Thursday, December 31, 2009

A year in pictures

I recently went through a bunch of old photos on flickr and tagged the ones I liked. I tagged some because they are technically good (or at least interesting), while others capture something about my subject or are somehow especially meaningful to me (usually these are family photos). 

I picked out twelve of my favorites, one from each month of 2009. As today is my birthday, I am allowed to be a little self-indulgent.

01/16/09 WPA Fragment
January: work fragment

Ada in the teepee
February: Ada in the teepee
(pretty much all of these pictures were also in the running for February favorite)

John, amused
March: I can't imagine taking a picture of John that I prefer to this one

04/19/09 Calm Amidst the Play
April: Monkey Boy at Rest

May: Born yesterday

Waiting for Waffles
June: Waiting at the Waffle Window

July: Mira at two months

Mira & Bop -12 weeks
August: My father makes my daughter laugh

Mira, feverish
September: Mira, feverish

Juni and Ian
October: Juniper and Ian

Lila, Masked
November: Tortilla Lila

December: Ian, taking in the late day sun

Picking one picture from each month was really hard. Some months I took a lot of pictures, while others (especially the last few of my pregnancy) I took barely any. Some months I love the pictures I took of Ada, while others Mira really jumped out at me. Ian has been especially cute and hammy lately, so in November and December I took a lot of pictures of him. Although in December I took a number of photos of Ian that I really like, I feel guilty for not using a picture of Ada. I don't want anyone to think that now that I have new subjects I am neglecting her, photographically speaking. I guess this is a version of the problem faced by all parents of multiple children. For me the answer may just be to share more pictures!

Tomorrow I start a new photo-a-day project. As usual for me, I am torn about what to do. I had several ideas (and a couple more were suggested to me by family and friends). I was drawn to Karen's suggestion to take pictures of twinned items, but in the end decided to go with a monthly color theme.

Using colors from the color wheel (red, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple) this will give me a six to nine month project, if I include white, gray and black. I am excited to start! When I have started other photo-a-day projects, I promised that I would post the results here occasionally. I have not done that much, in part because I get shy about it. We'll see if I can get over that this year.

Happy old year, happy new year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Consider This Hand Delivery

Here is the card I made this year:


I ran out of stamps part of the way through the process and was too wiped out to get more. Plus, how do you fit that many envelopes through your internet router? Until I resolve these issues, please consider this my card to you all. Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Totally different from being a Jew for Jesus

Before Ada came along I could kind of think that going to my in-laws for Christmas was for them, and not something I really wanted to do. Don't get me wrong, I love my in-laws and enjoy being around them, but as someone raised in a reform but nonetheless Jewish household, I felt a little conflicted about Christmas celebrations. Putting aside the whole "Jews don't generally celebrate the birth of Christ" thing, there is so much to love about the way that Chris' family celebrates the holiday. For one thing, there is all the food (iced Christmas cookies, date cookies, shrimp with cocktail sauce, egg nog, Texas grapefruit, Christmas breakfast with sweet things and pork, roast beast, Yorkshire pudding, cranberry pudding, Chris' pecan pie ala Tartine...). Plus, I love the white elephant exchange at Camille's house, coffee in front of the fire first thing in the morning, playing with the goofy little treats from my stocking, watching people open the gifts I picked out for them. So yes, I enjoy Christmas.

Who wouldn't love a holiday that could lead to this scene?

And now, with Ada so obviously enjoying the holiday, it is even more compelling. I am still not comfortable doing it here at my house (and oy, the thought of collecting all the Christmas decorations and then having to store them and get them out and put them back...). But yep, fine, I like being part of it.

Melissa and Ada watch the Snowman

As an added bonus, Mira and Ian gave us a little gift this year. Both of them slept through the night while we were at their grandparents' house. Usually just one of them sleeps through the night, leaving Chris or me to get up at 3am, knowing we'll have to get up at 5 with the baby who slept on. Thanks kids, we couldn't have asked for a better gift!

Dyland and Mira
Mira says: pulling on Dylan's beard is even better than chewing on my new toys!

And now for a couple of stellar parenting moments from the weekend:
Great for a moment
It seemed like a good idea to let Ian play with this, until someone noticed that the wheels come off.

What kind of parent...
What kind of crappy parent gets a kid a bike for Christmas and then forgets to bring the kid's helmet with them? And yes, I did let her ride in the street. It is a cul-de-sac, and for the record that Prius didn't get that close before I noticed it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Lila: You can't make that face when you are doing Spanish!

Ada: Hola bola!

** * **

Ada: Let's pretend we're princesses!

Lila: You know what? Dads are kings, moms are princes and little kids are princesses, right?

** * **
Ada (talking to the babies): Ian, lucky Ian! Mira, lucky Mira!

Me: Why are they lucky? They are pretty lucky to have you.

Ada: Ian is the luckiest.

Me: Why?

Ada: Because he has two sisters!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Seven Come Eleven

The post title is from a song my dad likes to sing. Not my best title, but do you know how hard it is to come up with a good jokey title for these monthly update posts? And I do try, because I know that this kind of update post is really only interesting to me, my mother and my facebook stalker.  So, onward:

Early in her sixth month, Mira popped out two teeth. Minimal fuss was involved, but then she was also sick so who knows whether she was too busy complaining being stuffed up to worry about the teeth. Or maybe we just wrongly assumed any complaints were about the cold. Also at this point she started rolling over in bed. She prefers to sleep on her stomach, but she wakes up, rolls over and is then pissed off. (Gives me flashbacks to Ada, who liked to sleep on her back, but would roll on her belly and then scream.)


Also early in the month Ian started rolling over and over and over, putting himself in the middle of the room. Mira started to scootch backwards when left on her belly, though she seems to prefer to back herself into corners, jam herself under the couch or otherwise tuck herself into corners.  She has also started doing a really good downward dog, which has me fairly worried that actual crawling may not be too far away. Besides the normal concerns that once crawling the kids will no longer be easily corralled, I am freaked out by how much teeny tiny crap we have on the floor. Legos and dollhouse detritus, sure, but also buttons and dried beans. The beans were just a mistake; Ada got her hands of some beans we had gotten from our CSA. But the buttons were my fault. A year or two ago I found a big stash of buttons at an estate sale. I knew Ada would be thrilled to play with them, sort them, use them in her art projects and pretend kitchen games. I somehow failed to anticipate that they would end up EVERYWHERE, including all over the floors. As I find them I scoop up the buttons and beans, removing them from circulation. Unfortunately I know how many more there are to be found, and fear that Ian and Mira will both be crawling before I get them all. (And even if I do, there is still the small matter of the Legos and dollhouse toys.)

