Monday, December 27, 2010

The Best Things About Christmas

We had a wonderful and relaxing Christmas. Food was good, the weather was fine, and we at least had some extra family around (thanks, Mom and Dad!).

The best parts (aside from Grandma and Grandpa)? In no particular order I would say:

1. Gnocchi. The recipe was pretty easy, and they tasted pretty good. I might experiment with another recipe, but the taste brought me back to my childhood.

2. Dish drainers. I've been meaning to replace my dish drainer for ages. The drainer itself was rusting, and the plastic upon which it rested was no longer able to be cleaned. No amount of bleach and scrubbing got it looking nice. Mom and Dad surprised me with a new set. Cool!

3. Melina sleeps. The kid actually slept pretty well! Those of you that know me well know that I have cultivated a non-sleeper. Despite a hacking cough, Melina gave me a very nice Christmas present in allowing me just a bit more shut-eye.

4. Presents. Santa chose wisely this year, as did all the people who love the kids and send them presents. The toys that managed to show up under the tree are stimulating and interesting, and so far, all four of them are doing a pretty good job of playing with them -- together. Oh, excuse me. I guess I should say all five of the kids are playing with them, as I should include Tim in that number.

5. Feelings. It is difficult to separate the Christmas tree from the presents from the birth of Jesus. I have often thought about celebrating secular Christmas at a point in time separate from Jesus' birthday. How can I expect the little kids to understand that we believe the birth of Christ to be spectacular, and oh, Christmas isn't just about giving presents? Don't we give presents to show we love one another? Isn't love a paramount feeling at Christmas? I think I'd need to discuss this with the clergy or a philosopher in order to get anywhere, but I'd like to believe that Tim and I are doing an okay job getting through to the kids the importance of Jesus, the significance of giving (especially to those who have nothing) and how we all need to be grateful.

The list could be longer, but the dishwasher needs to be unloaded. Mom went back yesterday, and my built-in helpers aren't nearly as helpful as she is!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Crazy Day!

The kids had crazy day at school a couple of Fridays ago. The principal promised that they could dress crazy -- clothes and hair -- if the school filled the 5 barrels at the front of the school with canned goods. The school kids were thrilled to know that they had fulfilled the requirement, and our kids were caught up in the excitement of trying to put together crazy outfits.

The girls are just old enough to realize that some things just won't work for them. They would not be wearing their skirts backwards, nor would they be putting their undershirts on the outside of their shirts. Aaron, on the other hand, would have worn his underwear on top of his pants if I had let him. (Cryptozoologist -- let's blame Tim again for that one!)

The result? Here they are, posing for a mug shot. Aaron reminds me of a young Steve Martin, don't you think?

Later that day, Aaron posed for me again, and the result is much more pleasing to me.

Monday, December 20, 2010

How The Mighty Have Fallen!

Apparently, a germ is going around the kindergarten class. I spoke with Harper's dad on Saturday morning, only to find out that poor Harper had thrown up in the night. By the time I was on the phone with Matt, Aaron was doing better. By Saturday afternoon, he was actually starting to eat some food. I wonder how many other kindergarten kids are sick right now. Thank goodness for Mrs. H we all have two weeks off.

Yesterday evening, Melina fell prey to the germ. It is not surprising, considering the enormous amount of time that Aaron and Melina spend together. In fact, not to be gross, but when Aaron was heaving over the bowl, Melina was right there, watching and patting his back. I tried to pull her away, but her compassion kept her there. You can't fault that...it makes you feel like you are doing something right.

In any case, right around dinner, Melina said her elbow hurt. I am sure it did, as one of the other kids said she did something to injure it. She ate a little bit of her quesadilla, but not enough to sustain her overnight. She started to get irritable and whiny, and she requested that I hold her. When she declined to eat a full bowl of black olives, I knew something was amiss. I asked her if something hurt. She said, "No. Nothing hurts. I just don't feel well." Okay then.

We got her to bed a little early. She was clinging to a bowl while she fell asleep. Tim rested with her while I put Aaron to bed, and then helped Zoe and Talia. I went into Melina's room about 8:15 pm, after I thought I heard her complaining. At 9:15 pm she was hot and wanted to head downstairs. About 9:30 pm, she got sick. Tim and I helped her out, held her, and all three of us fell asleep on the couch. Our necks and backs are yelling at us today for it. Clearly, Tim and I are getting old.

Melina is recovering on the couch. She only vomited twice, and I am hoping it is behind her now. Aaron is doing well; he asked for peanut butter toast first thing this morning for breakfast. The girls are still hanging in there, and Tim and I, while sore, show no signs of anything -- yet.

I'll keep you updated. Nothing like viruses for Christmas presents!

Friday, December 17, 2010

And We're Off...

To the races. The sick races, I believe. I brought Aaron home from school today a little early. We had his Winter party (I am one of the homeroom parents) and it was clear that the little man wasn't feeling well. No fever. Just not well. Those are his words.

Fifteen minutes ago, he vomited the party snack on the family room rug.

We don't have to go anywhere the next two weeks. We aren't traveling for Christmas or New Year's Day. We only have a few plans with friends. I say this as a bright side to the lining that involves vomiting -- those viruses tend to run through the entire family and then some.

So, I might take a few days off from blogging, and I am sure you'll understand. I will probably be calling our friends to cancel our plans; I don't like to bring unwanted holiday germs. If we are lucky, the entire thing will be over by the time the kids go back to school.

If any of you feel that you have an immune system of steel, feel free to stop over :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I Want To Be The Mom!

Melina has this very funny habit. She says, "I want to be the mom" and then collects the things she needs to do this. Her list includes:

1. a hot pink bandana
2. shoes, either Aaron's brown school shoes, or the girls white communion shoes
3. an old pair of the girls' glasses
4. my old black purse
5. a toy stroller and baby

Sometimes, she includes a calculator on that list.

How does this all come together? In the usual way, of course. She asks for me to put the bandana around her waist, like an apron. I have to use a safety pin to do it, which I don't like, but I try to be careful, especially when she takes the bandana off. She then puts the shoes on her feet, perches the glasses on her nose, grabs the purse and the stroller, and proceeds to walk around the house. The calculator? She pretends that is a phone, and sticks it between her ear and shoulder.



Why do we find this funny? Well for one, I don't wear an apron, ever. I do have one. And I have worn it one time in front of the kids. I wear dresses about as often as I wear an apron, so I don't know where Melina got this idea. Second, she does a good job in the shoes. Aaron's shoes are big on her and the girls' shoes are even bigger. But she manages to parade around the house pretty well. Third, the glasses and calculator are nice touches; the image remind us of the classic picture of an old librarian, who might very well be on the phone at the time. But remember, the kid is two!

Probably the funniest part of the whole thing, is that she calls herself the mom. I said the other day, "Bye mommy, I see you are leaving." Melina's response? "I am not the mommy! I am the mom." She then added, "And you are Kelsey. Goodbye."

I am sure Kelsey doesn't know she has such a presence in our lives. Now you do, Kelsey!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Santa Time!

We took the kids to see Santa. The girls wanted to go, and they had no trouble walking up to the man in red and telling him what they wanted. The girls told me they thought he was the real Santa. It's the beard, they said. It was a real beard, Mom!


Aaron and Melina were not so thrilled with the adventure. They enjoyed looking at the Santaland decorations, but actually sitting with Santa didn't quite happen. At least there were no tears.


I tried to get all four looking at the camera, with a nice smile. Aaron, the little devil, just couldn't cooperate. No sugar, no caffeine. Just Aaron on a normal day.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Nap Time

Melina has had a cold this past week. Actually, she is on day 8 of the cold, but it is clearing (or so I think). Napping is difficult when you have a stuffy nose, so a couple of days this past week, Melina just decided not to nap. I'd put her in her room, and she'd read some books for about 10 minutes, and then I'd hear her calling me. Two days ago, I really needed to get something done during what was supposed to be nap time. Therefore, I called in the troops: Aaron.

Aaron said he'd go lay down with her. No sooner had he gone up the stairs and I hear over the monitor, "Melina! You are supposed to be next to me, not ON me!"

I am sure you can imagine what I found.


