Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Going Dark

I'm going off-line. I just deactivated my Facebook account and I won't be blogging for at least six weeks, maybe more. I'd tell you why, but it would defeat the purpose of what I'm doing here. Bye for now! :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Twins Update - Eight Months Old

Now that Zoe and Leo are starting to get well after having been sick for so long, they are going through an enormous leap in their development. We have two sitter-uppers!


Zoe is catching up to Leo quite a bit, both in size and developmentally. He is just a tad bigger than she is, but most people think she is bigger because she is more chubby. Leo has completely stopped working on crawling. I'm not sure if that is due to the illness or because he's just been so happy to sit, but it means that they are both doing most of the same things. They love to sit up, they love to stand with a bit of support, and they are crazy for their exersaucer and their hanging bouncer.

Zoe's latest cuteness is that she loves banging things to make loud noises. Give her a hard surface and a hard object and she goes crazy.

Leo's latest cuteness is his way of asking to be picked up. He opens and closes his hands and kind of twists his wrists at the same time.

Zoe virtually stopped eating solids for the past month because of the sickness. It's been very stressful, because she started out so well. But just in the past few days, she is regaining an appetite. She likes chicken and ham. Leo has been eating through it all, and he is starting to look as chubby as Zoe. He likes beef and ham and, well, almost everything.

Spoon-feeding these two is proving to be very difficult. Until recently, they didn't sit well enough to use any kind of chairs but the Bumbos, and I'd find myself using one hand to alternate spoonfuls of food between them, while using the other to kind of hold them in the seats, wipe up spills, and keep them from grabbing all the objects on the table. If Sam is home while I'm trying to do this alone, it's insane: they want to look at her, so unless she stands right in front of them, they will twist around in their seats dangerously. Now they are finally able to sit in the high chair and it is so much easier, but I only have one. I hate to have two huge high chairs in our tiny house, but I don't see any other way. They're just not strong enough for the booster seats you strap on to chairs and I don't want to continue with the Bumbo insanity. I'm heading to Amazon.com as soon as I'm finished with this post.

To my dismay, they are nowhere near ready for finger foods. I want to be done with the spoon feeding as soon as possible, but they are not interested in pieces of food on a tray. They won't even look at it, let alone try to pick it up.

I've been using the jarred baby food almost exclusively because I've been too overwhelmed to cook at all, let alone make my own baby food. But I'll probably get back into that over the next month. It will be good to give them some chunkier foods again, like I did right at the start.

We also tried sippy cups for the first time a few days ago. They each took one sip of formula successfully and then both told me the same thing: "Mommy, I CAN do it, but I definitely don't WANT to. Now give me my damn bottle!" But I know that once they realize that they can hold the cup and feed themselves, they'll change their minds.

And finally, finally, they are moving off of the 3-hour cycle. I can't believe they've been on it for so long. I don't remember it being this way with Sam for more than a few months. Some weeks ago, they gave up the nap after the penultimate feeding at 6pm, staying awake until bedtime around 8:30pm. And now they seem to be moving towards two long naps a day. What a relief! Now I can take them out so much more easily. Yesterday, they came with me to drop Sammy off at school, then we went to the grocery store, and in the afternoon they came with me to pick Sammy up and then for a quick trip to the playground. Poor Sammy has been stuck in the house with us all winter, except for when I've had help. I've had to say "no" to her so much that it hurts, especially when the sun is shining and we can see all the other kids playing outside. But the only way for a single person to transport two babies at the same time is to put them in a stroller, which is an arduous, ten-minute process on the front end and the back end. And when you can only stay somewhere for 20 minutes before you have to get home for a nap, it's hard to get motivated. Longer, less frequent naps also means that my time is less fragmented. Maybe that will help my mind to become less fragmented as well.

I've still not been taking as many photos as I'd like, but the few that I have from this past month are great ones. Two completely different, but equally adorable babies:


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Looking Up

I can't be certain, but I think I might be coming out of the Black Hole of Spring. There was the Black Hole of Winter that lasted about 2 weeks in December, but this one had a much greater mass and kept me miserable for 2.5 months. Leo and Zoe still aren't well - they both have ear infections now - but they are more active and happy again. After my last post we all got Pukinson's Disease with residual congestion, and the three elder Mossoffs were fine for our Hawaii trip, but as soon as we got back it was all doctor's appointments and sleep deprivation for a few days. Last night I slept, which gives me hope.

I'll write about Hawaii later. For now, just a couple of sweet stories.

Sam hasn't been taking good care of her body lately, and I was trying to convince her to perform some health-related task - drinking water, wiping back-to-front, I don't remember - and I used one of my usual tactics: "I'm not trying to boss you around, but this is my job. Do you remember what my job is?"

"It's my job to keep you safe and healthy."

"No, it's NOT your job to keep me safe and healthy!"

"Oh. What do you think my job is?"

"Just to love me."


Zoe and Leo are at one of my favorite stages: they are beginning to play the "hand it back and forth" game. I'll hand one of them a toy, they'll hand it back to me, and so on, for as long as I'm willing to play. Well, they don't really do it yet, but they are starting to, and I'm encouraging it big time. And just now, I can't be totally certain, but I think Zoe just handed Leo a toy. She looked right at him, held it out to him, he grabbed it, and she let go and looked away. I've been enjoying them "fighting" over toys for a while now, but this was new. Adorable!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Twins Update - Seven Months Old

Today, at 2:42 and 3pm, respectively, Leo and Zoe turned seven months old. Two days ago, our dog, Toby, turned seven years old. Two days before that, I turned a multiple of seven years old. (I'll give you a hint: in dog years, Toby is older than I am.)

I haven't taken a seven-month photograph and I probably won't. Leo and Zoe are sick and have been almost continually since early February. I'm sick. Sam and Adam have been sick. I'm just not in the mood. In fact, I've hardly taken any photos at all in the past month.

But some friends came for dinner this weekend and took this great family shot, so we'll just call this the seven-month photograph.

Because of all the sickness, I don't think either Leo or Zoe has progressed as much as they would have while healthy. Leo can sit up a bit better, but if anything, Zoe seems weaker when attempting to sit. Zoe was just entering a vocal phase when this latest cold hit - she was doing these long, loud screams, just playing with her voice - but it didn't really go anywhere. Leo hasn't been babbling as much lately either, and he doesn't try to crawl like he used to. We have less smiles, less giggles, less awake-time than we did a month ago. It's depressing.

They are doing some new things, though. I think they are both trying to mimic us now. I've gotten Zoe to stick her tongue out at me a couple of times. When we play "clap your hands," I can almost hear the gears whirring in Leo's head as he tries to send the signals to his hands to bring them together.

