Friday, December 26, 2008

what are you teaching that child?

so we're sitting around at grandma's house for our annual christmas celebration slash van clan family reunion when we suddenly hear the foulest language being shouted from the kitchen. turns out it was delightful 2-year-old kayleigh marie who was uttering the un-utterable. don't believe it? watch for yourself:



last i heard a duck, that was most definitely NOT the noise it made.

Monday, December 15, 2008

confessions: i am not alone

i would like to take this time to state proudly some facts about myself that i have been too ashamed to admit until recently, when i discovered what fun laughing about such things can be.
  • i cannot touch my toes

  • i lack depth perception (which affects my driving & athletic abilities)

  • i cannot do a cartwheel
and most importantly,
  • i am not alone becuase these lovely friends are just like me:



thank you, ladies, for lots of laughs last night & for sharing in my afflictions! and it is most certainly the "fault" of our statuesque height and fabulous gams!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

It is I

i am that grammar snob about whom your mother warned you.

i will judge you based upon your grammar mistakes. perhaps not so much when you are speaking -- after all, we don't have the luxury to proofread what comes out of our mouths. although sometimes i wish we did.

but when one puts a thing in print, there is plenty of time to edit, proof, and correct. and if a person is unsure about a grammatical rule or a spelling there is even the vast world of the internet on which to find the correct answer.

at this time of year, i would love to be more gracious. i would love to overlook glaring errors (and not discuss the decay of our beloved and rich language with b who is just as much of a grammar snob as i).

but i can't help it.

not when my mailbox fills with holiday greetings sent to me from The Smith's The Wilson's and The Grover's.

!!!

it makes me cringe. a knot balls up in the pit of my stomach. i start to shake just a little bit.

people who spent all kinds of money & time putting together a beautiful christmas card only to mar it with one little mark ('). the apostrophe.

it has no place in a family name!

please, please, please try hard to remember your poor english teacher back in grade school who told you (and told you and told you and told you) that an apostrophe has two uses in english:

1. in a conjunction to signify where there are missing letters (do not = don't)
2. to denote possession

it does not, i repeat, DOES NOT indicate plurals. the cucumber's are NOT for sale. the pizza's are NOT delicious. and the smith's do NOT live here.

mama smith + papa smith + little johnny smith = more than one smith

they are The Smiths

(note the obvious lack of apostrophe)

now that i have had my morning rant about grammar (ah, it feels so good), i must drink my coffee. and do it slowly.

don't even get me started on adverbs!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

small miracles

we've been spending lots of time lately praying for our dear friend aidyn & what's going on in her life...

and praising god for his soveriegnty & for even the tiniest miracles.

if you get a chance, check out her blog & say a prayer for her, too.

Monday, November 17, 2008

fine literature: confessions of an english major

i quote shakespeare.

i do. and i don't find him in the least difficult to understand.

i devour books whole. once i get started i can't put them down. i've always been that way.

i was an english major. and i loved it. juggling classes on the victorian novel, drama as a genre of literature, and the romantic poets was just my cup of tea. i read with highlighter in hand, marking passages that might be useful to me later on.

i am the kind of person who decides that the brothers karamazov would make a great addition to my summer reading list. and then really reads it while at the pool. a book that size casts a notable shadow across the tanning zone -- and i don't care. i wear it like a badge of honor.

as a literature teacher, i drive students batty pushing them to look deeper. look harder. look further. why did the author choose that name? what is the setting telling us?

i start to get all tingly and can barely keep from jumping out of my skin when i know that an author has managed to set up the mood for the entire novel in the first sentence -- or better the first phrase (i.e. steinbeck: "a few miles south of soledad...")! i've got goosebumps just typing that!

so when a friend recommends to me a piece of fine literature, i jump right on it. i'm not a library kind of girl (although it would save me a fortune). what happens if they don't even have the book i need? or if it's checked out & i would have to be added to a wait list? we all know that kafka, dickens, and bronte are flying off the shelves these days. so i usually head straight to the book store to pick up the priceless treasure.

searching through rows and rows of dusty, musty books is my own private indiana jones experience. looking for the holy grail of good reads. it's more excitement than should be legal.

just a few short weeks back, i was given such a recommendation from a friend upon whom i knew i could count for just the kind of book i would love. full of deep thematic elements. complex and dynamic characters. innovative style. perhaps even some philosophy or a profound life-truth buried deep within the lines.

i didn't rush right out to the book store to purchase it, not even sure i would be able to find time to read between diapers and baths and the rest of the chaos that is my life. but i soon found myself at walmart or target or some other all-purpose haven for one-stop shopping. as i wheeled the cart down the endless aisles, the sleek black cover of the aforementioned recommended reading drew my attention.

so i tossed it into the cart, in between a pack of sippy cups with lids the razorlike teeth of the little dudes would be unable to penetrate, and a box of cheerios -- food the whole family can love.

later in the afternoon, as the house grew quiet the way it only can during naptime, i opened up the book, and there it was. that tell-tale first sentence.

"I'd never given much thought to how I would die -- though I'd had reason enough in the last few months -- but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this."

fluff.

i knew it immediately -- had known it before i had even opened the book, really.

total trash.

and i loved every page.

to make matters worse (better?), the movie opens on friday.

i'll see you there!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jack & his Wife

you all remember the nursery rhyme, right?

Jack Sprat could eat no fat
His wife could eat no lean
And so betwixt the two of them
They licked the platter clean


well, i've created my own version based on my picky eaters:

Wesley could eat no fruit
His bro could eat no green
A cracker, tho, them both will please
If Mommy’s not too mean


it's not a stretch, either.

today we had pizza for lunch (all 4 food groups, right?). wes couldn't get enough of the sausage, cheese, olives, mushrooms. nolan would only gnaw on the crust.

go figure.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

disillusionment

after such a long & heated presidential race and an emotional election day with record numbers turning out to cast their votes for the next ceo of the united states, one might assume that a post of this title would involve strong political views and a reference to our new president elect.

if that's what you were expecting, i would like to apologize becuase you were wrong.

those who know me better might be expecting something about the twins or about halloween candy.

you see, after years of living overseas, i have come to appreciate many forms of government and many political views. there were aspects about both candidates i liked and aspects i did not. there is no one perfect governmental system or ideology. things that work in the u.s. would not work in other countries and things that run smoothly over there would never go over with the american populace. i do not see things like socialized medicine as the road to an evil government. nor do i think that tax breaks for businesses that provide jobs (and health insurance) are entirely unfair. things are not so black and white in my opinion.

we have to remember that, even though we may disagree with some of the ideologies of either (or both) candidates for president, they both love the country. they both want what is best for the people of the united states. neither one is the anti-christ. neither one is a terrorist. and, ultimately, no one comes to power whom GOD has not allowed to rise to that position.

so, no, my disillusionment does not come from whom the american people elected as the 44th president of this country.

my disillusionment came yesterday, long before the polls were closed, at chick-fil-a.

i had heard about all of the election-day freebies and special offers around town. so i made a plan. first stop: chick-fil-a. a free sandwich for me & some nuggets for the boys. then i was going to make my way to the nearest starbucks for some coffee, and perhaps even find some ben & jerry's or a krispy kreme to top off the day. my plan was scrumptious.

unfortunately, it was foiled at my first stop.

at chick-fil-a, they had drawn a clear line in the sand. no one was to receive a free anything without the official "i voted" sticker. having taken my civic duty seriously this year, i had realized several weeks ago that standing in line for who knows how long with one year olds was not such a good idea. so i mailed in my ballot. the problem with that? no sticker for me. and the chicken sandwich nazis equated that with no freebie for me.

