After years of infertility and IVF, we've finally seen light from the other side. I knew it could happen, but certainly didn't think it would be us ... our new life with twins. Gulp.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Breaking up is hard to do.

Sometimes it's an angry occasion - perhaps you've been cheated on, or maybe betrayed in some unforgivable way. You hurl dishware, or maybe a wedding ring. You yell. You scream. You're mean to each other in the way we shouldn't treat other human beings.

Other times it's sad and devastating. Maybe you've been taken off guard, dumped without warning. Consolation comes in the form of good friends, copious bottles of wine, and many, many pints of Ben & Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk.

Sometimes it just happens. It's sad, but it's okay for everyone involved. Perhaps a mutual interest or friend that initially drew you together no longer exists. Maybe one of you has accepted a job that's consuming all his time and focus. You treasure the time you spent together, but recognize that it's time to go your separate ways. You'll bump into each other at cocktail parties, and hear news of each other from friends, and you'll certainly Google each other (secretly, of course) to see what's going on in life. It's the happiest of sad endings, but the photo album that you filled with memories of the two of you together still remains on your shelf, and is browsed through frequently.

I had a bit of an epiphany today. The kids were up, dressed, fed, and playing happily in the kitchen. I, on the other hand, was still in my pajamas, still nappy and unkempt. I dreaded knowing that, since J is out of town, I had to take the kids up to my bedroom with me and try to keep them out of the toilet water and somewhat entertained while I attempted to dress and make myself up for the day.

And then I realized what I could do. We marched down to their bedroom, picked out a few special toys, made sure the door to the attached bath was closed, and then I slowly and quietly exited the room and shut the door. I was able to have 10 minutes to myself, and they were fine. Yes, their room was a wreck when I came back, but all was well. They were happy, entertained, and I actually looked and felt pretty good.

They're growing up. They have opinions, MyGirl says "No!" with frequency, and MyBoy is turning into a devastatingly charming little boy. My days and nights focus so much on them, and not on so many of the other sad and scary thoughts that used to fill my mind. Life is good. We are so happy.

I constantly compose posts in my head, yet they never make it to page or screen. This was my journal of want, of waiting, and finally of success. I think it's time for us to move on.

I have some thoughts about another blog, and if you want to know I'll be happy to share with you when the time comes. In some freaky way, I'm addicted to your lives and stories, so if you're on my blogroll, I'll be checking in on you just like I used to.

I wish you all heath and happiness, peace and resolution, and an end to your waiting, whatever it may be for.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Bath Toys

The best toys for children in the tub, recommended (I think) by Emmie. Guarantees many consecutive minutes of concentrated play, pouring water on ones own head and on ones brother's or sister's head.

Originally intended to direct soup into a jar or leftovers into a Tupperware, they also encourage children to try and "catch" the water. Allows mommy to catch a few minutes to peruse a favorite magazine:

The best
toy for mommy, sitting next to the tub, trying to simultaneously supervise bath time, encourage hair washing, discourage beating brother/sister over the head with above referenced toy.

Originally intended to support child's neck while sleeping in the car, this wonderful toy also supports Mommy's very important orange juice glass full of wine, keeping it from toppling over into the nearby tub:

Friday, October 26, 2007

An Early Thanksgiving

I belong to a small group at my church, which I've spoken about here in the past. It's a group of women, all under the age of 40. While it is technically a Bible study group, we do some of that, but also read spiritually-focused literature (some fiction, some non-fiction) and have a wonderful tradition of praying for each other's needs, hard times, and thanksgivings.

I am certain that this group, and the prayers and support from each individual woman, played a significant part in the happy fact that I now have two wonderful children. They provided a safe place for me to speak my frustrations at the inability to get pregnant, meet women who'd had similar issues, and support me through my pregnancy and the difficult early months of the twins lives. It's rather amazing, to me, to be on the 'other side' of the infertility issue (certainly not over it), and to be able to provide some support to women who are in the same spot I was just a few years ago.

It was in this group a few weeks ago that we talked about prayer, and specifically, how we pray as individuals. A number of women said that they always pray the Lord's Prayer. Some reverted back to childhood prayers as they lay in bed. And a few of us said that we always start our prayers with our thanksgivings.

In thinking about how I pray, which I must admit is a subject I never gave much thought to, I realized that I also give thanks before I ask for anything, for myself or for others. I suppose it's because I have so much to be thankful for.

In my pre-baby days, I always thanked God for giving me such a wonderful husband and a supportive family, but immediately followed up with a gratuitous and pleading request for children, somehow, somewhere. As time passed, I asked for patience and faith in God, that he knew what was best for our family. Near the end of that particular journey, I desperately pleaded to just make it work, make it work. And if it didn't, to please find me the magic cure to coping with more disappointment.

I find myself overflowing with thanksgivings in my prayers these days. Sure, I still ask for patience (of a different sort) and wisdom to do the best job I possibly can. But more and more, I list all of the wonderful people, situations, and circumstances in my life, and say thank you for showing me what a lucky woman I am.

J was in a serious biking accident a few weeks ago and sustained some really dire injuries. He is on the mend now and should recover okay, but during those early hours after it happened, I thought quite seriously about what my life would be like as a single mother to two young children. Or as a wife to a permanently disabled husband, trying to juggle care for all three. I know there are women out there who never imagined themselves in that situation, but now they are.

Those emotional and practical thoughts that occupied my mind in the wee hours of the morning have now renewed my gratitude. We all have tough times, we all bitch and moan about the things that go wrong, and I do it as much as anyone else.

But I know now, for certain, how very lucky and blessed I am. I hope I will never forget.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Where I Get The Goods

When faced with a new and unfamiliar situation, I turn to research, both qualified and legitimate as well as anecdotal. My experiences with infertility, the exciting (terrifying) news about twins, and then prematurity and all it’s delights led me to books and manuals galore, as well as chick lit type novels for ‘research’ and distraction. And don't forget the fabulous world of Dr. Google, blogs, and every pregnancy/parenting site in existence.

Most recently, the challenges have been toddler-related. Woof … this stuff is tough (of course, when compared to the above challenges, this is a piece of cake, it just draws on reserves I didn’t know I had. And frustrates to no end. But hell, it’s not the threat of perpetual barrenness or the insecurity of leaving your babies in the NICU each night.)

Toddlers times two. Approaching 18-months, these two delights (terrors) are all over the place. Up, down, around, inside, outside, loud, loud, loud. The good is sooooo good, though. The squeals of happiness, the ‘mama’ and ‘dada,’ the mischievous wheels turning in their head as they decide whether to obey or defy. As a pair, they are adorable. They’ve begun playing Ring Around the Rosy, holding hands when we go out, and ‘giving love’ to each other (hugs and squeals, then rolling on the floor).

The challenges are typical, as I understand. MyBoy is clingy beyond description – arms around my legs, head in my lap, and pushing his sister out of my lap. Tantrums happen with great frequency, and his arched back and ear-splitting shouts are like background noise in our house. Early wake-ups (from naps at 2:30, when it used to be 4:00; and in the morning by 6:30, usually 7:30) continue to keep me a bit bleary, and MyBoy pretty cranky. His love/obsession with me, while frustrating, is so endearing that I cannot complain too awfully much – he is so sweet and dear.