They've been eating solids for most of the month. We've tried a lot of foods and they like most of them. Their favorite is banana and rice cereal mush, and neither of them like squash much. We've been feeding them a lot of beef, which I pureed and froze, but they've also eaten tiny bits of steak right from our plates. It's really hard to spoon feed two babies. Leo wants to grab Zoe's bites and Zoe keeps getting too tired to sit up straight, so a lot of the time I have to kind of hold them in their seats with one hand while spooning with the other. I'll be happy when I can put a bunch of food on their trays and let them shovel it in. It is pretty funny how their eating reflects their personalities. Leo is all bluster, making his grunting "I WANT" noises, grabbing at the spoon, and grabbing at Zoe, but he gets so excited that ends up letting a lot of the food fall out of his mouth. Zoe is slow to get started. With each new food I think, "Oh, she doesn't like this one." But then after about five bites, she decides it is good and gets in a rhythm and ends up eating more than Leo.

They've both spent some time in the jumper thing that hangs in the doorway, but neither one has figured out how to really make it bounce yet. I remember Sam going nuts with that thing, so I'm sure it's just a matter of time.

Zoe is getting really good at rolling. I have to watch her more closely than Leo because she's the one who keeps ending up under the furniture. She can also get around by just kind of slithering, but most of the time she goes in the opposite direction of her intended target. And that's another thing about Zoe: she is goal-directed in her movement, while Leo just wants to move for movement's sake. Zoe sees something and tries to get to it (and often succeeds). Leo just moves and ends up in a new place, which seems to excite him. Leo also loves being jostled and moved around quickly - it makes him laugh. Zoe doesn't care for that as much. It's still easier to get a laugh out of Leo than from Zoe.

The one thing that does make Zoe laugh is Sammy. Zoe worships Sammy. It's almost impossible to feed her if Sam is around because she is so focused on her. Sam does all kinds of wacky things to make Leo and Zoe laugh, and she gets more laughs out of Zoe than the rest of us combined.

Leo sleeps with his butt in the air and his thumb in his mouth, and it's just about the cutest thing I've ever seen. He's already mature enough that this sleeping pose makes me see him as vulnerable and babyish.

This upcoming month, Adam, Sammy, and I are going to Hawaii while my parents take care of the twins for a week. It's a good time to try it - they aren't fully mobile yet, but they have a solid routine and sleep through the night. It's the calm before the storm.

I hope to have more to report next month, and lots more photos.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Little Thing

Sam is now in the "hot lava" phase of childhood development. There seems to be some overlap with the preceding "potty humor" phase, which makes for some interesting stories acted out with her dolls.

The Nugget Barrier

"Hi, Sammy! How was school today?"


"Remember, don't touch the babies until I give you a wipe for your hands."


"Uh-oh, I can't find a wipe. I think I'm out. Sorry, Sam. Can you wait until we get home?"


"Sam, would you like to get some chicken nuggets? I'm hungry."


"Are you feeling okay? I don't think I've ever heard you turn down nuggets."


"Mommy, are we going home?"

"No, I have to stop at the bank to get some cash first."

"But mommy, I want to go home. Mommy, I really want to. I want to go home, I want to go home, waaa waaa waaa."

"Sorry I didn't tell you ahead of time that I needed to go to the bank. Usually I try to let you know what my plans are if I'm going to drag you along, but I really do have to get cash today, and it will just take an extra five minutes. C'mon, usually you like going to the bank, right?"

"Mommy, we can get something at 7-11."

"I know we got something sweet there once, but we can't do that today. If we're going to get something to eat it has to be a drive-through because I don't want to have to take Zoe and Leo out of the car. Sure you don't want to go to McDonald's or something?"


"Sammy, I'm really pretty hungry. You know, if you don't want chicken nuggets, we can go to Chick-Fil-A and you can get that yogurt thing. Do you want that instead?"

"Well, okay. But mommy, will they have wipes there?"

"No, they don't have...oh wait...oh! Sammy, is that why you wanted to go straight home - because you wanted to wash your hands so you could start playing with the babies?"


Leo and Zoe have crossed the chicken nugget barrier on Sam's hierarchy of values.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Half-Day in the Life

It's just past noon. So far, today I have:

  • Changed 5 diapers (Adam did one this morning)

  • Clipped 20 fingernails

  • Showered, dressed, put on make-up and jewelry (!)

  • Received a huge grocery delivery and put it all (well, most) away

  • Eaten a salisbury steak frozen meal for breakfast

  • Looked up a recipe for salisbury steak (it's gotta be better homemade, right?)

  • Administered 4 bottle feedings

  • Spoon-fed 2 baby-food feedings

  • Given 2 sponge baths

  • Changed 2 baby outfits

  • Packed up and labeled a box for return to Amazon, and put it in my trunk

  • Opened a new box from Amazon and put the supplies away

  • Reconciled my bank account and credit card statement

  • Put away baby laundry that had been sitting on the floor in a hamper for the past week

  • Written this blog post

Plans for the rest of the day include:

  • At least one load of laundry

  • Unload dishwasher

  • Load dishwasher

  • Make new batch of formula

  • Lunch for me

  • Sam school pick-up (with babies in-tow)

  • Find some way (that doesn't involve TV) to entertain Sam for the whole, long afternoon while we are stuck in the house with the babies

  • Bath for Sam (I can drag that out for an hour, I hope)

  • Putting Stuff Away

  • Folding 5 loads of laundry

  • Cooking dinner (salmon and long-cooked broccoli tonight, I think--HT: Diana Hsieh)

  • 5 more bottle-feedings (Adam will do one tonight)

  • 3-4 more diaper changes (Adam will do one or two tonight)

  • Watching more of this week's American Idol, maybe even getting through the results show

  • If I'm feeling ambitious, starting my taxes

If it is a normal day, I'll make at least 25 round trips up and down the stairs. (I counted once.) That's the only part I'd change.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

School Shuttle Shuttle

I've been (re) listening to Leonard Peikoff's Philosophy of Education lectures in preparation for homeschooling. On the way to pick up Sam from school yesterday, I was in the midst of the "integration" section. Peikoff first spoke of the need for the teacher to always be pointing out and querying the student for integrations - connections, relationships, the big picture, the wider abstractions, etc. Then, he went on to argue that you can't only point out the integrations, but that to avoid floating abstractions you must also constantly ask the student to concretize - to give examples, to find new instances of the same thing, etc. You need to do both. In his words, you need to "shuttle" between both integration and concretization.

Sam came out of school and I turned off the lecture so we could have our usual chat on the way home. As Sam's teacher, Mrs. L. brought Sam up to my car, Toby, who was tagging along that day, barked at her. This happens every time I bring Toby along. He's a barker anyway, but he gets particularly protective of Sam in the car, and appears quite menacing. Mrs. L. is always upset and scared by his barking, and this time she was particularly startled and left the car quickly. I felt terrible that she had been so upset and said something to Sam about it.

As we were driving off, I thought of a connection. I told Sam, "You know, Mrs. L. is a good person, right? And Toby is a good dog, too. But they don't get along, do they? See, sometimes both people, or animals, can be good, but that doesn't mean they make good friends. Just like you and [our neighbor] C. You might both be good people, but you just don't get along."

