Thursday, June 25, 2009

Childproofing

You know you missed a critical area of childproofing when you are changing a diaper and look up to see your 2 year old brandishing a carving knife you have never used and could never figure out where to store. Apparently, in the very back of the silverware drawer will no longer cut it. Did it happen exactly this why? Who can say? All I remember is Manny, a knife, and I am always changing diapers. It may not have actually been as dangerous psp[

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That was how Glory remembers it going down.

I have a career choice for Elena. When they remake Mission Impossible again, she can be the woman who pulls off all the villian's fake faces. She's already overqualified.

I think I might know what it feels like to be attacked by a pack of vampires. Vampires in diapers.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rites of Passage

Yesterday I took Manny, Glory and Elena to Pacific Place to walk across the skybridge, say hello to the fish at Nordstrom, and to feign interest in children's socks so the very well-accessorized young saleswoman would give Manny a balloon (which met its untimely end on the popcorn ceiling of the parking garage to much wailing and grief). More importantly, we were there to buy Manny days of the week underpants. His first underpants. They are not to be worn yet. In fact, they are in a sad pile on the laundry room floor (good thing Manny doesn't know that. He was quite territorial about them all afternoon). But soon and very soon, we are going to try some potty training and so I wanted to make a big deal out of the underwear thing. They are covered in all different modes of transportation, which is perfect for Manny's interests right now. I was noticing how tiny Manny's behind looked on his Skuut bike today. I can't imagine how small it will look once we remove the enormous cloth diaper!

Then, last night, Manny slept in his big boy bed for the first time and he didn't wake up once. We are so proud of him and have made a big enough deal of it that I think he is quite proud of himself too. I think the crib will be gone by the weekend. Actually, swapped, since Elena's crib is currently held together by zip ties. Zip ties are the new duct tape. Don't know if you knew.

Today, Manny was in the portable crib in the kitchen playing with a huge pile of stuffed animals he congregated for his amusement. Suddenly, he said, "Mama, wanna go outer space!"

Oh, and yesterday as we were leaving Pacific Place, I put my parking ticket into the machine as directed and a woman's recorded voice said, "Thank you and drive safely." Manny shouted out from the back of the mini-van, "See you later!"

I have a sinus headache and almost didn't write at all. But I am glad I did. Because things like your first package of underwear and your first night in the bed you will sleep in through college (because that's the plan Manny!) are big rites of passage. How did Manny grow into this little wonder who is constantly asking me now, "What you doing Mama? Making cookies?" "I wish," I said. We are truly conversing. I am in awe.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Echo Joy

My little goddaughter Echo Joy has said a couple of things lately that I want to remember. Echo will be 3 years old next month.

When we were leaving her house recently after a fun playdate and a muffin snack, I was packing up my things. She was watching me expectantly. Finally, she said, "Now's when you thank me for feeding you!"

Today we went to an artist's reception for Sam (Echo's dad). When we walked into the cafe, Echo was checking Manny out. She looked over at me and said, in her most grown-up voice, "Is he getting bigger?"

Also at the cafe, Glory walked, holding only Sam's finger, for the first time. I admit I was surprised. It won't be long now! There was a band playing and Manny stood and soaked it all in for a long time, much longer than one would expect from a 2 year old. The girls apparently soaked it up too because they serenaded us all the way home.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Too Tired to Blink

Which is sort of true. I am doing that whole stare at the screen until your eyes burn and you feel completely glazed over thing, but I am blinking involuntarily. In fact, I do a lot of things involuntarily. Like bake cookies. And shout like a mad woman at my toddler when there are stairs involved.

Last night, Sam was at his bible study and I was putting the three children to bed alone. Everything was going swimmingly. I was proud of how clean the kitchen was when we were ready to head upstairs. I am on top of it tonight! But common sense is not my forte so when I took Elena upstairs I set her in her room, but didn't shut the door or put her in her crib. So, by the time I got back upstairs with Glory in my arms and Manny at my heels and Aslan completely in the way of everything, Elena was at the gate. A calmer or more well-rested person might have been able to problem solve this situation and not lose their cool, but all I could see was my son at the top of a very tall, open staircase built on concrete who was refusing to obey and Elena getting closer and closer to danger and I just started to scream in that horrible voice that might warrant a tranquilizer dart in my ass (if I wasn't holding a baby).