My sweet girl is attitude through and through. She’s courageous, defiant, curious, and outspoken, yet pretty easygoing. She loves her daddy, and would rather be with him than anywhere, but isn’t pushy about it. She is obsessed with shoes and socks. When she is prematurely woken by her brother’s siren-like screams, she simply rolls on her back, pulls up her blanket, stares at the ceiling as if to say, “What, again?” She demurely smiles when I come into the room, and just after I pick her up, she’ll look around and ask “Dada? Daaaddy?” While she would sleep in if allowed, she’s been really fussy going to sleep at night.

So I turn to research. For the instruction-manual-type info, I’ve been reading this book, which likens my toddlers to chimpanzees and Cro-Magnan Man (quite accurately, actually!).

For real-life-experience advice, I turn to the ever-present Ask Moxie. I’ve read all about the 18-month sleep regression, the accompanying 18-month grumpy phase, and ever-important controversy on toddler shoes.

And for fun and entertainment, I just finished this book, which just made me giggle. Because everyone needs a good laugh every now and again.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

I Do Like Sports, I Swear... Ice Skating and Gymastics.

I am eavesdropping, listening to my husband and Male Buddy have a telephone conversation using words and phrases like "spanktravision" and "can of whoopass."

Yes it's football. But WTF? Do people talk like that in real life? I thought it was just on ESPN.

Ahhh, no. I do remember a phase when "taste it, frat boy" was the phrase of choice.

God help me until football season is over.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Such a Total Dork

I love this thing.

I'll fully admit to being a gadget dork when it comes to cell phones, PDAs, digital cameras and basic computer stuff. I grew up with a gadget dork father (our first computer was a Commodore, maybe, hooked up to a small black and white television), and have managed to keep my gadget-dorkieness under control. I still secretly read product reviews and dream about what it must be like to have the newest, coolest thing (i*Phone, anyone?).

And when one of our gadgets goes on the fritz, I'm first in line to go check out the new ones so that I have a truly justified purchase to make. I don't usually give in to new ones, as the gadgets I covet are typically pretty expensive.

But I gave in on this (and it wasn't really expensive in comparison to, say, a new laptop or something). And I love it!

You talk to it. It makes your shopping/errand list. Press button, and voila! A little list for you to stuff in your wallet along with all of the other lists!

You should have seen me, sitting in my backyard (adjacent to a very busy alley with lots of pedestrian traffic), trying to get this thing to recognize my shopping list:

"Aaaa ruuuu gaaa laaaa."
"Aa RUUU gela."

I can only imagine what the homeless man, digging through the dirty diapers on top of the pile in my trashcan, hoping for a morsel of goodness, must have thought about the crazy lady speaking nonsense into a grey box instead of whipping out a pencil and paper like the rest of the world.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

In anticipation of a party-filled weekend (it's been so, so long since I've said that. In reality, it's just a cocktail party tonight and an engagement party tomorrow night. We are the hosts, however, for the second one.), I thought it best to do a bit of body-maintenance.

While time is limited during naptime, I thought I could accomplish a brief buffing of the face, removal of nail polish, and repainting of said nails. I took a short, but luxurious bath - including shaving!, and lotioned down my legs and other potentially-exposed body parts.

As I gathered my astringent, nailpolish remover, and nailpolish, I realized I was missing one key tool. Cotton balls or pads.

I searched through the bathroom, high and low, behind all sorts of waaay-expired beauty products, with no luck. But low and behold, on the shelf devoted solely to my lady parts, wedged between the red sharps disposal box and the Clearbl*e Easy Ovulation Monitor (which, yes, I am using), a barely-used package of Kot*x pads.

From first glance, I thought they were pantyliners, as they were so very thin. But upon closer inspection, I discovered they were indeed ultra-thin pads (I was only a consumer of these oh-so-comfortable products after the birth of the babies...I hate them!).

And surprise, surprise. They make remarkably good nail polish remover pads (so absorbent when I practically spilled all over my bed!). A bit rough for the facial astringent, but when in a pinch...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Note to Self

When adorable 16 month-old twins rummage through the pantry for a little something to play with, and then pull out a half used envelope of hot chocolate mix and proceed to sprinkle it all over the floor and themselves, do not, I repeat DO NOT, be too lazy to pull out the vacuum and then use sopping wet paper towels to clean up the powder.

It makes for chocolate babies who thoroughly enjoy licking their own sticky fingers, toes, legs, and arms, as well as all exposed body parts of the other twin.

Edited to add:

Additional note for times when children, no matter what, will not follow you into the bathroom/kitchen/bedroom/car:

A small laser pointer, intended to stupify your felines, is the perfect tool for corraling small toddlers. Follow the red dot...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

This Duck is Stuck ...

We have a box of "conversation questions" that sits in our dining room. I'm sure you've seen them - nicely printed square cards, encased in a cool Lucite cube. The questions are usually interesting, and sometimes J & I pull one from the box, and each of us answer it.

A recent question was "What are your top three pet peeves?" I jumped on this one, as I usually have so many that I cannot limit it to just three. But for the sake of the game, I managed to choose my top annoying pet peeves. As follows:

Chewing. People who chew loud.
Not crunchy loud - you just can help making some noise when biting into a crispy potato chip, and I certainly don't begrudge anyone the right to crunch into a taco. I mean mouth noises. You know the noise ... wet, smacking, gooey noises. Gross. I grew up with loud chewers, and refuse to deal with it as an adult.

Diagonal walkers.
When I'm in the car, and I politely stop to allow someone to cross the street (with or without a crosswalk or stop sign), the walker, instead of taking the direct route across the street (straight!), chooses to meaner diagonally from point A to point B. This leisurely stroll results in me, having tried to do something nice, cursing the walker and vowing to never again give right of way to a pedestrian. It's wrong, I know, especially since I myself am I diagonal walker.

Obviously poor grammar/spelling.
Again, I'm sure I've been an offender as well as the offended, but I just can't let it go. Tops on my list are there vs. their, ending sentences with prepositions, and that vs. which.

As we all know (don't we??), you use which following a comma, and that when no comma is used. Wait ... let me pull out my AP Style Manual ... it is quite old (1996), but I'm sure the rules haven't changed ...

Ah ha! It all goes back to essential and non-essential clauses. That is preferred for essential clauses. Do not uses commas for essential clauses. Which is preferred for non-essential clauses. Use commas for a non-essential clause.

Now let me pull out a favorite children's book Duck in the Truck. It has topped our most-read list of late, and each time I read it, I am painfully aware of the following passages:

This is the Duck driving home in a truck.
This is the track which is taking him back.

Teeth grinding ... must continue reading ... children love this book ...

These are the feet which jump the Duck down
into the muck, all yucky and brown.

So my question is, would I be considered totally anal-retentive if I was to correct the grammar in my children's board books??

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Help with a Sensitive Issue

There is a tough issue going on in our world, and I could use any thoughts, advice, experience or guidance.

I have a dear old friend who is going through a horrible ordeal, and I'm not sure how to deal with it. She and her husband started trying to conceive not too long after J & I. After two IVFs, PGD, and who knows what else, they were lucky enough to conceive twins.

I found out recently that, due to a condition the parents didn't specify, one of the twins is not going to survive after birth. It will continue to grow in utero, though. They are approximately four months along.

