Tuesday, July 31, 2007

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to

Still a bit of a mystery in our house, Alena has started having parties.

One minute everything is business as usual, the next time you turn your head, the living room floor is covered with any combination of things and she announces she's "having a party." Why she throws these parties, who's invited or how long they'll last is never quite clear.

The first happened last Thursday. We didn't realize we were having a party until we couldn't walk through the living room. Attempting to photograph the event, dad elicited tears, then all out crying, as she didn't want the party documented.

Friday brought about another. Still unsure what brings on a "celebration," I figured we were kicking off the weekend.

This morning she threw the biggest one yet. Not only did she drag out toys and other kid items, but also a flower arrangement and framed picture she confiscated from one of the living room's end tables.

This evening, upon telling him she hosted another party today, her dad asked if she's going to be a party planner ... you know, I can see it as a possibility.

Life through her eyes

The entire world's alive in Alivia's eyes. The living extends beyond family members, pets and her new-found bug interest. The inanimate comes to life when she's around.

Ever seen an almost two-year-old have a lively exchange with a kitchen chair? Probably not, unless you've witnessed Alivia run head on into one of ours, and then place the blame on the wooden piece of furniture. After giving it a piece of her mind, a few squawks and an evil look or two, she'll stomp off.

"Stinkin' chair," she'll conclude. "Get out of my way."

If it's in her way, within her reach or of any interest to her whatsoever, it's alive.

Still using her little potty that sits just inches off the floor for the sake of convenience (two little girls and one downstairs toilet makes for constant warfare as everyone miraculously has to use it at the same time ... you catch my drift), she and I headed to the bathroom to empty the handled bowl she had filled.

I dumped its contents into the toilet, and told her to flush it down. Face buried in the opening of the toilet seat, with only the back of her head visible to me, she lets out a "Don't look at me poopy."

Apparently she didn't like how her excrement was looking up at her from the bowl ... go figure. I wasn't aware that it had eyes, let alone a "look" that she found offensive.

Even the most innocent book should watch out when she's around and looking for trouble. Picture this. She puts her selection on the couch, and proceeds to climb up and perch herself on its cushions. In the process, she knocks the book to the floor. Down she goes after it, picking it up and starting the process all over. Once again, the book slides off and she's annoyed.

"I've had it with you book," she'll reprove the unsuspecting copy of "This is the House that Jack Built."

Her personification of all things is a great source of amusement for her father and I. You never know just what might jump out and attack her next - the door frame, our dining room table, her baby doll stroller - or more importantly the approach she'll take in correcting said object. A glimpse of the world through her eyes makes everything seem more alive.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Red fur in July

Yes, it was 86 degrees here yesterday. And yes, I tried to convince her you don't wear shirts with fur on the cuffs during July. Still, our hot mama insisted on donning the attire she had picked out for herself. After taking it off last night at bath time, I was given strict instructions not to wash it ... she was going to wear it in the morning.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Do they know they're twins?

This question was recently posed to me, followed quickly by "I know that's a dumb question."

Believe me, I've heard my share of dumb questions, but after answering with, "I don't know if they know they're twins, but they are well aware of one another," the question came back to mind several times in the proceeding days.

I've worried from their very first weeks that some damage was done to their twinship by not bedding them in the same crib or feeding them together. I guess overall, we've treated Trace and Alysse like two singletons that we care for simultaneously rather than like twins.

Books written by experts suggest parents of twins allow them to sleep in the same crib, as they are more comfortable together; and encourage a single feeding schedule to simplify life. This advice didn't seem to best suit Trace and Alysse, and our family as a whole, so we adopted an eat-when-YOU-want-to-eat schedule and separated them not only in their own beds, but separate rooms, when they were only a couple weeks old.

During their first months of life they seemed to exist solo ... completely oblivious to one another. I remember silently agonizing over whether or not we had destroyed some special twin bond between them. Everyone believes there's a special relationship between multiples. Had we taken that from them in our attempts to care for them in the manner we felt best met their needs?

