Showing posts from 2011

Small Packages and Big Surprises

I have a friend whom I've known since our first week of college.  She was raised in a tiny Northern California town by two often-naked hippies who bestowed upon her a rather unusual name.  She is brilliant but a terrible speller, a fashionista who can't pass up a thrift store, a self-proclaimed baby hater, and a delightfully amusing weirdo. She also happens to be a NewYork Times bestselling author. So when this friend emailed me earlier in the summer requesting my address because she had a present for my girls, I was suspicious.  It is a well-known fact that my friend has no desire for children.  She tolerates them now that most of her friends have spawned but she very much enjoys her carefree, childless existence.  I could not help but wonder what the heck was going to come in the mail. Then the package arrived and well, take a look: That's when I realized that being weird can be perfect.

Our Advent Tree

I don't have an official advent calendar because I refuse to pay good money for something I could make myself.  The problem is I never seem to remember to make one before December 1. A few years ago, I sewed 25 tiny little Christmas bags but that was as far as I got.  Last year, I put the chocolate and stickers in the little bags but there was no official calendar. So, this year-- five and a half years after I had my first child, I created a calendar.  Well, actually, an advent tree. I took some twigs from the yard and spray painted them red with paint I had on hand.  Then I scrounged up 25 clothespins and numbered them.  I cut up little squares of card stock and wrote my daily idea on each one.  Then I put the cards in the bags, hung them from the branches, and voila: Our Advent Tree!  It's not the fanciest thing but it does the trick. Since today is December 1, the girls opened their first card and we made real hot chocolate on the stove.  I think I overdosed on the choc

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 -R

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, h

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


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! B ed size: Queen size.  C hore I hate: They all kind of suck but I am going to go with mopping. D ogs : Pup.  He's the best kind because he is stuffed.   E ssential start to my day: My husband getting up with the girls F avorite color: Green.  It's the new black. G old or silver:  I think I look better in gold but I prefer silver. H e

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 bi

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 th

Oh, the Excitement!

I thought I would be a lady of leisure with Vivi in school full-time but I guess Jude and Ellie did not get the memo. So for the past month, we have been pretty busy.  Vivi lost her second tooth on the second day of kindergarten.  She ran home from the bus stop, locked herself in the bathroom, and came out a few minutes later looking like this: A few days after Vivi started school, I had a birthday and celebrated my official "advanced maternal age" milestone.  I welcomed my free-falling fertility with open arms.  I also welcomed the cake.  It turns out Ellie is a bit of a rogue candle extinguisher so Vivi is doing her best to protect my opportunity to make a birthday wish.  (See note above about free falling fertility.) Perhaps because I love cake, my husband got me twelve sessions with the personal trainer at the gym for my birthday.  After the first session, the words "you only look like you are in terrible shape" kept running through my head.  I was so p

Kindergarten: The Verdict

Despite the look on our little kindergartener's face: and her refusal to let me take a decent picture: and her anxious thumb-sucking: Vivi declares kindergarten to be pretty good.  When I asked her the best part of her day, she told me it was recess because playing on the "spinning wheel [merry-go-round] was awesome."  When I asked what was the worst part of her day was she told me, "Nothing, mama.  Everything is the best.  Well, except in the morning when they were going over the rules.  That was boring." Personally, I declare kindergarten to be a little overwhelming.  I cried as I was leaving her at school and then again when I got to the YMCA and then again while the Turtles were napping and the house was quiet.    I almost cried for a fourth time when I went to pick her up and saw that she wasn't in line with her classmates.  (She was put on the bus to go home instead of in the pick-up line but a teacher went and found her before the bus took of

Moving On

I have been all aflutter with preparation for kindergarten. I've purchased an ungodly amount of supplies and snacks, filled out a pile of papers, attended an orientation and a kindergarten playdate, and sewn a super-duper fancy pencil case.  I thought I was doing all this to prepare my first-born for kindergarten.  What I realized this morning is that I did all that to prepare myself. Kindergarten is the place where Vivi will really begin to understand that she has autonomy.  Family will fade into the background of her school life and time with her friends will become her priority.  There will be rules and expectations from other people besides her parents.  School isn't about play anymore. As much as she is ready, Vivi is doing this on her own. Mommy and Daddy won't be in the classroom.  She will choose her friends and they won't necessarily be the children of Mommy's friends.  She is beginning the process of letting us go. The question is can I do the right thi

Crying Babies

I had to laugh when I saw this crying baby photo link up party .  When Vivi was a baby, I don't think we got any pictures of her crying.  As our only child, her tears were a rare occurrence and I never thought to document the crying when it happened.  I was more concerned with putting an end to the tears. As if that would ever happen with twins!  Photos with one or more crying babies were an inevitability.  So here you have it, my contribution to the link up: Eliya giving those lungs a workout.  Jude trying to tune her out.  Week #1 Jude screaming and the poor big sister not sure what to make of it.  My personal favorite since this pretty much sums up Jude's first year of life. Unidentified screaming child in the background.  It's probably Jude. When the babies got going, so did Vivi.  Oh, and mommy.  Mommy always cried too. I'm also linking up to Simply Modern Mom's Glimpse into Motherhood .