***
During a few of the naps that did occur this week, we managed to make almost an entire pound of chocolate covered pretzels, a few chocolate covered marshmallows (way better than I anticipated, hence I bought another bag of marshmallows), and 6 chocolate covered spicy squares. That is what we call the Cheezits with the tabasco sauce in them. The girls loved the mix of chocolate and spice, but I am still on the fence. I have 3 bags more of melting chocolate, and I think, in addition to more pretzels, we might try covering some small squares of rice cereal treats and bananas. I have oreos in the cupboard, too. Chocolate covered oreos...Yum.

Today, we made Italian Christmas Cookies, some of which are going to school with Zoe next week as part of a project. The batch made 126 cookies. Stop by if you'd like to taste them, seeing as Zoe needs only 50 or so! Next up: Mandel bread (for Talia's project), cranberry-walnut bread, and chocolate drop cookies. I might try to fit in molasses cookies before we make cherry pie and date cake at Christmas. My favorite part of Christmas is the baking we do, so I am thinking that I should start sending out care packages instead of cards -- you know which ones would be finished on time.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

It Sure Took Long Enough!

Finally, finally, I am posting pictures of Aaron's birthday cake. He turned 6 on November 1st. You'd have thought, with NaBloPoMo and all, that these pictures would have already been posted. Ah well.

Aaron really likes Scooby-Doo, especially Fred. Aaron has taken to making traps, especially when the weather is warm (unlike now). In light of his fascination with the people of Mystery, Incorporated, I fashioned his cake like this:

It is hard to see, considering the chocolate icing blends well with the tray the cake is on. The graham crackers are Fred's trap, and inside the trap is bait: a Swedish fish! Fred does have a twist tie attached to his hand, which extends to the graham crackers -- my attempt to make it look like a real trap. On the other side of the cake, by Shaggy, we had a figurine of Scooby-Doo himself. He just didn't make it into the picture.

Apparently, Aaron liked the cake. I had toyed with trying to shape a cake into something that resembled Scooby-Doo, but I am glad I copped out and went with the figurines. The overall effect was much nicer.

Here's to posting the pictures before he actually turned 7!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Birthday Toys

Remember Aaron's joint birthday party with Harper? At the pool? The kids invited the entire kindergarten class plus some other friends, so Kelsey had the great idea of nixing presents for the kids. If the children wanted to bring something, they could, but it would be donated to Toys for Tots. Before agreeing to the party, I explained what this would entail to Aaron. He basically just wanted the party; he completely understood and was thrilled about donating the toys.

We found that the local branch of the library had a bin for toys, so this past weekend, Aaron and Harper met up and filled the bin with the toys. Kelsey had her camera ready (as usual, and thanks, as we did not) as the kids put the toys in, and then posed for posterity's sake.



As a side note, Aaron had been eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich about 5 minutes prior to meeting Harper, who is allergic to nuts. Thank goodness Tim thinks ahead when it counts. He informed Aaron not to touch Harper, and to stay on the other side of the barrel.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Saturday Morning Pancakes

I took a much-needed break from blogging the past couple of days. November really wiped me out. I don't know that I'll attempt NaBloPoMo again. I can just say it's one thing I've already done, and cross it off of my list. On the other hand, it gives friends and family a nice glimpse into the lives of the little ones. Let's see what I decide next year.

I went for my usual Saturday morning long run yesterday. It had started to snow, just as I headed out, so the entire time I was running, I was covered in little flakes of snow and ice. My face was cold, and ice collected in my eyelashes. I was actually enjoying the run, though. About 51 minutes into it, a blast of cold air blew by that carried the scent of hot buttered pancakes. My mouth watered.

When I was a kid, my dad didn't do much cooking. He COULD cook -- he got married at 32, but had been on his own for a long time, so I imagine he sustained himself somehow. But before my mom went back to work, he had no need to cook. However, on Saturday mornings, he made the family pancakes. I bet that some morning, the conversation might have gone like this:


Dad: Boy, pancakes sound good right now.
Mom: Well then, make them. I do the cooking all week.
Dad: All right, then.


And a Saturday morning ritual had been born.

I don't know how long he did this, but to this day, I can taste the pancakes and smell the aroma. He didn't make large, fluffy cakes like restaurants do. He whipped up the mix with a whisk for many minutes, infusing the air bubbles into the batter. He made the batter very thin, by adding milk. And to make sure the flavor was impeccable, he added melted butter and maple syrup. Sweet and buttery. Yum.

His pancakes were not the size of dinner plates. He ladled out the batter onto the griddle in scoopfuls, but just enough to make a pancake the size of a very small teacup saucer. Dad watched them religiously as they cooked. He'd turn them at just the right moment, and then, he'd top them with more butter. Dad probably got a good 30 pancakes out of a batch the way he made them, and when he gave us a plate, he'd load up 6 or 7 into the stack.

I can't tell you how full and satisfied I was after eating Dad's hot, buttered pancakes. I shutter now to thing of all the artery clogging that might come from those Saturday mornings, but I have a memory that will last a lifetime.

I don't think my pancakes will serve the same purpose for the kids; they won't remember that I add a touch of vanilla if I am using a store bought mix, or that, if I make them from scratch, I actually use real buttermilk. My kids don't even like butter on their pancakes (butter is really reserved for baking in this house, not cooking), so the scent will not conjure images of me at the stove, serving up cakes full of love.

I do hope the kids find their own aroma that stops them mid-track, some day when they are in their late 30s. It is a wonderful feeling -- one that everyone should experience

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monsters, Inc.

I have one question on this last day of November.

Who stole the baby? As in, who stole the sweet little soul that once inhabited Melina?

I have uttered, many a time over the last couple of days, that I would gladly return my fourth child to the hospital, if only they'd have her. Thank goodness she can't understand the quiet muttering under my breath.

One conversation of ours yesterday went like this:


Melina: I want my milk.
Me: How about, "May I please have my milk?"
Melina: I NEED my milk.
Me: Okay, I will get it, but we need to be polite.
Melina: WAAAAAAAHHHHH!


I realize that she is still just 2, but in this house, manners are very important. We start early and often, and so far, the older 3 do pretty well in terms of pleases and thank-yous.

Over Thanksgiving, Tim and Melina were playing in my parents' family room. She bascially beaned his head with a heavy magnifying glass.


Tim: Melina, no. We don't hit.
Melina: WAHHHHHHHHHHH!


Then, she came to find me. She cried and cried, hoping I'd say that Daddy was wrong. It didn't happen.

Melina's behavior has changed, for the worse, I think. I love the little beast, really, but just when you think you've seen it all with your kids, the last one comes along and blows your mind. Her curiosity, which I think is grand, is often to blame when things get broken. Her inability to listen (she used to just fine) seems to be something she is picking up from the older kids. She has been whiney and grumpy and downright obnoxious at times. Seriously. Where did the little lady I once knew go?

My thoughts as of late? We have a 26 pound monster in the house. Thank goodness we didn't have twins again.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Same, But Different: Part VI (Final Installment!)

When I went to my six week check-up with the OB, following the birth of the girls, I asked if I could find out if they were fraternal or identical. He said that the pathology department should have tested the placentas, and that I should check with my medical record. Either the pathology department didn't do their job, or else the results were never recorded. With two sacs and two placentas, the girls could be either fraternal or identical.

The pediatrician's bet was on identical: same hair color (what they had), same eye color, practically same weights, and same growth curve. At each well-check, the girls were pretty much the same in every way, at least physically. That early on, though, we could begin to see differences. Zoe preferred Mommy, and therefore, Talia, who may or may not have preferred Tim, at least was happy with him. I remember having to nurse Zoe to sleep when she was very young. Talia did not mind nursing, and then having Tim give her the bottle. I was able to tell the difference in their cries, and to this day, I can still tell them apart by their speaking voices (Tim cannot do this).

As they grew, their features also became different -- at least to me. Yes, they still had the same eye color, the same hair color, and were pretty much within a 1/4 inch of each other in length. But the set of their eyes, their cheeks, their hair, and their noses are all different. At one point, I would have sworn that they were indeed fraternal, and even now, I see so many differences, that others don't see. We eventually had them tested, just to put the thought to rest. The genetics company told us they were identical, and my sisters both said, "Did you need a test to tell you that?!?"

Once the kids entered toddler hood, their behavior started to separate, too. Both girls were very timid and hesitant to try new things. It took them a while to warm up to people, including their grandparents, and talking to neighbors was completely out of the question -- no matter how many times they had seen the people!