"Oh yeah," she said. "Mrs. L. is a good person, and Toby is a good dog, but they don't get along. And I'm a good person, and Jinx was a good cat, but we didn't get along either."

[caption id="attachment_5268" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Jinx scratch"][/caption]

Easy as pie, this teaching thing.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Little Thing

Mark the day! Last night Zoe and Leo became true Mossoffs - they ate steak!

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Twins Update - Six Months Old

They're going mobile!

It won't be long now. Leo can get up on all fours like he's about to crawl (check out the video!)

And Zoe is beginning to roll to wherever she wants to go (see how far she got!)

It's going to be a whole new world around here soon. Time to rearrange the furniture again!

They're both really interested in their own toes lately. And each other's. (Another cute video.)

We can't lie them down too close on a blanket without close supervision because they want to grab each other's body parts and pinch and tug. Ears are a particular favorite, but I've seen both of them going for the other's eyes before, too. I tend to allow them to poke and prod each other quite a bit, but I'm not ready for a trip to the ER.

Zoe's favorite physical activity is pushing things with her feet. She'll get both feet positioned against the arch on the Gymini and push it around to shake all the hanging toys. It looks like she is surfing. Her other big thing of the moment is touching faces. It's so sweet how she will reach out towards my face with such curiosity. I've started pointing out body parts to her and she seems interested. In fact, both of them enjoy "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes," and "Where is Thumbkin." This month, Zoe has become more smiley. When I walk into the nursery, Zoe bangs her legs on the mattress and wiggles back and forth and it looks like her mouth is going to eat up the rest of her face, the smile is so huge! I really need to get that on video.

Leo can sit up on his own now! If he puts his hands on the floor in front of him, he can sit for about 30 seconds, and with no hands, he can balance for maybe 5 seconds before he topples. As I said, he continues to work on crawling. It's amazing to me how determined he is. It's like he knows what he needs to do, but just isn't physically capable yet. Sam never worked so hard at anything, and Zoe works, but her ambitions are more in line her abilities so she succeeds before driving herself crazy. Leo drives himself crazy, but it does mean that he's doing things sooner than either of my other children. Another great thing Leo does now is that he raises his arms when he wants to be picked up. It's his first "word" in his own sign language. All babies use sign language, whether you teach them ASL or not, you know.

Speaking of sign language, I don't know if I've written here that we are doing it with Leo and Zoe, just as we did with Sam. We've started with only the few, most important words: "sleep," "food," and "more." And I've finally started reading to them. It's ridiculous that it took me so long, but I couldn't figure out how to read to them because I couldn't figure out the physical positioning. I can't hold them both and a book at the same time. And they still topple over on the couch. So I gave up trying to let them see the pictures and just stared reading to them while they're lying in their cribs. They seem to love it, but it's not too fun for me because there is no room for two cribs plus a chair in their room, so I either stand or sit on a little stool. Hopefully when they are sitting up well, we'll do lots of reading on the couch.

Both Zoe and Leo love the exersaucer now. Their feet just reach the base so they can push off and make the whole thing shake and rattle. They love that. But it's getting hard to just lie them or sit them somewhere and expect them to entertain themselves. They're at that awkward stage where they are ready to do more exploring, but are not quite mobile yet. As soon as they can sit up, I can give them the magic box - a shoebox filled with a few household objects or small toys. That was my go-go activity for Sam for quite a while once she was sitting up. Opening the box, exploring each item, and then spreading them around was fun, but she'd also lose things behind her so she had to learn to turn around and reach and develop all those skills as well. I love the magic box. Another activity that will start soon is the jumper - you know, one of those things that hangs from the door-jamb on an elastic so the baby can jump. Sam loved that, too. Leo is probably ready now, but Zoe still needs more back strength. For now, I tend to move Leo and Zoe from place to place during their play-time so they don't get overly frustrated, but of course, allowing them to feel the frustration and work to solve it is part of my parenting method. It just means I have to listen to a lot more whining and groaning now.

Both of them love going out, even if it's just a ride in the car to pick Sam up from school. We do go out more and more, but it's still exhausting for me, lugging around the car seats, getting them in the stroller, etc. With Sam, it was a huge relief when she learned to walk, instead of the endless chasing nightmare that most parents describe. It just meant I had to carry her less. She was happy to hold my hand and walk along with me. Sam walking marked the end of the difficult baby days and the beginning of the most wonderful toddler days. But with two, one of whom is Leo, I don't know how it will be. I won't rule out using one of those baby-leashes (or two) if it makes life easier on me. I think that would be better than sticking both of them in a stroller every time we go out. With Sam, we hardly ever used a stroller once she could walk, and I think it was good for her to get around on her own that way. The leashes look cruel, but they allow the child more freedom than a stroller does. And what's worse: being constrained by a rope, or being constrained by a mommy picking you up every time you stray too far? I know which one is worse for me, and as always, I think our interests coincide!

Half a year. I set my expectations that the first year would be miserable, and so far it hasn't been nearly as bad as I'd expected. Still, I feel relief that I've made it this far. And whenever I feel like these baby days are never going to end and that I'm doomed to a lifetime of menial labor, I have Sam to remind me of what is yet to come. The best.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Exciting Times

I'm overdue for Zoe and Leo's 6 month update, but it will have to wait a few days. They've both been sick, along with the rest of the household. Besides dealing with my first serious round of illness with three children, we've had a lot of other stuff going on around here.

Sam and Adam spent a few days in Florida, visiting Adam's parents. It was too much for them and for us for all five of us to make the trip. Adam's dad is still recovering from the Whipple surgery and subsequent pneumonia he had back in November. The good news is that his cancer markers are in the normal range and he has already beaten the odds for stage-4 pancreatic cancer. The word "remission" has been used by more than one doctor, although nobody will officially call it such. If you look up Jeff's type of cancer, you will see that remission is considered impossible, and we all know the cancer is still there waiting to return, but for now, there is no sign of it. They still have a lot of challenges, but Adam's dad and stepmom are starting to make travel plans again - amazing!

Sam had a mid-winter break from school, so also in the middle of all the illness I had more kids to deal with. My babysitter has an internship that requires that she work weekends and holidays, so with Valentine's Day and President's Day she wasn't around as much as usual. But we made it through and the calendar is much more clear for the next couple of weeks.

