July 30, 2011

Adventures in Babies Crawling

Brandon, covered in crawlers
Today's guest blogger is Brandon, of The Daddy Dialogues.  New dad to (terrifyingly mobile) twin girls?  Yeah, this is a blogger I got hooked on really fast.  On the one side, he's full of sweet and conscientious observations about his daughters and parenthood, and other the other he tends to make me snort my tea through my nose with his Twitter Machine Tuesdays or with tales of parental hangovers gone awry.  Enjoy!




Adventures in Babies Crawling

Tell me what you think:

You hear a lot of things when you tell people you're having twins. You're guaranteed to be asked not-so-veiled questions to determine if you used fertility to land your twosome. Yes, we're all aware that "Do twins run in either of your families?" is really a way to find out of it was nature or something aided by science. You will also be told by complete strangers that you are finished having kids since you got two at once. Thank you for putting a limit on the number of children I have random person that I've never met or didn't ask. I wasn't aware this was China. Add to that the countless "double trouble" and "you must have your hands full" comments that you hear daily, and it becomes a little much.

There will also always be the helpers of the world that of course know someone with twins, and they invariably tell you the same thing, "The first 6 months is the hardest, but after that it gets much easier." This may actually be a nugget of wisdom people throw out there in general, but we definitely heard it a lot before we had the girls. And I'm going to have to call BS on it.

Maybe we were just lucky because Ana and Grace have been pretty darn good babies. They smile and laugh. They're good around people and don't fight (that much) when being put to bed. Ana teethed with no issues to the point that we didn't realize the it was happening until the teeth had already broken through. Grace is pretty good at self soothing. They started sleeping through the night very early on. They aren't fussy eaters. And although it was hard to deal with emotionally, their time in the NICU was a blessing because it put them on a set feeding/sleeping schedule that they've stuck to.

I know I look at this with some very rosy glasses because I love my girls so much and focus on the good stuff. But I'm willing to admit that it wasn't all sunshine and lollipops. I wasn't always the one that got up in the middle of the night. I did early on when I wasn't working, but my wife took over that job when I went back to work. So I didn't have all the late nights and sleep deprivation. I also realize that Grace was not nearly as easy-going as Ana during the teething process. We had our scares with Ana and reflux (thank God it wasn't seizures). But overall the first 6 months was pretty easy.

Let me tell you what isn't easy: two babies that are mobile. Ana has been crawling for a few weeks now, and Grace has really picked it up over the last week. It would be one thing if they both crawled in the same direction and went for the same things. That would be a cake walk (or cake crawl if you will). The problem is that Ana will go in one direction and Grace will head off the other way. I'm glad that they're independent little women, but it ain't easy by any means. This becomes increasingly difficult when you are home alone with both of them.

Now we have to babyproof everything. We have to put gates up at the bottom and top of the stairs. We have to find a way to protect them from the brick fireplace. We have to watch where we put our shoes and flip flops on the floor (because I'm just not all that enthused with them putting flip flops in their mouths). We vacuum and sweep more often. We have to be at the ready on the balls of our feet at all times like a major league shortstop.

As if crawling wasn't enough, Ana has been pulling herself up and standing. She does it everywhere. The couch? Sure. Chairs? Of course. Her crib? Naturally. Doors, cabinets, mirrors and anything else you can imagine are no match for my mini-Sir Edmund Hilary. It is equal parts adorable, frustrating and scary. I love that she is developing and learning things basically on her own. But I also fear her hurting herself falling. I worry that I won't be quick enough to catch her. Or that she'll climb out of her crib and break her neck. I know she'll learn. In fact she's already gotten a handle on getting back down. I can still worry.

I think mostly that becoming a parent gets a lot more real when they can move around on their own. I love that they are becoming more and more like little people and not just blobs. They are learning new stuff all the time, and their sense of discovery and exploration already amazes me. Cuteness expands exponentially when a kid starts crawling. This is also when chasing them and protecting them becomes job number one, and that is damn tiring work. So for anyone out there who has heard that first six months is the hardest, don't believe it. All lies. It gets so much harder. At least it's more fun.

July 29, 2011

5 Awesome Things About Being Pregnant (That Sometimes Makes Up For All The Other Stuff)

Today's guest blogger!
I'm very happy to have another guest blogger today!  My friend Jenni, who's just about ready to pop out a baby.  Really, she might be in labor by the time this posts.  She's no newcomer to motherhood but this is her first pregnancy, and (like yours truly) she hasn't had the best of all times with a wee one inside her.  I remember one fateful afternoon that she climbed up to my third floor walk up in all of her pregnant glory... with her leg in a cast.  Yup, pregnant, six year old in tow, and broken foot.  And yet, you never hear her stop laughing.  So without further ado, Jenni, on the perks of pregnancy.


5 Awesome Things About Being Pregnant
(That Sometimes Makes Up For All The Other Stuff)

  
1. You get to wear whatever you want.
Seriously, I thought finding maternity clothes would be a chore, if not horrible.  This is my first baby that came from my own body, so the only reference I really had for maternity clothes were the awesome tents that pregnant women got saddled with twenty years ago.  Other than that, the only pregnant people I knew were either on television or are talented seamstresses that could make their own clothing.  Me?  Not so much.  I don't have the money for haute couture maternity clothes and I don't even think I've ever sewn on a button that didn't fall off a week later. 
       