Manny stood at the top of this treacherous staircase, completely stunned. I wondered if he might fall because I shouted. So I kept shouting because I had no idea what to do and now the girls were really in a pickle. Finally he came through the gate, I shut it and crumpled to the ground with my face in my hands. All three children were sobbing because they were so frightened and I felt, at the same time, indignant and completely ashamed. When I looked up to meet their scared and angry faces, Glory was standing, screaming right at me no hands. I guess in all her upset, she forgot that she doesn't know how to stand yet.

There are all kinds of changes happening. The girls are beginning to point, they are cutting two and three teeth, Manny is napping in his big boy bed and the girls are crawling down the ramp with no fear. I can barely keep up. What else? Manny rode his bike to the park and back while I pushed the stroller. There's a big one I didn't think we would do for a while. We went to the farmers' market this afternoon and Manny was completely captivated by a man playing guitar. He stood statue still with his hands in the pockets of the sweatpants he has been wearing since he was 11 months old, which now look like gray, pin-striped capris. If he wasn't three feet tall with a button nose and a baby belly, I could have sworn he was a young man. There was nothing little about the look on his face.

I am feeling a bit beat up from the emotional roller coaster we are all on (children are very emotional! I thought I had a flair for the dramatic!), as well as the constant barrage of housework that is every parent's duty. At the same time, I am very grateful. My kids are amazing and I am so lucky to have the privilege of spending this time with them, of washing their dishes five times a day and rinsing out their poopy diapers (which is what I am going to do next). These are blessings. For whatever reason, I have this worthless idea stuck in my system (where did I learn this?) that the aim of life is leisure. I don't think I would care much for that even if I got it and yet, I am always battling this assumption.

I am sitting here, ready to fall asleep with my hands on the keys, and all I can think is God, the beauty, the beauty.

I've never read Faulkner's The Agony and the Ecstasy, but I am digging on the title. Maybe I should pick up a copy.

Look out poo-poos. Here I come. I've had just about enough of your shit.

I really need to go to bed.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Flying Solo

Sam had his New Horizons board meeting tonight. That means he leaves at 5:20 and doesn't get back until after the children have all gone to bed.

Right before he left, he helped me bring the kids inside. We had been in the yard so that everyone could file down their teeth on the rocks in the pea gravel pit. There's nothing like the sound of your kids' teeth on rocks. I always look to Manny for support in these situations, but he's doing it right along with the girls. Though, to his credit, he did take his rock out of his mouth long enough to walk over to Glory and reprimand her for gnawing on hers.

As soon as Sam left, I started on dinner. Manny wanted to hear his "Jenny" song so I reluctantly turned it on and he began his special dance. He was forced to stop many times because there were serious traffic jams with Glory, Elena, and I plus all the toys. He also paused to lean. He loves to stand next to the girls and lean on them until they are completely flattened on the floor. It is slow and stealthy and incredibly deliberate. If I see it, I am always in the background, trying to repeat in an escalatingly calm and wise voice, "Give her space. Give her SPACE!"

By the time I had the salmon and the fried rice in their respective pans, all three children were hanging on my pants and crying. You would think they would want me to prepare their food. But something about the image of me and a wooden spoon at the hot stove drives them nuts and they lose all ability to cope with waiting and with each other. It is these moments that I try to use all my theatrical training to ground myself, breathe deeply and control the motion of the wooden spoon as not to cause anyone to have a permanent scar from a flying piece of searingly hot egg yolk. (I can't wait until the girls can eat egg white.)

Everyone ate well and Manny got the special treat of Rhubarb Crisp with Hazelnuts. Have I mentioned how much I love my friend Sarah's food blog www.inpraiseofleftovers.com? Delicious.

I gave Manny his dessert in a mug and somehow it flew off the table and shattered all over the floor which caused the tears to spring forth from Manny's ducts like a golf course sprinkler system. He was screaming so loud that he could not hear me reassuring him that more dessert was on the way. After he was served the second time, I began to clean up, which included hauling out the vacuum hose, plugging it into the wall and sucking up all the tiny shards of mug.

I turned off the vacuum, looked over at the girls, and marveled at how their entire bodies were covered in rice, salmon flakes and strawberry bits. I could not resist. I turned the vacuum on them. I vacuumed their arms, their legs, their middles, under their thighs, and even Glory's fingers. It worked so well I may have to pull it out every night.