I am devastated for them, and for this horrible trauma, surrounded by the joy of a much-wanted child, they will all have to endure. I cannot stop thinking about how parents deal with a pregnancy that will inevitably have such a sad outcome, while maintaining the excitement about bringing home a healthy child. How do they deal with well-wishers who have no idea? How do they deal with the daily conversations about the pregnancy? How can they create positive memories and have a meaningful experience surrounding the conception and birth, and death, of these children?

I could go on and on, I think about this constantly, and have a hard time speaking about it. I think how it could've been me, and how can someone bear such pain? More to my immediate point, though, is how I can be supportive.

I want to help her celebrate this pregnancy and these children, but I don't know how. I haven't spoken with her since this news, just a very brief email, but I want to be prepared when I do. Someone asked me recently about wanting to get her a gift for the baby, and I gently reminded them that there will be two babies. She will give birth to two babies. And only bring one home.

God, I can't even write this without crying ... I'm so sad for her...

Any thoughts or experiences? I don't want to avoid her out of my own discomfort, and she needs as much love as possible.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Naptimes: Two to One

I thought it would be so easy. So simple, more like when we switched from three naps to two. But this process has been a bit more difficult that I expected, probably because it's a bit too early for them to give up one nap, and because I haven't been as diligent as I should. We started on Monday, July 23, and I suspect we're almost finished with the transition ... one can hope!

Caroline asked for more information about the nap-switch, so I am happy to oblige.

On the two-nap schedule, the twins were waking up around 7 a.m., nap at 9 a.m., nap at 2 p.m., and bedtime around 7 p.m. My goal was to push the morning nap later and later, and shorten the afternoon nap shorter and shorter, until they meet in the middle, more or less (technique courtesy Moxie).

The first day went like this:

Out of bed: 8:00 (what crazy luck!)
Breakfast: 9:00
In bed for nap: 10:30 – 12 noon
Lunch: 12:15
Play, errands, snack, Children’s Museum
Nap in Car: 3:40-4:20
Dinner: 6:00
In bed: 7:30

A week later (July 30), here's how a day went:

Out of bed: 8:00
Breakfast: 8:30
Activity: B&N, pet store (a thwarted attempt at bookstore storytime ended up at the pet store)
Home & snack
In bed for nap: 11-12:30
Lunch: 12:45
Activity: play with grandmom & snack
Nap in bed: 3:45-4:45
Dinner : 5:30
In bed: 7:30

And here's how today (August 17) went:

Out of bed: 8:00
Breakfast: 8:30
Play: 9:00 - 11:30 (snack in their somewhere)
Lunch: 11:30
Nap: 12-2
Snack at 3:30
Dinner at 5:30
Bedtime at 7:30

I had a really hard time enforcing the very short early evening nap, because I so enjoyed the peaceful, quiet time to myself (or do get dinner ready!). I often let them sleep quite a while (4-5:30 or so), which is why I started out just driving them around in the car. That worked quite well when J was out of town for so long, but got old quickly, once someone was expecting an adult dinner!

Luckily, I had a babysitter this morning, who brought her toddler son over, so it helped to keep the kids awake and busy when they would normally be tired. I'm really hoping that today was the big hump they needed to get over it, and that perhaps we'll start having some of those long, luxurious afternoon naps I keep hearing about.

More to come soon: the exciting results of the 15 month checkup (which happened closer to 16 months), and thought about the big 'more babies?' question...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Faking It

Ever since J took his big trip (did I tell you where? That great northern state that is above Canada!), we've tried to take some solo-baby time. Meaning I take one child and he takes the other, and we go about our business. This is usually on the weekend, but occasionally in the late afternoon during the week if he's come home early.

I like to pretend sometimes that I only have one child.

There, I said it. I feel bad for saying it, but it's true. And it's kind of fun - to pretend to live like everyone else does. Like my friends do. Oh, I have fifteen errands to run, but it's no big deal because my ONE BABY is really easy and happy, and I can just pop him/her out of the car seat and go into a store without a stroller! (If I did go in with a double stroller and just one child, it might look kinda funny, right?)

So last week I was determined to Get Stuff Done Outside The House. With a child. Which is something I don't usually try to do, because between food, schedules, strollers, and gear, it can be fairly overwhelming.

I first took MyBoy out for errand time. He was wonderful - peaceful and happy, always smiling and looking around, pointing and grunting as he does. And we got so much done, but by the end, I was lagging. That child is heavy, waaaaay heavy, and he doesn't hold on with his legs, so it's basically like toting a bag of lard around on your hip.

The next time, I took MyGirl, thinking hey, this chick is tiny and light, with the grip of a vice. And she was equally as delightful, plus more. The girl was so happy to be out alone with me, and was entranced with everything she saw, everyone that paid attention to her, pretty much everything. And she wanted to touch it, feel it, eat it, pull it, or poke it.

On our girl's day, I was out to look for a few cute new outfits to take on my upcoming Girl's Weekend. We went from boutique to boutique and I had more and more trouble trying to keep her contained, especially in the dressing room. We ended up exiting all the cute stores rather quickly, and guess where we ended up?

The regular backup shopping excursion...Target. Might as well have had both babes with me!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A Very Long Two-Week Wait

I’m feeling victorious.

Three weeks ago, I was full of dread and angst as my husband began packing for a two-week adventure. Without me. Without the twins.

Which of course means that we would be left here to fend for ourselves. Now, I’m used to taking care of the kids by myself during the day, but I really look forward to the evening when J comes home and plays with the kids while I make dinner. And, obviously, the adult companionship and such.

It was a hard two weeks, but we managed by doing things that were different and keeping busy. We went to a friend’s house for dinner, visited practically every park in the area, and went to the zoo. Surprisingly, it was a fairly solitary few weeks in that visits from my mom were noticeably absent, our regular playgroup was cancelled, and lots of friends seemed to be out of town. However, I did manage to get a sitter a few times to have a girl’s night out and attend a few meetings. Oh, and we made it to church.

I was surprised at how little I actually got accomplished, for myself. My time was simply spent maintaining the existing atmosphere as opposed to starting/completing new projects. More time cleaning, doing laundry, cooking, and stuff like that. I fell into bed exhausted, and quite early, each and every night.

I did read a few books, which I haven’t been able to do lately, and have semi-accomplished a big task for the twins.

They are starting a two-morning-a-week preschool in the fall, and I’ve been paranoid about their naptime. They don’t adapt well to schedule changes, so I know that can’t just show up in September and expect them to be fine without a morning nap.

So my goal while J was gone was to start the transition to one nap a day. Previously, naps were at 9 & 2, each for about 1 ½ - 2 hours. I’ve gradually started pushing that morning nap further and further, and now they’re going down at 11. As that first nap started getting later and later, the second nap was to get shorter and shorter. So my plan was to exhaust them during the afternoon (hence all the playground/park trips) and then let them have a 30-40 minute nap around 4:00 or so. Since we were usually out and about, I just let them have that nap in the car as we drove home or just drove around listening to music.

It was going really well, until J got home. Now, they’re still going down for nap at 11, but the afternoons have been really quite horrible and I can’t figure out why. Yesterday, they wouldn’t take an afternoon nap, stayed up happily at a friend’s house until 9:00 p.m. (unheard of!), and still woke up at 7:00 a.m.!! Luckily, we’ve still got about three weeks to get it all worked out before school starts … I really think it’ll be fine.

It was, all in all, a really challenging two weeks, and I thought often about the women for whom this is just a fact of life, not a blip in their schedule. We women are strong, aren’t we? I wonder how men would handle being alone with two children for 14 days straight?

