Wednesday, November 30, 2011

December and Marking the Days

I love the month of December.  I love the preparation for the holidays.  There's the excitement of picking out a Christmas tree and decorating it.  The joy of lighting the menorah for Hanukkah and seeing my girls marvel at how beautifully the light reflects in our windows.  I love baking cookies, making presents for my children, and being with our little family.  We also try hard to remind ourselves and our children how lucky we are.

I had all this in mind when I came up with my advent calendar for this year.  Last year, I filled each day with stickers or chocolate but I wanted something a bit more meaningful.  So instead of treats, every day has a card and they say:

-Decorate the Christmas tree
-Walk around the neighborhood and look at the lights
-Interview your family and videotape it
-Send a Christmas card to a friend you don't see
-Make hot chocolate
-Do something nice for your sisters
-Have a camp out in front of the Christmas tree
-Have a family movie night
-Read The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
-Fill a bag with food to donate to the hungry
-Invite a friend over to play
-Sing Christmas carols around the piano
-Pop popcorn for a snack
-Make paper snowflakes
-Bake bread and bring it to a neighbor
-Wrap Christmas presents
-Write a letter to someone you love
-Have breakfast for dinner
-Do something nice for someone at school
-Bake cookies with Mommy
-Make an ornament for the tree
-Have a dance party with Christmas music
-Color a holiday picture
-Get out the dreidels and see how long you can make one spin
-Do something special with just Mommy or Daddy
-Read The Night Before Christmas

Any other ideas?

Monday, November 14, 2011

These Boots Were Made for Hiking and That's Just What They'll Do

Guess what I did this weekend?  I hiked these mountains:


Now I know what you are thinking.  Mama Mama you are a homebody.  You pay someone to make you exercise.  You are not the type to go on a 9 mile hike in the snow and ice in mid-November.  

'Tis true fair readers, 'tis true.  I ended up doing this because I had a plan and it backfired.  BIG TIME.  Let me explain. Back in August, my sister watched the Young Contrarians so my husband and I could have a night away from our children.  We went to this resort in Connecticut and had a wonderfully relaxing time.  We also spent most of the time planning how we could do this sort of thing again.  I knew then that another night away would be Mark's birthday gift. 

When my husband's birthday arrived a few weeks ago, he was thrilled when I announced that we could go away again. I told him that we could do whatever he wanted which is when all this planning backfired on me.  Instead of relaxing in a heated pool somewhere, he said that he wanted to do a long hike in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  (Why, after all these years together, would I think he would NOT want to go hiking?  I am an idiot.)  

So hiking we did.  It was a long, difficult hike with snow, ice, and wind.  I expected it to be a test of my fitness but that actually turned out to be a non-issue.  (Believe in miracles people.)  What I found so challenging was the mental aspect of the climb.  I am very risk-averse which makes me a slow, deliberate hiker.  The first two miles of the descent were extremely rocky and covered in ice.  I just did not see how I was going to get down the trail without cracking my head open, knocking Mark down too, and turning my girls into orphans. (See where my mind goes??!) That is when I started crying.  

Apparently, there's no crying in hiking.  After a hug and a pep talk, I did it.  I did not fall and I did not crack my head open. Best of all, I got to say that I kept up with my super-hiker husband and made it home in time for bedtime snuggles from the girls.

I can't think of a better way to spend a weekend.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

One Difference Between Home School and Public School...

As we were walking out of our parent/teacher conference today, my husband and I were remarking how wonderful it is to see Vivi thriving in public school.  We had our concerns-- the lack of recess, the strong focus on academics, the homework-- but it has become very clear to us that we made the right choice to send her to public school.  Vivi's teacher is phenomenal and we have no doubt that she is just as good or better than any private school teacher.  Plus, she really impressed us today when she showed us Vivi's special folder.  

Because Vivi often gets her work done before her classmates, her teacher made her a special book full of puzzles and enrichment activities that she can do while she waits for others to finish.  It really struck us that in a time of bare-bones funding, classrooms full of children living in poverty, and teachers forced to do paperwork upon paperwork all in the name of "documenting progress" that Vivi's teacher went out of her way to make sure our daughter is challenged.  What a gift to have someone who cares as much as we do about Vivi's education.

As we considered our schooling options this past spring, I had no idea what to expect from a public education.  I was tempted to avoid the whole issue and homeschool Vivi but I am glad we made the decision we did.  There is one thing she is picking up at public school that I am certain she wouldn't have gotten at home, however.  Here's a conversation we had last night:

Vivi (talking into the wooden table from her dollhouse, aka her "fairy" phone):  Noooo.  You need to stop calling me.  I don't like you Justin Beaver!

Me:  Who is Justin Beaver?

Vivi:  He is this dumb boy.  He keeps calling me on my fairy phone and I don't want to talk to him.  Charlotte likes him.  He lives in the TV.

Me:  Oh, really.  So you've seen Justin Beaver?  What does he look like?

Vivi:  Kind of weird.  I don't know why she likes him so much.  He is just soooo annoying.

