Monday, April 30, 2007

Speak, Memory


So I'm stealing my friend Jordan's blog post. (Sorry, Jordan!)

I can't help it; she posted this essay by writer Anna Quindlen, and I read it and re-read it and sent the link to all my friends who are currently (or soon to be) parenting small children. Then I thought long and hard about it some more, especially the paragraph near the end where she says she wishes she had lived in the moment more. The part about looking at an old photo of her kids when they were six, four, and one, and wishing she could remember what they ate that day, what they talked about, how they looked when they went to sleep that night.

And I sat here thinking, Lord!--six, four, and one! At the time you're so overwhelmed by the incessant needs of tiny children--maybe they're six, four, and one; maybe they're almost-three and eight months old--that your days become a rushed-yet-interminable blur of diapers, meals, nursing, naps, wiping noses, wiping bottoms, baths, games, help-me-with-this, I-need-that (no, not like that, like THIS; no, like THIS; no, LIKE THIS!) and all you can focus on is the next thing, the next hurdle, the next activity, the next stage. But then you will--no doubt, we all will--find yourself looking at the photos later on, and thinking, oh, six, four, and one (or almost-three and eight months): those glory baby days!

So, here's the essay again. And up there? That's one of the photos I'll look at down the road and try to remember what the girls sounded like, what we did, how they looked when they went to sleep, the day they wore these matching hand-made jackets in the spring they were almost-three and eight months old.


All My Babies Are Gone Now
By Anna Quindlen, Newsweek Columnist and Author

All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow, but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.

Everything in all the books I once poured over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach, T. Berry Brazelton, Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education -- all grown obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories. What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations -- what they taught me, was that they couldn't really teach me very much at all.

Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test,then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2.

When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow. I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton's wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China . Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the "Remember-When-Mom-Did" Hall of Fame. The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language -- mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, "What did you get wrong?" (She insisted I include that here.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald's drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?

But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night.

I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.

Even today I'm not sure what worked and what didn't, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I'd done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That's what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Mamas on the Run


This morning I ran in the Get in Gear 5K run in Minneapolis with my friend Rachel. It was a great, fun day for both our families--a huge, busy event in gorgeous weather along a beautifully scenic route near our old neighborhood. Everyone did great, despite:

Both the girls being up till all hours last night, and thus being VERY tired when we left the house early this morning to drive up for the race;

Despite the above exhaustion, Genevieve refusing to nap in the car, thus missing her morning nap completely;

Getting stuck in an ENORMOUS traffic jam (created by race congestion) a mile or two from the race, causing us to run extremely late and have to call Rachel's house from our OnStar phone service, and make a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants impromptu back-up plan at the very last minute;

Julia inexplicably THROWING UP IN THE CAR in the middle of the above traffic jam (she ended up fine the rest of the day, but you can just imagine, can't you?);

Having to get out of the car at a stoplight to RUN to a designated meeting point in time to meet Rachel for the race start time, leaving the car and the parking and the girls and the throw-up-shirt and everything else to Christopher to figure out on his own;

Being unable to nurse Genevieve before the race as planned (and as needed)--oh well!;

Oh, and how could I forget?: having to go to the bathroom REALLY, REALLY badly during the entire traffic jam (having expected to be at Rachel's house long before, in plenty of time to pee, nurse, and walk leisurely to the race location with time to spare). Yep, that was nice.

So, you know, the wind-up to my first 5K since having babies was really awful--truly inauspicious. But once I made it to Minnehaha Park, everything fell into place and Rachel and I had a very fun time. We're already planning to do a second one in September--down here this time. And next year? If we do this gigantic race again? I'm going to leave much, much earlier to drive up. (Note to self: BIG, BIG TRAFFIC JAM TO BE EXPECTED. LIMIT YOUR LIQUIDS BEFOREHAND.)

Oh, and the babies? They didn't nap all day long and they're now exhausted, but Julia summed it up quite well a little while ago: "Even though I throwed up in the car, Mama, we still had a lot of fun!"

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Supermom

Do you ever feel like Superwoman? Ever? For me, it's rare--believe me--but today I kinda did.

