Thursday, June 28, 2007

Move over Steve Carell

We ventured out to visit Jason at work today. Once every couple of months we drop in for a visit and the girls always love it. Poor dad declared today that he doesn't think they look forward to seeing him, but instead wreaking havoc on his desk. Sorry, but I have to agree.

Would you want these two behind your desk? The funny thing is that they know what they're doing. Alena can shoot labels out of the label maker at warp speed and Alivia was deleting items from Jason's desktop. Scary.

Liv potty training update: While we were there, Alivia needed to use the potty ... our first public restroom encounter. Success. I'm counting that chicken!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ready, set, eat

Six minutes. That's the time it takes Trace to polish off a small container of sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, pears or applesauce. I can barely keep the spoon moving fast enough to keep his temper from flaring.

He liked the rice cereal from the get go, but with each new solid he samples, he grows hungrier, faster and more demanding. I sometimes wonder where he puts it. His little stomach can't be that big, can it? Despite my wonder, though, he puts it away each afternoon allowing me not to take my attention off his mouth, his food and the spoon. It's a six-minute dash between the three.

At his four-month check-up, I confessed to the pediatrician he had already been introduced to cereal. "How much should I let him have?," I asked her. We finish his quarter cup or so, and he sits there looking at me as if to say, "Where's the rest, lady?" I was apprehensive to give him much more for fear of what, I'm not sure, but hesitant none the less.

"Give him whatever amount he wants," was her response. The only negative side effect we'll see, she said, is constipation. Okay, I guess if he wants to constipate himself, we'll deal with that next. For now, he gets a little bit more each morning until we reach a point that he can't put it away (note: hasn't happened yet).

In the meantime, today we stepped it up a notch to three meals of solids each day hoping to satisfy his appetite. Cereal and bananas for breakfast, pears for lunch and green beans for a senior citizens' dinner. My guess is he'll keep up the pace, the only question that remains is if my spoon can keep up.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Goodbye diapers, hello panties

By George, I think she's got it. Jason says I shouldn't count my chickens before they hatch, but I'm going to count them. Alivia has worn big girl panties for the last two days and managed to keep them dry from morning to bath time. According to my count, that leaves us just two more to potty train ... we're half way there!

I figure if she can keep herself dry two days in a row, we're almost there. Yes, I expect there to be an accident here or there as she tests out her little bladder, and a learning curve as she ventures into the public restroom arena, but I'm chalking this one up as potty trained.

She had me wondering just how long it was going to take. While we didn't have any "intensive" training as Alena required, Alivia posed a whole different set of obstacles. Hurdle one being that, bless her heart, she's one of the messiest children going. Whether its her lunch smeared and smashed all over her face, shirt and hair; a dirty diaper she's worn while engaging in a wrestling match with Alena; or anything nasty she can find outdoors, it just doesn't faze her.

Once she got the idea that poopy in her diaper wasn't nice and that big girls use the potty for that, we faced the challenge of her "take-it-or-leave-it" attitude. One day she'd show promise that maybe she was ready, the very next, she'd dirty her training pants every chance she got.

A typical reward didn't work with her either. An M&M for going potty? Sure, sounds good this time. An hour later, she wasn't in the mood, so she'd wet herself, then come to you with a clean pair of training pants, wishing to be changed.

The most frustrating part was that while Alena wanted to be potty trained, she had to learn what it felt like when she needed to go. Alivia on the other hand, knew exactly what she needed to do, what it felt like, but just refused to use her little potty seat.

Finally, Aunt Angie suggested using plastic Easter eggs to hold a variety of treats. Maybe it would be an M&M this time, but a gummy worm next time. Adding an element of surprise might work, she offered.

Armed with a bucket of plastic eggs, we set out to try again after a two-week hiatus since our last attempt. Low and behold, it worked.

In all fairness, I had to let Alena play the game too. I didn't have the heart to give Liv the treats for her efforts and not reward Alena too, eventhough she's a seasoned pro. Besides, I thought, letting Alena get the first egg just might provide a little incentive for Alivia not to be outdone. Sure enough, success.

I'm not quite sure if it's the anticipation of picking an egg and discovering what's inside, or the fact that if big sister's going to get an egg, by God, she's going to get one too. No matter. Either way, she's making pit stops and sporting stylish Care Bear panties.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Touchy about twinfamy

To some extent, I get the interest they create. But to the degree that it occurs I find myself growing a bit irritated. Yes, we have twins. Yes, they are a miracle. Two babies, carried simultaneously and born within minutes of each other. Twins. But I find myself getting closer and closer to saying to some kind stranger, "They're just babies, just like yours and the other two I have, there just happens to be two of them."

