Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Easter Bunny Threw Up

I'm proud to say that we actually only bought three of the things on the table.  The Bambi video and the baseball gloves.  That's the best thing about having really young kids, they don't remember that they got all of this other Easter crap for the last three Easters.

We've known for months now that we wanted to get the boys baseball mitts for their Easter baskets, especially since their first tee-ball practice is next weekend.  The only problem...we still don't know if they are right-handed or left-handed.  We've been trying for weeks to pinpoint, even enlisting their teachers to help us out, but we still aren't 100% sure.  Thing 1 seems to prefer his left hand for writing, throwing, and eating, at least most of the time.  But not all of the time.  Thing 2 seems to prefer his left hand for writing and eating, but throws with his right hand.  But again, most of the time that is true, but not all of the time.

Superman is really rooting for them to be left-handed.  First of all because his dad, Papaw Train, is left-handed and he (Superman) has a serious case of daddy-worship.  Second, because he has big dreams of the boys being Major league pitchers one day, which they'd have a better chance of if they were left-handed.

I personally would like Thing 1 to be left-handed and Thing 2 to be right-handed.  That'd make a perfect pitcher/catcher team!

For now, we bought three mitts.  Two left-handed and one right.  We are pretty sure Thing 1 is left-handed, but we got Thing 2 one of each, and we'll see which one he prefers and return the other.

To cut or not to cut

This week, had an article detailing why a woman and her husband decided not to circumcise their son, which made me think back to when we made the choice for our sons...

Of course we've all heard for decades about the health benefits of circumcision: it's been thought to be more sanitary and help prevent the spread of infections and sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS.

But right before we had Thing 1 and Thing 2, the medical opinion pendulum started swinging, and some doctors were speaking out that there aren't any clear medical benefits to circumcision.  How confusing for soon-to-be-parents.  Do you believe the old research?  Or the new research?

As I've pointed out before, just because someone wears scrubs to work does not mean they know what is best for your child.  So, Superman and I decided to ignore the conflicting medical data all together and weigh our own personal thoughts and opinions on whether to cut or not.

1. Like father, like son.  A few weeks back, Thing 1 and Thing 2 were in the bathtub with Superman, and Thing 1 was particularly interested in daddy's pee-pee.  From the other room, I could hear Superman saying things like ""Don't touch daddy's pee-pee please."  When he got out of the bath, Thing 1 ran into my bedroom and said "mommy, daddy has a big pee-pee."  Yes, honey.  "Mommy, I want a big pee-pee like daddy."  Superman, without missing a beat says "you'll get yours one day, kid."

It is normal for kids to want to be like their parents.  And I think it is natural for kids to be curious about their parents' bodies.  Thing 1 and Thing 2 don't care about having a big pee-pee to impress future lovers, they just want to look like their daddy.  Superman is circumcised, so it seemed to us that it would make the most sense if they boys were circumcised, too.

2. Boys will be boys.  Whether you like it or not, the majority of boys in this country are circumcised.  which means during gym class, the boys will be undressing with other boys, most of whom will be circumcised.  Superman said he vividly remembers the one kid in his class who wasn't circumcised being teased, and he didn't want the same future for our boys

Now, this is a pretty liberal college town, so I honestly think that wouldn't have been a factor.  In fact, one of their good friends isn't circumcised, and he is the one who asked them what happened to their skin!

So here is the naked truth.  Here is my main reason for circumcising the boys...

3. Hoods are ugly.  Okay, let's face it.  The one-eyed snake monster is not the prettiest piece of human anatomy in the first place, but put a turtleneck on it and it's down right science fiction looking.  The woman in the article had never seen one in person before, but I've dated my share of European men, and I can say with confidence that as a woman I much prefer the naked version.  (Sorry dad if you are reading this)

I've heard people talk about decreased sensitivity, blah, blah, blah.  But like I said, I have had partners on both sides of the aisle, and they all seemed to have similar experiences.  I certainly wouldn't say uncircumcised men were more sexual or experienced heightened sexual experiences.  So yes, I did it for cosmetic reasons.

I will say, I had the unfortunate experience of witnessing part of the circumcision.  The doctor was performing the procedure in the nursery while I happened to be coming in to store my pumped milk, and I heard one of my babies crying.  It was the first time I'd heard them cry really hard.  And of course it made me cry, too.  But I never regretted my decision.  They were over the pain quickly.  They healed nicely.  And now they have perfect little pee-pees!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Mother's Intuition

I really need to learn to trust my mother's intuition.

Monday afternoon, right before lunch time, I got a call from the boys' school that Thing 2 was running a fever.  So, I left work to go pick him up and spend the rest of the day at home with him.  He was definitely feverish (hovering around 102 all night) and moaning and groaning and whimpering the most pitiful "nope" to just about every question I asked.  Around 11 pm, he started vomiting, and continued vomiting over the next few hours. Then, around 3 am, he finally fell into a deep, yet still fitful sleep.

Some things are going on at work right now that make me really anxious about taking too many days off and Superman doesn't have any sick days right now (long story), so I arranged for Grandma Train to come over on Tuesday and stay with him.  These boys tend to bounce back really quickly from sicknesses, so I didn't have too much guilt about abandoning him while he was ill.  I figured he'd be running around like normal in no time.  Besides, I was planning on going home to check on him around lunch time.

