Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Monday, April 28, 2008

27 Weeks and Counting

It's been almost a month since I posted anything, but a lot has happened. We bought a minivan, I turned 30, the New Kids on the Block reunited, we paid our income taxes on time, hell froze over, Sam got diagnosed with mono, I wrote a play for drama camp this summer, the girls grew (A LOT!) and Manny sticks his index finger in his mouth to say "please". In order to attend to all of these things, I have put a lot on hold, including this record of our family life. Our friends Harry, Kathleen, and Charlie have been staying with us for the last week and it has been wonderful. They are all out for the night, so I am headed to bed early, but wanted to finally post some recent pictures for those of you who are keeping up.

FYI- Manny goes into the dog crate voluntarily.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Business Deals

Manny has set up his home office in his closet. He has no need for a desk since the only business he conducts is on the phone. So he sits on a fan that is laid on its side and uses whatever prop as a phone and has very expressive conversations.
Tonight at dinner, he pulled a huge wad of bread out of his mouth and was about to chew it some more, but before he could put it back in his mouth, it started ringing. So, of course, he put it to his ear and said, "ha?" And thus began the business deal. When he's on the phone, I try to be really respectful and not interrupt, but this time, Sam and I could not contain ourselves. And Manny laughed pretty hard too. The person on the other end of the bread wad had either already hung up or else had a good sense of humor because Manny didn't seem disturbed in the slightest.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Neighbors and Dancing Before Dinner

Over the weekend, Sam and I moved all the construction debris out of the backyard and picked up the three weeks of you know what (hint: furry four-legged friend - yes, friend - I am no longer considering putting Aslan on the street corner with a free sign strapped around his neck) so that Manny would be able to play back there on nice days. This morning, it was really cold, but clear, so Manny and I went out to explore. Each adventure in the backyard begins with me trying to locate the new dog poos before he can, which is a bit frantic, since the yard is dense with weeds that are perfect hiding places for canine surprises. Also, the yard is not completely child proof and I must know exactly where Manny is at all times so he doesn't fall into the window well.

Once we got that taken care of and I took a deep cleansing breath, we checked out rocks, ran across the grass, almost got maimed by the rose bush and met some neighbors. They live behind us in a community house and have probably seen us all naked when we dart from the bathroom to our closet to close the curtains. Thankfully, they had the nice manners not to mention it. There is Katie, 5, and Gabriel, 1, and they were playing while Mom gardened. Gabriel and Manny peered at each other through the thin slat in the fence and exchanged pleasant babble conversation. I think Manny has a crush on Katie. When Sam got home from his inspections, Manny enthralled us both with his most animated, loud, long monologue ever. I am convinced he was telling Sam about Katie and Gabriel. Katie confided in me that before us, she had only met two neighbors in over two years. I didn't have the heart to tell her we were on our way out.

While I was finishing dinner, Sam took a break from work to hang with Manny and, as he sometimes does, Sam turned on the music that's popular with the teens these days, which sounds very similar to what was popular when I was a teen. Explosively emotive with a driving beat. Love it. Manny and Sam danced and played air guitar. I find that the more responsive I am, the more Manny laughs. It is great and Manny loves to bob his head to the beat. I am shocked at the fact that I always look to Manny to make sure I am on beat. You know you have insecurities about your sense of rhythm when you are relying on a 17 month old's head bobbing skills. I always thank God that Sam has some funk or we would be so square. Maybe Manny will fare better at middle school dances because he is half Sam and an unapologetic head bobber. I sure hope so.

OH, and we found out that the girls are healthy and identical. WOW! Look out world - the Lai Doublemint girls are on their way!

Attached are pictures from Manny's Easter Egg hunt at the zoo with Sam from Easter Eve.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Easter is the day out of the year when those who believe that Jesus is risen are supposed to rejoice the most. Because what can top God himself overcoming death so that we too will live in his kingdom come where there will be no more tears and no more sorrow? Sounds pretty good to me. And yet, I spent the entirety of Easter Sunday feeling like crap....a word, by the way, I drop in front of Manny several times a day. This will come back to haunt me, I'm sure. He has yet to have a first word. Any bets on crap?
On Friday, Aslan had a big, clumsy dog moment that resulted in Manny looking like he was beat up at the local pub for macking on someone's girlfriend. I am quite upset about the whole thing and have been treating the dog with a lot of disdain, despite my more honorable intentions, which only results in my feeling worse because Aslan is the king of the pitiful, misunderstood dog look. Usually, I can walk away unscathed because I feel undeserving of his guilt trips. This time, I know that I am causing them. It stinks.
So Manny cried/screamed (his new favorite combination) much of the day and about 1:30, I decided to try it too. If you can't beat him, join him! Poor Sam. Just trying to be Switzerland in the whole democratic mess.
But I guess that's the wonder of Easter. That God loves me despite the fact that my internal monologue can be nothing but profanity and mental self-flagellation for an entire day. In the same way that I love Manny even though he is really giving me a run for my money and this scream/crying is eroding my maternal resolve like Niagra Falls on a mountain of sand. Maybe it's good to have a crappy Easter once in a while. Because it's not about how I feel. It's about what was, what is, and what is to come. Hallejuah.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Manny and Mommy do Monday