In the girls' bedroom, I had to tackle each baby a dozen times to get their diapers changed and their pajamas on. Their bodies were covered in dust from the gravel pit, but I can't bathe them alone, and I just wasn't in a position to get washcloths and there were poops and remnants of poops and Manny was building a sculpture out of everything in the room, so I resorted to using wipe after wipe after wipe. Then came the eco-guilt. Sorry God. Sorry Al Gore. Sorry great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandchildren. Sorry. Sorry. SORRY. Then I spotted more rice and salmon on the floor, as well as shards from the mug. Where is my trusty vacuum?

Finally I get the girls in their beds and Manny is running up and down the hall laughing at his own physical comedy. The girls are watching him from their cribs like they are about to win big at the horse races. I feel like I should just extricate myself from the situation because they are having so much fun and anything I do just deters from their delight in one another. It is magnificent.

I instruct Manny to stick his face through the crib slats to kiss the girls like I have been doing. He pushes them instead, which Elena thinks is hilarious and they do this for a while with me saying, "Gentle. Gentle! Gentle!!"

Manny and I retreat to his room for a short burst of toothbrushing, lots of spittle and some quality time with the digger book from the library. At 7:30 I said goodnight and have been in my post-bedtime comatose state ever since. I should be doing my ironing which is on the floor of the family room closet. I know this because I step on it every time I turn on a DVD for Manny. How many times can you walk on your ironing before you need to wash it again?

A question for another day.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Manny's Palette

It is exciting to discover what complimentary interests you have with your children. For example, I love to bake and Manny loves to eat what I bake. This is no surprise - what kid doesn't like cookies and muffins and pies? But it still feels great to see his approval and satisfaction and in a few weeks when the girls can eat egg whites and honey, I can't wait to have three appreciative tummies to fill with warmth and sweetness (after they eat all their "growing food" as their godmother says).

We also love going to the bakery together and it has become our tradition to take Manny on Saturday mornings to Macrina while Rona hangs with Glory and Elena at home. I really look forward to this outing. For one thing, it marks the end of another week and I still feel a sense of accomplishment about that. And then, of course, there is the Orange Hazelnut Pinwheel, a marvelous pastry that I would love to savor.

Except it is impossible to savor anything at the bakery with Manny. Manny eats like a dog. He vacuums up food so fast that you wonder if he bothered to stop and chew. His typical order is a scone. Yesterday it was blueberry. At the start, all he cares about is his own pastry. He does not allow anyone else to taste the smallest crumb from his plate. This is usually when I regret having given him the whole thing at once, because the scones are large.

Then I get over my amazement and choking concerns and settle in to take my first bite of pinwheel. Manny somehow manages to notice this amidst the flurry of crumbs falling from his lips and emits a grunt that sounds something like an emphatic "THAT". And while I am re-establishing the bakery bartering system, Manny continues to eat scone and starts to negotiate with Sam over his Nutella Brioche as well. While Manny's working Sam, I steal chunks of scone and eat them Manny style to try and reduce Manny's sugar and fat intake. Sam, not one to rush food, eats small bites here and there and by the end of the whole charade, has eaten maybe 1/4 of what Manny managed to shove down his snack hole (thank you McDonalds advertisers for that disgusting and catchy phrase).

I, on the hand, have eaten plenty, but tasted or enjoyed little. The last bite is gone and I wish we could start all over again, because it is all so delicious and it went by so fast. I can only imagine the frantic flurry of food and fun it will be when the girls join us at the bakery table. I can't wait.

For dinner, I made this dish called Israeli Couscous with Tofu and Vegetables that we are really digging. I served Manny and he sat there for a couple minutes and stared at the food (probably still full from the bakery). Finally, he said, "where'd the meat go?" This is where he and Sam's passions align. In the end, Manny ate his dinner and I'm sure the meat will make an appearance soon.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bedtime Stories

I picked up a book from the library called In Our Mother's House by Patricia Polacco. I have seen her on Reading Rainbow and I am always on the lookout for stories about children who have different racial and cultural backgrounds. This was the first picture book I have ever seen about a non-traditional family, though I am sure there are many published. The book tells a story about two women who adopt three children of all different races. The book is a retrospective, told from the perspective of the eldest daughter. The story takes us all the way through their idyllic childhoods, their marriages, the birth of their children, their mothers' deaths and the passing on of the house to the next generation. It is a lot for a 2 1/2 year old to absorb.

