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?

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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. 

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

Fall Roundup

I’ve been out of the rhythm of blogging lately, which has started to get me into that state of mind where I feel like when I finally write something here, it has to be something “good” or “important” or “well wrought,” which is just not going to happen any time soon.

But whatever happened to just blathering on about life as I’m living it, huh? Let’s try some of that and see how it feels.

It's decorative gourd season!

Are you ready to reap this freaky-assed harvest?

As I write, I’m currently on a little break between classes and office hours, drinking an ice-cold can of Diet Coke from my new office mini-fridge. I’ve been wanting one of these (the fridge, not the Coke) for years, but kept on not buying one. I’d see them in Target every August as school was starting again, stacked among all the back-to-school dorm supplies, and I’d think to myself how great it would be to have one, but inevitably I’d decide to wait until they went on sale after the students moved in, and then they’d be gone.

But then, I had the sudden realization that I could ORDER one. ONLINE. From Amazon, where they have everything. What, am I new here?! I even had it delivered right to my office. I felt like a GDMFing genius, I tell you what. It’s such a pleasure to have a supply of cold drinks right here — and, even better, I have immediate access as soon as I get to campus at 7:00 AM so I can put my packed lunch in the fridge without waiting for administrative staff to get here at 7:45 and unlock the break room, which is not even on my floor, and which I may not even have time to get into before my 8:00 class. So that’s cool.

(Sorry.)

High of 70, you say? I'LL TAKE IT.

Speaking of other cool things, it’s almost like (knock on wood) fall is finally arriving here in the swamps of the Deep South. Could it be? A high of just 70 degrees today and tomorrow?

Well. A quick check of reality/the weather forecast shows it’ll be back in the 80s again in a few days, so we’d better make the most of it while we can. I’m wearing boots and a blazer and a scarf to work today, for example. Really living it up. Tomorrow we’re taking the babies to a pumpkin patch to buy some decorative gourds and take some photos and feel festive about the season. Maybe I’ll even drink a hot coffee and wear a jacket or a vest or a flannel shirt or even two of the above. (Please expect a deluge of cute babies with pumpkins in your social media tomorrow.

Roberta in action.

Next weekend, CW and I are running a local 5K with the babies and Roberta (our jogging stroller). It’ll not only be our first family 5K, but also my husband’s first road race EVER! He ran XC in high school, but hasn’t taken part in any official running events since then. I think he’s pretty excited. At the current time, my run pace is a lot slower than it was pre-pregnancy and a lot slower than CW’s pace (he’s a smidge faster than my pre-pregnancy pace, which doesn’t even seem fair since I’m “the runner,” but I’ll get over it). So I think our plan will be to have CW push the stroller and I’ll run alongside so we can go at my best pace, which will be a pleasant stroll for him. We’ll probably run 31-33 minutes, depending on how hilly the course is (I haven’t looked at it yet because I’m just trying not to activate the SRS RNR programming loop in my brain right now). If we happen to break 30 I will consider it a fall weather / race day miracle.

I suppose that’s a fair roundup. Now how are YOU?

Stuff I Typed During Nap

The babies are still asleep for their morning nap (knock wood), and I’ve gotten in a 30-minute barre3 workout, showered, washed and hung the diapers to dry, and refilled my coffee. So I may as well sit here and type some words to you, the internet, on this, my blog.

Here we are! What to talk about?

My promotion dossier is due on Monday and it’s almost finished and I SUPPOSE I am mostly satsfied with it. It is currently about 215 pages long and is the embodiment of all the stereotypes you no doubt have in your mind about academic bureaucracy. It includes, for example, a PDF of the original offer letter I received when I was hired. Without this document, after all, how would the university know whether they actually employ me? (I joke because I am nervous, obviously.)

On Wednesday, I go back into the classroom for the first time since I went on bed rest at the end of November. I do not have my syllabi, assignments, or class websites finished. Or started, in some cases. It’ll be fine. Right?