J won’t have the chance for two full weeks, but will get to try his hand at it this weekend, as I take off for a much-anticipated girl’s weekend!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

What We Love

We love this book. "We" being MyBoy and MyGirl. I, on the other hand, am sick to death of it. They bring me this book every naptime, every time we play in their room, every bedtime. They will cry and scream and protest, unless I read it through. Many, many times over.

“This baby wants her mommy … ma ma!” “This baby is hungry … yum yum!” "This baby is hiding ..... peekaboo!" “This mama wants a break … yahoo!”

As the pages are slowly disintegrating, and are dutifully repaired with white duct tape, I realize ( hope! ) that perhaps it will one day be unrepairable. Because we have many, many more baby-picture books waiting in the wings.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

MyGirl and MyBoy are getting very good at following some basic instructions. I almost can't believe that they actually understand me ... it's like I thought they'd be infantile forever.

They can touch their noses, clap their hands, "wash" their hair, find their belly and a few other things. Amazingly, I thought it was great that they can take their wrapped up diapers to the diaper pail (the non-poopy ones, of course).

Until this:

While I wish that they had just put their wrapped-up diapers in the Diaper Champ, it was not so. It was sippy cup and Green Frog. Nice.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Two Evils?

Wow. The 11 a.m. viewing hour in my area has two main network choices: Rachel Ray or The View. I'm usually not watching television at this hour, but due to our nap-in-flux schedule, I've found myself checking email, doing dishes, folding laundry, getting lunch prepared, or something equally thrilling.

I started watching RR when the babes were little, and they had an 11 a.m. feeding. They'd be propped in their bouncy seats, me perched in between with a bottle in each hand. Enjoying 20 minutes or so of uninterrupted gab and cooking. I immediately started to tire of RR and her bountiful enthusiasm for, like, everything!! Including her dog! Oprah! EVOO! Yum-o, everyone!

Now I've never watched The View. I never understood why Bawbwa Wawa annoyed so many people, why Rosie was good/moderately bad/evil, and what the heck is up with Elizabeth?

I sit here trying out The View, and poor Martin Sheen is plopped down in the middle of four catty, catty ladies, looking every bit as uncomfortable as I'm sure he feels. I can't watch .... what are these women even talking about?...It just sounds like blah, blah, blah, blah.

Ugg. Back to RR. Ohh... cute {but dead} guy from Grey's Anatomy. And Weeds. Yum-o!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Quest for the Perfect Lunchblock*

Subtitle: Healthy food that toddlers might each.

Seriously, I came across Julie's eureka! idea* for a toddler-friendly pasta that is easy to self-feed when I was reading Emma B.'s great post about her fruitful morning in the kitchen. It's been in my head for a few weeks, and I finally got the stuff together to get it done yesterday.

And I'm so disappointed ... I can't figure out what I did wrong. Well, I might know, but I could use some hints from anyone who's been successful in the creating of the ideal Lunchblock.

First try: Using a generic brand wagon-wheel pasta and a name-brand Alfredo pasta sauce. I crammed the leftovers into a container and waited. Of course, it fell apart when I tried to slice it. Should've followed Julie's directions.

Second try: I purchased a variety of Annie's shells and cheese, and for this attempt, I used the Mild Mexican flavored one. Of course, I assumed that it is created like any other mac & cheese, so I returned the cooked and drained shells to the pan, added the milk and butter, and poured on the powder. I stirred it all up and added some peas, then shoved it in a container. When I found excess space in the container, I stuffed a piece of bread on top and pressed the lid on. Surely it should've worked ... right? Well, it certainly took on the block shape, and sliced well, but fell apart when the babes tried to eat it. Tons of little shells all over the place.

So I guess I should've followed the cooking instructions, and omitted the peas, which might have impeded the stickiness of it all.

Third Try: I did it all right ... this time I went for the tried-and-true orange cheddar variety, and eschewed any veggie add-ins. I followed the directions religiously, adding the prescribed amount of milk and butter, mixing the sauce separately, and pouring on top of the cooked shells, then mixing it up.

I stuffed a container in the same manner, and yes, it was a great block. Great shape, slices, chunks. I was so excited that I'd found the perfect, easy meal ... and alas, it fell apart in their fingers. Now I have little pieces of orange and white shells dotting my dining room carpet. Yes, I know I should vacuum. Or get a dog.

But really, what am I doing wrong? I did use whole milk vs. skim, and I added 1 tsp butter vs. the 2 that's recommended on the box, but that couldn't be it, could it? Now I feel very challenged to figure this out ...

Friday, July 13, 2007

Rh Factor & Miscarriage

A quick posting with some bad news and hopes of help from anyone who may have experience ...
My dear, sweet sister has had her second miscarriage in 10 years. She has no children, and was not planning any pregnancies, but was excited at the prospect.

I'm piecing together the details, as we haven't spoken in depth, but while at the hospital enduring a D&C, they told her she was Rh negative. She is overwhelmed, crushed, scared ...

Does anyone have any expereinces or resources I can share with her? What does this mean for her future and hopefully, planned pregnancies? My computer is being wanky and slow and incompaible for searching.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bottles & Nipples & Pumps, Oh My!

I started to write a comment to answer Hopeful Mother's questions about bottles and such, and realized it'd be better addressed here, rather than writing a book in the comments.

Let me preface my advice with the disclaimer that different things work for different babies. What worked for my twins might be wrong for yours. You often have to try out different brands, products, etc. before you find what works for you.

And obviously, breastfeeding makes all of this a moot point, and is totally ideal. But I'll be honest. Many (not all) mothers of twins find exclusively breastfeeding twins to be an exhausting and daunting task and find that supplementing (either with pumped milk or formula) gives a little bit of respite. I breastfed / pumped for four months, and still ended up with all this stuff!

Hopeful Mother sounds pretty darn prepared. I had one bottle 'starter kit' and that was it, as I didn't anticipate preemies that couldn't nurse and five weeks in the NICU.

I started with plain old Avent bottles, and really liked them. I bought an "adapter kit," made by Avent, that let me pump directly into the bottles. (I used a hospital grade Medela pump). I started out with the small size (4 oz), wide-necked bottles, and moved up to the larger 8-oz bottles as needed. All the caps/nipples work with both.

I had two very gassy babies, and one with really bad reflux, and when it finally got really bad, I was willing to try anything. Enter the slender Dr. Brown's bottles, which are reputed to alleviate gas/air bubbles. I found that they absolutely helped with my twins' symptoms. However ... it's a bit like setting up a crack lab, what with all the bottles, tubes, stoppers, etc. These bottles take the smaller, standard size nipples.

Personally, I preferred using the Avent bottles for a number of reasons. (1) They were easier to hold on to, and I imagine once the babies were old enough, they'd be easy for them to hold on to, also. (2) Avent makes more accessories, like the pump adapters, sippy cup inserts, etc. (3) It was easier to mix formula right in the Avent bottle, since it's roomier. (4) Less parts to wash! (in comparison to the Dr. Browns). But then again, they just didn't work for gassy, refluxy babies.

I think it's absolutely okay to use second-hand bottles, just make sure to run them through the 'sanitize' cycle on your dishwasher before use. I might invest in new nipples, though, just to be on the safe side, and make sure I'm using the right flow levels -- it's awful hard to read the tiny numbers imprinted on the side of the nipple.