so i was a little disappointed. but i understood that they needed to draw a line somewhere so as not to be taken advantage of. so, i bought my sandwich (and fries, and sprite) and ate an enjoyable lunch with the munchkins.

then, on my way out, in walked a group of at least 25 pimply-faced kids. some still had braces. a few were sporting the splotchy facial hair of teenage boys. someone even wore a sweatshirt sporting the name "grandview high school." affixed nicely on each trendy shirt was a little oval "i voted" sticker. last time i checked, you had to be 18 to vote. unless we are referring to the world-altering election of homecoming queen.

according to the rules of chick-fil-a, each one of those i'm-sorry-my-voice-just-cracked teeny boppers in their leggings & mini skirts got a free sandwich.

and i didn't.

i was so irritated i didn't even try starbucks, ben & jerry's, or krispy kreme.

instead, i went home and had some milky ways for dessert after realizing that we have no more peanut butter cups. just one more moment of disillusionment.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

snug as bugs

seriously, people, this is too much.

i found them like this yesterday during nap time.

what makes your list of things you love to catch your kids doing when they think you're not looking? this is definitely my #1.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fiesta Fun! We're One!

my little guys turned one year old last friday!

it's hard to believe that a year ago today we were all still in the hospital and now here we are...16 teeth and a couple of inches of hair later...one year old. it's been a wild ride, and -- as everyone at wal-mart seems to feel the need to mention -- i've got my hands full.

i loved this birthday because (although it's all about them) it's all about me. what do i want the theme to be? what kind of cake do i want to make? whom do i want to invite? (i'd like to take a moment to glory in correct grammar -- ah! okay, i'm done) it's great.

since the birthday is just a week before halloween, i decided to make the most of it and use these as the inspiration for the little fiesta. i didn't want to go overboard, but i thought that a mild pirate theme would be just perfect and not too much work. the hardest part was to find "cute" pirate stuff instead of "creepy" pirate stuff. creepy & one year old just don't jive as far as i'm concerned.

i found some adorable plates & booty chests (we had a few laughs over that one) to fill with treasures & give away. there were even little hats for everyone to wear, if they felt so inclined. the party store even had pirate rubber duckies! my favorite, though, was the fish tank shopping that led to a piratey cake with very little effort.

very little effort was my favorite part. effort is overrated.
i just want to share a few pics of how adorable the little guys looked in their pirate duds. nolan is the green pirate & wes is the yellow one.


land lubbers beware! you will see these costumes again on the 31st!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

mommy moments

just about every little girl starts dreaming of mommy moments when she gets her first baby doll. she holds that doll, dresses it, wraps it up in blankets, perhaps even feeds it or changes its diaper. it goes everywhere with her. and she loves it.

around middle school, she gets a more realistic idea of what mommy-dom is like if she starts babysitting. she might realize that, unlike that first baby doll, a real child does not lie still for a diaper change. or allow its caretaker to squeeze its head between her knees as she struggles to get that cute outfit on. real babies are wriggly, messy, and often loud little bundles.

despite some interesting babysitting moments, most girls do not stop dreaming about mommy moments. slobbery baby kisses. cozy baby cuddles. contagious baby giggles.

and it is true. those mommy moments are wonderful.

the kind of mommy moments that no little girl dreams about seem to be the most frequent in my world.

a sweet snuggle with a little guy as he nuzzles his head into my shoulder, opens his mouth and chomps down hard enough to leave a bruise.

the bulb syringe, working hard to pull all that delicious mucous out of a tiny nose.

a little one crying as i cradle his head to my chest hoping he will vomit down my shirt rather than anywhere that might be visible and disgusting for the other patrons of starbucks.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

there's no denying it any longer

it's fall.

it's cold. it's wet.

it's a sweatpants kind of afternoon.

the perfect day for grilled cheese and tomato soup. and hot cocoa with lots of marshmallows for dessert.

the grey day was in stark contrast to my happy blue background. so here we are with something a bit more appropriate for the weather.

fall is my favorite time of year, so i couldn't go brown & dreary. but the color of a cloudless summer sky was just rubbing it in that all too soon (like perhaps tomorrow) it's going to snow. and -- hooray for colorado -- it will be mid-may before that danger is truly gone.

sigh.

Friday, September 26, 2008

First Blood

in my attempts at a creative title for this post, i thought up what i thought was a jean-claude van damm movie title. being entirely ignorant in regards to the action genre of film making (can you even call it a "film" when you are talking about such quality acting and writing?), i decided to educate myself before publishing anything. it turns out i was wrong:



rambo. i don't think i've ever seen a rambo movie. i didn't know they had a title other than "rambo," "rambo part deux," and "rambo: we should have quit while we were ahead."

oh, well, i digress.

this post is really about izzie (or, "the iz" as she prefers to be called).



our princess.
she's nearly 7 years old and, although she still has every single talon-like claw, has never managed to hunt down anything except the occasional fly. and for the past 4 years, she's been pretty lazy when it comes to the fast ones.
our little girl is pretty good at finding things like spiders or bees and staring at them until we notice what's going on, but anything bigger -- well, she hasn't really been tested.
once, when we were living in barcelona, a pigeon flew into our apartment. yes, a pigeon. straight through the french doors from the balcony, through the living room and into the bathroom. and there it stopped. the iz, keeping a safe distance (about 25 feet, if i had to guess) cowered in a corner and clattered away at the bird and at me, as if i were the one whose natural instincts ought to urge me to chase (and perhaps even kill or eat) a bird.
she was useless & i was forced to chase that thing back out onto the balcony and into the air.
well, after nearly 7 years, she decided to prove her worth to us this week.
on tuesday i noticed that she was staring at the oven all day with such a fixed gaze that she would even let the boys crawl up and grab her tail. i was suspicious, but heard nothing and saw nothing.
on wednesday morning, she had moved from the oven to the pantry, still staring with the same intensity. again, i wondered if perhaps we had a squeaky visitor, but still heard & saw nothing -- even in all the times i was in and out of the pantry all day long.
yesterday, she was back to normal, lounging in the sun and worry free.
until...
after i went to bed a scenario unravelled that i am glad i was not there to see.
according to b, he was playing chess against some online opponent and noticed nothing strange. now, there have been times when i have tried to talk with him while he has been playing, and he hasn't heard a word i said, but he swears he neither saw nor heard anything out of the ordinary.
and then he felt her eyes on him.
he got up from the desk & turned on the light to see her mouth clamped down on the brown furry throat of a mouse.
eek!
good girl. i think we'll keep her.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

spooning




they may have to stop doing this eventually. you know, by high school.
but in the mean time, i just can't get enough of it!
can't really figure out why the pic keeps uploading upside down, though. sorry.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

potty talk

we've been dealing with some hard-headedness around the mitchell household lately.

gone are the days when the boys so sweetly lift up their little legs to assist with a diaper change. these days, they can't even be distracted with a toy or a tantalizing mobile dangling above their heads over the changing table. diaper change time is all out war at our house. before the pants are off, the spuds are rolling over, sitting up, trying to stand, reaching for something besides what i have to entertain them.

the worst is at around 8a.m. why? because that is when, without fail, they poop.

rolling around while i'm trying to change a wet diaper is frustrating. rolling around with a dirty one half on/half off is just plain nasty. i've given up on the idea of a cute changing table cover. we're down to the plastic that can be easily and quickly wiped down. hopefully before they step in their own poop or worse.

i just don't understand how it can be so irritating to them to allow me to remove the filth from their lives. i can't figure out what can be so pressing that they can't wait a moment for me to help them. and it boggles my mind how stubborn they are and how this happens time and time again -- they can't seem to remember that the end result is better and they can't trust me to get the job done.

but diaper changing is not the only time we are running into this attitude.

