E&L: 18 Months

My children are now one and a half years old. By the time I post this, they’ll actually be closer to two than they are to one, which seems crazy to me, but the facts check out. Time is indeed passing. 

I’ve chosen not to do monthly updates this year, but I thought 18 months seemed like a pretty nice milestone to bring back the scrapbooky twin blog post. I haven’t been writing here, but I have been taking photos every month — a project that gets tougher and tougher the more mobile and independent these two become. They certainly do not pose or smile for the camera, but they are, as ever, fully themselves. Here are a few photos from the last six months:

DSC_0371
13 Months
14 Months
14 Months

.

14 Months
14 Months
15 Months
15 Months
16 Months
16 Months
17 Months
17 Months
Playing
18 Months

Since I last updated here, they’ve had so many milestones. Some were not so fun: first (among many) sick visits to the pediatrician, first surgeries (ear tubes for both). But then we got to enjoy things like their first Easter egg hunt, first artwork brought home from “school,” first time in a swimming pool, first time walking through the parking lot holding hands instead of being carried, and of course first words! Neither baby is talking much yet, but now that they’ve got their ear tubes and can actually hear (after months of constant infections and fluid in their ears), we’re not worried. They’ve made a lot of progress since getting their ears clear. 

Flower Petals

They have their own little world at daycare every weekday, where they hang out with their little friends and their teachers and do art projects and sing songs and take naps on tiny little cots, which seems insane to me, but their teacher says it’s going well. They love to go on wagon rides around the neighborhood and climb up the play structure at our neighborhood playground and they really love to point out anything and everything to ask what it is. “Da?!” “Tree.” “Da?!” “Bird.” “Da?!” “House.” “Da?!” “Kitty.” “Da?!” “Tree.” “Hiiiiiiii!”

They are fun and funny and love to imitate each other and make each other laugh. They run to hug each other at the end of the day whenever one of them has been home sick from school. If one of them is crying, the other one will offer a binkie, stuffed animal, or book to ease the pain. The other day, E was crying about something in the tub, and L just reached over to her and started gently touching her face, pointing out her nose, eyes, ears, and so on — this is one thing I often do to distract them from fussing (“Where’s your nose? Where’s your belly button?”). Let me tell you, when L started doing it for E, it was the sweetest thing in the world. 

Front Door

At 18 months, E: 

  • Can consistently say dada, mama, ba(ll), hi, hello (when pretending to be on the phone), bye-bye, da (what’s that?), and something that sounds like shoes. Occasionally she will also say do(g) and something that is either milk or mine.
  • Can sign more and all done.
  • Loves to eat cheese, yogurt, and veggie burgers.
  • Has 12 teeth.
  • Will finally wear a bow in her hair all day, unless she sees it in the mirror (for example, while riding in the car), in which case she will promptly remove it to play with. 
  • Is obsessed with shoes and is super excited whenever she gets new ones. She carried her pink Chucks around lovingly all day the first day she saw them. She even gave them rides on the toy tractor. 

DSC_0363

At 18 months, L: 

  • Can say hi, bye, da (what’s that), woof (when asked what a dog says or when seeing a picture of any animal) and will babble all the livelong day in sounds that really sound like words, but aren’t any words I know. 
  • Can sign more and has turned the sign for drink into something that means “give me that thing.” 
  • Can feed himself with a spoon and loves to dip his food in any kind of dip or sauce. Loves all fruit, cheese, bagels, yogurt, and avocado. 
  • Has 10 teeth all the way in and two new ones just surfaced.
  • Loves his stuffed snow leopard, Leonard, and likes to carry him around and give him hugs. 
  • Loves books and will happily flip through, studying the pictures, endlessly.

They are exhaustingly wonderful and I am often in grateful disbelief that I get to be their mom.

Yoga and the Hellmouth

I am sitting at Starbucks drinking iced coffee after my yoga class because I figured if I’m starting the day with yoga class, I may as well go all-in on the bourgeois white lady stereotypes. I am still wearing my leggings and everything.

I hardly ever attend yoga classes in an actual studio because it’s not typically in my budget, but we have a newer studio in town that I’ve never visited before, so I’m eligible for the 30-days of unlimited yoga for $30 new member special and here we are. I think I’ll try attending as many classes as I can this month and just really soak it up while my schedule is relatively flexible.

And now allow me a brief moment of woo-woo: isn’t it incredible how when everyone in the room joins together in a collective “om” at the beginning and end of class, the way we all naturally fall into a beautifully harmonious chord? At the same time, it seems both imposible and inevitable. Collective human goodness.

