Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wombmates

It was my clever intention to "interview" the twins for this blog post. I would ask them questions on camera and they would supply the cute, smiley, cooing answers. Hmmm. Somehow it went horribly awry. For the better part of an hour I tried to make a suitably funny video. The following about sums up my efforts: video I gave up and just put them side by side on the floor. I thought I could at least get some video of them kicking around together. But what I got was so much better than that. From the moment the twins were born, they have been separated. They didn't share a bassinet in the hospital, they sleep in separate rooms at home, and they rarely see each other during the day as their nap schedules don't coincide. The few times they are together, they only know the other is there from the occassional whacking from a wayward arm or leg. That's why this next video is precious to me. Bex sees Dee pretty early on in the video. Then all of a sudden, Dee trains her eyes on Bex, and they seem to go still, regarding eachother. A few seconds later, Dee erupts with a shriek, as if in recognition. "Hey, my old wombmate! I know you!" Maybe it's the beginning of their "twinspeak". I wonder what they are saying to each other? Dee: "Hi old wombie!" Bex:"How ya been?" D:"Oh, you know, just chillin' in my crib". B: "You been stayin' up nights?" D: "Nah, they got hip to my game. Now I do the daytime gig". B: "Hey, you really wanna freak 'em out? Let's not poop for a week. Mom'll go nuts!" D: "hee hee, yeah!" video

Friday, January 23, 2009

My Nana

My Nana and Me-1978 My Nana passed away on January 26, 2008. She has come up in my solitary thoughts of late, usually when I am up in the middle of the night nursing one of the babies. Here are some of those thoughts that I'd like to share with you. My Nana was a very classy lady. She dressed elegantly, knew how to entertain, and was deeply invested in environmental conservation and human rights. She hated war. She could sit in the sun all day. She always lit a candle for dinner. She made crumpets in a coffee can. She shopped at Trader Joes. She gave me my first taste of cream cheese and introduced me to artichokes. She loved the color blue. She always wore hairpins. She would have loved to have seen the day we elected a half-black man into the highest office in our country. I have an early memory of her and I in her jaunty brown Celica driving to meet an old friend at the Mission Ranch for lunch. As we pulled out of the driveway of their fantastic home in the Carmel Woods, she remarked that we were running late and would barely make it by the skin of our teeth. I remember being delighted that she would say such a thing, and we had a good laugh at how there really was no such thing as skin on teeth. When Nana and Papa would come to visit, they'd sleep on the pull-out couch in our family room. Papa was always up very early in the morning, and usually out walking, so I'd go get in bed with Nana and we'd play I Spy for what seemed like forever. My Nana raised three children on a single income in Carmel and so had to spend very prudently. However, she didn't skimp on quality. I remember trips to Brinton's with her. And Dansk. And the Macy's Cellar. One day she took me to Del Monte Center and bought me my first purse. A small blue denim one with a yellow pear painted on the front pocket. How stylish. How novel. How super my Nana was to supply me with my first small bridge into the realm of big-girldom. I adored her for that. In the eyes of a little girl, Nana had a fabulous bathroom. It smelled like Lily of the Valley perfume, Jean Nate, hairspray and mildew (as did most rooms of that house, encased in fog or assaulted by salty air every day of the year). The counter top was littered with bottles of perfume, lipstick, lotions and other cosmetic concoctions. She had baskets of hair clips, necklaces hanging on the wall and a bizarre hairdryer with a plastic brush attached to it. What a place for a little girl to explore! My brother and I liked to play in their backyard. Forested and banked, it was the backdrop for any imaginative play a child could dream up. My brother and I would prepare for "hikes" into the jungle and Nana would equip us with small paper cups full of peanuts and raisins to sustain us on our journey. As this is an honest account of my memories, I wanted to stay true to my Nana as a three dimensional person. She was a beautifully real and imperfect person. As I grew up, I saw her faults. She was too honest. She was critical. She was difficult to please in a restaurant. She had a need to control. Then I grew up a little bit more and saw the same (or different) faults in myself. In everyone. I would forgive her, and she would deserve it. Nana loved the beach and the ocean. She loved beauty in nature. She made wonderful apricot jam and pumpkin chiffon pie. She came to my track and cross country meets, saw me graduate from junior high, high school and college. She met Bug as a baby. She would have loved Bug as a toddler.
Days became difficult as Nana neared the end of her life. But she still took pleasure in simple things like a walk, the sunshine, birds at the feeders outside her window, reading the paper. I often think of Nana when I see something I know she would have enjoyed, like a certain color or a piece of jewelry with a lapis gemstone. I hope there are parts of her in me that I can pass on to my children and grandchildren, with imperfection, with beauty, with class. Just like my Nana.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Things Bug Says, Volume 1