I took both girls to the grocery store after Genevieve's morning nap, and I did Major Big Deal Grocery Shopping, not just pick-up-a-few-necessities-like-Diet-Coke-and-the-latest-issue-of-People-magazine shopping. Oh, and it was at the giant bag-your-own-groceries grocery store, not my favorite, but more expensive, little friendly grocery store downtown, where the cashiers talk to my babies and someone bags my stuff for me and asks if I can get out to the car OK with all the food and the girls too. But for some reason I was feeling especially capable--and you just know that feeling that way is often the beginning of a story that you recount later on, ending with some crazy baby-related debacle, right? Like, "...and then I had to drive home with the baby screaming bloody murder and peanut butter in my hair and put both girls straight in the bath while the ice cream melted all over the kitchen floor and the frozen salmon accidentally thawed out in the trunk of the car."

But no! I did $125 worth of grocery shopping, taking over an hour, and the girls sat side by side in the grocery cart with the plastic driving seat affixed to it, like a car, up by the parent side, where they could sit strapped in and pretend to turn the toy steering wheel and look around at everything, and can I just say? Anything cuter in the world? No. No. Absolutely not. Can you imagine little Genevieve strapped in to the kiddie-car grocery cart with her own little steering wheel? Next to her big sister? Bobbling her little head around and turning every now and then to suck on Julia's shoulder? Oh, so cute. Three different shoppers actually stopped me to tell me how adorable my girls were. One nice little grandma teared up and told me how lucky I am. Indeed.

Neither Julia nor Genevieve whined, fussed, cried, or complained, the entire time, not even when it was past Genna's nursing time and she'd been sitting in the cart for an hour. Julia's worst version of a "Can I have it?" conversation went something like this:

Julia: Mama! Chocolate milk!
Me: Uh-huh.
Julia: I yike chocolate milk!
Me: You've never had chocolate milk.
Julia: Yet's buy some!
Me: Too much sugar. Maybe as a special treat some day, but we don't need that today.
Julia: Mama! Yet's buy some mustard!
Me: OK.

So, you know, thank my lucky stars.

At the end, in spite of the self-bagging marathon, we were victorious. And I did it all on decaf!

We even bought all the ingredients for Strawberry Mice. Which we are going to make as a Special Activity later today, after nap, to have with dinner.

Because everyone wants to feel like a Supermom sometimes.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hard, Easy

Hard:

We recently decided that desperate times call for desperate measures, and bought a big bag of M&Ms to use as potty-training bribes for Julia. (I also checked out the "Elmo Potty Time" DVD from the town public library and am letting Julia watch it every! single! day! this week. Desperate times, people.)

I really thought these M&Ms were going to be my magic bullet. This kid does not get sweets, other than, say, the occasional cookie, cake and ice cream on family birthdays, and a miniature chocolate bunny on Easter. And believe me, she loves sweets when she does get them; they're definitely a major, major treat.

On Saturday night I let her taste an M&M. She'd never seen them before. She was appropriately entranced, and happy to eat her treat. But did it spur her to even TRY her potty chair? No. (Keep in mind, she gets an M&M JUST FOR SITTING ON THE POTTY. She doesn't even have to go, though if she does, she gets two M&Ms. People, who wouldn't SIT ON A CHAIR DOING NOTHING for the reward of a piece of chocolate? My daughter, that's who.)

Yesterday I even tried ostentatiously dumping the bag of M&Ms into a clear canister right in front of Julia, then placing the candy jar directly on the bathroom vanity where she will see it several times a day, commenting the whole time about how tasty they are and how thrilling it would be to get one, just for sitting on the potty for a few minutes. Nothing doing.

This is my kid: She's all like, Yeah, I like 'em. Sure, I'd love some. But I'm not going to sit on the potty to get them. SEE YA!

*****

Easy:

This is also my kid: She likes to play "going to sleep." She climbs into bed--hers, ours, wherever--arranges the pillows and blankets a million times, and just sits/lies there. In bed. Doing nothing. Playing "sleeping." It requires nothing of me. And if asked, she will tell you that no, she does not want to play something else, or go somewhere else, or do something messy or involved or effortful. She wants to sit in my bed playing "sleep." FINE. WITH. ME!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Unimaginable Tragedy

All last week I kept NPR off in the mornings, so Julia wouldn't hear anything about the Virgina Tech shootings. And when the shooter sent his tape and photos to NBC and the news channels began running the footage nonstop, I turned off the TV because, as a psychologist, I knew that what I was watching was the ranting of a psychotic person, the incoherent ramblings of a severely mentally ill student, and that exposing myself to it over and over was in no way healthy, helpful, or illuminating. Sickness happens. Psychosis happens. The tragedy stood; the video, the TV footage, had nothing to add for me.