The least freaked out of this series

This was the month in which Mira more regularly slept through the night, when she wasn't woken up by her brother. This was also the month in which Ada decided she could not sleep without Chris or myself. I have written about this before, so for now suffice it to say that Ada will now sleep on her own, with the concession that she can sit up reading books before she falls asleep and can do so if she wakes up in the middle of the night. At first I was worried that this would be a problem; the first week of this Ada woke up at least twice a night to read, and was pretty tired and cranky during the day. I told myself that it was worthwhile, because we weren't wrestling her at 3 am. Luckily, the past week or so she has mostly not woken up at night (which I can tell because her overhead light isn't on when I check on her) and she seems better rested. Ada also knows that once her clock says 6am or later she can come into our bed to snuggle, which she has done a few times. I may write about this more later, but I am making a concerted effort to be more snuggly with her during the day and to make sure I give her my full attention when she wants to play (and I am not doing something that actually needs my attention, like making dinner or wiping up poop). The jury is still out on how I am doing with that goal.

Oh, and Mira and Ian started eating this month. This is great, but also sad. Great, because they seem pretty excited about food. The Terrible is two-fold: the poop is so much worse; and feeding two babies is in fact TWICE as time-consuming as feeding one. We started with one meal a day and I have finally caved to feeding them twice, despite the fact that this either takes two adults or one adult with a lot of time on her hands. (Thank goodness for the nanny, who can do this for us three days a week!) I just bought a gently used double stroller on craigslist, which in retrospect seems foolish. I mean, between their naps and meals, when exactly are we all going to leave the house together? Factor in the rain, which generally starts just when I've gotten both kids bundled up for the outdoors, and we may not actually take Mira and Ian outside until they turn 1. Oh well, only 5 more months, right?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Elbow, Elbow, Wrist, Wrist, Wrist

For the past week or so every time Mira has bottle she stretches her arm out and mesmerizes herself by waggling her hand back and forth. At first I thought Mira was just developing a deeper understanding that this thing at the end of her arm was hers and could be controlled at will. Last night I realized that something else is going on; she is practicing her parade wave for the Rose Parade.

I don't have the heart to tell her that this is the one year we aren't going to LA for the new year. Maybe next year, kid.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I must remember

These moments are fleeting, will I even remember?

Working at home, I take a break to nurse Ian. Having spent most of the day with the nanny, he keeps interrupting his nursing to smile and coo at me. I feel so loved that I started to cry a little.

We play together for a while and I enjoyed his giggly, bouncy company. Eventually I take him downstairs and go back to work, but not before I try to take a mental picture of the moment, of what it was like to look down on my smiling baby boy and see pure love.*

*I am not usually prone to what would normally feel like hyperbole, but this is how it felt. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

And a spicy holiday to you too!

Nora, reciting the prayer over the candles: Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam...

Ada, a few minutes later: Why were you saying jalapeno?

Nora: What?

Ada: Jalapeno. Barukh atah Adonai, jalapeno...

Someone should probably tell her that when they don't know the words, people often say "watermelon" instead.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Eight Nights of Hanukkah

On the first night of Chanukah, my mama gave to me,
My mama gave to me,
A pack of kids on a latke-fueled spree. 

Not capturing the chaos
Nine adults and five kids (plus two asleep upstairs). 
Brisket, latkes, applesauce, apple/fennel salad and wine. Lots of laughing, screaming, eating, drinking.

On the second night of Hanukkah,
My mama gave to me,
Two pink, sparkly shoes,
And a pack of kids on a latke-fueled spree. 

On the third night of Hanukkah,
My aunt and uncle gave to (my siblings and) me,
Three veggie dolls
Two pink, sparkly shoes,
And a pack of kids on a latke-fueled spree.

My children, the vegetables
Thanks Karen and Anthony!

On the fourth night of Hanukkah,
My mama gave to me,
Four big hugs,
Three veggie dolls
Two pink, sparkly shoes,
And a pack of kids on a latke-fueled spree.

On the fifth night of Hanukkah,
My mama gave to me,
Five pieces of gelt.
Four big hugs,
Three veggie dolls
Two pink, sparkly shoes,
And a pack of kids on a latke-fueled spree.

On the sixth night of Hanukkah,
My mama gave to me,
Six misplaced dreidels,
Five pieces of gelt.
Four big hugs,
Three veggie dolls
Two pink, sparkly shoes,
And a pack of kids on a latke-fueled spree.

On the seventh night of Hanukkah,
My mama gave to me,
Seven books from Goodwill,
Six misplaced dreidels,
Five pieces of gelt.
Four big hugs,
Three veggie dolls
Two pink, sparkly shoes,
And a pack of kids on a latke-fueled spree.

On the eighth night of Hanukkah,
My mama gave to me,
Eight dripping candles,
Seven books from Goodwill,
Six misplaced dreidels,
Five pieces of gelt.
Four big hugs,
Three veggie dolls
Two pink, sparkly shoes,
And a pack of kids on a latke-fueled spree.

Happy Hanukkah to those of you who celebrate it! And to those of you who don't, not being Jewish is no reason to not indulge in some fried foods this week. Remember, it's festive AND delicious!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

He likes applesauce

"Old Dogs" doesn't deserve a bad review so much as it deserves to be sent back in time for a good Puritan shunning.

Mike Russell
Holiday Films: Two nice entrees, but beware of turkeys

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Two Queens

After seeing a few interviews posted on some blogs, I decided to sign up for Neil's interview project.

I got to interview Queenie, of Baby, Borneo or Bust. I read a bunch of her archives and came up with some questions that, in my typical style, are pretty wordy. Queenie was nice not to complain about that.