"I'm coloring my arm blue, Mom."
On January 15: "Thanksgiving is coming really soon Mommy!"
(she doesn't know how right she is)
While I'm huffing and puffing doing a workout dvd:
"What's wrong with you Mommy? Why aren't you doing it right? Do it like this..."
"Why?"
We were sitting on the couch singing Christmas carols and
she spontaneously closed her eyes and prayed:
"Dear God, thank you for all these things and we pray that we love everything in the world."
"hang-guh-ber" (hamburger)
"balana" (banana)
"Why?"
Playing with dolls:
"You talk this guy...and I'll talk this guy!"
Of my pregnant belly:
"It's like a basketball! Lemme bounce it Mommy."
Of my post partum belly:
"It's all....rumbly" (hmmm...well put)
"Why?"
"Mike busted out the fruit snacks!"
When rubbing her head on my arm, I asked her what she was doing:
"I'm just lovin' you Mom"
"You wanna share these with me Daddy?"
At bedtime most nights
"Come check on me."
On occasion Gracie will sing Happy Birthday to most of her
stuffed animals and bath toys, but this one was a bit of a surprise:
"Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to sippy cup
Happy birthday to you"

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bexie's Video Blog

Bexie has been asking to post again. He really does have a lot to tell you this time, so I suggested he do a video blog. He articulates his points really well I think. But as always, please leave your comments--he looks forward to your feedback.

video

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

One Year Ago

My, how things change in one year! Here's some pictures from Christmas 2007.
Bug looks like such a baby! Rounded face, short fine hair. Oh... Life just keeps barreling forward, doesn't it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dee vs The Swaddle

Have you ever swaddled a baby? It's a nifty little trick. It seems to help Dee sleep sometimes. We wrap her straight-jacket tight. Some of you may be familiar with the dance that follows if you've had wee ones that aren't keen on sleep. It's a little bouncing, swaying, rocking jig that's a real quad and bicep workout. Then comes the ginger steps (floating is what we're aiming for here) towards the bassinet, the lowering of the baby ever so slowly down, the breath held in sickening suspense. Jay has to watch what happens next. He hovers over the bassinet to see if Dee will stay asleep. I, on the other hand, can't STAND to watch. The anticipation drives me mad. As soon as her little burrito-wrapped body hits the bassinet, I spin around, dive (silently) into bed and throw the covers over my head. I don't want to see or hear the potentially imminent downward spiral from drowsiness to battle cry. This is how it happens: Her wrapped feet lift and lower several times. Her head begins to thrash back and forth. She starts to grunt and squeal. Then. A tiny fist jerks it's way free of the swaddle and stabs upward into the air in a gesture of victory! The swaddle has been defeated! The battle cry follows. If I had to form Dee's cry into an onomatopoeia (dfS is going to LOVE me for using that word) this what it would look like: "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!" Yep. That about sums it up. A collection of high-pitched vowels. Now, how ever severe you think the above sound is, increase the decibels 10-fold and ramp up 10 octaves. Then you may have a small, underestimated inkling of Dee's battle cry. It strikes fear into the hearts of many. And it marks the beginning of yet another hour of the bouncing waltz. Ah. But really, this is all written in good fun. Infertility makes you feel guilty for saying anything less than glowing about your hard-won children, even if it's all in jest. God forbid I shouldn't have these things to carry on so about. I'm the luckiest woman alive to have 3 miraculous children whom I treasure. Sometimes people say to me "wow, you've got your hands full" when they see our family of five in all it's mayhem-like glory. And I reply how an old friend taught me: "better full than empty". There was a time when I thought my hands/my arms/my life/my heart would always be empty. And now they are always full. What a blessing. Have a blessed day everyone!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Precious Goodbye