Manny and I were on our own for the duration today because Sam is at the New Horizons board meeting. It amazes me how desperate I felt this morning wondering how we were going to fill all our time and who we would interact with so that we wouldn't get sick of each other and Aslan by 7:00 bedtime. I don't know why this is a concern for me. I doubt Manny really notices or cares if a day goes by where he doesn't hang with anybody except me, but it makes me feel like we are living in a bubble and I need something to distract him from eating my hair. It's a good thing pregnancy makes your locks fuller or I would need to wear a swimming cap to protect myself from bald spots.
We went to the Northgate library to return a book and then headed out to the playground that is designed for 5-12 year olds. There isn't very much Manny can do there except wander around and touch stuff. But I thought we could easily do that for an hour. The playground was completely empty. And as I got closer, I realized why. Everything had puddles on it and after five minutes, I was freezing cold. Thankfully, Manny didn't protest when I picked him up and walked through the parking lot and across the street to the Macy's lingerie department. I think he is fascinated by all the bras.
We kept on going and rode the escalators for a little while. One of our new activities. The woman in towels asked me if I needed any help and when I told her what I was doing, she looked puzzled, but then it was like a flash of her younger self took over and she said, "I remember those days. Yes, I remember those days." The highlights were how long Manny paused at the Benefits make-up counter to listen to Boy George's "Karma Chameleon" and when Manny walked up to an elderly man who was waiting aimlessly in women's hosiery and gave him the kind of smile he used to reserve for all strangers, but most of the time now is replaced with a blank look, or worse, a baby scowl. I think the man was thoroughly delighted.
He ate a lot of shredded mozarella (the only kind of cheese he will eat with his hands) from his high chair and again I laughed to myself at the absurdity of saying to someone, "There's a lot of cheese in your crotch. Don't you want to eat that?"
After nap, we dropped off our taxes at the accountant and scarfed down a cinnamon roll at Honeybear because Manny wanted to check out the wood bears carved into the condiment table. "The First Noel" was playing overhead (go figure) and Manny spent a good amount of time dragging a very dirty frog toy around the children's book section. When he started picking up all the garbage from the floor, which was plentiful - don't they vacuum?- I decided it was time to leave.
The most profound moment of the day came when I was trying to balance a crying Manny on my hip and stir-fry our dinner and I realized that there is a huge tree outside of our kitchen sink window that is covered in bright yellow blossoms. And I thought, I've never noticed those blossoms before. I do dishes five times a day and it's never registered that something so beautiful is unfolding right before my eyes. It was a good metaphor for the ordinary days with Manny. It is easy to go through the motions and not take in the wonder of his shrieks and splashing and even all his tricky maneuvers to pull my hair. But he is just like that tree. Only he never hits winter. With Manny, it is always springtime and something new and surprising is always blooming if I just look up from the dishes long enough to notice.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Where the Wild Things Are

I wish I had a photograph to go with this post, but Sam and I share a camera and he uses it for work. Today, Manny and I went to the zoo, because, well, we had absolutely nothing else to do. No people to hang out with, no errands to run and he and I both woke up knowing it and were equally irritable. After making some calls and not finding anyone to hang out with, we decided to brave the March chill and go see some animals.

It was the perfect day to be at the zoo. Not crowded and the lion was roaring on and off the whole time we were there. And, for a lot of that time, we were watching him! We saw giraffes, hippos, an elephant, and several orangutans. But the most notable thing to me was that, for the entire time we were there, Manny stayed at each exhibit longer than anyone. And the only reason he moved at all was because I made him. Crowds of people would come, say, "Hey! Look!", and go, but not Manny. He was really taking it all in. And I am thankful that it dawned on me that his deep appreciation of things is a gift. My impulse was to shuffle through the whole zoo in 90 minutes, just like everybody else. But he could have stayed in the African bird jungle for the entire morning watching the black and white polka-dotted turkey guys strutting around.

