Monday, September 27, 2010

The nuggets

This whole day was a really good blog post if I had the temerity to write it. Perhaps another day. But I was about to head to bed and realized the person I would be cheating is myself if I didn't write down at least these two nuggets. Because they were pretty good.

This morning, I was not able to convince Manny to go to school and it was a really sad scene. Once he was relieved of the pressure of going, I absorbed that pressure and had no idea what to do next. So I went to the grocery store. But, that too, was a sad scene. First, it was sad because I bought three wheat-free treats from the bakery for our snack and they all sucked. I felt momentarily proud of how superior my home baking is until I realized that not only did these snacks suck, but they also eroded into cascading crumbs on the table, the chairs, the floor, and then oops, I spilled Glory's water. And then oops, I spilled Elena's water. And then somehow Elena managed to coat her entire body in crumbs. I ended up scrubbing her with the "sanitized" table wiping towel I borrowed from the bakery checker. Gross? A little.

We went to do our shopping but no one could agree how we should travel. There are two types of carts. One that was preferable to Glory and one that was preferable to Manny. Elena didn't have a say because she was sanitized and strapped to my chest. No one would budge so I dragged them all screaming back to the car and somehow managed to get them strapped in by probably making promises I didn't keep. I can't remember now. What I said or if I kept them.

Anyway, I felt a surge of relief driving out of the parking lot. I had no groceries. But I was headed home, I had a latte in my fridge and no one was screaming at me. I missed my turn onto Gilman because I was still trying to recover from what had just happened and as I planned to get off at Dravus, I noticed through the rearview mirror that Elena had slid out of her shoulder straps AGAIN. I stopped as quickly as I could on a gravel strip alongside a storage facility, turned on the hazards and confronted Elena with the reality we were all facing.

Put your straps back on or we can never go home.

Now, I did this last week on the way to the bread shop. We had to pull over at a rundown apartment building and I was really dramatic, telling her that we would have to live in our car in this apartment parking lot if she didn't put her straps on. She was unphased, but Manny was sobbing by the end of my monologue because he was afraid he was going to spend the rest of his childhood strapped to his car seat far, far, far from home (in Wallingford).

So, this time I got her to put her straps on a lot faster and as we drove away, I heard Manny sigh happily and say, "I really didn't want to live there."

Tonight I made pizza. I have had many unsuccessful pizza attempts lately, usually centered around my inability to slide this great new spelt crust off of my pizza peel onto the pizza stone. What happens then is I get unreasonably upset and try to make a calzone out of my spoiled pizza, which doesn't really work either and the resulting mess is so ugly that the kids have to eat dinner with their eyes closed.

Enter parchment paper.

Even with this magical tool, my first pizza attempt tonight failed because my fancy fresh mozzarella was sour.

The second half of the dough turned out well with the cheap Trader Joe's cheese. It wasn't amazing looking, but it was headed in the right direction. When I put the pizza peel with the finished, bubbly pie on the counter, Manny began to exclaim, "It's a circle! It's a circle! Hooray for Mama! It's a circle! Everybody breakdance for Mama! It's a circle!"

They ate every last bite, eyes wide open. Of course, there was none left for Sam and I, but that's the thing about being parents. You almost don't even care. Until it's two hours later and you've finally cleaned up from their dinner and you still haven't eaten dinner.

But what does that matter when somebody celebrates your culinary victory by breakdancing in their underwear?

You almost don't even care.

I better get something to eat.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Most popular activities at our house

Growling like a lion, which often turns into growling matches, shrieks and cries of "Scared!"
Superheroes. Particularly Super Ass Man.

"Looking at spiders", which means screaming at them and inevitably removing one or all of their legs, if those poor little suckers are lucky.



Alternately filling me with deep joy and then, five minutes later, driving me to the brink of madness. Exaggeration? Not really.




Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pictures, Part Three: Manny's first day of school!

On our way to Little Red Wagon Preschool. Fire truck lunch box is new.
If this isn't the beginning of a musical number, I don't know what is.

