It's easy for me to sit here, sinus headache and all, and list all the things I don't want you to see in this world. And, that's how this post was going to start out, actually. But, I know that isn't the most positive of lists and I want to be positive today.
You and I see things where we live. We hear things. Things people shouldn't see or hear, especially little girls. It's a debate weighing on my mind. To stay or go. To stay means you will grow up rightfully seeing black, brown and white people living amongst each other as neighbors and friends. You will see respect among all people.
But, since we are also surrounded by many uneducated, poor people, you will see things and hear things that only television should provide as a fantasy, as fiction. Like mothers cursing and beating their children. Like gunshots fired down the street. Like crack houses. Men fighting, verbally and physically.
All of these are fleeting. They often pass in the night like a nightmare. We wake up sweaty, breathless and scared, but it passes. It always does. And all the good rises to the top, again. We start smiling again. We start finding our hope again.
As your parents, we want to protect your mind from learning about the bad, yet we want to introduce you to the good. For us, the good means learning about all of humanity, not just the majority. It also means helping to save America's dying cities. It means standing up for the disadvantaged.
But, I can't help but wonder, at what expense are we teaching these lessons? Is "taking the long way around" the right thing to do as parents?
Saturday, June 30, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
If you've ever watched Sex and the City you know that besides her friends, Carrie's cell phone was a very important character in the movie, especially in the end. Her cell phone is the last image in the last scene of the last show of the last season.
I, being a SATC super fan, realized yesterday while in the car driving to Mama's-Day-Off destination, I hadn't written much about the show.
Besides turning our broken car air conditioner on and off, on and off, on and off hoping and praying that it would suddenly start working during the 45-minute car ride, I was also thinking about cell phones.
Like Carrie, my first one was a doozie. Big. Clunky. About the size of an old point and shoot camera. Not the digitals either. I remember distinctly why I got it. On my way back to college after the most miserable week of my life, my car not only broke down on Interstate 95 in the scorching heat, it died that day. I was alone, and midway between home and the dorms. I ended up taking a ride with a stranger who didn't end up killing or raping me like society had warned me of so many times.
I felt, after that, that a cell phone was in order.
Like others, I upgraded over the years because as I entered the workforce my job knocking on homes of people's doors, sometimes late at night, warranted it as well.
I still justify having one even though I do not work because I like to walk. And, I don't like to walk without a phone. So many what ifs come crashing in on me, like the serial killers just waiting around to pick up innocent college girls broken down on I-95 in Baltimore.
But, yesterday morning The Da! accidentally broke my phone.
It was one of those blessings in disguise because we've been wondering what else we could do besides cut off the electricity to skimp around here. We already have just basic cable (well, sort of ... but that's another post). We already cut out all the fat in our spending. The cell phones, we think, might be an area of savings.
Do I need that phone? Let's see, no one calls me on it, but maybe once or twice a month. I only use it to call a few people, mostly The Da! and that's not for any other reason than a stay-at-home mom has to say something other than, "Wow, look at that doggie, girls. Doggie. Dog. Can you say dog? Arf. Arf."
And then there is that voice in the back of my head: Stalkers, murderers, rapists, weirdos ... all waiting to grab me, my babies. What would I do without a phone? Who would help me?
Or, what if something happens like J puts her feet up on the stroller bar too high and, I don't know, gets stuck. Or, L, signs bus so hard when she sees one that she collapses from heat exhaustion. I mean, our walks are pretty intense.
And, then there is my mother. She e-mailed to ask why I wasn't going to have my cell phone anymore because she can call me for free on it. Now she can't.
In the end, is that phone really breaking us? Probably not. But, do I need it? Do I really need it?
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Are you a mommy blogger?
Are you a writer blogger?
Are you a blogger who writes about the amazing life of parenting twins?
Are you a blogger with another special topic?
Then I want to hear from you. Leave a comment with your blog name and a short description of it and I'll surprise you with a special gift.
This will also be my attempt at starting my real blog roll, something I've been avoiding for some time now.
Two requirements for my blog roll will be as follows:
1. You must comment here regularly (EXCEPTION: parents of twins bloggers).
2. Your blog has to be established (more than 30 days old) and updated at least weekly.
3. You have to write at least once about either being a parent, being a blogger and/or writer, or the joys and challenges of motherhood.
I'm off on my Mama's Day Off today. Have a great one!
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
1. Unusually, she asks you to repeat yourself twice while taking secretive notes under the table. (So she can accurately transcribe said conversation in her next blog post.)
2. She sleeps with a camera under her pillow, just in case.
3. Phrases such as, "This is such a blog post" or 'I'm so blogging this" are threatened several times a day.
4. The word blog is uttered at least five times daily, if not hourly.
5. She talks about "they" as if the blogosphere is part of your family.
6. Dinner is served with a side of Blog Posts I Loved Today
7. You wonder if the computer screen is warmer than her side of the bed.
8. She starts talking about someone who found her blog all the way from Warszawa, Poland.
9. You have to ask her if she's going to be on the computer tonight, again.
10. The house is a mess, but her blog is updated regularly.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
I have fallen behind in my book purging efforts, but hope to get back on track. It would help if I knew how to get rid of the books without having to actually leave the house.
Still, here goes:
My dear sweet girls, you must read, "Reading Lolita in Tehran," by Azar Nafisi.
Perhaps one of the greatest books ever written about books, this book not only takes you into the minds of women living in the Islamic Republic of Iran, but it takes you into some of literature's greatest reads.
I read this book more than two years ago, but could read it over and over not just for it's great insight into some fabulous novels, but because of the insight it gives into how other countries view Americans. You simply cannot read this book and walk away feeling proud to be American. You simply cannot read this book without thinking we need to change our ways.
I hope that you read this novel and learn about a different culture, inspire a world of peace and hope for all, and, lastly, develop a love and knowledge about great literature.
Among the books discussed in this book: Lolita, The Great Gatsby and Pride and Prejudice.
Now, for those that must go:
"Lolita," by Vladimir Nabokov. I read this book right after "Reading Lolita in Tehran," and while it was definitely worth reading, I do not feel that I will recommend it for my sweet daughters. They may choose to read it someday.
