Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
As I mentioned yesterday, every year on Christmas Eve Chris' family drives to his aunt's ranch for dinner and a white elephant gift exchange. This year we spent much of Christmas Eve day unsure about whether we would go, given that it took us over FOUR hours to make the normally one hour trip between our house and Chris' parents' place. Chris' aunt called us every hour or two with road updates. ("Mike just got home, and he says highway 99 is completely clear." "Travis is here now and he can tell you what the roads look like now.") Finally we decided that the thaw that had been going on all day made it likely that we would not run into any problems en route, so we packed ourselves into the car and headed to Camille's place.
After dinner we gathered in the family room for the white elephant gift exchange. (For those who do not partake in this particular tradition, click over here for last year's or here for a Wikipedia explanation.) Ada, who had never done this before but is very into distributing and opening presents, was very excited to help.
When it was Chris' turn to open a present, he got a travel mug. When it was stolen from him he opened what we started to call the transvestite monkey angel:
Chris' dad opened a package with two hula girls in it. I coveted them (thinking of course how cool they would look on the dashboard of the minivan we will be buying next year) but they were stolen by Uncle Mike. When it was my turn to pick, Ada chose a heavy box for me. It contained a metal desk accessory that looked like a little guy sitting at a desk. I didn't want it, so I wasn't heartbroken when it was stolen by Travis a moment later. Ada then chose for me a package that turned out to be a hefty paperback book: The Shooter's Bible. I am not exactly sure what year it was from (maybe 1974) but it was not the latest edition. Not that this matters. Ada was thrilled, seeing it as a coloring book.
We left both of these "treasures" in Chris' trunk when we got home on Friday afternoon. We figured we could leave them there until Ada forgot about them, but then she saw this this afternoon as I loaded groceries into the car. Oops. I suspect the angel and gun book might disappear mysteriously, like the nuk.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Chris and I just lied to our daughter.
It started out innocently enough. On Christmas eve we visit Aunt Camille's house for the traditional family dinner and white elephant gift swap. In past years we put Ada to bed at Camille's and then woke her up for the drive home. This year we decide Ada is old enough to stay up, and on this score she is a champ. No tired tantrums, no complaints, just dancing and cheerful present shuttling.
We get home, and it is hours past Ada's usual bedtime. Chris shepherds her though an accelerated bedtime routine. But then he pops back downstairs because Ada's nuk (pacifier) is nowhere to be found. [As an aside, I know that 3.5 is kind of on the old side to be using a pacifier, but (a) she only uses it for sleeping and (b) I sucked my thumb way past when it was considered acceptable and I turned out okay. My teeth did too. I am one of the few people my age who never wore braces.]
When Chris tells me the nuk is missing, I am completely annoyed. We'd had a little temporary nuk crisis before nap and I saw Ada put her nap on the shelf when I got her up that afternoon. At home she is great about leaving the nuk in a little basket between sleep times, but I wonder if being at the grandparents' had confused things a bit.
Chris searches everywhere he can think of, but can not find the nuk. Ada is upset, but also very tired, so she yawns and cries while Chris explains that there is no nuk, but that we'd look for it again in the morning. She goes to bed just fine that night (again - it probably helps that it is two hours past her bedtime). Right after Chris comes back downstairs, I remember that in preparation for the trip to Camille's, I'd packed up bedtime supplies - jammies, a teddy bear, and the nuk - just in case Ada got pooped early in the evening. I had completely forgotten the bag sitting at the bottom of the stairs, and Chris had not known to look for it. He'd just used a different pair of pajamas when he got her dressed.
So ok, we could have put the nuk in her stocking the next morning. We could have "found" it at nap time. We decide to do neither. We decide to do what we did when we did actually lose Ada's nuk a few months ago.
At this point I should mention that not only does Ada use a pacifier, but she is very specific about which pacifier. For the past year or so we had ONE acceptable pacifier, dubbed the "cat and moon" nuk for the picture on the nub. When that one started to break down, I had to talk her into a different brand and style, because the old kind was no longer available.
Right, so: a few months ago we put Ada to bed at Monkey Boy's house, and when we took her home the nuk got left in her carseat. We didn't realize that it was there, and we did not use the car for several days. Ada was sad, but got over the loss fairly well. But then we finally got into the car, and Ada exclaimed: "I found it!" Chris and I groaned, but we went back to our old nuk-napping ways. But now we have a second chance at a nuk-free lifestyle! Everything went smoothly at the grandparents' house. Ada accepted that the nuk was irretrievably missing, and slept just fine without it.
Tonight (back at our house) we move smoothly through our usual routine, until we get to the part where we tuck Ada into bed. She asks for the nuk, and we remind her that we've lost it.
"But what about the green nuk?" (the beloved purple nuk had come in a two pack with a green pacifier)
And this is where we betray our sweet daughter's trust. I say: "I don't know where that one is."
"Is it in the basket? Can you look for it, Papa?" (I love that she calls us Mama and Papa, but in these moments it makes her sound even more innocent and sweet and breaks my heart even that much more.)
Chris makes a perfunctory examination. "Nope, I don't see it."
Sensing this could go either way, I reassure her that she'd done so well without the nuk, that she was such a big girl. So she snuggles into bed, and with a quick negotiation about a water cup on the shelf, she goes to bed.
So the nuk is gone, hopefully for good. I just hope Chris can hide the green nuk from Ada before she goes digging in the basket tomorrow morning.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
This year, in addition to "regular" latkes, I made sweet potato latkes. They turned out well, if I do say so myself. Here's the recipe I made up:
1 large sweet potato (preferably red/orange)
1 medium onion
flour (maybe between a quarter and a half cup?)
Peel the sweet potato and grate it. If you have a food processor, use that, otherwise watch your knuckles as you manually grate. Grate the onion. Throw both in a bowl with eggs and flour. Mix and decide if you need more flour. Mix in salt and pepper.