Manny, Miss Catherine (love her!) and Charlie, our best buddy.
When Sam asked Manny on Friday evening if he liked Miss Catherine and Mr. Jay, his new teachers, he said, with his face all wrinkled up, "ummmm.....hmmmm......ehhhh.....not so much." "Why not?" Sam asked. Manny replied, "I really need to go do my taxes now."
I think he likes them. It's just hard for him to express his delight under a microscope. We understand that.



Pictures, Part Two: Kinnear Park, Queen Anne

Manny the climber.
Me and Elena.
Glory Jane.

Pictures, Part One: San Diego

Elena and her cousin, Josh who is now 2!
Manny and his beloved playmate and cousin Ellie.
Elena (left) and Glory.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Parent Night

Thank you Sarah B.W., Sarah S., Carmen, Mom, Kathleen and Melisa for all reaching out to me. I really appreciate the love, support and Melisa's story she emailed me about a pooptastrophe that was off the charts. I laughed out loud and I don't normally laugh out loud at poop stories. Groan, yes, but laugh out loud? Never. Until now.

Last Sunday, I was talking to an old friend at church I hadn't seen in years. She told me she's a twin and that her mom found out she was having twins when she went in to have her tubes tied. How do you like that one? That also made me laugh out loud.

Boy. People have such crazy experiences. Shame on me for ever assuming someone isn't that interesting. All you have to do is ask and the stories that follow....wow.

I went to parent night at Manny's preschool tonight. I read last night that people with Blood Type O (me) require vigorous exercise so I spent 15 vigorous minutes watching Family Guy on the elliptical trainer before I ran up to preschool. I knew, living where I do, that I would be the most underdressed person there and it was true. Nobody looked at me funny, but my dated workout clothes added to my overall sense that I was way too young to be in that room. People in Seattle tend to have kids older, so maybe that's part of it. But, if I'm honest, I fit right in, only not as well dressed. And that was so weird. I suppose it's a universal experience. All people must feel this way at one time or another, right? Recently I surprise myself at how much amusement I get from watching this sitcom online called "The Middle", which is about family life from the parent's perspective. When did I start finding this stuff so funny? The Mother's Day episode where the husband tells the wife at 6:30am that he's going to go watch ESPN so she can spend the day with her whining, complaining, fighting three children, because it's "her day" had me rolling in my laundry pile. Seriously. The transition from being the kid to being the one laughing at the crazy stuff kids say and do is like practically non-existent.

No nap again today. I drove across town at the right time of day and still no nap. The only one who looked like they might doze off was Manny and he's not supposed to fall asleep! I am working hard on acceptance. I think I have gone through the other stages of grief. I don't remember what they all are, but the denial and anger are easily documentable.

I already miss my times when the girls would nap and Manny and I would play high school boyfriend and girlfriend. (He doesn't know that's how I think of it. He doesn't know what high school is.) But that's what it reminded me of. Him in his underwear (this is where it is not like high school Mom) cuddling with me, stroking my hair, loudly sucking his fingers (also not like high school). OKAY. I guess upon examination this comparison doesn't really hold up. It's just that Manny is so snuggly and so cute like a very small Sam, though I think their ears are the same size. The girls are going to LOVE him. Especially now that he's given up eating the hair once he's attentively stroked it.

I got so tired around 2pm that I herded the kids into my bedroom and initiated a game of "cave" where we all laid on the bed and I had to hold up my arms and legs to create the cave with the duvet while Manny repeatedly told me to hide from the pink cat monster and Elena, in turn, would demand that I not hide. It was a really exhausting way to rest. This time ended with probably thirty minutes where either Glory or Elena had their head shoved all the way up my shirt and through the neck hole, sometimes talking about nipples and where they might be. They don't seem to accept my standard answer of, "they're in the same place they were last time." This particular shirt looks like it has been eaten by a small animal so I allowed the game to persist. It also was buying me a few more moments of stillness. Then Glory started to lick my neck. When she got out of my shirt and Elena crawled through the neckhole, Glory started to lick Elena's hair and then my hair. I couldn't decide whether I thought this was hilarious or whether Glory was the pink cat monster, so I said what I always say when I need to get out of a situation with the children.