I really enjoyed doing my Me Challenge Giveaway last month.  It was nice to be able to offer a surprise to a reader who took the time to validate my existence with a comment. Plus, I got the added bonus of reading about all the interesting places you have traveled.  (Who knew there was actually a World's Largest Frying Pan ?! ) Since that was a lot of fun, I thought it was time for another giveaway!  Most of you know that Vivi is heading to her local public kindergarten at the end of the month.  Given my recent gripes about the supply list , it is clear that our schools need a lot of help.  That's why I have decided to give away: Two $25 gift certificates to Donor's Choose . Here are the rules: To enter, please leave a comment telling me your favorite children's book and why you love it. Because Donor's Choose is for US based schools, this giveaway is only open to residents of the United States. The winners will be chosen at random on Monday, August 15. He

A Real Vacation

My husband and I took a twenty-four hour vacation.  This was a real vacation-- not like the ones I always take in my head.  We packed up the car and drove a little over an hour to a seaside community in Connecticut.  We hung out by the pool. We read books and magazines without interruption. We went out to lunch and to dinner and to breakfast.  I didn't even make the bed.  It was glorious. We did all this WITHOUT our children.  Really.  Did I mention it was glorious? My sister who lives in North Carolina very kindly and without any obvious reservation  volunteered to stay with the young contrarians.  There was no arm-twisting, no desperate pleas, and no cries on either end.  The kiddos had a blast and my husband and I got ten solid hours of sleep. Ten!   And get this:  My sister even  volunteered  to stay with them again!  It appears that she loves my rascal spawn and thankfully doesn't see them enough to get fed-up with their shenanigans. Now the trick is making sure five

Is This Normal for Public School?

We recently received an invitation for Vivi to attend a Kindergarten orientation and play date at her new school.  She will get to tour the classrooms, meet her teachers, and say hello to the principal.  I think this is a great thing and we are all looking forward to it. But....   I am a bit perplexed by the supply list for kindergarten which was on the back of the invitation.  I am supposed to send my child to school with the following: 1 large bottle of hand sanitizer 2 boxes of crayons- one with 8 large primary colors and one with 16 colors 2 rolls of paper towels 1 pair of small child-size scissors 1 eraser 1 box of markers 1 box of colored pencils 2 packages of #2 pencils, sharpened 1 package EXPO dry-erase markers 4 folders with double pockets on the bottom (2 with 3 fasteners on the inside and 2 without) 4 large glue sticks 2 boxes of tissues 1 art sketch book with blank pages 1 package small drinking cups 1 container of disinfectant wipes Geesh.  I remember being sent off to

One hundred degrees

That's what my thermometer says. I'm hunkered down in the house with my napping Turtles, an oscillating fan, and a good load of PTSD. The deadbolts are locked but I keep checking and double checking them.  I've spent the better part of the hour watching the comings and goings of the neighborhood looking for suspicious activity.  There is none, of course, because even lowlife robbers probably don't want to go out in this heat. I feel like I am vibrating at higher frequency than any other species on Earth.  I'm not sleeping well and I am clearly exhibiting some obsessive-compulsive behavior.  I don't want to leave my house but I am afraid to be here too. I'm not the first person to be robbed and I certainly won't be the last but I'm having a hard time accepting that this has happened.  It's difficult to move on when I still have more pawn shops to check for my jewelry.  It is also unsettling to open your email and discover that someone called A

We Were Robbed

Internet, I'm not about the catchy title today.  I wish that I had some exciting story about poop or an adorable twin anecdote to share with you.  I wish I had a good reason to explain my cyber-absence. I don't. Very early Sunday morning, we were robbed.  They took my laptop, my husband's old laptop, and every single item of jewelry except my wedding band (which I happened to be wearing.)  They did not take my children and for once I am truly grateful for that. We know a few things.  We know that they were watching us and while we are almost always home early Sunday morning, we left en masse this particular day.  My husband took the kids out for a mommy-free adventure and I headed to the Y.  I returned less than 45 minutes later while they were in the house.  Miraculously, I did something I never do which is sit in the car for several minutes before I went inside.  (I figured I didn't have to rush and I was riveted by the YMCA class schedule I had just picked up.)  

This Is What I Mean About the Markers

Thanks bloggy friends for all your kind words about my parenting.  Maybe if I knew all of you in person, you might be not so quick with your comments.  I'm trying to look at the positive here.  At least I only yell at my own children. Anyway, I mentioned in my beleaguered post that I'm waging a one-woman battle against THE MARKERS .  (Yes, I've confiscated them on numerous occasions but Vivi is a self-proclaimed "artiste" and she always earns them back.) Seriously though, I hate them and this is why: Uh oh.  Mom's giving me the look . "Mama, I got pritty legs." Just when I was thinking, "Well, at least it was only one turtle."  Look who shows up: As if the outfit wasn't eye-catching enough... Linking up to Simply Modern Mom 's Glimpse Into Motherhood.