Throughout their childhood, there is one neighbor woman who is always scowling at their family. She is also skinny. I think her bigotry problem may be linked to a body image obsession, causing her to be chronically hungry and therefore very irritable. At one point in the story- I can't remember if this is when the mothers throw a huge neighborhood block party where everyone prepares ethnic foods to share or if it's when the mothers invite the neighborhood over to build a tree house, but both look like a ton of fun. If you apply beer marketing strategies to this book- if you drink this beer, you get this girl- this book seems to say, if you have two moms, you will know the true meaning of community and racial harmony. It's irresistable. Anyway, during one of these events, the mean lady comes wagging her finger and says something to the effect of, "I don't appreciate you!"

Manny is learning to identify emotions and situations. Everything right now is "he's sad" or "she's scared" or "he fell over". So when Sam reads this book, he changes the words to this exchange. He always says about the mean lady, "She's sad. She's sad because somebody pushed somebody else. And pushing is bad." It's hard to tell if Manny is learning how to be gentler with his sisters as a result of this improvising on Sam's part. Sam also likes to change the text on the page where the mothers have died, which is illustrated with a touching picture of the mothers, now deceased, holding each other on an armchair in the stars. "This is an outer space armchair," Sam says. And Manny, who repeats everything of interest, always says, "Outer space armchair."

For a long time, Glory and Elena didn't get read to regularly. I just couldn't figure out how to make it work when someone was always squirming out of my arms or crying. But now that they are in the same room, I put them both in their cribs and I read to them like I am a professional librarian. I come by that naturally, of course, since my mom is a kick-ass professional children's librarian. How do you like that title Mom?

I select a book and I do that reading upside down-thing. I even occasionally lick my finger so I can turn the pages with greater ease. I put the book in front of Glory's face, then like I am on a pendulum, I move it into Elena's view and then back to Glory's and so on. Sometimes, I even let them touch it, but not for too long, or the book inevitably ends up in one of their cribs and I am not as good at story improvisation as Sam is.

After I put the book away, I have gotten into the habit of kneeling at their cribs and pressing my face in between the crib slats, alternating equally between Glory and Elena. Elena is always quick to give me a huge open mouth kiss. She also likes to stick her fingers up my nose and pull. Glory likes to poke at me with her fingers and she also likes to press her face to mine. Sometimes we kiss. They both LOVE this and are totally delighted the whole time. When I get up to leave and blow kisses as I say goodnight, there is often some whimpering. They could play this game for a long time.

The nose thing reminded me of an image I want to remember. Every night, we say to our kids, "The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen." Last night, Sam spoke these words of Old Testament blessing to Manny while Manny picked his nose and deposited the contents of his find into his mouth. That is a beautiful image. The holy and the gross. The hopes and the reality. The divine and the utterly human. No pretense. No false piety. Just a need and the love of God so clear in the fact that the finger is the perfect size to fit in the nostril to meet that need.

I love bedtime.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Your Song

Life is about contrasts. Contrasts help us to determine how we feel about things, what we want, and remind us of what's possible.

Today Manny watched a little bit of Arthur. If you don't know, Arthur is an aardvark and his friends are various other creatures. And they go to school and learn life lessons and do amusing things, etc, etc. Manny loves it and the part of me that faithfully watched television series as a kid loves it too.

Sam worked from home today and emerged from his office at one point to grab a bite to eat. I seized the opportunity to go to the bathroom and took my sweet time to make the break as long as possible. While I was in the bathroom, I could hear Manny telling Sam about Arthur. Sam, trying to engage Manny further, asked what Arthur's best friend's name was. "He's a white bunny, right?" I'm sitting in the bathroom trying not to raise my hand and jump up and down. "I know the answer!" I wanted to shout. I actually felt a surge of excitement that I knew the rabbit's name was Buster.