* ** * 

Me: It is interesting to me to have gotten your blog in this experiment, as I am a fellow survivor of infertility. Our paths have been quite different, but I can relate to a lot of what you write about experiencing. I started blogging about my infertility after my older daughter was born, by which time I had talked to a lot of people in real life about what my husband and I went through. Is your blog your main outlet for talking about infertility, or are you "out" about it in your real life? If you are open about it, is it easier or harder to talk about in person compared to the blog? If you do not talk about this in the rest of your life, what made you decide to blog about it?

Queenie: I am not "out" in real life about our journey to creating a family.  It just has never been something that I wanted to talk about.  There were a couple of different issues.  First, because my husband and I are "older" parents, most of our friends are well past the toddler years, and none of them had any problems that I know of.  I just didn't think my friends could relate to what we were going through.  But perhaps more importantly, if we were not able to ever get pregnant, it just wasn't something I wanted people to know about.  I didn't want a crowd waiting every month to see what happened, and I didn't want input from others on what we should do if we couldn't get pregnant.  I didn't want people to know how we got from A to Z.  I really just wanted it to be us, making our decisions.  We were so old that people just assumed that we didn't want kids, so we never go any questions about it.  It just seemed natural to keep it to ourselves.  By the same token, I needed an outlet, and I needed support.  I needed a place to go and talk about what was going on, preferably with people who understood where I was coming from.  When I found Stirrup Queens, I found the infertilty and loss community, and blogging seemed like the perfect solution.  My blog has become the place that I dump how I am feeling at a particular moment, and it's been a great outlet for me.

Me: From reading your blog archives, it seems like you started blogging in large part because of your desire to have a baby and change your priorities regarding work/life balance. Do you consider yourself an infertility blogger? What will happen to your blog when your baby is born? Do you think you'll be a post-infertility blogger? A mommy-blogger? Something else?

Queenie: It's funny, but I don't consider myself to be an IF blogger, and I don't think I'll consider myself to be a mommy blogger after the baby is born.  I started the blog because I needed a space to dump all of the neuroses that were in my head, and that's still what I primarily use it for.  People reading my blog probably get a pretty one-sided picture of me, because it's really not all that multi-faceted.  I definitely started it when I was in a very bad place personally, in terms of both the struggle to create a family and also a personal/professional life that was badly out of balance, and I'd like to think that I've created more balance over the last year.  I'm not sure where it will head from here. . .stay tuned!

Me: I noticed that you are renovating your house and expecting the arrival of your baby. This kind of thing is more common than I'd think it would be; I have known people who move or enter into serious renovations after they get pregnant. What caused you to do this right before your baby shows up?

Queenie: We've actually been renovating our house for YEARS!!!  We've been doing the work ourselves (my husband is very talented and in the field), and have basically done a gut rehab, which is why it has taken so long.  It probably would've continued plodding along at a glacial pace, but for the imminent arrival of the baby.  I actually joke that if I had known that having a baby would've sped up the renovation timetable, I would've started trying to get pregnant years ago. I have noticed, by the way, that a lot of IF-ers seem to have renovations underway.  It is a good distraction at times. . .until you find yourself 9 months pregnant and needing to move out of your house so certain things can be completed, and then it's just a giant hassle!

Me: What does it feel like for you to be pregnant after such a struggle to achieve it? Do you feel scared, elated, at all conflicted? What about pregnancy is different than you thought it would be?

Queenie: This is such a good question.  For the first 4 months, I was certain something was going to go wrong, and I worried constantly about miscarrying again, or something being wrong with the baby.  We got worrisome stat's back after doing the NT scan, and opted to do chorionic villus sampling.  We went to a major, internationally renowned facility to have it done, which had a very low complication rate, so I felt comfortable doing CVS.  I knew I couldn't handle the wait until amnio would be possible.  When we got the normal results back, it was like a weight had been lifted from me.  We were outside the first trimester at that point, and I just decided that I shouldn't worry any more.  Since then, I have had a great, easy pregnancy (knocking on wood right now).  I think that is what has been most surprising for me about this pregnancy--how easy it has been.  I had always imagined pregnancy would be harder and much more uncomfortable.  Over the last few weeks, I have definitely become somewhat uncomfortable, but until then, I felt great.  That was a thrilling discovery--to feel well physically and to be worry-free was such a huge thing for me.

Me: A year ago you said there were three things you most wanted - a particular job overseas, to start your own business, and a third thing that at the time you could not bring yourself to write about. Has anything changed? Are the first two the same, and can you now disclose what the third wish was?

Queenie: Those three things were three things that I most wanted to accomplish professionally.  I can tell you that I continue to progress toward the job abroad.  I have been working my way through the hiring process for about 10 months now, and just learned last week that I've passed another hurdle.  As a backup option, I am still contemplating opening my own business, and I think that's something that I will be thinking a lot about in coming months, particularly after the baby is born.  As for the third thing. . .I still can't bring myself to say it out loud, but it's definitely still there, swirling around my mind.

Me: Your new years resolutions last year were to work simultaneously toward to your three goals and to take steps to improve your overall health. It can be really hard to stick to "do good things for myself" goals, even when you know they are linked to other things you want (like getting pregnant). How well do you think you stuck to your health-care improvement goal?

Queenie: I have done really well with my goals for last year.  I think that's probably why I've felt so good during my pregnancy.  Last winter, even before getting pregnant, I really made it a priority to eat well, get enough sleep, take vitamins, and to gain some weight.  I felt a lot better as a result, and I think that's also why we were finally able to achieve a sustainable pregnancy.  Before that, I had always put myself last as a priority.  After I became pregnant, I continued to take good care of myself, and put myself first.  It's been hard at times (particularly while working on that big project during November), but I've managed to stick to it.  I think that's also why I've felt so good during my pregnancy--I was treating myself so poorly last year and felt so bad as a result that all of the changes that I made really made a huge difference in how I felt, even pregnant.

Me: What are your resolutions for the coming year? (Please don't tell me it is "get more sleep" - as a mother of small children I can tell you that one will be hard to keep.)

