August 30, 2011

Daily Dose of Adorable

It just doesn't get old.  :)

Other favorite recent moments of babbling coherently include...

  • DD galloping down the hall towards me calling out, "Gimme a hug!  Gimme a hug!"
  • SI resting her head on my lap, looking up, and clearly saying, "Hello!"
  • Sniffing the air tentatively and asking, "Did somebody poop?"  To which DD responded, "Debbah poo!"  "Did SI poo?"  "No, Debbah poo!"  And she was right.
  • SI pulling all the little house books off the shelf, bringing them to me in a gigantic heap, and demanding, "Read books!"
  • Both children gleefully pulling my clothing OUT of the drawers and placingthem carefully in the laundry basket, "helping" mommy with the household chores, while chanting, "Laundry!  Laundry!  Laundry!"
  • Learning from one tiny nibble exactly what cake is, and spending the next two days running into the kitchen saying, "Cake please!"
  • DD looking like a super cute caricature of a toddler when she says, "Please!"  She puts her hands together next to her chin and bats her eyelashes.  Who taught her that?
  • SI standing next to me, holding up her tiny little fingers and saying, "Hold hands!"  Every time we walk down the hall.
  • DD laughing and shouting, "Cartoons!  Cartoons!" as we leave the breakfast table.
  • SI approaching anyone at random, announcing, "Lizards eat bugs," and sticking her tongue out as though she's slurping up some ants.

...that's all.  :)
Mmm... cake batter!

August 28, 2011


The Becoming SuperMommy Family
I've been having a hard time lately writing about my girls.

You see, I don't exactly know who they are anymore.  And as a result, I don't really know who I am anymore.

When I started writing about them, it was pretty simple.  They were babies, doing baby things.  Growing like weeds, eating, puking, pooping, learning.  It was pretty straight forward.  Now things are different.  Now I find myself with this little litter of small people, who are NOT just following a standard developmental course.  Because once you hit a certain point, all bets are off.

As was fairly inevitable, they're become little girls.

And as with all little girls in the history of humankind, they are unpredictable.  More than a little crazy.  And I have no idea what's going on in their curly little heads.

They talk.  Not always in English (or even their occasional snippet of Spanish), but they do it constantly.  And more and more, I can interpret what they're saying.  And they're not just repeating the names of objects, the things in their surroundings, they're expressing ideas.

On Friday afternoon, DD decided to put on a performance for me and M.  This is becoming something of a regular occurrence.  She stood at the end of the bed, watching herself in the mirror, announced that, "Debbah go BOOM!" to make sure we were all watching very carefully ("Mama watch!  Watch Debba Dada!"), and then launched herself backwards onto the bed between us to the raucous laughter of both children.  Over.  And over.

She's given her sister a new nickname that I find myself using.
Making sure we all watched her shot-put her flowers

She's named all of her stuffed animals and dolls.  With her own name.

She's getting remarkably OCD about having things stuck to her fingers or in places they don't normally belong.

And then there's SI.  She's hit her stride with the word, "no."  She loves to be contrary.  She'll walk into the room with her arms loaded with shoes.

"SI, are those mommy and daddy's shoes?"
SI nods.
"Can you put those shoes away?"
SI throws the shoes on the floor at my feet and walks away.

She doesn't say "no" like DD did, full of feeling and with great import.  She says it totally casually, with this quirky inflection that lets you know she really couldn't care less, she just likes being in charge of the conversation for a few seconds.

Then she stares into your eyes like she's staring into your soul, asks for a cracker, and just sits peacefully on the floor to eat it.

I'm getting familiar with phrases like, "speech delay."  I'm comfortable knowing that twins frequently have speech delays, and that it's an environmental issue that I really can't control without giving up a lot of my parenting ideals.  I just don't have it in me to be the parent that has my kids in my sight, interacting with me, every minute that they're awake.

I have other crap to do.

So instead, I have moments with SI where I try to get her to say words like "banana."

SI smelling the flowers
"Can you say banana?"
"Ba. na. na."
"Ba. na. na."

