Monday, June 29, 2009

Proof of Life

At the berry farm last week - 

Ada refused to join us for a family portrait.

But she was there -
in the fields

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Today I walked into my local hipster cafe for a decaf americano. I heard a song that was at once familiar and unidentifiable.  As I looked around the cafe I saw staff and patrons bobbing their heads, subtly rocking out. And then I remembered - the pata pata!  This was the song played to accompany a dance I learned in junior high gym class.  I almost laughed out loud; the song, removed from its context as a middle school torture device, was compelling and fun. I have had the song in my head all day. I wonder how many other people who heard it this morning are rehearsing the dance steps to themselves this evening.

The song:

The dance:

or here, but the one with the kids in it feels closer to my childhood experience.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Books for Babies (Thanks!)

A while back my pal Mother-Woman sweetly arranged a virtual baby shower that features book recommendations. (At first I thought it might be weird to write about this myself, but you have to see these book suggestions!)

Having received some cool books from the Mo-Wo family, I am thrilled for ideas from her and the others who participated.

Check them out at:

Librarian Mom
Mad Hatter Mommy
Mama without Instructions
Mayberry Mom
Sarah and the Goon Squad

Oh, and Mo, Ada is still talking about when we get to go back to Canada to see you and yours. I told her that it would probably not be this year, but maybe next year we could go back. She is looking forward to showing the twins around. Neko Case not required.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Observations from a Month with Twins

Three children is hard. Twins would be crazy enough, but trying to juggle their needs with those of an older child is fairly impossible. Strangely, in some ways it feels easier than it did when we were new parents. So far I am crying less than I did when Ada was a newborn. (I hate to type that, as I am sure that now I will start crying non-stop, but for now it is the case.)

Even though it it not usually me, someone is always crying. At least it feels that way. The babies cry of course, and Ada is especially sensitive these days. She had a meltdown the other day when she learned that our nice neighbors are moving away. She was crushed because their departure means that their baby chicks will not be viewable on demand. She was really upset, and although I felt sad for her (like all kids her age, she feels things so strongly) I was also charmed by her expression of loss about the baby chicks.

I know that first children are the most photographed, but already I am already seeing how few pictures I am taking of Ian and Mira. It is a little hard to get out the camera to snap one when I am holding the other.  Or holding both. I have only take an few, and pictures of sleeping babies probably get old quickly if you are not their grandparents. We did document the outfit in the photo below, as shortly after she declared that Mira would get all the cute outfits and Ian could not wear them, Ada chose this snappy frock for Ian.

What happens when Ada dresses him
What happens when Ada chooses Ian's outfits

This month I learned that when you tell a lactation consultant that you can pump 6 - 10 oz of milk at a
sitting, you pretty much guarantee that you'll manage only a measly 3 oz while pumping in her office. Then again, I don't usually pump with an audience of family and strangers.

Fairy at the Coffee Store
Ada, taking the fairy princess thing very seriously these days

Also this month, Ada is especially hungry for love. This past Saturday Ellen noticed how fast she warmed to a woman she'd never met, which for my usually wary child is unusual. On Sunday some friends stopped by and (after pre-emptively having declared that she did not want to play with them) Ada immediately jumped into Ann's lap and enjoyed the next several hours of Ann's mostly undivided attention. All this reminds me that I have to figure out a way to be warm and welcoming enough to satisfy her more (note, though probably not "entirely"). This can be a real challenge for me, as the whinier and crabbier she gets, the less I am inclined to snuggle her. Even worse, I am sore from nursing and am often holding a baby in some state of non-sleep, neither of which make me want to share my arms or lap with anyone (including the baby). That said, I am trying my best and today felt mostly successful on that score.