Queenie: I haven't even thought about New Year's resolutions for this year.  My life is in a tremendously different and better place than last year.  I was in SUCH bad shape a year ago, in so many ways.  It's amazing to think of how far I've come.  This baby is just the icing on that cake.  Maybe it will be to slow down even more and to enjoy each passing day with the baby, because this time will be so fleeting and irreplacable.  If the job pans out that I want, it will mean a big move and lots of change, so it will be important to prioritize appropriately.  It's so hard to be a modern woman, but I just can't help wanting it all (at once)!

Me: I saw this from a post you wrote this past March: "How can you prepare for something so utterly huge, and which you've never experienced? At the end of the day, it's really a total leap of faith." Reading that made me think about an article I read that talked about people's orientation to the world. The author wrote that some people are optimists, while others are defensive pessimists. Optimists prefer to think that things will work out and not focus on the possible horror scenarios, while defensive pessimists feel compelled to prepare for all the horrible things that could happen. How do you see yourself? Does your orientation to the world differ depending on the type of situation you are facing? Do you respond to the possibility of a great new job differently than you do to the possibility of a successful pregnancy?

Queenie: I haven't seen the article, but from your description, I would say that I am totally a defensive pessimist, and across the board, regardless of circumstance.  When I am stressed about something, I definitely think out all of the negative scenarios that can happen, and prepare myself for how I'll handle it if the worst comes true.  My husband, on the other hand, is incredibly optimistic, and I drive him crazy.  I always tell him that we have different ways of handling things, and my outlook helps me manage the worst case scenarios.  On the other hand, my perspective also sometimes keeps me from doing things I should really do, because I can get defeatist about it, and think I have no shot.  It's good that my husband is so optimistic, because there are times when he's forced me to do things where things have turned out really well, and I would've never taken the step forward without his encouragement.  I need to learn to do that more, and take more risks.

* ** *

The second Queen mentioned in the subject line above is the Draft Queen, who posted her interview with me at her blog The Drafts Folder. Thank you to Queenie for answering all my questions, and thanks to the Draft Queen for her questions to me.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Bedtime and Torn Books

The monsters were a smoke screen, as we'd suspected. I think that Ada subconsciously realized that she'd just lost a very big control lever (the toileting) and found something to replace it. I don't think this was a purposeful decision, but the time proximity between her starting to use the toilet and her belief that she can not sleep alone is just too much to ignore.

She will go to sleep if one of us is lying with her in bed. I refuse to do this, leaving it to Chris to coax her to sleep. But a few nights ago I thought I might give it a try. After ten minutes I was fuming, and got up. Ada immediately freaked out. She followed me downstairs, and Chris took her back up. He spent a good chunk of time trying to get her to stay in her room; she shrieked her opposition. It was horrifying. I sat on the couch not helping at all, but I don't know how I could have helped if I had tried.

I don't know what to do with Ada other than to meet her stubbornness with my own resolve not to let her take over. I was apparently not like this when I was a child. I was, to use my father's phrase, more "go along to get along" when I was Ada's age. When I talked to my parents about Ada's new-found refusal to sleep alone, my father also told me that I might have been taught not to wake up my parents by seeing what my tired, cranky father was like when he got up too early. So where does Ada get this stubbornness, and what makes me respond in kind?  

Compared to me, Chris is generally more practical about Ada-related matters, wanting mostly to get through a given crisis without permanent scars on any of the three of us. On this night he attempted to keep her in her room while she screamed and threw things. Just as I was starting to cry, the screaming stopped and Ada yelled: "I ripped a book." "Daddy, I'm ripping a book! Mommy, Mommy, I'm ripping a book"

Right, she's four. She knows ripping books is bad. In fact, we talked about it earlier this evening. So she does the worst thing she can think to do; she rips up her books.

When Chris let her out of her room, she told him, "Daddy, I ripped books. I was too mad!"

How can it be that I have absolutely no idea what to do with my maddeningly smart and stubborn 4 year old?

* ** *

We moved Ada's bedtime up a half hour based on the idea that if someone Chris has to lie down with her for a half hour until she falls asleep, we should start that process earlier in the evening. Also, it was a way of making things less fun for her in the hopes that she might decide not to do this "I can't sleep alone" crap much longer. Such a thought is, of course, foolishness. This should be clear to anyone who talked to me in the past two years in which Ada refused to have anything to do with a toilet, until she was ready. No amount of negative lifestyle impacts motivated Ada. So telling her that she can't watch movies, can't play with the ipod, can't play as long because she has to go to bed earlier, pretty much none of that is going to change her mind on this issue. And yet. Still I tell her these things. You'd think I would have learned by now.

Big Girl Party Cake
The cake from Ada's "big girl party" - this party was something we suggested to Ada she could have once she started being a kid who peed and pooped on the potty. Our bribe did not actually motivate a behavior change, but once she accepted the toilet she called in this chip nonetheless. 

Chris lay down with Ada to get her to sleep tonight. Over an hour later, he came down, followed by Ada. When she comes down after bedtime we ignore her, and she is not allowed to play or read or to do anything.  We may not have figured out how to keep her in her room without a lock on the door, but we can deny her entertainment after bedtime. Within 10 minutes she'd fallen asleep. On past nights Chris has been able to carry her upstairs and put her in bed once she falls asleep like this. Cross your fingers that he can do it again.

couch sleeper

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

if you already

It's fall, fuckfaces. You're either ready to reap this freaky-assed harvest or you're not. 

Colin Nissan
It's Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


As a four year old, Ada is working out what we do and who we are as a family, and how that is different or the same as other families. I come from a Jewish family, and Chris's family is what I call American-Christian, meaning that they celebrate Christmas more as a time to be with family, eat good food and give presents than as a holiday specifically honoring their god. Our nuclear family celebrates Hanukkah with a menorah, latkes and a dreidel. For Christmas, we go to Chris's parents' house. This works out well, as it allows us to celebrate with family and friends and yet I can avoid putting up a tree or lights at home. Somehow, putting up Christmas decorations at home feels like it would cross a line that apparently wasn't already obliterated by my eating pork, marrying outside my family's religion or failing to observe the myriad other rules and traditions of the Jewish faith.