I finally wrestled back control of the keyboard from that little stinker! Sorry about that. Sheesh. You give a kid an inch...
Today I wanted to talk about my Nana and Papa. This is a photo of me, my Nana & Papa, and Bug at 6 weeks old.
It was taken in their room at a nursing home. This is the room my Papa would pass away in. The room his soul would leave his body and make it's way up to meet his heavenly Father on November 9, 2007.
About a week before his passing, my mom, Bug and I went to see him. We knew he was not long for this world, and this would be the last time I would see him this side of heaven. Jay and my brother joined us after they got off work to say their goodbyes also.
By this time in his life, Papa was no longer speaking or opening his eyes much. When his eyes did open, they were vacant and the soul behind them was far off. So saying farewell to him was mostly putting a hand on his shoulder, kissing his cheek and saying goodbye out loud.
That night as we were leaving, I stood outside in the hallway. I was agitated and sad. It seemed so final, and yet here we were bustling around, gathering our things together like it was any other day. It was all so practical and unemotional--two things I am not. I said to Jay "So this is it? We're just going to leave?" And he replied "Yeah I guess. What more is there to do?" I said "shouldn't we pray or something?" to which he replied "sure, I'll go back in if you want to pray". A sudden stage-fright-like anxiety gripped me and I said "Well I'm not going to pray! I wouldn't know what to say!" Without missing a beat, Jay said simply "I'll pray for your Papa".
To understand the utter sweetness of this, you have to know that Jay was an agnostic when I met him. Almost an atheist. He didn't accept Christ by faith until one or two years into our marriage. A scientist at heart, one who needs physical evidence to prove a hypothesis correct, this was a big deal. Even though Jay had grown so much as a believer in the years leading up to this night, the path to Jesus isn't a straight line and just because Jay was walking with Jesus didn't mean he was instantly knowledgeable about the bible, comfortable with worship, or experienced at praying out loud. That's why, in that hallway, outside my Papa's room, I was floored by Jay's sincerity and willingness to be vulnerable for my Papa.
As a family we went back in to the room that night. I can remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday. My Papa on his back in bed. My Nana propped up in the bed next to him. A lamp shedding dim light in a far corner. Everything quiet save for the far away noises of nurses working in the rooms adjacent. My mom, my brother, Jay and I all kneeled in a line by Papa's bed and we each layed our hands on him. My dad stood behind us holding Bug. Jay prayed a prayer that was simple and perfect, with gentle words for my Papa and supplication for our family's peace.
If for no other reason, I will love my husband forever for giving us that last most precious, most beautiful, ethereal moment to cherish.

Bex

Since Dee took center stage yesterday, Bex asked if he could write today's post. I said sure, why not? Take it away, Bexie!
What did one baby say to the other baby?
'Don't cry in front of me. I'm a recovering colic'. AHAHHAA!!!! I crack myself up!
Hey, what did Baby Corn say to Momma Corn?
Where's Pop Corn?

HAAAHA!! I got a million of 'em.

Oh brother!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sleepless in the Central Valley

Here she is. Our little Dee at 12 weeks. Beautiful, isn't she. She's knee-high to a june bug and just the sweetest thing. But...she is a night owl. An insomniac. Sleepless in the Central Valley. She's working the infant swing shift (and consequently, so are we).

