Thursday, August 27, 2009

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

pirate baby

Nuns can be dictatorial, sexually repressed, and scary - and therefore, entertaining.

Paul Rudnick
Fun With Nuns

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Cross-posted at Blogher (here).

My 4 year old daughter is stubborn. Ada is charming, polite, disarmingly verbal and funny, but she is also incredibly stubborn.This stubbornness shows itself in various ways (including her continuing refusal to use the toilet). While her (non) potty-training is annoying, it is only one example of her stubbornness. Despite loving to dance and twirl in our living room, at the park and the grocery store, every time she's faced with participatig in a dance class, she balks. No, she says, I don't want to. So we sit on the side and watch.

The next week she declares her desire to go to dance class, but once there it is the same scene. This has gone on for two years. I don't push her, knowing it won't do any good. I wait a couple of months, and when she once again starts mentioning wanting to go to dance class we go back, only to have the scene repeat. She does not allow herself to be drawn in by the teacher, by her twirling, jumping friends, or by anything else. She would rather sit by and watch than jump in and jump around.

Potty training has also succumbed to her stubbornness. A capable 4 year old, Ada now cleans herself up and discards soiled pull ups when she pees or has a bowel movement. She even goes so far as to sit on the toilet while wearing a pull up. But to sit with a bare bottom, to allow her waste to enter the toilet? That crosses some line she's drawn in the sand, and she's holding firm.

Given all this, I knew swim lessons were iffy. Ada does not like water in her ears and has never enjoyed getting sprayed with water. But she loves to go to the pool and was thrilled when I suggested lessons. For two weeks she's talked about the lessons, asked when we were going, and generally expressed enthusiasm for the idea. Yesterday she started the day similarly excited by the prospect. By 3pm, however, she'd decided she did not want to go to the pool. I told her she did not have to participate, but that we should go and check it out. We got there a bit early, to watch some lessons. Ada's class had two other kids in it, but she would not join them on the side of the pool. The teacher tried to encourage her, to no avail. She just sat with me, watching the other girls jump and play in the water. She dug in and that was that. I cried while driving her home, both sad that she was too afraid or stubborn to do something fun (again) and angry that her obstinancy was keeping her on the margins (again).

Chris escorted Ada to the next day's lesson. She told him "I don't want to go, let's go home, let's go..." but he got her poolside once again. In fact, he did eventually get her to sit by the edge of the pool with her feet in the water while the other girls joined the teacher in the pool. Who knows, by the end of the two weeks of daily lessons maybe she'll go in up to her waist.

(I'm not holding my breath.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Ada has been asking about death.

For a while she has wanted to know when we will die. (I generally reply, "not for a very long time.") This week she asked what death feels like. Before I could say anything, Chris said he thought it might be like sleeping. This made me a little nervous, since it occurred to me that this could cause Ada to worry about going to sleep, which is not what we want right now. Luckily, she didn't seem too concerned about that. Instead she asked: "What does it feel like when you die? Does someone erase you?"

I guess that's one way to go.

hole in the ground
She looked so happy, I didn't mention the part about being buried in the ground.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ala Peanut Butter Sandwiches*

Along with "twirly" dresses and tiaras, Ada is currently really into wands. She has a wand with a pink star at the end, but at some point decided that she needed more wands. In a burst of crafty enthusiasm that is rare in these life-with-twins days, I immediately hopped up and got a project going. Using a few items readily available around our house, we made a whole wizarding academy full of wands. This project was so easy that it does not really need a tutorial, but since the baby on my lap is sleeping, I am providing one anyway:


STEP 1: Get some cardboard (the thinner type works best). Cut out a shape - we made star, moon, diamond, duck and octopus shapes. (Don't ask why she wanted an octopus. She's 4, that's why.) Cut out a matching shape so that the brown sides match up.
Step 1 - cut out shapes

STEP 2: Color the cut-out shape (preferrably on the brown side of your cardboard, but if your preschooler disagrees, so be it).
Step 2 - color

STEP 3: Get a stick, dowel or skewer. Glue it to the cut out. You can see that Ada decided that the brown side should be on the inside. Be sure to put the glue on the side you want on the inside.
Step 3 - glue stick

STEP 4: Glue the other cut-out on the other side of the stick so that they match up. Let the wand dry (and keep your preschooler from grabbing the wands while the glue is drying).
Step 4 - let dry

STEP 5: Tie a ribbon on the stick, up close to the top of the wand. We used the shiny ribbons normally used for wrapping presents.
Step 5 - add ribbon

two wands
The handmade star wand, and its purchased cousin/inspiration.

