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

E&L: One Year!

One year old. I can barely believe my babies are ONE YEAR OLD, but the calendar does not lie. This time last year, they were squishy, tiny, wrinkly little babies who weighed a total of almost-twelve pounds at birth (and less than that when they came home from the hospital).

Today, they’re learning to walk, trying to talk, climbing the furniture, expressing their preferences for food and toys and books and fashion accessories, and it’s almost like they’re actual little people or something. TWO of them. Some people would even call them toddlers. (Not I, though. They’re babies. Large babies.)

Eleanor & Linus
Eleanor & Linus
Eleanor & Linus

In the past month, they’ve had their first Thanksgiving, which was great fun. Last Thanksgiving, we were just not sure how soon the babies were going to come, so we held off on making any plans because we thought we might wind up in the hospital. It turned into a quiet day at home (my husband cooked) and the babies waited another week or so to make their arrival. This year, we had two new little faces at our table! We let them try all the foods we were having: roast chicken, mashed potatoes, roasted root vegetables, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. They loved everything except the moment when CW sprayed a tiny, tiny blob of whipped cream into their mouths directly from the can (they were not into that at all, whoops!), but then they wound up enjoying dessert when we put a little bit onto their trays for them to pick up themselves.

Saturday, we had their birthday party, which turned out to be really fun. My BFF Claire a and her son visited for the weekend, plus we had our local friends over, many of whom also have little ones. There were a few kids around from age 5 months to 9 years, and they had fun running around and playing with some of the twins’ toys. We had brunch food and mimosas and cupcakes, and of course tiny smash cakes for the babies to try.

We like cake!

Y’all. The cake. It was amazing. E enjoyed her cake, which she dug into with one hand and ate fairly neatly. L, on the other hand, quickly realized that cake is delicious and that eating with one hand is not nearly effective enough. Perhaps he realized that this was a limited-time situation and that the cake would be taken away at some point, so he decided to dig in with both hands — and then quickly moved on to diving face first into the cake. We were DYING laughing. I will never forget it. Dude just kept going and going, both hands sunk knuckle-deep into the sides of the cake, frosting all over his face, and eventually ate (“ate”?) a not insignificant portion of cake and frosting. I am so proud.

Eleanor

At one year, E is 29.75″ tall (72%) and weighs 22lb 4oz (83%). She:

  • Has four five teeth. Her top two were slowly, slowly coming in over the past few weeks and they finally broke through. In the time it’s taken me to get photographs ready for this post, her fifth tooth (bottom left) came in!
  • Has taken 10-12 independent steps at a time on several occasions, but still doesn’t choose to walk very often. She prefers to walk while holding one of our hands or to crawl. I’m sure she’ll get to walking full time very soon, though.
  • Still scrunches up her nose when smiling and generally smiles with her whole face. She has the best dimples.
  • Has started refusing to wear her headband bows, to my great dismay. And so it begins: soon I’m sure I’ll have no influence at all over what she wears, so I’d better enjoy choosing her clothes while I can.
  • “Talks” quite a bit, though not with (m)any real/intentional words, mostly just babbling. She’s said “mama” and “dada” a few times, and “da” (possibly directed at the dog?) but we’re not confident any of those counts as a purposeful first word yet.
  • Points, claps, waves, and gives high fives — the lattermost she just learned this past weekend from her big buddy, Liam (my BFF’s son), age 9, who came to visit and is an excellent teacher.
  • Can be both a little bit shy and extremely friendly in the same moment — she loves to smile and wave at new people, but often only wants to do so from the safety of her parents arms/laps.
  • Loves to play with her Little People farm animals and put them into their places in the barn. Sometimes she also loves to stick the animals in my face until I let her put them in my mouth. Why, E, why?