Manny, if knew or not, did not answer and Sam eventually shouted to me to see if I knew, so I had the satisfaction of blurting out the right answer. What was this about?, I wondered. Why the thrill? I pondered this for a while and I think I spend a lot of my time feeling like I don't know anything conclusively. I don't know what to do with Manny when he's a pushing monster, I don't know how to keep my eye on all three children and cook dinner, I don't know how to complete a thought more complex than "I'm tired" and I don't know how to feel about most of the complexity I feel inside me and see in the rest of the world.

I miss the days of elementary school when I knew everything. I always had the right answer and I was usually one of the first people to get it. I identified myself as a smart kid. Somewhere along the line, I stopped being smart and just started being interested in boys. And you can draw a straight line to motherhood. Some people manage to stay on the smart trajectory and add in boys as an interesting side dish, but I've always been a single focus sort of gal, and right now the focus is pretty clear.

But there are no right answers, short of love your children. And sometimes, I don't even feel like I do that all that well. I've been surly as a sailor on the inside a lot lately. Every day, I have moments of total amazement over the beauty of my children. I lay on the floor and the three of them crawl all over me, pulling my hair, catching my eyelids with their sharp fingernails and biting the ample belly I keep hidden underneath my stained shirts (Elena). And it's painful. But amazing. How did I get so lucky as to participate in the creation of three people who desire to be so close to me?

And then there are other moments where I think all the thoughts that well-adjusted people are not supposed to think and I feel much, much too weak to be available, kind, loving, wise and present. And I start to think that any random person on the street could nurture them so much better than I can. And then thankfully, it's usually close to 5:30, Sam comes home, I get a grip, the kids go to bed and before I know it, we start all over again.

Tonight, I went to a lovely evening of music that my friend Amy Eernissee produced. Daniel Berryman and Friends. It was marvelous and as I listened to these young people sing, I experienced a host of feelings that have laid dormant for quite some time. The desire to create. The desire to tell stories - momentary ones and ones that require a journey, in search of resonance, truth and the illumination of spirit that gives birth to change. I have felt my whole adulthood that I have something special inside me to share, but I can't ever quite find it and I sure don't know how to let it out.

On my way to the show, I was afraid I would leave feeling like crap. I wasn't sure I wanted to watch teenagers more talented than me and more driven than me, shine. But thanks to Daniel and Amy, I left with a much different feeling. Some people live out their gifts in a way that don't make us feel small, but instead ignite in us a sense of possibility. Too often, I live as though I believe that if I'm special, it means the next guy isn't. And if he is, then what does that say about me? And I get stopped there. But something about tonight assured me that the mystery and the majesty is that we all have something valuable to contribute. We each have our song.

I hope I can teach that to my children. I hope I can learn it myself. Why does there have to be such a big difference between knowing and embodying? I just looked down at my wrist and my mom bracelet that I wear every day. "The Journey is the Reward" it says. I guess there's my answer.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Coffee Cup Saves the Day!

Manny, Glory, Elena and I took two outings today. One at our regular outing time between morning and afternoon nap and one before dinner. This morning we ended up at the playground after quick stops to buy strawberries and a latte. The small sandbox at Big Howe was packed with kids and their parents. As I sat there counting the heads of my children 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 over and over again, I couldn't get over the smell of poo. I did the general waft of my children, but it didn't smell like them. I think I was in denial because it took longer than reasonable to locate the animal poop right behind Glory and Elena. This is a gross story. There is no way around it. But I tell it because my coffee cup saved the day, so add that to the list of reasons to drink a latte on the go. You never know when you might need a large scooper to save your children and the rest of the neighborhood from a terrible animal poo accident.

Interject a cute bit of dialogue from this morning.

Manny sees Sam for the first time this morning.

Manny: Hi Sam. Have a good time?

Sam: Yes. I slept good. Did you sleep good?

Manny: I sleep good!

This afternoon we went to the library, which is a short walk from our house. I have taken the kids there periodically over the girls' lifetime- we always have library books, but often they are gathered with other people. Taking all three children to the library has always been a problematic activity. For one, I make a scene getting my double jogger BOB through the old side door. I start out thinking I'm going to sail through, but then I get stuck and push and bang and apologize under my breath until we finally break through to library land.

Once in the children's section, I put the girls on the floor with some toys, thinking they would play happily in one place. No! They were off like racecars in different directions. The goal? To pull as many books off the shelves as far apart from one another as possible. I spent the next ten minutes frantically trying to return books to their proper places while still engaging Manny so he didn't destroy the library computer which clearly says, "This is NOT a toy." Doesn't he read?