Slowly, as they became more aware of their surroundings, I began to see more interaction between them. Slowly, I began to feel a bit relieved that we hadn't taken from them a special bond they hadn't been given the chance to develop.

Do they know they're twins? Yes, I think they do.

In moments of fussiness when nothing else seems to calm one or the other, placing them together so that they can make eye contact seems to bring a sense of peacefulness and instant smiles. Once this connection has been made, they seem to coo and smile at one another as though they both know something no one else does.

Perhaps more telling is when laying them at opposite ends of a blanket, one way or another they find a way to meet up, and within minutes their hands are joined. Babies holding hands ... it still melts my heart every time I witness it. They seem to have a need between them to touch that I don't know two non-twin infants would share.

I do wonder, though, how this relationship will evolve as they grow. Several times I've been told that in a twin pair there's usually one child who is more dependent upon the other. This twin phenomenon I can't say I've yet seen in our pair. If each can be their own independent person while sharing a relationship not many of us know, I'll be happy knowing we've accomplished something most parents don't have the pleasure of attempting.

Blue elephant warrior

It always happens, without fail. Some times it might take a little longer than expected, but it always happens. Some times it happens without any warning, and others you see it coming and just have to wait.

It usually starts off innocently. A reach here, a push or grab there. Then it escalates. Typically the talking starts and then grows louder. Talking then becomes a sort of baby yell. The baby yell gives way to all out frustration and then hostility sets in.

It's the squishy blue Exersaucer© elephant. Dangling on his flexible orange hook, he hangs there just taunting her. And one way or the other, he always wins. No amount of drool, yelling or gumming changes the outcome.

The face-off begins as soon as Alysse is placed in the Exersaucer©, spinning the seat around until she's looking him square in the face. I've begun intentionally turning the seat a full 180 degrees away from the little blue troublemaker before placing her in it, hoping something else will catch her attention. Not a chance. She immediately begins to spin herself, seeking him out and not giving the other less confrontational toys a second glance.

Then it's on. She pulls, grabs and shoves him until she gets him right where she thinks she wants him. Into her mouth he goes. A couple chomps later and he's back out for repositioning. More yanking and some drool, and back in he goes. Still not right, as she lets him go again, bouncing around on his hook.

Now the talking starts. She usually starts out in a fairly polite manner. Giving him what I take to be instructions, she gives it another go. More chewing and gnawing around, then things heat up. The polite talk turns to baby yelling, and an attempt or two later the crying starts.

I'm not exactly sure what he does or doesn't do that sets her off. Perhaps the motor skills she currently possesses don't allow her to position him in her mouth exactly the way she wants. Or maybe the relief he provides her expectant gums doesn't quite cut it. Whatever the cause, her elephant encounter always proves futile.

I've tried removing him once her frustration takes hold. Out of sight, out of mind was my thinking. However, the fireworks his absence cause are more volatile than what would have erupted had I just let their ensuing struggle run its course. And more than once I've quickly replaced him to lessen her hostility and let the saga play out.

I've tried ridding the activity center of his presence altogether before placing her in it. Still, she spins. Looking for her prey. Coming up short on the hunt, she's then unhappy that she didn't get the chance to gain her first victory.

I'm guessing he's safe until that first tooth makes its way through her baby gum. After that, it just might be a more evenly matched bout of baby versus elephant, as she'll have the means to pop that little blue sucker in retaliation for all the defeats she's suffered.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Too many butts in our tub

In an effort to streamline our nighttime ritual of baths and bedtime times four, we recently put all four little butts in the tub together. Our first crack at this crowded tub venture was a thrill for Alena and Alivia and an education for Trace and Alysse.

The sight of the four of them in our tub immediately reminded me of a Shel Silverstein poem entitled Crowded Tub which was read to me as a child. Its words are as follows:

There are too many kids in this tub
There are too many elbows to scrub
I just washed a behind that I'm sure wasn't mine
There are too many kids in this tub.