Linus

At one year, L is 29.5″ tall (35%) and weighs 20lb 14oz (43%). He:

  • Has four teeth. The second top tooth came in shortly after I last posted about this, so they’re well established now and he’s been putting them to good use gnawing cantaloupe off the rind and digging into birthday cake.
  • Has taken 1-2 independent steps at a time, but mostly has been working on his climbing skills. He’s able to get up onto the futon in the nursery and onto the ottoman in the playroom without assistance.
  • Has the most delightful full-belly laugh. The other day, I started goofing around with him and something about the way I was shaking my head back and forth made him laugh, so of course I just kept doing it over and over until he was completely CRACKING UP and it was the absolute best. I love making this kid laugh.
  • Loves to read stories. He will get his favorite books off the shelf and bring them to us to read. I love letting him cuddle up in my lap while we read — he usually holds my hand/wrist and just snuggles up so sweetly. His favorite books recently are Brown Bear, Brown Bear and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. 
  • Has just started “talking” a lot more. He’s always been a bit quieter than his sister, but lately he’s really got a lot more to say. He’s experimenting with new sounds. My favorite one is the “ga” sound he makes every morning when he sees the lit-up Christmas tree for the first time. He really likes it, I think.
  • Points, claps, waves, and gives high fives. And loves to grab people’s glasses right off of their faces! I find it a lot easier to wear my contacts, quite honestly. He’s obsessed!
  • Loves his stuffed animals, particularly an old monkey of mine that I handed down, and a new snow leopard his dad picked out for his birthday. He’s so sweet when he hugs them.

I love watching them grow up so much. We’re so lucky and thankful to get to be their parents.

I’m With Her

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to any of you reading this that I’ll be casting my vote for Hillary Clinton in today’s election. I’ve voted Democratic in every presidential election so far — Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Obama, Obama, and now another Clinton. The Democratic Party is my party. I tend to think I’m a little bit to their left, in the big picture, but I’ve always been proud to stand up and have my vote be counted in the blue column.

clinton-convention

This election has been a real shitshow, though, hasn’t it? While I’m deeply, deeply horrified by Donald Trump’s very candidacy (let alone by the possibility of him winning, holy crap), there’s a small part of me still in denial, still thinking this must be some kind of terrible joke. How could this be real?

First, we have the festering boil that is Donald J. Trump, who is not merely ignorant about both national and global issues, but is also a liar, misogynist, racist, homophobe, islamophobe, admitted perpetrator of sexual assault, and alleged child rapist. Then, to really deepen my disgust, we have the laying bare of our culture’s institutionalized hatred of women, as evidenced by the public’s responses to Hillary’s campaign. Seriously, just ask your Trump-loving racist uncle, or the Bernie Bro you went to college with. Republicans and Democrats are equally capable of barely-disguised sexism.  The election is stressful enough as it is, but between Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault and Hillary Clinton having to maintain her composure during the debates while being interrupted, shouted at, and actually loomed over by her opponent, this mess can be downright triggering. I know we’ll all be glad when it’s over.

But there’s something I don’t want to get lost in the midst of all our rush to get through this day: this is a huge deal. I want to really savor the moment when I fill in that ballot for Hillary Clinton — I’ll be casting my vote for the first woman president of the United States. And I’ll be able to tell my daughter and my son in a few years that they were there with us when their father and I filled in those bubbles. I want to do it in honor of all the women who fought for our right to vote and who aren’t here anymore to see this day. I want to do it in honor of all our daughters, a gesture of hope for their world. I want to do it in honor of (myself and) every other woman who has had to maintain her composure while being interrupted, shouted at, or actually loomed over while she is just trying to do her goddamned job (or groped or flirted with or mansplained to or ignored or …or …or…).

For all of us.

Because electing a Black man as president isn’t enough. Electing a woman as president isn’t enough. But those things are something. We have to keep pushing the needle, and this is a nudge in the right direction. I am proud to be part of that.

I also hate that, in the midst of so many people grumbling about having to choose between “the lesser of two evils,” or about how they “wish it were another woman,” we can too easily lose sight of what a great candidate Hillary Clinton is, and how great she could be as president. She’s qualified and experienced and knows how to work together with the opposition. She’ll champion rights for women, LGBTQ Americans, people of color, immigrants, and laborers. She knows that Black Lives Matter and says so, out loud and without qualification. She supports gun control and criminal justice reform. She supports a woman’s right to choose. She cares about combatting climate change. She uses big words; she does her homework; she believes in science.

I am not (just) voting against Donald Trump; I am voting, unreservedly, for Hillary Clinton. I am super fucking excited to do so.

Pantsuit up!