This change, moving from living with my husband and our two babies to living with three other people, one of whom is my husband, is really complicated.

I'm beginning to feel insubstantial.

I'm beginning to feel like I'm half fantasy, that every hour I spend with these children I turn more into a mythical mommy creature, and get closer and closer to abandoning the creature I used to be.

One of my favorite quotes has always been, "You must be careful what you pretend to be.  Because in the end, you are what you pretend to be." (Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.).  The implication is that who you are is defined by how you are perceived.

And now?  The perception is changing, and I don't understand it.  They each see me as something different, but I can't quite put my finger on what.  And even if it is never spoken aloud exactly, just the act of their believing it changes me.

I'm beginning to have an understanding that isn't even close to conscious knowledge of what each sound they make means.  Of when SI says she hasn't pooped and she's lying, or when she's telling the truth.  Of when DD isn't going to eat her breakfast before she even sits in her chair.
Mommying on the go

I'm beginning to understand it because they believe I understand it.  M believes I've turned into this other "Mommy" person.  I'm metamorphosing into an omniscient mythological entity.  And like all mythological ideas, I'm not entirely there.  I'm not provable.  I'm not... quite real.

I am real, of course.  I'm laying in bed, writing from my sleeping husband's laptop, listening to the sound of canned rain from the girls' room and M's snoring.  Cogito, ergo sum.

But I'm not this thing that I'm imagined to be.  This thing that I tried so hard to be, that I'm still trying to be.

I'm less of what I was.

I'm half imagined.  It is no state in which a person should live.

August 24, 2011

End of the Month Controversy - Mythology

DD and SI at the beach
I'd like to take this opportunity to finally start a monthly feature over here I've been dying to get into for ages now.

I'd like to start stirring up some controversy.

You see, parenting is hard.  Really, really effing hard.  It's not the individual tasks, for the most part, it's the fact that it never ever stops.  Not while you're sleeping.  Not while you're eating.  Not ever.

No matter how hard a day job is, no matter if you're working 80 hours a week, you still get to stop.  Sometimes.  Even if you're on call every single day, you get to take a few moments to STOP being a doctor, or an engineer, or a teacher.  You get to breath for a few minutes and pretend that whatever happening somewhere else just plain isn't your problem.

Parenthood isn't like that.

While you're asleep, things that are ABSOLUTELY your problem can still happen at any moment.  While you're in the bathroom, you know that somebody's going to get hit with a toy truck or fall off of a piece of furniture.  If they're at school or with a sitter, you keep a phone handy so that the seemingly inevitable emergency looming over your offspring will come to your attention immediately.  Even once your kids move away, I can't imagine you ever stop worrying.

As a result, there are no simple answers.  There's no right way to do absolutely anything.  But as any parent will tell you, there are a million WRONG ways to do things.

There's an old Jewish proverb- "There is only one perfect child on this earth, and every mother has it."

I'd extend that to say, "There's only one perfect mother on this earth, and every child has it."  In her own opinion.  Or at least, as close as it gets.

This can lead, as I'm sure you might imagine, to a huge amount of inter-mother conflict.  I've written about it a great deal, here and here for example.  Moms are constantly attacking each other for their beliefs- not about life, God, or politics, but just about plain ol' parenting.

The same thing that people have been muddling through since the dawn of human history.

So for my first controversial topic, I choose the arguments of how one is to best raise their children.

Every choice that I make is an indictment of every choice that contradicts it that another mother has made- IF that mother chooses to see it that way.  And it's hard not to.

Circumcise your kid?  You're a monster of a woman.  Feed your child Froot Loops?  You're a horrible parent.  Let them play with frogs and bugs?  They should lock you up.  Mothers are always attacking other mothers.  Not everyone, of course.  Not always to their faces.  But somewhere in our lizard brains, I know we're all doing it.  Taking other parenting choices personally.

I had a professor once who described mythology as, "Somebody else's religious beliefs."