Jenny and her family
 Instead, I got to go to the store with my mom and try on everything in the world (even all those things you'd never think to try on if you weren't pregnant).  As I was going through all these clothes, it occurred to me:  pregnant = you don't have to suck it in!  You think you have rhino legs in those shorts?  Too damn bad, I'm pregnant!! I say as long as it's the right size and you like it, run with it.  You only have nine months.
  
2. You can get out of doing things.
Imagine, you're just about to leave work and that person at work you have to pretend you like corners you.  “We're going out for my birthday today tonight and I would just loooooove it if you came” (insert any funny/annoying/entirely too familiar voice you would like for this sentence).  You no longer have to suffer through karaoke with your faux work buddies or get dragged to family dinners when you just want to sleep.  Just blame the baby!  Admittedly, I haven't used this excuse, but my family, friends, and co-workers aren't really that bad.  If I had to, I'd totally jump on this thing.
  
On a different level, don't you just hate it when you find that great spot on the couch and then you have to get up because you forgot something in the kitchen?  No more worries for you!  You can just ask someone to get it for you (not only will they willingly get things with a smile, but they even forgive the insane forgetfulness!)
  
3. The orgasms are fantastic!
Okay, okay, I'll give it to you...sex during pregnancy (especially when you're pretty far along) is fairly awkward at best and fairly painful at worst.  If you actually have a sex drive during pregnancy, the orgasms all but make up for the effort involved.  I know the medical reasoning for the mind-blowing-ness of it all, but it's not really important.  All I can say is whether it's alone or with a friend, get it while the gettin's good.
  
4. People are extra nice to you.
When you're visually pregnant (as opposed to when you just look chunky and flu-like), everyone smiles at you.  Somehow, everyone loves a pregnant lady.  Sometimes when you feel like you're about to die if you don't get this alien thing out of your belly soon, these random smiles are kind of nice...as long as you don't touch me.  Touch the belly without permission and retract a bloody stump where your hand used to be.  Moving along to our next subject....
  
5. You can be murderously psychotic and/or depressingly fragile and *gasp* people let you get away with it.
At times, you are wholly nurturing and caring of others during your time of gestation.  Other times, you may sob over your step-daughter's bus being 15 minutes late from school (don't judge me).  Then there are those times when the sight of a dirty hand towel left on the counter makes you want to put your fist through the windshield of the car to grab the person who left it there.  Now, I was forewarned in my first trimester, pregnancy is not an excuse for murder, but at least now when you're going batty, people just allow your head to spin and if they're smart, they take out of the Linda Blair pea soup radius.

6. I almost forgot to mention....
The end result of a pregnancy isn't so bad either.  Any time it gets hard or you get down, just remember what my mom always told me, “You get one heck of a door prize.”

July 28, 2011

The Evolution Of A Mother Activist

Jen of The Evolving Homemaker
I'm very pleased to have a marvelous guest blogger today- Jen of The Evolving Homemaker.  From her "Be The Match" crusade to her love of tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches, she is absolutely a woman after my own heart.  (Please read her "Be The Match" post on the bone marrow registry, and my post about blood donation if you haven't already.)  Did you know that Thich Nhat Hanh co-authored a book about food?  Because I didn't.  And that's just one of the many things you can learn simply by visiting her.  Enjoy!




The Evolution Of A Mother Activist

When I first became a mother, I was a mess. Completely overwhelmed with the magnitude of it all, a preemie, followed by 21 days in the NICU, followed by a year of being completely unsure of what I was going to do with this little person they actually let me take home from the hospital. I was a wreck.

But then one day I was watching Oprah, an episode about the Democratic Republic of Congo. I was jolted off the couch and into action by the stories these women told of gang rape, the murder of their husbands and children, the use of women as sex slaves, the mutilation of their bodies. I cried and cried. Lisa Ling called it, “The worst place on earth to be a women.”

Soon after I started the crusade to bring the Run for Congo Women, started in Portland, Oregon to Denver, Colorado. At the same time I began to get heavily involved in politics, volunteering for a group at the time that inspired mother’s to become active in the fight for the rights of children worldwide. I lobbied our representatives, I went to political rallies to try to talk to the future Vice President, first lady, and more, to voice my concern for the women in Congo. I brought my kids to everything.

Then the election happened and I discovered that I had hit the dreaded wall of....burnout.

What would become of my mamavism? (mothering and activism) Would I have any value to the world if I became JUST a Mom? What would happen to the world, the women of Congo, if I became unable to be a spokeswoman for those that were suffering? Would society look at me and think I was valuable or a castaway? Another mother who tossed away her potential to be a Mom. It was tough for me.

But there was also a nagging voice in the back of my head as I partook in all of these endeavors. I had the sense that I wasn’t being all that great of a Mom. That my mind was always distracted. I often wondered if there really was a way to be a ‘good enough’ stay at home mother and still engaged outside the home in changing the global conversation. I am sure there is for some women, for me I was finding it more stressful than helpful.