Leaving the house is a challenge in and of itself. Four people to load into the car, four carseats to secure. Then, more times than not, the babies taking turns (and sometimes in stereo) screaming because they just don't like being buckled in the carseats. You finally reach your destination (hearing more impaired than it was when you set out) and you go through the same process backwards.

Four carseats to unsecure, four little ones to unload from the car. You get the picture. And this says nothing of the whole ordeal of getting everyone dressed, in clean diapers (someone always fills one on the way out the door) and fed in preparation for the trip.

Okay, you accept the process, what are you going to do? But, after you overcome the challenges of getting out and about, there's a whole circus atmosphere the surrounds your every move.

First you have the people who just look and think they're talking quietly ... "twins." While they gawk and whisper, they don't really engage in any exchange. Then you have those that at least acknowledge they're talking about you by making eye contact and smiling after they've made their comment and made sure their companion has also seen the pair.

Escalating up the irritation scale, you have those that stop, and ask the "stats" ... two boys, two girls, or one of each? How old are they? Followed by a comment about their size for their age.

And finally, we have those that you think you're going to spend the rest of the day with. Looking, talking, looking some more. And inevitably you get a story about someone they know that had two kids 11 months apart, followed by twins and finally ended up with a brood of eight. While I appreciate the sharing, look, I just wanted to pick up some formula.

But the kicker is the "You've sure got your hands full," comment. As if I wasn't aware of what we've got. Some day, I'm going to come back with a "lady, you don't know just how full my hands are or you wouldn't have just wasted 15 minutes of my day." In 15 minutes I could have easily given someone a bottle, made a potty trip, diapered at least 10 butts or bathed and dressed two babies. Now, I'm behind schedule!

As selfish as all my complaining is, what's really at the heart of the matter for me is Trace and Alysse. Will they always be an inducer of attention? Will they go through life constantly reminded they are one of two? Will they graduate from high school "the twins" to friends and their parents? Will they finally escape the twinfamy when each is on his or her own, with separate lives? No one would know I was a twin at this stage of my life if I didn't make them privy to the information.

Who knows, once they are old enough to understand it, maybe the attention they garner won't bother them nearly as much as it does their mother who just wants to say, "They have names. We don't just call them Twin A and Twin B." And perhaps the issue lies with me in that I look at them and don't see TWINS ... I see two little people with personalities, feelings and temperaments all their own. That they are twins is an afterthought for me.

In the meantime, if you see us out, please don't linger too long as you admire them. We've got places to go.

P.S. No, they are not identical. That one has a penis and the other does not is the antithesis of the word, but that's a whole other rant.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Punxsutawney Liv update

Today we set off on another walk and it was Punxsutawney Liv's day to pick our route. Wouldn't you know it, she immediately cuts left, leaving the sun at her back. Instantly, "shadow" comes out of her mouth, and I briefly considered running the opposite direction, leaving my little crew in the dust.

Not another block moving at a snail's pace, with the equivalent of toddler profanity, all at the mercy of a pint-sized shadow. Then a mom miracle happened, she took off in a trot, chanting, "go shadow, go shadow."

"What is she saying?" I asked Alena, certain my ears were misinterpreting the toddlerese. "Go shadow, go shadow," Alena said laughing. "What do you think that's about?" I then asked, more to myself than Alena. "Liv's shadow," she replied, laughing again.

Please, I prayed, just let us get to the corner before she changes her mind. In the blink of an eye the little trotting groundhog was at the end of the block, ahead of all of us by six feet or so, waiting. We all joined hands, crossed the street and left her shadow behind. Amazing.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A day in our lives

These photos were all taken Sunday around the Scott house. They provide a glimpse of a day in the life of four crazy kids and two crazier parents.

What can even be said about this one? The shirts say it all.

I couldn't resist posting this one. How cute are they? There's some special connection between the two of them already. Alena is definitely Alysse's favorite person.

Alena tells me she is Aunt Mandy drinking beer in this one. She knows dad drinks beer and Aunt Mandy lives at the swimming pool during the summer, therefore, one plus one equals Aunt Mandy drinking beer in the pool. Apparently Aunt Mandy doesn't wear a bathing suit either.

Not sure who has it rougher in this one. Okay, in all fairness, it was Father's Day!