Negotiating, and even explaining, our family's traditions and observances to Ada is already a bit complicated. The other night Chris and Ada were reading a book about Hanukkah. This got them talking about Hanukkah; celebrating with friends, eating latkes, etc. Chris talked about how we will do that here at home, and then later in the month we will go to Grandma and Bunka's for Christmas.

"And then Kwanzaa?" Ada asked.

Chris told Ada that different families celebrate different holidays. We celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas, some other families just celebrate Hanukkah, others celebrate Christmas, others Kwanzaa. Ada seemed satisfied with this explanation, which relieved Chris. He wondered how many holidays we might be required to celebrate if Ada got it in her head that we should do them all. Just in case, he suggested I might want to avoid bringing up the subject of Ramadan with Ada, lest we find ourselves fasting next August.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Uses for Clove Oil

For anyone who has suffered with a child who refuses to stay in bed at night or naps, this is going to sound crazy, but until two nights ago Ada had NEVER gotten out of bed on her own. She has let us know when she wants to get up, mostly by yelling out or kicking the wall, but until this week she never, ever got up out of bed without Chris or me coming in to her room first. Even when she went diaper-free last year and she was regularly wetting the bed in the morning, she would just lie there until we came to get here. I don't think this was so much a sign of her compliance as it has been a weird way for her to control us.

I mention this, of course, because two nights ago Ada came into our room in the middle of the night. She'd had a nightmare, and as we'd never considered what to do when our eldest appeared at our bedside, we brought her into bed with us. It wasn't perfect, but we all slept reasonably well for the next few hours. The next night, Ada woke up at 2:30 with a wet bed. Chris got up to help her, but then she refused to go back to bed. I woke up to them arguing, and by the time I collected myself enough to engage, Chris had brought her into our room saying that she could sleep with me and he would sleep in her bed. Not perfect, but Chris decided that: (a) he wasn't going to convince Ada to sleep in her bed; (b) he needed to do something so that he could get back to sleep; and (c) three in our bed was not a great solution two nights in a row.

In the morning Chris and I agreed that we needed to talk to Ada about the fact that she would not be sleeping with us again, and the talk needed to happen before bedtime (when such a chat would be clouded by fatigue on her part and a desire to get her to sleep on ours). We talked to Ada about the bed situation during dinner, without a lot of receptivity on her part. At bedtime we got through the bath and books, and then Ada declared she was not going to sleep. I declared that she would be. She said she could not, as when she went to bed there were monsters in her bed. After first trying the "there are no monsters in your bed" gambit, I decided to follow a different course. I asked her if she wanted some anti-monster spray that we could shpritz around her room. I held my breath, waiting for her to call bullshit on the idea of monster repellant. Amazingly, she agreed to get some spray.

Clove Oil: Hated By Monsters, Loved By Hippies

We headed downstairs, where I grabbed some clove oil and searched briefly for our spray bottle. When I could not find the bottle, I grabbed a clean cloth diaper and we headed back upstairs. I put some oil on the cloth and started to wipe the side of her bedframe.

"No, the monsters don't come on the bed there."

"Where do they come on?"

"They are just on the bed."

I wiped the sheets, pillow and comforter with the clove-doused cloth. Then, with Ada's approval, I rubbed the cloth on the head and foot boards. Ada thought we should also wipe my bed, saying "when I was in your bed I saw a monster there too." I wiped my comforter, pillow and sheets, focusing on the top of the bed where Ada said she'd seen the monster.

We returned to her room, where I told her she should take the cloth. That way, if she saw a monster she could put the cloth on her chest to keep the monster away. Ada asked "why don't monsters like this?"

"I'm not sure. Maybe it smells too strong for them. I kind of like it, though."

"Me too."

And then Ada got into her bed, I told her a woodchuck story, and left her with my usual "I love you" and other soothing words. Now I am crossing my fingers. I hope that the smell of the clove oil helps, that it is strong enough to make her feel it is working. I love my little girl and I hate for her to be scared. And yes, I hate to wake up at 2:30 on a night the babies actually sleep through.

I wrote this on Friday night. Ada slept through the night and was not eaten by monsters. Now it is Saturday night, and Chris and I have been talking to, arguing with and practically wrestling Ada. She says she needs us to sleep. She is refusing to go to bed, and wants to sleep in our bed. She says that the monsters will eat her. (I tried the logic of "if the monsters had eaten you last night, you wouldn't be here now." This worked not at all.) I finally left the room, figuring that my presence was making things worse. After a full 40 minutes of arguments with Ada, Chris finally told her he was done and walked out.

What do you do when a child refuses to go to sleep? What should we do?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Counting My Blessings

I am so lucky. This week seemed like a good time to be thankful for some of the people who have made me feel that way.

Abby, who I met in prenatal yoga, not once but twice came over to help us out on days she was child-free and could have been sipping coffee and reading a book.

Dina, who volunteered to spend a couple of hours with Ada so that Chris and I could go out to dinner.

My mother, who this summer spent 10 days helping with baby-wrangling, in those last few days of the "4th trimester" when the babies needed a lot of attention but didn't reward us with a lot of sleep.

Traci, who loaned us a crib so that the babies could stop kick-boxing in their sleep. Looking at them now I can hardy imagine how we kept them in one bed so long.

Ellen, who cooked us pork and polenta and baked apples. And who always gives us food she'd "made too much of."

Elizabeth, who has taken Ada on adventures and playdates with her son, giving us a few hours of respite.

Karen, who does not mind that I call for 10 minute chats.

Chris, who out of nowhere says, you know, if one of these nights you want to go out to dinner with friends or to a movie or something, you should do that.

Neighbors who routinely have Ada over for dinner, where she eats more than she does at home. (Viva Taco Night!)

My boss, for letting me have this past six months at home with Ian and Mira.

My in-laws, for coming to see us regularly even as I balk at packing everyone (and everything) up for the trip down to their house.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I recently got this:

class of '59

Class of '59?

Yesterday I got the follow up email. Still not going. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week


Government's supposed to serve from the bottom up and not move towards this top-down, big-government takeover, but rather will be protectors of individual rights, who also have enough common sense to acknowledge when conditions have drastically changed, and they're willing to call an audible and pass the ball when it's time so the team can win.