But it became apparent that Zoe was a bit more bossy, seemed to know what she wanted, and wanted only what she wanted. Talia, on the other hand, was a little bit less picky: she'd be happy with what was given to her, even if she wanted something else. Tim and I learned to alternate who chose things, so that each child would get turns at the things they'd really like. Zoe seems to want to please people a bit more, and is more of a follower, while Talia, still aiming to please, will stand up a bit if she has to. Zoe took to reading a bit quicker than Talia did, but Talia is more of an artist. Both girls will say they don't like math, but yet, with a bit of practice, they are pretty good at the subject. They both love piano and love to sing, and I cannot distinguish their singing voices.

I found it funny, at conferences this fall, that I referred to the girls each time as "they" even when I was speaking to their individual teachers. We decided to split them up, starting with pre-school, partly to foster independence, but also so that the girls would not constantly be referred to as "the twins." And yet, there I was, talking to Mrs. B. about Zoe, and saying "they." I apologized a bunch of times, but seriously, their similarities are so abundant, especially with respect to school, that I can get the lowdown on one child and know what is coming from the next teacher. (Their report cards are usually exactly alike!) The people at school are learning, but many of them still get the girls confused. One woman in the office was convinced we only had one child in second grade last year!

My plan is to post a couple of twin thoughts from time to time. Raising twins, identical twins at that, has been a blast! The instant party they have with the other person, the adoration the girls have for one another, they way they complete the others sentence or say the exact thing at the same time...amazing and uncanny. I am sure the years to come will provide us with many a post to share. I look forward to what is to come, and hope you do, too.



P.S. In case you aren't sure, Zoe is on the left in both pictures.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Same, But Different: Part V

Waking up from general anesthesia is no fun. Your throat hurts, you are groggy, and you keep slipping in and out of consciousness. Or at least, that is how I reacted. The first words out of my mouth were: "What did we have?" I remember hearing Tim say: "Two beautiful little girls." I smiled, and put my head back on the pillow. The next thing I knew, I was in the room where we would stay for two days.

According to Tim (who probably should be telling this part of the story), some medical personnel had come out of the operating room and told him that the epidural hadn't worked. Due to that, he would not be allowed in the room to witness the extraction. He was furious, but also helpless. The OB, knowing that Tim was a scientist-in-training and very much involved in his wife's pregnancy and well-being, allowed Tim to come into the operating room shortly after he delivered the little ladies: Baby A made her debut at 10:19 am, and Baby B followed shortly thereafter at 10:20 am, January 31, 2002. At that point, the babies were fine. The nurses and fetal specialists had checked them out and took their stats. Baby A needed a bit of oxygen, so Tim made the executive decision to name her Zoe Annabelle, since Zoe means life. By default then, Baby B was Talia Clarice.

Dr. N proceeded to show Tim my uterus, let him look at my ovaries, and pointed out the part of the placenta that had started to deteriorate (with twins, this starts to happen earlier than with a singleton, hence the doctor's call to schedule the C-section at week 38). Even though Tim is not a biologist, he was fascinated and extremely grateful. He still likes to tell this part of the story!

The kids were small, but perfectly fine. Zoe weighed 5 lbs, 8 oz, and Talia weighed 5 lbs, 9 oz. I would have sworn they weighed more than that, but that was good enough! They latched on just fine, and we all went home 2 days after they were born. I had some issues with pain from the C-section, I was a bit overwhelmed with trying to nurse two babies at one time (many a visitor caught a glimpse of my boobs, let me tell you!), and the little amount of sleep I got was very difficult to get used to.

Tim was a trooper and helped out immensely. Thank goodness he was in school: his schedule was so flexible, it really allowed him to cater to the kids' schedule. Tim's mom came out for 3 weeks, which gave me time to sleep when the girls did, and not have to worry about laundry or cooking. My parents (especially my mom) came over quite often to help or babysit. My friend Laura set up meals for us, and since we had two babies, some of the people cooked twice. Between our friends and family, we got through 8 weeks of colic, but we don't remember how. We figured out how to get them to nap well, and together. We put them both on a schedule and helped them to go from breast to bottle and back again without balking.

We put nail polish on one finger nail (red for Zoe, purple for Talia) so we wouldn't mix them up, but when I look back at pictures, it is obvious who is who. These kids were born in the middle of winter, so getting out to Sam's club at 5 weeks was about the highlight of my day. I remember going with Tara that day, dragging two car seats into the store, and thinking that I was in heaven because I had just put some variety in my day! After my six week checkup, I tried running. That was a funny day! I tried again at 8 weeks, but the jelly that was my belly protested. I decided to start out walking, and we'd go from there.

There is so much to tell about bringing up twins, I could probably write a book. Perhaps I will someday. Next time, I'll actually write about the similarities and differences between the girls. Some things are just downright frightening.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Few More...

Posts to go, and then we'll be done with the month! I would like to wrap up the twin story, but I have grades to assign. Those need to be done, and soon, so I best get to them.

I am procrastinating, because this was my worst quarter EVER! Actually, I don't think I taught any better or worse than usual, but the grades are downright awful. Even with a curve, 1/2 of my online class will fail. Lest you think I am too stringent, the online class is standardized by the department. I am essentially a manager of the course, as I don't make up the material or the exams. Who would want to take anatomy and physiology online, anyway? Evidently, it is pretty difficult to do well. I probably could have told them that!

Hope you all had a great weekend. Expect more from my the last couple of posts coming up!

Friday, November 26, 2010

I'm Really Only Posting This Because...

It is still NaBloPoMo, and I feel compelled to do so. In any case, this will count, although I won't be here typing long. The computer is in the same room where the little man sleeps, so I can't do early morning or late night posting.

If I could sum up yesterday's festivities in one word, it would be zooish. Is that a word? Probably not. But 6 kids 8 and under, 2 dogs, and a bunch of toys, make for one loud house. All good, but loud. Makes you appreciate nap time a bit more!

Thanks family, for yummy food and laughs. We'll try to steal some of Aunt Tara's pictures to post soon.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

To Grandmother's House We Go!

Travel day today, so the post will be short!

We leave today (probably not too soon, as everyone else is still in bed) for Grandmother's house! Melina is pretty excited. She asked if she would see both sets of grandparents, but alas, I had to tell her that daddy's mom and dad would not be there. My sisters and their families are meeting up at my parents house in just a few hours, and then, let the chaos unfold!!

I'll update with pictures and finish up my twin saga in the next few posts.

Happy and safe travels to those of you departing!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Same, But Different: Part IV

There I was, waiting, waiting for these babies to arrive. Lying on the futon became my specialty! My legs were sore, my pubic symphysis was protesting, and I felt like I just could not eat any more food!

The ultrasounds all indicated that the babies' growth and fluid levels were good, and that keeping them in a bit longer was the course of action. Baby A was frank breech -- the bum was wedged in my pelvis. The OB, who to this day is one of my favorite people, told me we'd check each time by ultrasound to see if the baby had miraculously turned. If Baby A had been head down, and Baby B wasn't, he said he'd let me try to deliver vaginally, and then reach in and turn the second baby. With Baby A breech, he said that vaginal delivery wasn't the safest option. I trusted this man, implicitly. Therefore, a C-section was scheduled for the start of my 38th week. I could not believe I had made it that far, but I was ready to see the kids!

I tried to schedule the operation for January 30, 2002, the day of Tim's grandma's birthday, who was still alive at the time. Phyllis is one of Tim's favorite people, so sharing a birthday with their great-grandma would have been wonderful. In the end, we couldn't have that date, so unless I went into labor myself, these babies would be arriving on January 31, 2002. The operation was scheduled for 8 am, and I was a nervous wreck :)

We had a short list of names prepared. We did not know what the genders of the babies were. For girls, we had selected (obvious now of course) Zoe Annabelle and Talia Clarice. For boys, I believe we had Aiden Francis and Nicholas Anthony. Truth be told, I wasn't crazy about Nicholas Anthony, but at the time, we could not think of another alternative. In retrospect, I am glad we didn't have boys. While I still love the name Aiden, it is everywhere!


***

January 31 started out icy and cold. We lived 5 minutes from the hospital, which was good: driving was treacherous. We headed into the hospital when it was still dark, but I crossed my fingers that the sun would shine later, once I could actually see it. I don't remember too much from this part of the day, but I know that I got changed into a gown, had several residents ask me the same questions, over and over, and saw Tim in his "spacesuit" just waiting to have those babies in his arms.