If our crowded tub isn't this poem brought to life, I don't know what is.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Me little blonde pixie

Alivia has rightfully gained the nickname little blonde pixie this summer. The more time she spends in the sun, the lighter her little blonde head becomes. She's too ornery to be a fairy, but along the lines of a sprite. Her way about life makes me think "Tinkerbell" ... she's my pixie.

In addition to her new nickname, this summer has seen the creation of her own catch phrase, or phrases, as it may be.

Any instance in which she should say "my," she substitutes a "me." Most of her speech patterns follow what she hears Alena saying. So understandably, more times than not, a word that begins with an "f" sounds as though it begins with an "s," as this is how Alena speaks. As a result, "foot" in our house is actually pronounced "soot," and "frog" comes out "sog." Spend a little time with the girls, and you'll begin to get it.

This new my/me switch-up, though, is her own twist on the Scott family lingo. And more times than not, I crack a smile when I hear her talking about "me daddy" or "me shoes." While I'm convinced she sounds as though she's spent some time down under, Jason and I are still debating exactly what country it is she sounds as though she's spent some of her 21 months visiting.

Last week I thought I'd try and teach her proper grammar and correct this "my/me" confusion. As she discussed washing "me hands," I said, "my hands." She repeated after me, saying it correctly. Again, I said "my hands," and again, she mimicked my language.

As she ran away with wet hands flying through the air, she was calling out for "me soggy." For now, I guess it's staying "me." As much as I'm troubled by poor grammar, I'm more amused by me pixie.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The lone little cowboy

This blog has previously seen a photo of the three drama queens that reign in the Scott house, but our lone little cowboy wasn't given his due exposure, so here it is.

For $6.99 at Babies 'R Us, I couldn't pass it up. While his head needs to grow a bit more, it just suits him.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A routine to fit four

Four kids, one house and a mom determined to gain some sense of routine. Just when I was ready to throw my hands up in defeat, I began savoring at least a few minutes of quiet.

It's taken seven weeks of patience and perseverance, but I think we may be on our way to some semblance of order. Order in a house I was beginning to think would never have it again.

A schedule with a newborn is an oxymoron. A schedule with two newborns is insane to even imagine. But months of no routine and a house of four little ones was becoming madness. There were days when I lost track of who had slept when ... myself included.

To some degree, the chaos worked to our advantage early on. Yes, maybe Trace had only been up an hour, but a little cat nap in the swing bought me a few minutes to fix breakfast for the older girls while I held Alysse. And Alysse falling asleep on the playmat after lunch allowed me a break in pace to read Alena and Alivia their books of choice before naptime.

At any given time someone might be sleeping somewhere. Someone might be being fed something. And what was going to happen next was anyone's guess. That was about as organized as we got during the first few months.

But, I'm a believer. Not a believer that every day at 11 a.m. we need to be having playtime or that 2 p.m. is the magic hour for afternoon slumber. But a believer in a flow of events which provides some structure to the day. A structure that gives everyone a sense of what's coming next and predictability that provides comfort.

I reached the point of not being able to tolerate the "flying by the seat of our pants" anymore at the beginning of June. Hell bent to reel in some of the pant flying, we started out small. Everyone had to stay awake two hours after getting out of bed before any naps could be taken. Somedays that proved to be a struggle, as I'd set one baby down to help someone off the potty or change another's diaper and come back to find the first one sleeping.

Slowly we made progress. Morning naps for babies about two hours after getting up. Morning playtime just for the big girls while Trace and Alysse had their sweet dreams. More playing for everyone while the babies had tummy time or sat in their little Bumbo seats (my latest favorite baby item). Lunch for babies, followed by lunch for Alena and Alivia.

We experienced a couple of days when I would have sworn it just wasn't possible to "sync-up" four with the combined age of less than five years. And afternoons proved (and continue to be) the most difficult. Get one down, get number two down. "Okay, half-way there," I think to myself. Read Alena and Alivia their books, get them settled in for naps. Yes, silence.