We placed an ad for a part-time babysitter (2 mornings a week) online and we have a ton of applicants to go through and decide who we want to meet. I’m kind of dreading the whole process. I don’t like meeting new people, or having strangers in my house, or leaving my babies with a stranger in my house. Pretty much none of that.

I suppose I can just eliminate all the people who, instead of responding to the specific job description, just sent us their boilerplate “about me” statement from their profile, right? That shit is lazy, y’all. Tell me you have experience with twins/multiples, or that you’ve cared for babies their age, or that you have the relevant days/times available, or just anything specific to the ad. How do I know you even read the description?

Moving on.

So, I guess those things are heavy on my mind going into the next week. Returning to work and all that it entails — and I’m happy to be going back! — has got to be a little stressful. I’d be a fool not to expect that. There were times duing maternity leave where it felt like I’d be trapped in my house forever and never leave. Now I’m wondering where the last eight months went. Typical.

The babies are going to wake up from their nap soon and I need an errand or something to do to get us out of the house for an hour or so before their second nap. I am finding this makes the day go by much faster. But today I’m drawing a blank! If it were not so oppressively hot and disgusting outside, I’d just take them for a walk or to a park or something. They’re probably too little to enjoy the library, I’m guessing. They do have baby storytimes, apparently, but not today. We could….walk around the mall? I wish I needed something at Target. Who am I kidding? I always need something at Target.

Baby Sleep and Other Types of Work

In the interest of getting the baby sleep situation to improve even in the slightest, I am in the process of weaning the off their usual nighttime bottle. They had started sleeping all the way through (8p-6a) without a feeding at 3 months, then at 3.5 months they decided they wanted TWO nighttime bottles, then they went back down to just one, which is where they’ve been for the last month. A few times in the last couple of weeks, the babies have slept through the time when they’d normally eat*, thereby skipping the bottle. On the nights they do wake to eat, they’ve been getting progressively smaller servings. Tonight, if they wake to eat, they’ll only get 1.5 oz. Hopefully soon they won’t even see the point in asking. 

*This is not to say they’ve slept THROUGH, no. Not at all. A certain sweet, blue-eyed baby likes to wake every few minutes for a couple of hours at a time. As in, baby goes to sleep, parent leaves the room, three minutes later baby wakes up crying. Rinse and repeat for two hours. They both have taken to waking at 5, too. Phew. 

I’m officially back to work this week. I’m teaching an online class, so I can “work from home” all summer, if I choose. My husband also can work from home this summer, too, with the exception of certain meetings and other obligations. We’ve been splitting the week, though, to give each of us two weekdays at the office and three at home (we’re home together on Fridays). This seems like a nice amount of time at work for me right now. I get my tasks done, I can take my time eating lunch without anyone screaming at me or barfing on me (or, in fact, even TOUCHING me), and I can stop by the gym on the way home. 

Speaking of the gym: 


This sign is posted above the big public scale outside the student locker rooms at the campus rec center. I thought it was pretty great, so I took the picture and Instagrammed it before my workout. After my workout, I stepped onto the less public scale inside the faculty locker room, saw that I’d gained 3lbs in the last two weeks, and had a mini meltdown in the shower, during which I considered drowning my feelings in donuts. Sigh. Had I already forgotten Ryan Gosling’s wise words? 

The fact is, I have the type of physiology that hangs on to every spare calorie and ounce while breastfeeding. I’m told the weight will go away once I stop breastfeeding, but who can say. It’s just so frustrating! I work out. I’ve stopped with the crazy sweets. I’m eating a perfectly reasonable diet for my metabolism and situation. And yet, the fat pants I bought after the twins were born are starting to get tight. I may not be losing weight, but do I really have to be gaining?! THE GODDAMNED INJUSTICE OF IT ALL, MAN. 

OK, finally. You all know my husband is a lovely person and a very generous man, but I have to say he is stepping in it lately. It’s probably postpartum hormones on top of new-parent stress and exhaustion, but still. He said something the other day that sort of implied he thought I should be doing more yard work. YARD WORK. CAN YOU EVEN. And break one of my perfectly manicured nails?! I mean.