STEP 6: There is no step 6, other than to take your wand out for a spin. If you turn your little sister and brother into pumpkins, be sure to turn them back before your parents notice.
a wand in action

*If this title doesn't ring a bell, click here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Two Little Girls, Three Little Pigs

An observation - Ada already favors Mira. Maybe it is the unconscious bond of sister-love, but she lavishes a bit more attention on Mira than on Ian. She wants to sit next to her in the car, prefers her as a walk-to-school companion, and asks for her more often than she does Ian.

the 3rd little pig...
Ada reading to an entranced Mira

Monday, August 17, 2009

Twelve Weeks with Captain Obvious

Mayberry Mom (channeling Captain Obvious) posted a series of reminders about things not to ask a woman of childbearing age.  My personal favorite -- "are you planning on having any more children?" -- is something I have heard a lot in the past 3 months. Even if we didn't just have twins, it is kind of a weird question to ask people who have just had a child. No one getting up 3 times a night really wants to think much about doing it all over again with another kid.

Mayberry's list of things not to ask got me thinking about the things Chris and I have been repeatedly asked since Ian and Mira were born three months ago.  A sampling:

Do twins run in your family? (They do now.)

Was it a surprise? (Yes, we were expecting puppies.)

Are the natural? (actually, we had them crafted from an advanced polymer.)

Are they identical? (Wow, seriously? One is a boy, the other a girl.)

People also ask us how we can tell them apart. Usually this question indicates not so much that the person is an idiot but that he or she has not actually looked at both kids. After the first week or two, when they both looked liked, well, babies, they have developed very distinct facial features. Take a peek:

12 Weeks
Hell, they were even color coded in this photo

She has these huge cheeks (much like Ada did) while he has a longer face. Plus, about everything else is different: their hairlines; eyes, eyebrows, amount of chub; and how easily they smile. In many ways Mira looks a lot like Ada did at this age, while Ian is already his own man, so to speak.

Ok, moving on.

Ian - 12 Weeks
Ian, not seeming to mind that his sister had been bopping him in the head for the past 20 minutes

Now that Ian and Mira are 12 weeks things are changing. Sadly for me, I don't mean that they are sleeping through the night or writing their first novels. Now that the summer is ending, Chris will be returning to work and I will be going solo.

And I am scared shitless.

I am so scared I am rethinking the wisdom of taking 6 months off from work. If I went back to work I'd be able to hand off my bundles of (crying, fussing, hungry, wet) joy to someone else while I talked about Important Things(tm) all day.  Then someone else could deal with the crying that will inevitably result from one adult caring for two small babies. I am really feeling at a loss about how this will work. Amazingly enough, neither Chris nor I have been alone with both babies for more than a few hours at a time. While this has been great in so many ways, it means that I have had a lot of time to build up a scary image of what the alone-with-twins future will bring. I am constantly asking myself: how do I do this? I know how to feed them together, and generally how to entertain them, but what do I do with them when they get tired? Will all naps be walks with the stroller? (Seriously, I need some advice. Sarah? Rebecca? Anyone?)

Oh, and all that hand-wringing over breastfeeding may be moot, as Mira is showing signs of rejecting my breasts. (how's that for solidarity among females?) It is too early to say for sure, but the past couple of days have included episodes of rejection of (and tears in response to proffered) milk-engorged breasts. I know mine don't rival Salma Hayek's, but still, there is milk there, for the taking.

Mira & Bop -12 weeks
Guess which twin takes very little convincing to make her laugh?

I need to keep staring at the above photo to remind myself that this has not all been drudgery and torturous sleeplessness (though it certainly has been the latter). The twins gave us one glorious night this month, which happened to be our anniversary. When Ada was an infant, I was determined to celebrate our anniversary. It seemed very important not to ignore "us" while we were so wrapped up in her. I saw that the jazz trio that had played at our wedding was giving a free outdoor concert in Washington Park, and we decided to pick up picnic supplies from a favorite restaurant so that we could sit on the grass enjoying the music. Somehow it did not occur to me that driving across town to the restaurant (at rush hour) might be a bit dicey with a colicky infant. She cried the whole time. As she did during the drive across the river to the park. However, I don't remember her crying during the concert. Maybe she did, but more likely I nursed her and we bounced her and everyone had a good time. Mostly I remember how stressful each red light of the trip was, as Ada's crying started the moment the car stopped.

This year we made no such plans. Chris and I know we love one another, and one year without a dinner out won't wreck us. Still, it was nice to get that little present of sleep from the babies. It has not happened again since, but it is good to know they care.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

This Sticker No Verb

I used to be a productive individual who read serious fiction in the hours before I went to sleep. But that was in the innocent, un-Scrabbled past.

Deborah Solomon

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sand Between Our Toes

We are at the beach this week. Despite missing my sister and brother-in-law, who are half a continent away starting a new endeavor, we are having a good time.


couch napper (mira)

photo credit: chris

photo credit: chris

resting sea lion

Monday, August 10, 2009

Introducing: iPoop

Mira and Ian do not poop daily. This may have something to do with the formula they drink, but that isn't so important. What is important is that while Mira generally goes every two to three days, Ian can hold out for a week or more. It has gotten to the point where Chris and I can not remember who has gone when. This confusion is compounded by our problems remembering who has eaten recently, which one was breastfed last, who got a bottle and what was in it.