Well, Superman beat me to it.  He stopped by on his lunch break to help take Thing 2's temperature and help administer the next dose of pain killer (Grandma Train has a bad back, so while she can read to, play with, and comfort the boys, she can't lift our 36-lb sack of sick potatoes or have the strength to fight him to take his medicine or temperature.).  Around  11:30 or so, I get a phone call, Thing 2's temperature is 104.1.  At this point, I still wasn't positive I was taking him to the doctor's but I knew that a kid this sick needed his mom and Grandma Train needed some relief.

When I got home, it was 45 minutes after a cool bath and a dose of Ibuprofen, and he was still burning up.  I took his temp again (103.5) and called the doctor's office.  My mother's intuition said that my kid was really sick.  I'd never seen him so whiny and moany and miserable.  But, the nurse on the other end said based on his symptoms, and as long as the pain reliever was bringing the fever down some (even if just 1 degree), wait for 3 days and if his fever still didn't subside, to bring him in.

Later that afternoon, you could add diarrhea to the symptoms.

All that night he was feverish (pain killers only brought it down 1/.5 degree or so), lethargic, and all around not feeling good.  Superman slept in the guest room.  While I barely slept with Thing 2 in our bed.

The next day was more of the same.  More high temps.  More moody, whiny, needy boy who didn't know what he wanted, uncomfortable, and couldn't be satisfied.  Papaw Train did come buy with treats.  And he seemed to perk up enough to go downstairs and play trains.  But he fell asleep while playing, and Papaw left.  When he woke up, his temp was back up to 104 and he was as miserable as ever.

Later that afternoon, he started complaining about his belly hurting, rubbing down in his lower abdomen.  All along he has been barely eating, so I figured it must be an empty tummy.  Superman came home and got worried it was appendicitis.  We were on the verge of calling the doctor again when out of nowhere Thing 2 started acting better.  So much better in fact, he was walking around saying his "sick is broken now" and ready to go back to school.  He even ate a fair amount of dinner.  I was thrilled.  It definitely seemed he was on the mend.  And I was telling myself that that nurse had been right...that I just had to wait out the symptoms and they'd disappear on their own.

Bed time came and Thing 2 was whiny and threw a fit that we weren't letting him sleep in our bed yet again.  I explained that sick boys get to sleep in mommy and daddy's bed and well boys sleep in their own bed.

After missing half a day on Monday, half a day on Tuesday, and a full day on Wednesday, I was preparing for a good night sleep to go back to work on Thursday.


At about 1:30 am, our bed was invaded yet again by my whiny feverish hot box.  103.8 and as moany and miserable as ever. I guess his sick wasn't broken after all.

When asking Thing 2 what was hurting, he kept rubbing his lower abdomen and saying his tummy.  Superman gave me the look.  He was really worried about appendicitis.  He had just had his taken out 3 years ago when the boys were babies, and hadn't experienced the typical textbook symptoms.  So he was very convinced it was possible Thing 2's symptoms didn't have to follow the book either.  I wasn't as convinced (or at all), but I was up losing sleep over how to make my baby feel better and why I'd waited so long to take him to the doctor.  Now it was 3:30 am and I was counting down the minutes until 8 am when I could take him to see his doctor.

I guess I finally fell asleep, because around 7 am I woke up.  The first thing I did was feel Thing 2's forehead.  No fever.  But this time, when he woke up, he was not acting fine.  He might not have had a fever, but he was still whiny and moany with sick eyes.  He was still the sick version of himself.  I went ahead and called and make the appointment.  Then we got his brother dressed and dropped him off at school.

Thing 2 at first was upset he couldn't stay at school (mostly because he wanted to do the morning activity), but then perked up when we went to the donut shop.  Here is where I start doubting myself the car to and while at the donut shop he was acting fine again.  Chatty.  Sweet.  Inquisitive.  And he seemed to have an appetite.  He ate 3/4 of his "white donut" (powdered sugar) and 1/4 of his "brown milk".

I'm thinking: Great, I'm taking him in to the doctor's with no fever and acting fine.  A waste of money and time.

But we press on.  At the doctor's office, his temperature is 98.7.  Perfectly normal.  But, he is acting weird again.  Lots of "nope" answers.  When I tell the doctor about the abdomen, she asked him if his belly hurts and he says a pitiful "yea".  Then she asks if his hair hurts and he says a pitiful "yea".  Then she points out that it's hard to diagnose children this age because of their lack of ability to effectively communicate.

One look at his throat with her little doctor light though, and the need for communication went out the window.  "Looks pretty red back there.  Let's get a strep test done."

My big boy opened wide and said "ahh" and about 5 minutes later, it was official...he has his first case of strep throat.  Fifteen minutes later, he had his first dose of amoxicillin.

Five hours later, he is feeling much better.  But I feel awful.  How could I have made him suffer through 3 days of aches and fevers when he had a legitimate illness?  When I get strep, I am at the doctor's within hours and getting my antibiotics.  No way I would suffer through without my drugs.  But I didn't want to be that mom bringing her kid to the doctor for some virus that would pass and there was nothing they could give them anyway.  Yet, on Tuesday and Wednesday both I had the nagging doubt of "should I go ahead and just take him in?" and didn't.