"I need to go potty," I said.

They totally get this and almost always back off, as if to say, "Sure, yeah, you bet, I've been there. You go right ahead."

It might have been Elena who ate the holes into my shirt because nearly every children's book in our house has some piece of it eaten off. The day we left for San Diego in August, she tried to eat an entire dinner napkin right in front of my face- stuffed the whole thing in like a chipmunk- and then later that night, she ate airport toliet paper straight from the stall. This child. And if you ask her to stop doing it, she cheerfully replies, "No fanks!" She's going to be a hard one to say no to for those who are easily charmed.

At some point I had to come downstairs and try to make some dinner. The kids were playing so well together in Manny's room until I heard him shout, "Don't touch my taxes either!" Sam and I finally did our taxes last weekend and Manny's really into it now.

So Elena came downstairs and Manny and Glory had a special time together pulling all the sheets off our bed and setting up camp on the deck, which reminds me I was going to wash all of that and now it's too late. Hmmmm.....anyway, I was happy for them because Manny and Glory don't usually hang out just the two of them. Every time I heard her cry, I rushed upstairs. She was in the middle of the bed, sucking her thumb and clutching her blankie while Manny jumped around to a U2 compliation, occasionally landing on her, causing her to cry. I heard him sweetly reply, more than once, "Don't be afraid. It's Bono singing!"

Elena pulled out about fifteen feet of toliet paper before we all came downstairs. Manny was trying to salvage it and roll it back, but he must have gotten frustrated because the next thing I knew he was carrying an enormous wad of TP down the stairs. He handed it to me and I sighed, but I have to tell you, an enormous wad of TP on your kitchen counter really comes in handy. I have used it countless times to dry this, wipe up that, snuggle a little bit when I need a soft touch. I'm thinking about just having a wad of TP there all the time, at least until Elena gets taller and starts nibbling pieces of it for "snacks" in-between snacks. Oh well. It's got to be easier on her digestive track than the huge chunk of the book of Revelation she ate from my Bible.

Oh, and I told Manny's new preschool teacher and assistant teacher about Super Ass Man and they couldn't stop laughing about it. We agree this is not a school game, but it made me like them a lot! I encouraged he will be in good hands.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Touching Base

Who am I touching base with? Whoever may still read this after a four month hiatus and, I guess, in a way, my future self who will not remember what happened in this very intense period of my life. My future self will read the last few posts from May and try desperately to remember what I was thinking and what went on in these blank months. So, future self, here is what I would say.

Twins and a slightly older child are really, really, really hard. If you look back and say--ehh, it wasn't that big of a deal, you are lying to yourself. And I am not a fan of live and forget- you know, the kind of older person who claims their children never did anything wrong OR, worse, that they never did anything wrong. If I say my children were perfect, I have lost the flavor of this time. The sugar is their sweetness, the spice is the boundaries they push and I hope I never forget because the stories contain the essences of who Manny, Glory and Elena are.

And that is why it has bothered me that I have stopped writing on this blog. The stories slip away from me before the day is done. This is my only record. My only way of remembering. Particularly because I don't take any photos either. Add that to the long list of things I should be doing, like brushing my children's teeth in the morning and laundering Manny's underwear so he doesn't have to go commando to preschool on Friday.

I stopped writing because I was struggling with circumstances, but mostly with myself and people who love me a lot were expressing concern for my well-being and it made me want to never share anything with anybody again, at least through this venue. But the big, big downside of all that is that not only do I forget the stories, but there are some of you who would hardly know the children at all, if it were not for this little bit of illustration on my part.

So I am sharing today in the belief that when I share, I celebrate more and curse less. So if I say anything that makes you concerned for my well-being, I would ask that you please not tell me about it. Tell God if you're that concerned and you do that sort of thing, but spare me that kind of love because I can't bear it.

This morning, Elena ate a few bites of "oh-me-all" and then looked like she poured the rest on the floor and rolled around in it for a while until it sufficiently stuck. I was appalled as I saw her walking through the kitchen. It was as if her pants were polka-dotted with gummy oats. I exclaimed something nasal and annoyingly maternal and Manny genuinely uttered, "I think it's beautiful."