I'm also going to discard, "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress," by Dai Sijie. This book is a lot like, "Reading Lolita," but just not nearly as good and I really was disappointed with the ending.
Because everyone likes to win things ... here are some contests you should be aware of right now.
Mums the Word is giving away a great little planner.
Need a getaway. Those 5MFM ladies are giving away a big one. It's not something I'm into, but maybe you would be.
When it comes to priorities, I think I've been good at handling the most important first. Several years ago, when The Da! and I first started co-habitating, the world was before us. Traveling was important. Fixing our suburban home was important. Going out to eat was very important.
When we bought our inner city home, we were freshly married and extremely busy working people. Yet, we had more time then than we do now. For the first two years in this home, we struggled with the "what ifs." What if I never get pregnant? What if we never need those spare bedrooms? What would we fill this house with, if not love for a baby?
All the emotional baggage that I held as an infertile woman limited this house's potential. It's a beautiful 1890s Colonial. Charm is everywhere. Clearly, when we bought it, we saw what it could be. All the ifs were in front of us.
If we take down the wallpaper, if we repaint the trim, if we add a garage ...
The truth is, ifs are just ifs.
Even as we struggled with getting pregnant, financial woes surrounded us. We've always been paying for something. First, the wedding and honeymoon. Then, fixing and selling the old house. Then, doctors visits and infertility drugs.
Then, it happened.
"You're pregnant," she said.
I smiled all day without being able to tell a soul. I draped a bib around the dog's neck and when The Da! came home he saw it, and he still needed to hear the words.
"I'm pregnant," I told him. And we cried. Or, maybe he cried. I was still in disbelief. Happy disbelief.
So, on we went with another nine months of planning for Baby. Or, as we learned six weeks later, paying for two babies.
It's only now that the girls are about to turn 18 months and I'm not working outside the home that I can actually begin to see the ifs again.
I'm not sure it's a good thing, seeing all the ifs floating before my eyes. I'm a What-If-kinda girl. What if I did this, what if we do that ... I live in the future, constantly trying to mold it into something better, bigger, easier.
Yet, as part of my mindful parenting philosophy, I spend most of my day living right here and now, in my imperfect home. I sit on the floor of our playroom, bringing toy after toy or instructing activity after activity, and I enjoy that part of my day most. Just being. Just living.
The dust collects, the clutter mounds, yet, I'm dealing with what's most important.
Mindful parenting is a topic of which I'm very passionate about. Please stay tuned for some interesting posts related to this topic in the coming weeks.
Monday, June 25, 2007
If you are a stay-at-home parent, and your spouse is off work for a 10 days, are you technically on vacation, too?
The answer: No.
But, I gotta say, it's a heck of a lot easier for me knowing that The Da! will be home to help out. We've already accomplished more things over this past weekend than we have in the last, oh, almost 18 months.
First, it's a lot easier to get work done without being dreadfully sleep deprived. Second, two toddlers who are able to walk around, practically feed themselves and play together, for brief interludes, makes life easier all around. Third, we're motivated by the possibility of selling our home and moving to eliminate most of the roughly 45-minute commute The Da! currently endures without complaint.
In between painting jobs, decluttering jobs, fixing jobs, Mama is going to take a day off. Well, at least half a day off.
I need some good, inexpensive ideas for what I can do on my day off. I'm considering traveling to the nearest Trader Joes, which is roughly 45 minutes away, and getting some groceries (It's fun shopping, not chore shopping at TJs) and lunch.
But, perhaps I'm not thinking outside the box enough. Any thoughts? If you have a whole day to yourself, and very little money, how would you spend the day?
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Granted, this is very bad video streaming by yours truly ... but hang in there because it's so cute and funny. It's my girls dancing, but in the middle of that dance session, I taped over a little to capture their now famous screaming fits that can happen at any point in our day. For your entertainment only.
Posted by Shawn at 4:58 AM
Saturday, June 23, 2007
The more I read, and the more I talk with other mothers, the more I understand that we truly aren't alone in most of the problems we feel are unique to just us.
When I was pregnant, people couldn't do enough, say enough about how they would be happy to help if I needed it. What they didn't say is that I would have to ask for that help.
In other words, when the house is in chaos and I'm at my wits end, or just so tired, I need to pick up the phone and call someone who hasn't called me, who hasn't seen my kids, who hasn't even so much as expressed an interest in communicating in any other way than by e-mail?
I don't think so.
When I asked for help, it backfired. Now, I know I'm not alone -- just read this post by Stephanie at Baby on Bored. But, I also know that some of you are probably very good at asking for help.
So, I'm now opening up this blog to you: When you need help, who do you ask and how do you ask? Or, do you suffer from the same pride gene many of us have and think that people should volunteer help?
And, most of all, when is it too late as a mother to ask for help? Clearly, the first month of a baby's life is a popular time to receive help.
But, what about the rest of the 18 years of mothering?
Friday, June 22, 2007
I don't believe that I bragged on here about winning a free subscription to Netflix over at 5 Minutes For Mom. I did. And, I never win anything so you can imagine my surprise.
I haven't gotten it, yet, but I'm eagerly anticipating being able to see movies again. Wait, movies ... what are they? Perhaps I should have asked that question first.
So, now those lovely Canadians are at it again, this time in celebration of July 4th.
There are a few rules to enter, but you don't have to be a blogger to win any of the fabulous prizes, including today's, which is an ice cream maker. I need this and here's why.
So, go. Now. Enter. You can click through on the pretty box on my sidebar.
Edited to add: While I'm at it, let's go ahead and talk about some other contests happening on the blog. Adventures in Babywearing, which is famous for its great contests, is offering up a cute bag along with StrollerMama. Both are fairly new sites to me.
The Internets cracks me up, and amazes me. The world of blogging has to be the biggest story untold every day.
One of my devoted readers, MPJ, recently wrote a funny post about a cyber love triangle among she and her commenters. She wrote that one of the friendships has developed into a cyber soulmate. In the end, she had to pick.
I'm writing a column about blogging for a parenting publication, and in it I'm trying to make the point that moms should read blogs if they are searching for people who think like them or who have the same daily challenges.