People take religion VERY personally.  If I say that my religion is what I believe, and it contradicts your religion, that means that one of our religions is wrong, doesn't it?  It means that either I'm going to Hell, or you'll miss the nice hike to Jerusalem once the messiah comes.  But it can't be both.  Our disagreement is absolute.  Unless we make a very conscious choice to find common ground.

Bad parenting could probably likewise be described as, "Somebody else's parenting mistakes."

But "mistakes?"  Totally objective.  Do I think it's a mistake to postpone potty training?  Maybe.  For me.

That phrase, "for me," that's what's most important.  It would be a mistake "for me."  For that family?  For that parent?  For that child?  Who am I to judge?  If I say that my parenting choice works for me, and you say that yours works for you, where is that conflict?  Who's to say that they're not both perfectly good?  Who's to say that my child wouldn't be just as healthy if they weren't vaccinated, or that yours wouldn't be just as well adjusted if you had?  These are choices that are not so black and white, that we should have to work towards an understanding.  We should just be able to nod and say, "Yeah, it's hard, and you've made a decision that works for you."  Whether we agree with it or not, this much is true.

Towards the end of each month, I will write on a topic filled with controversial potential.  Circumcision, vaccination, abortion, home schooling... my list is long.  Some of them still create disharmony in my own home with my own husband.  And all of them are related to parenting.

All of them come back to one fundamental idea- is somebody else's parenting choice a mythology or a theology?  How respectful can we be of different ideas- my own included- without feeling that our own emotional security is threatened?

It's a really difficult job, respecting different parenting choices.  It's hard to avoid hurtful language when disagreeing.  It's hard to tell somebody you do things differently without saying that you do it better.  And that's what makes people crazy.

They've got to know that they're doing better than the person who does it differently.  Because for some reason, we seem to believe that there's only one right answer.  That's what religion tells us, it's what mathematics tells us, and it's what our innate fears tell us.  But it's not true.  It's almost never true in the life of living creatures.  We make choices between perfect alternatives every day, without even thinking about it.  But we put so much thought into parenting, so much work, so much worry...

If you do it one way, and I do it another... can we both be right?

I think we can.  But we don't get the answer until our children grow into functional individuals within their own new adult society.  And people become functional adults all the time- regardless of how badly their parents screwed up.

So yes, we can both be right.  Or we can both be wrong.  But neither of us has any clue which it's going to be, so we might as well be civil about it.

2. There is no one "right" way to be a good mom...

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Busy Busy Bee

The whole family playing around
Hello, lovely readers!

I have both excellent news, and slightly sad news.

In excellent news, I'm going to be writing for a new website!  For real writing!  As in, in exchange for monies!

I know, I know.  Please pass the smelling salts amongst yourselves.  I could hardly believe it too.  And yes, of COURSE I'll direct you to the new website and the new articles.  I'll be posting them all via Twitter.  If you don't follow me on Twitter just yet, just look directly to the right on your screen and click the happy little bird.  With random stuff that I've said.  Those are Tweets.  It's Tweeting.  I know, I couldn't think of a better name either.

At any rate, this leads me to the bad news.  I probably won't have as much time as I'd like to write here.  Never fear, lovely readers, you won't be abandoned entirely.  And if history repeats itself, I'll actually write a lot more than I really should, to the detriment of my homework.

...for my LAST YEAR OF SCHOOL!!!  You can pass those salts around again, if you need to.

Yes, school, writing for pay, and blogging for you.  Oh, and raising children.  Almost forgot that.

I'll see you all soon!  Here, or elsewhere!

August 23, 2011

Unintentional Hilarity

DD says, "...what?"
Ahh, the joys of technology.

My father has this nifty voicemail feature.  Whenever somebody leaves him a message, the system transposes it and sends it via email.

Of course, it doesn't always do a very good job.  In fact, sometimes the job that it does is so comical as to reduce, say, my husband to a heap of giggles that sounded something like Anderson Cooper.

So, for your perplexing pleasure, here's something I allegedly said to my father.  For best effect, please read aloud.

