Friday, November 28, 2008

Beet That

One small piece of evidence of my parenting prowess - my daughter loves beets.

beet that

beet eaters
Monkey Boy thinks they are okay too.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week


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."

Steven Kurutz
Did Bob Marley Grow Up in a Water Park?

Monday, November 24, 2008

The day that every parent wants to have

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.

Ada, Close

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Flip Side

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

Coming to Terms

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

Fun with Photobooth

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.)

Ada and Me with Fake Moustaches

Trying to make herself have fish face
Ada, still mastering the art of the fish-face.

Photobook effects picture
Ada and Chris having fun with the Mirror function.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

empathy van

For the last half-century, Cuba has been America's cultural Other, a nearby example of what capitalists dread most (Communism! revolution! beards!).

Susann Cokal
Livin' La Vida Local

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

The Puzzle of "Before Ada"

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:

full wingspan

bat wings

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

Another Potty Post

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.

  1. 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. 
  2. Switch to cloth diapers, which will allow her to feel the cold wetness. 
  3. 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. 
As I've mentioned, I am desperate. Here's my response to the nurse's advice:
  1.  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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
 The whole conversation with the nurse took place in my local Walgreens, because of course she chose that moment to call me back. Thank goodness for cell phones, and for stores where people don't notice a tearful woman wandering the aisles finger the merchandise and talking about her potty.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

Cricket Cafe

If you are going to be a grammar pedant, you are gonig to lose a lot of the joy of the language.

Paul McFedries
Quoted by Natasha Singer
A Label for A Pleather Economy

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Hopefully not side by side

Ellen and Monkey Boy were talking about babies. Ellen told Monkey Boy that I had two babies growing in me right now.

Monkey Boy said: "That is so cool. I have never seen two babies come out of Nora before!"

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Costume? Check. Picture? Eh, not so much.

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.

Bat Ada at Ann/Desi's house

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.