If there is a cyber soulmate for me, it might be Shannon, who is also a stay-at-home mom of 17-month-old twins and frantically writes during their naps and tries to find the balance daily. Hmm. Sounds very familiar.
Shannon and I recently discussed the isolation we feel as both mothers and writers --two jobs that keep us home all day. Our other job, parenting twin toddlers, also keeps us home all day because we're pretty much terrified to go anywhere with them that might bring about some stress.
Brian, a stay-at-home dad of three, including twins, and a writer, alluded to some cyber soulmate confession while answering my question to him about raising twins. Read that Q&A here. And, yes, I do laugh when one of the twins smacks the other in the head. And when they head butt or, the very latest, butt-butt.
Amazing who we find on these pages. I'm hooked.
Who would your cyber soulmate be if you could describe them?
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Dear J and L:
Like it was yesterday, I remember the tugging, the pulling and the rocking as the doctor pulled you from my swollen belly.
First, she delivered Baby A. Seconds later, a cry so amazing I can still picture myself lying there, crying, too.
Then, Baby B. Another soul-shuddering cry leaps from a tiny mouth, reinforcing my own sobs.
I still remember that first time I set my eyes on you, and couldn’t believe you were both mine.
Look at the beautiful little girls you are turning into before my eyes. So full of wonder and amazement at every little noise, sight and smell.
The way you hop from place to place, the way you snuggle tight with your lovey blankets, the way you look at me, sometimes, with such innocence – like when you are reaching for something you know you shouldn’t.
Language is slowly forming in your minds and traveling to your lips. I wish I could understand every word you utter and sail away on those words. Still, you communicate better than many I know.
You’ve even learned to say that you’re sorry, in sign language.
Sorry is a word we have to use a lot these days. Sorry I threw that toy at your head, sister. Sorry I bounced a sippy cup off your forehead, mom. Sorry, I got mad and threw all of my food off the table.
Sweetness radiates from both of you: in your smiles, in your giggles, in your dog sounds, in your gorilla imitations, in your toddler dances.
And, in your wonderful, wet kisses.
Sweet girls, you will have learned the lesson I’m about to tell you a hundred times by the time you read this letter, if you ever read this letter.
People – human beings – will break your heart. They’ll break it in a way that the word sorry just doesn’t seem enough. But, it will have to be.
I wish I could prevent everyone and anyone from squashing your soul. I wish I could teach you to magically wiggle your nose to make the pain go away when it does happen.
Truthfully, you learned this lesson early, sitting on our front stoop, innocently waving at the passerbys and watching them pass with only a nose in the air and no response to your silly grin or your quiet wave.
You learned this early when Mama or Dada had to tell you no to something that would put you in danger. I see how it crushes you to no end when we have to get back in the car after having so much fun.
I don’t want to be someone who disappoints you.
I’m hoping that by the time you read this, you’ll understand human nature enough to realize that heartbreak and sadness is all just a part of the great circle of life, that with it also come great days of excitement, passion and happiness.
Like a giant roller coaster at some amusement park, your days will go up and down.
You’ll understand all of this, someday, when you are greeted with your own soul-shuddering cry -- that will be all yours.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
Before becoming a stay-at-home mama last November, I researched the idea pretty extensively. I talked to as many friends as I could who knew the stay-at-home routine well and who I knew would give me honest answers. I could see the worry in their eyes when I told them that I was considering the change. I knew it wasn't going to be easy.
When the decision was finalized, I made to-do lists for everything to avoid being, you know, "bored" -- because I thought life raising twin toddlers was going to leave me feeling, hum-drum.
As it turns out, that autumnal November day also turned me into a work-at-home mama. Since I had spent many years writing for full-time for daily newspapers, freelance writing came easy for me. It was also something I had been dabbling in while working full-time.
What I didn't realize is exactly how busy I would become. Rejecting assignments was difficult when we needed all the extra cash we could get. I was lucky to have so much work. But doing it all became an obsession. And, on top of that, I had started this blog, which rapidly become an addiction.
Mix the two, and here's what you get: waking at the crack of dawn to get prepared for the day and write a blog post, writing and making calls during each morning and afternoon nap, and then returning to it all as soon as bedtime routine was finished ... it was a constant cycle. Two Fridays ago, I gladly turned in my last assignments, hoping for a break, for some peace of mind.
What I got, instead, was a big fat bowl of depression. I'd rarely experienced such lows and, therefore, I worried myself, worried that my chosen life as a Mom, in general, was too much for me. The low moods didn't strike when my beautiful, silly girls were in my presence, but rather during their naps and at bedtime -- times I would have normally been working hard on writing projects.
In fact, I had too much time to think about what I didn't have, mainly close family members to visit and help me entertain my babies. Had I been too busy writing that I neglected someone? Was my time at the computer screen all that I had? Granted, we got out of the house, we went walking, went to the park (imagine that?), went to the store. Life did keep going for us. But, was it enough? Did I need more than that? Where were my friends? And, my low writing self-esteem reared its ugly head as well. That's another post for another day.
I realized this week that I need to be busy. I need to have lots of work to do. I need each day to be filled to the brim.
So I was so happy to learn yesterday that I will be blogging twice a week for a local regional parenting publication starting next week, that another publication asked me to take on another assignment, and that one more story came my way. I'll be busy, but I'll be happier.
Writing and storytelling has always been my outlet. I had forgotten what it means to let that go. Now, I know and will appreciate the Great Balancing Act better this time around.
What keeps you sane? What do you need in order to keep your spirits high? What motivates you to keep going? What's your creative outlet? If you blog about this topic, please link back to me and let me know. If you are new here, introduce yourself and leave a comment. If you've been lurking, come out of the shadows and say hello.
There was a time when that question uttered within a half hour of dear sweet Da! arrival home was like nails on the chalkboard. All day, giving, giving, giving. Then, the expectation of more giving pops up like a little snake-eyed weasel.
Not anymore, dear friends. Menu planning rocks. I'm planning for a week at a time right now because that is best. While it does take time, I do enjoy seeking out new recipes to try, especially those that are going to held lower the grocery bills. I still have a long, long way to go. Many of my meals are now trying to combine what J and L will eat. It's not always happening, though. Sorry for the linkless post today. All of it is just out of my head.