It is so common for the children to be dressed and then undressed in a matter of minutes. Soon after the daily oatmeal explosion, Elena went into the bathroom to wash her hands and immediately had water up to her elbows. There went the long-sleeved shirt. So now she was naked again except for her saggy diaper which had about a fifteen-minute lifespan left. So Glory thought she should take off all her clothes and then decided the diaper was too oppressive too. As soon as she was naked, it occurred to her it was the perfect moment to sit on the potty. I love watching her climb up onto the potty insert on the big toliet. It reminds me a little of the lady in Godzilla stuck at the top of the Empire State Building, only there's no monster and the lady is not afraid. She's exceptionally brave and demanding when it comes to the tissue. "Self!" she cries.

The kids asked me if they could turn on Earth, a gorgeous documentary about ecosystems across the globe. I was going to do the dishes, but every ten seconds, one of the girls would rush out and say, "Scared! Bears!" So I let them eat carrot cake and watch the bears with me from their little table in the family room while Manny assured them the bears were stuck in the tv. By the time that experiment was over, I was wishing the bears would emerge from the screen and vacuum up the thousand crumbs of varying sizes and shapes (depending upon whether or not they had been mushed) that were scattered all over the table, chairs, floor, and yes, Elena's new pants.

I pulled out the vacuum, in lieu of the bears, and then decided to be industrious and tidy the bookshelves, knocking an expensive and utterly delicious jar of raspberry jam from my favorite farmer's market berry grower 6 feet down onto the concrete floor. The jam blobbed onto the carpet.

"Stay back!" I shouted repeatedly, as I cleaned up the entire mess. It's like a dog that hasn't been well trained. You have to say "STAY" every two seconds as long as you want the dog to stay. If I ever stopped telling the kids to stay back, they would descend on me and the glassy mess like it never occurred to them not to.

By the time this was all done, it was only 10:30 and I was ready for bed. As were the girls. I have been having a very difficult time getting them to nap and have tried every strategy I can think of, with the exception of locking one of them in the dog crate, which Kathleen, only half-jokingly, suggested. If it wasn't so dirty and underneath so many heaps of stuff in the garage, I might just try it. Aslan liked it after all and the girls liked Aslan, so the power of association would tell me that the girls would like the crate!

(Long pause for trip to the library and now it is too late to write much more. The dishes are piled high and the laundry even higher.)

So, in closing, as I was trying to make dinner while preventing the kids from eating playdough, especially Manny who has a growing wheat sensitivity, I set a tea towel on fire and threw a dinner plate across the room, sending shards in a ten foot stream. Glory tried to make me feel better by eating a truly astonishing amount of rice pasta tossed in broccoli pesto. At shower time, her belly looked particularly huge, and yet still so small. It was packed with pasta and pesto and waffle with blueberry sauce which took Sam a good five minutes to scrub out of all the kids fingers and toes and backs of knees and elbows. By the end of the waffle dessert, the kids were body-painting with the blueberry sauce. Sam was holding his face in horror and I was trying not to laugh hysterically since I was a little loopy from the whole broken glass/giant Costco microfiber towel on fire incidents.

I rushed the girls to sleep, since they didn't nap. They wanted to laugh before they fell asleep so I had to wag my hair in their face like a dog tail until they got a good laugh going. They're an easy crowd most of the time. Then I asked which music box they wanted to hear. Grandma Barb gave each of them a music box last year. "Horse," they said. So I turned that one on and the girl one too because they only like to listen to them simultaneously, though they are not the same song. So it sounds a little busy and discordant, but cheerful and persistent, kind of like me.

As I walked out, relieved that they hadn't called me back for three more drinks of water or countless full body hugs, I heard Sam coaching Manny through his poops for the day. "There's another one!" I heard him exclaim. Another poop, another day, full of beauty, humor, brokenness and a whole lot of "Mama! Watch this!"

Watch this!

I'm about to do the dishes.

Bet you didn't see that one comin'.