I still don't want to be that parent who takes her kid into the doctor for every cough and sneeze, but next time I'll know that if I know my kid is feeling miserable and really not himself, that I'll follow my mother's intuition on when to take him to see the doctor.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Rule number one is, don't sweat the small stuff. Rule number two is, it's all small stuff. ~Robert Eliot

Last Wednesday was like any other evening in our household.  Moments after I got home from work, Superman was out the door for a run, leaving me to deal with Thing 1 and Thing 2 running around rambunctiously and wreaking havoc around the house while I was trying to cook dinner.  They were alternating between trying to "help" me and just helping themselves to anything that would drive me crazy (using a pen to write on the couch, drawing on my table with crayons, spilling an entire tube of go-gurt on the rug).  Needless to say, by the time bedtime came, my last thought as I was shutting out their light was "THANK GOD!"  They were going to bed and I'd have some peace and quiet.

Superman brought some laundry up for us to fold, we turned on the tv to watch our shows, and I popped open my laptop to check my email one last time.   But what I found in my inbox was devastating.  A friend of mine, one of my best childhood friends, had sent me a message letting me know that her son had passed away that afternoon.  I must have re-read the email five times, because I kept thinking I was misunderstanding it.  It wasn't until Superman came and sat next to me did I realize I was crying and quietly saying "oh my god" over and over.  A beautiful, healthy, 16 month old child had suddenly and unexplainably aspirated in his sleep during his afternoon nap.  That poor child.  That poor mother.  That poor family.

Around that time, Thing 1 comes plodding down the hallway crying that his brother had hit him.  Usually my rule is that if you aren't bleeding and nothing is broken, you go back to your room.  But instead I grabbed my child and hugged him and held him while I cried.  Cursing myself for getting angry about spilled yogurt.  Cursing myself for thinking "Thank God" as I put them to bed that night.  Because really, all of the clean carpets and neatly folded laundry in the world isn't worth even one less second with my child.  Yet, in the hum-drum of everyday life, we often forget this.  Death of a child, especially a healthy one, is so unimaginable, unfathomable, that we often take our every days with them for granted.  At least I know I'm guilty of it.

Of all of the poignant and heartfelt things my friend has written about her son since his passing, the thing that made me cry the hardest was this line from a poem she wrote for him:

Next came a bath, where you soaked the whole entire floor,
What I would give right now to clean it up once more.

I don't really subscribe to the everything happens for a reason philosophy.  I can't think of any good reason to take this young child from his loving and doting family.  However, I do believe that good things can come out of even the most terrible of situations.  For my friend and her family, I can't imagine what good will come out of this event for them, however, I'm confident something will.  Eventually.

For me, I know that over the past week as I've dealt with some upsetting news at work and some other bad news (because when it rains it pours), I just keep reminding myself that none of those things really matter in the end.  It's all just small stuff.  Stained carpets and couches and broken lamps can be replaced.  ACs can be repaired.  New jobs can be found.  But you can never, ever, ever, replace your child.

As I sit beside Thing 2, laying in his pajamas in mommy and daddy's bed with sick eyes and a fever of 103<, moaning and groaning, and telling me his head hurts; my heart aches because I can't magically make him feel better.  But, I feel so unbelievably lucky and undeservedly blessed that my baby boy is only momentarily ill.  That overall he is a happy and healthy child.  They both are.  That I have been lucky enough to be their mother for almost 4 years.  And I pray with all of my might that I will be lucky and undeservedly blessed to be their mother for 40 more.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Economics of Parenting Twins

I just read a funny and accurate blog on the economics of having twins: Freakonomics

I've been meaning for a while to write a blog on "What parents expecting twins really need".  For instance, two high chairs YES, two Jumperoos NO.  It's on my things to blog about list, but I just haven't gotten around to writing it.

This guy succinctly mentions issues of the costs of having twins.  (Hint: It's not two for the price of one!)  Here are my quick comments on his article.

Feedings.  Superman and I split midnight feedings.  We couldn't just take turns like other bottle feeding parents.  Two babies equals two constantly sleep deprived parents.  And actually, I'd like to point out that I had it worse than him, because as soon as the feeding was over, we changed their diapers and put them back in their crib, then he went back to sleep.  I got to stay up for another 30 minutes of pumping and 15 minutes of clean up from said pumping.

P.S. When you are sleep walking during pumping, and you accidentally spill that milk that you are working so darn hard to bring new meaning to the phrase cry like a baby.  I think Superman thought I'd fatally wounded myself.  And in a way, I felt like I had.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 at 3 weeks old in
second-hand bouncy seats from my cousin 
Infancy Costs. Most people have one baby at a time.  Which means they have one crib that is used for multiple children at different times.  But we had to get two of almost everything, since there were no hand me downs to be passed on.  The worst was the cost of buying things that you knew they'd only use for a few months and then outgrow.  We loved thrift stores and took any hand-me downs people would give us.  I didn't care if their high chairs matched, as long as they were cheap and/or free!

We were so lucky that I had a cousin who had twin boys two years before us.  They passed on a ton of stuff and I couldn't have been happier!  We "paid it forward" by passing on a ton of stuff as well.