So I stopped.

And then I began again, except my mamavism looked radically different than it had two years before. Instead of constantly looking outward in what should change, I began to look inward. I realized that world peace can’t happen if I cannot keep my peace with my own children. I began looking into urban farming and growing my own food. I explored living a simple life, reading books like The Simple Living Guide and Your Money Or Your Life. We decided to home school our children to give them opportunities to think outside the box, to learn things they are passionate about along with their A,B,C’s. I want to spend my time supporting local economies and building stronger communities, while also making scrumptious healthy food for my family from scratch.

Mamavism takes many different forms. This is what it looks like to me these days. Focusing on living locally, learning new home skills like canning, knitting, and gardening, all which will change the face of our national culture away from blind consumption to teaching a generation that will probably need to return a bit to the earth for the survival of humanity.

We can each do what we can to get off our couch and engage in making the world a place worth leaving to our children. It doesn’t have to come on some grand scale, although it can, mamavism can take the form of a million little choices every single day.

July 27, 2011

Almond Gouda Salad with Lemon Poppy Vinaigrette

While I'm super busy and strapped for content, I'm pilfering excerpts from my (now mostly defunct) food blog!  Enjoy!


My husband, the meat-and-potatoes guy, lived on a very limited diet before we started dating.  He had a bowl of mini-wheats for breakfast, a turkey sandwich and an apple or a few carrots for lunch, and can of soup for dinner.  He was not exactly a fan of the amazing concoction that is SALAD.  I'm happy to say we've managed to change a lot of his eating habits, perhaps the most dramatic of which is his love of a good salad.  Some people seem to think that a salad is nothing more than lettuce and dressing with a few croutons dropped on top.  I say, let your freak salad flag fly!  Why not load up your salad with every delicious thing you can?  And for that matter, your salad dressing too!

This is a recipe that I came up with when confronted with a nearly empty bag of almonds and a small piece of aged Gouda in my cheese drawer.

Yet another way for me to express my love of cheese

Almond Gouda Salad
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce
  • 2 oz aged Gouda, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1/2 c almonds
  • 1 tomato, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 c mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
Place your almonds on a tray in your toaster oven and toast for about two minutes.  Chop them roughly.

Rinse your lettuce thoroughly, and shred it into a bowl.  The goal with your lettuce should be that you can easily fit the pieces into your mouth.  I recommend shredding over chopping because torn edges take longer to wilt and brown, meaning that you'll have better leftovers.

Add all your other ingredients into the salad, and dress with...

Lemon Poppy Vinaigrette
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1.5 Tbs lemon curd
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Mix the poppy seeds into the vinegar, and allow to sit for about five minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients, and whisk thoroughly.



July 25, 2011

Love

I know, I've often promised to keep this an apolitical space, but this is something I just need to share.

Take a look at this picture:
Photo by Carolyn Cole, LA Times

This is not about a political statement, or about insurance, or about religion.

This is just about love.  The women above are the first gay couple to be legally married in the state of New York.

I look at those women, women who have been together for decades, who have obviously stood by each other and cared for each other, and what I see in their faces brings me to tears.  What I see is a validation, and relief, and joy.

I think about all of my friends who are married.  In this amazing age of SnapFish and Facebook, I get to see a lot of wedding pictures.  And this is the picture you always look for.  The picture where the couple is so blissfully oblivious to the world around them, where the only thing that matters is that they are in love, and that they've tied their lives together forever.

Frankly, I think the presence of that photo is a good sign that the marriage is going to work.

I've seen a lot of friends' marriages collapse.  And in none of those cases did I think back to their wedding day and think, but they were so happy!  I always think back to the things that always seemed not quite right.  Hindsight, perhaps, but when people are truly happy together, are truly dedicated to the massive and important decision they've made to love somebody, to care for them...

Everyone who falls so deeply in love should have this moment.  Whether or not they conform to anyone else's idea of appropriateness or homogeneity.

This is what love is about.  And I don't think it's the government's right to say who is and isn't entitled to it.
M and I

My parents
One of my best friends
Me and M's cousins
Our friends
...and more friends
...and more

I haven't had the pleasure of watching some of my best friends walk down the isle, or wooded trail, or backyard path that I know they wish to.  I know that, if they had been able, many more of my friends would have married.  And many still would not, because marriage doesn't define a relationship.

For the people involved.

But it does define a relationship to strangers.  To people who would deny someone their happiness because of a simple disagreement.

Maybe it's that I grew up with a queer aunt.  Who I loved (and still love) and who I never thought odd or wrong for being with a woman.  Maybe it's because I have a sister with a lovely and wonderful girlfriend.  Maybe it's because I spent much of my youth in Ann Arbor, MI, where there is a large and vocal queer population.  Maybe I've been lucky to be exposed to openness, not to have been brought up surrounded by fear of the other, the different.

Whatever the case, I am deeply, deeply happy for the residents of New York.  It doesn't mean there's any more love in the world than there was a week ago, but it does mean that there's a little more that we can see.