On a very different note: my husband and I have finally started watching The Handmaid’s Tale. I’d been avoiding it for a long time because I’ve been feeling such a deep desire for my entertainment choices to offer me a ticket out of Cheeto Mussolini’s anti-American hellmouth. In the interest of escapism, I’ve been looking for far more soothing ways to spend my limited TV and reading time (Great British Bake-Off, Harry Potter, etc.). But CW and I were looking for a captivating show to watch together and we just decided to dive in and — man oh man — it is really gripping and wonderful storytelling but it is also terrifying. We’ve seen the first 6 episodes so far and will be caught up in time for the finale next week (I think that’s right?), so I look forward to talking about it with you, if you’re also watching, soon!

Namaste.

Scorpions and Toddler Conversations

Thing I learned today: there is a scorpion emoji.

Another, related thing I learned today: there was a scorpion in my bathroom.

I say “was” there because the scorpion is no longer in my bathroom. I smashed it with a Birkenstock and flushed it down the toilet because women get shit done. Also because there was no one else home. We’ve been intending to get some professional exterminator service going for our house, but just hadn’t gotten around to it yet because, you know, twin toddlers and full-time jobs. Well, who needs the professionals when we’ve got me and my Birkenstocks? Seriously, though, the pros are called and are coming. If I never see another goddamned motherfucking scorpion in my goddamned motherfucking bathroom again, it will be too soon.

In other exciting developments, L finally has a recognizable, consistently used word in his repertoire: hi. He loves to wave and say hi to people, dogs, and even his favorite tree, the enormous weeping willow at the end of our street. All are worthy of a friendly greeting from Buddy. I love it.

E has had a few words for a while now, mostly dada, uh-oh, ball, bye-bye, and, occasionally (but not often), mama. Since having their ear tubes placed about 6 weeks ago, we know they can both hear well again and they’re starting to talk more as a result, which is so fun. L “talks,” babbling-style, all day long, just chattering on to us about everything that goes on. Of course, we can’t really understand him at all, but he has the cadence and tone of real conversation down! E loves to point things out and have us identify them by name, while she pays careful attention. They both especially love to notice, point out, and have us identify all kinds of animals. It’s really fun to watch them learn.

Do you think they will understand if we tell them to stay out of mama and dada’s bathroom because there are goddamned motherfucking scorpions in there?

Coffee Break and a Quick Rant about Tee Shirts

Summer work has started and I am sitting in the coffee shop after having done all my work-related tasks so I thought I’d just fire up this thing and try posting. I would like to get the old blog muscles back in shape. 

I’m just working for a half day today — my husband is home with E for the morning because she’s sick, again, with a cold and a fever. We can’t really get through a single week without at least one of the kids having to stay home sick. I could honestly never stop ranting about this, but I’ll try. I know, they’re building their immune systems and so on, but damn. 

Here, let me rant about a different subject: the discontinuation of Old Navy’s tall tee shirts. I am embarrassed to say that I only recently discovered them — as someone who has frequently ranted about how hard it is to find tops with adequate length to cover my long torso, I really should have thought sooner to check the tall section. It’s just that I’ve largely ignored the tall section of most clothing retailers because I never needed longer pants. (I have short legs. All my height is in my torso.) Because regular pants always fit me, I just never considered needing tall sizes for anything. Then I realized buying dresses from the tall section was a life-changer when it came to providing adequate thigh coverage. Then and only then did it occur to me to try tall tee shirts. Well, what a wonderful discovery that was! I LOVE their tall tee shirts! LOVE THEM. 

AND NOW THEY’RE GONE.

They’re still offering a selection of blouses and tops in the tall section, but no more of the basic tees. I honestly could just cry. We didn’t have enough TIME together. I didn’t get a chance to buy very many yet. WE NEVER GOT TO SAY GOODBYE *choking back sobs*

I learned of this sad change in their inventory from Swistle (who knows everything), just a day or two after the fleeting thought had flit across my mind that maybe I should order a few more tee shirts for summer. And now I won’t get to. Or maybe I’ll have to start perusing Gap’s tall section. Fine. 

Spring Cleaning

This week, we have a brief inter-semester break after spring grades have been turned in but before summer classes begin. The little ones are still in daycare (unless they’re not (illness (goddammit))), so this means we adults have some time to do all the things around the house that we haven’t been able to keep up with during the past few months.

So far, we’ve: cleaned out the garage, which included breaking down and recycling about 47,000 Amazon Prime boxes; scrubbed the mildew (?) off of the many, many parts of the wrap-around porch railings; cleaned most of the inside of the house including bathrooms, floors; dusted; reorganized the toy/bookshelf in the kids’ room; done all manner of backed-up and neglected laundry (guest sheets and towels! My Nemesis!). This is in addition to the regular upkeep type of laundry, dishes, kitchen, etc. cleaning that occurs as a byproduct of daily life and is increased when people are sick. (We’ve had a stomach bug in the house this week, so bleached ALL THE THINGS.)

Isn’t that exciting? Aren’t you so pleased that we finally got the chance to do some of this stuff? Isn’t spring cleaning such a thrill?