All of a sudden, a friend of mine entered the room, in scrubs. He happened to be the medical student working on my case. He asked if that was going to be okay, since I knew him. Would I feel comfortable with it, he wondered. I thought about it: I could say no, and there would be no medical student assigned, just my OB and some residents. Who wants a medical student working on them? But he was a good student, one that wanted to become an OB/Gyn, and one I trusted. Considering all the poking and prodding that had gone on up until this time, I really didn't care that a guy I once played volleyball with would be helping extract babies and seeing my nether regions!

The clock ticked. I waited to be wheeled to the operating room, and despite all I read knew, I wasn't sure what to expect. I asked the resident to perform one last ultrasound, just in case. There was no new news there, so they told me to kiss Tim, and I'd see him in the other room. The bed moved. The hallway was smooth and cold, and I started to really get impatient. I was scared and excited all at the same time, but my nervousness was ready to overwhelm me at any moment. The operating room was smaller than I expected, but steely and sterile (as it should be, really). Seeing the lights, the monitors, and the people just about made me vomit. It was difficult for me to stop shaking.

The anesthesiologist came in at that point to give me the epidural. I did as I was told, and hoped for the best. As time went by, the personnel got everything prepared and waited for the anesthesia to take effect. The doctors had me rest flat on my back, and proceeded to poke me with something. The girls have heard this story before, but here it goes:

Doctor: Do you feel pressure, or sharp? (You should only feel pressure if the epidural is working.)
Me: Sharp.
Doctor: How about here? Pressure or sharp?
Me: Sharp.
Doctor: Here?
Me: Sharp.
Doctor: And here? Pressure or sharp?
Me: Sharp.
Doctor: Are you sure?
Me: Yes.

At that point, I felt defeated. I knew what was in store. The doctors whispered and went into action. My hands were stretched out and strapped to the bed, and my hair was pulled away from my face. They told me the epidural hadn't worked, and that I'd need to have general anesthesia. The mask went over my face, and a tear rolled down my cheek as I prayed to God that I would wake up and see my babies.




To be continued...


Monday, November 22, 2010

Birthday Bash

I have so much to do today with respect to house and work, that I am taking a break from the very enjoyable trip down memory lane. I'll pick up with the twin story next time.

As most of you who read this know, Aaron turned 6 on November 1st. This year, we thought maybe we'd have a party with some of his friends, in addition to the family party we have every year. It just so happens that his good friend, Harper, who we've known since the kids were both 6 months old, also has a November birthday. Harper's mom, Kelsey, called a while back and proposed having a joint birthday party at the local rec center: we'd rent a room for games and snacks, and then head to the pool. Why not?

Kelsey did a wonderful job of organizing most of the party, and she also wrote a wonderful recap on her blog. If you'd like to read it, go here. The kids seemed to have a blast, the desserts (Kelsey and I split the task and we made rice krispie treats, cookies and brownies) were great, and there weren't too many tears shed by the end. Overall, a pretty good party, I'd say.

I think this year, with Aaron turning 6, will be one that he remembers for a while. This party with his kindergarten friends was essentially party #3! The weekend my parents came to visit, we had a party, complete with Scooby-Doo cake (I promise to post the pictures before the end of November!). The weekend after that, Tim's parents visited, and we sang Happy Birthday with some good friends and a batch of brownies. And then this weekend, the pool party. If I ask him about it, he might say he wants to stay 6 forever.

Which reminds me. If you haven't visited Kelsey's site yet, go there, and click on her post labeled Six. It is her yearly birthday tribute, and one of her best yet, I think.

***
I came home from running errands this morning and checked the machine for messages. The school secretary had called and left a message stating an incident that had happened this morning in kindergarten. Essentially, Aaron was leaning backwards in his chair, and (I know you know what happened!) he fell over, clunking his head on the very hard floor.

The secretary said that Aaron spent some time in the clinic, and although the nurse was not in the building today, she had taken care of a quick exam. No bumps or bruises, no dilated eyes, he was responsive and alert. She sent him back to class, probably so he could do the same thing over again.

Tim was in bed, and listened to the message as I played it (he has a migraine today). His response? "What an idiot!" We don't usually use words like that in front of our kids, or to describe our kids, but I think in this instance, the use was appropriate. On the other hand, I think Tim forgets what it was like to be a 6 year old boy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Same, But Different: Part III

I hope these posts are not getting tedious. I was going to write about something else, but I think if I put them all together, it will be easier for someone that might be looking to find out the whole story.

Aside from inhaling a ton of food each day and adjusting to a new center of gravity, my pregnancy with the twins was (thankfully) uneventful. Between visits to the nutritionist and the OB, I was in the office of some doctor quite a bit, but I was able to walk there from my lab. My advisor was great about the appointments, and I tried my best to get lab work and writing done during the day, before I became really tired. I played sand volleyball up through week 8 and I ran until 13 weeks. (You can see why I really didn't think having twins was a possibility -- can you do those while having twins? Apparently so.) After that, I walked, probably up until about 35 weeks. Tim was helpful: he let me sit on the couch while he made dinner most nights, and he never let me haul the laundry to the basement. We needed to move -- from a 1 bedroom apartment to a 2 bedroom one -- but we stayed within the same complex, and my mom came up to help with the process.

I found the visits to the doctor fascinating, especially when they took out the in-office ultrasound to check things such as amniotic fluid level. Every time, the babies heads or hands would pop up on the screen, and I was mesmerized. Every time, I would be overcome again with the emotion that I was carrying two babies! I was careful with everything: how I ate, how I slept, where I walked, just to keep those babies healthy. I had milestones in mind: get past 20 weeks, get past the point of viability (about 25 weeks), get to 30 weeks. My doctors and I wanted these kids to stay inside as long as possible. The saying is that the hard part doesn't start until they are out of the womb, and to be honest, I couldn't even imagine what life was going to be like once they arrived.

Because we figured that the kids would arrive early, we did everything in a timely fashion. We attended our Bradley class, tried to come up with a short list of names, and put together the kids' room by the time I was 32 weeks. As I said before, Tim and I were both grad students during this time, so setting up the nursery was going to be a challenge. Thankfully, both Tim's parents and my parent's helped with the necessary items. We tried to be thoughtful: one dresser was plenty, we didn't need a changing table, but two cribs and car seats would be necessary eventually. My good friend Julie, and my sisters, convinced me a baby shower would be good. Our friends would want to get us things, and we really could use them. Again, we were careful as to what we chose. Thanks to that shower, though, we had plenty of underwear, clothes, a pack-n-play and a double stroller, among other things.

The only "issue" I can say that I had was itching. One weekend, when I was about 35 weeks, my belly started to itch. I had just bought a new pair of HUGE pants, and I thought that maybe there was something in the waistband that was the problem. I mentioned it to the resident at my next visit. She looked at my skin, and brought in the regular OB. They were in agreement: I was diagnosed with PUPPP.

I hope that all you pregnant ladies have never experienced this, and if you have, I am sorry. The itching is completely intense. For me, it spread all across my belly, and especially attacked my hands and feet. At night, the pain from itching became almost unbearable. My skin was hot, and itched relentlessly. I woke Tim up (or kept him up) every night when I sat there and scratched my skin for hours. I had declined the offer of an oral steroid (I didn't want anything to harm those babies, you know!) and tried a topical solution to ease the symptoms, but the cream was not working. After Tara came to visit, and claimed that my scabby, swollen feet looked something close to leprosy, I caved and got the prescription for the oral steroid. Thank goodness I did. In a couple of days, things started to clear, and I was once again back to (almost) normal.

By 36 weeks, I was ready to have the babies. Only Baby B (the one farthest from the cervix) had turned head down, so unless Baby A did a cartwheel sometime before I went into labor, I'd be having a C-section. Not my ideal situation, but something I was coming to terms with. However, and understandably so, the doctor said no to my "somewhat in jest" request to take the babies NOW (at my 36 week visit). We all wanted the babies to cook as long as possible, I knew that, but I was large, uncomfortable, and really, really tired. It was the middle of winter, and I was a furnace, I couldn't fit into anything that remotely looked nice, and I could no longer sit at my desk, in my office, for long periods of time.

I never thought I'd make it to 36 weeks with these babies, and here I was, waiting...which was, in reality, a good thing.

I can't believe I just published that photo. I still had 5.5 weeks to go there.

To be continued...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Same, But Different: Part II

Finding out we were having twins, literally, blew me away. The tumult of emotions that gripped me cannot really be described. I can't imagine finding out that there were more in there! Each person I would encounter after that asked, "Were they spontaneous?" In this age of fertility treatments, the concept of spontaneous twins is getting less common.