Monday – Easy Chicken Tikka with broccoli
Tuesday – Meatloaf made with chicken with baked potatoes and green beans
Wednesday –Spaghetti and meatballs with peas and carrots and salad with rolls
Thursday – Chicken Stroganoff (crock pot) with mashed potatoes with sugar snap peas
Friday – Quesadillas with refried black beans and cheese and salad
Saturday – Baked beans/hot dogs and salad
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I use frozen ones without bothering to thaw)
1 lb. sour cream (light sour cream works good too)
8 oz. fresh or canned mushrooms
1 can cream of mushroom soup
Put breasts in crockpot (either frozen or fresh), mix up the rest of the ingredients and slobber them on top, making sure chicken is covered. Cook 8 hrs on low. Serve with wide egg noodles.
For those of you seeking out recipes for toddlers, I made risotto on Saturday and that was a decent hit. Janice at 5 Minutes for Mom inspired me.
For more Menu Planning Monday entries go here.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Dear J & L:
Today is Father’s Day, my second with the two of you. I’ve been thinking about what the day means to me, trying to put into words what it means to be your father. There’s no simple way to describe it.
It means riding a little rollercoaster of ups and downs every day: the anticipation of seeing you in the morning; the sadness of saying goodbye as I leave for work (especially if one of you is crying); the burst of happiness with a call from Mama about something you did, or reading one of her blog posts or seeing some new pictures; the absolute delight at coming home to you at the end of the day, in time to give you a bath and get you into bed.
It means my stomach tightens with fear when I get a call from Mama like I did this week when you, L, fell and hit your head on some concrete steps next to the house. You were OK, but for 10 minutes, my mind raced at the possibilities of what might have happened.
But those are the day-to-day things. The best part of fatherhood has to do with knowing that day by day, week by week, month by month, your Mama and I are guiding you on the first steps in your journey through life. I watch in awe as I see you developing into little people – able to use a fork and a spoon, or take your dirty clothes and put them into the hamper, or play games with each other. I marvel at the glimmers of personalities that appeared within six months become clearer all the time. It’s a gift you’ve given us: to watch and understand your behavior gives us insight into our own. I hope making note of this now will help you know yourselves better when you get older.
Mama likes to say being a stay-at-home mom is the toughest thing she’s ever had to do, and it’s also the best thing. I would say that being your Da! is far and away the best thing that will ever happen to me in my life (along with marrying Mama) and that knowledge gives me a mix of peace and exhilaration that I don’t think I could find anyplace else.
This is the photograph that the girls look at every day when they miss their daddy.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
I'm opening up this blog today for my readers. All three of you. Just kidding.
Here's my question for you. I know many of you are moms and have children. Many of you are mothers of multiples, too.
What did you do with the outgrown baby/children's clothes? What's your philosophy for storing them, and purging them? We have so much -- many of which are matching or coordinated sets.
Do you like to donate the clothes or try to make some extra cash through eBay or consignment? Do you do a little of everything?
I'm in the process of sorting and my office is now a mess as a result. I tried selling them cheaply to other twin moms, but am not having any luck as they prefer new clothes.
So, please share your most creative tips and advice.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Happy Father's Day Weekend, Da! We couldn't be more proud and happy that you are our daddy. Can't wait to see you for more than an hour a day this weekend!
By Dixie Chicks
When the calls and conversations
Accidents and accusations
Messages and misperceptions
Paralyze my mind
Buses, cars, and airplanes leaving
Burning fumes of gasoline
And everyone is running
And I come to find a refuge in the
Easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay
Monkeys on the barricades
Are warning us to back away
They form commissions trying to find
The next one they can crucify
And anger plays on every station
Answers only make more questions
I need something to believe in
Breathe in sanctuary in the
Easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay
Children lose their youth too soon
Watching war made us immune
And I've got all the world to lose
But I just want to hold on to the
Easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me
The easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Being a mom is still so raw for me. Those more experienced understand that life as you know it can be zapped away in an instant. I'm learning this lesson daily. Today, this afternoon, I learned it again.
It was a damp and chilly day, but we still went outside to enjoy the crisp air and fresh breeze. You, dear L, are my button-pusher. You know what you shouldn't do and run straight to do just that. These days, that button is squishing daylily petals between your short, baby fingers, leaving bright yellow goo all over them. It is a sight to behold. I know this. And, yet, I worry about that yellow, how it easily goes from your hand to your lips. I want to protect you, every part of you.
So we moved to a safer location, one far away from the Stella'dora or whatever it is your Da! told me.
J, you discovered a neat game of getting your hand wet in a puddle and then toddling my way and gifting me with cool rain drops fresh from your small, delicate hand. Each time you smiled. Each time, I was overly eager to accept such moist gifts.
Soon, L, you caught on to this game of connection between Mama and your sister. You, too, began gifting me with drops from the same puddle. Back and forth the two of you ran -- as best as 17 month olds can run. I was busy accepting these presents of nature, relishing our time outside and some peace from the loneliness that has been consuming me lately.
In a blip, a trip. A fall. A tumble. A scream. Crying. Crying. Crying. You were holding your head. I searched and searched your face, wishing the worst didn't happen, that you didn't just hit your head on that concrete step. Surely, you missed it. Surely, it couldn't be so. Surely, I hadn't just failed you.
I knew by the way you were crying that it was so. You are a tough girl. Your head, as we have noted many times, is hard. I knew by the way you held it that it was not just a little boo-boo. Within seconds, it all appeared. The blue. The goose egg bump. The blood.
The fear. The tears -- my own. Home alone, no car, no family to call, what will I do? I scooped you up first, held you, told you it would be OK. Then I scooped up your sister -- who wasn't happy her play was interrupted -- and ran into the house, first calling your Da! then the doctor's office.
"My daughter, 17 months, just fell and hit her head on a concrete step," I said breathless.
"This is my first injury," I added, tears falling down my cheeks.
"The first of many more," the female voice on the other end of the phone responded, calmly.
While on the phone answering questions, running the water in the kitchen sink, I gave you, my sweet girl, a Tylenol bottle. It was empty, but I was hoping for a distraction to ease your pain.