Hey Dad, It's flail we've gone off to the wedding if you see if if you're in the air and so I'm glad to hear. A. If you're not. I'm very sorry yeah when you're online. You should ring because they're poor bye the flyers for the bye. Really, any mother bye bye fryers our best macs are are good. Yeah and the walls are good and I will call and let them know that you're coming, hey can. By the way, and if no one's there. Bye blessing in door on the hey but the front door. As soon as possible to you later. So if hi bye. Yes, hey James.

August 21, 2011


Yesterday, my husband's long time friend got married in a beautiful ceremony next to the lake.

(For those of you who are unaware, Chicago is an extremely beautiful place.)

She very bravely asked my daughters to be the flower girls at her wedding.

Of course, I said yes.  But I confess, as the day drew closer, I began to have my doubts.  DD had started getting stranger anxiety.  SI has more and more of a stubborn streak that absolutely refuses to be tamed.  And, after all, they aren't even two years old yet.

She told me that her only hope was that the girls would be adorable as they either made their way down the aisle, or they didn't.

It sounds simple enough, but I began to fear that I was going to be responsible for single handedly ruining the most important day in the life of a friend.

Really, I shouldn't have worried.  The girls behaved exactly as I expected.  DD walked slowly down the aisle, carrying her little ball of flowers and bashfully smiling and waving to everyone.  When she caught sight of me (holding a new baby doll) at the end of the aisle, she took of running and laughing.  Everybody laughed with her.

SI only made it halfway down the aisle when she realized that she DID want to carry those flowers she'd been refusing, and ran back again to get them.  Then, flowers in hand, she oh so slowly made her way down the aisle.  Also smiling nervously, and looking at all the strangers who seemed so happy to see her.  When she figured out where I was- again with a baby doll for her- she also took off running.  All the wedding guests laughed and smiled, and she sat down with me to cuddle her doll and eat a cracker while the absolutely stunning bride walked down the aisle, beaming.

The ceremony was perfect.  The reception was a blast.  M may have completely thrown my neck out with the ferocity of his swing dips during a few tunes.  We danced until we just couldn't dance any more, rested up a bit, and danced again.

The newlyweds?  I have been to a lot of weddings in these last few years (M's gigantic family of cousins are all at marrying-off age and our friends are pairing off like mad), and I don't know that I've ever seen two people more perfectly matched.  I think that they could have been getting married on a sinking ship and still have been grinning at each other the entire night.  I really truly couldn't be happier for them.

...and the girls?  They went home to play with three of their grandparents during the reception.

It was wonderful.

I guess the moral is that you should always trust that your kids will rise to your expectations.  After all, even if they don't... at least what you ask of them is their best.  Their best behavior, their best efforts, their best attitude...  And learning to always be your best is something that we can all benefit from.

Particularly when it comes to dancing.  Good lord, I feel like I've been strapped to a rack and then hit with a truck.

Also: my feet?  Swollen like a pregnant lady at 42 weeks.  It's lovely.

So now that I have those extremely unpleasant images in your head, I think I'll leave you with these lovely pictures and just go lay down on a bed of ice for a while...

SI and DD

August 20, 2011

Three Mile Beach

Poor M had to leave us a day early to get to work.  And with him, he took the rain.  On our last whole day in Greenbush (which SI learned to say and is still saying every time she wants to express her joy at something) my mother, my friend Dan, his kids, their dog, the grublings, and I went to Three Mile Beach.

Three Mile Beach is in the running for my favorite beach of all time.  For some reason, it's always practically abandoned.  And it's stunning.

Grandmommy and SI on the beach of Lake Huron

Once DD remembered that she actually loves the water, she had an absolute blast.

Too much fun for one picture to hold.


We had the beach almost entirely to ourselves.

Not surprisingly, SI was super smart about the lake.  Rather than try to wade in and fill her boat with water, she just sat the boat in the waves, and let the ebb and flow fill it for her.

DD and her watering can were inseparable.

When it's time to leave, it's time for snuggles.  Hugs for everyone!