In terms of pacifiers, I consider myself lucky. They started the babies on the very small Soothie pacifiers in the NICU, and they came in handy ... whenever they had to do a potentially painful or uncomfortable procedure on the babies (inserting a pik line or something similar), they dipped the pacifier in a glucose solution, and it calmed/distracted the babies. One nurse called it "morphine for preemies."

They came home with the pacifiers, and used them to go to sleep and to soothe. But they were rarely disturbed or awoken when the pacifier fell out .. it never was a problem. We never had "nipple confusion" problems. And then one day, it just wasn't necessary anymore, and away they went. Maybe around five or six months old? But regardless, during the time they used them, I stocked up so that I had at least four at any given time or location.

So, I think that answers all Hopeful Mother's questions (and probably more than she wanted to know). In my opinion (and in hindsight), I think the best advice is to be prepared, and be open to trying different things. I think this applies to breastfeeding, pumping, and bottle feeding, but also to how you raise your child/children in general. We all think we're going to do things a certain way, and maybe we will. Maybe we won't. Maybe we'll learn from our experiences, and those of all the mothers before us, try things that are beyond our comfort zone, and stretch ourselves. Because children do nothing if not make us more than flexible.

Monday, July 09, 2007

What NOT TO DO When You're Expecting Twins

Do not feel the need to stock up on every possible brand of bottle. Every possible size nipple. Every existing design of pacifier. Any potential sippy cup your child might like. And whatever you do, please resist the plethora of bottles, bags, etc. that they give you when discharging your babies from the NICU.

Once your twins are home, and you feel housebound, yet at the same time yearning to see other members of the adult human race, and perhaps drooling at the mouth just to have a civil conversation with a checkout clerk, do not, I repeat, DO NOT go to T*rget and buy the afore mentioned items in even larger quantities, just in case you need more. If you find yourself exhausted and tired of washing bottles around the clock, DO NOT think that having even more, so that you only have to wash them every other day, is acceptable.

Because if you do not heed my warnings, you'll find yourself, 14 months later, in the odd position of, not having yet decided if these two delightful toddlers are enough to satisfy your maternal urges or if perhaps you might like to take another ride on the mind-bending roller coaster called INFERTILITY, IVF, and DEALING WITH NEWBORN(S), figuring out what the hell to do with all this paraphernalia.

Alas, you will pack it up, carefully organized and labeled, and decide that this is a decision better left to another day.

For your consideration:

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Great Outdoors

We live in the city. We are surrounded by sidewalks, alleys, blacktop streets, and very little grass. In fact, when we first bought our house, we thought it would be a great idea to lay sod in our postage-stamp (seriously, like 10 x 12) backyard. All was well until the came-with-the-house manual mower was stolen and we couldn't seriously purchase a new lawn mower for what could have been accomplished with some pruning sheers.

When we renovated the house a few years ago, the backyard layout was somewhat manipulated, and we decided to use pavers to fill in the mini yard and the small side yard. While we've enjoyed it immensely, it leaves a bit to be desired for small children who are wobbly-walking and not walking at all.

I usually manage to pack up the kids and head to an outdoor park, playground or pool a few times a week. I'll be the first to admit that it's a hassle to get it all together, just for 45 minutes or so of fun, so I'm trying to embrace the luscious landscape that we have right here. Concrete and all.

I'm inspired by Emmie and her twin boys, and all that they do in their smallish yard and beyond. (Note: I will never, never manage to get chickens in my backyard!)

This afternoon, I put together a delicious picnic meal - hot dogs, pears, and yogurt! - and the three of us headed to the backyard. An old comforter provided a soft place to sit, and we ate alfresco, under the dripping wisteria.

In search of a favorite ball, we wandered down the side yard, and I realized that it was in desperate need of a weeding. I started pulling weeds, dropping them into an empty flowerpot, and eventually MyGirl and MyBoy got with the program and tried to help out. They couldn't grab them with enough force to extract them from the ground usually, but it was endearing.

Some things they were able to pull included:
  • The hats off their own heads
  • The hats off each other's heads
  • Carefully planted perennials
  • MyBoy was able to pull himself up to standing, while holding on my arm, in order to save his badly scraped knees (concrete pavers do not mix well with a crawling little boy)
  • The shoes off their feet

It was a fun "outing" and reminds me that I don't always have to choose a child-focused activity, but should try to get the twins to incorporate them into needed adult-focused activities. Now, if I could only teach them to pay the bills ...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Speechless ... Who, Me?

I'm feeling much better today, after an evening with girlfriends and wine and a successful meeting this morning, over which I had been worrying and stressing quite a lot.

During the early part of the evening with girls and wine, an acquaintance I hadn't seen in a few months approached me with the following comment:

Her: Hey there, how are you?
Me: Just fine, thank you.
Her: You look great! You've been losing weight - good work, keep it up!
Me: Huh?? Whaa? Hmm...

Due to the fact that (1) I thought I looked okay now/a month ago/whenever regarding weight, and (2) I'm not trying to lose weight, and didn't think I needed to; should I be offended?

Was I so fat before that I needed to lose weight? Did she used to think I was fat, and I had no idea? I'm no skinny mini, but I'm pretty average ... Her comment left me with a weird taste in my mouth and no desire to "keep it up!"

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ages & Stages

I am so conflicted right now, torn between the intense and overwhelming frustration that raising two toddlers brings with it, and the need to slow down and enjoy each very cool stage that they go through, as I'm more and more aware that this may be the only time I am a parent to a child/children at this tender age.

Did that make sense?

Every possible action, reaction, and interaction with the twins is fraught with chaos and drama. Mealtime begins with sour faces, spitting out of food that was a former favorite, tossing of cups, and swiping of food off the tray with dramatic arm-swinging. Most meals end with me, close to tears, on my hands and knees picking up the interesting and nutritious meals I am trying to feed them, while they would rather have hotdogs and macaroni.

Playtime is always loud, loud, LOUD. Sometimes the squealing is out of delight, but often is because of the antagonizing that one does to the other. Taking toys, pushing (that's a new one), pulling hair, and trying to hijack a favorite ride-on toy. One of their favorite games is to find me laying on the floor, and crawl all over me. Which is really fun for all of us, until someone scratches at my face or rams a toy car into my eye.

Nap time is a saving grace, usually. MyGirl and MyBoy are both good sleepers, once you get past the "Please Mommy don't leave me!" screaming and thrashing.

I contrast all of this with those truly wonderful moments.

When MyGirl reaches for MyBoy with open arms, I cringe. And am pleasantly surprised when she wraps her arms around him, tumbles to the floor, and they erupt in glorious giggles.

When I declare that my children are indeed the smartest 14-month olds in town, because they can respond in the affirmative to such intriguing questions like "Where's your milk/the fan/the cat/Mommy/Daddy/your brother/sister?"

I see such pride and delight in their eyes and faces when they do something right, like complete the stacking ring toy in record time, walk to the end of the hall on their own, or bang puzzle pieces together in time with the music.

MyGirl bent over my belly the other day and gave me a raspberry. I don't think I've ever felt such love.

But I feel like the painful and trying moments are overtaking these wonderful, loving ones. I actually threw food back at her yesterday (which started a food fight of epic proportions). I find myself living my days for nap time, counting down until we can go visit my parents again, and marking the weeks until their two-morning-a-week preschool starts in September.