Okay, I'm the mom and therefore allowed to find them adorable. Besides, he's the only little Griffey I'll ever have.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Me and my Punxsutawney Liv

We've got a groundhog on our hands, alright. The only problem with ours is that she's afraid of her shadow. There's no prediction needed ... when she sees it, it's going to cause a stir.

Last Friday Alivia turned a 15-minute walk around the block into a 45-minute ordeal because it was a very sunny day. Yep, we turned the corner, the sun was at her back, she stopped dead in her tracks and that was the end of any kind of steady pace. Two steps. Stop. Point. Comment. Two steps. Stop. Gesture. Gesture some more. Two steps. Stop. Stand. Look. Look again. And so the whole block went.

For whatever reason, the little critter has major shadow issues. And while I thought it was something that would eventually be forgotten or overcome, it seems to be worsening. To the point that her last encounter with her darkened twin produced hostility.

During one of the 763 stops she made to scold, touch and point at the shadow, she told it not to look at her and stubbornly threw her hand in the air, as if to "shoo" it away. Growing more aggressive as it refused to obey her commands, she told it to "go away" and turned her back to it.

I, of course, wishing to move our little caravan of five along the sidewalk, tried everything to convince her the shadow was of the cordial variety.

"Blow it kisses, Liv," I said, trying to coax her into a more friendly mood. Not a chance. "Look, it's your friend. It just wants to walk with you." This got me no where. Finally, in a last attempt, "Walk a little faster. If you walk faster, it will go away," I said, thinking, please dear God let us just get to the corner so we can turn and it will no longer be in front of her. Slower, slower, slower we went.

Each February, wishing winter away, I hope Punxsutawney Phil won't see his shadow and hurry spring along, with sunny days here, I'm left to hope the same for my Punxsutawney Liv (at least for this walk).

Our midget convention

Ever wonder what a midget convention might look like? We've got one that convenes two, sometimes three times a day (depending upon who's sleeping and who's awake). The menu usually includes laughing, crying, indigestion and a guaranteed mess. If you ever find your own meals boring, stop by for some priceless entertainment.

Monday, June 11, 2007

I love you stinky hands

One of my favorite books in our house is "I Love You Stinky Face," by Lisa McCourt. It's the story of a little boy who questions his mother's love for him. Would she still love him if he were a terrible meat-eating dinosaur? She'd say "I love you, my sweet, terrible dinosaur," it reads. A super-smelly skunk? Her response ... "I'd whisper in your ear, 'I love you Stinky Face.'"

I'll die with the memory of rocking Trace and reading this book to him when he was only weeks old. He'll never remember the first time we read it, but for me, it will always be "our" book.

Its point is that this little boy's mother loves him unconditionally. Regardless of big, sharp teeth or slimy, smelly seaweed, she loves her wonderful child. It's what being a mother is all about.

Whether small or large, a mother overlooks her child's imperfections and loves without question. Of course, these "flaws" are rather minute when the child is a baby, and most likely grow greater as the years pass. For Trace, the opportunity for having any weakness is negligible. What blemish can a four-month old possibly have?

He has stinky hands. Yes, despite my persistent washing and wiping, his hands stink. Probably only to the point that a well-tuned sniffer would detect, but nonetheless, they do have their own unique aroma.

At first, I was unsure of its source or cause. Thinking that maybe it wasn't even him that I was smelling. But after careful observation, I learned it was in fact him. He loves to chew on his fist. Initially it was a case of "Look, I found this little hand attached to me, that I can feel when I put it in my mouth." We've now reached the point that it's all-out gnawing. Most likely his first tooth is on its way, and his fist makes a wonderful teether that doesn't ever get dropped out of sight or reach.

No matter what the reason, baby fist, plus a little mouth (more times than not still hosting milk residue from his most recent bottle) equals stinky hands. Every time I get a whiff I'm reminded of the little board book and have to say to him, "I love you stinky hands."

My tiny celestial blessing

Have you ever held a piece of heaven? Not something you compare to heaven, like that sinful slice of chocolate cake that's "heaven" on your tongue. Or something that feels heavenly, like a new cashmere sweater or your baby's softest stuffed animal. But instead, an actual piece of heaven right here on earth.

As I sat holding Alysse, snuggled so warm against me, I knew I was holding heaven in my arms. I can't be certain what makes her so celestial. At other times, cradling our other children, I've felt as though I were rocking a little angel or reminded myself what a miracle babies truly are, but with Alysse, she's simply heaven.