P.S. People who won't take hand me downs for gently used items that the baby will outgrow in two seconds are freaking stupid!

P.P.S. I want to smack people who already have a blue high chair for their son and then go get a pink one when they have a girl. Hint: that baby doesn't freaking care what color their high chair is!  Use the dang-on blue high chair and put that extra money into their college account!!  Sheesh!

Diapers.  We chose to do cloth diapers for several reasons.  1. It is better for the environment.  2.  They are healthier for the kids (have you ever seen the toxic crap that spills out of a diaper that explodes when it gets too saturated?!)  3.  They are supposed to make potty training easier, since the kids feel more uncomfortable than disposables that are super absorbent.  And 4. They are cheaper.  Except, again, most people buy their $300 worth of Fuzzy Bunz in a few different sizes and that lasts them through as many kids as they have.  We on the other hand, had to buy twice the amount of diapers.  So in the end, I'm not sure just how much money we really saved.  I'm sure we saved some, but not as much as we would have if we'd used $300 for two different babies at staggered times.

Child care costs.  Babies cost more than toddlers.  Diapered toddlers cost more than potty trained toddlers.  People say "wow, it was great you could afford for Superman to stay home with the boys for three years."  The truth is, two babies in child care would have eaten up almost all of Superman's teacher salary.  He would have basically been working to pay someone else to take care of our kids.  As it is, we pay $1200-1500 a month (depending on whether it is 4 weeks or 5 weeks) to have two potty trained kids in preschool now.  People gasp when they hear that and say "Wow, I pay half that."  Duh, you have half the kids in school as us.

The good news: once they start kindergarten in a year, we will feel rich!  In the end, we end up paying the same.  The difference is we have to do a more condensed version, where other people get to spread theirs out a bit.

Sleep.  Again, thanks to the awesomeness of having a cousin pave the way for us in the world of parenting twins, we knew from day one the importance of getting them on a schedule.  I really don't know why anyone would be against sleep training.  Rested parents are happy parents.  Happy parents equal happy babies.  It's common sense to me.  But I read so many negative opinions about methods like Ferber and Babywise (both of which we used with great success!).  My boys were sleep trained as babies and are STILL amazing sleepers.  I read peoples' Facebook posts about their kids getting up at 5 am, even on weekends, and I thank my stars that my boys would sleep in until 9 am everyday if we'd let them (and on weekends we do!).  My only problem with their sleep is getting them up early enough in the morning.  Sometimes I feel like I have teenagers already!

And not only do they sleep late, but they go to bed great.  We have followed the rules of following schedules and being consistent.  So they know that bedtime is 8 pm.  There is no fighting, crying, or having to do super nanny methods to keep them in their beds.  It's 8 pm, they go to bed.  Boom.  We read them a few books, turn off all but one reading light, and they read quietly in bed until they fall asleep.  99% of the time, this is our night time routine.  I can't imagine doing it those other ways... how exhausting.

Built in playmate.  This one is huge.  I can say that this is by far the #1 reason why I'm glad we had twins.  I can remember even when they were 9 months old, seeing how much easier it was with two for keeping them entertained.  I'd put one in the Jumperoo and one in the exersaucer and set them facing one another while I did dishes and made dinner.  They'd laugh and entertain one another the whole time.  Meanwhile my friends with just one baby would complain about how hard it was to get anything done, because their baby wanted their attention.

I also think this is why we were successful at keeping them away from tv for almost two years.  If we'd had just one baby, I'm sure we would have given in and used the digital babysitter much much sooner than we did.

College.  Honestly, this is like the child care issue.  Sure, it's gonna suck to have two kids going in to school at the same time.  However, once it is done, it will be done.  And unlike with the surprise of having twins, we have 18 years to get ready for that expense.  And honestly, if we end up not having enough to send them...there are always school loans.  Hey, if it was good enough for me...

I take that back.  I freaking despise my school loans.  We'd better have saved enough by then!

In Summary.  All of you people who say "Ah, I always wanted twins."  Bet you didn't think about all of this, did ya?  You just thought about the cute factor of having two itty bitty babies dressed in the same outfit.  The truth is, there are definitely draw backs.

But then again, I only had to be pregnant once.  Only had to go through one delivery.  Only had to go through breastfeeding once.  Bottles once.  Night feedings once.  Diapers once.  Potty training once.

And once the boys outgrow equipment, clothes, toys, etc, there is no need to store them in the basement or attic for the next one.  We have a garage sale, or donate them to a friend or organization.  It's Hasta La Vista Baby!

Kids say the darndest things

It's hard to believe that my 3 year old sons used to be considered delayed in their speech.  When they first entered pre-school last year, their teacher was concerned enough about it that she was recommending speech therapy.  We didn't put them in it, because we knew in our hearts they would catch up to their peers.  And we were right.

Sometimes as parents, you have to just follow your gut.  In our case, we knew that Thing 1 and Thing 2 were perfectly on par with the rest of their development (gross motor skill, cognitive, social, etc), so the speech thing was less troubling.  Plus, they were preemies, boys, first children, and twins, all four risk factors for delayed speech.  Add that to the fact they stayed at home with their dad for the first three years (no older kids around to model after) and we didn't let them watch tv for the first two years (kids really do learn a lot from Sesame Street) and we had two 3 year olds who were still speaking in two-word phrases and were barely understandable to anyone except for us.