And, just like that, you were fine. You didn't cry again. You jumped and ran like usual. You ate dinner. You giggled when your daddy came home.
Pure, raw childhood seeped from your soul.
A Web site just for women bloggers, called BlogHer, is asking for women bloggers to write a post on their Red Hot issue for the upcoming presidential election in 2008. I can't resist.
Rather than wax poetic about why I hope my daughters will grow up in a country that respects women enough to trust them to run this country as Commander in Chief, I will stick to the issue at hand.
I'm going to say this once and only once.
Get. Out. Of. Iraq.
There are worse human atrocities happening right this very second. I have to wonder why we are so in love with Iraq's future and not other areas that need desperate help.
Instead of fighting battles in other countries, let's use our military to spread peace where there is none.
I'd like my daughters to learn that rich men in big white houses don't need to use violence any more than poor men in rundown houses in our inner cities.
Instead, I'd like my daughters to learn that our country is truly concerned about Americans by addressing our poverty rate.
Poverty is the basis of all evil. It tears families apart. It drives people to drink and use drugs. It motivates some people to sell drugs. All of the drug business, ultimately, drives people to commit crimes, which causes fear and anger. Crime and the perception of it keeps great American cities gasping for breath.
Poverty keeps our American children in the worst schools that don't offer textbooks to take home and study for tests. It keeps our American children starving at night. It drives our American children to stand watch on corners for drug dealers because they know that he will buy them what they can't get from their own family.
Poverty pressures young families to make bad choices, undeniably hard, brutal choices that involve where to spend the night tonight because they have no place else to go. Poverty has placed amazing weight on America's homeless shelters that are full to capacity with waiting lists upon waiting lists.
Perhaps I'm blind. Perhaps I'm idealistic. But, perhaps some of that money being spent in Iraq could be used here, at home, helping to liberate our own economically disadvantaged and suffering middle class.
And then when our military is needed to protect liberties and freedoms -- and human lives -- it will be available and ready to do so.
Go here for more BlogHer Act!
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
You'll remember last week I mentioned that every Tuesday I'm going to tell you about a book I own and why I'm saving it for you and on the same day tell you about a book I'm getting rid of because we don't have enough space in this house for all of these books and all of your stuff, too. I write these as part of 5 Minutes for Moms' Tackle it Tuesday because if I didn't, this task would never get done and I would just let these books stare at me from their special spaces on the bookshelves.
This week, I'm introducing my first real book review as well. The great people at Harper Collins sent me a review copy of "How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life," by Mameve Medwed
, in return for a review on this blog. I'll do anything to get free books so I do not feel bought in anyway here.
I chose this book after seeing a review copy was available through BlogHer. Or, after I tell you this story, perhaps you'll think this book chose me.
First, a little background about me, your mother. In college, as an English major, reading classic literature was pretty much all I did. One of those classic writers became a minor obsession of mine. Virginia Woolf. From the beginning, I was consumed by her stream of consciousness writing, her tale of being a strong woman, suffering from depression after not being able to be with her true love -- another woman -- and then the fact that she killed herself. I had very little in common with her, yet I felt I knew her. I felt I had something connected to her. That's when I realized that sometimes a little piece of us comes from the books we read and their author's, too.
I tell you all of this because as soon as I started reading "How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life" I quickly realized there was a little connection to Woolf in the novel, The author mentions early on another book, "Flush," which is a biography of Barrett Brownings' dog written by none other than Virginia Woolf. More importantly, I own a copy of "Flush," which I proudly picked up at some obscure used book store in Provincetown, Cape Cod, a few years ago when your Da! and I vacationed there.
So, to get to the review here, "How Elizabeth ..." is pure chick literature. I do not read chick lit, typically. I prefer literary fiction that is about women, or by women. However, this book was very well done. There is even a little twist at the end that made me feel refreshed that it wasn't just another "single girl hits rock bottom, but is saved by a man" story.
What I loved about the book, besides it's lightness and refreshing topic -- the main character is an antiques dealer and she goes on "Antiques Roadshow" -- is that she is also highly educated and speaks on a higher level than most chick lit. My avoidance of such books has a lot to do with main characters obsessing over shopping and money. This novel doesn't speak to materialism in that way. This is different. It's great beach reading, or just sitting in the yard with a glass of lemonade reading.
And, if you're someone like me who needs to learn to love what you have, it speaks to that, too. In a big way.
So, for all of the reasons above, "How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life," by Mameve Medwed will be staying on our shelves and I hope that you will read it someday.
Sadly, something has to go this week. I'm choosing "Three Junes," by Julia Glass. I just didn't like the book much at all.
Monday, June 11, 2007
I've seen a few people around participate in this Meme. I thought it was a stupid idea, until I just did it. Now, I think it's kinda funny and since my brain is mush today I thought I would list what I need.
The idea is put your first name in Google search followed by the word needs and then list the first five search results that you get. Here's what I need:
1. To decide who I need to spend the rest of my life with. The link refers to Shawn being a man. LOL
2. Sleep, badly. A follow up sentence in this link was this: "Shawn needs a baby-free day." I think this one pops up on everyone's list, though.
3. ... Needs to make a huge deal about the maintenance man coming in the apartment without approval. Whatever. If he's hot, I'll let him in. Even though I don't have an apartment, or a maintenance man. Not that Da! isn't handy. You should see him rock those dishes each night.
4. ... Needs blood transfusions and platelets. This is not at all true, but a good time to remind you to give blood, if that's something you're into. I'm not.
5. I like 5 and 6 on the list, which are "Needs to Get Thin" and "Needs new shoes." I always need new shoes.
But, the best one, is this one: Shawn needs to be seen live to really appreciate her.
So, there you go. Who's next?
Posted by Shawn at 11:53 AM
Sunday, June 10, 2007
So, Mother Talkers, had an interesting discussion going on over the weekend about this letter to columnist Carolyn Hax in the Washington Post. It's from a woman who doesn't have children and she's questioning the validity a mother friend's daily caretaking routine.
Can I say that again?
OK. First of all, what kind of a friend would spend more time researching what SAHMs do all day instead of asking how she can help? What kind of a friend would seriously question how a mother spends her day taking care of one or more children?