Get out a non-stick pan (or two if you can multi-task). Add more oil than seems reasonable, and then add a bit more. When the oil is hot, spoon in (maybe 1/4 cup) dollops of grated mix. Over medium-high, cook latkes to brown but not burnt on one side, flip and brown the other side. Serve warm with sour cream and applesauce. And brisket. (Chris makes a great one!)
When making latkes with potatos, I usually use a ratio of about three large potatoes to one big onion, plus 2-3 eggs and more than a half cup on flour.
Oh yeah, and for the three of you clamoring for a belly photo, here's the bump as of last weekend. Because who doesn't need a photo of a pregnant woman holding a sweet potato?
Note that although I am only 15 weeks along in this picture, the shirt is already insufficient to cover the bump. I am thrilled to have gotten a lot of hand-me-down maternity clothes from friends, but already the ones from the Gap are too short. Unless my friends bought special petite maternity clothes, I can not understand how something labeled 'maternity' does not cover me at this point in my pregnancy. Having learned the hard way about how easy it is to anger Gap partisans (see the comments), perhaps I should not complain so publicly about this, but really. Shouldn't maternity shirts be built long enough to cover a woman's torso for most, if not all of her pregnancy? Just a thought.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
My blog-friend gave to me: photos of the most recent Latke-Hammentashen Debate.
If this makes no sense to you, read this first.
For what it's worth, latkes get my vote any day. Tomorrow, a recipe.
Also, Ada got a fairy princess outfit from her pal Juniper. Once Juniper left, Ada modeled for us:
Monday, December 22, 2008
As a Jew in America, it is hard to compete with the Christmas whirlwind, especially when you have children. I'll admit that in my mixed family we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. (In my defense, I don't "do" Christmas at my house. We go to Christmas at Ada's grandparents' house.)
Good thing the girls have my back:
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Chris, to Ada, who has been camped out in the bathroom refusing to pee for a half-hour: Do you want to do the Cheerio trick?
Chris: The Cheerio trick, where we put a Cheerio in the bottom of the potty and you pee on it. Do you want to do that?
Of course in the end she changed her mind and no one peed on any grains, but oh how I love that he came up with this one.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
It snowed on Sunday.
Whoopie, right? Half of the eastern seaboard was without power last week, so what do you care about a couple of flakes out here? Portland gets snow once or twice a season, and it invariably wrecks havoc. People abandon cars in the middle of the street because driving is too stressful. Stores close if the owner sees more than three flakes. Everything grinds to a standstill.
That was fine with us on Sunday, it is not as if we had anywhere to go. Looks like Wednesday will be another snow day (Portland Public Schools, and thus Ada's nursery school as well, are already shuttered at the mere thought of snow). As I was planning on working from home, I can't really call in sick. With help from Chris and our friends, I think Ada and Monkey Boy will get some childcare, and some of us will get some work done. And in a few days, after the temperatures rise back out of the low 30s, things will go back to normal.
For now, a picture of Chris' snowball tutorial:
Monday, December 15, 2008
(And now for the boring pregnancy complaints! No wonder no one reads this blog.)
One of the side effects of my twin pregnancy, along with a quickly expanding midsection, appears to be fatigue. I remember being incredibly tired during my first trimester of pregnancy with Ada, but this time I felt reasonably perky until a couple of weeks ago. Now I want a nap almost daily, and this afternoon while reading books with Ada it was all I could do to keep my eyes open. Luckily Chris was home and I dragged myself upstairs to take a quick nap. Less fortuitously Ada ended my short nap by "gently" patting me and climbing all over me to tuck herself into bed with me. Her attentions were very sweet, however, and she did not complain when I stayed in bed while Chris gave her a bath.
Lying in bed I thought of an old movie reference, a favorite in my family. Madeline Kahn, as Lilly Von Schtupp, deadpanning "I'm So Tired." I realize this is not totally apt, as Lilly's complaint is somewhat different from mine. But hey, and port/reference in a storm, right?
Oh, and about that expanding belly...Last time I was pregnant Chris took a picture of me every Monday night. I'm not going to show the photos because they were taken with me in various unflattering states of undress. (Hello internet, marvel at my ugly undies!) Not my finest moments, these pictures of me looking rumpled and tired, but they do mark the weekly progress of my belly. I dragged these pictures out a couple of weeks ago, since the first was taken around week 12 and I wanted a comparison. The week 12 photograph shows no evidence of pregnancy, other than why else would I be raising my shirt? This time my belly was already pooching. Now, at 14 weeks I look as big as I did at about 5 months last time. The pictures show that some time in early March 2005 I took out my navel ring, which I'd worn for 10 years. I figured I could have it put back in, but somehow I never did.
So right, tired and big already. Sleepy tired, but also tired in that all over muscle way that makes me nervous about what is coming the next few months. Plus my knees hurt. I have crappy knees, due to torturing them with competitive running in high school and goodness knows what else. I had surgery on one knee in college, but both are a bit wonky and sensitive to change. As my hips get moved about, my knees complain about the new arrangement. Last time I slept with a pillow between my knees. Chris and I called the pillow the boyfriend. Poor Chris, I've got a husband and a boyfriend, plus him. (Not to be confused with these husband pillows.)
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Why did I agree to shlep out to a tree farm on what is promising to be the coldest day of the year so far? (To be quickly followed by an even colder day, which MIGHT just bring a dusting of snow.)
Why did Chris eat the last of Ada's bunny crackers, even though he must know that I want them?
How many people noticed that my pants were rolled up in an odd way for several hours this morning, until I noticed that what I thought were cuffs (on borrowed maternity pants) were really just turned up ends?
After hearing Bill O'Reilly say he tends to "bloviate" I now have the word rolling around in my head. Bloviate, bloviate, bloviate.