August 19, 2011

Dinosaur Gardens

The SuperMommy family at Dinosaur Gardens!
On one rainy morning of our vacation, we packed up the grublings and went off to Dinosaur Gardens.

I know I've mentioned it before, but Dinosaur Gardens is one of the weirdest places possibly on earth.  At least in the country.  Some eighty years ago, a very eccentric man decided that he needed to bring to life a series of dinosaurs for future generations to... learn from?  Entertain themselves with?  Use to find a closer connection to God?

Wait, what?

Yes.  The very first dinosaur is a gigantic brontosaurus, complete with a stairwell that leads into its belly.  And from its belly you can view Jesus, the greatest heart of all, and the wise men than live in the dinosaur's tail.


This bizarre man constructed these things basically all by himself, with his own cement mixture containing, of all things, deer hair.  Eighty years ago.  Miraculously the things are still standing.

In every inch of their bizarre glory.

I loved this place as a kid.  As an adult I find it extremely hilarious.

Grandmommy and the girls approaching the brontosaurus containing Jesus and the Wise Men.
M and a T-Rex have a grinning contest
SI kissing a Triceratops
Aunt Genocide tries valiantly to rescue this poor guy, but I think it's too late.

Oh MY!

The girls particularly liked the dinosaurs with babies.  But those are prehistoric mammals.
SI: "Oh Grandmother!  What large teeth you have!"  By the way, that's supposed to be a velociraptor.
Bell learns quickly that nobody has more energy than a toddler.

Great Lakes, Great Times

Beautiful girls, beautiful place.
Yes, we are back from Michigan.  The Great Lake State.  The wild northern frontier.

I wish we could have stayed longer.

Aunt Genocide joined us, as did an old friend of mine- now a single dad of two truly amazing girls.  The girls?  They utterly fell in love with my kids.  It was pretty much the most awesome vacation situation I could imagine.  Eager, willing, and almost entirely competent babysitters.  In only my kids weren't still in diapers it would have been like something out of a dream.

We played many games, we laughed a great many belly laughs, and I spent an evening reading Stephen King aloud to Aunt Genocide.  It was everything anyone could want from a very, very long weekend away.

Tonight, pictures of the visit in general.  But tomorrow?  And after that?  Pictures of our trips within our trip.  A few excursions away from the cabin off to other amazing places and fun things to do aside from just enjoying each other's company.

So, without further ado, the pictures...

Our one night in Ann Arbor, our hotel came equipped with the world's largest iPod.

Whole worlds of Little People.  The same little people I played with as a kid.  It occurs to me that the record players involved with those toys are completely foreign objects to my children.  I must remedy this.
Even if it rains, vacation is still never ending fun.
Grandmommy picked up these umbrellas and rain coats in Spain.

SI taking over for the Morton's Salt girl.

Happy, happy DD.  And then- off to Dinosaur Gardens!

My parents' cabin is (at least in its oldest components) over 100 years old.  Naturally, it's infested with mice.  And we caught one!  Aunt Genocide, Bell, Frau Troublestuff, and me.

For shame, Frau Troublestuff.

She became the humiliated entertainment of the weekend.  But she did get a lot of Cheerios and string cheese out of it.

Lovely dresses that Grandmommy brought the girls from South Africa.
M does a backflip into Guppy Lake

Bell entertained the girls with a game we called, "Chase the Monster."  In this episode, it involved a lot of jumping.

Collecting rocks to throw in the water.  Grandma taught them that wonderful trick in Minnesota, and I must say it never gets old.

DD: "Look!  I'm going to throw these rocks in the water!"


Poppa in his favorite condition- on the paddle boat, on the lake, in the middle of a glorious day.

Hannah and SI having a tea party

Nom nom nom!

A great many stories were read.  Hannah, Bell, Grandmommy, Poppa, and of course M and I all took turns.  I think Grandmommy and Poppa may have every single Dr. Seuss book ever written.

Coloring all over the place!

Yours truly, finally freeing Frau Troublestuff.


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