Sam's Montessori teacher invited Sam to stay on one more year in Primary - basically repeating kindergarten. I seriously considered it (and if you know me at all, seriously considering something means doing tons of research and teasing out as many implications as possible). It was an attractive idea because we adore Sam's school and we know she is thriving there. There is certainly another whole year's worth of learning she can do in that classroom, and I'm not concerned with her being officially "behind." She has an early birthday and has always been immature for her age. However, we decided against it for two main reasons. First, I really want to start homeschooling just for my own gratification. I've been studying and preparing for this for years now, and I want to do it for my own satisfaction as well as for the benefit of Sam. Second, this first year is our trial-run. I'd rather find out sooner rather than later if it isn't going to work. If it doesn't, the younger she is, the easier it will be for her to go back to a regular school. I hate to even think about that because I can't imagine where we'd send her, but whatever the situation is, I'd rather not delay it another year. (Of course, homeschooling might work for a few years and then become a problem, but we can't plan that far ahead.) There is also the cost of Montessori tuition, but we found that to be not significantly higher than the cost of a part-time nanny for the twins, so it wasn't a big factor.

Now, we're considering hiring an au pair. It would only cost a few grand more per year than a part-time nanny, which we can manage. It would give me time to homeschool and to start actual fiction writing, instead of just compiling story ideas that never go anywhere. It would allow me time to go to the gym and to have doctors' appointments and to take Sam to her activities without having to bring Zoe and Leo along (which is no fun at all). We'd have the same person for a whole year, so I wouldn't have to worry about my help moving on to greater things. And we'd love for the kids to learn another language - probably Spanish. There is only one downside, but it is huge - we'd have another person living in our house. This is a horrifying prospect! But we're considering it. We might start with a nanny over the summer and see how it goes and possibly hire an au pair starting in the fall. But if we do get an au pair, it means we have to rearrange the house, and that's another big project. Sigh.

We did a minor remodel of the fourth and final bathroom - our powder room on the main level. Just a new faucet, mirror, light fixture, and towel rods. We hired a handyman to do the work and of course he ended up coming on the first day of Sam's illness and in the middle of mine. That was not a fun day, but the bathroom looks great.

All the illness pretty much ended breastfeeding. I was so dehydrated I think I just stopped making milk. None of us seem to miss it much. I've tried to feed Leo and Zoe some avocado and banana, but they weren't very interested in that either. But that's the next big project as far as they are concerned.

Our trip to Hawaii is coming up soon, so we need to at least a little bit of planning for that. My parents are coming to town to take care of the twins so it will just be the three of us. I think it's going to feel like a real vacation for me! Adam has to work just one day, and we'll be there for six, so we'll have a lot of time. We decided not to go to OCON in San Diego over the summer, though, which we had originally intended to do. I think we're starting to realize just how expensive having two more children is going to be. We're thinking that now is the time to explore our local area and take small trips instead of big ones. There will be time and money for more exotic adventures in the future.

And that's what's going on around here lately. Lots of changes. Lots of decisions to be made. Exciting and busy times!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Try This Trick

Adam and I are feeding the beasties for the final time of the night when we hear Sammy's voice from upstairs. "Mommy, I'm scared that monsters are going to come out of my closet." This is the third night in a row that she has come out of her room after being put to bed. For the past two nights, I've done  a "magic trick" to keep them away.
Me: Sam, I'm not going to do the magic trick again.

Sam: But I want you to do the magic trick, mommy, to keep the monsters away.

I planned ahead for this. She's five now - she can be reasoned with, right?
Me: Remember I told you last night that it would be the last time, because I didn't want to get in the habit of doing it every night?

Sam: But I'm scared of the monsters.

By this time, she has come halfway down the stairs and is talking to us through the railings. I have a brilliant idea:
Me: Well why don't you do a magic trick to keep them away.

Sam: Well, I can't do the magic, because I don't know how, and I can't do magic.

I try being firm:
Me: Well, I'm not doing it again. You need to go back to your room.

Sam: But I'm scared of the monsters!

We repeat the same arguments back and forth about five times. This isn't working. I remember something that has worked in the past:
Me: Well, I can't do anything about that. If there is something specific you need from me, please let me know. But I told you I can't do the magic trick anymore, and I can't make you not afraid. That is something you have to figure out for yourself.

Sam: But, MOMMY! I can't sleep.

Me: I can't make you go to sleep either. That is something you have to do on your own.

Adam thinks he has the solution:
Adam: If you can't sleep you can play with your toys or read your books, but you have to go back to your room.

Sam: But, DADDY!

Oh god, this is escalating. Am I going to have to get up and put her back into her room and then listen to her scream for an hour?
Sam: Mommy, you said that if I was every really scared, I could always come out and tell you.

Me: Yes, and you just told me. Good night.

Sam: Good night.

Me: See you in the morning.

Sam [retreating up the stairs]: See you in the morning.

A moment passes as Adam and I listen to the sound of her bedroom door quietly closing. Then we look at each other with dropped jaws. Now, that was magic!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Little Thing

The other day, Sam came running to me in tears - real, sad tears, not the tears of a tantrum or frustration at not getting what she wanted. I was concerned. She doesn't cry like this very often. She flung herself into my arms, and my daughter, who never shed a tear when we had to put her beloved cat to sleep, wailed, "Mommy - the iPad died!"

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Piano Lessons

We bought our piano in November of 2009. We bought it because Sam seemed so interested in playing. We were given some great lesson books and other materials. In January of 2010 I sat down with Sam one time with the first lesson book and it's been gathering dust ever since. It's not that she wasn't ready for piano; it's that she wasn't ready to take direction from me.

For two years, Sam has occasionally plucked at the piano by herself (doing it "my own way" in defiance of any instruction that I might offer), never learning much, but recently showing signs of being able to hunt down notes by ear. I've also fiddled around with the piano, and we've enjoyed the recorded music on it quite often. Guests have played for us. But still, it was mostly just an expensive decoration.

A couple of weeks ago, Sam told me that she wanted to learn to play Twinkle Twinkle. I think she has been playing music on the bells at school, and I had helped her pick out the notes on the piano a few times. (As long as I showed her the notes in the way that she told me to, she would cooperate.) I got the sense that she might be ready this time, so I asked her if she would like me to give her piano lessons, and she said yes!

We've had four or five lessons now. Sam will sit still and observe as I give her a demonstration, and she will attempt to perform the tasks as demonstrated. We've gone over the proper sitting position. We've learned the correct way to hold her hands and how her fingers should strike the keys. We've numbered her fingers and played "wiggle number four!" type games. We've played notes with specific fingers up and down the scale. We've tapped out quarter notes and half notes. Each lesson is short - maybe 15 minutes - and we always go back a couple of lessons in the book as a review. At the end of every lesson, we have "free time" where she gets to learn a song in her old, comfortable way - I point to the keys she should play and she hits them with her index finger.

I didn't have any plan at all when we started, except that I would use this particular book. The short lessons, the reviews, and the "free time" all came about naturally, and I realize that I've internalized a lot of the pedagogical principles that I've been studying for the past few years as I've been preparing for homeschooling. That is gratifying. A little bit more deliberate was my use of Montessori language; I told Sam that first I would give a "presentation" and then it would be her turn, just like at school. I've tried this in the past with her to no avail. But now it is working and we're having fun! I am teaching Sam something in a formal way and we are having a good time!