Is every 3.5 year old as directive as mine? As we walked to her school, Ada informed me that I should pick her up with the trailer and a yogurt drink. I am a little frustrated that she thinks getting a yogurt drink is part of her pick up routine, thanks to Chris often getting her one. He's definitely the "nice" parent. When I pick her up the routine is more like: look up from computer to notice the time, run around pulling on sweater, shoes and jacket before rushing out to get her in time. "Buy yogurt drink" does not fit in that schedule.
The stye is still bothering me. Maybe if I poke at it, it will go away. Nope, still there.
I wonder if the teachers notice that I never do anything about Ada's crazy hair. I wonder, but do not care enough to deal with her crazy hair.
I am not totally sold on the new Morning Becomes Eclectic DJ, but willing to give him a chance. I liked the Ozomatli/Charlie Tuna song he just played.
I just can't seem to get enough hot water with lemon and honey.
I am completely charmed by the animal cards someone stapled along the phone poles in my neighborhood.
What is rolling around in your head today? No really, I want to know.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
(1) When your sister suggests that as a joint birthday gift for herself and her husband, agree readily. Assure your sister that it will be no problem, just a few straight seams, easy really.
(2) Work out a deal with your mother in which you will do the labor and she will pay for the fabric, allowing you both to give your sister and her husband a gift in a nice Marxist way (each according her her ability...)
(3) Send your sister some fabric web sites. Suggest that she and her husband pick out a fabric. Make a few suggestions of your own.
(4) Receive email from your sister with several options, including a lovely but obscenely expensive Marimekko print and a much less expensive Moda fabric. Discuss and agree up the idea of incorporating your sister and brother-in-law's chuppah in the design.
(5) Engage in several more rounds of fabric discussion, finally settling on the Moda print. Fail to consider that, as this is a Moda print, it will go out of stock quickly and not be re-produced by the manufacturer. Allow months to go by while you are busy at the beach, with friends, and in the garden.
(6) Finally get around to purchasing the fabric, only to realize that it is out of stock at your local mega fabric store and at most online shops. Find one online shop that carries it, and order 7 yards.
(7) Wait another month and then purchase two 600 thread count sheet, one to go under the delicate chuppah fabric, the other for the bottom of the comforter cover, to accommodate your brother-in-law's preference for a very soft comforter. Feel glad that the sheet is on sale. Feel even gladder that you have been carting around that 15% off coupon in your wallet for 3 months.
(8) Get the sheets home and realize that the white chuppah will look horrible with the main fabric's purple and cream print and the dark cream sheet. Decide not to use the chuppah. Return the second sheet.
(9) Call the online fabric merchant and experience the most amazing customer service. (Although the seller did not have any more of the pattern, the owner of this one woman shop called Moda to see if they still make the print. When she called me back to say that Moda doesn't make this print any more, she suggested I check several of her competitors' web sites to see if they might have any. She even suggested specific competitor sites that were likely to have it.)
(10) Take the nice quilt lady's advice and find another vendor that carries the fabric. Order 3 more yards.
(11) Once the fabric arrives, wash the sheet and all 10 yards of the purchased fabric Press all 10 yards. Press the sheet, cursing the whole time.
(12) Wait another few weeks while you nightly feel crappy and first-trimester nauseous.
(13) Finally get off your butt and start calculating measurements. Recalculate all measurements after talking to husband about said calculations. Re-recalculate, and then go to bed.
(14) Months after you agreed to start the project, start sewing. Quickly realize that the hard part of the project is handling 94 inch long pieces of fabric.
(15) Sew all four pieces of the comforter top together, and fiddle around while deciding how best to attach the back.
(16) Sew the front piece to the sheet and realize you have slightly miscalculated the measurements. Decide to ignore the problem, figuring most of the error will be hidden by the seams.
(17) Practice making button holes. Panic that they will look crappy.
(18) Measure fabric and decide how many buttons you need to keep the comforter from poking out of the cover.
(19) Go to the crazy button store and spend way too much time picking out buttons that will match the fabric and are sturdy enough to survive the washer and drier without breaking. Cleverly purchase two more buttons than you plan to use, just in case.
(20) Get over panic and start sewing button holes. Decide that although they look a little wonky, no one will really notice because the buttons will cover the holes.
(21) Realize that your want four more buttons than you originally thought you wanted. Return to the crazy button store for two more buttons.
(22) Hand sew buttons all evening in order to be sure the project will be done in time to mail it on Monday before you leave town for Thanksgiving.
(23) Iron the entire duvet cover so it will look nice. Ignore nagging voice telling you that once you fold it to put it in the box it will get all wrinkly again.
(24) Carefully insert folded duvet cover into a plastic bag, then put the bag and a note into the mailing box. Address the box at the post office. Call your sister to confirm zip code. Wake up said sister in the process.
(25) Fail to confirm street address with sleepy sister, and incorrectly address box.
(26) Buy delivery confirmation and insurance for package which you have just mis-addressed. Mail package.
(27) Wait 4 days.
(28) Call sister and ask if she has gotten your package. When she says she has not, consider what could have gone wrong. Realize you have mis-addressed package.
(29) Dream about the package on two consecutive nights.
(30) Nine days after you mail the ill-fated package, talk to your local postal worker, who cheerfully tries to convince you that it will all work out all right - either your sister's postal worker will figure out the problem and get the package to her anyway, or it will be returned to you after what he figures should be a few days. Feel impressed by the extent to which your mail carrier takes pride in his work.
(31) Two days later, still see no evidence of the package and hear nothing from your sister that suggests she's gotten it.
(32) Sigh heavily. Regret that you did not take more pictures of the duvet cover. Realize the amount of insurance purchased will not cover the cost of materials, much less the time the project took. Sigh again.
(33) Twelve days after you mailed the package, return to the house to find it on the front porch. Do a quick happy dance and drag the box inside. Open the box, add a second item to make up for the tardiness, reseal and re-label with the correct address. Slather with tape.