in order to keep the boys safe from stairs and cords and to give the cat a safe haven (and thus protect the guys from her wrath), i construct a barricade in the living room. a few stools laid sideways used to be sufficient. but it has had to become more and more elaborate -- not to mention solid -- as my teeny houdini has figured out countless ways to get around it or through it and make a break for the steps.

lately there have been screaming fits when he is unable to penetrate the barricade. it doesn't matter that every single good thing in his life is on his side of it. it doesn't matter that he can be closer to me if he just stays where he is. he is determined to go where he ought not go. i tell him no and even give him a better option, but his little mind is set in one direction and one direction only.

and he gets so mad.

he will even ram his head into the wall in an attempt to breach it.

and so it occurred to me the other day as i was fighting with my hard-headed rascals and trying not to lose my patience with them that i am god's child.

no, i take that back.

i am god's hard-headed infant. i have so much that i want to get done and so many plans of my own that i often can't take the time to let him clean up my life. i'd rather roll around in my own filth than suffer through a time of healing, learning, and cleaning. i just can't seem to trust him that his way is really better. i have been known to ram my head into closed doors, sure that where i want to go is right and not realizing that perhaps that road block is there for my protection or to keep me headed in the right direction.

and i get so mad.

so, like i said, we've been dealing with some hard-headedness at our house. i guess it runs in the family.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

ahoy, matey!

they're done.

as of this morning, i have officially finished the boys' halloween costumes.

here they are in all their glory. my boys are ready to set sail on the black pearl in these lovely pirate costumes.



i really am kind of proud of these things. no pattern. just my imagination, walmart, hobby lobby and less than $12 for the two of them combined. and less than an hour's worth of work.
now it's time to move on to bigger tasks. daddy & mommy pirate still need costumes. let me tell you, if the little squirts don't go to sleep soon (and it doesn't sound like they are going to), i may pack them in the car and run to jo ann for some fabric. i'm that pumped about this.
this will be our first year dressing up as a family.
last halloween, mr. n was keeping us up till all hours & mr. w was still in the nicu. nobody felt much like wearing a costume. it was all we could do to hand out candy to the kids. come to think of it, neither b nor i did that. we passed that job off on my dad, who loves any opportunity to talk with a captive audience. and kids waiting with bags open as you dangle candy in front of them are just that -- captive.
so this year it has to be good. and i think it will.
watch out johnny depp, i think my boys may take from you the title of "cutest pirate ever."

Friday, August 22, 2008

because i thought it would be fun

just so that we are all clear that i'm not the only one around here with quirks, i thought it would be fun to share with you the 6 quirkiest things about my darling hubby. of course, they are going to be the quirks i love about him, the quirks that make him b. the quirks that irritate me . . . those are for another day.

and probably it's better not to hang dirty laundry out for the whole blogging universe to look at. nobody needs to take a close look at somebody else's skivvies, as far as i'm concerned -- even if they are Calvin Klein.

so, here they are in the order they come to mind:

The 6 Quirkiest Things About B:

1. his closet is immaculate. a place for everything, and everything in its place. each hanger, evenly spaced. he can sense as soon as he opens the closet door if some other less tidy creature (me) has invaded and attempted to put something away.

2. he is the clean-up man. this is highly related to #1, but he will literally follow me around the kitchen with a sponge, cleaning the mess i make as i am making it. my baking style is his nightmare.

3. sometimes he'll say, "i'm looking for a brown argyle sweater this season." however, more often it comes out something like, "i would like a Paul Smith shirt. i don't have one of those." (!) this is a language i don't speak. i fill in my wardrobe by color & style. apparently, this other method works, too.

4. he cannot play a game "for fun." it must be to win. and it must be highly competitive. if it's a board game, he'll even stoop to cheating (WARNING: do not play scattergories with him unless you are willing to challenge answers). chess, he won't even play with me -- i don't take the game seriously enough (and, thus, stink). scrabble -- he seeks out his true competition, my mother. bowling -- don't even think about crazy bowling. it's serious business. and soccer? we're working on getting him to a point where he can play anything below semi-pro. we'll see.

5. he has had the same haircut for 5 years. attempts to branch out, in his opinion, just didn't work as well as what he has now. he has found a style he likes, and he is sticking to it. (i think he's hot regardless)

6. he can read books and books of philosophy, theology, and whatever other -ology seems to strike his fancy. but he can't seem to make it through a novel. we even tried Of Mice and Men. no dice (AND IT'S 80 PAGES, PEOPLE).

so, that's him. i hope it was as fun for you to read about the silly things that make him special as it was for me to write about them. woo-hoo.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

6 things you may never have wanted to know about me!

my wonderful friend valinda tagged me recently & now i'm supposed to tell you the 6 quirkiest things about myself...


1. i love...no, maybe i'm obsessed with...costumes. i don't know when it started or why it started, but i have to have a new one every year. and it can't be store-bought. it has to be home made or altered from a thrift-store find. and it has to be accurate. all the way down to the way i style my hair and the color of my lipstick. in a previous post i put up some pictures from various murder mystery parties i've participated in, complete with costume. i've also been in plays & various school festivals that "required" hours and hours worth of costume making. oh, and did i mention halloween? candy & costumes -- i don't care the origins (after all, the christmas tree was also pagan at one point in time), that is a winning combo in my book. and the boys' b-day is the week before halloween. let's just say that until they can protest, the theme of their party will co-incide with their halloween costumes. yay!


2. my husband dresses me. seriously. he is the fashionista of this duo. when i was in college, my roomie told me that she would hurt me if i purchased one more shirt that was the color of oatmeal. it was then that i began to realize that my wardrobe was lacking. seriously, i opened my closet & everything i owned was some shade of brown. and i loved it! but she introduced me to color -- although i was afraid of red for several years. when b met me, i was wandering around the fashion hub of barcelona wearing menorquinas (a slab of tire with 2 strips of leather to keep them on your foot -- a step up from the isotoner slippers i wore through college), home made bellbottom jeans, an oversized t-shirt, and my trusty blue sweater (a huge grey-blue monstrosity with no shape that hits just above the knees) with my bible in one pocket & kleenex in the other (or, on a good day, a cookie).


3. even at over 6-feet tall, i am deathly afraid of heights. i remember one fine day climbing up in a tree with my brother & roomie, only to be frozen & unable to come back down. seriously, they told me my feet were a mere 3 feet off the ground. i have also been similarly frozen (and unashamed!) on a zip line (i had to scoot off the platform) and a bungee jump (i had to find an alternate route down).


4. i won't call you. if you call me, that's great. if i have to do the calling, i start to sweat & hope for your answering machine. i beg b to take care of all things phone related. i wonder what the technical name for phone-a-phobia is.


5. i am too cheap to spend more than $30 on a shirt -- that just seems extravagant to me. however, i would go out to eat (if given the opportunity) several times a week and not even blink about dropping more than $30 each time.

6. my biggest pet peeve right now is those big blue carts at wal mart. you know, the ones with the double kid seats hooked on so people like me can (in theory) put my little guys in there & shop for groceries. i hate the fact that, 1st, i have to drive all over the parking lot looking for one, or park & run in one side & then the other hoping that there is one available. and 2nd, when i finally find one, the straps are broken. how irritating is that? i guess the quirky thing about this is that i always leave a note that says "broken harness" on them. i doubt anyone ever reads them, but it's the best i can do.

if you are reading this, and you have a blog, consider yourself TAGGED.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

7.30 bedtime

between 7 and 7.30p.m. our little guys get so sleepy, fussy, and downright cranky that it becomes clear that it is time to go to bed. they rub their little eyes, tip over easily, and cry when we step away from them for just a second.

so, we pick up our toys, read a book, have a bottle, grab our giraffes and head for the crib. they look like they could fall asleep any second.

then, we close the door to their room and (sometimes for nearly an hour) hear strange squeals and thumps. if we go in, it turns in to tears and wailing. for that reason, i've been really curious about what they do after "bedtime."

the other day, i put my secret spy cam in their room to record the goings on...



apparently, what happens in that crib is on a need-to-know basis. and i don't need to know.