I'm sure I tend to exaggerate the negatives somewhat, because people tell me constantly that I have two of the best-behaved, happy children they know. And I feel lucky in that way, but want to tell them to come to my dining room at lunchtime and take a look.

I will be the first to admit that I, personally, and stressed and overextended. I have committed to helping out on more projects than I should have, and am now paying the price.

I know it's a stage. But this stage is hard. I had no idea.

Friday, June 01, 2007

New Infertility-Related Book

I've been a big connoisseur of infertility-related reading in the past few years, and I find I tend to stick to personal stories and been-there-done-that memoirs. Medically technical and ethical arguments have been a bit beyond my how-to scope of interest. The sole exception I can remember is a fascinating article I read in Mother Jones last year about the plethora of frozen embryos, our "moral paralasys" is determining what to do with them, as well as implications for stem cell research. (Ah ha! As I just looked up this article, I see it was also written by the author of the book below.)

I picked up a new book at the store yesterday, and am looking forward to jumping right into it. Everything Conceivable: How Assisted Reproduction is Changing Men, Women and the World is written by Liza Mundy, who is a feature writer at the Washington Post Magazine. Here's how the publishers summary begins:

Skyrocketing infertility rates and the accompanying explosion in reproductive technology are revolutionizing the American family and changing the way we think about parenthood, childbirth, and life itself. In this riveting work of investigative reporting, Liza Mundy, an award-winning journalist for The Washington Post, captures the human narratives, as well as the science, behind what is today a controversial, multibillion-dollar industry, and examines how the huge social experiment that is assisted reproduction is transforming our most basic relationships and even our destiny as a species. more

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Dear Everyone ...

A newspaper column forwarded to me from a RESOLVE newsgroup. I think it speaks well to the basics of being a good friend, or even a respectful aquaintance, to an infertile person or couple.

Dear everyone... What to say to a childless couple

First, consider saying nothing at all, says Amy Hibbard, of James City County. Your words of wisdom and comfort may be received as hurtful and insensitive. But if you want to talk about infertility, be prepared to listen, too.

By AMY HIBBARD Daily Press ** May 6, 2007

Dear everyone,

Often, many of you feel the need to ask a childless couple, "When are you planning on having kids?" While that may seem like a harmless question and a natural progression for a married couple, it can also be an extremely painful topic for many people. You never know what someone may be going through.

Please don't make it your mission to ask or chastise childless couples about when and how to have kids. It's really not your business, and odds are they are dealing with emotional issues that you will never understand. It is shocking to discover that as many as 1-in-8 couples in the United States are dealing with infertility. That is a huge number, and chances are great that someone in your life is living with or has previously lived with the heartache that is infertility.

Many couples suffer in silence because it is somewhat of a taboo topic to discuss. If you ask when they plan on having kids, they will put on a smile and give an answer they think you want to hear. They are then likely to walk away and fight back tears. If you are bold enough to ask, you should be prepared for the answer. It may make you uncomfortable to hear about my struggles, but it helps me to get it out and hopefully it will make you -- if you are uncomfortable with the topic -- think before asking someone that very private question again.

This brings me to how to approach, help or treat someone who you know is experiencing infertility.

Please be supportive of your friend. Be there to listen if he or she wants to talk. Offer support if he or she is going through treatments, or help him or her get to and from appointments. If you disagree with the choices a couple has made, it is best to keep those opinions to yourself. There are many options for infertile couples, including medications, procedures, international and domestic adoption, foster care and living child-free. But it is the couple's personal decision.

The best thing to do is to let us determine how much we are comfortable talking about. Don't pry. If we want to open up, we will. But if we want to be left alone, sometimes we need that, too.

Probably the most-hated comment heard by people going through infertility is "Relax, you're too stressed." Many of us have diagnosed medical conditions that are the root cause of our infertility, and no amount of relaxing is going to change that.

Please try not to make comments like, "Maybe this is for the best," "Everything happens for a reason," or "God only gives us what we can handle." You may think comments like this are well meaning, but they are hurtful. Believe me, a person struggling with infertility is already doing enough internal questioning. Infertility and miscarriage can be a very lonely time for people. Everywhere you go, you see babies, children, pregnant women and happy families. There are always situations that remind us of what we don't have. Baby showers, holidays and birthday parties can be very hard for us to attend. Please be understanding if we decline invitations or excuse ourselves early. It is nothing personal against you, it is our way of dealing with our own pain.

What I would like to stress to people who don't have firsthand experience with these situations is: Be sensitive and use good judgment. The best thing you can do for your friend or loved one is to listen. You can't change their situation, but you can be there for them. Showing them you care during this difficult time means the world.

Amy Hibbard, James City County

Monday, May 21, 2007

Doing the Right - or Wrong - Thing

I'm feeling a little bit bad. I am once again considering using my feminine wiles to advance my agenda.

God, that sounds so much more scandalous than it actually is. I've been trying to make more effort, ahm, in the bedroom, lately. I realize that when both of us are more satisfied in that arena, that life simply tends to function more smoothly. And I don't think I'm alone in admitting that the marital bed is not where my interests or energies tend to lie these days. So I took a trip to VS to restock my pathetically depleted lingerie stockpile. I dressed myself up (underneath, you know) before a night out with friends, and all turned out quite well later that evening. I've continued making the effort, and it has been (mostly) smooth sailing in our home.

Back to my agenda. We're not actively searching for a new house, but there is one particular area in which we'd like to live eventually, and homes that have the qualities we want (namely, grass) are few and far between. In driving home from church on Sunday, through our Desired Neighborhood of course, we saw a For Sale sign. On the perfect house.

Of course, it's more than we want to spend right now. Five years down the road, maybe, but today, not so much. But this house, or one like it, probably won't go up for sale any time soon. So, we've set an appointment to go look at it.

And I keep calculating. No, not if we can afford it, the monthly mortgage payments, or if we should even think about it, but how I can best Keep My Man Satisfied (to paraphrase a Cosmo cover line). And if I Keep My Man Satisfied, would it ease the pain of a potentially financially straining situation? And is a Satisfied Man in his dream home going to be satisfied for long?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Obsessions & I Heart TV, Part II

I have serious problems. Serious, in regards to my pocketbook and my time available for doing necessary, but mundane things, like cooking, cleaning and generally keeping up with life.

The first regards clothing and outfitting my children. I do not by any means find it necessary to have them in expensive dress-up clothes every day, not do I find it endearing to put them in preppy, smocked jumpers (which are what all the in-the-k to look like now babies and toddlers around here wear) while gallivanting around the grocery store.

But I do want them to look nice, and more importantly, I want them to look like the BOY and GIRL that they are. Of course, I can tell the difference quite obviously, but I’m tired of asking me about my two sons. MyGirl will get hair eventually, and everything about her is girly, but the adorable mohawk with the curl at the front just throws people off. Go figure.

So, I try to find her clothes that are girly, but not cheesy or princess-themed. And it takes some doing.

Ditto MyBoy. I just haven’t found a lot of little boy’s clothes that I like – most around here seem to emphasize fishing, hunting, baseball or NASCAR. Just not my style. So I hunt and I hunt. And when I find the good stuff, I tend to go, ummm…overboard. The past two days have found me at a local children’s boutique, a children’s catalog company store, and the local ritzy consignment store. I found some goodies, more for her than him. But enough to tide me over for a bit.