Then you’ll be on the edge of your seat to find out what still needs to be done:

  • The closet of doom needs to be emptied and purged reorganized. Do you have a closet of doom? Ours is in the guest room. I know there’s some important stuff in there that I definitely need but can’t get to because DOOM.
  • The Giant Shrub needs to be cut down to size, and the Less Giant But Still Ridiculous Shrubs do as well. I am done gently suggesting we hire a professional for this job and just silently grumbling as people discuss maybe going to Lowe’s to buy a chainsaw and do it themselves.
  • The master bedroom Clothing Storage Situation needs to be dealt with. It is at Threat Level Orange and cannot continue.
  • Borrowed baby gear needs to be returned to my friend who loaned it to us, which I had planned to to weeks ago and arranged with her via text and then we all got sick and so I completely flaked and now I’m embarrassed to reach out again to ask when I can bring it because I feel totally incompetent. (Someone tell me you’ve done this, too. I am NOT normally a flake, I SWEAR.)

What else should I get done while I can?

2017 So Far: Constant Family Illnesses and Political Shitstorms

Oh, hi. Hello there. I am out of practice with blogging, but let’s see what happens here:

I was laboring under the illusion that I would suddenly have all kinds of freedom and autonomy when the twins started daycare in January and I don’t know whether to laugh or weep at how wrong I was. Parents, I know y’all know what I am taking about.

So far, the babies have experienced: norovirus (twice), RSV, Hand Foot and Mouth, and various respiratory viruses resulting in several hard-to-treat ear infections. (They now have ear tubes, so fingers crossed that pattern is over.) From the twins, I myself have caught the noro, RSV, and various colds, resulting in sinus infections, bronchitis, ear infections, and pneumonia. My husband has been similarly affected. It has not been pretty.

So basically, this is how daycare works: we pay daycare as much money as we pay to our mortgage every month, but much of the time the kids are too sick from GERMS THEY PICKED UP AT DAYCARE for them to actually GO TO DAYCARE.

ANYWAY.

We’ve had at least one child home sick every day this week. Fine. Not like we have jobs to go to or anything.

GOD.

So in addition to being sick and caring for sick people and barely — just barely — managing to perform my full-time job at a proficient and productive level, I have had time for … approximately nothing. It’s fine. Whatever.

I don’t even want to get into it, but also politics lately are sapping any emotional energy I may otherwise have had leftover. I’m sad and disappointed and anxious and suspcious and bubbling over with pure, white-hot, brain-melting RAGE.

I’M FINE.

In other news that has happened since the last time I posted:

I have been officially promoted at work to the highest rank possible for my position (to take effect when fall semester starts) and received a college-level teaching award. Not to brag, but I guess I’m pretty all right at my job.

I joined Biggest Blogging Loser, a friendly weight loss/good choices competition among my online lady friends and it helped me stay motivated to lose about 15 pounds from January-March. We just started a new round this week and I’m hoping to lose about 15 more, which will put me back at my pre-pregnancy weight. (The only problem being, of course, the constant family illnesses and political shitstorm are both driving me to comsume too much comfort food and wine.)

I’m back to hitting pretty decent paces on the run, which has me feeling good about my fitness and is a nice reminder that fitness and weight are not necessarily the same.

I have about 150 final exams to grade and then I will be done with spring semester. Deep breaths.

We are planning some summer travel, hopefully to include a visit to my friend on the gulf coast, a visit to in-laws in Iowa, and maybe a stop in St. Louis to see another friend on the way back.

Had to run an errand on campus, so these little bunnies got to run around on the grass for a while. 🐰🐰 Lew + Ella. 💙💗

My children are gorgeous, amazing little maniacs who keep it dialed up to eleven at all times and I love them so much.

 

Year in Review: 2016

It’s already January 4th and I haven’t done my year-in-review post yet?!  I’d better get crackin’. This is my TENTH year doing this silly survey, so I am absolutely not skipping it.

Previous years’ answers are available here: (20072008200920102011201220132014, 2015). Over time I have modified and  deleted some of the original questions, but here’s what I’m working with this year:

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?

Took a semester off work for parental leave, been the primary caretaker for two babies during that time, visited the homes of three friends I met online, bought a Broadway musical cast recording (and enjoyed it!).

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last year, I wrote:

“This year, I will no doubt make more goals, but I haven’t thought them through in enough detail to put anything down here yet. More on this later, I’m sure.”

I feel fairly certain, without going back and looking, that I did not ever make note of any official goals or resolutions. My unwritten goal was of course to keep everyone alive during my maternity leave and to survive the transition back to work in the fall. Which I did, so, yay!