Friday, August 8, 2008

so simple

so, several of my friends lately have been writing food-related posts (everything from blueberries to pickles), and i just have to get in on the fun.

my mom & i discovered this recipe when the little dudes were requiring an awful lot of attention and it quickly became a favorite around our household. it is one of the yummiest pot roast recipes i've had. and what makes it yummier? prep time: 0 minutes. ingredients: 3. attention to detail: none.

now that's my kind of cooking!

here's the recipe:

1 can stewed tomatoes

1 packet onion soup mix

one 3-4 pound roast

throw it all in a crock pot on low for 8 hours, and voila!

tender, juicy beef & tomatoes.



Tuesday, August 5, 2008

surprises

life with twins...

every day is chock-full of surprises.

and today has been no exception.

this morning i put the bubs down at 9.30 for their morning nap and settled in for my bible study and then some cleaning like always. 2 hours is a nice chunk of time every morning to get some things done and have a little peace and quiet.

10 a.m. i hear crying from the bedroom. no. screaming. blood-curdling, there's-no-way-i'm-just-going-to-soothe-myself-back-to-sleep screaming.

surprise!

mr. w didn't want to nap any more. so much for cleaning.

my not-so-secret indulgence/addiction since jr. high has been days of our lives.

(go ahead and mock me. let him who doesn't know the names bo & hope cast the first stone)

so i'm watching today and it seems that, once again, the ruthless & evil stefano dimera is back from the "dead" -- or perhaps just a non-recoverable drug-induced coma.

surprise!

well, maybe not so much a surprise...it tends to happen...

the boys were contentedly playing in our living room this afternoon, staying out of trouble, and allowing me to get some things accomplished. look how cute they are.


wait just a second...

i think we need to take a closer look at a few things...



yes, that is, in fact, a huggies size 3 diaper lying in the middle of my floor...

and check this out:


did you notice he's still wearing his shorts?

did you notice the large wet spot in his crotch?

surprise!

apparently, the diaper belonged to mr. n. i have no idea how he managed to take it off while still wearing his shorts.

he is clearly gifted.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

identical?

how is it possible that 2 little people with the same dna, raised by the same people at the same time can be so very different ALREADY?

i had imagined the typical search for identity that happens when kids are in school. i had dreamed up sibling rivalries and arguments in which one child screamed, "i'm not (insert name here), so stop treating me like i am, okay!"

goodness knows there was plenty of all that in my household.

and i don't even have a twin. let alone an "identical" twin.

identical...ha!

these boys are as different as night and day.

even down to the way they crawl.

wes took his time in learning, studying, perfecting his technique before demonstrating it publically.


nolan, on the other hand, had places to go, people to see and couldn't be bothered by what some might consider improper form or excessive noisemaking.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

doesn't it bother them?

people are always asking all kinds of questions about the twins. it's like a whole conversation piece right there. there's no peaceful stroll through the park or the mall for me. no quick trip to target -- just in and out. someone always has something witty or clever to say or a conversation to start (for a full commentary on this please see previous post).

lately a big one (since the boys are getting older & much much more mobile) has been the topic of sleeping arrangements.

do they still sleep in one crib?

hmmm. our townhome is under 1,000 square feet. we had to do a little squeezing to get one crib & changing table to work in their room. i think if we add a 2nd one, the crawl space would have to be converted into a nursery for the boys.

in other words: yes, they still share a crib.

but...doesn't it bother them? i mean, don't they hit each other and things? is almost always the next question.

well, yes. they do poke & prod & hit & wrestle. but...let's think about this...what do you think they were doing inside one uterus for 9 months? i know for a fact that there were wrestling matches even then.

and i know this may be hard to believe, but their crib is...actually...BIGGER...than my uterus was.

by a few inches.

still incredulous, the other person usually persists in the questioning. don't they wake each other up?

sometimes.

does your husband ever wake you up with his snoring? or worse yet, a powerful fart that wafts up the tunnel of covers straight into your unsuspecting nostrils?

perhaps b is unusual. but he wakes me up sometimes. and then i roll over & go back to sleep.

amazing.

babies can do the same thing.

and, honestly, would side-by-side cribs really do much to help one sleep through the other one's screaming in the middle of the night? doubt it.


so all i'd be eliminating is the chance to sneak
into their room
& see this
precious picture.





so. you tell me. does it bother them to stil sleep in the same crib?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

arachnophobia

so, earlier this week i was getting ready to jump in the shower -- quite a luxury these days. the boys were napping. the house was quiet. i was in heaven.



i meandered into the bathroom, and that is when i saw this ugly thing staring back at me from the tub. okay, okay, maybe it wasn't quite that guy. but it might as well have been based on my reaction. not to mention my deep loathing of spiders. which really is just an intense fear pretending to be something a bit braver.

immediately my mind started racing, looking for a solution to this problem. brian was already at work, so he could not save me from this flesh-eating beast (as much as i would like to pretend to be a liberated woman, when it comes to bees, wasps, and spiders, i'm still a damsel in distress waiting for my knight in shining ecolab uniforms to rescue me).

the simple solution would be to squish it. but with a paper towel or something similar i would have to get too close to those fangs (dripping venom -- visibly) for my own comfort. after all, what would become of the boys if their mother dropped dead from a spider bite early in the morning?

there was always the shoe-squish option. but that was still distasteful to me. that would mean i would have to get very close to it to clean up its rotting carcass. even that frightens me.

suddenly, i had a brilliant idea. the monster was in the tub, so why not run the water, drown it, and let it just wash right down the drain? brilliant. watch my mad skills. if you listen carefully, you can hear my terrified heavy breathing in the background.



as you can see, that worked marvellously.

in the end i resorted to the shoe technique. my trusty white flip flop has never been more valuable to me. but i still washed him down the drain. no touching nasty creepy crawly things for me. no matter how dead they are. haven't you seen any horror films? the bad guy is never really dead when you think he's dead. he's just waiting for you to let your guard down so he can get you when your back is turned.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

happy birthday to my hottie of a hubby!

28 years ago today (gasp, he's an 80s baby -- if you didn't gasp, don't tell me, i don't want to feel old) this adorable creature was born:



brian edward mitchell -- isn't he cute?

check him out a year later. he's already got awesome fashion sense, doesn't he?



being such a manly man, he had to learn to shave that wicked beard at just 2 years old:



at just 3 years of age, we could see where much of his life focus would be -- lookin good for the ladies!



somehow, even at a mere 6 years old, he knew that he would one day get to repair things in kitchens:



time does fly when you are having fun, and soon brian was turning 11. does everyone remember hypercolor? yes, that is a 100% authentic hypercolor t-shirt brian's brother is pressing his face into. ah, arpits and crotches that turn different colors from body heat. what a brilliant idea!



the teenage years are interesting ones for all of us. brian was 1 part nerd and 2 parts jock. he got to travel all over the country (and also to england) for soccer camps and such. doesn't he look like a friendly kid, though?



at 14 he moved to spain & came back in the summers to visit his family. check out his uber-stylish bowl cut here:



now, i know you all are wondering how to snag such a looker for yourselves. but just hold on, things did start looking better after puberty and all its bizarre effects wore off.

this is what brian looked like when i met him in barcelona. if i may say so, i certainly got myself my own mc steamy -- who needs grey's anatomy?



and he's still just as handsome 6 years later!





happy birthday, sweetie, and thanks for making me one lucky woman!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Nolan's new addiction

who needs a wii when you have one of these?



a monitor? you ask. granted, a monitor can provide hours of fun listening to your child cry and can even stimulate your mind as you calculate how many minutes have elapsed since the last time you checked on him and how long you can permit the tantrum to go on, but how could a monitor possibly top a gaming system which, when used properly, actually simulates real physical activity?

well, when the brilliant mind of a 7-month-old is engaged, a monitor can become a gaming system of its own. it's tireless fun. just ask nolan.



he is seen here engaging in the fun.

here's how to play. make sure your monitor has the ability to light up when noise is detected. sit, stand, or lie down somewhere in the room where the monitor is in full view. next, scream, grunt, gurgle, or make any other manner of noise which appeals to you at the moment. the object of the game is to get as many of the little red lights to light up as possible as the receiver (located in another area of the house, of course -- the game is too easy if it is in the same room) picks up your noises. the great thing is, there's no real "winner" or "loser" because if you make it work with a scream, move on to the next noise and see how many lights you can get with that one!

wes doesn't play. but as you can see here, he is exited by the possibilities.



he's sure that if they can just get the word out, this will be bigger than guitar hero.

Monday, June 2, 2008

how can i be upset? a story of bedtime rebellion

over the past couple of days, i have noticed that it is taking the boys a bit longer to put themselves to sleep in the evenings. our normal routine of dinner, about 1/2 hour of playtime in the crib, 10 minutes of crying, and out for the night, has lengthened into an hour of playtime and 20 minutes of crying.

and then 30 minutes of crying.

and then there is tonight.

dinner was around 5.30. a change of diapers, a change of clothes, and into the crib by 6.15.

playtime was abbreviated & the crying started after only about 15 minutes.

and went on

and on.

i checked to make sure no one was on top of the other one a few times & things seemed to be fine.

and still, the crying continued.

at 8.00, i decided that something HAD to be done, so into their room i went. both boys were wailing uncontrollably, but nothing seemed to be physically wrong with them.

as soon as they saw me, everything changed.

the chorus of wails became a giggle fest. both of them. just staring at me and laughing harder than i think they have laughed all day. i think it just would have continued had i not decided that -- since they were clearly in no physical or emotional pain -- i could leave again (and blog about the situation).

what in the world is going on?

is an hour and a half of screaming all just some elaborate game that i just lost? i think they forgot to hand me the rule book for this one. i need to know how to play, because it certainly seems like a lot of fun.

if you win, that is.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

simple pleasures

It always amazes me how much pleasure my little guys get from the simple things in life. Things that make them smile, squeal with delight, or wiggle uncontrollably. If only all of us could find joy so easily.

Some things that entertain them right now:

mirrors
the sound of their own voices
squeaky noises
the cat
peek-a-boo
each other's laughter

It's so sweet.

But yesterday afternoon they took it to a whole new level.

Naptime was just about finished and I could hear little sounds of delight coming to me live from the monitor which is unnecessary in our dinky house. I decided to investigate the source of their fun. I crept up the stairs and into their room. There were no giant squeals, just small happy sounds.

What could possibly have them so entertained?

I popped my head over the crib rail and it didn't take me long to discover it.

I don't know who was ultimately responsible (though my money's on Wes), but I do know that they were both deriving much pleasure from it.

"It" was a pile of regurgitated beef and peas from lunch. Both boys were running their hands through it, enjoying the new texture they had discovered.

Ah -- if only we could all take such joy in the simple things of life!

Friday, May 30, 2008

now what?

8th grade graduation was last Thursday.

Yearbook signing, locker cleanout, book returning, and a few end-of-the-schoolyear games were on Friday.

By noon the hallways were empty -- not a single middle schooler could be found.

A long weekend.

On Tuesday, there was boxing up of my personal belongings, an exit interview, & hugs all around.

Wednesday morning my parents headed back to Illinois.

I'm officially on my own and a stay-at-home mom.

What do I do now?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Was it clearly articulated?

The scene: 8th grade Spanish class
The assignment: write 1 paragraph in Spanish about your favorite restaurant
The crime: using an online translator
The defense: he didn't think it was cheating

School policy states that cheating is a zero for the assignment plus a Saturday detention. Graciously, he was allowed to redo the assignment for half credit.

His parents failed to see the severity of the situation. When they were informed of their son's behavior, they informed the principal that they weren't sure using a translator to write a Spanish paper was cheating.

And they asked if it had been clearly articulated that the students were not allowed to do so.

Excuse me?

Was it WHAT?

Does it have to be "clearly articulated" to a student writing a paper for English class not to find another essay online, copy it, & put his/her name on it & turn it in?

Does it have to be "clearly articulated" not to look at your neighbor's paper during an exam?

Does it really have to be "clearly articulated" not to lie, cheat, & steal?

Apparently, it does.

These are the same people that make it necessary for a cup of coffee to have a warning lable reading "hot." The same people inspire tags on diaper bags instructing hapless parents not to "place baby inside bag." Or a tag telling us never to use a hair dryer in the shower or while sleeping. How about the warning on a Batman costume that the shield is not protective & the cape does not enable the wearer to fly.

If people can't figure out the obvious things like a can of peanuts may contain peanuts or peanut oil, or that if (after taking a certain medication advertized on TV) they experience an erection lasting longer than 4 hours they should call the doctor, perhaps we do have to clearly articulate that using a translation service is actually cheating.

Perhaps I'm just smarter than the average bear, but I know -- even without it being clearly articulated -- that I should not eat the insides of a bean bag.

In case you didn't know, they aren't actual beans in there.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Good, the Bad, & the Guilty

So, B & I love doing murder mystery parties.

Maybe it's the little girl inside me who still jumps at every opportunity to play "dress-up." Halloween, parties, school festivals, plays -- anything that requires a costume & I'm all over it. I've got a couple of trunks full of costumes in our crawl space. And I believe there's still one hanging out at my parents' house. If you need clowns, shakespeare, civil war, cave girl, I've either got it, or I'll get it.

Maybe it's the sick pleasure I get out of pretending to be someone else for a while or bring out the bawdy side of my sense of humor that isn't allowed around the middle schoolers I teach.

Maybe it's the fact that it's a party with people who may or may not know each other well & it takes some of the pressure off of conversation -- be it for joke making or for serious stuff.

Whatever it is, it's a blast if you get a group of people together who are willing to be ridiculous & get into a character.

Anyway, I've been doing murder mystery parties sporadically since around college, when some buddies would convert their house into a crime scene, actors would know their role in the murder, and the rest of us would act as investigators. We were cheap enough that we actually wrote our own at one point (and, if I do say so myself, it was pretty darn good).

After graduation, Christy & I decided to host one of our own, combining her high school friends & mine for an evening of gangster-themed murder. We shared the part of a flapper & turned her into "twins" so that we could invite everyone we wanted to. Our only problem was that we had one too many guys & were short one girl. We looked at the descriptions & decided that Ben could play "Scoop" the female reporter who seemed no-nonsense. Harmless enough & seemingly gender neutral, right? That was, until the game got rolling & we figured out just how "Scoop" got the inside scoop on all the action around town. The romantic twists & turns made THAT interesting.



It's amazing how 9 years can change people!

My next adventure in murder didn't take place until 2002. the 20s & 30s group from our church in Barcelona hosted this shin-dig -- which Brian flat-out refused to go to, saying that it wasn't his "thing" and that he wouldn't have any fun at all. Matt, his brother, being much more social & adventurous, was persuaded to go & play the part of Marco Roni in this meeting of Italian-Americans with ties to the mob.

Although, as you can imagine from this picture, he was embarrassed to walk down the street with "Tara Misu," shared by me & Ang. Don't we look great in leopard print?



One poor guy had just joined the church and it was his first time hanging out with all of us. He made such an impression on us as Beau Jolais that no one could even remember his real name for several months!



Just about 6 months later, the 20s & 30s group from church decided to do yet another murder mystery party. This time, it was set in the 1940s & I was the Russian Countess Bogoff -- a name much less offensive in American English than in British English, but I'm sure you get the point.



After much begging, a skeptical Brian agreed to go and admitted that he "had a blast" and it was "much more fun" than he had anticipated. He especially loved to opportunity he had thruogh his character to use a fake English accent all evening long!



Our latest adventure has been 3 years in the making. We got the kit when we moved out here -- wild west themed seemed appropriate for Denver -- and had planned on using it as a kind of house-warming party. We knew 3 other couples in this area before we joined the world west of the Mississippi & that was perfect. Unfortunately, the DAY BEFORE the party, one couple (who shall remain anonymous so that I don't begin any sort of rant) cancelled. Now, for those of you who can think about this, if 1/4 of the suspects aren't showing up, the party isn't going to work. So, it got put on hold.

Then we were going to have it with a group of friends from church, but before we ever got it on the calendar, 2 couples moved out of state. Hmmmm...this party seemed doomed.

We still wanted to do it, so we picked a date over a month out & sent out emails making sure it was going to work for our invitees. A few changes got made, & a date was settled on that was acceptable to all of us.

Until Monday.

When I received an email letting me know that one couple "just realized" that they had plans already for Good Friday. Sounds a bit fishy, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. It was a mad scramble to find another couple who could participate on such late notice, but Mike & Mindy were sports, even finding costumes & not minding that they were the only couple who was not from our old church...and not complaining when the party ran late & their poor boys were not at home in their own beds...




Preston & Paty were "Pelvis Swaggerin" & "Butch Chastity"
Mike & Mindy were "Elias Truist-Heath" & "Helena Handcart"
B & I were "Chief Breaking Wind" & "Dee Adela Muerte"
You'll have to ask Josh "Wyatt Hertz,"
or maybe Kelly, since she was "Elvira-Lynn Fekshun"

Friday, March 14, 2008

Teasers

Whether we are talking about the weather here in Denver lately or my boys' sleep patterns, it seems like it's all about teasers. And no matter which way I look at it, one fact still remains.

I don't like to be teased.

It seems like every time we have a beautiful spring-like day full of sunshine and warm breezes it is followed up by some of the nastiest, wettest wintery slop I have ever seen. "What a wonderful surprise of a day!" I've heard some folks exclaim when thinking back to the sandals they were wearing just days before. Maybe I'm more of a half-empty kind of person than I thought I was, but it doesn't seem nice at all to me.

It's just downright mean.

I get to thinking about clothes I haven't worn in several months, getting my toes done -- perhaps even barbecues or swimming pools. And then comes the bitter cold and snow. Ick. I think I would rather have just straight winter weather. None of these previews, these teaser kind of days that get my hopes up and then slam them back down again.

I tried to tell that to the boys, too. But they don't seem to want to listen to reason.

Two weeks ago, they slept for a six-hour stretch. They did the same thing the next night, and the night after that, and the night after that, and so on until nearly a week had gone by.

But they were only teasing.

Suddenly one day at 3 a.m. they both awoke screaming in absolute starvation and sucked down an entire bottle. They've been doing the same ever since.

You know, I was perfectly content with our every-three-hour routine until it changed. Now I seem to have no patience for the return of the middle-of-the-night bottle. I find myself growling at two sweet and hungry little babies about why they just can't sleep like they were doing and wondering why they feel the need to torture me so.

As if they can think rationally.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Things that make you go hmmm...

You look tired.

Now that's just about the most ridiculous thing to ever say to a woman.

If she's out and about and does happen to be tired, there's a 99.9% chance she did her best to NOT look all that wiped out before she walked out the door. Brushed her hair. Got out of those flannel pants. Maybe even put on a little makeup to try to brighten her tired eyes.

Why in the world would she want to hear that all her efforts were in vain?

And what about that possibility that she isn't really tired? Why then you've just told her how bad she looks when she probably thought she might be looking pretty good that day. Fabulous.

Why, then, is it acceptable to make that statement (sometimes qualified by a question like, "the boys been keeping you up?" or "are you getting enough sleep these days?")? It seems a bit odd to me.

We would never dream of saying to someone, "You're looking a bit chubby today. You must be eating well these days."

I just don't get it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Old Shoes

I have to say that I was getting a bit stressed & worried earlier this week. You see, the time was fast approaching when I would have to say goodbye to my days filled with little smiles & poopy diapers and return to teaching in order to finish out the school year.

That would leave me with just a few hours of awake & playing before I would have to tuck the boys off to "sleep" and not have much interaction with them for the rest of the night. How many milestones would I miss? How many little smiles would be directed at someone else instead of me?

I'm still sad just thinking about it.

The transition was made a bit easier by the fact that my parents have practically moved here for three and a half months to be "nannies" to the boys. At least I don't have to entrust my little sweeties to a stranger.

I know that I need to finish the year -- and not just for selfish reasons like seeing my first homeroom class graduate and getting my salary for a few more months (although those are minor perks as well). Mainly, I just know that for some reason that's what God is asking me to do. So I've been praying for Him to help me through this and give me some enthusiasm for teaching and for the kids at school.

And so, yesterday morning I began the familiar trek southward for 9 miles. I was the first one at school -- no surprise there, I always was. Slowly but surely, familiar faces began to trickle in the building. First teachers, then students. Some had grown. Some had changed their hair. But they were still those same kids that I left back in October. I think the 6th grade class even had the same seating chart I had given them in the Fall.

I slipped so comfortably back into my role as teacher, it was almost as though I had only been gone for a day or two & had to catch up in some lesson plans that the sub hadn't managed to get through.

It was like putting on that old pair of tennis shoes that have been sitting at the back of my closet for so long. Perhaps they aren't as comfortable as they used to be, but then, it's hard to remember what they felt like when they were first purchased. All I know now is that they feel nice. They are full of memories of good times.

And that now is the time to wear them. After all, they won't last much longer.

God didn't necessarily answer my prayers by giving me enthusiasm or excitement to leave my boys and head back to work. But he sure did give me peace and comfort in my current situation, knowing that there is a reason he wants me to finish the year. There is a reason he wants me interacting with these middle schoolers who will grow up and move on -- and many of whom I may never see again.

I have a lifetime of smiles ahead of me with my boys -- and I look forward to every one.

But right now I am smiling at someone else who apparantly needs me, too.

Isaiah 41:10 For me, it always comes back to this verse. . .

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Parenting, Advice, Books, and More!

Get around a group of moms and it's inevitable. The talk begins of when you stopped (or plan to stop) nursing; how old your baby was when he first rolled over, smiled, clapped his hands; does your baby sit up, spit up, roll over. Then the big one comes out.

How is your baby sleeping at night?

If the answer is -- and mine *sigh* is -- that your child is still waking up like clockwork every 3 hours and demanding to eat, everyone has a piece of advice.

Have you read this book? Oh, you mean the one where it says to let your baby cry himself back to sleep and assures the reader that after 45 minutes, the screaming will stop and then proceeds to explain that each night the child will cry for less and less time? Yeah. Read that one. Tried it. After 45 minutes my guy was screaming more loudly than before. After an hour, I thought he was going to shatter the windows. So I comforted him. The next night, it was the same routine. He works himself into a frenzy (and wakes up his brother in the process). So that one was a wash.

Strange, I read another book, too, that promised that after 3 rounds of crying, all babies fall asleep. Maybe I'll explain that to little Mr. W. the next time he starts in at round 4.

What about that book that says to go in and feed or hold the baby every time he starts to cry? Read that one, too. Tried it. The first night it was great. Babies woke up. Babies were fed or rocked. Babies went back to sleep for another 3 hours. Unfortunately, they decided they liked being rocked more than they liked going back to sleep on their own after a cycle. So the next night, they were up and demanding attention every 45 mintues. Doesn't that seem a bit counter-productive?

Some other well-meaning mother asked how much they were eating and how often. Four ounces of formula every 3 hours. Pretty much like clockwork. Have I tried 6 ounces every 4 hours? Yeah, hadn't thought of that one. Too bad about that GERD thing. Six ounces comes right back up and makes them scream from the burning stomach acid in the throat. That one worked like a charm, let me tell you.

Cluster feeding at night? Hmmm . . . again, with reflux, that's not going to work.

What about rice cereal in the bottle to fill up a little tummy and keep it feeling full longer? Tried it. Made no difference whatsoever. Thanks, though. As much as I appreciate all the helpful hints and advice, all babies are different. Each family is different. Everyone has to figure out what works for her family and for her baby and roll with that. If that means that I'll still be getting up in the middle of the night when my boys are 6, 8, or 9 months old, so be it.

I can't wait for potty training. I'm sure everyone will be full of wisdom then, too.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Sweet Dreams

It has been a particularly trying couple of days with the Stink-meister. We think his reflux is really bothering him & even got a stronger prescription (which means differentiating between his bottles & his brother's).

He squirms & screams while he eats, or he will just flat-out refuse to take any food more than 1/2 an ounce, no matter how long it has been since his last feeding. Sometimes we can coax him into finishing a meal if we walk around the room and jiggle him violently while he eats. On a side note, i keep wondering how THAT would work if I were still trying to nurse him. Hmm . . .

Well, just when I thought I wanted to be done with motherhood entirely, last night happened.

He was screaming, as usual, when I put him down to sleep. I changed him to his car seat so I could rock him while I fed his brother. Eventually he did doze off. And then it happened . . .

He actually laughed out loud in his sleep!

How cute is that? He must have been dreaming of the pendulum on the clock. Or his daddy singing the theme of 2001: a Space Oddyssey. Whatever it was, it really got him going. And it made my day.

This morning we are back to gagging on his bottle and business as usual. But those sweet baby dreams still make me smile.

By the way, you are invited to check out the online proof book for the boys’ three-month photo shoot!

http://picasaweb.google.com/beenblessed/VanMeterNewborn?authkey=TzzV3W-hEV8

Monday, February 4, 2008

Depende ¿de qué depende?

. . . de según como se mire, todo depende

Truth.

Reality.

It all depends on how you look at it, doesn't it? Well, not ALL, but let's not get into some philosophical discussion on the subject of absolute truth. There is, ultimately, truth. There is, in reality, only one way that a particular event occurred.

Funny, then, how our own judgements, perceptions, and biases can completely change the way we remember things. And even more, how we want to paint ourselves (or someone else) to our listening audience alters the "reality" of any given moment in time.

Recently I heard a family member relating stories from when she was a new mom -- a combination of funny anecdotes and experienced wisdom which I was eager to learn from. She was telling me about her middle child, who was extremely fussy and screamed almost constantly for the first few months of his life. He would screech that he was hungry and then scream some more when she was trying to feed him. He screamed with a bottle; he screamed at the breast. Nothing seemed to satisfy him. She told me that there were a few times that she grew so exhausted & frustrated that she actually propped him up with a bottle and had to leave the room for a few minutes in order to regain her sanity. We laughed and joked together about how hard it is to hear your baby cry, but sometimes you just have to block it out for a minute and catch your breath.

Then it hit me. I had heard this story before. Well, sort of.

A few months before, Rebecca (another family member -- not her real name, btw) had been telling stories about this woman. Only those stories were about what a neglectful mother she was. Rebecca told me that this family member bragged about the fact that she had figured out how to prop up a bottle so that she could leave the room and not hold the baby. According to Rebecca, this mother didn't mind letting her baby cry for hours at a time. She wanted to break his spirit.

Could these stories really be about the same incidents?

But what's the truth? How could I possibly know what went on inside a house 50+ years ago when both stories were so vastly different? Was either story true? Or were they both twisted just enough to communicate a particular message?

Another incident that is equally as baffling to me involves some guys who are dear to my heart. My darling hubby got himself a brand new watch to celebrate the birth of our boys. Now, you have to understand that B doesn't do anything cheap. This isn't just some station wagon kind of watch. This is a new sports car. Maybe not a Ferrari, but at least a Mustang. A good friend of his wanted to take a look at it as they were sitting in Chipotle not that long ago. This friend dropped the watch on the cement floor. It still runs, but the case is bent & a screw that should be able to come out to change out the band is smashed in there and unable to move. Of course, B was furious & spent some time looking over the watch. The other guy took one look at it & declared it "just fine." No apologies. Nothing.

My hubby sees this as equivalent to taking your buddy's new Mustang out for a spin & running it into a post, leaving some scratches & a dent, but saying that it's a-ok just because it still runs.

Our cousin heard the story from the other guy. Of course, his version was a bit different. Funnier, perhaps. In this version, B spent a half an hour in the bathroom checking out the watch from every angle & came back in an absolute rage even though there wasn't even a scratch on it.

Again, could there be a bit of truth in the other guy's story? Maybe. I know how particular my hubby is. But I've also seen the damage to the watch.

How can someone discern what really happened over burritos that day?

Okay, I changed my mind, I am going to get into that philosphical discussion.

I have spent the last 2 weeks with various family members, hearing tales told from different points of view, yet I don't know what the reality of any one situation is. How can this be possible? How can one event inspire so many different versions of the truth.

What does that mean, anyway, "versions of the truth?" If a thing is true and real, then how can there be different versions of it?

This idea of absolute truth plays into much more than just figuring out what happened on a particular day with those friends of yours. Ultimately, it can change the way you see the universe, life, God. . .

I've heard people say things to the effect of, "well, that may be true for you, but it's not for me."

If a thing is true, it's true, right?

If the sky is blue for me, it can't be orange for you, can it?

I can believe that I wasn't speeding all I want to, but the the cop who pulls me over isn't going to want to talk about how much I don't like the reality of the ticket he is giving me, so it must not be right.

Right?

So. . .what IS truth? Is it my perception of an event? Is it what FEELS right to me? Or is it something else? Something bigger? Something that exists despite the limits of what my finite mind can grasp? Something outside of perception and emotion?

If it is that bigger, firmer thing -- which I believe it is -- I want to KNOW it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The After-Christmas Browns

I still haven't taken down my Christmas decorations.

With the boys having been sick, it just got pushed even lower on my list of priorities. Weeks ago, the lights stopped twinkling, the garland lost its sparkle, and everything turned a bit dull. I don't understand how, when just a month ago, everything was shiny and sparkling and full of holiday wonder, it can now seem so dull and lifeless.

Christmas and New Year's are done, and there's not much to look forward to for quite a while now. Sure, there are the "holidays" like MLK day and President's Day -- all those excuses for a 3-day weekend, but those days don't hold the same sense of anticipation and excitement that "real" holidays do. There are no gifts to open, no twinkling lights, not even a single fire works presentation or parade. The days are still short, the weather is still cold -- there seems to be no end in sight.

I wouldn't say that I've got the "blues." I'm not sad about anything. There's just no tinsel in the middle of January. Holly Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany's) had the "mean reds." I don't have that either. Life is generally pretty good. The boys are healthy again, despite a lingering bit of nasal congestion. B's job is going well -- we are even able to squeeze in a trip home to visit relatives. So red isn't the right color, either.