I don't know if this is a normal parenting experience or not, but this is a huge breakthrough for Sam and me. Since she was about two-and-a-half, Sam has generally shown no respect for any teaching I might offer. The quotation marks around "my own way" in the second paragraph were not scare quotes. I was quoting her literal response to just about every challenging thing I've attempted to show her or teach her for the past couple of years. The fact that I would show her a method automatically made it wrong to her, and she would insist on doing it "my own way." Writing letters of the alphabet, zipping up her coat, putting on her gloves, tracing sandpaper letters, putting her glass of milk on the far side of the plate, opening the car door, reciting a poem, putting together a jigsaw puzzle - anything. If I tried to teach it, she rebelled and insisted on doing it "her way." Most often, her way didn't work, but that didn't seem to matter to her. At first this was very upsetting to me and I kept pushing, but eventually I backed off simply out of frustration. If she didn't want to learn from me, I couldn't force her. So I kept offering, but as soon as she resisted, I stopped trying and allowed her to wallow in her incompetence. And in many areas, she really is quite incompetent for her age.

The change is not just with the piano. She is showing me the same respect in other areas now as well. A few days ago, she allowed me to teach her how to put a towel on a towel bar. Seriously, she is five years old and she had never learned this simple task. They use hooks at school and we have hooks for her coats, but every time she used a towel in the bathroom, it ended up on the floor. I'd watched her try to do it on her own and she just could not figure out how to even up the sides and use gravity, but there was no way she would allow me to show her. This time, she observed and then proudly did it on her own. And she keeps doing it - at least when she remembers that she knows how.

Sam has had the same rebellious attitude towards her dad, but quite so strong. At school she has always taken direction - no problem. And I've seen her accept instruction from adult friends of ours and from her peers. So I've always known this was part of her natural and necessary separation process from her parents. I just didn't know if it would ever change, and that has been a huge worry for me as a future homeschooler. No matter how Montessori-ish you make a homeschool environment, the student still needs to respect the teacher.

And Sam's personality has not changed. I'm still going to need to be the most unobtrusive type of teacher for her. Any whiff of an attempt to control her will cause her to rebel. Finding ways to activate her internal motivation will be my biggest challenge, I know. But the fact that she now recognizes that I know things and that I can help her without controlling her is huge. My task now is not to screw it up. I need to continue to give her examples of ways in which I can help her learn faster than she would do on her own, but I need to abstain from pushing. If I can do that, I think we might actually have a chance at success with homeschooling.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy Randsday!

I hope you'll all join me in celebrating Randsday. Today is Ayn Rand's birthday, and Harry Binswanger has come up with the perfect way to celebrate it:
To celebrate Randsday, you do something not done on any other holiday: you give yourself a present. Randsday is for getting that longed-for luxury you ordinarily would not buy for yourself. Or for doing that long-postponed, self-pampering activity you cannot seem to fit into your chore-packed schedule.

Randsday is for reminding ourselves that pleasure is an actual need, a psychological requirement for a human consciousness. ...

Read the full description here. Especially if you're unfamiliar with Rand's philosophy, please do click over. You might be surprised to get a taste of what Rand really means by selfishness.

I feel like my life is a series of Randsdays right now. I'm in the process of adding small goals and values back into my life, after having set so many things aside when the twins were born just to survive each day. The first things to go are always The Little Things, and there was one big Little Thing that I had been putting off, which will be my Randsday gift to myself: I'm getting my hair done again! There was no way I could make the appointment for today, but I'm going on Sunday. I don't care that it takes over two hours and costs a fortune - it makes me feel like a civilized human being, and that is not meaningless.

Here are some other values that I've recently added back into my life:

  • Basic grooming: Unlike when Sam was a baby, this time around I didn't neglect my showers. But most other personal grooming activities were neglected. Now I clip my nails, use moisturizer, and even blow dry my hair. Styling my hair is still beyond me, but I think that will come back when I have a nice haircut again.

  • Blogging: I've been up and down with blogging since the twins were born, but every time I write a post it gives me great satisfaction, so I'm committed to continuing.

  • Taking care of my health: Just applying my topical psoriasis medicine was too much for me for a few months. It didn't matter that my head itched constantly - I just didn't have the focus on myself needed to take care of the problem. I've gotten that back under control and I've addressed some other health issues as well. Next step: a dentist appointment.

  • Contact lenses: It takes one second to put on my glasses and almost a minute to put in my contacts. No contest in the early days. Besides, you can't nap with contacts in. I've started wearing contacts again on occasion, but I'm still having trouble with the idea that that one minute is worth it. I'll work on that.

  • Clothing: I've only had a day or two where I stayed in my pajamas all day, but the first couple of months I was ashamed and depressed every time I got dressed. Buying some new clothing, even if it is a few sizes larger than I want it to be, has helped me to remember what a selfish value one's appearance can and ought to be.

  • Jewelry: I've actually worn earrings a few times lately, although I have to stay away from the dangling kind for a while yet. You can't put a shiny, wiggly object right in front of a baby and expect it to stay put.

  • Massages: After just a couple of months, I started getting the occasional massage, and it was well worth it because feeding babies can really give you a kink in the neck. I don't really need the massages anymore so I've moved on to bigger and better things. Namely,

  • Exercise: I joined a gym this week, and I've worked out twice already! Some might think of exercise as a chore or duty, not worthy of this kind of list. But anyone who has kids understands that exercise can be one of the most selfish, pleasurable activities of the day. Just getting out of the house by myself is huge.

These are the Little Things that I need to do for myself in order to achieve and enjoy the Big Things. It's not a trade off, in terms of time and effort to accomplish them. And it's not a sacrifice of the long-range to the short-range. It's not even a matter of hierarchy. It's a matter of integration. It's a matter of being selfish and ambitious in all things, no matter how small. And when we dismiss the small, we lose sight of the purpose and meaning of the big.
Randsday is the time to challenge any duty-premise, re-affirm your love of your values, and honor the principle that joy in living is an end in itself.



Monday, January 30, 2012

A Little Thing - Fezzik Edition

While role-playing with her dolls, Sam uttered this monologue:
I put the ball under here. Now you listen to me. I'm going to tell you what to do. You go over here and  I'll go over there and then we'll get the ball...no! That's not the way to do it. Now I'm going to put you in jail. I'm going to put you in jail for real and you'll never get out again. But I didn't know that. Okay, you'll be okay. Now you listen to me, I mean it. Does anybody want a peanut?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Twins Update - Five Months Old

Zoe and Leo are now two very different babies. Different than last month, and different than each other.


Leo is growing hair. It's not as light as it used to be, and it looks pretty funny because it's just a patch right over his forehead. It's fun to give him a mohawk.

Zoe is no longer the frail, delicate baby she used to be. She's positively chubby. We call her chipmunk because of those cheeks.

