to suit your taste.)

A couple of days ago I was in Whole Foods and saw the apple and cranberry tuna salad in the premade food section.  It looked different (and thus caught my eye) so I read the ingredients for the first time in years.  There it was right at the top of the list:  mayonaise.  Gone were the lemon juice and olive oil. 

Bastards.  Oh well, make your own and you might still have money left over to send your kid to college.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer Dinner

When it's hot, I hate to cook.  Actually, despite all the talk of food on this blog, I am not too crazy about cooking in general.  If I had to make a meal a few times a week, I probably would enjoy the challenge but getting three nutritious, unprocessed meals on the table every day of the week becomes a huge grind.  And then there's the clean-up...  sometimes I just want to throw in the dishtowel and let the kids feed off the floor.

While I don't have any great insight into getting things cleaned up efficiently, I came up with a meal last night that was a HUGE hit with my girls.  Before you get too excited, it is just a variation on quesadillas but it is an improved variation, I think.  What I have done in the past is put some cheese and beans in a tortilla, heated it up, and served it with some guacamole on top.  Vivi would eat a couple bites and then announce that she did not, in fact, like quesadillas.

And then I realized... it's all about presentation baby!  Well, duh!

So last night, I made plain cheese quesadillas, black beans and peppers, watermelon salsa, guacamole, and local corn on the cob.  The quesadillas were cut into triangles and the other items were served separately in ramekins.  What used to be a ho-hum meal turned into a dipping extravaganza. 



















The beauty of this meal is that you can make (or buy) the guacamole and salsa in advance.  For the beans, I just chopped an onion, green pepper , and garlic.  Cooked it in canola oil until softened, added my beans, mixed in some tomato juice and spicy brown mustard and then salted it to taste.  It took 10 minutes max.  I softened my tortillas directly on the (gas) burner of my stove.  The cheese will melt from the residual heat of the tortilla.  Steam your corn at the same time and you are good to go.  The final step is the most important:  look worn out when your husband walks in the door so you get out of doing the clean-up.

What are your tips for easy summer meals?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pet Peeves

My husband says that if I stop expecting people to be thoughtful, polite individuals, I wouldn't feel exasperated a good chunk of the time.  I admit he has a point.  In theory, I know the only thing I can actually control is my reaction to bad behavior but... wouldn't you just want to know if you were doing something that annoyed the hell out of another person?

Ummm... on second thought, never mind.

I've been feeling a little put out the last few days by people I don't even know.  Twice, in as many days, I have picked up the phone before 8 a.m. and had this conversation:

Caller:   Who is this?
Me:   You called me.  Who are YOU?
Caller:  Someone from this number called me.
Me:  Well, did they leave a message?
Caller:  No.
Me:  If someone calls you from a number you don't know and they don't leave you a message, that usually means it was a wrong number or the call wasn't important.  Do you realize it isn't even 8 a.m.? 

That's the point in the conversation when I hang up in disgust.  It drives me crazy that a wrong number can't just be a wrong number anymore.  If you didn't recognize the number in the first place, why didn't you just answer the phone? 

I think the bigger issue here is that we live in a society where we have to be so "connected" all the time that we are actually more disconnected to people and basic human interaction.  How many times have you been to a restaurant or in line at a coffee shop and the person near you barely gets off his phone long enough to bark an order at the counter help?  We are not interacting with people so much as we are briefly pausing to take what we need from them before moving on to something else.  What we gain by this so-called multitasking is not offset by the lost human connection and the awful example we are setting for our children.  If we can't take a moment to thank the cashier in a store, greet a neighbor, or live with the mystery of a wrong number, how can we expect our children to be polite and not pursue a life ruled by the guarantee of instant gratification?

While I was mulling over the ills of society and my Luddite tendencies, I was smacked with the scent of my second pet peeve.

Human Poop.
At the playground.
That my newly walking Ellie stepped in.

For the sake of all that is decent, if your kid shits at the playground could you at least have the decency to clean it up?  I know kids need to go and often it is at a time when no bathroom can be found but if you are required by law to clean up after your dog, could you not extend the courtesy to your fellow parents and children at the park?  The most annoying thing in this particular scenario was that the parent clearly knew the child pooped (inside a plastic playhouse no less) because the dirty wipes were sitting right there.  Shameful! 

OK, I'm done.  What are your pet peeves?

Thanks for reading and have a nice day.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Great Toilet Paper Caper

Now that my Turtles are anything but slow little crawlers, they are getting into all sorts of mischief together.  Of course, they almost always find it in the bathroom.  First, it was the toilet and the splash pool it became.  Once we all learned to remember to put the lid down, however, it became less of a destination.  Since they have yet to figure out how to open it I thought we were in the clear.  That's when  The Great Toilet Paper Caper starring Ellie Bean and Jude Bug happened.



Hey Jude, look what I found!


Quick, grab as much as you can before mommy notices!


Run faster!  She's on to us!


Victory is mommy's as the Turtles collapse into a heap of giggles.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Can't a lady get a break around here?

It's been too flippin' hot to do anything.  That includes making meals, playing at the park, or updating this here blog.  Even Vivi and the Turtles, who are normally so full of energy, are just lethargic little sweat balls.  We are subsisting on our bad attitudes, popsicles, and periodic trips to the mall to gorge ourselves on the cool breeze of air-conditioning.  We are pathetic but we are not unlike a lot of New Englanders riding out this heatwave the best way we know how.

Unfortunately, the weather has been the least of our troubles the last couple of weeks.  It all started when my adorable little Ellie Bean nearly landed in the ER with a gash on her index finger.  In the chaos that rules our early mornings, she managed to get her finger stuck in a partially opened can that was sitting in our recycle bin.  Our kitchen looked like a crime scene from all the blood but we were lucky it wasn't worse.  Thankfully, my friend Karen's husband graciously came over and glued her finger back together. 