Sarah Palin, on political change

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Halfway to Where?

I can not believe it has been six months already. This month I have been marveling that my level of frustration is so much less than it was with Ada at this age. At six months I was still crying a lot. Ada was just emerging from her colicky infancy into what thankfully turned out to be a happy, charming babyhood. Ian and Mira have been happy and mostly adorable for a while already. I know I say some version of this every month, but it is just so amazing to me.

Ham with 2 babies (6 mo)
Can you tell which child is working on week 2 of a stuffed up nose?

For comparison, this was Ada at 6 months

I also see the passage of time as a bit of a trick. Like many parents of babies under one, I think in terms of surviving that first year. At six months with Ian and Mira, I've gotten through half of that, but it isn't as if there is an "end" in six months. The next six months, and all the months and years after that, will bring change and growth for all three kids. As certainly as we are on a road with our children, it is surely not a road to somewhere. The journey is the destination, and all that.

Pouty 4.5 year old (6 mo)
Meet my children: Bewildered, Pouty and Distracted
NB: Mira is not half Ian's size. She's being pushed down.

S'not No(se) Big Thing
Right now our journey is on a road paved with snot. (Wait, can snot pave something? Maybe I should just say that we are on a snot-slicked road. No, too evocative.)

The past few weeks have been illness-heavy. Chris, Ada and I got the H1N1 vaccine, and quickly got sick. Other than a fever, I had pretty much all the symptoms the CDC lists for the flu, while Ada, Mira and Ian all had fevers but not much else. That said, I am not sure what we had wasn't just a cold, and in any case the bad part passed fairly quickly. (And thank goodness for that - the five days Ada was at home with us without the distraction of play dates was fairly hard on all of us.) Mira seems to have inherited my tendency to end colds with a lingering runny nose, and she is not happy about it. Unlike Ian, she loves sleeping with a pacifier, which is hard to do when you can't breathe out of your nose. Needless to say, Chris and I have been up a lot at night to soothe her. And then just as Mira and Ian appeared to be leaving one cold behind, another one is starting up. I can tell because a new cold brings with it a day or two of heavy napping, which would be a blessing if it wasn't tied to crankiness, a reduction in good night-sleeping and the inevitable drippy yet plugged nose. Mira slept for 3.5 hours on Thursday. This was after an hour nap and a mere hour up between naps. Wow.

Mira 11/09
Even when she's stuffy, who could resist this face?

Physically, Ian and Mira are still not showing a lot of interest in movement. Ian scootches around in circles, and Mira will pivot while on her belly when she's motivated by a toy, but neither consistently flips over much. Except in their cribs, where Ian occasionally and Mira consistently flips over. While Ian is a little ahead of Mira in sitting, neither can really sit up for more than a couple of seconds. Based on my perusal of photographs from her six month mark, Ada was sitting up alone by this point. What is weird is I remember wanting Ada to meet each milestone and doing a lot to "help" her along toward those stages. With Mira and Ian, I am not at all worried about them getting new skills on any timeline. I know they'll get there at some point, and I have a lot less energy for trying to make it happen. (Plus, as I have mentioned before, WHY would I want to encourage things like crawling? It is going to be a lot of work for the rest of us when Ian and Mira decide to get mobile.)

Mira, for her part, has won the "first tooth" contest. I'm glad it Ian is still toothless, as he's been nipping at me while nursing. So far I've just used it as a signal that I am out of milk, and taken him off the breast when it happens. Once he gets a tooth or three this will be a lot more painful, so I'm hoping he doesn't get any soon.

John's gift (stll in action)
Ian, looking very High Fidelity

I am going back to work in about a week, and the babies will be spending my work days with a nanny. We found someone with a good about of twin and infant experience, and I have high hopes. Hopefully she won't be too horrified by our messy lives and home.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

An Unexpected Change

This past weekend Ada and Lila were playing upstairs. Chris and I heard a crashing noise. Chris went up to investigate. As he climbed the stairs he heard Ada say, "Get the grownups!" He found Ada barely holding up her dresser, which was close to completely crashing down on her. (The girls had opened all the drawers at once, so it toppled.) Chris helped Ada to right the dresser, and out of nowhere she told him that she'd peed and pooped in the potty. Chris gave her a high five and then asked about the dresser situation.

Chris related the story to me, and said that SOMEONE had clearly pooped in the potty, he could smell it. (It would be consistent with Ada not to flush. Then again, Lila doesn't always remember either. And I know Lila uses the potty, as it happens routinely at our house. What is it about preschoolers that they like to poop with other people around? I pretty much never go to my friends' houses in order to poop.)

When I went upstairs to put Mira to bed, and Ada told me she'd peed and pooped in the potty. I said "that's great!" and then moved on, figuring from past experience that where Ada is concerned it is not a good idea to over-do on the potty praise. A bit later Ada, Lila and I were drawing at the dining room table. Ada said "I peed and pooped in the potty." I said, "I know!" "how did you know?" "Well, Papa told me, and you told me." We talked about who told whom, tra la la, all very calmly.

Even later, Ada asked to see Chris' ipod, which he'd recently told her she could not play with anymore, until she was a big girl (as evidenced by her peeing and pooping in the potty). He let her play with it.

So what is going on here? How did my non-toilet user turn overnight into a no-problem-I'm-using-it kid? And who STARTS using the potty by pooping in it? Has Ada really turned the corner? I am not proud to admit it, but my first thought was that she is not telling the truth. However, it is not really Ada's M.O. to lie about this (or more specifically, to plot with Lila to pretend that Lila's poop is her own). It goes against the grain of Ada's potty obstinacy, which usually leads her to flatly declare that she is not going to use the potty ("ever", sometimes). And Lila has been talking to her about the potty more of late. (A couple of days before this first toileting, within Ada's earshot, Lila told me that Ada was going to pee and poop in the potty.) So there you go. As shocked as I was, I was forced to admit that we may have had a breakthrough, which may or may not be motivated by Ada's desire to play games on the ipod.