I was right about their eye colors. Leo's are a nice blue and Zoe's have finally morphed over to brown. I'm excited that we can finally sing "Brown Eyed Girl" to one of our children.

Both of them have become much more aware of the world this month. They are both easily distracted while eating, which can be annoying. When I take them out in the car it's no longer a guaranteed nap - they both try their best to stay awake and observe everything. They are both more aware of people, but Zoe in particular is beginning to have preferences. As I wrote about earlier this month, she did not like our backup babysitter. But she seemed instantly taken with Sammy's teacher. Leo will bestow his adorable smile upon anyone who pays attention to him.

Because of this awakening awareness, they are showing the first signs of getting bored, or whatever the baby equivalent of that is. I can no longer leave them happily lying on the floor for very long. They often need a change of scenery, and they seem to like it when we have guests or get out of the house. I have been getting them out a bit more, and it's getting easier. As long as we can make it through the winter, I think we'll be okay. I've been extremely lucky that this winter has been so mild. We haven't even had to put the sleeping bag thingies on the car seats, let alone bundle up two babies for an outing in seriously cold weather.

We've entered the world of drool, especially with Leo. I wish that meant that we were done with spit up, but no such luck. Both Zoe and Leo can pick up rattles and small, soft toys, and put them in their mouths. They love to sit in their Bumbos because it leaves their hands free to put things in their mouths. Everything goes straight to the mouth now. I found a small piece of felt on their blanket yesterday and realized that it's time to start being careful.

Sometimes I think all these new developments are making things harder, but if I ever need to remind myself of what the first months were like, all I have to do is look at the feeding charts. We stopped charting just a few days ago. I gathered up the papers yesterday to put in the baby box. We have 44 pages of recorded feedings, diaper changes, medications, and baths. In the first days and weeks, if you look at the times, it's just crazy. Did they really eat at 10pm, 1am, 4am, and 7am? Both of them? For days on end? Yes, they did. Things are definitely easier now.

When it comes to development, Leo continues to be a superstar. He is now an expert at rolling onto his tummy and doing "push ups." He actually likes being on his tummy and will even sleep that way, although sometimes he can't get back onto his back and that drives him nuts. One time he rolled quite a ways off of the playmat - it looked like he was heading towards a ball that was on the ground. But he never made it, so he has changed his focus to crawling. He has started the "inchworm" move - while lying on his tummy, he'll arch his back like a cat and then straighten out, pushing forward from the knees on the ground. He has managed to locomote forward a little bit this way. And he loves to stand up! If you give him just a bit of support and help with balance, he'll stand for a minute at a time. It's amazing. You can even get him to take steps if you move him like a marionette. I know that boy is going to be a handful in just a few months.

Poor Zoe is just slower than Leo, so her accomplishments don't get as much attention. But she is progressing. She is much better at holding and picking up objects than she was last month. She just learned how to roll from her tummy to her back - her preferred position. She hates being on her tummy, but I've seen her working on the roll from back to tummy so I think that will happen soon. Her vocalizations have gone from learning new consonants to learning new tones and sounds. She practically sings. It's adorable. She also seems to be learning to love dolls. Since she loves people and faces, this does not surprise me.

Leo laughs a lot. His joy is infectious and it is filling our house with goodness. But he also cries a lot. He's entered some new phase where he cries when we leave him in his crib. Sometimes it seems like he is upset about having rolled onto his tummy. Sometimes I think he just wants to be back out where all the action is, or that he is lonely. And there is the possibility that he just needs more Zantac. We've even speculated that he might be teething, but it's been a couple of weeks and nothing has broken through. It's hard to tell with Leo. He's very expressive - everything is big and loud and over the top, so subtleties are lost.

Zoe, on the other hand, seems so easy to read. I look into her eyes and I just know what is going on. When she is hungry or tired, she just tells me, and I take care of her. It's all so simple and easy. The downside is that she does not smile or laugh as much as Leo. She's not what you would call the life of the party. She is earnest, simple and sweet.

We let them join us for a little bit of The Lion King last weekend. I watched Zoe's eyeballs flick around, taking in every visual detail, as Leo "sang" along with "Circle of Life," unable to observe without participating. Meanwhile, Sammy talked and asked questions through the whole movie, as usual.

Three very different children.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

First Kiss

So what did you do at school today?
I did a piece of work before I had snack.
Yes. And I had snack with R.
Oh, that's nice. What did you talk to R. about?
Oh no. I didn't have snack with R. today, I had snack with A.
Oh, I see. So what did you talk about with A.?
He asked me to marry him.
Yes. He asked me to marry him so that we could kiss someday and he asked me to kiss him and I did.
You kissed him today, at school?
Was that the first time you kissed a little boy?
Oh, really?
No. A. is not a little boy. We're getting married.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Little Thing

Sam used to sing along with Laurie Berkner. Now she hums along with Beethoven.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Little Thing

For a long time, Samantha thought the word "Zappos" meant "box."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Race of Gods

Being a full-time parent to twin infants is much easier than I had expected. In fact, it seems easier than my time with Samantha as a baby, even though she was a singleton, and had no older siblings for me to care for. There is definitely a lot more work involved when you have two babies, but I don't feel crushed by the weight of it the way I did with Sam.

Of course, one big improvement this time around is that I have experience. That is huge. The change in perspective can be summed up by my new parenting motto, uttered every time some little thing goes wrong: "They'll live." Another improvement is that we are now able to afford some hired help.

But there is more to it than that, and all the other reasons fall under one heading: Progress. In the five years since Samantha was born, our society has progressed so much that parenting is noticeably easier. It sounds fantastic, but it's true. Here are some things that seem indispensable to me as a parent now, which did not exist (or were very expensive or rare) five years ago:

  • Amazon Prime - I buy almost everything from Amazon, and since shipping is free and fast (Prime is free for new moms for about 6 months), I don't worry about batching up my orders. The minute I realize I need something, from formula to a new nursing bra, I go to Amazon and order it. It's on my doorstep within two days. Not needing to bundle up two babies in the middle of winter for a trip to Target each week is incredibly liberating, not to mention the peace of mind I have in knowing that I'm not going to run out critical supplies.

  • Online grocery shopping - This is a stretch because we used an online grocery service in Chicago in 2000 and New Yorkers have had groceries delivered forever. But the service we used in Chicago didn't outlast the dot-com crash, and we did not have anything in Michigan in 2006. I see that Netgrocer now delivers anywhere in the country (although the prices are pretty steep). Our local service here in northern Virginia is good enough and cheap enough so that Zoe and Leo have yet to see the inside of a supermarket. Do you hear me, parents? I have never had to take my babies grocery shopping! Ever!

  • Zappos - Again, a bit of a stretch because Zappos existed before Sam was born, but I had never heard of it, and I think they started with just shoes, whereas they have all kinds of clothing now. Zappos (now owned by Amazon) not only offers free shipping, but free return shipping, which means that I buy all of my clothing online too. You have to rewire some brain circuitry to take full advantage of Zappos. Think about it: for the price of one pair of shoes, you can buy twenty pairs of shoes at a time, try them all on at home, and return nineteen pairs. Yes, you can.