Not a very good one. But, there is a great divide among mothers and non-mothers. It might even be more bitter than the so-called Mommy Wars. Let's call this the Who's Busier War.
Ask any mother and she'll have a story -- maybe more -- about how her childless female friends let her down either while trying to get pregnant, while being pregnant or, most certainly, after having her baby.
In defense of childless women, mothers need to make more of an effort to demonstrate the challenges of motherhood. Since I was nearly last in my circle of friends to be with child, I could have used a little more enlightenment on the struggles I would face with the loss of life as I knew it. I'm not talking about going out to restaurants or to concerts; I'm talking about going to the bathroom when you really, really have to go and having to take five to 10 minutes to allow for that to happen, peacefully.
In fact, if I had any childless friends left who wanted to spend time with me -- and I do not -- I would have them over three times a day, to start.
First shift: She'd help me change both diapers and dress them. I'd let her carry them both downstairs, where they will whine and get into everything until I finish making their breakfast and snap them into their booster seats. This, of course, is after a handful of stops and starts to help rescue J's toy from L, again, or to help L back up after she slid on the floor and cried about it. At least one violent outburst is bound to happen at this time. While they eat, I will nibble on their leftovers -- sometimes this means sandwich crusts -- because there was just not enough time to throw anything for myself together making the meal and, afterward, I know I'll be too dang tired. Coffee shall suffice.
Second shift: Sista would help me, again, right before lunch. First, she'll need to help me keep them both from eating bugs and unknown varieties of plants while playing in the yard and then help me wrangle them both -- after a couple circles of the perimeter -- to get them back in the house for lunch, where they will proceed to do everything they did before breakfast. See above.
Third Shift: Finally, I'd have her back over about an hour before dinner. This might be the best time. They are definitely more tired, more silly and more rambunctious. They scream louder, fight harder and share less so my refereeing skills are on high alert. Nonetheless, we still spend some time outside, so see above, and then we'll return back in the house, see First Shift, again.
The great part of the day will be when I get to invite her back the next day, and the next day, and the next day ... etc. She will really need to do this daily for at least a week to fully understand the heroic efforts of her mother-friend as she attempts to raise a couple human beings.
Saturday, June 9, 2007
If you haven't yet read or heard about Kate at Sweet/Salty than you just don't know what you are missing. Please read her posts, the old ones, the new ones, and keep reading. Her writing is amazing. Her storytelling, incredible. And, well, she needs some love, some sparkle of hope. Send lots of hope her way. Send her lots of color, too. She's growing weary of the hospital beige.
Friday, June 8, 2007
Since becoming a mother of twin girls a year and a half ago, I have realized that motherhood doesn’t come packaged in a cute little pink and brown striped diaper bag.
In fact, as a mother of twins, those cute bags are not even practical – when a diaper bag is really needed.
Many of my expectations have changed since my beautiful daughters were born.
Perhaps my biggest lesson learned is that the beauty of being a Mama can be ripped away in a matter of seconds. I’ve learned that an otherwise perfect day can shatter easily like a crystal wine glass bumped in a frenzy to fix a sippy cup of milk.
I’m aware of how precious moments in motherhood are, yet realize, too, that there are no promises of perfect days.
A Monday, for example, that seems like it should be a new start, a refreshing new week can easily turn into chaos by the middle of an early breakfast.
A day that on first glimpse offers lots of sunshine, mild temperatures and a perfect spring breeze, can easily become reeked with food throwing, temper tantrums and tears. And, those are the days when nothing a Mama does can cheer up her babies.
Such days call for something bigger, something more blissful.
With one last trick up my dirty, T-shirt sleeve, I sweep them up in my arms and carry all 45 pounds of them outside, still barefoot, still shaking from the stress. It’s hard to let go of the anger we hold toward ourselves, for not being able to make them happy, for the day not turning out as we planned. And it’s only 7:30 a.m.
Outside, as soon as my dry, cracked feet hit the cold, damp bricks of the patio, the tension – both theirs and mine – releases, and floats up toward the blue sky.
I sit with my feet dangling at the tall patio table. They play among the mulch.
I breathe deep, sucking in the fresh air as if those few breaths are my last.
They smile, giggle at the birds as they dive and dodge past our heads as if we are the worms they are seeking.
With a shudder, I feel something pass over me and it isn’t a bird.
I suddenly feel awake.
Not the kind of awake one feels as they climb out of bed 30 minutes early to two crying babies. Not the kind of awake one feels after a rushed warm shower. Not even the kind of awake a hot cup of coffee can offer.
This was the kind of awake I strive for each day, but easily overlook when times get hard.
I was awake.
I saw the sunshine filter through the lovely pink flowers of the Cherry Blossom tree. I saw the ruffled feathers of birds eating at the birdfeeder. I saw the dew sit atop the grass, the breeze toss the leaves about on the Lilac bushes, a slinky worm barely slip away from under the awkward step of one of my girls’ white walking shoes.
The longer I sat, the longer I watched, the more awake I became.
If our day had gone as normal, we might still be inside playing among bright red and yellow toys in a dimly lit playroom. We might be playing chase or stacking blocks. We might have read board books with pictures of birds and trees.
But that is not how this day started.
Instead, they cried. I nearly lost my temper.
And, in a rush to make us all feel better, we fell into the lap of Mother Nature, who held us close and stroked our foreheads. She brushed the hair back from our eyes so we could see the real pictures more clearly.
And we were in awe.
That’s when I realized that motherhood doesn’t have to fit all neatly into some designer diaper bag that I can’t afford.
It doesn’t have to fit into anything. Nature, with her sweet singing birds, the soft breeze, and the warm rays of the sunshine, will protect us from everything scattering about.
This post is now apart of Scribbit's Write-Away Contest about learning.
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Around the Internets, these things called Memes circulate. Pronounce them Meem. They are harmless attempts to get to know people better. I've been tagged once and only once by fellow blogger Hip Writer Mama.
The rules of this meme is to "share four things that were new to you in the past four years. Four things you learned or experienced or explored for the first time in the past four years. New house, new school, new hobby, new spouse, new baby, whatever. Then you have to say four things you want to try new in the next four years."