(34) Rush to the post office to mail the package. Wait for your sister to call and tell you she's received the package and that the duvet cover is the best one you'd ever made. Fire up the computer to write a tutorial.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
In last Sunday's New York Times magazine, Alex Kuczynski writes about her efforts to have a baby (which included 12 rounds of IVF and finally a gestational surrogate (a woman who was pregnant with the fetus created by Alex's egg and her husband's sperm).
I so wanted to be right there every moment with this story, and for the most part I appreciated the author's candor about her struggles and doubts. A couple of things bugged me about the piece. Since I figure that at least a few of you might share my interest in the piece, I thought I'd write about it.
Several of the photographs in the essay really bugged me. For someone who describes herself as so much wanting to experience parenting, you'd think Kuczynski would have noticed that the picture of her with her child and "baby nurse" might undermine the reader's sense that she is in this whole hog. I admit that if I was rich enough to have a home in New York City, plus others in Southhampton and Idaho, I might have a little live in help too. But maybe including in the picture a uniformed woman standing at attention a few paces from mother and baby was not the wisest choice on the author's part.
This photograph especially disturbed me when I read the part of the article in which Kuczynski complains that people joked with her that by having a surrogate she was skipping out on the hard part of parenting. This leads Kuczynski to worry that she is somehow less of a mother, that she is missing some elemental experience. My first reaction was viceral - as challenging as it can be, labor is NOT the hard part of becoming a parent. Parenting is the hard part. But then the picture flashed before me, and I thought maybe it isn't the hard part if you are surrounded by help all the time.
And the cover photo? Even going into the article with a good faith effort to like the author, just looking at the picture creeped me a out a bit. Kuczynski writes about how wonderful her surrogate is, how warm and thoughtful (the surrogate brought Kuczynski a gift when the former went into labor!). But in the picture Kuczynski looks anything but connected to the woman. I could not help but wonder what the author was thinking when she okayed that cold and creepy picture. I suppose it is possible that she did not take part in this editorial decision, but given her stature in the profession, you'd think she'd get a little say about it.
I feel a little weird that my complaints about the article are actually complaints about the pictures that accompany it. Talking to my mother, her response was a little different. She didn't like the pictures either, but she also did not like the author. She was annoyed by how self-absorbed Kuczynski appeared. Somehow this bothered me less, maybe because as a blogger self-absorption is my bread and butter. But blogging aside, I could relate to how all-consuming the desire to become a parent and the stress associated with being repeatedly thwarted.
I should cut Kuczynski a little slack, I suppose. I do appreciate how open she was about what she went through. I don't think she is a hero, but I am sympathetic to her five years of infertility hell. In any case, it is an interesting read for anyone interested in this small but growing corner of the assisted fertility world.
Updated: As Karen noted, a lot of people had a lot to say about this article. Check out the comments (404 as of Thursday afternoon) here.
Also - interesting articles on related topics:
Nobody Loves My $20,000 Baby by Daniel Nester
Commentary on the Kuczynski piece by Melissa Ford (on Blogher)
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Monday, December 01, 2008
While helping me unpack the maternity clothes my neighbor loaned me, Ada asked what the clothes were for.
Me: As the babies grow, my belly is getting bigger. These clothes will help me cover my belly so that I don't get cold.
Ada: How will the babies get out?
Me, gesturing from my slightly bulgy belly downward between my legs: They will come out this way, but not until they are big and ready to come out. They'll sort of knock and let me know that they want to come out. Then something like a door (making a small circle with my hands) will open a little, then a little more, then more until they have room to come out. Then the door will close again.
Starting to worry that my door metaphor might make Ada worry that the door could swing open at any time, I added: The door can only open when the babies are ready to come out. They won't just fall out.
Ada: And how do they get back in?
I could not help thinking of those signs at concert venues: No In And Out.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Wander the grounds and you might see toddlers hopping on rubber magic mushrooms, hear a calliope version of the Artic Monkeys song "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor," or read a sign outside a Moonbounce attraction called the Punk Pit that warns, "All Punks Must Obey the Following Rules."
Did Bob Marley Grow Up in a Water Park?
Monday, November 24, 2008
In preparing to leave town at 7 tonight, I took the day off to play with Ada. She is not coming with me on my trip, she gets her own trip (Thanksgiving with her grandparents). Lately, Ada has veered between two poles - utterly charming, polite and adorable, and Godzilla meets the Thing on a bad day.
Luckily, today she is great. We woke up, she happily ate the agreed-upon breakfast, we colored, built a Lincoln Log house, read books, ran around in our underwear and generally entertained one another for several hours this morning. Then, without any fuss, we packed up a few things and ran to the post office to mail a package. After that, Ada offered that she'd like a bagel, so we walked to the slow cafe for bagels and books.
All this may not seem like much, but on her bad days, I can accomplish nothing without butting up against Ada's non-stop whining, crying and assorted complaints. No effort goes unpunished, no reasonable offer is accepted. On a day when she knows that Chris and I will be leaving without her, I would have understood if in she acted out to show her annoyance.
But today was good. Fantastic, actually. My funny, smart, verbal, creative child made me laugh and gave me plenty of reasons to enjoy her company. And when Juni came to drive Ada to her grandparents' house, she was happy and friendly and fantastic. I know every day can not be like this, but I am so thrilled that I get to live such days when they come along.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
After my last (mopey) post about the losses associated with having twins (or really, children generally) I want you to know that it is not all soggy Eyore-mimicry around here.
This weekend I got into a conversation with a woman at the park, and through a circuitous route ended up telling her I was pregnant with twins. "I'm a twin!" she said, telling me how close she is to her (male) twin and how great childhood was with him and their older sister (who was born a mere 18 months before this woman and her brother). It was one of those weird conversations that turns from the mundane (she complimented my purse, we talked about sewing) to personal (fertility, pregnancy) while not feeling awkward. In fact, afterwards I wanted to kick myself that I did not ask for her phone number. Our daughters are the same age and it is kind of rare that I randomly meet someone with whom I immediately feel so at ease.