Finally, I gave up and put the girls back into the stroller. We checked out our books and Manny decided he wanted to be in the stroller so I scooped up Glory to put her in the Ergo and make space for Manny, forgetting that the stroller has a thick layer of cracker crumbs all over it, sprinkling the floor with a gust of cracker dust. The library also has a sign that says, "DON'T FEED THE ANTS." I considered ripping the pages out of the books we just checked out since I was doing such a poor job of following the rules anyway, but I figured we had done enough damage. If any of the librarians are particular about alphabetization, I'm sure the children's section gave them quite a headache after we left.

When we got home, there was more dancing to the Killers. I am a total failure at the picture thing. I have a great one of Manny at the start of his dance, but now my camera is not responding. Someday, I will develop some blogging sophistication. But not today.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Plastic Bins X 3

Yesterday was even hotter than the day before and the length of the afternoon loomed large ahead of me so I made a rash decision to put all three kids into their own plastic bin of water. I didn't think through all the details. I knew I had to act fast before Manny spiraled into constantly pushing both girls at the same time rather than alternating between the two. So I ran into the family room and dumped a bin of stationary onto the couch. Heaps of untouched Christmas cards I bought with good intentions cascaded over boxes of invitations purchased at a liquidation sale that, in this age of evite, will probably live forever in my closet. The couch was too full to handle all of the gift bags I have accumulated from years of generosity at Christmastime and showers, so those I left on the floor of the closet.

As soon as Manny realized what we were about to do, he could not wait. Those two inches of water were irresistable, so I stripped him down and he climbed into his bin. What I didn't anticipate, but should have, is that Glory and Elena both were curious about what Manny was doing and wanted to pull themselves to standing on his bin. They also do this every time Manny is sitting at the dining table in his booster seat. He hates this. It doesn't matter how cheery he is, whether he is eating steak or apple pie - there is no food tasty enough to distract him from the annoyance he feels when the girls pull themselves up on his chair. He takes the palm of his hand, presses it to the center of their forehead and pushes with all his might. It is no understatement to say that this behavior drives me crazy. It is a terrible thing to feel like your child is the enemy. And it is easy to start feeling that way about Manny. He terrorizes the babies. But he is still in diapers. He could not be accused in any way of maturity so it is ridiculous of me to expect otherwise. It's just challenging. I was telling Rona that sometimes I play things out that my kids do into their adulthood. For example. Elena and Glory are at Manny's heels no matter how many times he knocks them on their heads. This makes me worry that they will be the kind of women who stay with abusers because they are loyal lovers and believe that their man has the ability to change. Pretty stupid, but I have always been a long-term perspective kind of person and this is where my mind goes.

By the way, I should add that Manny is a delightful child. He is curious, quick to laugh, patient, interested in everything, has a great appetite and he's a tender snuggler (minus the hair pulling and subsequent hair eating). If he was an only child, life with him would be easy. Sure, he would have his toddler moments. Everyone does. But he is an easy kid. It's just this whole gentleness thing that is a problem.

So, he's in the bin, the girls are getting pushed and keep coming back for more, everyone's soaked already and I still have two empty bins to fill. And the sink is far enough away that the deck could look like the final scene from Hamlet by the time I get back. Manny's not listening to any of my warnings, so I pull him out of his bin and try to have a conversation with him. He's kicking and screaming and still naked and wet. It's like to trying to hold onto and reason with a giant sturgeon. People are walking by on the street and can see his bare butt through the open slats of our gate. Finally, I give up on talk and instruct him to sit on the ottoman in the living room while I fill up the girls' bins. This miraculously works and by the time all three children are in their bins, my head is pounding and I realize I have no towels or diapers for the after part of this adventure.

All three kids want a peri bottle. I have never stopped to think about why they are called that, but as I just typed the word, I figured it out. Perineum. That's the part of a woman's body nobody usually talks about. And after you give birth, they hand you a bottle so that you can give yourself a mini-shower every time you use the toliet, making wiping unnecessary. Thank God for that. I have only given birth twice, so therefore, there are only two peri bottles. This is a big conflict in the water bins and someone is constantly unhappy. I am definitely not giving birth again just so I can get another bottle and I suppose that wouldn't solve the problem anyway because then I would have four children vying for three bottles, only I wouldn't know about it because I would be living in Canada.