Since this all went down on Sunday, Ada has started to consistently and nonchalantly use the toilet for both urine and bowel movements. On Wednesday morning she declared that she wanted to pee before we left for school, and as I was in the bathroom at the time, she kept up her chatter while doing her business. I had to restrain myself from staring in shock at how nonchalant, how normal Ada was acting about this. She was so comfortable using the toilet that she was talking to me about something completely unrelated, as if she'd been using the toilet like this for years. No biggie, apparently.

Chris and I have been speculating about what caused this change. Besides the ipod, we have a couple of ideas. One is best summed up by a line from a book we recently borrowed from the library: "the princess will use the potty when it pleases the princess." I don't necessarily think that reading this book with Ada caused a change (though she did enjoy the book). But the sentiment, that a kid will use the toilet when (and only when) she wants to, really resonates with our situation. We have endured years of attempts to motivate her potty use, only to find that she'd rather give up all manner of things than get them as rewards for something she was not ready to do.

Then there's the impact of increasing peer pressure. In the past Ada has not really cared that other people know she uses a pull-up. More recently, she has interacted with a new kid who asked about her diaper, and some of her potty-using friends have encouraged her to do so. She seems to care a bit more what other kids think.

And speaking of other kids, we are now on the hook for a big girl party. A couple of months ago Ada went through a several week phase of asking about when she'd be 5. At the time we took the opportunity to offer a half-birthday party. We billed it as something she could do when she was a big girl who peed and pooped in the potty; we would have a party with her friends at which they could watch a movie and eat popcorn and cupcakes. This week Ada asked us about the party. (Another reminder that this kid forgets NOTHING.) So we'll be having a movie, popcorn and cupcake party with Ada and a few of her friends very soon. She's certainly earned it. (speaking of which, for putting up with all this, don't you think I've earned a big girl party with drinks and sushi and my friends?)

So where are we now? Well, at home Ada is peeing and pooping in the potty, with no tricks or bribes, when she feels the need to go. She is comfortable enough with it that if I am around she is happy to have me there, but when I am busy she'll go on her own. She has so far slept without a pull up and stayed dry. (No real shock there, we knew this wasn't a physical issue.) We are working with the teachers at her school to achieve toilet use there as well. (The head teacher is incredibly kind and patient, and I think this made a big impact on Ada's willingness to make a change.) The trick is getting her to feel the same comfort away from home that she feels here. I think that will come, and for now we will continue to use the same hands-off support that we have been using with her. We are not there yet, and I am sure there will be setbacks, but I for one feel a weight has been lifted from my shoulders with such progress on this issue. I also feel really proud of Ada for figuring this one out in her own way. It might not have been my way or on my time line, but she figured it out for herself. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

And now a message from the wonk portion of my brain

Over the past few months I have mostly had my fingers in my ears when health reform talk was in the air. This has been hard to do, as health insurance reform has been topic #1 for much of the past six months. It has been in the news for good reason. What other time in my lifetime has there actually been so much change actually likely to happen? Never. So, not a good time for me to be singing "la la la la" instead of listening to the news on this. Also, I am a health policy wonk, professionally, so I have a vested interest in health reform news. But for almost six months I've been a policy wonk on leave, so I have not really paid the attention I would have if I had been working the past six months.

(now that I know my mother reads the blog, I am a little embarrassed to admit this in front of her, policy/research wonk that she is. Oh well. It is still true.)

Even in my news gray zone, certain pieces of the reform process have gotten my attention. I can't help pay attention to news about a potential public plan, after all the discussions we have had here in Oregon on that topic. The idea of a health insurance exchange is also key for me. It looks like I will be doing some work on that when I return to my job in a couple of weeks. And the past week or two, I have been listening to the news about the Stupak Amendment, which would not allow insurers to offer abortion as a covered benefit in the insurance offered to people who access federal financial premium assistance.

This is a sneaky way to limit access to abortion, and not just for low and middle income Americans. Of course, it does limit access to abortion for people who will get federal subsidies for their insurance purchase (by refusing to allow it to be a covered service). But it actually goes further. As people who get help paying for insurance premiums will have to buy through a health insurance exchange, it effectively eliminates abortion as a covered service from any insurance purchased through exchanges, whether or not the purchaser uses a subsidy. Exchanges will be open to people buying coverage on their own, with no financial help from the government. But no insurance company is going to offer one package for people getting subsidies, and another almost-but-not-quite-identical-except-with-abortion-coverage to people paying on their own. Since insurers will have to exclude abortion for some, they aren't going to include abortion in an otherwise identical insurance package for others. It just doesn't make financial sense for the insurance companies.

Proponents of this amendment say that people could always buy a separate insurance rider for abortion. But who is going to do that? How many women think "gee, I'd better plan for the possibility of a catastrophic pregnancy that needs to be terminated at 22 weeks in order to avoid threatening my health or life!"? No one thinks that, and pretty much no one is going to buy this kind of special coverage. (Plus, people who - due to past health issues - know it is likely that they'd need this are going to be high risk, making premiums for such insurance costly, and further dissuading others from buying it.) This rule would shut down abortion coverage for a big chunk of Americans. Given that most Americans who purchase insurance in the individual market have abortion as a covered service, this will be a big change.

Yes, I am annoyed.

I expressed my annoyance by signing a petition sponsored by California Senator Barbara Boxer. Despite what the conservatives say, Boxer is a moderate, not a crazy flaming liberal (not that there is anything wrong with flaming liberals. I and some of my best friends are crazy liberals).

My fellow countrymen and women can sign a petition against the Stupak Amendment here. You can also write or call your legislators to let them know what you think about this. (Click these links for contact info for your senators and representatives.)

Maybe I am ready to go back to work after all.

Monday, November 16, 2009

When Tortillas Go Bad

or, Taco Night takes a wrong turn

I'm not usually crazy about the kids playing with their food, but the other night Lila joined us for dinner (shredded pork soft tacos). After the girls ate they started to get creative with the tortillas.

Lila, Masked

Ada, Masked

Holes in her head

Eye See You

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Oh What a Wookie

I heard Chris play a weird song on his computer, so asked how he'd gotten there. He said:

I was reading the Blazers' blog.

Then I decided to go to the Bobcats' blog, to see what they thought of the game.