Later this week during the break at a meeting for work, a woman I know only a little came up to me and asked if the rumors were true. I sheepishly said yes, I was pregnant with twins, and she proceeded to very effusively tell me what a warm spot she has in her heart for other mothers of twins. She has twins, now in college, and said it was a great experience. This woman's twins were her 3rd and 4th, and she said that after the first two years it was significantly easier to have two than one. (Pretty much everyone seems to acknowledge that the first couple of years are chaotic and insane.) She was so positive about the whole thing, and it left me feeling very hopeful in a way I have not been feeling the past couple of weeks.
I don't believe that the universe sends you what you need or anything like that, but once in a while you do get to hear something that helps. This past week I heard it twice.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Since reading that Blogher found Portland lacking and is returning to Chicago instead, I have felt kind of low. Knowing as I do that Portland is fantastic, I was more than half sure that the Blogher gals would agree and set up their conference here next summer. (No offense to St. Louis, but what do they have other than corporate beer and a big arch?)
Mrs. French and I had talked some about next summer's conference, and how nice it would be to sleep in our own beds yet attend this fun and overwhelmingly stimulating event. Knowing I will be not more than two months post-partum next summer, I tried to convince Mrs. French that at least she should go, so that I might live vicariously through her. She said she'd be more likely to go if I went with her. I admit to wondering whether she'd mind helping me shlep tiny babies across the country. Or be roommates with me and my schedule-free wailers.
Ok, it is unlikely. But a girl can dream, can't she? I think the blue mood that has descended on me since the Blogher announcement is really part of a larger mourning period. When I was pregnant with Ada, the leader of my prenatal class asked us to think about what our big question was. Some of the people in class wondered "what will my child look like?" "how will I do in labor?" or "what happens when I go back to work?"
I immediately formulated my question: "How am I going to come to terms with with the losses associated with the birth of my child?" I understood that while much is gained with a child, parents have to give some things up, if at least for a while. Things change. The trick was to learn how to accept those changes.
The Blogher thing was a trigger, opening me up to thinking about all the things that are going to change when the twins arrive. I am grieving my losses already. Or maybe just in advance.
I have a lot of freedom right now. Having one child lets you do a lot more than you can with two (muchless three). When Ada and I leave the house, we have things pretty well in hand. We shove on boots and jackets and head out, hand in hand. With two infants in tow, popping out the door will be more like crawling, with plenty of return trips for forgotten crap.
It isn't just the idea of getting three kids out the door to the park or the store. It is realizing that for a long time, Chris and I will be outnumbered in a real, constant way. For a time there won't be many opportunities to have Chris take the kids while I clean the house or work on a project or space out in the garden. Three means that we'll be outnumbered and finding space alone will be a lot harder to do. I still want Chris to go to his Sunday basketball games, but I am already worried about how I will juggle the kids. I wonder what I would use my "free" time for, or when I will actually get any of that.
I have been talking to a close friend about this, and we have commiserated about how much harder it will be to spell one another this time around. Last time our children were born a year apart. This time we will likely have new babies at about the same time and won't have the free arms that we happily offered one another when we needed them in the past.
When I was convinced that this last round of IVF would not work, travel was on my list of up-sides. Having three kids means we are not going to travel as much as we would have with just one. Airfare is so expensive and when you have to spend thousands to get someplace it can put a damper on the whole trip.
This is all pretty whiny, and I know that the pre-parent me would probably have been annoyed reading the complaints of a woman who'd successfully conceived twice. I am lucky to have these problems. Even more, I am lucky that my question this pregnancy is not "how will we pay for three children?" or "will we have to sell the house?" I live a charmed life, even if it is not always the life I expected I'd lead. So now I return to the question I asked myself last time I was pregnant: How am I going to deal with giving up the things I will lose with the birth of my children?
Monday, November 17, 2008
Photo Booth is one of my favorite applications. Ada and I used it to document the moustaches we painted on one another. (She gave me more of a full beard, but she is only 3.)
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
To celebrate a blustery and rainy evening, Chris decided to make a fire in the fireplace. Ada loves helping carry wood and crumple newspaper for the fire, and they had a good time setting it up. Shortly after the fire started blazing and crackling, the power went out.
Ada had lots of questions about why there were no lights, and how to bring them back. Once she'd satisfied her curiosity and been sufficiently assured that the power would come back when it was ready, we gathered candles and flashlights and curled up in front of the fire.
Ada loved the specialness of being in the dark with us, and she was even more thrilled when she got to have (no cook!) PB&J and veggies for her candle-lit dinner. We brought candles into the bathroom and filled the tub with enough warm water for a nice cozy bath. We read books by flashlight (Ada proving herself an unreliable and easily distracted flashlight holder) and tucked her into bed.
Just as Chris and I were trying to figure out how to convert our dinner plans to work on the stovetop, the power came back on.
It was the best two hours of my day.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Chris and Ada, getting ready to walk to the store to buy eggs:
Ada, pointing to Chris's sweatshirt: What does that say?
Chris: Chicago. Do you know who lives in Chicago?
Ada: Barack Obama! Did Barack Obama give you that shirt?
Chris: No. A long time ago, Mama and Papa lived in Chicago.
Ada: When I was a baby?
Chris: Before you were born.
Ada: When I was in Mama's tummy?
Chris: Before that even.
Ada: Where was I?
Me, piping up from the couch: You were like a puzzle that hasn't been put together yet.
Ada: But where was I?
Chris: I had part of you and Mama had the other part.
Ada appeared momentarily satisfied with this answer, though it clearly made no sense to her. For those of you who have kids who are starting to ask this kind of question, how do you answer it? How do you explain the days BC (before child)?
