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....