Waiting for Waffles

And we have had some fun. We have a general rule that we try to attempt one thing a day. Last weekend our one thing was a walk to the waffle window. (This is what it sounds like - walk up, order a waffle at the window and eat your waffle while sitting on the curb or one of the few tables.) Ada declared that she wanted two waffles, but could only get through about 2/3 of the one we got her. (Chris and I ate the rest.) In pleasant 4 year old manner, she made her own fun while we waited for the waffles to cook, climbing around and chatting with strangers.

And speaking of waffles, Ada and I made yeasted waffles for father's day. We let Chris sleep in a little, and when she could stand it no longer, Ada went up to our bedroom to get him up. She was a charming companion while we cooked and played. After breakfast we made a fairy wand together.  All in all, a lovely father's day morning.

Looking like her big sister did
Mira, looking a fair bit like Ada did at this point, except with a smile. 

So far the big thing that is keeping our heads above water is food deliveries; our friends and family are bringing us dinners several times a week. If we had to organize things to feed ourselves every night our situation would much more dire. As it is, it is pretty much all we can do to scrounge up leftovers and salad on our non-delivery nights. When Ada, Chris and I do not all eat at the same time, the process takes too much time and bumps into feeding and soothing Mira and Ian. I don't know what we would do without this help.

In my usual fashion, the dinners have inspired in me not only a love for our friends, but also a project. I have snapped pictures of our meals as a reminder of how lucky we are to be the recipients of such support and care.

Chicken salad (sally)Roast chicken, veggies, salad (Elizabeth)Chap Chai & congee (Bettina)Indian Soup and Rice (Bess)Beef stew, olive bread (Camille)Ribs & sides (Greg)
some of our dinners so far

On Sunday night we got a great dinner from Stephanie that included "hamburger" cupcakes and cookies made to look like french fries. Beautiful and delicious.

 "hamburger" cupcakes & cookie "fries"

Friday, June 19, 2009

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

Display Towel

One feces themed dessert, per person, per day is quite enough.

Heathen Family Revival

Monday, June 15, 2009

You want a piece of me?

A a month or two ago I sent an email to some of the bloggers I've met over the years, asking if they were planning on going to Blogher, and if so if they would help me with a little project.

As I mentioned when the location for Blogher '09 was chosen, I was disappointed that the event would not be in Portland because I could actually see going if I could use my house as base for the twins and all their stuff. Plus, I love Portland and was excited for other women bloggers to love it too. But ok, Blogher will be in Chicago again. As much as I'd like to go, I decided that attending a conference with twin newborns was probably a bad very idea.

Quick digression/background: Last year, while Gwen and I were standing around cursing critiquing people's shoes and muttering about having missed the free alcohol, she found a photo glued to a stick. We asked around, but never found out who was shown smiling on the picture. We dubbed the unknown woman "Gwen's favorite blogger" and carried her around Blogher, taking pictures and using the head on a stick as a prop when chatting with strangers.

Gwen and her favorite blogger
Gwen and her favorite blogger on the way to dinner
(not pictured, Debbie barely tolerating our adolescent giggles)

This was for me a great entertainment. I love theme photos. I am the girl who takes a cowboy hat to a party in order to force people to take pictures with it. When Chris and I moved from Chicago to Rhode Island, my friends gave me a home-made Mrs. Potato Head, which I carried with us on the road trip and photographed checking the map, getting her hair done at a salon, and meeting the locals in our new city. (I had plans to dig up these photos and include them in this post, but then I had the babies and all extra time and energy was sucked into a breastfeeding vortex. I will find the photos in a few more years.)

So, in March I emailed a bunch of people to gauge their willingness to take me along, or rather to take a picture of me along, on their trips to Blogher. I didn't ask that they refer to me as their favorite blogger. All I asked is that if they agreed to have me send them my picture on a stick, that they take it with them to Blogher and take pictures of themselves and stick-head me during the conference, around Chicago, or wherever else it seemed like a good idea.