In an unrelated thought, I got Ada to put the bat costume back on so I could get some wing shots:
You can see the ears on the hood, but I will settle for these pictures and rest on my laurels for a while.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Pop quiz: what is more fun than being first-trimester nauseous?
Answer: feeling queasy while suffering a stomach bug passed on from your daughter. So much for that compulsive hand-washing.
Speaking of feeling queasy, I finally called Ada's pediatrician's office for advice on potty training. For those who have not heard me complaining about this before, Ada (at not quite 3.5) has rebuffed all of our efforts to get her to use the potty. Or to even ever sit on the potty, for the most part. We've tried cold turkey no-more-diapers, progressive rewards, outright bribes, peer pressure and pretty much everything else we could think of. Most recently I put all the potty related materials, including all her underwear, on a shelf and told her that when she was ready, everything was here for her.
Nothing has moved her. Lately one of her teachers has taken matters into her own hands. Although this has gotten Ada to sit on the potty (no peeing involved), it has also led to Ada's repeated declarations that she does not want to go to school.
So after hearing my "we've tried everything and I am going to have twins" tale of woe, the peds nurse suggested a few things.
- Back off. Don't mention the potty too much, or push her to sit on or pee in it. When other kids are around, let her watch them use the potty.
- Switch to cloth diapers, which will allow her to feel the cold wetness.
- Try a no-pants day. Hole up in a room without carpeting and have her not wear any pants. Don't leave the room. When she needs to pee, she'll pee. Not necessarily in the potty, but peeing on the floor may be enough of a shock to help convince her.
- We've been doing this, although I have probably mentioned the potty more than the nurse suggests is okay. Ada is always interested in other kids potty use, and already sees her friends use the potty on a regular basis. We can keep trying it, but I am not sure what this is going to do on its own.
- For her first two years, Ada was in cloth diapers. The summer she was two she decided to be no pants girl. When it was time to put diapers on, the difference between no diaper and cloth was pretty great. Ada declared she didn't like the cloth, so we decided to switch over. Foolishly, we thought with all this no-pants time, how much longer will she be wearing diapers anyway? I am willing to go back to cloth, even though I know (a) Ada will HATE them and no doubt pitch an enormous fit about the switch, and (b) I am going to have to buy a bunch of T5 pants to accomodate her huge cloth diaper. It could be a long winter of sweats and screaming.
- I am not entirely sure how this is different from the "no more diapers" thing we did (to no success) at the end of the summer. I am willing to try it, but only on a day when Chris is around. If we hole up in the kitchen (the only room in the house with no rugs), how am I going to pee? This definitely sounds like a tag-team event. In any case, I don't put much stock in its ability to move Ada along, so I think we'll try cloth before trying this.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Sunday, November 02, 2008
A month ago I asked Ada what she wanted to be for Halloween. She immediately replied: "a bat!" This thrilled me, because a year after I saw this costume idea I was still excited to try it out. I happened to have an old purple umbrella. Luckily Ada is a big fan of purple, so the suggestion that she be a purple bat went over swimmingly (flappingly? what would be the right bat metaphor?)
Chris and Ada found a purple hoodie in her size, and I dismembered the umbrella. I had to make a few adjustments to the original instructions, as Ada's arms and torso are a bit smaller than the woman's pictured in the Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories pictures. Still, it turned out pretty well and Ada was even willing to wear the costume (a change from last year).
The weather - which earlier this week turned from the amazing, glorious beautiful fall warmth we'd enjoyed for a month to more seasonably rainy and cool - cooperated and no little ghouls, gobblins or bats were rained on.
After the work I put into Ada's costume, I failed to document the success appropriately, taken as I was with our thundering horde of costumed children as they rampaged down the street in search of ever more sugar. I snapped a few pictures, but in the twilight I got mostly fuzzy images. Here is one look at Ada's battyness.
You don't get a good view of the wings in this picture, but maybe later this week I can get Ada to put on the costume again so I can document the impressive flapping.
All in all, it was a great Halloween. This was the first time Ada got the idea that she could knock on people's doors and receive candy. The collection was almost as fun as the eating. Almost. We had a great time trick-or-treating with friends, including Monkey Boy (who went as a yellow Shrek ghost with muffins - his idea). Actualy, he only wore the costume for a few minutes, because he quickly realized that it impeded his candy intake. After that he wore it around his waist and went as a kid who really needed some more candy. To be fair, all the kids went as that.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
"Why do some of them feel like they can wear black spandex pants and a puffy shirt and be allowed to call themselves pirates?" said John Macek, a member of the Pirate Brethren.
Can I get an Arrgh?
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Last year I wrote about my friend Stephanie's battle with breast cancer. I hoped that more than a wagging finger demanding people conduct self-exams, Stephanie's story might get a few more women to take action on a monthly basis. It has helped me remember, and I tend to be terrible about that kind of thing.
This year I want to encourage you to conduct self-exams by telling you something happier. At last summer's Blogher, I met two fantastic women who have become daily reads: Laurie and Susan. These women are articulate, funny and kind. And they have both battled cancer. Both have had good news on that front in recent weeks and months. I so much enjoy reading their blogs and am thrilled by their good health.
I hope my female readers will start or continue to do monthly self-exams. Those of you with blogs bring me a lot of joy, and my readers without also add to my life through your comments and good wishes. (Also, as a health policy wonk, I have a professional as well as personal interest in good health.) Take this small step. Hopefully you'll never find anything, but if you do I hope it is caught early and is but a small bump in your road.
Good health and good wishes to us all!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
A local friend of mine works on some environmental projects in Indonesia. He forwarded me this video made by some friends of his in Bogor. It made me smile, and I thought that at the very least Gwen would be interested in this.