For the coming year, I would like to focus on making more gains in terms of health and fitness. I made some progress toward that in the last few months of 2016, and, after taking a bit of a break for the holidays, I’m getting moving again now. Healthier, smarter eating and lots of activity, mainly running, yoga, and barre3 for right now.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

LOTS of folks had babies this year. A couple of local friends and my BFF Mel as well as several of my Internet Ladies. Lots of sweet new babies out there this year ❤

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My husband’s grandmother passed away this spring.

5. What places did you visit?

Atlanta, GA (work conference for my husband; we all tagged along); Ann Arbor, MI (same, plus I got to visit Arwen and Kori); Manchester, IA (family visit); St. Louis, MO (visiting Mel and family); Peoria, IL (Halfway Hoopla at Amy’s house, my first solo travel away from the twins).

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

More time to myself and more autonomy when it comes to scheduling my time. It has been hard to have to discuss every little scheduling detail this year in order to make sure that the babies have care and that CW and I can meet our work & personal commitments. In 2017, we will have the babies in full-time daycare, so I think this will happen.

7. What days from 2016 will you always remember?

November 8-9.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Personally, I think it was making it through the first year with twins, especially my maternity leave, which was an incredibly wonderful and incredibly difficult time for me.

Professionally, I have made a lot of good progress toward a big work goal, which is almost, but not quite, official. Details forthcoming.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not handling my postpartum hormones very gracefully.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nothing much, thank goodness.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems, by Richard Ferber. That book & method no-shit saved my sanity at a very difficult time.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My husband has been the best possible teammate this year (as usual). E&L have been amazing little people in every way. Hillary Clinton has shown more guts, grace, and tenacity than I think I ever could myself.

13. Where did most of your money go?

Baby stuff.

14. What did you get really excited about?

Baby stuff. Going back to work. Going to the Hoopla. The election.

15. What song will always remind you of 2016?

“My Shot”

16. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Happier and sadder, both. Happier about my family and life, sadder (and more scared) about the world.
b) thinner or fatter? Thinner.
c) richer or poorer? The same. But maybe less disposable income because babies.

17. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Sleeping. Running. Yoga. Healthy eating.

18. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Eating my feelings. Stewing.

19. How did you spend Christmas?

We were home with E&L this year, and we hosted both my family (Dad & P) and CW’s parents for visits (at separate times before and after the actual holiday). On Christmas Eve, we went to our first church service as a family. That was a ridiculously draining workout, let me tell you. The wiggling! We decided to try the Methodist church instead of the Catholic one, but it was largely the same, minus the stand-sit-kneel dance. Afterward, the babies went to bed and we had mussels and prosecco (and then a largely forgettable dinner; I am only here for the mussels, y’all). Christmas morning, we had cinnamon rolls, bacon, and Bloody Marys and the babies got to see/open their presents. The play tunnel was a big hit! Christmas with babies was an absolute revelation. I loved it.

20. What was your favorite TV program?

I didn’t watch much TV this year. I suppose I’ll say the Gilmore Girls revival. I’d re-watched the entire series during maternity leave, and I thoroughly enjoyed, despite the flaws, the four new episodes.

21. What was the best book you read?

Here are my favorites, listed in the order I read them:

Kitchens of the Great Midwest – J. Ryan Stradal
Bellweather Rhapsody – Kate Racculia
The Trespasser – Tana French

I didn’t do a ton of reading this year, and a lot of what I read was not anything too special.

22. What music did you get excited about?

HAMILTON. Duh.

23. What did you want and get?

Nothing material sticks out, really. I did get really excited about a new can opener. Our old one, you guys. It was so shitty. Also, new ankle boots and an iPhone upgrade. A new purse.

24. What did you want and not get?

Back to pre-pregnancy weight.

25. What was your favorite film of this year?

I saw exactly zero films in the theater this year, and I barely remember watching any at home. Pass.

26. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I had cupcakes and champagne at home. I turned 39.

27. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?

Old Navy. #sadtrombone

28. What kept you sane?

Coffee. Wine. My husband. Twitter. My job.

29. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Lin-Manuel Miranda and Hillary Clinton, tied. Honorable mention to Kate McKinnon.

30. What political issue stirred you the most?

The whole election and subsequent bullshit. Fucking Nazis, man. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK.

31. Who was the best new person you met?

A couple of sweet new babies. Some Internet Ladies I met in person for the first time.

32. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.

Be really, really clear about your plans, needs, and expectations.

And, as I say every year, qui patitur vincit.

33. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

When you came into the world, you cried and it broke my heart
I’m dedicating every day to you
Domestic life was never quite my style
When you smile, you knock me out, I fall apart
And I thought I was so smart
You will come of age with our young nation
We’ll bleed and fight for you, we’ll make it right for you
If we lay a strong enough foundation
We’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you
And you’ll blow us all away
Someday, someday
Yeah, you’ll blow us all away
Someday, someday

–“Dear Theodosia,” Lin-Manuel Miranda