I quickly drafted an email, hit "send" and then got worried.  What if no one agreed to participate? What if no one even responded? What if they hit "delete" before even reading the message? Luckily, just an hour after I wrote the email I found three responses in my inbox. Three amazing, hilarious, creative bloggers had agreed to take me with them to Chicago. A few hours later the lovely Mayberry Mom emailed to say she was in too. I was sad not to meet her last year (her trip was derailed by her daughter's illness) but at least my face will be near hers this year! Then Melissa and Sarah wrote to say they would do it too. Gwen said she'd take me if she decided to make the long drive from the western suburbs to downtown Chicago.

I emailed this group of women for a variety of reasons: some I know in person, others I meet and liked at Blogher '08, while still others have blogs I have enjoyed reading and I took a little leap. Also, I had their emails on file. (I may be adventurous about asking for goofy favors, but I am still lazy.) So, if I didn't email you, it isn't because I don't want your help. I do want your help - if you are going to Blogher and want to bring my head on a stick, comment or email me and I will send you a head on a stick. My plan is to print out photos this week and then wander over to the post office once I have addresses.

I'd love to travel with you if you are going. My head on a stick makes an ideal roommate. It won't snore, won't steal your drink and you can imagine it saying all kinds of complimentary things about your outfits. (I'm nice that way.)

I am excited to see the pictures people take.

If you think you want to participate, let me know. I would really appreciate it. I am anticipating some long months close to home, and it would mean a lot to me to see my photographic likeness making it out and about.

Christy, I noticed your blog says you are going. No pressure.

And, apropos of nothing:
7 Days Old
Mira, Ian

Friday, June 12, 2009

Not What Laundering Money Usually Means

Chris, after unsuccessfully looking upstairs and down for his wallet: I still can't find my wallet.

Me: Last time I saw it, it was here (on the mantle). Is it possible that you left it in your pants and I washed it?

Chris: . . .

(returns from upstairs with his wallet, looking a little perturbed)

Chris: Where were the jeans?

Me: They were on the floor with other dirty clothes. I can't be expected to know what is a pile of dirty laundry and what is just jeans you stepped out of at the end of the day. 

Chris: I just never expect anyone to wash my clothes.

(At least he didn't bring up his sweater favorite I shrunk a couple of years ago.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

things I am learning (after 2 weeks with twins)

My very best thoughts and observations are lost, as I think them while nursing or falling asleep, and then can not reconstruct them later when near paper or the computer. Of course, this may be like the thoughts people have while stoned: seemingly brilliant but actually completely mundane, incomprehensible or some combination of the two. 

There are a lot more twins out there than you'd think. Having twins attracts everyone's twin stories, and I now know that Portland is lousy with twins. Fraternal girl twins sat across from us at the lab, the flower delivery guy's wife is a twin, our doctor's nurse had twins and an older daughter...

I look really tired. Even when I feel pretty good I look like shit. I generally do not notice because I am not looking in the mirror a lot these days, but when I do, wow, is it that obvious? Yes, it is.

Why do people feel the need to ask if we are getting sleep? I know it comes from a place of love and concern, but it just feels mean. Of COURSE we are not getting anywhere near enough sleep. Did I mention we have two week old twins living with us?

Mira is way louder than Ian. She is a big snorter, which is charming in a porcine way. Also, she is so far the "dominant" twin in terms of setting the schedule, as she wakes up first, gets fed first and takes a bit more to get back to sleep. We'll see if this pattern holds up over time. 

hey, wake up
Yeah, Mira is also the one already poking her sibling in the head. Luckily she has about zero arm strength. (As I type this it seems like the kind of thing Lumpyhead's Mom would write.)

I love my children's doctor. She declared that whatever we wanted to do about feeding the babies would be good as long as it worked for us. Breast, pumping milk for bottles, formula: whatever works for us. Thank you, doc. (Especially after the interaction I had with the lactation consultant, who - on the day I was first engorged - poked me repeatedly in the breast while telling me "the babies aren't going to be able to get milk out of these (jab) hard (jab) breasts (jab jab)." Um, thanks. Because as a sleepless mother of jaundiced twins four days post-partum, I was not already quite hysterical enough.