Monday, October 27, 2008
While chatting with an old friend last week, we talked about the ways in which people say inadvertently rude things. We were specifically talking about fertility and pregnancy, and discussed the ways people can be well meaning but still say the wrong thing. (Last time I was pregnant, several times I had one person tell me how big I looked, just to have another say I looked small. On the same day.)
When I was pregnant with Ada, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Now that I am telling people I am carrying twins, I have heard more versions of "boy is your life over" comments. I'd like to state for the record that this is NOT HELPFUL. I know that the next few years are going to be challenging in ways I can and can not imagine. I am still reeling a bit from the news that I will be a mother of three. Hearing that my life is going to change for the worse is just not useful.
Almost every parent will acknowledge that having an infant is a life-changing event, and that those changes are not uniformly positive. However, something about the rarity of twins or the fear it causes in other people is enough to cause otherwise polite people to try to scare the crap out of me.
Friday, October 24, 2008
I spent the first part of the week in Santa Fe (one of my favorite places). I wish I could bottle the smell: part pinon wood, part . . . oh, who cares what else, have you smelled pinon wood?
I was in New Mexico for work, and it was a pretty productive, interesting meeting. The meeting did not start until 1pm on Monday, but in order to get there in time I flew out on Sunday. This meant that I had some free time in NM. My colleague and I decided to check out Tent Rocks. It was beautiful and totally worth visiting, even though it made us a bit late for the start of the meeting.
I foolishly took only my old camera (the one that freezes up when I try to zoom in). I was not sure I would get to go for a hike, and I was not sure it would be worthwhile to lug my SLR all over. That was a mistake. (Which Chris helpfully pointed out to me just now.) Had I taken the good camera, the above picture would not have those weird smudgy marks on it, but I will just let that go now.
As happens almost every time I travel, I felt an initial surge of love for my destination. Looking at (other people's) pictures of Tent Rocks, this is probably easy to understand. But I am not talking about my experience in the great outdoors. I am talking about the first 20 minutes of my drive to Santa Fe. While I was on I-25, not yet outside of Albuquerque.
Driving north out of town, I recalled the first time I visited New Mexico ten years ago. I remembered bringing Chris there for the first time, and a more recent visit during which we accidentally conquered the highest peak in the state. My heart swelled and I felt simultaneous wistful nostalgia and joy. A little crazy, I know, especially because I still had 40+ minutes of driving on an increasingly dark highway where the minimum speed is higher than Oregon's top allowed.
By the time I got to my hotel my head had cleared some (thanks in no small part to the radio selections, which included a Spanish language version of Singing in the Rain and a few minutes of Christian broadcasters talking about why people should get involved in electoral politics). I had a fantastic dinner and worked hard for most of the next two days. But I still have a schoolgirl-crush on New Mexico, and went so far as to inadvertently suggest to the state's Human Services Secretary that she should hire me. Really, it came out wrong, I was just trying to explain the warmth of my feelings toward New Mexico. In any case, her state government is under a hiring freeze, so I got back on the plane this afternoon without having to figure out how to tell Chris that we need to move. His skin gets so dry, after all.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
- Post the rules on your blog.
- Write 7 random things about yourself.
7 peoplethe one person you think might not be annoyed about it.
- Pass on the tag.
2) I hope my close pal's future daughter doesn't mind having two best friends.
3) Now that gas prices are going back down will all the good deals on mini-vans be disappearing?
4) I am really not going to fit into any clothes in a few months.
5) Maybe leashes for children aren't so horrible after all.
6) How funny it is that once I come to terms with not having a second baby, I find out that I will have a third too. Not funny ha ha, but funny, am I going to be tired.
7) I'd better start paying attention to those twin blogs. I think Sarah drinks more than I do. That could be important.
I tag Rebecca, who is a few weeks ahead of me in her twin pregnancy. And anyone, pregnant or not, who wants to do this (email me or comment and I will link to you).
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Ada took a big spill the other day, scraping up her knees and chin. The moment itself freaked her out, sending her into a mood tailspin that lasted most of our breakfast with our pals. The pancake helped cheer her up, thankfully.
Ada was upset enough in the moment that I did not try to wash off the scrapes. I figured I would be able to clean the wounds later, when she was less worked up. I was wrong. Not only does Ada resist anyone touching her sore knees, she does not want us to LOOK at them. If I mention the existence of her scab, she tells me: "don't notice it."
Monday, October 20, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
At Brown . . . Mr. Levine majored in English and art semiotics ("That's sort of half reading Foucault and Bauldrillard and half making stuff." he explained)
Hazy Halcyon Days of Pot and Puberty
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
After a quick descent into rain, Portland has been basking in the joy of autumn sun for the past few days. We enjoyed some time outside with our pals.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
For the past month or so I have been thinking that I should do something to support one of the candidates for whom I will be voting. I finally took the plunge Monday night, and I am here to say that it was a lot easier that I thought it would be.
I called people on a "friendly" list, which means they have either said they supported Obama or previously volunteered for the campaign. Once I realized that I did not have to ask people for money, the whole thing got a lot easier. I was asking people to volunteer: to register voters, to make get-out-the-vote calls or to canvas their neighborhoods. I told people it was even kind of fun, which it was. I met some nice people and drilled through a list quickly thanks to the large number of people who are not home at 5pm. Or who are using caller ID. In any case, the people I talked to were nice, and several even agreed to volunteer. I felt great, and it took very little time. You should try it.
If you live in Oregon, you can volunteer for the Obama campaign (even for just an hour at a time, if that is what you have) by calling (503) 236-2008. Or by stopping by a campaign office.
By the way, Tuesday (Today!) is the last day to register to vote in Oregon. If you are an Oregonian and not registered, DO IT TODAY.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Ada and I enjoyed dinner with friends at the kid-friendly patio of a favorite local restaurant. The patio is covered with small rocks, which are super fun for toddlers to arrange and re-arrange while their parents eat and try to ignore the funny looks of childless diners.