And the more love we see, the more love we feel, and the more love we live.

And I don't see how that could possibly hurt anybody.

July 23, 2011

The Return of Tech Support

Birth of a migraine
To: ChiTown Moms Tech Support
Subject: I am human!
To whom it may concern,

Apparently, I can't join your site because I'm not a human.  Or so says the error message.

I am a human.

I am made of entirely organic parts.  Wait, that's a lie.  There are parts of my skin that are definitely impregnated with non-organic dyes, and I have a few non-organic fillings.  But aside from that, not a robot.

I have been accused of being a cyborg on occasion, while hooked up to heart monitors.  And I have been accused of being SUPER human, which I can neither confirm nor deny.

But I am most certainly not a robot.

Does a robot know how to love?
If you prick it, does it bleed?
Has a robot any sense of joy or humor?

I believe the answer to all of these questions is, "no."  And in reference to me, the answer is a resounding, "yes."

Yes, I can love!
Yes, I can bleed!
Yes, I can tell you a knock knock joke!  Here's a good one: Knock Knock!

...I'm waiting.

Now your lack of response makes me concerned that YOU are, in fact, the robot.

Are you so eager to point the robotic finger so as to distract from your cold, unfeeling person the fear and loathing of your peers?

Don't worry.  Your secret is safe with me.

...so long as you let me register on your site.

Many thanks,
Lea
aka Becoming SuperMommy



To: Becoming SuperMommy
Subject: Re:INQUIREY FROM CHITOWNMOMS.NET/ I am human!

Hi Lea!

Very sorry that I am just getting back to you. Funny email! I tweaked the settings. You should not be able to register at http://chitownmoms.net/signup/


Kris :)




I should NOT?  Huh?  Well I'll show you!  *click* register.  Boo-ya!

SuperMommy 2, Tech Support 0

July 22, 2011

Becoming Something-or-other....

The best part of my day- coming home and being attacked.
The semester is almost over.  The crazy summer of doom is threatening to wind down.

I am, of course, still too busy to write all the things I'd like.  So instead I'll share these little gems from the last few days...

You see, it was never my plan to be away from my kids every day.  Not until they were in school.  Not until they were grown up enough to WANT to spend most of their day without me.  I wanted to be home, to be with them, until they were in pre-school at least.  It just happened that this summer, that wasn't in the cards.  This summer, I had to focus on school, on making sure that my family can have a better, more comfortable future.  And now, it looks like that's probably going to be the case next semester as well, although to a lesser degree.

Yes, I have to take classes five days a week next semester.  I'm pretty pissed off about it.  Who the hell schedules absolutely mandatory classes for only 50 minutes at 8am three days a week?  What are they thinking?  I swear, the language program at my school is run by sadistic space monkeys with minions of grad students under mind control*.

I don't mind spending my first half hour at home in the foyer.
I have never been the sort of person who hated school.  I LOVED school.  What I hated were the other kids.  Well, I don't realy hate the other kids anymore.  And I don't exactly hate school.  I just hate it enough that on a semi-regular basis I smash my mouse into pieces while screaming my head off at my homework*.  It's really hard to have much love for a place when going there frequently means tearing your screaming children off of your legs as they cling to you, desperate for you to stay and eat breakfast with them, or watch Sesame Street, or read a book...

No, I've got a lot of angst about school these days.  From the pain of just plain going there to the selfish, stupid, incompetent jerks that I'm supposed to be working with on big projects.  Forty page term papers and the like that I have to do myself because places called "Jason's Deli" don't serve beer at four in the afternoon*.  But I digress.

Is she happier to see me, or my hat?
Back to the girls.  This week, my most excellent MIL watched the girls while I went to school.  She drove in from Minnesota to deliver us another hand-me-down (but very fine) car we're purchasing from M's uncle as our Kia is a barely functional death trap*.  She graciously stayed for the week since Our Mary Poppins is on an island somewhere learning how to blow glass.

Usually, I get home, catch up quickly with Our Mary Poppins, and then we say goodbye and she goes about her day.  My MIL has many more super fun details to share.

For example, the first morning that she was on her own with the girls, they expressed a remarkable amount of awareness and acceptance of their lots in life.  As she changed SI's diaper, DD began to babble vaguely, like she does, occasionally spattering in real words.  One of those words was, "Daddy."

Definitely happier to see the hat.
SI perked up a bit at the sound of her father's name, but rather than go looking for him or getting upset that he wasn't around, she responded to DD's diatribe.

"Daddy?  No," she said, shaking her head.  "Mommy?  No," she said, shaking her head sadly.  My MIL responded, "What about Grandma?"  "Ga-ma? Yes," nodding her head.  She could be patient and wait for me to come back.

A few days later, Grandma made the mistake of mentioning me over breakfast.  They kept craning around in their chairs, looking for me.  And once breakfast was over, SI spent the day carrying around my shoes.

How sad is that?
I love coming home

I just want this semester to end so I can spend my time with my girls.  I hate missing breakfasts and bedtimes and hugs and kisses.

I just want to go back to being happy with the sort of mommy I was becoming.