Then, my grandmother died from a massive stroke.  Although I had no desire to attend the funeral (for reasons I won't go into here), we did return to Vermont so I could see my siblings and so my girls could cheer my dad up.  In that regard, I think the trip was successful.

Things were calming down a bit and Ellie's finger was starting to look normal again.  That's when she took a tumble off our back steps and landed on the concrete.


This picture fails to show the black eye that cropped up a few hours later.  We decided that she needed a onesie that says, "If you think I look bad, you should see the other baby." 

In the same afternoon, Vivi managed to trap a squirrel on our back porch.  In it's attempt to escape, it gave her a good scratching.  


One more reason we hate squirrels.

Then, in what was one of the scariest moments of my life, my husband called me from work yesterday and said, "Sam, I am really sick.  I need you to pick me up and take me to the hospital." For those of you who don't know my husband, he is a physician who is in excellent shape.  He regularly runs, plays squash, and commutes by bike.  Two weeks before we were married, he finished in the top 10% of the Boston Marathon at age 48.  He has an incredibly high pain threshold and this is not the sort of call I ever expected from him.

I raced to his office with the babies in tow.  He was in excruciating pain so I dropped him at the hospital near our house.  When I got home, I started calling friends to see if someone could come stay with my kids so I could get back to the hospital.  Luckily, my friend Lydia and her husband Jason saved the day.  When I made it back to the ER about 30 minutes later, my husband had been given a shot of morphine (with no effect) and was still writhing in pain in the ER. 

I could not stand to see him like that so I did something about which I am not totally proud.  I went up to the triage nurse and said,  "Excuse me, is there anyway that you could get my husband in sooner?  He is a physician and the morphine has been ineffective."  My husband would never play the doctor card and while I admire his modesty, I couldn't bear to see him suffer.  Within minutes, he was in a room and by the end of the hour, he was given a heavy duty dose of narcotics.  He was really loopy but he was comfortable.

The verdict:  a kidney stone.  It seems to have passed and he got to spend the night at home which was a relief to us all.  He's back at work this morning and feeling good.

Of course, I am still not totally contented.  In what seems to be the most insufferable of all our adventures lately, I am still waiting on Season 3 of Mad Men from the library. 

Can't a lady get a break around here?  :-)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Why Twins Are Awesome

It seems that there have been more than a few posts on this blog about how much having two babies at once really sucks.  It's exhausting and back-breaking.  It's chaotic and stressful.  It's stinky and sticky and downright dirty business. 

But it is also wonderful. 

Yesterday morning, I heard the babies chattering in their room.  It was 7:30 a.m. and they had slept much later than usual.  I went in to get them only to find them blowing kisses to each other across the room.  It was beyond adorable.  As I scooped them up and wrestled them into my arms, Ellie's nose rubbed against Jude's neck and they dissolved into the amazing little giggles that only babies get.  I realized in this moment, as I was completely enamoured with my Turtles, that I would not be experiencing any of this if I had had just one baby. 

And I just would not trade all the heartache and stress and bad behavior that come with twins and an older child, for anything.  ANYTHING. 

At fifteen months, these Turtles are full of mischief and personality.  They also seem deeply bonded in a way that I will likely never understand.  When Ellie cut her finger and my husband was trying to restrain her to stop the blood, Jude did not leave her side.  When they get off their synchronized sleep schedule, no amount of exhaustion will allow one baby to fall asleep unless her sister is in the room too.  Similarly, if Jude wakes up before Ellie and I remove her from  the bedroom, Ellie wakes up almost immediately.  It is like somehow, in her deep sleep, she senses that her sister is no longer there.  The same is true for Jude.  They play together and they feed each other and they hold hands while they nurse.  They even simultaneously throw the stuffed birds out of their crib if I did not give each baby her correct toy.

Of course, there is the joy that this age brings no matter how many babies you have at one time.  When the babies see me getting dressed in the morning the sight of a bare breast will send them into panting fits while they bounce on their knees squeezing their tiny fists together to show the sign for "milk." Or those wonderful, but tentative, first steps and the excitement of discovering that they are doing something they have never done before.  Then, of course, there is the delightful sound of a wooden spoon on the lid of a pot.  These are new adventures for us and they are happy ones.



Tennis, anyone?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Improved Playdates and a Clarification

Regarding my previous post, I should clarify that it was I, upon consultation with my husband, who decided to pull Vivi from the Wednesday playdates.  This was done as a way to give the kids a break from each other but also to create an opportunity for me and Aviva to spend some more positive time together. 

Since the inception of the Wednesday playdates, we have had very few problems.  In general, Vivi is left to play on her own with the other children while their mothers and I fawn over the Turtles.  What I have come to realize, however, is that the vast majority of her friends do not have siblings, much less two baby siblings.  As a result, when another kid asks to get a push on the swing from his mother, it happens.  When Vivi asks, I generally put her off.  I can see how this would feel upsetting for her so I'm trying to be more available and open to her requests.*

So for the foreseeable future, my husband and I have a lot of fun planned just or her.  We spent this past Wednesday at Ikea so Vivi could play in the ball pit.  My husband is taking her hiking on Father's Day and we are going to get a sitter for the Turtles in the next couple of weeks so we can take her to her first movie.  For the first time in 15 months, we are trying to say, "Turtles you have to wait.  It's your big sister's turn."

Wish us luck!



*I do want to qualify this by saying that I am not turning into a helicopter parent.  I strongly believe that children do better when we are not at their constant beck and call and when they are given the opportunity to explore on their own and work out their differences.  What I feel was happening to Vivi, however, is that I have been virtually unavailable to her because her sisters require so much supervision and care.  I'm trying to be more mindful and inclusive now.