So it was enormously shocking to drive up to the U. on Friday morning for a conference and listen to NPR the whole way there, packed as it was, naturally, with continued discussion of the rampage. They ran a story about two student survivors, kids in a French class in Norris Hall, and their family members relayed on their behalf a narrative of the event. The narrative was so vivid--the description of the class hearing a pop-pop-pop sound, the professor pausing to consider what it might be, then hesitantly opening the classroom door to peek outside and quickly pulling her head back in with a petrified look and saying, "Get down, and someone call 911"--that I could feel my heart race in real anxiety and my eyes tear up in fear. Can you imagine it? Can you imagine being in that room?

At the lunch break of this conference, I went to deal with the reality of being a nursing mom away from my baby for the day--that is, I had a date with my breast pump. And I encountered the pleasant surprise of the university conference center staff expertly accomodating my needs, providing me with a locked, unused office (and another psychologist with the one next door). And so I sat in this office on a huge urban campus, overlooking the spring outside, watching the tree branches wave above the newly green grass, and I thought of my baby, and I did the usual, the quotidian: I did my best for her, I made her some milk.

My own college days--the hours I spent in lit classes on the top floor of Old Main, the psych seminars in Rice-Olin--seem like yesterday to me, or, at least, far more recent than some 15 years ago, and I've heard many of my same-cohort friends say the same thing. That was just a second ago, it was just the other day that I was a student like that. I take this to mean that in one more blink of an eye, Julia and Genevieve will be in college themselves. And who will keep them safe then, when they're miles from home in some French class, when they're sleeping in a room in some freshman dorm?

What can I do? Keep my girls safe forever? They're still babies. Right now, I just do my best for them. I nurse them, love them, feed them, kiss them. Hope for the best. Turn off the radio. Maybe say a little prayer.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Advice

Note to children's video producers: When making an educational video for young children about learning to use the potty that families can check out of the local public library, do not include as a tangential part of the story A SCARY BIRTHDAY-PARTY CLOWN WHO DOES SILLY DANCES AND APPEARS ODD AND CREEPY. Just don't.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Growth Spurt

Today for lunch Genevieve ate: 1/2 Gerber "2nd Foods"-size jar of mixed fruit (leftover from yesterday), 1/2 Gerber "2nd Foods"-size jar of green beans (also leftover from yesterday), one entire "1st Foods"-size container of bananas, and one entire "2nd Foods"-size container of mixed veggies. For dinner she ate two bowls of mixed-grain baby cereal, one Gerber "2nd Foods"-size jar of sweet potatoes, and one Gerber biter biscuit.

At bedtime, she nursed one side sleepily and then, when switched to side two as usual, grimaced and actually pushed the breast away with her hand. Three times. You could practically hear her say, "Ugh...Can't. Eat. Another. Bite."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bored to Death

I am having a major realization this morning that Julia really, really needs to go to preschool in the fall. (Not to mention, I need her to go to preschool in the fall.) She is so bored. Maybe that's part of why she has so many meltdowns these days. She is so bored at home all day. (We do go to toddler class once a week during the school year, playgroup every other week, and other errands, playdates, storytime, etc., but that still leaves many, many days when we are just in our own house, especially when you factor in the complications of Genevieve's nap schedule and general needs--it's just not get-up-and-go-at-just-about-any-moment anymore, now that there's a second baby in the equation--,our lack of a car some days, and the fact that there is no park/playground within walking distance of our house. Also, it's very hard to take a young baby to the playground. They get tired of sitting in the stroller, you can't carry them around the whole time--oof!--, they won't wear sunglasses but the sun in their pale eyes makes them cry, the ground is too wet, cold, weird, whatever, to be comfortable for them to sit on, yet they're not walking yet....etc.)