She just has a rough go of it sometimes. Being a baby is tough. I wouldn't say she's colicky. She just doesn't like to be put down and the poor thing can't put herself to sleep, or stay asleep or sleep through minimal noise, or do anything of the sleepy sort. Have you seen this? It's called Colic Calm. It's a homeopathic remedy indicated for gas, colic and reflux. DfS mentioned it to me knowing I was desperate to help Dee with her painful acid reflux. Dee was diagnosed with GERD a few weeks ago. She was having a terrible time eating. She would cough, choke, gag, sputter and all manner of carrying on during a feeding. Her pediatrician put her on Zantac, which didn't work, and then switched her to Prevacid, which does work, but seems to make her agitated...over-stimulated...unable to sleep....EVER! When I saw the Colic Calm website, I, being the diligent, earnest researcher, printed out seven pages of information on it. I took it to Dee's pediatrician to ask her if it would be safe to give it and Prevacid concurrently. My thought was that if the Colic Calm alleviated the reflux, we could slowly ease off the Prevacid (and hopefully experience what it feels like to actually sleep again). I'd much rather have my tiny daughter ingesting a homeopathic remedy of chamomile and peppermint over some synthetic chemical sludge that seems to have an espresso-like effect on babies. Well, Dee's pediatrician didn't even glance at my seven pages of information and said something akin to "So you like wasting your money". But, she said it couldn't hurt to try, and that I would just need to check with a pharmacist as to the dosing schedule. I ordered the Colic Calm and when it arrived, off to Long's Pharmacy I scurried. I presented my case to the pharmacist. He said something akin to "So you like wasting your money", but told me when and how to dose this "quack tonic". Does it work? It doesn't matter. Sometimes it seems to and sometimes it doesn't. But it just doesn't matter, for the simple reason that we can always speculate that things could have been worse had we not given the Colic Calm. Who knows how much harder the crying would have been and how much longer she would have stayed awake without a dose? I think a large part of getting through infanthood with your sanity intact is just getting through infanthood period. By any means necessary. If something helps them (or me) get through the tough parts, why not give it a go. Colic Calm, whether it works or not, is a great parental placebo, and at $25 a bottle, I'm easily sold. So I'll go on dosing my daughter with this herbal brew and trying my best to help her feel better and trying my best to stay in the moment with her. Days and nights filled with crying and not sleeping are vexing, but if I wish this precious time away, I know I'll look back and feel regret. Because I'm crazy about her, sleeping or not. Like fellow blogger Serenity said of her son (and I'll steal and tweak for Dee): This girl's got my number.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Creepy Santa

This is Creepy Santa. He's got to go into the Christmas box today and I'm sure Bug will be heartbroken. Look at the guy:
He's crusty and strange looking. Down-right scary if you ask me. Especially if it was dark and he popped up next to your bed while you were sleeping or something. Or say, it was nighttime and the doorbell rang and when you opened the door, it was just him standing on the doorstep. FREAKY, right?!
He was rescued from a bag of Goodwill-bound Christmas decorations given to me by my dear friend S (who is getting so much mention in these posts, she'll ever after be referred to as dfS).
dfS gets rid of a lot of stuff. I am the fortunate beneficiary of such stuff. For instance, I've acquired furniture, art, dishes, and, oddly, lots of chickens from her. I love hand-me-downs. The icing on the cake for me is that dfS has good, expensive (or expensive-looking) taste. Yet this Creepy Santa baffles me. He is neither good, nor expensive, nor expensive-looking, but he was in the bag along with the rest of the good, expensive and expensive-looking decorations. Bug would beg to differ. He charmed her at first sight. To her, Creepy Santa is exceptionally good and worthy of rescue! They have become inseparable. She stands him on her bathroom counter so he can watch her brush her teeth. He's been to Save Mart, Target and Costco with us. I'm sure if I let her, he'd be a bath toy too.
They'll be reunited in less than 12 months. But today will be a sad day for Bug and Creepy Santa.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Car Seat Mystery Treat