Tim and I both needed to get back to our respective labs following the ultrasound. Because the technician needed to measure two babies instead of one, I was already past when I told my advisor I'd be back. I spoke briefly to the midwife, who told me that she could no longer serve as my health care provider: the university would automatically put me into the Multiples Program, I'd be assigned a doctor, and I would have required visits with a nutritionist. Upon checkout, the receptionist (who also had twins) said, "Twins. You gotta love them. They eat together, sleep together, and poop together!"

Somehow, in my delirious state, I made it back to the lab. I remember wolfing down my sandwich and fruit as I made my way to each corner of the lab. I showed my colleagues and friends the ultrasound; most were in a state of disbelief. My advisor was astounded, and simply said, "We need a plan. You need to get finished with this degree."

***
I did quite a bit of reading after that first ultrasound. While I was indeed a healthy person, I wanted to be sure the babies were healthy. I tried to eat more, and rest more. I drank more water, and made lists so that I could get everything accomplished, in the event that the babies came early. I was nervous. There are so many stories out there about twins that are delivered early, about the NICU, about problems that can go wrong. This was my first pregnancy, and I was expecting twins! My level of uncertainty was pretty high.

One of the first things I did was see the nutritionist. I had no choice in the matter, but I am so glad that I was able to see her. She took my health history, took all my vitals, and sat down and discussed what twins and moms pregnant with twins need. Each visit, I was weighed, my blood pressure was checked, and my fundal height was measured. Each visit, she asked not only about physical symptoms, but psychological as well. She gave me a chart of what I should be eating, including the amount of calories, protein, and calcium. Her instructions were so detailed, yet so welcome.

Dr. Barbara Luke is her name, and she specializes in multiples nutrition research. She has since reestablished herself elsewhere, but her website and books are wonderful resources. Dr. Luke's research has found a link between how much weight the mom puts on in the first trimester and how well the babies do. Since I hadn't put on that much weight as of the 19 week mark, she gave me an outline of what she wanted me to do. I do remember being somewhat flabbergasted at how much she wanted me to eat. Could I really consume that much in a day? Where would I put it? In the end, she wanted me to gain between 50 and 62 pounds, sometime before the delivery date. I was starting later than some...could I indeed pack that amount on? And furthermore, I needed to eat MEAT! I hadn't eaten meat since college. How would that go?

Let me tell you. If you eat the following throughout the day, you WILL put on weight, even with two hungry babies in you:

Breakfast: 2 eggs with cheese and 2 sliced of toast, fruit, glass of milk
Snack #1: peanut butter crackers and milk
Snack #2: cottage cheese and fruit
Lunch: roast beef and cheese on whole wheat (large sandwich), yogurt, glass of milk, fruit, cookie or other little sweet (my doing here).
Snack #3: protein bar
Snack # 4: cheese and crackers
Dinner: veggies, pasta, meat, glass of milk
Snack #5: pretzels
Snack #6: ice cream (full-fat, up to 1 pint)

That last item, ice cream (up to 1 pint) is directly from Dr. Luke. She told me to eat 1 pint of ice cream a night. It would help get me through the night, and I shouldn't wake up in the middle of night needing food. I love ice cream...this was a dream! However, I never could get 1 pint into my body. By that time of the night, I'd eaten so much during the day, I just couldn't finish that amount of ice cream. When I tell stories about this time in my life, I always mention Dr. Luke's ice cream edict, especially to fellow ice cream lovers.


That's me (obviously)...I think about 32 weeks along. It was getting very difficult to keep that basketball in place!


To be continued...

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Same, But Different: Part I



Tim and I were discussing the twins this morning, and our discussion really got me thinking about our life with them. Zoe and Talia, being identical twins, are so much alike, it can be scary. At the same time, though, they are so different. I have probably written down all the details about this in my head, but I think the girls might like to revisit their story , and so I am going to try to be brief when I post about the last (almost) 9 years.

Tim and I were in grad school when I discovered I was pregnant. We had no plans to get pregnant, but we clearly had thrown caution to the wind. I still remember the trembling in my hands and the butterflies in my stomach as I tested my urine. I didn't have to wait -- the line showed up immediately. I really didn't know what to feel, but I headed to the bedroom to tell Tim. He was shocked, I think, but excited.

At my first visit, everything went well. I was very healthy, and everything seemed to be going fine. I had all-day morning sickness, but nothing that was unmanageable. The midwife couldn't hear the heartbeat at my 10 week visit, but at that point, the uterine artery is so noisy, it didn't scare her. She suggested that I might be measuring a little high, but that perhaps one of the following applied:

1. I was not certain about the date of the last menstrual period.
2. I had uterine fibroids.
3. I was a small person.
4. I was carrying twins.

I wasn't measuring so high -- we didn't decide to get an early ultrasound. At 13 weeks, and just before we were to head out to Pennsylvania, I had some spotting. The midwives took me in, checked everything, and tried to find the heartbeat. I heard it. Emphasis on IT. We only heard one. The midwife that day said she thought I was measuring a bit high, too, but she was not concerned. In retrospect, I probably should have demanded an early ultrasound.

The 14 week visit went by, we still only heard one heartbeat. Things were progressing well, and so we scheduled the 19 week ultrasound for just before the 19 week midwife appointment. We were excited to see the baby. To be truthful, I NEVER thought having twins was a possibility.

We had to wait almost an hour for our ultrasound to even start. I remember being so hungry and ready to bolt. I just wanted to see a picture of the baby, but I hadn't eaten in a while, and we needed nourishment! Finally, it was our turn. I peeled back my overalls, lifted my gray T-shirt, and felt the jelly being applied to my abdomen. The ultrasound technician directed the wand back and forth for just a short period of time, and then said something like:

1. Here is one head. And here is another!
2. Well, looks like you are having twins.
3. Did you know you are expecting twins?
4. Are you only scheduled for one ultrasound? Because we are going to be here longer. You are having two babies!

I don't have a clue what she said. I just remember being completely overwhelmed by the fact that I had two babies inside of me! That was just the beginning.




To be continued...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Favorite Things

Due to yesterday's negligence, I feel the need to post a second round of thoughts today. It is too bad that today, nothing eventful happened. No funny things out of the children's mouths, no people commenting on my number of children, no idiotic phrases muttered in class by students that just have no clue. Perhaps I can add a day like today to my list of favorite things.

I have been thinking about my favorite things quite a bit these days. We heard the song on the radio yesterday, and of course, we all sang along. Just as a reminder, the lyrics go a little something like this (thank you, STLyrics):

The kids like the first verse, mostly due to the mention of kittens. I, however, have always preferred the third verse. As a kid, I imagined what that white dress would look like, and longed for something, anything really, with a blue satin sash.

So what, you ask, would be included on a list of my favorite things? (People not included)

1. Sunny days with a cool, gentle breeze
2. Ice cream, especially raspberry cheesecake
3. Running through the Arb, in Ann Arbor during the summertime
4. Biking to the Dexter Dairy Queen
5. Reading in bed, all day
6. Walking through our neighborhood when the leaves have just started turning colors
7. Walloon Lake
8. Driving through Amish country and the hills of Eastern Pennsylvania
9. The sweet smell of a freshly washed child
10. The silence that permeates the house just before everyone wakes.

I am sure that I have posted something similar before, but since I have yet to upload Aaron's Scooby-Doo cake pictures (can you say L-A-Z-Y?), you'll just have to make do.

Oops!

I didn't get a chance to post yesterday, so there goes NaBloPoMo! Well, I think this attempt has been so much better than last year's that really, I can't complain.

I had planned on posting yesterday after lunch. What was I going to post? Who knows. I put it off, because I needed to finish making an exam. I'd have all evening, right?

During the late afternoon, I realized that I had 200 essay questions to start grading. That, and I planned on calling a longtime friend. In the end, some of the questions were graded, and I talked to my friend for over an hour (thanks for calling, Laura! It was good to hear from you). At 11:40 pm, I realized that I could sneak down and post something...anything...just to get the post in under the deadline.

I opted for bed. Wouldn't you?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mommy's Christmas List

I almost forgot to post something today! I am in the midst of writing my last exam for the quarter, and it just dawned on me that I had not written something witty (or not) for the day.

At this time of the year, the thing on the kids' minds the most is The Christmas List. Aaron, Zoe, and Talia have already made their lists. We have each of them taped to the tile backsplash in the kitchen. Aaron wrote down about 4 items and then said he just didn't know what else to put on it. I told him he had time to add more items if he wanted, but maybe it was a good idea to put surprises on there. Who doesn't like surprises from Santa? I said.

The girls also have their lists. Actually, it is the same list for both of them. Identical lists for identical girls. Go figure.

I decided I'd make my list, too, so I wrote it on the write-n-wipe board and set it in the kitchen, too. Here is my list:

1. Kids who listen.
2. Peace and quiet.
3. A clean house.
4. Food for all who hunger.

Simple list, not so simple to attain.

If I could, I'd add one more item to that list. I'd like to have a robot whose specialty was shaving legs. I don't shave my legs in the winter, not because the hair keeps my legs warm, but because I wear pants all winter, and I don't have the time to spare. Come to think of it, I bet Tim would like for me to get that robot, too. We can only hope.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Christmas Carols

It is mid-November, and we already have Christmas songs streaming from the computer. Aaron and Melina are enjoying the music, but in different ways. Aaron remembers most of the songs from last year, and broadly smiles when his favorites start to play. Melina was too young last year to be able to recognize the songs when they come on. Instead, she is putting her own spin on the classic songs. "Do You Hear What I Hear?" came on, and the following scene unfolded.

Song: Do you see what I see?
Melina: Do you see what I see? I see a D. And, I am looking for an S.

I am pretty sure that isn't the next line, unless you are singing the Wheel of Fortune rendition of that song. So precious, I just had to share.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Kids (again)

Kids say really funny things. I am sure we have countless posts that confirm that. To be honest, I need to walk around with a recorder in order to get everything, but sometimes, I manage to to remember things clearly. Since I have more important things to do right now than write a long post, I am simply adding a couple of funny things said by the kids lately.

I never forget bacon. This cracks me up every time I remember it. The words came out of Aaron's mouth, when he sniffed the air the morning after I had cooked some bacon for the kids.

Science sleeps for no one. Mythbusters supposedly uses this line, but again, it came from the little red-head's mouth.

Come on, everybody. Let's dance! Melina said this at the exact moment she jumped. It was really quite adorable.

Hopefully, there will be more tomorrow.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Strike Three -- You're Out!

The kids play pretty often with a child up the street. Said child and Aaron don't always get along, but they've managed to coexist pretty well. In the last couple of weeks, though, it has become clear that a somewhat peaceful relationship with this child might be in danger.

Incident #1: While we didn't exactly see what happened, the Aaron, the girls, and this child were out front, playing T-ball. With a wooden bat. The wooden bat shouldn't have been there, but we can blame Tim for that. In any case, the wooden bat contacted Aaron's head (with some help from the child) and Aaron went to the ER the next day.

Incident #2: The child, the child's sibling, 2 kids from the street over, and my 4 children were all outside in the back yard. We were playing in the sand, on the swingset, and in the playhouse. All of a sudden, the dialogue goes like this:

Kids: Ewwwww! There is dog poop in here!
Me: Dog doo? Where is it?
Kids: In the playhouse!
Me: What?!? Where?
Kids: In the sink!

I grumbled, and headed over to the play house. Sure enough, in the sink is sitting some dog doo. Shadow dog doo. He does not go in the playhouse, much less defecate in the sink.

Me: Why would you do this?
My kid #1: I didn't do it.
My kid #2: I didn't do it.
Melina: Mommy -- dog doo. Yuck.

I cleaned up the mess, and asked who did it. No one said anything. I really didn't think my kids would do this. My kid #3 wasn't even near the house at the time, and Melina (my kid #4) is too little to do something like that. Neighbor child (NC) was pretty quiet, and looked guilty, so after some internal talking to myself, I plunged ahead.

Me: Did you do this?
NC: Yes.
Me: If you do anything like this again, you are no longer welcome to play here.
Her: Okay.
Me: Thank you for being honest.

I am all for honesty, but when strike three happens, that child is outta here!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Life These Days, In Pictures

Yes, I am cheating. But pictures speak 1000 words, right? Evidently, our children (and their cousin Ava) are pretty happy.



***

In other news, Melina and I ran two real errands today: we stopped by the elementary school, and then ran up to my office. The miles piled on the car today, though, when we traveled to Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (Melina even drove), Harry Potter's House on Privet Drive, and Hogsmeade. After that (and try to picture Melina yelling, "No Mommy! Stop driving! Me driving!") we tooled around Little People town, hopped over to visit Aunt Gina and Elli (two states away) and drove back by our house and then ou to Pennsylvania to see Grandma and Grandpa M. We probably would have made it to see my parents, too, but Aaron came home from school at that point, and he wanted to head back to Harry's house.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Does This Post Count?

I had no idea how hard it would be to sit and write a post a day for a month. This is post number 11, and to be honest, I don't know that I will get to number 30. I really thought about skipping today. My post yesterday was so long, doesn't that mean I can skip today? I know -- that isn't how the game is played. Yet who really cares?

So, I have to ask, does this verbal whine really count as a post? I guess so, if you are reading it. You might wonder, why I don't feel like posting. No really good reason, other than we had a busy day. All 3 animals made it to and from the vet, I made it over to the kids' school and the store. I went for a walk, I straightened up some things, we put mounds of laundry away, I emailed students and colleagues, and, I helped my friend Stacy with some work. Just a usual day, and now, I am tired.

Perhaps tomorrow's post will be more interesting, or at least have some great photos.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Letter to the Author

Dear Stephenie Meyer:

A couple of weeks ago I picked up your Twilight Saga books. I had heard of them, but didn’t think of reading them until I realized something. Some day, and probably soon, my third graders would ask to take them out of the library. I needed to read them, whether I wanted to or not, just to see if and when the books would be appropriate reading material for the girls.


Well, I have to admit a couple of things, and I hope you are not offended by the first few. To be honest, I was hoping for better writing. I read somewhere that you sent the manuscript to about 15 places before it was picked up. After having read the first book, I can understand why that happened. When I sit down to read a book, I expect a certain level of good grammar, great dialogue, character development, etc. Good writing, in my opinion, comes to mind when I think of other books that I truly enjoy: A Wrinkle in Time, Bridge to Terabithia, and To Kill A Mockingbird, to name a few. I found the level of writing to be somewhat lacking, but at the same time, I haven’t published a novel, let alone a series of them. Kudos to you, Stephenie!


The second thing that really bothered me (and you must realize here that I am a physiologist by training) was the scientific impossibility of vampires existing amongst us. I have never had trouble before with disbelief (Hogwarts, anyone?) but this time, I did. I had to constantly remind myself that despite Edward’s lack of heart and blood coursing through his arteries and veins, by the fourth book, he somehow manages to father a child. Inconceivable! Pun intended. I am not going to go into the intricacies of the reproductive system here, but even if you only have a rudimentary understanding of the male, you know how this just can’t work!


But Stephenie, the real reason I am writing this letter is that I want to thank you. When I picked up your books, I was transported back to my high school self. I read the books, not as a closing-in-on-forty mom of four, but as the 17-year-old, newcomer to Forks, WA, that was Bella Swan. I remember coming to a new school and not quite fitting in. I remember being stared at and befriended by a small, select few. I remember, quite well even, sitting in my room, complete with Steve Yzerman and Def Leppard posters, studying for Calculus and not wanting to go to prom (unlike Bella, I managed to “not go” to that lovely event with some evasive answer to a guy I really didn’t like). My younger self could identify with Bella in many ways, and that, as I am sure you are aware, is the answer to the series' success.


What high school girl doesn’t pine for the young (or not so young, in this case) hottie to actually acknowledge her? How many young girls sat in their rooms, and thought of Edward Cullen and his amazing eyes long after they finished reading the books? I am sure that more than a few young ladies thought to themselves: Bella considered herself ordinary, and if that is the case -- if she really was just ordinary -- then who is to say that something just as extraordinary couldn’t happen to someone like me? Stephenie, you wrote a love story, pure and simple (and actually quite clean compared to many racy books these days) that targeted the right audience. Again, kudos to you!


My kids won’t be reading these until they are in high school. The first book, Twilight, really is okay, but as the series goes on, more topics come up that just aren’t right for third graders. When the time comes, the girls will pull these off the library shelves and most likely, devour them easily. They will likely understand why the names Edward, Jacob, and Cullen are popping up everywhere these days, and they might just sit in their room, comparing themselves to Bella Swan, and imagining who their Edward is.


I should tell you, Stephenie, that I do not have a vampire in my life, but if anyone is close to Edward Cullen, it would be my husband: selfless, concerned, fiercely protective, pretty much good at most anything, and amazing to look at. He even has green eyes, and I bet he’ll love me “as long as we both shall live.”


Again, thanks.


Sincerely,

Chris

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Silent Prayer

More than a few people I know can use some extra prayers today.

All things positive your way.

Love,
Us

Monday, November 8, 2010

Why I Despise Time Changes

1. My body doesn't adjust well at all. I am tired morning and night.
2. At least one child doesn't adjust. I found Aaron in the hallway this morning at 5:20 am.
3. I am hungry at 3:30 pm -- for dinner.
4. Tim doesn't have any problems with adjusting; he sleeps anywhere, anytime, during any change. I get envious of that ability.
5. It is difficult for me to eat dinner when it is dark outside. It just shouldn't be dark at 5 pm.

I am sure I could come up with another 5 things to add to my list, but I need to get back to getting everyone ready for school. In the meantime, I will be counting down the days to the winter solstice...and looking forward to the days getting longer. On the upside, at least it won't be dark at the bus stop this morning.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dear Abby

Very short post today.

I think I went into the wrong profession. Teaching anatomy and physiology must not be my calling. If I added up the minutes I spent dispensing advice over the course of my life, I'd find that I have used up many, many hours. In fact, I probably have more practice being Dear Abby or Dear Prudence than being anything else. Why didn't I become a psychologist? More importantly, how can I market this? Remember...we have 4 kids to get through college.

I don't expect an answer. Usually people think that Ann Landers can answer all the questions herself.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Visitors

Usually, when visitors arrive, it takes some time for Melina to warm up to them. Last weekend, my parents came to celebrate Aaron's birthday. Melina is getting more familiar with them, and took to grandma and grandpa right away. Mom and Dad were thrilled. This weekend, Tim's parents arrived, and the same thing happened. Cool, I thought. We're getting somewhere.

But just because a child is comfortable with her grandparents (finally!) doesn't mean she'll be comfortable with other people. We tested the theory yesterday when our friend Juan and his girlfriend, Lisa, stopped by for a visit. They had been at a nearby large university, where Lisa had an interview, and they were kind enough to drive an extra 1.25 hours to visit us.

Five minutes before they arrived, we told Melina that Juan and Lisa would be coming to visit. She sat on the chair, and tried saying their names -- quite a few times. She asked when they were coming, over and over again. When Juan and Lisa arrived, I introduced them to Melina, and she scowled at them. Then, she hopped down from my lap, and asked to do a puzzle with Lisa. Well, I don't like to pawn my children off to other people, so I asked Lisa if she was okay to do a puzzle with her. Lisa agreed, and Melina never looked back.

She hung around Juan and Lisa the entire time they were here. If Melina left the room for something, she'd announce, "I'm back!" to them upon her return. When she needed to use the bathroom, the following occurred:

Me: Melina, do you need to use the potty?
Melina: Yes, with Lisa.

New best friends? I think so. We didn't require Lisa to head to the bathroom with Melina, but since Melina also was intrigued by Juan, we asked him to sit next to her at dinner. When Juan was in the kitchen, getting his meal, Melina would yell from her high chair, "Juan!" I think she just wanted to make sure he was there.

Eventually, before the end of the evening, Melina wheedled her way onto both of their laps. She had a great time just sitting there before heading up to bed. I was surprised she didn't ask for them to come up and tuck her in, really. I am sure they would have.

I forgot to get a picture of all of us while they were here. Hopefully, we see them again before another 7 years goes by (I'll make sure we do). But thanks, Juan and Lisa, if you are reading this. It was so good to see you!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Harry Potter

The kids are Harry Potter fanatics. The girls have almost finished all of the books, and Tim is reading the books to Aaron. They play Harry Potter at home, quite a bit. They have wands, made of sticks or K'Nex, and they yell things like "Obliviate" at each other, and then run away.

Just recently, the terms "Expecto Patronum" have been in use around here. For those of you not familiar with Harry Potter, those words are uttered when the Patronus Charm is used. According to the Wikipedia list of spells found here, the Patronus charm "conjures an incarnation of the caster's innermost positive feelings, such as joy, hope, or the desire to survive, known as a Patronus." The Patronus is protective, and the kids love saying it.

Even Melina. But with her, she yells out, "I need my expecko-trono!"

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I Forget!

I logged on today to post something nifty, and now I forget what it is. But I happened to realize that this would have been the 4th day in a row that I would have posted something. 4 days! In. A. Row. Which got me thinking. November is NaBloPoMo. Many of you know what that is, many of you don't. If you don't, see this. Essentially, I just need to post something every day during the month of November.

Last year, my goal during November was to post something once a week. I haven't yet talked about Aaron's 6th birthday (it was on the 1st) or posted pictures of his nifty cake (theme = Scooby Doo). I could stretch that into 2 posts. Grandma and Grandpa M are coming out to visit...another 2 posts. I might just attempt to do this! My friend Kelsey has done it for the last 5 years, so if I take some tips from her, perhaps my attempt will not be in vain.

We'll see...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The School Levy Passed!

I usually don't blog about anything political, but what I say today really doesn't have a side. Our school district has earned an Excellent With Distinction rating from the state, and to be honest, I really think the district has worked hard to get there.

Well, last May, when the district asked for more money, the community denied it. I personally didn't deny it: I always vote Yes for school and library levies, and well as for issues that are concerned with Human Services. My kids use the schools, we all use the libraries, and well, Human Services are just important to have. I know I will be paying more in taxes, but how else can you get an education? It ain't free.

The superintendent did a great job (I believe) in letting the community know what had already been done to try and avoid asking for more money: many teacher positions and staff positions were cut across the district, the teachers agreed to no pay-raise for the last couple of years, and a school had been closed. He indicated that if the levy didn't pass, bad things not only could happen, but would happen. How can a school district run without being funded? He wasn't trying to scare people into voting, he simply was telling us the truth.

In short, though, the levy passed. We'll fork over a bit more change, and in exchange, we hope to keep this great school district afloat. Part one in my personal attempt to help: Vote Yes. Part two in my personal attempt to help: Volunteer more. I should have some great stories. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Battery Acid

I just came down the stairs from putting Melina to bed.

Aaron: Mom! My brain just forced me to do something. It forced me to take apart a battery!
Me: Uh, Aaron, I just don't think that is a good idea.
Aaron: My brain forced me to do it, even if it isn't a good idea. How awesome!

If I could get into this kid's brain, I would do it. Let's hope his ideas get a little better from now on!

Side note: As of late, I have been having telling him to think before he acts. He always responds, "I know!" No, son, I don't think you do.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween!

We had a great Halloween. We started the day off with a trip to the ER for Aaron, and ended it by trick-or-treating. (Technically, this was all the day before Halloween, as our community never lets the kids out on the actual day. Either way, it was all the same to the kids.) Aaron had been accidentally hit in the head with a wooden bat the day before, and since he threw up 3 times the next morning, we decided to take him to the ER. No concussion, but no gym for a week (he is disappointed).

The kids had a wonderful time dressing up and having cousin Ava (and Aunt Tara, and Grandma and Grandpa C) here with them. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Here we have two Egyptian ladies, Batgirl, and Fred and Scooby from Scooby Doo.

Most people around here did not like Tim's costume.

Maybe because I was in labor on Halloween the year he was born...Aaron just loves this holiday, and that is pretty clear on his face.


This last one is of Melina, trying to be scary. Funny? Yes. Scary? No.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Out of the Closet

Hello. My name is Chris. I have a soon-to-be 28 month old, and I still breast feed her.

Phew! That was hard work, but the news is out. For some of you, this isn't news at all. For others, it might be, and you might be asking, "Why is this lady posting this? Isn't that under the category of TMI?" Well, yes and no. I am posting just so people like me understand that there are people like them out there.