*This statement may not be an exaggeration

July 12, 2011

Rockin' the Baby

After the success of Rockin' the Bump, Things I Can't Say is Rockin' the Baby!

Which is the perfect excuse to post lots of pictures of my lovely daughters, growing from tiny munchkins into gigantic childlets!


Here is a collection of photos of my awesome little ladies.  Looking awesome.



2 days old

Six months old


9 months old

One year old

18 months old

21 months old


July 11, 2011

Unlearning Lazy - By Donna

I'm extremely happy to have a wonderful guest writer today.  Donna is a friend of mine from my AmeriCorps days.  She's a devoted mom, and in many ways a heck of a lot like me.  She doesn't have her own blog (yet)- let's see if she doesn't catch the bug after this), but she's marvelous and funny and I just love her to pieces.  She writes here about a subject I'm extremely familiar with- getting off your ass and learning to act like a grown up.  Of course, she puts it a lot better.  So here you are, Donna's very first blog post!



Unlearning Lazy

In my past incarnations as a student, I was never especially driven. I never really had any distinct goals that resonated with me and stuck, just many flittering superficial whims that didn’t lead to much but were fun at the time. For instance, I have an associate’s degree from a culinary program. As I was earning said degree, I worked summer jobs “in the business” where I learned… I really didn’t like “the business”. Cooking is lovely; sweating it out for long hours in the back of a windowless kitchen in an unforgiving restaurant with coworkers who don’t want to be there at all… not so lovely. So immediately after graduation, I took my cold feet and shuffled them into AmeriCorps… and then into being a nanny… and then back into school for a business degree.

I really wasn’t all that interested in a business degree. I just felt I needed to be back in school, a place where I always knew I could put in minimal effort and pass, and eventually come out with something that might resemble something I wanted to do. Long story short, I never earned that business degree. I never made it past the first semester. A few weeks before finals, I got a funny feeling, peed on a stick, and a few lives were changed forever. My boyfriend and I let our parents know that they were going to be grandparents, and we realized we really needed to clean up our acts and get serious about life.

Definitely a child of modern society, I had a sense of entitlement that my intelligence would afford me the ability to never have to put in more than minimal effort – that I could always just “pass” and everything would be fine. For one reason or maybe several, I never really saw the value of hard work, as embarrassing as it is for me to admit. I always saw my father working long hours to provide for our family, but we still always struggled. We all learned to get by with less than those around us, so while I knew we were “poor”, I never really felt “needy”. All in all, I saw the hard work, saw what it got us, and thought, “What’s the point?” I’m not proud of this, mind you, but it is what is.

This all changed when I found out I was pregnant. I dropped out of school and my boyfriend and I jettisoned to the opposite end of the state -  where his parents lived - in order to find work. Being Michigan in the state it’s in currently, this was no straightforward task. At one point, I had pieced together three part-time jobs while my boyfriend was working third shift full-time and our daughter was nine months old. (With many, many thanks to his family for their help, we survived.)

Occupationally, things have settled down. We’re both working full-time with benefits, and our amazingly cunning, sweet, beautiful little girl will be two in exactly one month.

Oh, two? Right. Cue all the drama that goes with that.

Did I mention that I’ve decided to give school another go? Sixteen credits during the condensed, eight-week summer semester. The difference this time is I’m dead set on doing my best. Not my best “considering the situation”, or my best “until I get burnt out”. I have resolved to do my best – nay, be my best – because that’s what my family needs. They need me to reach my potential, or else my daughter won’t know that she can and should do that for herself, and that that’s what I expect of her. Also, because setting my sights higher and achieving them will open doors for both my boyfriend and my daughter to do the same for themselves.

Of course, she won’t remember this time, which comes as a blessing to counteract my “Mommy Guilt” for pawning her off on her grandparents while I spend what little free time I have studying or doing homework. By the time she starts building vivid long-term memories, Mommy will be working a job helping doctors see people’s insides where she actually gets to be home at dinnertime and bedtime. Daddy will be back in school doing what he needs to do to become the best version of himself, and he too will get to be home at dinnertime and bedtime most nights. I am hurting because I’m missing little things that happen as she’s growing in this stage of her life, but I don’t want us both to hurt later when she looks for me in the audience of her dance recital/volleyball game/concert and I’m not there… all because I only did what I needed to “pass” in life.

I need to be the best version of me so that I can give her the best of me. Because frankly, she deserves it.

July 10, 2011

Chaotic Routine

It's okay, sometimes I can't handle the cuteness either.
Since our girls are in the middle of their late-in-the-day nap, I'd like to take a moment to walk you through a week over at Casa SuperMommy.  So that all of you, my lovely readers, know what it's like to live over here, and how much I miss you.