Next time we go to the zoo, I will go prepared to hang out with the giraffes for an hour if Manny wants to. He may grow out of this mode of observation, but I don't want it to be because I give him the message that quantity of things and speed is better than really seeing the beauty and wonder of something for what it is. He is way ahead of me on this. I know people talk about seeing the world through a child's eyes, and that is definitely part of it. But I suspect that there is also a part of it that is Manny's unique personality and approach to the world and I am excited to foster it and see it unfold. I just hope as he is soaking up all the beauty in the world that he stops picking up crap on the ground, handing it to me, and then shoving his fingers back in his mouth.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Fine Tribute

Before Sam and I put Manny down for his nap today, we paused at his dresser where a very special picture has sat since last summer when our treasured Grandpa Hal went to heaven. It was taken a year ago this weekend and it was the last time we saw Grandpa in his own clothes in his own apartment. A couple weeks later he broke his hip, which required him to live the last few months of his life on the 2nd floor of the Plaza in nursing care.

It is a four generation picture plus dog. Which is so appropriate, because Grandpa loved Aslan and Aslan felt the same about Grandpa.

I picked the photograph up and told Manny, "this is what you looked like one year ago!" He reached out to hold the picture and I let him, thinking I could always make another copy if he crumpled it. But he didn't. He began chattering away in Man-lish (which does not make any sense to us yet) and he was animatedly pointing at Grandpa. Sam and I were both delighted and I was filled with thoughts of, "he remembers! Look, he knows Grandpa!"

That's when Manny shoved the corner of the picture in his mouth like it was a lollipop. Since photos are not that digestable - similar to the sticky foam pieces you put on the insides of cabinet doors to keep them from slamming - Manny has chewed most of those off this week ---I took the photo away and put it back on the dresser where it belongs. But it was a nice moment. Full of tenderness and humor. Just like Grandpa Hal. A fine tribute.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Headaches and Dog Crates

I took Manny to Portland this week. We intended to stay for two nights, but after he was up from 1:30-5:30am the first night, I decided I couldn't brave another and we drove home after dinner at the Plaza with Grandma. He didn't sleep well on the way home either, so I have been trying to get him to nap as long as possible since we got home. He sleeps for about an hour, forty-five in his crib and then I lay down with him and he sleeps a little longer. It is here that I have been losing vast amounts of hair. He loves to just pull it out and I have been so tired myself that I just lay there and let him do it. And the worst part is that he then stuffs it in his mouth. I am waiting for him to start coughing up furballs like a cat. But I am grateful that he seems to be eating Aslan's hair less and less. Aslan really needs a bath right now. Maybe mine just tastes fresher.

The hair pulling does make my head hurt a little bit, but the real headache today came from a rude neighbor on Queen Anne who, in response to "Hi! How ya doin?" proceeded to inundate Sam and our builders with sarcasm and insults about our less than conventional architectural style. I wasn't there, which is good, because I probably would have made an emotional scene. Poor Sam though. He is learning the hard way that you can't please everyone, and that some people think that having an opinion gives them the license to be mean. Maybe I should sic Manny on him to pull some of his hair out. I suppose that wouldn't be very neighborly either.

And unrelated to hair or the neighbor, my new favorite habit of Manny's is how he crawls into the dog crate and shuts the door. He can't latch it from the inside so he just sits in there and continually bangs the door shut. I think he might be conducting experiments. Like, how long can I bang this door before my mom gets off the computer and pays more attention to me? Or how long will Aslan stare at me from the outside of the crate before he gets territorial and wants his space back? It is all very, very interesting.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Manny's First Drive-by Honking

Manny and I walked to the library today - him in the stroller, me on foot. On our way, a truck with two construction workers (identifiable by their signature orange shirts and hard hats) honked and gave us the "big nod". Were they kidding? Were they just mocking me? Or were they complimenting my saggy maternity jeans that are four days overdue for a wash? Perhaps it was my dirty sneakers or the tent I was wearing to cover my basketball sized middle. Then it dawned on me. It was none of those things. The only logical conclusion is that they were honking at Manny. They were saying, "Hey! That's one cute baby! Yeah!" And to that I say, you're right construction workers. Thanks for noticing. And thanks for not being afraid to give Manny the "big nod". You were right on the money.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lunacy at the Lais

I just spent enough time on the web reading about people experiencing sleep problems during a full moon to know that we are not alone. Last night Manny was awake from 3am-6:30am when he finally went to sleep for a couple hours after a little applesauce/Tylenol cocktail I mixed up as a last ditch effort for relief. He just woke up tonight at 9:30 and I gave him the Tylenol outright. I don't know if I am a little too liberal with the Tylenol, but tonight, I'm not messing around. It kills me when there is no apparent reason he is awake and everything we try to do to soothe him fails. You know it's a bad night when we resort to bringing him into our bed, not because we are opposed to that, but because it NEVER works. He just lays there and yanks on my hair while simultaneously hitting Sam in the face with his other arm until we are both so fed up we put him back in his crib, to his great protest.