What Is a Good Mother?

For the most part, I think I am a good mother.  I feed, clothe, and clean my children.  I tell them I love them.  I give them independence and encouragement.  I read to them and play games with them and drive them places.  I try to utilize positive reinforcement. Except when I don't.  There are times when I lose it.  When I throw a (plastic) plate across the kitchen because it is 8:00 at night and I told you it was bed time and not snack time.  When the whining is so insufferable that all I can do is shout "STOP IT NOW!!!!!!" at the top of my lungs so that I stun you into silence.  When I have to ask you for the tenth time to put the god-damned markers away because I am fed-up with scrubbing ink off the walls and floors.  When I tell you, "You know what?  I don't actually like that drawing." because I'm feeling spiteful that that you called dinner "disgusting." I've done all those things.  Some of them I've done more than once.  With

We Have a Winner and Then Some

Ladies and Gentleladies, we have a winner of the Halfway There Giveaway! Lucky number 4 is....   MONICA!!!! (I can not get the random number widget to appear on my blog but my husband can verify that I used it!) Congratulations!  In a weird twist of blogland serendipity, Monica and I recently discovered a shared hatred for amusement parks which she noted on her blog.  Now I can encourage all of you to check out her really funny chronicle of family life at And I'll Raise You Five . But wait, there's more! I am giving away three runner-up gifts to help you help someone else.  Those randomly selected winners are: #14:  Marcia at 123 Blog #26:  Superjaxster #12:  Holly Ann Congratulations winners!  Please email me your mailing addresses so I can get your prizes out to you. Now I'm off to the Y for some me time.

Simple Pleasures

Even though Vivi's language has become a bit more complex and (ahem....) colorful, sometimes her simplest notes are the sweetest.  This is what she gave me a couple of weeks ago: My present was this picture: Vivi explained that she and I are walking on a path to China together in our high heels. Since she's really into writing and sounding out words, I asked her to write my grocery list.  I told her we needed: Chocolate Graham Crackers Veggie Burgers Watermelon And this is what she wrote: She may be sunshine and rainbows but she's part potty too. Linking up to Simply Modern Mom's Glimpse into Motherhood .


Soon after we decided to send Vivi to kindergarten at our neighborhood public school, we learned that the school was offering a four-week summer camp.  We figured this would be a great opportunity for her to make some new friends, get used to the building, and have some fun.  Plus, at $50 a week for full-day camp, we couldn't exactly scoff at the price.  In fact, I believe my exact words were, "You're going to take my kid for eight hours a day, five days a week, and charge me $50.  Are you shitting me?" Anyway, do you want to know what Vivi learned at camp yesterday? Sure you do. She learned about George Washington. She learned how to fly a kite.  (Literally-- not the figurative way I taught her.) She learned that cacti live in the desert in the Southwestern United States.  And... she learned the word pussy.  (I'm not talking about cats here.) I guess you get what you pay for. 

Twins Versus Singleton

Sometimes I feel bad for Vivi.   I get what is means to be a daughter.  I also understand what it is like to be the first-born and a big sister.  Like most people in the world, however, I have no idea what it means to be a sibling to "the twins."  For Vivi, I think it must really suck sometimes. This morning Vivi was complaining of a stomach ache and said she didn't want to go to camp.  I knew she was probably feeling anxious and, after a long weekend of fun activities, it made sense to me that she would want to stay home.  She still managed to get dressed and fully-accessorized but as she was lying on the floor complaining about camp, Jude came over and dumped a cup of water all over her.  It drenched Vivi's "best favorite ever ruffly shirt" that she was wearing and she burst into tears. I jumped up from the table, grabbed the cup from Jude, and yelled, "Why would you do that?" Jude burst into tears.  Then in some kind-of strange twin symbiosis

Halfway There Giveaway

At the beginning of the year, I made a commitment to myself and to Dollimama  (my fellow blogger and mother of twins) to take a few minutes each week for myself.  I promised that I would blog about what I did every Friday and link up to her site.   As it turns out, I was great at taking the time for myself but not so good at blogging about it.  (I know you are heartbroken to have missed my weekly missives about the YMCA.) Do not despair, fair reader, I am here to redeem myself.  I am participating in the: Cue the wild cheering and applause! I am giving away a little "me time" care package. While I won't give the specifics (who doesn't love a surprise?), the package will include something you can do for yourself, something you can do with a friend, and something that will help you do something for someone else.   To enter, please leave a comment telling me the most interesting place you have ever traveled. For a bonus entry, become a follower of this blog and leav