Monday/Wednesday: 
  • At 4am, M gets up, gets ready, and heads off to work.
  • Around 8:30am, my children begin to wake up.  Ideally, at this point I've already taken a shower, but for reasons that will become apparent as you read on, this isn't always the case.  I start a load of laundry, heave a heavy sigh, and start calling Our Mary Poppins to make sure she's on her way over.  Which she always is.  I cram half an imaginary breakfast into my gullet, I double check all my classwork to make sure it's prepared, and I fill up my water bottle.  Just as the girls begin to wonder why I haven't gone in to prepare them for the day, Our Mary Poppins arrives, and I slip out to class.  It's much easier this way- if the girls see me before I take off for class, it's a nightmare for everybody.
    What kid doesn't love a sprinkler?
  • La clase espaƱol!  While I learn to conjugate verbs in various tenses, my daughters eat breakfast and play with Our Mary Poppins.  Sometimes, I linger out of the house before heading home, grabbing a few things from the grocery store or stopping by the post office.
  • I return home, shortly before nap time begins.  My manic children are delighted to see me, reinvigorated by my presence.  I switch the laundry from the washing machine to the dryer, start another load, and spend a happy hour or so rolling around on the floor with the girls.
  • The girls wake up, I switch the laundry over again, start another load, and SI "helps" me put the laundry away.  This ends in tears once it becomes clear that my children are starving to death.  I feed the girls lunch, and begin preparing dinner.  Thank heavens for the electric crock pot.
  • After lunch, to the back yard!  I weed my garden (which is thriving!), and the girls play in the kiddie pool, or in the sprinkler, or just run around.  We're planning on getting them a sandbox as soon as we can find the time.
    Bathing Beauties
  • If M is coming home that day, he arrives and we have a lovely family dinner.  If not (and "not" is exponentially more likely), I bathe the filthy children, read them a story, and affect bedtime- now set fairly firmly at 8:30pm.  During the next hour, I contemplate my homework and sit down.  With my eyes closed.  And maybe a nice glass of cold water.  Once M gets home, he scarfs down some of whatever I made for dinner, flips the laundry, and then heads to bed- ideally before 10:30pm.  I stay up, and work on my homework.  This involves playing a lot of online Scrabble.  I go to bed at about 2:00am, exhausted but at least sort of in command of the principles for class discussion in the next day's Economics session.

 Tuesday/Thursday:
  • M gets up at 4am, gets ready, and heads off to work.
They're very helpful in the garden.
  • At approximately 8:30am, the girls wake up.  I get them up and dressed, feed them a nutritious breakfast, and then sit them in front of the television for about an hour while I clean up, read my email, and shake myself fully into consciousness.  After this hour, I bring the girls out to the back yard to play.  I work in the garden, or on my super secret project, and the girls "help."  This inevitably leads to filthy children.
  • Nap time.  DD realizes that I've been around all morning, and begins to cry.  This is because she knows I will be gone when she wakes up.  I soothe her, I suppress my raging guilt, and I use nap time to finish my Economics homework and start dinner.  The girls begin to wake up around 5pm, and Our Mary Poppins arrives to affect the same, "Now you see me, now you don't," routine that marks our M/W/F mornings.
  • While I study Isoquants and Indifference Curves, Our Mary Poppins feeds the children their dinner.  She bathes them and puts them to bed,.  M gets out of class the same time that I do, and we arrive at home at nearly the exact same moment.  After a quick catch up conversation, a harried bite to eat, and a heavy sigh, M goes to bed (ideally around 10:00pm) and I get started on my Spanish homework.  At approximately 2:00am, I go to bed.

Friday:
This book is our "Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooey"
  • M gets up at 4am, gets ready, and heads off to work.  Around 8:30am my day begins- just as Mondays and Wednesdays do.  And just as on Mondays and Wednesdays, I go to class and Our Mary Poppins takes care of the girls.  But unlike Mondays and Wednesdays, Fridays are FRIDAYS.
  • After work, M comes home.  Even if he's worked an eleven hour day (not unusual for a Friday), he's still home mid-afternoon.  And the the girls get to see him and play with him.
  • We sit down and have a real, honest-to-goodness family dinner.  We light the Sabbath candles (SI's favorite part), we eat, and we bathe the girls, and we put them to bed. 
  • M and I stay up, either because we're going out (and Our Mary Poppins has graced us with two visits in one day), we have friends come over (which they do often and happily, for which we are extremely grateful), or we cuddle up on the couch and watch a grown-up movie.  Like "The Red Violin" or "Anchorman."  We actually go to bed together.

Saturday: 
Family time in the back yard
  • We go out with the girls to visit friends, or to catch up on grocery shopping, or just play in the yard.  Nap times get shuffled around, bed time frequently gets postponed.  For some miraculous reason, the girls frequently let us sleep in until ten or eleven in the morning.  But best of all, we get to spend most of our time as a family.  We actually get to enjoy each others' company.  It's the best part of the week, without a doubt.

Sunday:
  • Unfortunately, no weekend lasts forever.  Sunday is marked by furious studying on both my part and M's.  We tend to take turns hiding out in the bedroom or taking the children away so that the other can get their work done.  Inevitably, there is work left over.  M goes to bed early, he tries desperately to go to bed BEFORE 10pm, and I stay up until 2am doing my Spanish homework.