But it's true what they say about watch what you wish for, because now they won't shut up.  Actually, that is just a phrase for effect.  They talk a lot, but I LOVE it!

Here are some awesome things they've said recently.

When I got home last night, I was telling Superman a story about Thing 1 and his friend from school.  He had declared his new little Korean classmate his best friend, which I, as a prior ESL teacher, loved.  (I'll tell this story in more detail later.)  The boys overheard Superman tell me that he hopes Thing 1 and Thing 2 are always one another's best friend.
Thing 1: No. J----- is my best friend.
Thing 2: Yeah.  B----- is my best friend.
Thing 1: Yeah, J---- is my best friend.  And B----- is your best friend.
Thing 2: Yeah, (Thing 1) is my brother.  B----- is my best friend, daddy!


While I was making dinner, Thing 2 sat down at the table with a crayon and paper and seconds later said "(T) for (Thing 2)."  Sure enough, I walked over and there was a perfect (well, almost perfect) letter scrawled on the paper.  His first letter!  Without me prompting him!  Then he asked me to help him make the letters for the rest of his name.  Yes, my kid with the speech delay can spell his name already.

Thing 1, not wanting to be left out of the action when he heard mom cheering and encouraging, came running over and proceeded to draw, unassisted, the first letter of his name.  It was backward, but how adorable is that!?


After my walk/jog last night, I picked the boys up at the driveway on their trikes and they did my walk the block cool down with me.  Thing 1 was trailing behind with Superman, but Thing 2 was right up with me the whole time.  We got to a T in the road, one way was up hill but back towards our house, the other way was down hill but away from our house.  Thing 2 said "Let's go that way" pointing down the hill (they like to ride fast down the hills).  And I said, "No, honey, we have to go this way, back towards our house for dinner."  And he said "No mom.  That way is too steep."

Seriously?  What 3 year old says "that way is too steep."


My last story happened while I was in Madison.  Okay, another bad parent confession is that my kids know all of the words to the entire Bowling for Soup Hangover You Don't Deserve album.  Their hands down favorite song is 1985 (which they call Woo-hoo-hoo), however most recently they've discovered hidden track 18 (which they call Hello).  It's basically a reprise of another song, Ohio (Come Back to Texas), where the band members really drunkenly sing "(Insert decidedly Texas item) wants you back" over and over, laughing and burping a lot.  After Superman got them out of the car one afternoon, they kept singing the song long after the radio was turned off, and the were making up their own phrases.  "Thing 1 wants you back"  "Thing 2 wants you back"  "Kitty wants you back"  "Doggies wants you back" (even though we don't have a dog!).  Then, they told Superman that they wanted to call me and sing me the song.  They proceeded to sing me about 10 verses.  It was the sweetest thing!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I hate mornings

I hate mornings.  But not for the same reason most people probably hate mornings.

I've always considered myself a morning person.  I'm like my dad in that way.  And it turns out that Thing 1 and Thing 2 follow in our footsteps, because those little guys wake up in amazing moods 99% of the time.  Most mornings, they don't even wake up groggy.  They just seem to pop up excited and ready to play.

But that is the problem.  They want to play.  They are happy, sweet, and playful...  and mommy is all business, trying to get ready for work and school.

It breaks my heart, because mornings are the most one-on-two time I get with them.  Superman leaves for work at about 7:15, which means it's just me and my boys until it's time to take them to school.  I want to just lay in bed and cuddle with them while they tell me about their dreams (which they always seem so excited to tell you about), or get down on the ground and play trains, or play endless scenarios of "doggy", but I can't because I'm racing the clock.

Over and over again, my meanest mommy moments (which are also the most disappointed in myself parenting moments) always happen in the morning, while trying to get them ready for school.  At the time that my kids are perhaps at their sweetest and best, I turn into Momzilla.

They don't want to get dressed (because they want to stay in their pajamas and play) so I find myself physically restraining them to put their clothes on.  They want to play, but I get angry when I walk in the living room and find that they've pushed the coffee table over to the front closet and are standing on it to get their Candy Land game off of the top shelf, spilling dozens of other games in the process.  No matter how many times I promise myself I won't lose my tempter, I invariably end up yelling at some-Thing in the morning for something.  And I hate myself for it.

Some mornings I give in to the desire to just be mommy with them and enjoy their morning mood.  Like this morning.  I had just gotten out of the shower, when I heard Thing 2's soft whispering.  He was sitting in mommy and daddy's bed, next to Thing 1 (who was still sleeping) and saying "Time to get up brother."  Within minutes, both were giggling and laughing under my covers.  So, I abandoned the urge to use the time to blow dry my hair and put on my makeup, and I hopped in bed next to them.  We played tickle monster.  Thing 2 played puppy.  Thing 1 and I took turns giving puppy commands.  We gave lots of sweet kisses.  It was heaven.

But then at some point, I thought "Ugh, we are going to be so late."  So I got up and got back to getting ready.  The rest of the morning included a Thing 2 not wanting to get dressed fit.  A Thing 1 not wanting the breakfast Superman had set out for them.  And me walking into the coffee table incident described above after I finished blow drying my hair.

Our utopic morning in bed was long forgotten as my frustration and irritation grew.