On a similar front, to satisfy my children’s clothing obsession with my crafty obsession, I decided that I should make my children some clothes. However, I have big ideas and not so much motivation to actually finish projects.

So, I have a lovely pile of fabrics, one bright A-line dress (all finished), a little boy’s jumper (rather sloppily finished, but finished nonetheless), and a dress that I’ve messed up beyond all compare. Perhaps I’ll try and fix it, or perhaps I’ll just go shopping …

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The next obsession is of course that damned black screen in my basement. I always seem to be behind the curve on popular shows and series. I finally caught on to Sex in the City just as it was about to go off the air, so I spent what seemed like weeks catching up with DVDs. Same idea with Six Feet Under, and I caught up with that with Video on Demand.

In a moment of boredom, which happens so infrequently, J and I happened upon Weeds. Oh. My. God. This show is freakin’ ridiculously awesome. So awesome I missed a committee meeting last night that’s been on my calendar for weeks.

So here I sit, during naptime when I should be washing all those above-mentioned children’s clothes, on Episode 17, Season 2. I think I’ll be quite sad when I’ve actually caught up to real time. And J’s going to be a leeeetle bit mad when he comes home and sees I’ve jumped ahead of him so far.

Monday, May 07, 2007

I Heart TV

I’m not pregnant, I’m not sleepless, and I’m not ill. All the usual suspects for very odd dreams can be counted out. So why the hell did I have a dream about Dav*d Hass*lhoff last night?

Hmm… perhaps I’ve been watching too much Entertainment Tonight / Inside Edition?

It was bizarre beyond description, and involved me and a friend sleeping in a camper. Excuse me, luxury motorhome. DH broke in, frantically telling us that his identical twin was trying to get us, and he was there to protect us. Chaos ensued, and there were two crazy, curly-haired DH’s bouncing off the walls of our motor home.

Unfortunately, I have no great ending to the story, just me waking up in the haze of “What the *(&^#$ was that all about?”

In other television happenings, I caught a brief story on the Today Show about infertility. (Who am I kidding, I didn’t “catch” it. I held off my poor, hungry children’s breakfast until I could satiate my curiosity and the piece was finished.)

Although they didn’t delve deeply into the subject matter, I thought it a nice general-interest sort of piece. They featured a woman who was told she had something like a 3% chance of conceiving, who then went on to miraculously conceive on her own; a woman who chose international adoption, and appeared to be thrilled with what looked like boy-girl twins from Russia perhaps; and a woman who, despite her years and years of struggler with treatments and drugs, was still living child-free.

The last woman brought tears to my eyes, when she spoke of walking into a room full of all her friends and their “forty or fifty children” (that’s certainly how it can feel!), and feeling like there was a big empty space surrounding she and her husband. I knew her feeling quite intimately, and hated to hear her speak so frankly of it for the world to hear, knowing it’s a world that doesn’t really understand.

They interviewed a well-respected RE, I don’t remember his name, and I thought it interesting to note that he didn’t mention male-factor infertility until Meredith Viera brought it up. And I was glad she did, since then he expanded on it a bit.

Monday, April 30, 2007

What's Next?

When I opened the pages of this very fun catalog, I did a bit of a jump-back-jack. There in large letters, I see the words "IN VITRO."

That's as far as I got, as my mind wandered... what could this whimsical and kooky catalog possibly be selling? IVF comfort kits, complete with fuzzy pajamas, ice packs and designer alcohol wipes? IVF t-shirts, or perhaps beer coozies? Key chains?

Nope, it was this. Surprisingly, right in time for Mothers Day. Weird.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Well, I Never (said with a Southern drawl)

I never. Did you ever play that game, perhaps in college (or high school if you were one of those crazy girls)?

In turn, each person says something that they have never done (or perhaps something that a friend has knowingly and shamefully done, but wants to keep a secret), and everyone else in the circle has to drink if they have done that thing. The things would range from innocent to downright raunchy. It was always a good game to get to know your friends better and embarrass the hell out of them (as well as get a serious buzz on).

A year ago, there are a number of things I never thought I would do.
  • Put my hands out, as if second nature, to catch vomit and then exclaim with a smile, "Oh look, it's just the squash that never digested!"
  • Show up with my two fairly new twins at the neighborhood market for a cup of coffee and wonder why all the lights are off. Realize that a) It's 6:30 in the morning, and b) it's Sunday.
  • Stroll with the babies around the neighborhood, casually repeating "Meow....meow...meow" simply to get a reaction from my daughter whose new favorite noise, in response to the cat, is "Maaaooo, Mao, Mao." Yes, like the questionably-preserved Chinese leader.
  • Pray for nap time, and then find myself missing my babies.

There are so many more, both good and bad things, that define this new life we are living, and the two new lives that have changed it. I am in awe of the fact that one year ago today, right now, I was laying on my living room couch waiting for my sister in law to bring dinner over. I anticipated even more weeks on the couch, just waiting and waiting. Little did I know that at 7:45 p.m., I'd be jumping up off that couch and running to the bathroom, only to deliver my gorgeous twins nine hours later.

A year seems like a minute, and a year seems like an eternity. Happy birthday, sweethearts.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Making Good Choices

Why in the world does a tired, visibly exhausted baby refuse to lay down in his crib, instead choosing to stand up, hanging onto the bars of his crib, and scream at top of his lungs with his eyes closed and red from rubbing? Why not just give into the exhaustion and lay down like a good little boy and take a nap?

From an adult perspective (i.e. one who would simply die for a nap at 2:45 p.m.), it just seems like a very stupid choice to make. I'm just saying.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Music to My Ears

There is nothing more delightful ... a moment of relaxation in the kitchen after dinner, just me and my People magazine. (Come on, it's a D*sperate H*usewife with her new twins on the cover. I couldn't resist.)

My lovely little twins are running (well, crawling) free, burning off some energy before bedtime. And then the sounds ... the cackling laughter, the hiccup-y giggles ... back and forth ... him then her. They stare at each other, then burst into new peals of laughter, making some sort of joke that mom just can't possibly understand.

The put their faces right up against each other, forehead to forehead. Someone licks someone, someone puts his/her hand on the other. And they explode, yet again, into joyous laughter. Gorgeous sounds only babies can make.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Second Thoughts

My life is good. I am lucky to have a wonderful (for the most part!) husband, two beautiful children that I begged God for day in and day out, resources to live a comfortale life, health and happiness.

I think twice about my earlier bitchings now, especially when there are people out there, like Snickollet, who are not facing the loss of free time or independence, but of a spouse, a best friend, a father to her children. And she handles it with such grace.

This is Not Pleasantville

I'm so frustrated, and I am simply at the end of my rope. I don't know how to get him to hear me. He processes my words, and spews them back out in some form or fashion I don't recognize.

This is an age-old dilemma, and I know that my situation is not unique. While the dilemma is age-old, the times today are different, and expectations placed upon man and woman, husband and wife, mother and father, are different than they were years ago. And they continue to change. And we have the freedom to reshape and mold our lives as they suit us, less dependant upon convention, and more dependant upon what works for our particular situation.

Pre-children, I don't think that J and I ever argued much about housework, cooking, cleaning up. We both worked, had busy social lives (both together and apart), and simply pitched in to do what needed doing. I don't recognize us now, we're both such scorekeepers and tally makers, neither willing to give an inch. I know that we are both contributors to the place where we now find ourselves.