The pre-game post has a quote from Clerks.

Watching the clip I heard this song in the background, so then I went to find the song.

And to think that some people think the internet is a wasteland.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

please wait

"It's hard enough to get kids to concentrate on an algorithm -- even without Jimmy sitting there in lipstick and fake eyelashes," said Kay Hymowitz

Jan Hoffman
Can a Boy Wear a Skirt to School?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Even the common cold can knock you out

Ada, Chris and I all got the H1N1 vaccine last Friday. On Saturday Ada played with a kid who subsequently came down with something (maybe the flu). I checked, and it takes a couple of weeks for the vaccine to protect you after you take it. On Tuesday Ada was running a low fever but was otherwise fine. I am coughing and phlegmy. Neither of us seems to really fit the flu symptoms enough for us to worry.

We are tired, however.

I guess we are sick

Yup, that's me, asleep with a not-quite empty tea mug in my lap. Ada and I slept upright, using one another as pillows. It felt great.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The first day of winter

I know that "real" winter is still about six weeks away, but for me winter started last Thursday. That was the evening I looked out the window and saw the red light. The light is a stoplight a few blocks from our house. It is weird that we can see this stoplight at all, but from the top of the stairs things line up just right so that the houses between us and the light do not block the view. All summer and well into the fall the trees make the light invisible. Once enough trees have lost their leaves, the light is again visible. 

Before Ada was born, I did not notice the light much, and when I did, I didn't place much importance on the sightings. But then Ada came along, and I learned all about the magical thinking that comes along with parenting an infant. You know, "I will  hold my baby for the count of 100, then slowly, slooowwwly get up and she'll stay asleep as I put her back in her bed." Total insanity if taken too seriously, but necessary in those early, sleepless months.

During Ada's first winter I spent countless hours nursing her while sitting in a rocking chair in her room. From this position, at night I could look through the gap in the curtains to the distant stoplight. Rocking and nursing, I attached special significance to the color the light showed. Red was the norm, as the light presides over a side street that runs into a bigger road. Red was okay, but it offered no special protection. Looking up to see a light green was good. It meant that I would have a relatively easy time putting Ada back to bed. Even better was a yellow light; it was a sign Ada would definitely fall back asleep with no problem. (oh, if only!)

After a while, I could not keep myself from staring out the window with the hopes of seeing a green or yellow light. Realizing that whatever magic I'd ascribed to those colors could not be counted on if I watched the light (instead of taking an occasional glimpse), I started using the light as a magical timer. I remember thinking "If I rock Ada for three more cycles of the light, then sit still for another three, I can then safely get up and put her back in bed without her waking up."

After that first winter, I did not need the light the way I had before. Ada had become a good sleeper and there were few 2 am rocking chair sessions. But I still looked to the light for signs. Now that I no longer sat in Ada's room looking out the window, I mostly saw the light as I walked up the stairs. If I saw a red light, bedtime was not necessarily going to be rocky, but I still hoped for the green or yellow that would portend good luck.

And now I am back in the days of night-waking and magical thinking. Ian and Mira's room does not face the light and in any case I kind of forgot about it over the summer. Now that the leaves are falling, I am happy to report that the twins get up a bit less than Ada used to. Chris and I still wake to feed them in the hours that most sane people are in bed, but except when bothered by a cold or a phantom or a neighbor's incredibly loud muffler, they sleep well for fairly long stretches. Seeing the light the other night reminded me of how hard it had been with Ada. I recalled that at this point with Ada I was still crying a lot. I can not really express how much the color of the light meant to me, even as I knew that it was just a stoplight, and not a parenting sign meant only for me.

I cry a lot less with Ian and Mira. Even with two, I find the experience of parenting newborns less stressful the second time around. A green light still buoys me a bit in the evening, but these days I don't need the reassurance of an inanimate object the way I used to. Now the light tells me that winter is coming, and with it my twins are getting older and more capable. Soon we will face new challenges, as they learn to roll, and crawl and (heaven help us) stand and walk. I look forward to these challenges, and to the joys of winter. 

Her Favorite Game

Mira has developed a little quirk. Whenever a towel, diaper, blanket, sheet or other flat, soft item is within her reach, she grabs it and does this:

She does this to herself

When I pull it off, she looks amused. So then we do a little peekaboo, which she finds highly entertaining. I suppose I should not encourage this behavior, but she has so few entertainments at this point, I hate to take one away. (She does seem able, though not very inclined, to take the diaper or other item off her face. I figured this out when I let her sit like this for a little to see if she'd take it off or panic. It took a while before she peeked out, but eventually she did come out of hiding.)

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Odd Couple

I saw two books on the floor in the playroom and asked Chris about them. He replied that Lila and Ada each wanted a book. "This is what they picked."

Two books

Since neither Ada nor Lila can really read, I am sure Lila was attracted to the Heimel book by the heels. Both girls are really into heels right now. Did Ada choose the Gogol because she has a thing for Russian writers or for herringbone?

Friday, November 06, 2009

The perfect stroller I can't afford

You know how sometimes you go wandering blog to blog, looking for something or someone entertaining or interesting? I did that this week, and wandered over to a mother of twins in Canada. She is giving away a beautiful, lovely, heart-stoppingly expensive stroller, a Bumbleride Indie Twin.

Let's face it, even when I am not in the middle of a 6 month leave from work, an almost $700 stroller is not in the cards for me. But if I could win it? That would be nice. So in a vain attempt to win this stroller, I am blogging about it. This is a little embarrassing to me, but it is a measure of how much I would like to win this. So there, we've found my price, huh? Did I mention it comes in orange? Sigh.

Embarrassment aside, here is a link to the giveaway.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

Portland Graffiti

"Let's just put it this way, he says. "There is a very large demand for eyelash enhancement."

John Mack, Pharma Marketing News

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Thank Goodness it Wasn't Raining

The wood delivery truck arrived


and to Ada's delight, dumped a cord of wood in our driveway.

She was more excited to help than seems reasonable

Scrap Runner

Juni and Ian
Ian and our pal Juniper didn't actually help move the wood out of the driveway, but she is so beautiful I had to include this shot (and she did do a lot of dinner prep that night)