I don't know what the solution is.  Some people say "wake them up earlier so you don't feel so rushed"  However... 1. when you wake them up, they wake up grumpy, 2. we'd have to put them to bed earlier, and I already feel like I barely get any time with them in the evening.

I need a different job.  I need to be a free-lance something or other, working from home.  Or a professor, where I could set my teaching time for afternoons.  Something where I didn't have to push my happy children out of bed and into the arms of others at 8:30 am every morning.

Sometimes I really miss Superman being a stay at home dad.  The boys could stay in their pajamas as long as they wanted!  Often, I'd come home for lunch and the three of them would still be in their pajamas with disheveled hair and in the happiest of moods.

Monday, April 11, 2011

From Slacktivist to Activist

I think most people are aware of the demonstrations that went on in Madison, WI during the beginning of the year.  For weeks and weeks, throngs of protesters swarmed the state capitol to protest what they perceived to be anti-union legislation, many sleeping in the building for days on end.  Those protesters were a constant reminder to the state representatives of the large numbers of citizens who did not support the anti-union legislation they were trying to pass through.  But they passed it anyway.

Madison, WI Capitol Building - April 9, 2011
What I don't think a lot of people realize (at least I know I didn't), is that even after the legislation was pushed through and the Democrats returned to the capitol that the peaceful protests continue.

Because both Superman and I are in the fields of education, we are particularly interested in political issues that affect teachers.  Not to mention, as parents, we are interested in issues about education, since they will affect our children in a year when they start kindergarten.  So, we've definitely been following this issue from Indiana.

When preparing for the trip to Madison, I actually thought to myself that I wished the protests were still going on, because I'd never seen a real life protest before.  So, imagine my surprise to find upon our arrival, that there were indeed still protesters actively protesting at the capitol each day.

Saturday, during my hour lunch break, I decided to head to State Street to do some souvenir shopping for Thing 1 and Thing 2.  (I thought a set of foam cheese heads from the University of Wisconsin bookstore was in order.) But, while walking over, I got side tracked when I heard some live rock music playing, and I slowly went towards the source.  I found on the steps of the capitol building: The Gomers and a growing crowd of protestors with homemade signs.  A few minutes later, I heard some different music behind me.  A hodge podge marching band was making it's way directly up State Street and then circled the capitol, before heading up the steps.

I was officially in the middle of my first ever political protest.  I decided to skip my shopping trip (I did venture out later that evening to pick up the souvenirs for the boys) and skip my lunch, so that I could document and experience history in the making.  I talked with a lot of union workers, Democrats and Republicans, and heard their real voices, their real concerns...not just what the media decides to report on.  And I let them know that this educator, this parent, this citizen, was behind them.

I even got Superman a souvenir from a street vender:

Click here for more pictures of the protest.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Greetings from Madison, WI

Madison, WI.

What comes to mind when you think of Madison, WI?  For most people who've never been here, I'm sure it would be cheese curds, cheese heads, giant foam cheese hats, Green Bay Packers.  The college football nuts out there might think Badgers. Or most recently, probably protests and teachers unions.

I think State Street.  Ethnic restaurants for miles and miles (at least it seems like miles and miles).  Napalese.  Tibetan.  Ethiopian.  Turkish.  Afghani.  Indian.  Thai.  Yum.  Yum.  Yum.

My first trip to Madison WI was last April (2010), for a conference for work.  The conference itself was kind of a bust for me.  I seemed to regularly pick the most uninteresting and uninspiring sessions to attend.  But the food.  Oh man, the food!

This year, I've so far been a lot luckier in my session choices (knock on wood) and am overall feeling like I'm getting more out of the conference because of it.  But still, it's the food.  Oh man, the food!

The day we arrived, we went to a Tibetan restaurant and I had Gingered Yak Meatballs (yes, that is meatballs made out of yak meat) along with steamed bread.  Yesterday night we went to an Indian restaurant where we feasted on Murgh Saag, Fish Tikka Masala, Lamb Curry, and a Tandoori feast that included chicken, lamb, and shrimp.  Plus garlic naan, onion naan, and basmatti rice.  After dinner, we walked around campus, enjoying the views and sliding down a few banisters.  Then, found ourselves at the University of Wisconsin-Madison student union where we had some delicious Babcock Dairy ice cream.

Superman and I both love ethnic food.  And we used to love to go out to eat.  But since Thing 1 and Thing 2 came along, we don't go out to eat even a fraction of what we used to.  First and foremost because it is not financially prudent.  (We have to be all grown up with the way we spend money now that we are parents.)  Second, because it is harder to go out with the boys now more than ever.  They can't be confined to high chairs anymore, yet they don't really have the patience for staying seated for more than about 10 minutes either.  And finally, because we can just cook healthier at home.  Since we started cooking only Weight Watcher meals about 2.5 years ago, Superman has lost 30 lbs, runs half marathons, and is now a crazy health nut.  I, on the other hand, am yo-yo-ing the same 20 lbs and still can barely force myself to do my 30 min workout 3-5 times a week.  But right now I'm on a down swing, so I'm trying to keep the momentum going!  I really want to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight some day before I die.