  • The Kindle - Feeding babies is pretty boring work. After a few minutes of bonding, you need entertainment. I don't like having the TV on during feedings, and holding a book one-handed, even a paperback, is painfully difficult. With Sam, that left me with magazines, and since a new parent's brain-power is reduced by about 50%, I couldn't handle anything more than Us Weekly. The Kindle gets all the credit for all the good books I've been able to read since Leo and Zoe were born. I'm not talking high literature - the brain-power problem has yet to be solved by technology - but detective fiction and mysteries...what an improvement!

  • The smart phone - Besides reading, during feedings I often use my phone to check e-mail and Facebook. I've gotten pretty good at holding it and typing with just one hand. In fact, I take care of almost all my e-mail during feedings. That's my kind of multitasking!

  • The tablet - I've finally found a use for my iPad! When I'm not up to reading or e-mailing, I turn to the iPad. It's too heavy to hold and use with one hand, but I can set it on the table next to me and watch streaming media or listen to audiobooks.

  • Streaming media and audiobooks - Okay, these things were probably around five years ago, but the accessibility and selection is so much greater now, that they really count as new developments. How many of you were watching whole TV shows online or regularly listening to audiobooks in 2006?

  • Digital cameras that replace camcorders - having just one photo- and video-taking device makes it much more likely that I'll take video at all, and it's so much simpler.

  • Single-cup coffee brewers - Now affordable for home use. Need I say more?

Of course, there are many, many other incremental improvements. Our double-stroller is not a new concept, but it is much better than those sold in 2006. And our Honda Odyssey is just a new model, but it's the first minivan to allow three children to be seated in the middle row, all using the Latch system (the safest method of attaching the car seats). I don't think Zoe and Leo are receiving any vaccines that weren't available in 2006, but Rotateq was brand new when Sam was born, and the twins are getting Synagis (more important for preemies), which became available about a dozen years ago.

It doesn't seem possible that so much could change in so little time, but the wider context is even more staggering. Consider Dr. Harry Binswanger's brilliant exercise in perspective:
The actual living conditions for Americans of 1826 were essentially those that had obtained during most of human history. If you transported Shakespeare from 1600 London to 1826 London or New York City, he'd find little that was strange to him, only improvements on what he already knew. That would be mostly true even of bringing Aristotle to 1826. But if you took Jefferson from 1826 and transported him to contemporary America, he would think that we've become a race of gods. He couldn't even grasp radio, let alone DVDs, Mars rovers, Googling, gene therapy, and 3-D printing. Yet, it takes only two 93-year lifespans to stretch that 186 years.

In the history of mankind, an awful lot has happened in a very short time.

(Quoted, with permission, from Dr. Binswanger's e-mail list, HBL)

I imagine a not-too-distant future where mothers are making casts of their breasts so that they can manufacture customized nipples for their babies' bottles using their 3D printers, where there is a device that automatically removes the white part of a baby's fingernails, no clipping required, and where we finally have the "brain in the sky," as I like to call it - the computer from Star Trek that holds all the data you'll ever need, which you access with your voice and which talks back to you if you want it to. We're getting close to the last development already. We have Google, wireless access, and Siri. All we need now are the implants that allow us to get rid of those clunky input/output devices we call smart phones, and some refinement. That's when technology will have solved the new parent brain-power problem.

If you, too, look forward to such an amazing time, take note - you're  living in it now. We are a race of gods.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Little Thing

Our regular babysitter is on vacation so I've hired a temp for this week. Zoe won't eat well with her. Which means that Zoe noticed the difference. Zoe knows and cares that there are different people in her world!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Little Thing

Every once in a while, either Leo or Zoe will get very cranky and I'll have to soothe him or her. Not often, but it happens. I think they do it just for differentiation so that I'll appreciate their normal state of pure contentment.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Twins Update - Four Months Old

Adam and I have done a great job not calling Leo and Zoe, "the twins" very often. They are individuals and deserve to be treated separately. But sometimes it just makes sense to refer to them together. When I wrote my first monthly update, I deliberately decided to do one update for both of them because otherwise I knew it would be too overwhelming and I'd drop it. They sleep in the same room, so are we seriously going to call it "Zoe and Leo's room?" We feed them at the same time so are we seriously going to say, "Time to feed Leo and Zoe?" No. There is something to be said for efficiency in these matters. But because we had it in our heads not to call them "the twins," in these moments we subconsciously searched for a nickname, and somehow they became "the Beasties."

Wow - look how much more mature they are at four months! The way they are holding hands is typical. They grab at each other all the time, and if they're hungry, they'll suck on each other. I've caught Leo sucking on Zoe's head a couple of times. She might be our Cylon baby, but he's our zombie baby.

The biggest event in the Beasties' life during their fourth month was their transition to their own cribs. (See, we're promoting their independence!) There was really no reason we couldn't have just started out with two cribs, but we were considering going to a floor bed after a few months so we just bought one crib to get started. That turned out to be a wonderful decision because it was so sweet to have them together in the same bed. But early in December, they got too big to lie them down crosswise, and they were starting to poke each other and scoot around too much. So now we have two cribs in their tiny bedroom. Adam managed to set it up so that they can see each other, we can reach everything we need, and the video monitor can cover them both. It was one of his best packing jobs, ever!

Speaking of cribs, both Leo and Zoe are still sleeping well. Sometimes we have to wake up and feed both of them in the middle of the night, and sometimes it's just one of them. Once, both of them slept right through. We aren't pushing them on this issue because they seem to be on board with the project, only having setbacks when they are ill or otherwise discombobulated. They remain on a three hour schedule during the day - Eat, Activity, Sleep, Repeat five times each day. I've given up worrying about when they will transition to naps. They seem content this way, and it works for me, too.

Sleeping is their number one job. Eating is number two. They've had some issues with eating this month. Both of them are more distractable now. Leo is tuned in to sounds and Zoe is tuned into visuals, but either way, it takes them away from the bottle. Zoe still breastfeeds well and Leo is still lazy, but we've kept at it, and I mostly enjoy it. They both went through a brief biting phase but that seems to be over, thank god! The best part is that they are big enough now that I can nurse them lying down. That's a little bit of heaven, right there.

Their third and final job is play. They've been spending the majority of their awake time on their Gymini activity mat.

They lie on their backs and bat at the hanging toys or talk to each other or look in the mirror. But they are getting too big to share the Gymini, and I don't think it's worth buying a second one since they'll be beyond it soon, developmentally. They've also been spending time in their bouncy seats (which they hated up until recently), their Bumbos (but only for a minute at a time), and on their tummies in the Boppies. They hate tummy time on the floor, but they seem to like the Boppies, which is nice because they both look especially gorgeous in that position.