On the way home, Ada declared: I'm mysterious. Do you know what mysterious means?
Me: Yes. Do you know what mysterious means?
Ada: It means that when you put rocks in your pants, you have to take them out.
When we got home and she took off her clothes before the bath, two small rocks fell out of her diaper. So much for mysterious.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
People keep asking if I am excited. Thrilled. Very very happy.
I feel a little weird saying, "um, not yet."
I do expect to get excited, but I remember this caution from four years ago. Sure, I got a positive pregnancy test, but what about the follow up? Ok, today I got a good follow up test, but what will I see at the ultrasound in a couple of weeks? What will the tests say about genetic mutations or other deformities? I didn't really feel comfortable with the idea that the pregnancy was for real until about 14 weeks. This time I hope it will be a little easier to relax, but I am still a litle stunned.
After a year of failed attempts, I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around success. I am able to wrap my head around the need to hurry, however. Knowing that in a few weeks I will be exhausted, I have a mental list of all the things I need to get accomplished before then. I planted bulbs and transplanted some of the plants that were unhappy this year. I still have a bunch of fall gardening to do, including getting in a cover crop in the veggie beds. I need to give the guest room a good scrub down and reorganization. I need to tackle the headboard I have been thinking about making. There is so much to do, but all I want to do is sit on the couch and think about how this could possibly be true.
Yes, I think I will be excited, once I get over the shock. For now I am relying on how excited my friends and family are; their responses are lifting me out of stillness. I am working on it, but for now forgive me if I look a bit dazed when you ask if I am excited. I have gotten what I wanted, I just can't believe it is true.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Monday, October 06, 2008
In the past two weeks, I considered and re-considered what I would write about today. I have a print out of the three embryos, seconds after they were returned to me. (My doctor was so proud of how well they showed up that he gave us a copy to keep. Commemorative, if there ended up being something to commemorate. I thought I might scan the image and post it here, with the circles and arrow and exclamation points.
I thought about the metaphors I could use, the words I could write. Two Thursdays ago I started to be convinced I was pregnant. Thursday evening I had an intense and prolonged hot flash. Foolishly, I googled "implantation hot flash" and found hundreds of women who described having experienced such an event. But really, google any combination of words and you'll get something you want or fear to see.
A few days later, rational thought returned and I was not sure whether I would be pregnant or not. By the weekend I was positive I wasn't pregnant. Two days of spotting and I was sure how this would end. I knew my body was primed for a menstrual cycle, but I would have to wait until Monday to be told to stop the projesterone, so that my body could resume its regular workings.
All this is to say that I am not psychic. As much as I would have liked to, I had no real information about my status. Until 12:30, when I called my voicemail to get a message from Jill. "I've got good news" she said.
I had all these plans about how I would write about this, and how would deal with another failed cycle. But plans change, and I am happy to report that instead of dealing with loss, I am dazedly counting forward to another summer birth.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Ada and I were drawing lions. Reaching over to my paper, Ada adds some circles to my lion's face. "I made cheeks for your lion," she says.
"Nice cheeks," I reply.
Drawing more, she adds, "and eyebrows."
"Oh, those are big eyebrows. Those are Bert eyebrows"
"Well, they are like Bert's. Bert has big eyebrows."
"Do you have big eyebrows?"
"Well, not that big. Papa has bigger eyebrows. But his face is bigger too."
"You have medium eyebrows. And a medium bottom."
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
In the Jewish religion, today is the ceremony Tashlich, which is Hebrew for "casting off." As part of the start of a new year, this is a chance to symbolically cast off the sins of the past year. Jews go to a natural body of flowing water and throw in pieces of bread to symbolize the shedding of these old errors. The idea is to get rid of things you do not want to take with you into the new year. While traditionalists focus on specific errors made in the past year, right now I am thinking more about the ways I make life unnecessarily harder for myself. By tossing away some of these I hope I will feel lighter about whatever happens in the next year.
I would like to leave behind:
- Sadness that I have not had an easy road to pregnancy. Whether or not it works this time, this is one area where I have actually made a lot of progress compared to earlier this year. I am ready to move forward with one child or with two, but without the sadness and self-pity I was lugging around in the spring.
- Anger and frustration at Ada's continued refusal to use the potty. I am horrified by how hard it is for me to get past this one. Even as I think about how to change my response, I want to write out all reasons I am justified in feeling so annoyed with her. I have a lot of work to do on this; it is going to take a lot of bread crumbs.
- Fear. Fear of messing up, fear of being found out as unqualified, untalented, uninteresting. I know that a lot of people carry this one around, especially those of us who like to be in control all the time. Carrying this fear takes a lot of energy. I am sure that letting it go would help me find more energy for other things. Saying that, I know that this one is especially hard for me to release. I will be cutting myself some slack if I am not quite done with this one yet.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Last week Apartment Therapy's Re-Nest site put out a call for creative-reuse ideas. Looking up from my computer, I saw the canning jars I turned into photo frames. Some photographs and an email later, and voila, Re-Nest is sharing this idea with its readers. Check it out.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
If my personal history is any guide, this is the day on which I think to myself, "this whole waiting is no big deal, I can wait another week for a blood test, no problem." That would make Monday the day I think, "There is no way I can wait another week, this waiting is killing me!"
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Walking to school, Ada and I pass a bunch of cob benches. As we came alongside them, Ada pointed and said: "Three benches and three benches."
Me: That's great, Ada. Do you know how many is that all together?
Me: That's right! Do you know what you just did?
Ada, after thinking about this for a moment: That means I'm a grown up!
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Of the 9 eggs retrieved, 8 were mature. (So much for that high tech ultrasound.) Four of those were successfully inseminated. Monday I will find out whether any or all of them look good after 3 days. I'll take what I can get.
I'll be resting today, and thinking about how these can be pictures of the same child, taken just one over year apart: