Monday, January 31, 2011

Nine. Really!?!

Nine years ago today, I became a mommy for the very first time. Doubly-blessed the first time over, I still remember coming home from the hospital with these babies who each weighed 5.5 pounds. I could barely tell the difference between them at that time, and we made sure to keep different color hats on them, as well as different clothes, so that we wouldn't mix them up. Eventually, we polished one of Zoe's nails red, and one of Talia's purple, and keeping them straight was as easy as looking at their hands.

When twins are your first children, you have no idea how much work you are doing, and whether or not it is more work than it is for one baby. Our subsequent children, both singletons, were much less work, but I didn't know that until I actually had them. On the other hand, because Zoe and Talia always had each other, nap time, play time, and feeding time seemed easier with them. Some people have asked how "overwhelmed" we were with the twins. Again, you don't really know until you experience something else. But when I think about anything that has "overwhelmed" me, it isn't the amount of work that comes with raising twins (or anyone else for that matter). I have been completely and irrevocably overwhelmed with love for these two (and of course, their siblings).

I don't think I can put into words the number of ways my heart grew the minute these babies were placed in my arms. Yes, I loved them before they were born, but once I could really see, and smell and feel the tiny lives that were once inside of me, I was gone. I've been amazed at their beauty and kindness, their generosity and love for one another. I sneak hugs and kisses at every opportunity, and love snuggling right up to them, no matter how grumpy they might be. I still check on them every night before they go to sleep, and when the screen saver comes on -- the one that scrolls through our pictures from the past -- I stop and relive all those moments that have gone by.

It really is hard to believe that my little ladies are nine years old. I have less than a decade left with them in the house, and if I haven't started already, I need to make every moment count! Happy Birthday, Zoe and Talia!

Recent above, and not so recent below

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hitting the Century Mark

A while ago, I was wondering about the average age in the house (16.7 years, by the way, with a standard deviation of 15.2 years), when I discovered this curious fact...

Our current ages
Tim: 39
Chris: 37
Zoe: 8
Talia: 8
Aaron: 6
Melina: 2
Sum: 100 years

Of course, this is going to change in about an hour. Happy Birthday, Zoe and Talia!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Food For Thought

I like to putter around the internet. I find other blogs, check them out, and then also check the ones that are written by people I know. Many people with whom I currently interact are people with things in common with me: kids, interests, work, etc. There is a subset of people that I once knew: the FB friends with pages, most of whom I haven't seen in 20 years. I often wonder if I still have anything in common with them.

Last week, while I was checking out some blogs, I stumbled across this quote.



"...it should be understood that for every wife the first duty is the
making and keeping of her own home. Her first and best work should be done
there, and till it is well done she has no right to go outside to take up other
duties."


JR Miller


On first glance, I realized that I probably did not have anything in common with this person anymore. Then, I was somewhat outraged! Who would say this, much less condone it? Would this JR Miller think that I performed my duties inside the home sufficiently? And by what standards should the woman be judged, anyway? What about women who want children, but just aren't that good at cooking, cleaning, and nurturing? Should they NOT have kids or a home? Isn't delegation of duties by women (and men) like these actually a mature and responsible thing to some degree? I took a women's studies class in college that would have had a heyday with this quote!

So, I decided to do a little digging. JR Miller is not a contemporary author, and actually died in 1912. According to this website devoted to him, he was a popular Christian author during his time, and the quote above can be found in his book entitled, "Homemaking." I read a little bit more of the prose surrounding that quote in particular, and when put into context, it reads a little better. He went on to talk about women who try to do things outside the home, but then don't see what is inside the home:


"While they were winning a place in the hearts of the poor or the sick or
the orphan, they were losing their rightful place in the hearts of their own
household."

I can understand what he is trying to say, and knowing that it was published in 1882, makes what JR Miller wrote, a bit more palatable.

What I cannot completely understand is how many people seemingly still agree with the sentiment of the quote taken OUT of context. The blog I was looking at when I found it put an "Amen to that!" on it, and several other readers also commented. Am I being judgmental here? I guess so. As the saying goes, everyone is entitled to their own opinions.

And an opinion is what I am giving. In my mind, we should do the best job we can for all of our duties. I try to be the best teacher when I am at school; I do my best when it comes to parenting; when someone needs a listener, I put forth a great effort to listen. I think I do a pretty good job as sister and daughter and friend. I may utilize all of my energy to do a nice job in all of these aspects of life, but there will still be students that don't respond to my style of teaching, or times that my kids think that my parenting skills are not up to snuff. I might also disappoint my siblings and parents, as well as Tim. Being busy with the kids -- I am sure that Tim might have something to say about my ability to be a wife. However, I think it would be silly to NOT do all the other things that I do, in an effort to keep home a little better.

After all of this thinking and writing, there is one thing for sure that I need to do better: reading without judging, allowing people to have their own views, and letting go when someone disagrees with me. What can you do better in your own life?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Didn't We Just Have You Here?

Tim is, right this very minute, stationed in our room, keeping watch over the little redhead as he sleeps. He is kid number 3 to cave to a nice little GI bug that I swear, we just saw in December.

Remember? Aaron came home from his Christmas party sick? He and Melina ended up spending the last few days before Christmas just a wee bit ill. They didn't vomit too many times, but one time really is more than enough.

Well, last Friday (luckily it was a snow day), Talia all of a sudden said she didn't feel well. She vomited once, and spent the rest of the day on the couch. Saturday was uneventful, but yesterday, Zoe caved. The poor kid wanted to outdo her sister, obviously, as she ended up vomiting 8 times! Thank goodness we've all been through this before -- the kids either get to the bathroom, or get it in the bucket. Keeps the spreading of germs and clean-up to a minimum. Zoe didn't go to school today, and essentially spent the day on the couch. After dinner, she looked better.

At about 3 pm today, Aaron looked a little green around the gills. We gave him a bucket in the car, as we drove Talia to piano. We needed to make a quick stop at Kroger, so I made sure that his belly was okay, but we had a back-up plan in place: if he needed to get sick, Zoe would take him outside while I finished picking up and paying for the 3 measly things we needed. Aaron lasted until about 5:30. So far, he has used the bucket twice.

You might ask, why does Tim get the pleasure of spending time with the sick kid? We usually split up the tasks of catching vomit, cleaning up vomit, and doing laundry. We both pitch in wherever is needed. But when it comes to sleeping with the child that is sick to his stomach, that is Tim's bag. He can sleep like no other. He can probably help Aaron get to the bathroom, clean out the bowl, and put him back into bed, and not even realize that he did that. The man can not only sleep through most anything, but he can GO BACK TO SLEEP WITHOUT TRYING. And that, my friend, is the reason he gets the sick kid duty.

Should Melina get this bug, and I am guessing she will, I will have to be on...Melina sick means Melina + Mommy. Hey, he takes care of 75% of the kids during GI bug time. I can't really ask for anything more. Except that maybe these viruses stop invading our house.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dance Party

It is rare to get all 4 children to look at the camera, much less smile nicely.

The kids had a dance party with Tim yesterday while I was away. They seemed to have fun, and Tim was able to get a picture that just rocks!

Enjoy.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Warm Fuzzies

Warm fuzzies are what I need right now.

Not only is it the middle of winter, my least favorite time of the year. But I fear we are in the midst of pre-teen angst at our house. I cannot fathom the years to come with twins that are girls. The moodiness, the drama, the sheer pain of teenage girls. Ugh.

Zoe asked last night about watching television -- something we monitor in our house. We try to keep the amount of television to a minimum, many weeks going without watching it at all. We also make sure we know what the kids are watching. The kids haven't watched that much at all in the last couple of weeks, but both girls were tired last night (not that they would admit it) and I just said, "No, not tonight."

Zoe had the chance to reply, "Okay mom. Maybe tomorrow," and then go on her way. Instead, she opted to use her body language to show her displeasure. She smirked at me, and then slumped her shoulders. She dragged her backpack to the back hallway, glancing at me sideways. It was clear she was not pleased. She essentially did not speak to me before she went to bed. And believe it or not, she was STILL angry this morning! She wouldn't answer me when I gave her the choices for breakfast, and she removed herself from the room when I was handing out kisses before I left for work.

My first response was to get angry! I didn't appreciate the disrespectful attitude, nor did I like the example she was setting for her siblings. Luckily, the only one to notice was Talia, who confirmed that Zoe was still mad about the television issue. I told Zoe that her behavior certainly wouldn't be getting her TV time any sooner, but to be quite frank, I was too busy to figure out any other consequence to her actions.

After I put my things in the car, I came back in the house specifically to give Zoe a hug and a kiss. If something had happened to me on the way to work, I didn't want her to think that I didn't love her, or that I had neglected to give her smooches. The last thing she would need is to feel guilty for the rest of her life. She was like a stone statue, but tolerated me touching her. She didn't say a word as I walked out the door.

As I sat in the car, hoping to hear something soothing on the radio, I realized how bummed I was at her actions. I know we get angry at our kids and they get frustrated with us. But this morning, in the middle of January, dark skies and snow falling, I needed her to let go of that anger and hug me back. I needed to agree to disagree and at least communicate enough so that I don't sit here thinking about it all day. I wanted some warm fuzzies, and got none.

Perhaps I will let her read this post this afternoon, once she gets home from school. She likes to communicate in writing, and if I let her read this, and tell her just how much I love her, how much I missed her warm fuzzies this morning (I LIVE for the hugs and smooches from my kids!), perhaps she can let that anger go, and we can move on. I know this is just the beginning, and can only hope that we survive!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Nature Vs. Nurture

I am a big proponent of both nature and nurture. I think they both have an effect on a person's development. I just wanted to say that.

Melina, being the fourth child, has no chance in terms of letting her nature stand out, considering all the nurturing going on around here.

Case in point:

Lately, Melina has been adding the letter Y to her words. Instead of card, she'll say cardy, or instead of gum, gummy. She also likes to say real words that end in the letter Y, such as mommy, daddy, puppy, kitty, ready, etc.

She has grown up, all 2 years of it, around people who like to sing. (Not me. I like good and bad 80s music, and I hope that rubs off onto her or at least settled itself on one of the chromosomes I donated to her). Tim sings, the girls sing, and Aaron hums. Silence is not to be found around here.

Having Aaron for an older brother has been good, and bad. He is a great influence when it comes to teaching her how to build something, or draw something, or helping her read a book. On the other hand, the kid has a potty mouth sometimes (at least according to my standards) and he loves blood and gore.

This all comes together in the song Melina was singing yesterday, with a naked Barbie in hand:

She's gonna wear guts in the bummy!
Oh yeah.
She's a boy and has a penisy!
Oh yeah.
She's gonna sit on the potty!
Oh yeah.
She's got peanuts in her bummy!
Oh yeah.


?!?

The other 3 would have found this hilarious, had they been at home. I found it quite amusing myself. But I had to wonder...if Melina has been born first, would this lovely song have come out of that mouth? I'll never know, I guess.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lost!

I had a fright yesterday. Melina was lost to me for about 90 seconds. It was the worst feeling in the world. It went something like this...

Zoe and Talia had an orthodontist appointment yesterday, after which I said they could play in the snow. The girls agreed to watch Melina for 5-6 minutes, outside, while I put dinner in the oven and unloaded some things from the dishwasher. The girls are in charge of putting the clean silverware away, but because they were doing me a favor, I figured I'd take the extra minute and put the utensils away for them.

All of a sudden, I hear a very faint, "Mommy!" It was Melina's voice, but I could not tell if she needed help, and I had no idea from which direction it came, so I ran out the front door. The girls, Aaron and a friend from up the street were playing by the fir tree out front. Melina was no where to be found. The ensuing conversation is below:

Me: Where is your sister?
Them: [Nothing. Not a sound. They just look at me.]
Me: WHERE IS MELINA???? DO YOU KNOW???
Them: No, she was just here.
Me: DID I NOT ASK YOU TO WATCH HER FOR JUST A COUPLE OF MINUTES?!?


I run out the front door, and check the sides of the house. She isn't at the gate, she isn't in the front yard. She doesn't seem to have wandered in the street. I don't see her under any bushes, but she isn't answering me at all. I run around to the garage and yell, but there is nothing. I come back to the front, don't see her, and decide to go back to the garage. Finally, she peeks out from the side of the car, crying, because she cannot get the sled down. Melina had no idea I was looking for her.

I snapped. I sent the kid from up the street home, and pulled the girls inside. I don't need to write a play-by-play of the LOUD diatribe that went on inside our house after that. My anger was fueled by fear, panic, and dread, and while I can't expect the girls to really completely understand all my feelings, they are at the age where they need to start thinking before they act.

Once I calmed down, I was able to tell them exactly what I was feeling and why I acted the way I did. To be honest, I was surprised Zoe and Talia had let Melina out of their sights. They are very good little helpers, and often times take it upon themselves to help Melina when I am trying to load laundry or get dinner ready. I think, in retrospect, the issue was that the girls were distracted by the snow and their friend. If I had given them the task of watching Melina for a few minutes before their friend came, I am sure they would have been more successful.

I believe we all learned a lesson yesterday, and thank goodness the outcome was benign.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bring On The Letters!

Each year, in January, I promise myself that this will be the year I get out Christmas and Hanukkah cards. That same year, in December, I curse myself for not doing it. I usually manage to send out a few, to people like my aunts and a few long, lost friends I don't speak with much, but I never do seem to get around to sending anything to people with whom I correspond regularly. Backwards, ya think?

Someday, when I put cards at the top of my priority list -- right after taking care of the kids and in place of running (gasp!) -- I'll be sending you a card. At that time, perhaps I will even include one of those letters. You know the ones. The letters that describe each and every accomplishment that Jane and Johnny did, leaving out the fact that Jimmy is currently in the state penitentiary.

In my opinion, you either love them, or you hate them. While I used to despise those things, I truly, honestly, seriously love receiving them! It doesn't matter if I see you and your family once a week, once a month, or once a year. I enjoy reading what happened in the lives of kids that are growing like weeds and look completely different than they did in the letter from last year. I appreciate knowing that it is a struggle for you to be a stay-at-home mom, and I really am glad to know that you had a blast on your vacations. There are so many mundane details and big events that I miss hearing about from friends and family, some of which are included in those letters. Bring them on, baby. And I mean that.

I just gave you permission to brag about your family to me. I should only have to say it once, no? If you are one of my single friends, do I still want to hear from you? Absolutely! You have a life (aren't you glad I think so?) and it should be just as full and rich as those of us with families, just in a different respect.

In all reality, though, will you receive a letter like that from me? Probably not. I love writing, but I prefer to write either semi-anonymously (i.e. this blog) or to you personally. So, if you actually do get a letter from me next year, it might be typed, but it would most likely not be a form letter. And since I don't even have time for cards, the idea of that letter, just won't be happening.

If I had written a letter this year, do you wonder what I might include? If you read this blog, you might already know this stuff. But for the fun of it, I'll repeat some of our year here.

January: The girls turned 8 (yikes!) and my goal of weaning Melina by 18 months went out the window. Teaching in the winter was fine, as I did most of it online. The girls started piano and voice, and they love it! It was a long January, since Tim was traveling and Aaron was sick.

February: Short month, not so short in winter. Running injury. Not much to say.

March: Melina's talking more and having a blast with the kids! The lives of Tim and myself seem not so exciting. Aaron did well at kindergarten registration, and because it is the law, he will be going to public school kindergarten! Congratulations!

April: Let's skip talking about this month. Always a bad one, full of viruses. Revisit our blog if you really want to know how Aprils are for us.

May, June, July and August: Great time was had by all! The kids all enjoyed the end of school, and we had so much fun driving just about everywhere! A first visit to Disney for the kids, and a trip to Walloon Lake were the highlights of the summer. Melina turned 2 and continues to be the life of the party! The goal of weaning Melina by 2, again, is out the window.

September: School is back on. Third grade, kindergarten, and babysitter for Melina.

October and November: Croup, Halloween and Aaron's birthday! The little man is 6, and not so little. Hard to believe. Again, Tim and I -- who are we? What do we do? What do we look like? Do we know, and does anyone care about our lives?

December: Great vacation from school (for me) and a generally nice Christmas vacation. Me and my lactating self are headed into 2011!

Aren't you glad I didn't write it?

Monday, January 3, 2011

We Should Have Named Her Joey

Last night, Tim and I watched a really cool program called, "In The Womb" on Nat Geo Wild. The first one we saw showed the development of kittens and lion cubs from the time of conception up until birth. The show utilized 3D and 4D ultrasound scans, computer imagery, and awesome photography to capture nature at its best. Being the physiologist that I am, this sort of program absolutely mesmerizes me. The second hour of the program focused on elephants, sharks, dolphins, and kangaroos.

Way back in the late 70s or early 80s, I received a stuffed Kanga and Roo (from Winnie the Pooh). I still have those animals, and since then, the kangaroo has held some fascination for me. I don't collect them or consider them my favorite animal, but everything about them is interesting. I remember seeing a nature special on them long ago, and being dumbfounded at the birth of a kangaroo. They are born 4 weeks after conception (and completely underdeveloped) and make an enormous climb (using only their front legs) into their mother's pouch. After that, they can spend the next 9 months maturing in said pouch.

The program last night showed the birth of the joey; we watched the little guy emerge from the mom, crawl up her body, and creep into the pouch. Once there, the joey latched onto the teat of the mom, which was almost as large as he was. The narrator then indicated that the joey will stay there, nursing continuously, for the next six months. Unlike mammals, joeys don't get nourishment from a placenta during development, they receive it from the milk of the mama. Interestingly enough (and duh!) the shape of the teat changes over time. It starts out as a nub that fills the mouth of the joey, then gets progressively longer and thinner. By the time the joey is ready to exit the premises, the teat resembles a soda straw [insert off-color jokes here].

At that point in the program, I let out a huge guffaw. Remember, Hi mommy milk, I'm Mimi? Or how about one I haven't written about -- What if mommy milk was hot cocoa...wouldn't that be funny? Ha, ha, little girl. I completely identify with that mama kangaroo! Sure, my kid was born mostly developed and all that, but since that time, 2 years ago, she's been attached to me! All milk aside -- if I had a pouch, she'd be in it -- guaranteed.

Can you imagine? I get to the lectern, put up my Powerpoint slides, and out pops Melina's head from my pouch! I'm running along the streets and Melina's hair moves in the breeze as she enjoys the rush of air and waves to her friends! I go to the gas station and pump the unleaded into the tank; Melina's hand shoots out from the pouch to catch my keys as they drop! The images just keep on coming. Please, someone, tell them to stop!!!

All kidding aside, one of the other remarkable things about kangaroos is the size of their Achilles tendons. It all makes sense, seeing as their powerful hind legs do so much, but if you ever get a chance to see this program, watch it. Even inside that pouch, once the hind legs start to develop, the force of the Achilles can be seen. Nerd? Yes. And proud of it.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

I really just want to post something on this wonderful, rainy, first day of 2011. I have plenty to say, but not enough time to say it. Next time.

Hope you and your family enjoyed a wonderful holiday season. For many of you, I wish a better year this year than last.

Happy New Year!