I still don't take them out much. The weather has been mild enough to go for walks, but it's just too much trouble. But when we do take them out, they've been really easy to deal with. When we took the whole family to the mall to see Santa, Adam got his first real taste of what it's like to be out in public with twins. People want to find out all about them and fuss over them. So far, we both enjoy the experience, but I'm sure it will get old.


Individually, Leo continues to be a bit more advanced than Zoe, but not by much. He is only about a half-pound bigger than she is, and because she's a girl she is actually in a higher percentile on the growth chart. Leo grasps objects very well now. He can hold a rattle and shake it a little bit before he drops it, but he can't yet pick something up off the floor. Both Leo and Zoe grab their hanging toys, and of course, try to put them in their mouths. Sometimes they succeed. Leo also is working on holding his own bottle, but that just means that he knocks it out of his mouth - but I swear, he wants to hold that thing. Both of them are putting weight on their feet, which is so cool. Leo is amazingly strong and seems to love standing up. That boy worries me, sometimes. I had a dream that he started walking at four months and he ran into the bathroom and slammed the door and wouldn't let me in.

For a while, Zoe was the more verbal of the two, but Leo has caught up with her. They both make many consonant-vowel sound combinations like GA, BE, WA, and UNG. And everyone but me thinks that they are both laughing. I call it proto-laughter - a kind of repetitive grunting along with a smile. But they did it for a while and now don't do it as much. I think real laughter is yet to come. I've always been amazed that laughter happens so early in human development. I wish I understood why.

We've noticed that Leo gets startled more easily than Zoe. If you come at him too fast or make a sudden noise, his arms and legs stick straight out and his eyes get wide and scared, but it's never enough to make him cry. Zoe continues to be unflappable. But when something is really wrong, boy oh boy, you'll know it.

While Leo works on physical skills, Zoe is still busy observing. She studies everything in her visual field with such focus. She likes all computer screens, and a row of brightly colored objects can hold her attention for many minutes. Her favorite thing is a face, so when she meets new people she really looks at them and I think, along with her amazing smile and big, expressive eyes, this instantly wins people over.  I swear, that girl is sweetness, personified. Unfortunately, her fascination with the camera means that I rarely get photos of her smiling and Leo seems like the bubbly one. They are both actually very happy, easy babies. When we come into their visual field, there is a brief delay while they try to figure out who it is, and as soon as they recognize us (Sam, Adam, our babysitter, or me), they break out into huge grins and wiggle around and kick their legs. It doesn't get any better than that.



Monday, January 2, 2012

The Amy Update - 19 Weeks In

Yes, yes, I am in the process of writing Leo and Zoe's 4 month update (two weeks late already!) and I know that is what you are really interested in, but in keeping with my selfish parenting principles, I thought I'd write about me first.

As you can probably tell by the long pause in blogging, December was a difficult month. Zoe and Leo are doing well, but we had a lot of hiccups. Under normal circumstances, I manage to keep things under control - barely. But if one little thing goes wrong, it gets hard. In December, we had a few little illnesses (just sniffles), I hurt my back, Sam was on holiday from school, my babysitter got sick, there was Christmas itself, and my babysitter spent m0re time with her family. That was enough to put blogging (and a lot of other things) on the back burner. Adam was home a bit more than usual, but he did most of the work for Christmas - setting up the decorations, wrapping presents, etc., so that was a wash in terms of taking care of babies. The back injury required muscle relaxers which meant that I couldn't breastfeed, which meant that I had to pump to keep up my milk supply. That was a horrible week. Anyway, when you're living on the edge like this and something goes wrong, it's like cascade failure. One problem causes another, and another, and another, and that went on pretty much the whole month.

The other thing that happened in December was the onset of mild postpartum depression. Just like with Sam, I was fine for months before I noticed a problem. I'm not even sure if what I'm going through would be called PPD or just "baby blues." I just tend to find the negative in everything, and as soon as I finish the day's work, all I want to do is crawl into bed and watch Dr. Drew's Celebrity Rehab. Even if I had had more time, I didn't want to blog because I had nothing good to say. I feel good today, so I'm hoping to get two posts done, but I make no promises. I might just crawl back into that hole in a few hours.

Along with the depression came the lovely part of postpartum life when all your hair falls out. Clumps of my hair are everywhere. My psoriasis is worse than it's ever been, and my mystery pain is coming back. And in December, I didn't lose any weight. My scale tells me that I gained a tenth of a pound. Maybe I don't have PPD after all - who wouldn't be down with all of that going on?

In fact, maybe I'm depressed because I haven't been blogging. Or maybe it is just the shortened days of winter. Who knows - causality is beyond me right now - I'm just getting through each day.

It probably sounds worse than it is. I've done some thinking on paper and have plans to address the things that are under my control. I plan to keep using my babysitter this semester and not to skimp on that help. That's the thing that keeps me most sane, and allows me to spend time with Sam. Sam going back to school will help too. I have doctor's appointments lined up to deal with my health issues. The return of the pain scares the crap out of me, but I need to remember that, even if I don't know why I have the pain, I do have a way to make it better: the PRP therapy I had a few years ago. I'll do that before I let it get so bad that I'm crawling up and down the stairs. I'm letting go of the weight loss goal for now. I don't think I have much control of it while breastfeeding, so I'll just try to maintain, and address it again when my hormones settle down. But so that I don't cry every time I have to get dressed to go outside the house, I'm buying some fat clothes. I hate to do it, but it's better than the alternative. With Sam, I refused to buy any new cl0thes because I would not accept my new weight, and I've spent the past 5 years wearing whatever I could pick up at Target while shopping for soap and towels and boxed wine. There are other actions I plan to take, too, like setting up regular date nights with Adam and things like that.

But with all the talk of New Year's resolutions, I feel even more pathetic. I hear people planning to get in shape, travel, start a new career, or other such ambitious notions. My resolutions are to keep showering every day and to eat more sushi. My plans are so small. Really? Going out for dinner with my husband twice a month is an action-item? Yes, it is, and it is difficult to achieve. I don't know why I find it so hard to accept that taking care of Leo and Zoe has to trump so many other things, but I do. I did this dropping context thing with Sam too, and I thought I learned my lesson: that it is all just temporary. But even though I know that, it bugs me. I want to be doing those ambitious things, too.

And that brings me to my final note. I do have one project that is ambitious. In fact, in my context, it is a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal). It is time to begin the real preparation for homeschooling. Sam graduates from Montessori in June, and I plan to start working with her in August. I figure if I start now, I'll be ready by then. And that is exciting. Still, instead of starting at the beginning of January like I had planned, I have to put it off for at least two weeks to catch up after crazy December.

As you can see, my emotions about these things are all over the place. I feel like I'm doing nothing, but I have a huge goal in front of me. I want to hole up and watch tv, but I want to be out pursuing more values. It's all part of the first year with babies, for me.