And that, lovely readers, is what I've been up to.  And I miss writing terribly (which is why I'm doing it now instead of working on my copious amounts of homework).  But the semester is half way through.  I have dozens of little green tomatoes growing bigger and more aromatic, I have a bell pepper the size of a plum, and my children have constantly scraped knees and dirt under their toenails.
Watching Popeye cartoons on the 4th of July

It is summer, and it is glorious outside.  And I am amazed at how fast it has gone.

For the long 4th of July weekend, we did essentially *nothing.*  For three days.  It was more wonderful than you can possibly imagine.

Yet despite the constant stress and chaos, things are great.  We're all very happy, we're all crazy about each other, and somehow M and I keep finding little ways to show each other how much we appreciate everything the other is doing.  Be it a surprise dinner or a pint of ice cream (we both tend to show our affection with food).  And, thanks to the constant motion in which we find ourselves, we both seem to be losing a little weight.  Which is kind of nice.

Our house is a wreck, we're always behind on laundry, and we actually run out of food stuffs on a regular basis.  We're just too busy to grab a gallon of milk or another carton of eggs before we actually run out.  Our Mary Poppins has started stocking up our fridge when we're not looking.

Four more weeks of this, my lovely readers.  Four more weeks, and then I can return to our regularly scheduled format.  I can write all about the profound happiness and horror of our lives, and return to a
much more stable part-time educational status.  I'll be able to get back to being the kind of mom I want to be- the kind of mom who's top priority is my kids, but who is simply doing other things as well.  I was not meant to juggle this many roles.  And to you working or education pursuing or otherwise insanely busy nd stupendous mothers: Kudos.  And Oy Vey.

But until then, I have some more wonderful guest posts lined up!  I will not abandon you entirely!  And know that you are all in my thoughts.

July 4, 2011

Guest Blogger: Revital Horowiz

Today's guest blogger is a fascinating woman.  She's very new to the blogosphere, until now she had focused mostly on her novel about Jewish life as Iraqi-Israeli immigrants.  Revital herself has relocated from Israel to the United States, so she writes from a perspective of otherness that I enjoy- I love taking myself out of my own frame of thinking and into somebody else's.  I hope you all enjoy this slice of her life!


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Next week I am invited to give a lecture about my book in Berkley.  Giving a lecture always makes me very nervous, and I think about people who are performing in front of millions of people.  How do they do that? Do they get nervous like I do? Standing in front of people in any quantity exposes you.  I remember when I used to teach I had a similar feeling every single day.  I loved teaching, and I taught many levels and actually even many subjects, from Hebrew to University students to through geography to high school students, Hebrew to elementary kids and I even spent one year as a fourth grade teacher in Israel.  I love teaching.  I love connecting minds, seeing the curious faces in front of me, and yet public speaking really makes me nervous at the same time.

I always make sure that I am well dressed, no holes anywhere, makeup in place (and I usually do not wear make up…), high heeled but comfortable shoes, and I prepare.  I do my homework, but when the moment comes and I stand in front of people, it takes me a couple of minutes to think and make sure I do not “black out.”  I panic.  I don`t think people really notice it, but I really do panic.  It takes me a minute to have myself focus and start speaking, and when I do start talking it all goes away.  I am no longer afraid.  I just see the faces.  I know those faces are anxious to hear what I have to say, and I know that I have a very important mission: I want to bring silent voices to life.  I want to tell everyone ready to hear about the Jewish women of Iraq.  I want to tell my grandfather`s story, because he really does deserve to be remembered.

You see, my grandfather had only one dream in his life: he wanted to be the one, after so many generations, to immigrate to the Holy Land.  For many generations Jews prayed to go back to the Holy Land, to revive the Jewish life there as it used to be in the Bible.  My grandfather just could not believe how lucky he was, of all generations he was the one able to go back to the dream land.  To take his family with him and start a new life.

It breaks my heart, and I always have tears in my eyes thinking of my grandfather, who kissed the land after he got off the plane.  My grandfather who was an accountant, able to support a family of nine people, and came to a place where he no longer had his identity as the head of the family.  He worked in every job he could, including building roads.  His wife no longer respected him, and neither did his kids.  He was even exiled by his wife to a little corridor away from their bedroom, and even living in a little house took long time.  They lived in a tent for almost three years.

My grandfather never regretted immigrating to Israel. For him, any price paid was worth it.  I only can lecture next week, tell his story and pay him the great honor he deserves.

...

I am an Israeli-American woman who is never sure where she should be living, in the US or in Israel. It seems that my feelings are always divided, influenced by politics, the time of the year (I vote for winters over there, while definitely for summers in the Northwest), Holidays, and the distance...  It is hard to live thousands of miles away from your parents, siblings, and nephews.  When I am here I feel so Israeli, and when I am there I sometimes feel I do not belong anymore. 

Did I mention I am the mother of four boys?  I am, and my boys tell everyone how I tried for a girl four times.  The truth is I did want four girls, but the reason would sound unusual for someone who was not born in the Holy Land where everyone is obligated to serve in the Army and I was always a worrier, and was afraid to send my boys to fight.  I guess this is pretty selfish, but not every feeling we have is under our control, but as I already told you, I ended up having four adorable boys ages 18, 15, 12 and 7. 