These memory problems are not unique to us; I remember commiserating with other mothers when Ada was little, each of us unable to remember which side our babies had nursed on last. Many women resort to reminder pins on their shirts, tape on their bras, and other tricks to remind them.  People with twins suffer this memory problem even more acutely than those with single babies, as two people are often feeding, changing, washing and rocking the babies. Who can remember what happened when?

In response to these problems, and to what we are sure will be thunderous calls for this product, Chris and I have developed a new iPhone application - the iPoop. iPoop lets you simply and easily track when your baby has a bowel movement, as well as when you last bathed her, the timing and duration of naps, breast- and bottle-feedings, and other important yet immensely forgettable moments in your child's day. You'll never again needlessly worry whether your child has gone for too many days without a bowel movement - you'll know whether or not to worry that it has been more than ten days. No more relying on your sleep-impaired memory to tell you if your little dear has nursed from the right side five times in a row, and no more relying on your sense of smell to tell you that it is past time to give the little darling a bath.

Also for use with pets, recalcitrant older children and the constipated.

Well crud, Chris just found an online baby activity tracker. There go our fortune in the making. Good thing I haven't done more than come up with a name.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Mama milk

Things may be falling apart, breastfeeding-wise. Actually, using the word 'breastfeeding' is kind of misleading, given that Mira and Ian generally each get fed directly from the source no more than twice a day, more often once each. Despite not getting a lot of, um, face time with my breasts, the babies are getting a lot of what we refer to as mama milk. As much as I hated pumping when Ada was a baby, I now find it in some ways better than actually breastfeeding directly. When pumping I can generally get out enough milk to feed both twins for one feeding. If I nurse I can feed one of them, and then sometimes that one finishes nursing and still wants more milk. When they were first born they were too small and tired to efficiently get the milk out, so we used bottles a lot. I think this made them lazy where drinking is concerned. Getting the milk out of me is a lot more work for them than getting it out of the bottle, and neither of them is consistently willing to take on that challenge even now.

At the end of this week the twins will be 11 weeks old - almost 3 months. As they sleep less it is harder to find time to pump. Last week I saw my likely future, in which I am alone with the twins during the day and can not pump without all hell breaking loose. Chris had gone in to work and Ian and Mira were both fed when I realized I really needed to pump. I put them both in seats (okay, car seats, as we were camping out at Ellen's house during the heat wave) and set up the pump on the floor. While rocking both car seats (with my feet) I pumped to the sound of the babies wailing. I was so traumatized that I had to take the babies to Target for the air conditioning and in-house Starbucks. Yes, it is kind of funny, if it isn't happening to you. In retrospect, it is even a little funny to me, but only a little because I know I will be living this again soon when Chris goes back to work.

This week I was able to successfully pump with Mira lying near me on the floor gurgling instead of crying. Hopefully I can do this with both kids if I can work out some kind of decent schedule. If I can't, the babies' days of mama milk are going to come to a quick end. Today was the first day that we ran out of milk before the end of the day. I knew this might happen, but at 2 pm when I made the decision to nap instead of pump, it felt like a good choice. At 10 pm it still feels like the right choice.

I actually have a bunch of frozen milk in the fridge, from last month when the milk was flowing freely and I was making more than Ian and Mira could drink. I am not sure why, but I seem to be getting a bit less from pumping these days. This may be just a normal slowdown that happens with longer-term pumping instead of breastfeeding, or it may be a byproduct of me pumping fewer times a day. The latter is likely, since I balance pumping with a desire to leave the house once in a while. We can bust out the frozen milk, but that takes a little prior planning. When one of the babies is hungry and screaming, it is quicker and thus better to mix formula than to defrost frozen milk.

In any case, I am sad about not being able to feed the babies mostly breastmilk, not out of a feeling that it is better (though all things being equal I think it is) but because formula is expensive. Wow, even at Costco prices, it pains me to shell out for something we can get (mostly) for free. (if you don't count the extra I eat to keep things going) And that's another thing - with pumping and nursing I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want. Enormous, greasy sandwiches, handfuls of trail mix at 3 am, nectarines and chocolate bars gobbled or savored. Feeding twins takes a lot of calories, and as someone who loves to eat this is an unexpected side bonus to breastfeeding.

We'll see what happens. For now I still have milk for the babies, and I hope I can continue feeding it to them at least until I go back to work at 6 months. After that who knows whether pumping will get easier or harder once I am away from Ian and Mira a bit more. I am not even sure if my milk will hold out that long. This whole twin thing is an ongoing lesson in giving up control, so why should this be any different?

Saturday, August 01, 2009

A Brief Interruption

Nonlinear Papa here with an important public service announcment...

I want to live with
Nonlinear Girl
I could be happy
the rest of my life
with Nonlinear Girl

A taker of pictures
She puns with delight
You see us together
Ten years to the night
My Nonlinear Girl

(insert Neil Young inspired one-note guitar solo)

Happy Anniversary!

Much love,