Did I think that I'd be nursing my 2 year old child? No, not in a million years. My plans were to go 12 months, then 15. The kid NEVER took a bottle, so just to keep peace in the house, I then said that 18 months was a good cutoff. That time came and went, and 2 years seemed like a good age to wean her...over the summer, to heck with sleep routines. However, I needed to sleep. And that, my friend, is the underlying issue here. I sleep better when said child sleeps better, and therefore, we still nurse. Lesson #1: SLEEP IS NOT OVERRATED. Parents -- you know this already, right? And don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

I met a lady at the pool this summer who had delivered her 3rd child 4 weeks prior. At some point, we started talking about nursing, and she asked how long I had nursed Melina. She must have seen the hesitation...she looked a little scared and inquired, "Oh, you are still nursing her then?" Luckily, she was brought up properly and didn't scowl or jump back in disgust. In fact, she didn't seem judgmental at all. She actually said she understood, and had hoped to nurse her first two longer than she did, but with both children, latching on was difficult. Because I was brought up properly, I did not launch into a tirade on how she could have sought help with the latch-on, since breast milk really is the best for the baby. Maybe there were other issues. Maybe she preferred to bottle-feed. In my mind, it was her choice. She and I clearly both agree to Lesson #2: DO NOT JUDGE UNTIL YOU HAVE WALKED IN MY SHOES.

Obviously, since I am posting this topic, I have some opinions on it. But to be truthful, I go back and forth each day on whether or not I am doing the right thing. Melina is a happy, healthy child, and isn't that the goal? She doesn't take a pacifier (unless she is pretending to be a baby), and many kids her age still use those. She won't suck her thumb, either -- another habit that many children take well into adolescence (including my other kids!).

In early September, I went to the gynecologist for my annual check-up and was discussing breastfeeding with the doctor. He is probably in his mid-fifites to early sixties, and while I absolutely love his view on pre-natal care and delivery, I was not sure of his outlook on extended breastfeeding. He sort of laughed at me when I sheepishly told him I was still nursing Melina. He laughed, not because I was still doing it, but because of how I said it. His response after that? "Well," he continued. "I can almost guarantee you won't be sending her to college still on the boob." As I said, I really like this man!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Croup!

So we finally know why were up at 4:45 am last Friday. Melina had a low grade fever all weekend, and I took her into the doctor on Monday, just to check things out (it was day 5 of fever, after all). The doctor thought perhaps she could have a sinus infection. She did say, "Does she cough at all? And if so, is it barky?" My answer was no.

That afternoon, things changed. Melina's temperature soared, she wouldn't eat. The fever blister on her lip got bigger, and she whispered when she tried to talk! Overnight, we had to strip her and keep a washcloth on her forehead. I had the fan going, just trying to keep her cool. By Tuesday, her fever had come down, but she started coughing. The barky cough. I monitored her that afternoon and all night (hard to sleep when you want to make sure your child is breathing), but I figured I'd call to see if there was something I needed to do. After hearing the severity of the situation, the nurse on the phone (on Wednesday morning) said, "Bring her in!"

Melina ended up with 3 shots (one was a steroid to help with the inflammation of the windpipe), a CBC and a chest x-ray. Luckily, the blood test and the chest x-ray were clear...just a tenacious virus keeping my baby miserable. She wasn't happy to stay with the sitter this morning, but it is lab exam week, and Tim had already stayed with her on Tuesday. She is slowing getting better, but I think we have a few more days to go.

The other kids never had croup, and boy, am I glad!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Confessions II

We've been up since 4:45 am. Despite what is supposed to be a beautiful day, odds are we spend lots of time today curled up in front of the television.

I often wonder why Melina can only count up to 3. Some kids this age count past that. I can't really remember if the other kids could count past that at 27 months, and to be honest, she has no NEED to count past that. Still, I wonder.

I am really glad we tackled potty training so early. I enjoy not having to change diapers (I don't mind them at bed time), and can't imagine going backwards.

The girls are going to be 9 in January! Where did the time go, and am I ready for this? I remember (ready for the TMI) that during my ninth year (I think toward the end), things started changing with my body. In a way, I want to let them know all of that before it happens. On the other hand, I find myself dragging my feet.

I usually drink a cup of coffee each day: 2/3 decaf, 1/3 regular. Do you think I just might sneak a little more caffeine into that cup? Again, 4:45 am, people!

It is October, and fall/winter weather will be right around the corner. I start to feel blue at this time of the year, missing the people I care about and don't see very often (you know who you are!).

Tim has a Facebook friend, who, I think, has a crush on him. At least it seems that way from some of the comments she makes. Internet flirting, perhaps? I don't think Tim has a clue, really.

Speaking of flirting, I've read 3 novels in the last couple of weeks that feature extramarital affairs as part of the story line. Reading them has made me reevaluate my marriage and scrutinize Tim (and myself) a little more than usual.

After doing the above introspective look, I realized that I'd marry him again tomorrow if he asked; I have no plans to stray.

Don't they all say that, though?!? (Kidding. Really.)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Interpretation

For the most part, Melina is a pretty good talker. She is loud, has a good vocabulary, and most people can understand what she says. Of course, there is some amount of interpretation that must go on, as she leaves out important words, or references something unknown. Most of what she says is pretty funny (at least to us) so I thought I'd share a few items for those of you that don't see her every day.

1. I DON'T THINK THAT IS AN IDEA! This is in all caps, since she usually says it pretty loudly to her siblings. We are pretty sure she is telling them that it isn't a GOOD idea.

2. Amorrow, Mommy, I go to Peggy's house. On Monday. Today not Monday. Nothing funny there. She is telling the truth most of the time, if it isn't Monday. And she loves Peggy's house.

3. I wake up ah Midnight, Mommy. The ah here is her form of a preposition. I like to think that she already knows French, and therefore chooses to use à, which means to, at, or in. And again, you can't say she isn't truthful. In this slow weaning process, she still sometimes wakes up at midnight.

4. Shadow smiled at me. He did. This one really makes us smile. She goes up to the dog's face, smooches him, and tries to hug him. She always says this, and tags on that, "He did." Somehow, it is just really cute.

5. Daddy, I wike your shirt. So far, the kid hasn't met a shirt she doesn't like. She says this to just about anyone (of course, then she inserts the right name) and to just about any shirt. She just said it to Tim tonight, and all he had on was a white T-shirt.

6. Time to sleep, wittle foal, wittle foal. This is my absolute favorite, and writing it down does not do justice to the scene. She loves to read Mem Fox's Time for Bed. Usually, one of us reads it to her while we lie down on her bed, and then she picks it up and reads it aloud. The way she pronounces the word foal, and repeats the sentence, over and over, is just hilarious and adorable. She also calls the snake a worm -- somehow it is a delight to see.A video would be good here, but alas, we don't have it.

The development of verbal skills is one of my favorite things to witness as a child matures. I can't wait to see what the next couple of years bring.

Friday, September 17, 2010

School Days

The kids seem to be enjoying school. They have been there for almost a month. They like the teachers, and they like their peers. However, this is the conversation we have been having every day:

Me: How was school?
Them: Good.
Me: Did you learn anything?
Them: No.

Now, I can't really remember what I learned in 3rd grade, let alone kindergarten. But I do remember going home, having a snack and doing my homework, and turning in papers at least a couple of times a week. So I wonder if school is going to ramp up a bit, now that the teachers have had time to access their classes, or will things just stagnate?

Up until this year, I have been relatively pleased with the kids' schools. Our school district is a good one, and is considered to be in the "Excellence with Distinction" Category. Who can complain about that?!? Now, I have said that Zoe has always had the more rigorous teacher, but all-in-all, I felt the girls were progressing. This year, our elementary school merged with another one (I think there are about 100 new kids added into the mix) AND we have a new principal. On top of that, the teachers always play musical chairs: Zoe's teacher this year taught 1st grade last year (and for many more before that). I think there will be time needed for adjustment to these changes, but how long do you give them? A month? Two months? Half a year?

You might wonder if I am going just on what the kids say. Nope, I have some things to back me up. The spelling words the kids have been coming home with are literally, first grade words. The math papers are a little better, but the reading work has been a little on the low side. My plan is to see how the girls are doing by the time conferences roll around. I am signed up to speak with both teachers on October 14. If, by that time, I do not have sufficient evidence that the girls are doing 3rd grade or higher work, I will be saying something -- first to the teachers and then to the principal.

You might also wonder about Aaron. Despite the fact that things in the kindergarten arena also seem to be slow to get going, I have faith. Talia had this teacher and learned from her. She became a better reader, writer, and more confident in school after having Mrs. H. Her awareness of math concepts also improved after kindergarten, so I am hoping that the extra kids in the class this year won't take away from Mrs. H's ability to shepherd her flock.

Look for another School Days posting to follow-up, I am sure!