Life is packed, and life is complicated.  Next week my oldest son is graduating from High School.  He is eighteen and off to College in the fall.  My son has learning disabilities, and since he was in first grade he has had to work extra hard to be able to make it.  Next week he is graduating, and he was accepted to one of the finest schools in the Northwest.  I know I need to carry with me tons of tissues, since I am going to sob there, and I really do not care if I am going to embarrass myself or him.  After all, I do deserve at least one good cry of pride and delight.  After the graduation he will say goodbye to us, and go work all summer at a Summer Camp.

I do not know how other mothers feel about their kids leaving home.  I know that this is going to be really tough.  I love having all these boys’ energy around me; lots of good laughters, active games, and yes lots of farts too, but this is all a part of having all boys surrounding you. In just a few weeks my oldest son will leave home.  When he was born he weighed less than 5 pounds, and now he is a fine young man.  I will have less laundry to do, and more driving to do since he helps driving his brothers (a good kid, did I mention that?), oh my god it is unbearable even to think about it.  How do you all do it?  Am I the only one ready to go back to college just to be with him?  I am telling you, I would if I could…

Revital Horowiz' novel is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble

July 1, 2011

A Different Stage in Life

I am very excited to tell you that one of my absolute favorite bloggers is Becoming SuperMommy today.  Or rather, SuperDaddy.  Kyle of The Kopp Twins manages to make me laugh and get me all teary eyed on a regular basis.  And of course his twin girls are adorable and brilliant and I never tire of watching them grow vicariously through their father.  Plus, he occasionally posts things like this. Here's to parenthood seen from the Daddy side!

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A Different Stage in Life

My whole life all I ever wanted was an Oscar. Literally, since the age of 7 my entire purpose was that goal. Save for a couple years in high school where I thought I needed to be a jock to avoid getting beat up, I was drama geek extraordinaire. I recall traveling Europe around the age of 19 with some friends. I kept a journal of the daily adventures (3 guys, 5 weeks. … plenty of those). Every entry had some little part to do with my future career. I couldn’t watch a movie preview with out fantasizing about my turn up there on that screen. I remember a government class in college where all I highlighted in my textbook during one lecture were the words “just act”. When I graduated high school they gave me this porcelain statuette of a woman someone had found at a Good Will store. They said it was to keep my mantle warm until Oscar came along. So you can see I had one thing on the brain and one thing only. When Gina entered my world she was behind me 100%. She never doubted me. Therefore I never doubted myself either. But then something happened. Something I’ve never understood fully. Gina was 3 months pregnant with our first daughter. Unfortunately the baby did not survive the pregnancy; but that’s a sad tale for another time. We were out on a harbor cruise in San Diego celebrating our anniversary and a thought occurred to me: I hadn’t thought about my career in a while. In fact, I hadn’t thought about my career in 3 months exactly. I hadn’t auditioned. I hadn’t submitted resumes. And I pinpointed it to one moment. It was an audition for a short film. One of hundreds I’d been to. I walked in the lobby and for the first time I saw the packed room for what it was. It was a warehouse of clones. It was 25, 30, 40 of us and we were just the same. We were all tall and lean and “All-American”. We each had a resume a mile long. We all had classical training and could do an array of accents the world over. We were all perfect for this role. We were all exactly the same. And we were all clueless to it. Except for me. I wasn’t like them. Not any more. Because that day I wasn’t thinking about my first Academy Awards acceptance speech. I wasn’t thinking about my big break or how I could tweak my signature to make it easier when giving autographs. I was thinking about my beautiful wife and the beautiful baby she had inside her and all I wanted at that moment was to be home with them. My mom used to tell me when you wake up in the morning, the first thing that jumps in to your head, that’s what you are. It used to be “actor”. Every morning. But it changed. I haven’t thought “actor” in a long, long time now. Now as my eyes open in the early morning light (which I’m lucky if there is any because I get up way too early for a sane person) the only thing I think is “Dad”. And that makes me smile more than “actor” ever did. On that harbor cruise that night I told Gina that I was done. I’d lost my passion and without passion I never stood a chance in that career. Anyways, I needed something that provided more consistently, something that was more on a 9 to 5 pace. I couldn’t spend any more Thursday nights in a Hollywood lobby wishing I was at home with my family. I needed to be there more than anywhere else. So we settled on law and two months later I was nose deep in case briefs. 3 years later I’m still nose deep in them, but I do it because I know it’ll take care of them. I’ll never win an Academy Award, and the slight cynicism left in me makes sure I never bother to watch the ceremony. But on October 20th, 2009 I received the greatest award ever conceived: my daughters. That night I held two bald little statues that screamed and cried, that grasped on to my outstretch fingers and begged me to love them. I’ve never seen a statuette do that before. And I did. I loved them more than I ever thought I could ever love anything. And come December I’ll be receiving my third "award". So that puts me right on par with Mr. Hanks and Mr. Nicholson as far as I see it. I won’t get the opportunity to stand at a podium and give a speech. … but that’s probably for the best. If it’s anything like the last time, I’ll be left speechless anyway.

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