Me:  Well, I can see that Justin Beaver bothers you so if he calls you again, I will answer the phone for you.

I'm pretty sure Justin Bieber doesn't appear in the home school curriculum until at least third grade.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

ABCs

Tell me that Jackson Five song isn't running through your head right now...

My husband bought me an Ipod shuffle for my birthday. This is a big deal yo.  I shun technology.  I don't even have caller ID and when you call me and I am on the phone, guess what?  You get a busy signal.  No shit.  My friend Grace says that I am "off the grid" and with the exception of the occasional TV drug I give my children, I kind of it like it that way.

So, in light of that fun fact, I thought I would be a lazy blogger today and tell you a little bit more about Mama Mama ABC style.   Here we go:

Age:  35 and it feels great!

Bed size: Queen size. 

Chore I hate: They all kind of suck but I am going to go with mopping.

Dogs: Pup.  He's the best kind because he is stuffed. 

Essential start to my day: My husband getting up with the girls

Favorite color: Green.  It's the new black.

Gold or silver: I think I look better in gold but I prefer silver.

Height: 5' 4" first thing in the morning. 

Instruments I play: Vacuum and Washing Machine

Job title: Mama (Duh!)

Kids: In no particular order, Eliya, Jude, and Aviva

Live: In Rhode Island which I still find mystifying 

Mother's name: Kathy

Nicknames: Wait, Mama isn't my real name?

Overnight hospital stays: Once, after Vivi was born.

Pet Peeve: Driving while talking on your cell phone or other instances where one should be paying attention to the people around them.  I'll stop there.

Quote from a movie: The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.  (Name that movie!)

Right or left handed: Right

Siblings: One brother, four sisters, all younger.

Time I wake up: 8ish.  That's because I have the best husband in the world.

Underwear: Of course!

Vegetable I hate: Brussel Sprouts.  There's no way to make them good in my opinion.

What makes me run late: My spawn.

X-rays I've had: Ankle (sprain in my early 20s), Nose (broken, also early 20s) and teeth.

Yummy food I make: Lentil soup and baklava.

Zoo animal: See letter C for Children.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Animals

Hey Internet, I've been wondering about something.  Do you think it is bad to refer to your children as "the animals?"  As in,  "Oh, I've got to put my animals to bed." Or "Should we feed the animals pasta for dinner or soup?"  Or "Sorry about the mess.  The animals crushed the graham crackers into the floor again."

It often seems like a fitting description for my children. They eat without regard to silverware or dishes.  They sleep curled into little balls.  Their play consists of climbing on each other and wrestling one another into submission. They run really fast. They like to forage. They growl and roar when they are angry.  Frankly, it seems clear that my children seem to lack any sense of dignity at all.

Lately, however, I've been thinking that maybe calling my children "the animals" is a wee bit demeaning.  They are my children, after all, and even though they may act like puppies, I should probably show them a bit more respect. They are human beings and they deserve at least that.

As I was pondering this thought today, I heard the animals Jude and Elie making a lot of noise upstairs. They were supposed to be napping but when I went in to check on them, I saw that they had both pooped and wiped their excrement on their sheets, stuffed animals, cribs, and walls. That's when it became abundantly clear that I needed to stop calling them "the animals."

Even animals know enough to poop and walk away.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Reflection on Twins

Recently a family friend of ours told us that if he could have laid out his life plan knowing how hard it would be to have twin babies, he would still choose to have two at once. Even if he had the choice to have the same exact children but not at the same time, he would CHOOSE the experience of having twins.  I nodded politely but in my head I was thinking there is no way in hell I would go through that again.  

It is well-documented in this blog that my twins were a huge surprise.  I had a few weeks to prepare for the baby I was expecting and the bonus I was also getting.  I was frantic with the idea that I was going to have three children under the age of three and little help.  To say that we were overwhelmed for the first year of their lives hardly conveys the extreme amount of exhaustion, stress, and misery we endured.  It was brutal and if given the option of all things being equal, I absolutely would NOT choose to do it again.

I think.

It is abundantly clear to me that the world is fascinated by multiples but I knew before the Turtles' birth that I would never feel comfortable emphasizing their twin identity.  The matching outfits, similar names, and other twin markers draw attention to this person as a twin and not as an individual.  It can seem like twin children can be treated more like a commodity or cool party trick than as individuals with differing needs, desires, and, in the case of many twins, faces.  First and foremost, I wanted my girls to be treated as individuals.  The fact that they are twins is part of their identity but not who they are entirely.

Yet, despite everything I do, Jude and Elie are "the twins" in our community and an extension of the other to themselves. Jude needs to cuddle Ellie when she's upset.  Ellie loves to "babysit" Jude's baby and call Jude on the phone to see how she is.  They go to bed together.  They use the potty together.  They feed each other their dinner.  They both climb into bed with me in the morning, hold hands across my chest, and tell me I am the "best mama ever."  They are fascinating as a set but  adored individually.  Jude and Elie are themselves but they are also part of each other.  


So, when they both want to wear a ruffle dress with sparkle shoes, now I say okay.  Ultimately, it is up to them to figure out who they are.