I want J to be present and participatory when he is at home. I am taking care of two energetic almost-toddlers all day, and when J is at home, I fully expect that load to go down to 50 percent. He wonders why I escape upstairs at 7:30, to jump in the tub or read a book. It's the first chance I've had to be alone and rest.

Instead, we have mornings like today. J didn't need to leave for work until 9:00. The babies woke up early, around 6:30, and he got their diapers changed and bottles warmed up. I met them in the kitchen around 6:45. He propped MyGirl up on a pillow, and gave her a bottle. I held MyBoy for his feeding, which is simply a nice, cozy way to wake up, I think.

At which point, he starts making himself breakfast, and as an afterthought, asks if I might like some too. Such a rarity is this situation, I practically faint in shock, and when recovered, reply in the affirmative. He sits down to read the paper and watch the news. Until 8:30, when he gets up to take a shower and get dressed.

During which time, I do the following: feed the two cats, play with the children, sing "Pat A Cake" and "The Wheels on the Bus" numerous times, put away everyone's breakfast dishes, steam apples for children's breakfast, feed children apples and cinnamon oatmeal, sweep under their chairs for stray cheerios and dried remnants of yesterday's lunch and dinner. Wipe snotty, oatmeally faces, pick up stray toys and books, take children upstairs to nursery and battle keeping them out of the attached bathroom while attempting to re-diaper and dress them, simultaneously putting away loads of children's laundry that husband so nicely left sitting on the machine for two weeks (I was waiting to see if he'd ever put them away. "But I did the laundry!" he protests. My ass.) Finally get them down for a nap and myself to my bedroom to consider brushing teeth and getting dressed.

While he sat on the couch and read the paper.

And then he has the gaul to hug me goodbye, and when I'm less than enthusiastic, ask me why I've been acting so distant and angry for the past few days. I attempted to explain that I had been doing an experiment, to see if he would pitch in and be my partner while at home. It escalated into a huge fight, in which punches are thrown, tears are shed, and scores tallied and re-tallied.

He asks, over and over, didn't I want, didn't I ask to stay home to raise the children? I reply that no, as parents we are both responsible for raising our children, but yes, I did want to stay home and take care of them during the day. But that when he is home, it shouldn't still be on my shoulders 100 percent. Our conversation goes in circles, over and over. What he does. What he doesn't do. What I don't do. And on and on.

I tell him to leave, to go to work, that I can't continue this ... it's pointless. I'm feeling like crap with a horrible cold/allergy that's kept me up half the nights and he's getting ready to leave tomorrow for a 4-day golf trip with the boys. I had hoped for a little bit of forethought, compassion, and assistance.

I know, woe is me, woe is me. I have a wonderful life and am lucky beyond many expectations. But I refuse to give in to the "You-Woman, Me-Man" caveman type attitude towards family and home. There is no reason that he cannot be fully present and participatory when is is home. Period.

Then I went and picked up his snotty-ass tissue that he left on the table. Sitting next to his empty coffee cup.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Evening Delights

It was a monumental mess. Beyond all messes we've encountered before. But worth it, because it was a success.

Inspired by Cecily's posting asking for new ideas for finger foods for the voracious under-1 set, I embarked upon a dinner of all new offerings. The twins food offerings have been somewhat limited, partially by my obsessive need to monitor and measure all food intake by sticking to jarred baby food, and also by my desire to keep mush out of my dining room carpet.

I've been trying to mix it up, mostly by steaming/microwaving a rotating variety of apples, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and carrots. Can you tell I like orange, and the twins don't seem to favor all things green?

But tonight, out of my comfort zone (and onto the oriental rug. Well, just a little.) A delightful combo of cubed tofu covered with spaghetti sauce, grilled cheese on whole wheat, and a few beans fished out of my bean & bacon soup. It was a wild success, with minimal pieces thrown or discarded out of disgust. We'd tried tofu before and they hated it - red sauce must be the key.

It's also the key to the messiest dinner ever. Straight into the bathtub after dinner, which is out of routine for us. I've never wanted to get in the habit of bedtime bath, since we seem to have a family or sitters once or so a week. Before the morning nap has always been bath time. Oh well, changes happen.

The eating is cute to watch. MyBoy is all about quantity - stuff it in as quick as you can. Don't stop to breathe, don't stop to chatter, and certainly don't stop to swallow. Just fill 'er up until the point of disaster. We can usually intervene to encourage a little swallow before maximum overload. MyGirl is just the opposite. She daintily picks up each morsel, between thumb and forefinger and places it in her mouth. She will immediately light up with delight, of pronounce the morsel inedible, and squish around her tongue and lips until the offending piece is out. She will refuse an offering of more food until the first is completely processed. She's the same with the spoon, keeping her lips sealed until her mouth is empty.

Our dinner was slightly less exciting, but certainly colorful. Egg salad sandwiches are one of my favorites, especially with the residual blue tint from PAAS dye tablets. Mmm Mmm good.

Monday, April 02, 2007

I Got Me Some Work

Well, not the paid, going into an office kind of work, but the free, volunteer, out of the goodness of my heart kind. Thank goodness, because I was going crazy.

I'm sure I'm not the first to admit that, as a stay at home mom, the days can get monotonous. The children, while lovely little creatures, don't provide too much stimulating conversation.

MyBoy/Girl: "Maa, maa, grwaa, ya ya ya ya ya."
Me: "Really? You think I look super-skinny today? Thank you so much for noticing."
MyBoy/Girl: "Waaa yayayay, gunaaa!"
Me: "Why, yes. I did get my hair highlighted last week. Why don't you mention it to your father so he can say something nice about it too?"

I've gotten much better about making our own fun, being proactive, and trying to learn some new skills (ie: cooking! making baby food! learning new nursery rhymes!) But I still miss using my brain in interaction with adults other than my husband and mother.

Just as I was thinking that I needed to go seek out some opportunities (of the volunteer nature - I'm absolutly not wanting to go back to paid employement at the moment) with organizations I've been involved with in the past, voila! Two phone calls arrived within a week of each other.

One request was to head up the marketing for a large charitable event with a local institiution, and the other was to serve on a committee (gotta love those committees!) for an institutional self-study at my church. Of course, not expecting the second request, I said yes to the first, and then, surprised by the second request, said yes to that one too!

I'm thrilled to be genuinly busy (not doing annoying house cleaning, closet organizing, other at home stuff) during those much-anticipated naptimes; and am positivly psyched to have real, official meetings to fill in again on my calendar. It was starting to look a bit boring, what with playdates and occasional family visits penciled in weekly.

In addition, I took a trip to an industry event that I used to attend biannually. I was a bit of a spectator this time, as opposed to an active participant, but it felt good to be in the thick of things, coming up with ideas and analyzing what was out there.

I'm starting to feel like a contributing member of society again, in my small way. And yes, I know, and believe wholeheartedly, that raising children is contributing to society, but I mean outside of my little homebase.

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I'm hoping to get back into working out in some form or fashion. I haven't given up on the tennis, just took a little hiatus when I went on vacation, and babysitting hasn't quite worked out since them. I took another exercise class this morning, and felt invigorated. And exhausted. But I'm gonna get back to it. As the instructer pointed out this morning, bathing suit season is coming up soon, ladies. Like I need any more reminders. Thanks.

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And simply as a distraction, I found this very fun website this morning. Mommas do have cravings too, and I love their tagline: "The Pursuit of Maternal Mojo."