He is like Jekyll and Hyde. One moment the most wonderful creature you could imagine, a ball of love who only wants your attention and approval and laughs at the most idiotic things you say and do. And then the next moment, flipping out of your arms at the mere suggestion of changing his diaper. You would think I pinch him and force him to eat diaper cream every time he's on the table, the way he reacts now. We think he has a flair for the dramatic. Maybe he will follow in the family footsteps and get a drama degree and use it to pursue real estate.

Two things he has started doing that are worth remembering later - he puts his palm up to his ear and pretends he is talking on the cell phone. "Da" is hello, as well as a million other things. He also is learning to feed himself with a spoon (with a lot of help). This picture captures his latest attempt at yogurt. I seriously am so proud.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sunbathing Weather

Today Manny discovered the joy of running around on the deck that is attached to our bedroom. Even though there is no space feasibly large enough for him to lodge his head or fall through, it took me seeing our next door neighbor Gary half-naked sunbathing in the 54 degree heatwave to step inside and watch him run from my seat on the carpet. When I was still outside, Manny kept running in Gary's direction shrieking like a banshee and I felt it was rude not to look at Gary, but I also was too mortified to strike up a conversation. I'm not being a prude. I have no problem with 60-something year old men taking off their shirts. But I feel awkward around Gary fully clothed and his lack of modesty didn't really improve my comfort level. It wasn't long before Aslan joined in with his squeaky rubber chicken that Manny and Aslan take turns sucking on. The rubber chicken is not nearly as big as Manny and quickly went over the edge, inciting persistent barking from Aslan and confusion from Manny. That's when Sam turned to me (who had just arrived home) and said, "We have two children."

Saturday, February 16, 2008


I love Saturdays. Sam and Manny have a standing date on Saturday mornings and it is the only daytime where I feel completely off duty. I worked on my book, which I've been neglecting for a long time, and I cleaned the shower. I have been moving the cleaning supplies around upstairs for days with the intent to remove all the pink gunk off the grout, but it never happens. Just like how I try to do the same load of laundry all week long and it sits and sits until I have nothing left to wear. This bad habit is going to have to change. I have been wearing the same dirty pair of maternity jeans for three days and every day they collect more food and slobber and who knows what else.
It was so amazing to greet Manny when he came home from his adventure with Dad at Third Place Books. The look on his face when he saw me made me feel like Barack Obama at a supporter rally. He ran to me shrieking and threw his little arms around me. It was awesome.
The other day I watched a few minutes of a recent film that opens with Jamie Foxx telling his son's classmates about the best day of his life. The day his son was born. I've never related to that. The day Manny was born was not the best day of my life. I spent the morning writhing like a wounded animal, trying not to vomit and was freaked out of my mind for the rest of the day worrying that I would never sleep again, that my baby would never breastfeed, and to top it off, I was already concerned that Manny didn't like me. Sheesh.
The best day of my life keeps changing. As ordinary as my days are, they are filled with extraordinary moments of delight and pure, unreserved love. I am so grateful. I had no idea that this was going to be so wonderful. I really just thought kids were a big pain in the butt before. And I was just hoping by some act of grace that I wouldn't feel that way about my own. A pretty big bet to take, but it's working out beautifully.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Screaming Valentine

This record of thoughts is for Manny and the babies, as well as for Sam and I, so that we can remind ourselves in our golden years of all the memories we would otherwise have forgotten. I have tried to keep a handwritten journal since Manny was born, but there is something about pen and paper that causes me to write sentimental slop that I later want to burn. The fact that my recent sentimental slop is for Manny makes it tolerable, but I think this method will be more interesting and the knowledge that someone besides the five of us might possibly read it will keep me in check.

Manny and I had a great morning playing with Max and Echo at the Vances' house. Then we came home and the scream fest began. It ceased for 90 minutes while he napped and then resumed with a bang and didn't really end until dinnertime. There would be pauses for sure, but anytime I tried to put him down or do anything to him, like put on his pants, you would have thought I was dipping his tiny toes in boiling oil. He is in the middle of cutting a molar and it must be very uncomfortable or he is testing my ability to withstand torture. At one point, I started sobbing and wailing too. I don't feel well. I am still getting over the stomach flu and am tired and growing great with child. Then, of course, he screamed louder. It was a low point, but then we passed the Tylenol around and that helped.

As much as I enjoy Manny's colorful use of the sound "da" for every possible thing, I look forward to a day when I can ask him what's wrong and something comes out beside a scream. Even with his lack of holiday cheer, he's still the best valentine we could ever ask for.

Monday, February 11, 2008


We had an ultrasound today and after two hours of many photographs, there was no sign of a penis or testicles anywhere. We are thrilled the babies look healthy and our minds are flooded with thoughts of what that will mean for us and for Manny as the girls take the majority of the house in LaiLai land.