She's everything I would hope heaven to be. Her skin as soft as the clouds on the most magnificent spring day. Her eyes as sparkling as halos that encircle the heads of angels. Her coos more precious than the pearly gates St. Peter attends. The little grin that bursts across her face is brighter than all the stars on the clearest night. The gentle way that she exists makes her unique. She's perfect.

The future holds amazing possibilities for her. Before I know it she'll be talking, walking and finding the mischief all toddlers do. A first birthday, and then a second, will come too quickly. In the blink of an eye, she'll no longer fit so snugly in my arms. But, until then, she's my heaven.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Singing 'bout the man in black

After a week that's included preparations for a baptism and pursuing party, turning 33 years young, two puking kids and more loads of laundry than I can even count, there's something that can still put a smile on my face and make me laugh ...

Alivia and Alena cruising in the backseat of the Suburban, buckled in their carseats, and singing about gassin' "up the Pontiac" and "blastin' out to Johnny Cash." I was convinced they were heading for the highway and never coming back. These are the coolest toddlers on the planet.

The lyrics being sung in their little voices put the smile on my face, but looking in the rearview mirror to see the heads bobbing and hands gesturing made me laugh. It's the their latest favorite from country music's top hits.

While Carrie Underwood and Before He Cheats will always be near and dear to Alena's heart, there's something about Jason Aldean's latest hit Johnny Cash that gets them both singing along. I think it's the "whoa, whoa," that makes it popular with this under-three duo.

If you're looking for other iPod downloads that are Alena and Alivia approved, check out Bucky Covington's A Different World (I think the "Bucky" name adds to this song's interest) and Terri Clark's Dirty Girl. For now, we're waitin' out by the road for somebody to pick us up.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Four little monkeys ...

Four little monkeys, lying on our bed. I love this picture for the very reason that it wasn't posed. Trace and Alysse had been situated on the bed as Jason and I went to get Alena and Alivia out of their beds. Upon seeing the babies on the bed, the girls wanted up there too, and made their own places between them. Could parents be any luckier than to have these happy faces who so care for each other?

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Yep, they're definitely sisters

There's just something about sisters. It's a relationship unlike any other you have with anyone else. You tattle on each other when you're young. You fight over clothes, the car, the bathroom .... well, pretty much everything when you're teenagers. You enter adulthood with distinct personalities, outlooks and opinions. But when you're old enough to have your own daughters, you're so glad to have your sisters to share them with.

Alena and Alivia are sisters. There's just no doubt about it. Even if you didn't know they were sisters, you could pick the sister pair out of a crowd of little girls playing. I guess, they just have that sister chemistry.

I honestly thought we had a few years before the bickering would start. That isn't the case. The two go at it. While the exchanges between them get heated at times, there are days when I have to turn away so they don't catch me laughing. They could easily be two twenty-somethings arguing if it weren't for the topics that are usually at the center of their disagreements.

Last week it was whether Aunt Mandy should hypothetically cut her hair and donate it to the Locks of Love project that provides wigs to children who are in need of them. Keep in mind Aunt Mandy probably doesn't even know what Locks of Love is, and has probably never entertained the idea of cutting her hair for donation. Yet, the two argued as if she were sitting in our kitchen with a scissor-bearing hairdresser standing over her and the argument's winner would either save her tresses or hand them over to the wig-making organization.

Today they fought over the phone and who would talk to dad first. I finally had to hang the phone up and tell them no one would be talking until they could agree to take turns. Even then, Alivia threw a fit when her turn was up and she was expected to turn the receiver over to Alena.

However, for all their fights, hair pulling (yes, they pull hair ... Alivia has been dubbed "dirty little fighter" by her father) and name calling (Alena loves to call Alivia a "mean witch"), they are sisters whose hearts are forever joined. No matter how ugly an episode between them gets, two minutes after it's ended, Alena's the first person to hand Liv a tissue to wipe her nose after a fall. And a fight over a toy is quickly forgotten as Liv comes toting Alena's "Mr. Hopper" to stop her tears. They are sisters.

Saturday morning as they were playing outside in the wading pool, I look to see Alivia standing with her back to Alena and Alena running her fingers through Alivia's wet hair as if she were putting it into a ponytail. At the time, to the pair, they were the only two people in the world. They are sisters.

Sometimes I watch them and it brings tears to my eyes to see the love between them. Sometimes I see them and wish that I never forget the innocence with which they care for one another and the feeling my own heart fills with when I secretly admire their interactions. They are sisters.