This should be easy for me since four is a pretty interesting number for me right now.
What was new to me in the last four years?
1. Marriage. I had a couple of relationships before Da! but as I look back on all of them, none had any substance like my relationship with him. Four years ago, we became a married couple and that is land I hadn't traveled before. I've loved every step along the way, too. Even the tough moments. It still amazes me that after five years of being together so much -- we started off working together -- I am still eager to see him at the end of the day and hardly want to leave his side.
2. Obviously, being a mother is new to me. So new, in fact, that I still catch myself trying to put motherhood in some nice square box that holds everything that matters in a tidy manner. What's most new about motherhood, to me, is that I've realized it's Crazy Bliss in a cry-one-second, and laugh-the-next kind of way.
3. Twinskin is new to me, too. TMI, I know. I can't believe that I actually thought my body was awful -- dreadful -- in high school. I recently looked back at some photos. Sheesh. I was stupid. I lost a bunch of weight before our wedding and had only regained five pounds before getting preggo with J and L and still hated my body. Now, I am pre-wedding weight/size and I have a nice mass of extra skin that has no place to go, but hang. I've read that the only way to get rid of that skin is surgery. No, thank you. Still, I'm more confident about myself now than I was in those younger years -- sagging skin and stretch marks and all. My girls don't care. A belly's a belly -- their all fun to look at and bang on.
4. The feeling of isolation is also new to me. I used to feel alone, before I met Da! but never did I feel as alone as I do now. I'm not sure if it's being a mother or being a stay-at-home mom or both, but days go by and the only conversations I've had involve sentences like, "Don't throw your food on the floor" or "Are you poopy?" This isn't entirely true since I've done at least one or two phone interviews each day for months, but those sources for freelance articles couldn't care less about my opinions about American Idol or my personal review of "How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My life," by Mameve Medwed. (I will be reviewing this soon. Promise)
Now, four things I hope to do in the next four years. This will be hard. I'm a goal-setter, list-maker, high-achiever type. Nary a day goes by that I haven't dreamt up something new to do, a place to move, a business to build, a population to save. But, I'll do my best to limit to just four.
1. Professionally, I hope to have published my novel as well as a second. End of story. It just has to get done.
2. Also professionally, I hope to break into writing for magazines. Newspapers are getting old -- yellowish, brown old and I'm tired of the ink-stains. Change is good.
3. I hope we find the perfect house, in the perfect town to settle down for once. I want to feel at home, like it's the place I'll end up, even if it's not. I don't feel that way in our house or our town. There are many reasons why that is the case, none of which would fit into this tiny space. I'm also seeking to end the "anywhere but here" syndrome that has plagued me for so long.
4. Finally, I hope to have created a special family tradition for each month of the year that will give my family, especially our girls, something to look back on and cherish, not because they were special holidays, but because of simply being with family. Just plain being. Just plain family. (I plan to post about our unique family traditions, too.)
Now, I'm supposed to tag others to do this same meme ... and so without being a burden I'll invite any of you to participate and share as well. I'll also tap Momma Bean, MammaBlogga and Jennifer at Toddler Tactics.
There are many challenges facing parents who are raising multiples, whether it be two or six. I must admit, many of those challenges made me cry. But, now that we're at a pretty fun, interesting age in our house, I look forward to finding new ways to step over and stomp on those challenges.
One of the biggest challenge we face right now is movement. Well, now that I think about it, movement has always been an obstacle. In the early days, I was too overwhelmed and too sleep deprived to be creative. The idea of lugging both infant carriers around was too much. Then they outgrew those and were still too limp to be carried at the same time, which is how we get places now. You should see my biceps.
My twins have been walking now for four months and are great walkers and are even running a bit now, too. Life is a breeze in comparison to the bottles and non-walking days.
But, this doesn't mean we haven't had our challenges. But, since they sleep through the night, and I'm pretty refreshed each morning, I have come up with some parent hacks to share with other POMs, should the need arise.
Hack No. 1
Climbing stairs with toddler multiples
This is not a simple feat. Spotting one child, alone, can be daunting. Spotting two who like to stop, turn around, try and grab wallpaper or the railing is enough to make the heart stop, twice. And, usually, in the middle of our Great Daily Climb, one or the other quits for whatever reason. So then I'm left carrying a baby, while spotting another. Save for a few slips, we haven't encountered a baby avalanche, yet. That could be because early in the game, I discovered that if I threw something to the top of the stairs that they really wanted, they would climb steadfastly to get it. Of course, once at the top, grabbing said item can be tricky, and that's when I toss it far away from the stairs so they have to get to safety without hesitation.
Hack No. 2
Getting to the car
I'm sure there are plenty of POMs who have garages attached to their home, which would make for a fairly easy trip to their family vehicle. This would not be us. We have a short walk through the yard and into our parking lot. Along the way is rose bushes, gardens filled with mulch, strands of grass, ants, and other great toddler distractions. Just when we think we are reaching the gate, both bolt in two different directions. At least they did, until I realized I had a little more power than I thought, even if they are only 17 months old. So, when we really need to get to the car, we hold hands and march. March, two, three, four. March, two, three, four. They love the motion of us all walking together and they have some control in being able to pick up their little meaty legs and pound them down on the walkway. In just seconds, they forget all about those pesky blades of grass they would have stopped to grab.
Hack No. 3
Getting in and out of vehicle in busy parking lots
This, I have to admit, is a new hack for me. Now that they are increasingly better walkers, they still aren't old enough to understand to stay put. This is where our very cute teddy bear backpacks/leashes come in handy. While I remove one baby or return her to her car seat, I can keep my foot on the other's leash. She could try to run away, but this method would stop her before she even takes a step. Granted, two or more babies in busy parking areas is not ideal in any situation, but sometimes putting both into the stroller is just not convenient, like for a quick doctor's appointment. Besides, they have to learn to walk on their own eventually.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Dear J and L:
This is a serious post. I've mentioned before that I love to read. You know that I love to write. What I may have neglected to mention -- at least prominently -- is that I've been rather obsessed with collecting books over the years. I love finding a good used book bargain. I have books upon books on our many shelves that I have read, haven't read, intend to read someday, and a few that just don't need to be here any longer. As a follow up to my post late last week, I am on a mission to clear stuff out of this house, to purge the old and make new for all of your many things.