Bottom line is this: POTTY TRAINING MUST! MUST! MUST! HAPPEN SOON. I am totally desperate. Julia continues to actively resist the potty chair--could not care less about it--and I have a feeling that the process, whenever it begins, is not going to be a quick one. So, I'm getting nervous that it won't happen in time for preschool in September. And if she's not potty trained, she can't go. For an entire year. A year during which I will surely go insane. And we will both be miserable.

This is filling me with a very unpleasant sense of dread. She needs something more than toddler class once a week for an hour.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Eight Months Old Today


Love this eight-month-old baby. She's got a new tooth coming in up top, making all sorts of trouble, and she's on the verge of on the move, so watch out, world. (Rather: Watch out, Mama: I'm coming for all that stuff you have down low and unsecured.) I love eight months. She's a quiet one compared to her big sis at this age; you just know it's because she can't get a word in edgewise with almost-three showing off her vocabulary all day long. But it just makes her all the sweeter, with her mellow I'll-just-wait attitude. Oh, except when she's in the highchair and her food isn't arriving quickly enough? Yeah, then? She's not mellow, or silent, or waiting patiently. I have to shovel spoonfuls of baby-food into her mouth so fast my hands shake, just to calm the other-worldly mad-baby screeches. Some days I'm tempted to throw a burrito or a Subway sandwich or a bowl of Campbell's Chunky in her direction.

And yet. She's got such a lock on sweet, sweet, sweet. Look at her! Don't you just want to kiss her? I'm gonna. Right now.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Maybe I'm OK With Being Done Having Babies

Just a few days ago, some dear friends a town or two over--friends with whom we go back eight years, when we were all living a close-to-the-bone graduate-student lifestyle together in Chicago, running around going to movies and eating five-dollar bowls of Thai noodles on the weekends--had their first baby. A year ago, when some other dear friends of ours had their first baby, they were the first of our close, nearby friends to do so, and we were thrilled about--but not used to--finally having friends with babies, like us. I wrote a little bit then about how monumental it was, how emotional and joy-filled, to be joined in parenthood by friends we love so dearly. Now, it's old hat, this business of people around us having babies--but that doesn't mean we're any less thrilled about the arrival of each newborn.

What I was reminded of, this week, as I thought of our friends navigating these first few days of newborn life (whew! yikes.), was an incident that occurred when Julia was born--and it still makes me laugh out loud to think of it. As some of you know, she was a killer; my labor with her stretched for four days and three nights--nights with no sleep, mind you--and ended with a lot of trauma. By the time we came home from the hospital, Christopher and I were pretty much non-functional zombies.

Christopher was in charge of calling the pediatrician to set up Julia's one-week doctor visit. I heard him on the phone answering the basic demographic questions required to schedule the appointment, and people, he was so sleep-deprived that he GOT HER NAME AND BIRTHDATE WRONG. Seriously.

Christopher: Her name is Charlotte. Uh-huh. (pause) Actually, you know what? Her name's not Charlotte. It's actually Julia. Birthdate? 6/6. (pause.) Um, wait. 6/4. I mean 6/3.

I still remember laughing hysterically, and with much disbelief, from the other room, and yelling out, "Julia! It's JULIA!" and "Not June 4th, June THIRD. THIRD! JUNE THIRD!"

Oh, good times, people, good times. To our friends: congratulations. We love you. Try to get some sleep.

Does Sighing and Rolling One's Eyes in the Direction of One's Tantruming Toddler Count as "Thinking"?

Does getting a Thinking Blogger Award count if it's your husband who nominated you? Oh, it does? Well, right now the only thing I'm thinking about is how to mainline caffeine into my system while ingesting the leftover sugar-doughnut holes from mama group yesterday, preferably before one or more highly cranky babies awaken from their grumpy, grumpy naps. I'll get back to you. Oh, and...it's an honor being nominated. Truly!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Ridiculous to the Point of Absurdity: More Ramblings About My Wardrobe

So yes, I'm still obsessed with the topic of my clothes. Shortly after I wrote about my wardrobe challenges, it became necessary for me finally shop for some things I sorely needed. Not pretty, stylish togs like I was pining for in my post, just more of the same basics I live in day to day. As I said before, at present, I can't afford to buy anything I don't need on a regular basis, and right now, what I really can't go without are things like jeans that fit, running/workout bras, shorts, tights, etc., short-sleeved t-shirts for the warm weather that I'm sure will come eventually, and a pair of casual, summer, running-around shoes to wear with very casual clothes but that aren't sandals (too much sand and/or gravel in your shoes at the playground, don'tcha know).