Brown.

Dull, kind of murky, bland, boring...

Ordinary.

I've definitely got the after-Christmas browns. Perhaps a shower & a tooth-brushing will clean it up. Too bad they don't make whitening strips for days like today.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Denied!

If there is a medicine available to prevent a pretty serious illness in infants and toddlers, shouldn't everyone have access to it?

Bronchiolitis is a lung infection caused by RSV, which occurs in epidemics every winter. It leads to a serious infection of the lungs only in children under 2 years of age. It causes wheezing, rapid or tight breathing, coughing, fever, nasal congestion. Bronchiolitis can lead to ear infection, bacterial pneumonia, and even an increased risk of asthma. The illness can last for up to 14 days and, as you can imagine, makes a baby extremely uncomfortable.

This virus is spread by someone sneezing or coughing up to 6 feet away from another individual, or by touching something which an infected person has touched. Considering that babies have to go to the doctor at the very least for well-baby checkups at one, two, four, and six months, etcetera, it is reasonable to assume that every child runs a risk of catching this virus.

There is a monthly shot called Synagis which can prevent babies from getting RSV and bronchiolitis. The only problem is that it is EXTREMELY expensive, and insurance companies often deny treatment to "healthy" babies. Rather than try to keep all infants healthy, they decide to play a game of Russian Roulette with the health and safety of thousands of children. They have a list of criteria to decide if a child is "high risk" enough to warrant this preventative treatment.

Apparently, our boys are not "high risk" enough. They were born a month premature. Each developed Respiratory Distress Syndrome while still at the hospital and had to be admitted to the NICU. One twin developed one pneumothorax and had to be in an oxygen hood for a day before graduating to a nasal cannula for another day and finally being discharged without oxygen. The other twin popped TWO pneumotoraces, spent a day in an oxygen hood before being intubated and given two doses of surfactant to mature his lungs. He spent a total of 12 days in the NICU before being discharged without oxgyen. After only one day at home, he had to be put back on oxygen and remained on it for over a month.

According to our insurance company -- which is a big company and considered to be one of the best, by the way -- our boys were not preemie ENOUGH, and since they went home without oxygen (despite the fact that one immediately went back on), they didn't need Synagis. We were denied.

Keep in mind, too, that any baby with complications, such as our little guys' lung issues as well as heart problems, is going to spend a lot more time in hospitals and doctor's offices than even a so-called "normal" baby would. Where better to be exposed to a cold virus than in a hospital or a doctor's office? One kid coughing six feet away could do it. Some parent with just a mild stuffy nose who used the same pen as I did in the hospital could do it. This virus is everywhere, yet insurance companies are turning people down for it left and right!

My pediatrician told me about a family where both parents are deaf, and thus unable to hear their baby coughing or choking or in some kind of respiratory distress. Their baby was premature. But not premature ENOUGH to qualify them for this drug, despite the extra complications involving the parents.

Well, our little guys who were seemingly not at risk enough for prevention, managed to pick up this virus. Most likely last week when we were at the hospital. Now they are lethargic, unable to eat, and hacking up sticky yellow mucus from their lungs. We have to be in contact with our pedi on a daily basis just to make sure we don't need to take a trip to the hospital for further lung treatment or an IV drip to hydrate them. We can't let them sleep on their backs. We can't leave them alone when they sleep, since this infection has also been associated with sleep apnia.

And I have to sit here and look into their little bloodshot & watery eyes and know this could last for another 2 weeks.

And know that this could have been prevented.

Monday, January 7, 2008

I Love You . . . I Hate You

Vaccinations today for the spuds.

Poor little things don't even understand what's going on and are feeling so terrible. Whimpering in pain, hardly able to eat a thing, and running mild fevers to boot. They are so exhausted they just passed out after the doctor's visit and stayed in their car seats for a good chunk of time. I stared at them for at least a half an hour, feeling so bad for them that I could almost have cried.

Then one woke up.

And the screaming woke up his brother.

So there they were, screaming -- no, shrieking -- faces turning the color of pickled beets because they wouldn't even stop long enough to breathe. Holding them didn't help. Swaddling them didn't help. Rocking them made them scream louder. Pacifiers . . . that was just a joke, since their mouths wouldn't even close around them long enough to realize that they were there, ready to comfort them. I, on the verge of losing my mind, didn't know whether I should join them in their tantrum of tears or whether I should put them in the nursery, close the door, and put on some tunes on my new iPod. That pity and overwhelming love for them that had been there just moments earlier -- gone.

I don't know where it went, or how it could have fled so quickly, but maybe it heard the screams and headed for a safe place along with my cat.

After several minutes of screaming, Stinky fell asleep on my chest and Chubs had huge tears rolling down his cheeks. How could I be so heartless to even think about not holding them and helping them through this? They are such tiny things and so dependent on me for everything! I was overcome with the desire to protect them and provide what little comfort I could.

I looked at the clock and was relieved to discover that it was time for their dose of baby Tylenol. Stinky's went down just fine, and I stroked his head and assured him that it would help him to feel better soon. Chubs, however, didn't seem to like the grape flavor. He spit his back out all over his new bib (Italian, might I add -- one of the newest fashions from Milan). I'm sure it will forever be stained with purple spots as a reminder of his hard-headedness. Instead of wanting to stroke his pate and comfort him (as I had his brother), I felt like bopping him upside the head and yelling that he'd just ruined his last chance to feel better and it served him right, the little poop!

Needless to say, he didn't listen to reason.

Now they are asleep again, my little angels. And I am left to wonder how it is that such tiny things can provoke such big emotional shifts all in under ten minutes.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Twins, eh?

It's amazing to me how having twins makes people want to talk to me -- and how they have nothing to say. Yesterday we went to the hospital & to pediatric cardiology. We arrived early to fill out paperwork and there was a good chunk of time between our 2 different appointments, allowing ample opportunity for folks to walk by and to see my little guys, all dressed in blue, hanging out in the stroller, being fed, being changed, screaming, sleeping -- you name it, they did it. I feel now like I should have counted the number of times this exchange happened (honestly, with little or no variation). stranger: oh! twins, eh? me: yep stranger: boys or girls? me: two boys (thus the blue striped shirts, the blue booties, the blue hats, the blue blankets...) stranger: you've got your hands full! me: i sure do stranger: good luck! As much as I appreciate friendliness, warm wishes, and the like, it seems to me that people should either think of something wittier to say or just smile and walk on by. I mean, really, how many times a day do I need to be told that I've got my hands full? Don't they think that I know that already? And if my hands ARE that full, why don't you lend me one of yours instead of reminding me how difficult my life must be and walking away? Even worse are the people who have the audacity to probe deeper into the origins of my duplicitous offspring. Identical or fraternal -- now that's a reasonable question. However, I try to avoid a lesson in the genetics of twinning after I answer "identical" and someone proceeds to ask if twins run in my family (since identical twins are spontaneous). I just smile and say that there is a small pocket of twins on my mother's side. Some people go on to inquire into the number of twins on my husband's side (even if they were fraternal, what his sperm would have to do with the number of eggs I release is beyond me). The worst offenders in this category of passers-by are those who ask if my boys were "natural" or "helped out." Again, skipping the genetics of identical twinning, what business is it of anyone else's if my boys were conceived in a petrie dish or in an airplane lavatory? Does the more widespread use of fertility treatments truly give someone the right to inquire as to the method of conception used? That is a bit personal. I shudder to think of the lifetimes of questions like these my boys are going to have to endure! So the next time you think about allowing the phrase, "twins, eh?" to come from your mouth, think twice. Instead of offering up a banal comment, why not offer a smoothie or a granola bar. Chances are the mom DOES have her hands full and has missed a meal or two that day.
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