This seems like a great time to start a series of posts I have been planning for months, but haven't gotten around to tackling. In honor of Tackle it Tuesday, I will start today.
As I wrote Saturday, if anything in this house doesn't have a purpose, it must go. My theory on purging books goes like this: If it is something I want to read to you, want you to read or want you to have someday, it must stay. Everything else must go. Every Tuesday, I will tell you about one book you have to read and why and then I'll list one more that will be immediately listed for sale on Half.com.
This week, my book review of sorts, will be a copy of "White Oleander: A Novel," by Janet Fitch. Above all, this book must stay. I will read it again someday. I want you to read it for its pure poetry, it's heart-renching details and it's shower of girldome. Of course, you will not suffer like the main character in this book. But, this book is also about the love between a mother and a daughter. That love you will know, immensely. I have many books, but this one I cherish just as much as many of the classics. Please take the time to read this some day, just for reading's sake.
And, so, this means one book has to say buh-bye. That book is "Big Stone Gap," by Adriana Trigiani. A good book, but not good enough for me to recommend to my baby girls some day.
Sunday, June 3, 2007
I'm wondering if I'm the only one who strays from their menu plan sometimes? OK, each week?
More often than not, I will change the meals around to different days, but sometimes, like Saturday, I just wasn't feeling what I had planned. So we grilled burgers instead.
Here's what's up this week in our house. For more great menu ideas, check out Laura the Organizing Junkie's site.
Sunday – Couscous salad with chicken (cook couscous in stock, when done toss with a mixture of 1/4 cup any vinaigrette of your choice, 1/4 cup mango chutney, 1/4 olive oil and add chicken, raisins or dates, green onions, red pepper and any other veggies)
Monday – Thai stir fry served with brown rice (stir fry veggies, add 1 T. fish sauce, then pesto at end)
Tuesday -- Spaghetti with meatballs and salad
Wednesday -- Breaded turkey breast with salad and baked sweet potatoes
Thursday -- Leftovers
Friday -- Ravioli with pesto sauce and mozzarella
Saturday – Not sure yet!
It's amazing the amount of stuff -- and I mean stuff -- one man and one woman can accumulate both apart and together. It's amazing that BC (before children) most of that said stuff seems so freaking important that it builds and builds upon itself and the next thing you know your attic is, well, adult build-a-blocks just waiting to collapse.
The interesting part of marrying later in life is having so many single years to build up junk equity. Da! and I have plenty, plenty, plenty of junk equity. So much so that we made several attempts before J and L arrived to clear out the junk, to make room for the good stuff. Twins, nonetheless, would bring on lots of good stuff. We rummaged, we scattered, we dumped, we stored, we groaned, and we even bickered a little about what should stay and what should go.
"You're not throwing anything out," I'd tell him.
"Yes, I am," he would say, pointing to a bag of garbage.
How did we get here?
I know exactly how. Our parents and my grandmother -- yes, Barbie, you -- give us all the stuff they don't want. And, then, on top of it, as writers, we have books beyond books, paper mountains crowned by pitiful browning stacks upon stacks of old newspapers with our names published some where inside. Somewhere.
This means, dear friends, we had to have a yard sale. Have you had a yard sale lately? A real yard sale? Goodness it is a lot of work. After 4.5 hours of selling --this after 5 hours of hauling, setting up and breaking down -- I was utterly exhausted. Every muscle ached, every bone cracked, and I was just weary.
So weary that I fell asleep before 8 p.m., slept on the couch for two hours, only to crawl up the stairs and into bed for another 8 hours.
The good news is that I feel rested today. I've already spotted at least five things we should have put in the sale and emptied three boxes of papers that just gotta go.
And, we hardly put a dent in it.
The great thing is that I have a clear mind for what can stay and what must go now that I have children. Let's call it Baby Goggles. If said item isn't for them or by them, doesn't hold any value for us as a family or for us as individuals, it must go.
Probably 90 percent of it, when I look at it now, means nothing. What means everything is sleeping in two cribs in the room below me right now.
Friday, June 1, 2007
That couple would not be us.
Nor would we be walking into a restaurant, a theater or anywhere else for that matter -- unless french fries can be served and half-chewed ones can be properly thrown on the floor and there are AT LEAST two spare high chairs, people.
No. Dates are out of the question for us. We can't walk down the street with our twins without people asking, "Twins?!!"
To leave them behind, with a sitter, costs money. Money we do not have. Well, if we have it, it goes to useless things like diapers and food and gas to drive from Point A to Point B. And, my least favorite items to pay for like Saran Wrap and freezer bags.
Would we like to go on a date, just for dating's sake? Hell, yes.
Can we? Hell, no. Not unless we win ParentBlogger's latest and greatest blog blast. The site has teamed up with E-Harmony Marriage offering a $100 American Express Gift Card to spend on a dinner date with your spouse/partner and, the most exciting part, $100 to pay the babysitter.
And, guess what, you can enter, too. Go ahead. Try and make your dateless life sound more pitiful than ours. I'll just bring up that our wedding anniversary was spent wiping butts and chasing toddlers all day and night.
The contest asks us to finish this sentence: “You know you need a date with your husband/partner when ... your idea of romance is getting all wet and soapy while washing sippy cups and children's plates while trying NOT to fall asleep standing up.
The other day, The Da! and I -- and the girls -- were sitting on the front porch painted like new, the farm's all in order, there's not much to do ... oh, wait, sorry. Habit.
As I was writing, we were sitting there in what might have been the most amazing spring day, to date, and we glanced at my gorgeous flower boxes. A conversation ensued ...
The Da: Did you water the flowers today?
Me: No, I need to do that when we go inside. You can take the girls upstairs and I'll do that and start dinner.
Da: I can water the plants.
Me: No! I want to do it. I want something to do.
Da: Raising our daughters is not enough for you? You have to grow flowers, too?
Um, in a word, yes. A woman's growth work is never done, is it? It did get me thinking, when is enough enough? Is there ever such a thing as enough?