I remember that I have an empty ketchup bottle filled with vinegar and water in the kitchen. I run to the kitchen, thinking "don't trip and incapacitate yourself causing the children to drown in an inch of water in a gift bag box" while constantly turning around and counting 1, 2, 3 heads...1, 2, 3, heads. So far, so good. I get back with the ketchup bottle and this solves the problem.

Elena wants to climb out of her bin, Glory sits and observes, quietly playing with her peri bottle, and Manny waves his peri bottle up and down, spraying me with water. If I play it up, he think it's hilarious. So I comply and occasionally splash him back, which he loves. He pauses to take a pee into his bin. I can see this coming from a mile away and I start talking quick. But it doesn't matter. He refills his peri bottle with the pee water and soon I am covered in that too. I can't really run away. The two babies make it a delicate situation.

Once the pee starts flying, I am done. I get all the kids out of their bins, dump the water and let them crawl around the deck in the buff while the water evaporates. I look at the clock. It is only 4:45. How is this possible? Where are my reinforcements?

Time to make dinner. Manny wants to hear his new favorite song. Jenny Was a Friend of Mine by The Killers. It's a cool song, but it's about something violent happening to Jenny and the only reason I tolerate it is because it's not at all graphic. There's no way Manny knows what it's about. For some reason, he loves it. I have not played a song on repeat this much since the 8th grade when I would tap dance in my garage to If You Go Away, a little known single release by New Kids on the Block that captured my heart and broke it in those three and a half minutes again and again. Tap dancing helped relieve the pain.

Manny has turned Jenny into a dance routine. He stands at the top of the ramp and waits like an Olympic gymnast in the floor competition for the appopriate beat of the music to raise his arms like a bird and prance around the island in a fervor until the song is complete. And he wants to do this again and again. This is one of the reasons I love him. He is a creative dancer. I have taken a picture that I will post next time.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Day to Get Wet

It was hot here today. Don't know how hot, but for my Pac NW blood, it was too hot. I could have tried to take the kids to a wading pool or something, but I opted for less traditional water play.

This morning, Sam needed to leave for a breakfast meeting so I needed to shower quick before he left since the girls were already awake. Our shower is inside a wet room that you just walk into. There is no door. Usually we block the entrance with our laundry basket, but this morning, the basket was inside the toliet room and a man deserves his privacy. So I started the shower and tried to see how far I could get without attracting the girls' attention. I had been in there maybe a minute when both the girls came charging in (can you charge when you're crawling?)and sat their fat diapered bottoms (they hadn't been changed from the night yet) right on top of the drain. And they played happily there in the spray of the shower for the next few minutes. Add that to the list of things I never thought I'd do. Shower with two fully-clothed babies when I'm in a hurry. I love that the girls have a gusto about them. It's the same quality that they exhibit when I vacuum. Instead of keeping their distance or even trying to get away from the vacuum, they spend the whole time trying to climb on top of it. Makes for difficult cleaning. Manny also tries to climb on the vacuum. Oh and Aslan too. There are so many things in my day where there are two choices- 1. laugh heartily OR 2. laugh maniacally like I have just gone over the edge. The vacuum one is a tough call.

At naptime, we had a dryer delivered. Yay! I thought it was hard to do laundry and then my dryer broke. That makes it harder. Buddha, the dryer delivery man, arrived to the sounds of all three children napping...oh wait, I mean screaming. He works alone and took our new Speed Queen all the way up our giant staircase all by himself. I didn't get to see him take our old one down because I was doing my best to soothe the children one at a time. By the time I got to #3, Manny, I was done soothing and just brought him downstairs. He needed an activity so we got him naked and I put him in a big tupperware of water and plastic cups. That did the trick. It was so fun to see him out there on the deck enjoying the body God gave him and the stacking cups I gave him pretty equally. I have a feeling I am going to be putting each of the kids in their own tupperware of water a lot this summer. Maybe I need to evacuate my gift wrap to a safe place and sit in my own plastic bin once in a while. Nothing like chilling out with a sippie cup of applesauce and yogurt in a plastic bin. Seizing the summer one moment at a time.