You might be wondering why I needed to buy MORE jeans and t-shirts, if I've already expressed my dismay at the fact that my wardrobe seems to be comprised of nothing but. Well, it seems that in my world, clothes like this are disposable. My t-shirts end up ratty and hideous within a season, owing to the fact that I wear them every day, often not just as day clothes but also as pj tops and/or workout shirts, and, well, a shirt would have to be made out of Teflon to survive all the spit-up, breast milk, baby food, sweat, sidewalk chalk, sunscreen, Crayola markers, dirt, sand, etc., that my poor clothes are exposed to on a regular basis. Plus, because I know they will be subjected to all this, I buy the cheapest tees imaginable, figuring they'll just get wrecked. I am constantly replacing my t-shirt collection.

But clothes for the bottom half? Oy vey, people. First of all, I can't keep up with my crazy postpartum-two-times-over body. It seems to change shape and size on a monthly basis. I don't know when or where it's going to stop and settle at something resembling a stable normal size. In the meantime though, I've got to clothe myself. Over Easter weekend, I very reluctantly hit the mall in my hometown, in a quest to finally finally finally find another pair of jeans. I was down to one pair that fit me, and that pair is fading fast (literally). I had limited (between nursings) time, so I hit four stores. I tried on something like 25 pairs of jeans in a multitude of cuts, rises, lengths, and washes, and desperately settled on two pair at the very last minute even though neither was "perfect." Since then, I've already decided that one pair has to go back for sure--whenever I can get to the nearest mall two towns up the freeway to return them, which probably won't be for awhile--and I'm having serious doubts about the second. I'm between sizes, AND between lengths (petite is often too short, with shoes, and regular is usually too long), and what at the time seemed adequate (when I was starving, headachey, and all too aware that nursing time was imminent) now seems...ill-fitting.

So, I'm frustrated with the clothing industry, which apparently does not make pants to fit my split-personality post-baby body. (Do I go with "size eight which fits at the moment but by noon on a typical day will stretch to overly-baggy?" or "size six that is really tight but won't be falling off my waist after the fabric stretches out as I run all over the park with my kids"? Which form of not-fitting is the least annoying? Because I really need to wear SOMETHING!)

But here's something really silly. Before Easter, I ordered a much-needed casual summer skirt--khaki, twill, knee-length--from an online site. Actually, I ordered it in two different sizes--my historically usual size and one size smaller, just in case, because the site didn't have a size chart. I figured I'd ship back the one that didn't fit. They arrived on Tuesday, and turns out they are absolutely gigantic--even the smaller one, a size I truly don't usually wear, or at least, never have before now, is way too big. This is so ridiculous, so clearly an example of the clothing industry labelling ever larger clothes with smaller size numbers, to make American consumers "feel better" about themselves ("I wear a size eight! I'm thin!"). Do they really think we're that stupid? I know my measurements, and people, I really don't take a size four. I just don't. But, according to this skirt-maker, I guess maybe I do.

SIGH. So, after hours of shopping and online browsing and eventually purchasing two skirts and two pairs of jeans? I AM PRETTY MUCH STILL JEANS-LESS. AND SKIRT-LESS.

Please someone tell me I'm not the only one to whom this happens. I'm beginning to think I must have the oddest body in the universe.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bring It On

We got basic cable yesterday. Except, apparently in a ploy to get us addicted to MORE cable, the cable company actually hooked us up (temporarily, we assume; we're not being charged for it right now) to the extended cable channels too. After 15+ months of one fuzzy TV channel, this was a bit overstimulating. Although I looked forward to it all day, I didn't get a chance to turn on the TV until nine last night. Then I spent the next two hours in an addled daze of channel-surfing confusion, remote-controlling myself from some crazy reality show about fitness trainers on Bravo to an even crazier show on E about Lindsay Lohan's most egregious behavior. I had no idea what I was watching, what any of the channels were, or if anything on was any good. It was bizarre. But oh so compelling.

If you don't hear from me for a few weeks, you'll know why.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

That Sweet Second Baby of Ours


I know, I know: I haven't said much about Genevieve lately. Are you wondering what she's up to, now that she's just days away from eight months old? Well, aside from the three nights we were at my parents' for Easter, when she earned the moniker Genevieve "Midnight Muncher" Rose, she's become a fabulous twelve-hours-a-night sleeper. She's been sleeping through the night for a few weeks now, and people, it feels a little bit like heaven to know that the worst of the baby-sleep ordeal is over. I mean, I realize she'll wake up at night for various reasons many times throughout her childhood, bothered by teething or sicknesses or summer light or nightmares or a million other reasons, but it won't be to nurse every few hours, ever again, so hallelujah. Just as I predicted, this last of its kind is a happy one.

What else? She is of course able to turn over both ways by now, but for the most part she has taken a rather unenthusiastic attitude toward these maneuvers. The stomach-to-back roll has been witnessed only once, I believe. Nowadays, when on her tummy, she mainly pushes herself way up, kicks her legs, scrambles all four limbs against the floor frantically, occasionally pushes up on her hands and knees, and scoots backward across the floor (NOT the direction she would like, as you might guess). She has also perfected the pivot, where she turns herself all the way around on the floor on her stomach.

She's a good eater (on solids three times a day and nursing four times), a (usually) good napper, and for the most part a mellow soul. She's had two bottom teeth for a couple of months now, and when she flashes them in her trademark mischievous grin, she appears good-natured and sly, like someone who'd love to help you pull a prank. That smile of hers is crinkly and infectious, and she also boasts great hugging and snuggling skills, especially in the morning when she first wakes up and gets a bellyful of milk. Unfortunately this is also the time when she tends to spew great quantities of spit-up all over whomever is holding her, so you have to consider: do you dare chance a dousing in order to munch that sweet baby's neck and cheeks? Generally, the answer is "of course."

Lastly, she's starting to yell something that sounds like "Mama!", especially when she's hungry or upset, so clearly she's brilliant. But you knew that, right?

Trying Unsuccessfully to Take an Easter Photo of the Girls: A Pictorial







Thursday, April 05, 2007

P.S.


One more thing. Genevieve Rose has been neglected on this blog lately, and after Easter I promise to rectify that by catching you all up on her recent antics.

It's All Becoming Clear to Me Now

My longtime friend and fellow mom--and also career woman extraordinaire--Sheela once told me, in a "gotta hand it to you" kind of way, that if SHE were a full-time stay-at-home mom, she would surely be "fat and depressed." (Trust me: her bottom-line message was a super-nice one of, basically, "I could never do your job; it's way too hard; I'd rather be at the office where I can rest.")

I don't know about the depressed part (although it IS true that I am starting to get kind of depressed thinking about a.) the fact that my almost-three-year-old has NO INTEREST WHATSOEVER in potty-training and, in fact, seems to consider the idea a personal affront, and b.) the thought of actually going through the process of potty-training itself). But as for fat? I doubt it, because my father-in-law somehow found some crazy website (so sorry I do not have the link; I know, egregious!) that purports to tell you how many calories you burn during various activities. I guess caring full-time for two small children equaled something like 1,900 calories a day. (And I'm assuming that was WITHOUT nursing.) OK, so who knows how "scientific" this silly calculator is, but I laughed pretty hard, and then kind of went, "Aha!"

When I consider my last full-time job, where I sat at my desk pretty much all day every day, getting up only to walk to the ladies' room, get a drink of water, or run to a meeting, it's clear that I am WAY more active as an at-home mom than I ever was before. The only time I'm sitting down during the day is during naptime (sometimes), meals (briefly, and in between jumping up to get more of whatever a million times for a couple of demanding kiddos), nursing (for about ten minutes at a time), and reading stories. Other than that my days are generally a blur of hauling a 20-pound weight (named Genevieve) up and down off the floor and all over the house, including up and down the stairs, running around doing chores while simultaneously playing with the girls, running or dancing with Julia, going for walks with the stroller, and moving from room to room trying to keep both girls entertained. I just had never really thought of my current vocation as being that much different, physically, from my old one, until now.