Before my trip, I went to the grocery store and bought a bunch of fresh fruit and veggies to bring to the hotel, so that I'd have something to eat for breakfast and snack other than muffins and cookies.  And I packed my workout clothes and tennis shoes so that I could hit the workout center in the mornings before my conference sessions.  So far, I've eaten the fruit.  In addition to the baked goods (they just look and smell so good, and they are FREE!).  And I haven't gone to the workout center even once.  I don't even know what floor it is on.  But, I have strolled up and down State Street.  And thanks to the generosity of my paycheck place, I get to enjoy (read: over indulge in) the food.  Oh man, the food!

Update:  For lunch today, I had a gyro.  Then, for a late afternoon snack I enjoyed some more ice cream!  Shhh!  Don't tell Superman!

P.S. I loved the sign at the ice cream shop:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bachelor weekend

I'm leaving for a conference tomorrow.  I'll be gone for four days.  And I have guilt.

No, I don't have guilt about leaving Thing 1 and Thing 2 for four days.  Between school and visiting grandma and grandpa, they probably won't even notice I'm gone.

I have guilt about leaving Superman to be a single parent for four days.

I don't know how actual single parents do it.  I really don't.  I've had to do the single parent thing for two days before and it was dreadful.  At first it seems fun.  I plan out activities that we wouldn't normally do when daddy is around, but you can only plan out so much of your life.  And god forbid you want a little time alone, to say go the bathroom!

Two of my best friends are Navy wives.  One just finished being a single mom to three kids (ages 10, 2, and >1) while her husband was gone for six months.  The other one's husband has been gone for a few weeks here, a few weeks there, for the last six months and is getting ready to leave for his six month deployment, leaving her a single, working mom of a 4 year old.  Unfortunately, I live far, far away from these ladies, so I can't offer them the occasional babysitting or help with their kids.  I can only offer them my ear when they need to complain and opportunities for adult conversation, even if it is over the phone or via facebook.

Even still, as rough as I know they have/will have it, then I think of those people who are single parents all of the time.  Through divorce, or death.  Especially through death.

An old friend of mine passed away unexpectedly last summer, and he left behind a widow and young daughter.  I often think how hard this year must have been for her.  Not only did she lose her spouse, her best friend, her companion, her lover, but also her partner in parenting.

I know sometimes I get so frustrated with Thing 1 and Thing 2 that I have to turn to Superman and say "you need to deal with them right now, or someone is going to get hurt."  And he takes them and deals with said situation while I go calm down in the other room.  I already deal with feelings of mommy inadequacies and I have him to turn to, what if I was truly all alone?

Sure, six month cruises seem to last forever. But, you still know that you can count on your partner eventually, even if it is very delayed.  I know being a Navy brat, I heard "wait until your father gets home" more times than I can count.  And today's military isn't like the military my mom's generation was married to.  Now servicemen can call more often, email, and even Skype with their spouses and families back home.  So, throughout the deployment they can still offer emotional support to their spouse.  But most importantly, these women (and men too) can hold on to the knowledge that their spouse will eventually come home to give them a break from the pressures of single parenting.

So Superman, I'm sorry to leave you for four days.  I hope the boys are angels for you and that you barely have a chance to miss me because you are having so much fun.  But, if they aren't, and you start cussing me under your breath, remember this:

1. I am going to Wisconsin (not Florida).  I guarantee you are having more fun than me.

2. Four days with two 3 1/5 year olds may seem like an eternity, but it's not.  Remember that it could be much, much worse.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Happy Birthday to me!

Na-na-na-na-na-na...You say it's your birthday
Na-na-na-na-na-na...It's my birthday too--yeah

Today is my 32nd birthday.  I am one of those people who loves their birthday.  I usually start counting down in my head about a month out.  My mom and brother both have birthdays in early March, so as soon as theirs pass, I start thinking of mine.  But this year, my birthday really crept up on me.  It wasn't until this past Friday, April Fool's Day, that I thought oh yeah, my birthday is in a few days.  (That is also the first day my husband seemed to remember I had a looming birthday as well.)

Don't worry, I'm not turning into one of those "my birthday doesn't mean anything people," because I still love my birthday!  I love receiving cards.  Unwrapping presents.  Blowing out birthday candles.  Eating cake!  And all of the other it's-your-day specialness that comes with turning one year older.  The 21st century has brought even more virtual birthday goodness in the form of birthday text messages and Facebook messages.  So far this morning, I've been wished Happy Birthday by at least 35 people!  It's a nice surprise to open your email and find the inbox overflowing with wishes for you to have the best day ever.  Especially when you didn't get one at home.

I'm not saying Superman forgot my birthday, but I am saying that in the rush to get ready this morning, he did not wish me a Happy Birthday.  Nor did he make me breakfast, leave me a card, or in any other way indicate that he remembered or cared.  It brought back memories of my 10th birthday, the year that my parents forgot.  Okay, they didn't Sixteen Candles me and forget completely, but they did forget to wish me a Happy Birthday in the morning.  It wasn't until they were both at work did they realize and call one another... "Did you?"  "No.  Did you?"  "No."  Uh-oh!  I ended up getting my first  delivery of flowers that day.  I remember because my dad had always said flowers were a waste of money, and they both agreed I was too young to appreciate them anyway.  But guilt trumps practicality!