This is Bug's car seat. A beautiful Britax. I hated to spend the money, but who can put a price on safety? It has seen a lot of miles, and consequently, a lot of snacks, crumbs and spills. The cover has yet to see a washing machine, and it's been in use for approximately two years, so you can imagine the filth...
We have never had any problems with this car seat up until about 3 weeks ago. The belts began to get harder and harder to tighten or loosen. Even Bug got used to the struggle of tightening the belts. One day when I was having a particularly hard time securing her, she said "Mommy do it like this" and scrunched up her whole face while screeching "EEEEEEEE", which is a tactic I have used in the past. Funny how kids remember and re-enact things you'd rather them not....
Anyway, the whole situation was getting ridiculous and I was worried about being out with Bug by myself and not having the strength to tighten her belts safely. So Jay took the car seat out to investigate. He no more than pulled it out of the van than a shower of bits and pieces rained from the seat. Raisins, goldfish crackers, cheerios, and things yet unknown. Check out the big brown mystery treat:It's not a leaf. It looks like a leaf. But it's not a leaf. It appears to be the shed skin of a small fruit bat, if only small fruit bats inhabited car seats and periodically molted. They do neither. So what is that?! Anyway, the belts on the car seat properly tighten and loosen again. Jay surmises that a raisin or two was stuck in the seatbelt mechanism jamming up the works.
On a side note, I once found a brown plastic stick in my purse. Except it wasn't a brown plastic stick. It was a 3 week old half-eaten petrified string cheese. These, and other petrified mystery treats, will probably plague my purse, car seat and life for the next few years. Yummy!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Christmas Tree Debacle

It's time to take down the Christmas tree. With the new additions to our family this year, we didn't make it to the tree farm to cut down a tree. But I rather enjoyed our Save Mart $19.99 experience. The tree we got was tall and beautiful. After picking out our lovely tree, Jay tied it to the top of our trusty minivan. Then we went through the Taco Bell drive-through which is right across the street (standard Christmas tree shopping fare, yes?). Then, in the five minutes it took me to drive us home, I believe I forgot we had a tree at all. (Again, allow me to blame sleep deprivation). I commenced to pull into the driveway, open the garage door, and then attempted to drive into the garage. There was a loud scraping/screeching/make-you-wanna-cringe sound. I slammed on the brakes and slammed the van into reverse, as I realized the stump of the tree tied to our roof had just bashed into the garage door. Hmmmm. Not good. Jay got out to investigate. And then he said a word. Not one I'll put into print. But, in fact, he spelled the word. Spelling certain words like "bedtime" and "candy" is a little habit we've gotten into since having a 2 year old around. But until that moment, either of us had yet to spell a four letter word. I thought it was rather responsible and father-like of him to spell the word rather than say it. But like my dear friend S pointed out, "that word loses a lot of emphasis when you spell it". The garage door had a somewhat large bend in the center of it, and had completely come off the tracks. I'm not sure how so much damage was done at only 3 miles an hour. Jay had to hammer it out and do some manly repair work to fix it. Bug and I looked on from our seats in the van, eating our burritos. The twins slept through the whole debacle.

My First Blogging Post

Crack knuckles. Sit and stare at computer. Take sip of coffee. Close eyes and think. This is harder than I thought! I suppose I'll start off by introducing us. But I'll probably delete what I type a thousand times before posting it. In the past, every time I have ever started a journal or wrote in a diary, I only made it a few days. Then I would look back on what I had written, blush with embarrassment, contemplate the horrific humiliation had anyone read what I wrote, rip out all the pages, and shred them by hand lest any curious passerby find them in the trash and read them. And here I am posting my life and thoughts for anyone in cyberspace to find! GASP! ....Here goes nothin'. We are five and we are fabulous. I am Elle, married to wonderfully handsome and helpful Jay. We have three children: Bug and twins Dee and Bex. Bug is a toddler who won't be boxed in; she is an outdoor-lovin' tomboy who loves to be pretty in purple. Bex fits the stereotype of "boy" with gusto. He's solid and robust, reflective and goofy. He smiles easily, and loves to eat, poop, and sleep. Dee, in contrast, is much higher maintenance. She's small and delicate, likes to be entertained, and doesn't take kindly to being ignored. I think we have a dog and two cats.... Yes, yes I'm sure of it. (Sleep deprivation makes the lesser-cared for members of this family fade to a distant, foggy memory). We are a family that loves to be together. We are a family that's ever-growing and learning. We are a family that doesn't quite have it all together yet, but we're joyful. We are a family that knows how blessed we are. We love eachother and we love God.