It is, of course, a good thing that I have come to this realization just in time for some chocolate bunnies.

We'll be gone the next four days; Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate it. Eat some chocolate in my metabolism's honor. Or better yet, your own.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Post Postscript

It occurred to me today that my line yesterday that you couldn't pay me to be a single parent sounded pretty offensive on its face; sorry--I fully realize that many (most?) single parents are such not by choice but by (sometimes tragic) circumstance. In my mind, what I was envisioning was the single woman who makes the informed choice to have a child without a parenting partner, such as through adoption or sperm donation. It became clear to me yesterday, during my 13 hours alone with the girls, that I certainly am a lesser woman than those who do such things! No way could I ever hack it.

Apologies for my lack of sensitivity! Carry on.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Moral of the Story

Today Christopher had to work both early and late, filling in for his vacationing boss and picking up a bigwig potential college donor at the airport (an hour away) and taking him to dinner tonight. Christopher was gone from 7:45 a.m. to 9 p.m., and what I learned from today was this:

You could not PAY me to be a single parent. If I were one, I would clearly be crabby ALL THE TIME. Seriously, the idea is horrifying. Oh, and if I were a single parent? It appears that I would never get to eat dinner. Because if there is only one adult in the house trying to keep up with the ravenous toddler and the voracious (and screaming) baby, there is no time for that adult to actually feed herself.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Vices

So, we made it over 15 months in our new house, in our new town, with no appreciable TV reception, and now we are caving. The only channel that comes in over here on the far edge of town overlooking the vast cornfields is NBC--and just barely, if you perform all sorts of frantic maneuvers with the rabbit-ears antenna. And that's just on our first floor; if you go upstairs to the family room, where we have a TV so nicely situated in front of my elliptical machine for those long-winter workouts, well, the antenna doesn't work at all, and nothing comes in. As much as I've felt quite good about watching far less TV in the past 15 months than I used to, and about the fact that it's much easier to keep one's children from watching TV if your TV is barely operable, well, it finally got to me the other night when all I wanted to do was sit down and watch an episode of "The Office" at the end of a tiring day, but, due to a rainstorm moving in from across the plain outside our windows, even the rabbit-ears couldn't pull in anything viewable. Our one measly channel, which we've gotten used to watching through the fuzz of barely-there reception, totally distorted and unwatchable because of a bank of fog and rain.

Sigh. We caved and ordered "reception cable" this week, people ($17 a month, no fancy extra channels, just the main broadcast ones like ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS). I know, I know; I think it's a crime to pay for TV. We're trying to cut all extraneous expenses. I don't want to be a person who watches a lot of TV; I don't believe in kids watching much, if any, TV. Julia needs to run around, be active, play outside, and use her imagination, not sit motionless in front of a screen (and so, of course, she will still not be allowed to watch anything but the very occasional kids' TV show or DVD; in our house, TV is a privilege of being a grown-up). But, you know, I also feel like I deserve one little, simple pleasure in the evening once the babies are in bed and my workday is (sort of) over, and as much as I adore sitting down with a new issue of the New Yorker, well, sometimes a girl misses her "America's Next Top Model." Is that so wrong?

As long as we're on the subject of guilty pleasures, I have come to the realization that I am a better mom on caffeine. Isn't that ironic? I gave it up for the comfort and health of my infant, but people, whenever I do sneak in a serving or two of high-octane yumminess, I suddenly become substantially more patient, creative, energetic (obviously), and....nice. I'm serious here. It's like magic. Suck down a cuppa joe, and all of a sudden I don't mind reading Go, Dog, Go! ten times in a row, and, in fact, use different voices for the two dogs talking about the hat! I will actually willingly talk to a stuffed animal, and then answer myself back in a squeaky voice, as if the animal is having a conversation with me! I will respond to whiny, fussy demands to "spread out my Silky, Mama; no, not that way, no, not that way, no!" with impressive equanimity! Apparently, what this really means is that I'm a better mom when I'm--big surprise--LESS TIRED. But seriously, people, about how many drugs can a person actually say she's a better mom when under the influence? Ah, beloved caffeine. Where's my Diet Coke, anyway?

So, it's all about vices in our household these days. And it's Lent! Yikes. I just realized that. That can't be good. Pray for me.