Meanwhile, I'm not one to sit and mope about not getting what I want.  Instead, I decided to make my own birthday treat.  There is a cute locally owned donut shop in town that I haven't been to since we moved back almost two years ago.  After getting Thing 1 and Thing 2 ready for school, I asked them if they wanted to go get a birthday treat with Mommy, and we headed to Crescent Donuts.  I let each of the boys pick out one donut.  Thing 1 got a cherry filled donut with cream cheese icing.  Thing 2 got a powdered sugar donut.  And I got my favorite: Boston Cream.  We completed our order with two cold milks and sat down at a table.

The boys were especially cute this morning.  They were dressed in jeans and coordinating personalized baseball t-shirts (Thing 1's was blue of course, and Thing 2's was red), and they were so well behaved as they sat and ate their doughnuts.  The feisty old men at the counter sipping coffee were enamored with my little guys.  They asked them their names, ages, and if they had girlfriends.  They got a big kick out of Thing 2 saying his girlfriend was "R---" and then Thing 1 saying "two R---s", with Thing 2 nodding and saying "yea, two R----s" (because he has two little girl friends with the same name).  "That's right son, start early!" they chuckled.

I should point out that when Thing 1 was about about halfway through eating his jelly filled donut, he decided he didn't like it and that we should trade.  So, he ended up eating my Boston Cream.  My-oh-my how motherhood changes things.  Even my day is really still their day.

We'll see what Superman does this evening to make up for his birthday faux-pas this morning.  Let me give you a hint: it'd better include chocolate!

**Update: No phone call, email, text, NOTHING from Superman during the workday.  I came home from work a little early and caught him with Thing 1 and Thing 2 in the kitchen, covered with chocolate cake batter.  The boys were screaming "Happy Birthday Mommy!  We made you a cake!"  Then Superman gave me two cards, one from him and one from the boys, and a dozen roses.  Then he took me out for dinner at the restaurant of my choice (yes, I CHOSE Steak n' Shake!).  Then it was to Lowe's to buy my birthday present...a few Closetmaid pieces for additional storage in my craft room.  But the real present is that he never once bitched about my craft room being the most expensive room in the house.  And, he even helped me turn the screws a few times putting it together.

Later that night, I asked him point blank if he realized he had never wished me Happy Birthday that morning.  And he said yes.  But he said by the time he realized it when he got to work, he decided not to call or text me, but to make it seem like he'd totally forgotten and surprise me with the cake and flowers when I got home.

In the end, I had a pretty rocking birthday, so I won't complain.

P.S.  A shout out to my parents who bought me an awesome new craft table for my craft room!  In my mom's words "because we know you wouldn't spend the money on yourself."  Ah, she knows me too well.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

40 B4 40: Update

Right after the new year, I wrote my list of 40 Things I Want to Accomplish Before I Turn 40. Seeing as I will be turning 32 in two days, I thought maybe this would be a good time to update my progress.

3. Sell something on - So, I've started making these capes. Originally I just made them for Thing 1 and Thing 2, but some friends saw pictures of them online and the requests started coming in. I've done preliminary research on starting a shop, and right now I'm at the stage of deciding what my shop name will be. Superman came up with "Mama Kay Designs," which I thought was really catchy, but apparently somebody else did too, because "Momma Kay" and "Mama Kay" were both already taken. Once I decide on the name, I will open my shop and start listing the capes and maybe add on t-shirt quilts in the future.

4. Present at a national conference - In January, I submitted a proposal to ACTFL and am waiting to hear whether or not it's been accepted. I should find out some time this month.

5. Have a job I love - I applied for two new jobs in the last month. One application resulted in an interview. It's been about 3 weeks since the interview, and I still haven't heard anything. However, I also haven't received my portfolio back yet, so I'm trying to stay positive that means I'm still in the running for the second round of interviews. Also, I've checked online, and the position has not been filled through HR yet. I'm also focusing on trying to appreciate the job I do have, which has made things better.

7. Jog a 5K - About two weeks ago, I started the Couch to 5K running program. I'm currently on my second week of the first week work out. My brother and I started at the same time, so we are encouraging one another and have picked out a 5K to jog together in September.

10. Achieve a normal weight BMI (18.5–24.9) - I rejoined Weight Watchers. I was pretty successful with it once back B.C., so I'm hoping the second time's the charm. So far, I've lost 18 pounds since January 3. It's coming off slowly, but slow and steady wins the race. Hey, I have until 40 after all!

12. Grow an herb garden - Last week I planted some cilantro, basil, and oregano. Growing it in the window until after the first frost, when I will transplant the seedlings to a porch container.

13. Grow a vegetable garden - Last week I planted some heirloom tomatoes, brussels sprouts, and rainbow peppers. Growing it in the window until after the first frost, when I will transplant the seedlings to the garden. I bought a soil test kit to test the garden plot in the meanwhile. And I've researched renting a mini-tiller for clearing out the plot once the ground softens.

26. Finish Thing1 & Thing2's scrapbooks - I finished Year 1! Year 2, 3, & 4 still to go.

27. Scrapbook my wedding - Started.

31. Learn to use my serger - Got it down, dusted it off, threaded the machine, and practiced on scrap pieces. I need to find a project to make with it next...

I think I've got a pretty good start going....