I can't remember if I mentioned this, but both Ian and Mira were jaundiced at birth, and Ian (deemed at greater risk because of the big bruise on his head, the result of the suction that helped him on his way out of me) was on a biliblanket for the first week. That was annoying, because it tethered him (and us) to the short leash of the blanket. And he glowed blue, which at least had the side benefit of helping Ada figure out which baby was which. At their 2 week check up, the kids were deemed healthy. Both have surpassed their birth weights - Mira is 7lb 4oz and Ian is 7lb 10oz. (Another reason to love their doctor: she is not worried that they are on the low end of the curve weight-wise, recognizing that when you have a bell curve SOMEONE has to be on the low end, and as long as they are healthy - gaining weight, responsive, charming - things are fine.)

My "to do" list grows ever longer, as I can reliably do one thing a day, but I can think of 3 or 4 things to add to the list each day. So far I have successfully not be stressed out about this. Most of the things can (and do) wait. A few things can not, like filling out the paperwork for school or setting up online bill payment for our new credit union. Chris and I move slowly, as if we were walking and thinking in molassas. I am so glad that we have very few places we need to go and little that must be done. Except maybe think of a few birthday gifts for Ada, who will turn 4 at the end of the month. Luckily she keeps reminding us of her pending birthday, so we have no question about who to invite or what kind of cake we should make (the latter is emphatically a strawberry/raspberry/cherry cake).

We are a little behind in dumping pictures from the cameras onto the computer, so this one is from a week ago or more. Not that I am apologizing, just noticing that they already look different from this.
Ian is in pink, Mira in stripes 
Ian is in the pink blanket, Mira has the stripes

Monday, June 08, 2009

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week


He told McCaffery, "Look man, we'd probably most of us agree that these are dark times, and stupid ones, but do we need fiction that does nothing but dramatize how dark and stupid everything is?"

D.T. Max
The Unfinished

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Hospital (Ada's Eye View)

Once the babies were born, Ada arrived with her grandparents. Chris let her use the camera. Here is what she captured:

above and below, photos of Ada's "baby" in the hospital bed with me

Monday, June 01, 2009

Really, I am still here

Just over a week into this whole "two new babies" thing I am doing pretty well, but definitely not finding myself with a lot of free time (or hands). We are all adjusting to the new world order, and the twins will do their part by changing things up once we think we have things a little figured out.

The first week's highlights are: Ian has jaundice and needs a bili-blanket. Oh look, Mira has jaundice too. Both get daily blood draws and weigh-ins. These clinic trips are simultaneously the highlight and low-point of our days. At our "mother-baby" appointment a well meaning nurse who could use some improved social skills pokes me repeatedly in the breast while declaring that it will be very hard for the twins to get much milk out of "these hard breasts." She proposes a nursing plan in which I nurse each twin for 10 minutes and then pump for 15 minutes. After feeling sad that my previous efforts were not sufficient to feed the twins (I know it is silly to be sad about this, but you try not to cry when running on such paltry sleep) I agree that this is a good plan.

This nursing/pumping set up does not give me a lot of uninterrupted hours of sleep, but it has allowed me to catch up on issues of the New Yorker.  I have really some really good articles, most of which I will be unable to remember reading within the next week. Also, I am now producing enough milk to feed two kids, but not enough to do that and have any left over. 

I have some pictures, but I have to dump them off the camera, etc.

I have 3/4 of a birth story post, but you know how that is.

I have a million ideas and thoughts filling my head. They either disappear when I get near the computer or I am distracted by the temptations of Weeds Season 3.

I have a couple of posts queued up, but even those have languished. I don't feel much guilt about it, just sort of notice and then move on.

I hope everyone is doing well. We may not return to regularly scheduled programming soon, but someone will be by to check on your drinks soon enough.