Wait ... Trace is up, needs to burp. Okay, 20 minutes have elapsed, but he's back down. Throw in a load of laundry and pick up toys. Crap, Alysse is now talking to her bumper pads. Roll her back over on her belly, retrieve her pacifier and pat her back.

Again, silence. If only for 20 more minutes before Alivia decides nap time is over. Then one by one, they get up, just as they went down. The moral: Even though I gained a combined 30 minutes of "down-time," everyone knows an afternoon nap is in our routine.

Everyone is happier, myself included. Alena and Alivia were well settled into their own routine before it was abruptly interrupted by the arrival of Trace and Alysse. They could have walked you through the steps of their day themselves. "Wiggle" watching and bathtime included. And in the few months during which the haphazard ongoings occurred, I knew it took a toll on them. They like the stability of a routine and knowing what's going to come next.

With Alena it took six months or better before we settled into the "this comes next" way of life. Alivia arrived and within a couple months the three of us had our daily routine down. This time it's been harder, a greater challenge. But last week I began feeling optimistic ... we might just have it.

Next up: Getting babies to sleep through the night in less than 15 months and without finally resorting to the controversial, yet quite effective in our house, method of crying-it-out. If I can find a quiet solution to this one I'll make millions writing a how-to book. Yeah, probably not.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Only in our house

I'd be willing to lay down money that the following sights have only be seen within the four walls of our home. Prepare yourself, and take note that no staging, prompting or assistance was given to any subject whatsoever ... these scenes were ready and waiting.

Glam it up baby

Ever wonder what a four-month old looks like with earrings? This is it. Alena, finding herself in a generous mood, decided to share her clip-ons with Alysse. To to Alysse's credit, she didn't seem to mind the look.

There's something about Alivia

An after-dinner trip out for ice cream brought about this mess. Alivia enjoyed her scoop of vanilla with candy sprinkles. If you look closely, you can see a blue sprinkle in her hair. How we got from a small cup of ice cream to this, I'm not quite sure.

Available for styling consults

This is what Alena came up with the other night after doing her own hair. You can tell by the photo she was proud of her work. If you're in need of an evening look for an upcoming night out, let her know, she'd be glad to help.

Poor Trace

Trace ... poor, poor Trace. He's just glad to have survived another week surrounded by what you've seen above. One more week down, 17 1/2 years to go.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Our picture day(s)

Even I'm not crazy enough to take our crew to the photography studio on my own ... a local greenhouse, yes; Home Depot, yes; Babies 'R Us, yes; but pictures, um, no. So, with four extra hands, we headed out last Friday with freshly pressed outfits, and dreams of photos so beautiful they'd bring tears to a mother's eye.

Not so fast.

Trace, bless his little heart, was relatively agreeable to the proposition. A bit skitish in nature, he adapted to the strangers and noise around him surprisingly well. He cooperated fairly well, given he was ready to eat by the time it was our turn in front of the camera.

Alysse, the most laid back and go-with-the-flow in the group, immediately disliked the photographer or her voice, and would cry every time she was placed in front of the camera or the photographer opened her mouth. We managed to get one shot and she was D-O-N-E.

One in the flock refused. Okay, fine. "You don't have to have your picture taken," I reassured this little angel of mine (I'll not name names and let you all decide for yourselves who this little angel was). But this very loud and tearful refusal left the remaining child questioning whether this adventure was "safe." The photographer was able to get one snap of subject number two before she fell under the spell of the screamer.

After a second trip to the studio two days later, the lone unphotographed one finally did acquiesce after bribery and promises that the photographer would not talk to or touch her.

Below are the results. Each brings tears to their mother's eyes, wondering where the time has gone and grateful for each beautiful smile.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Can I get a cupcake kiss?

To anyone under the age of 10, the highlight of a family reunion is the cupcakes. Alena and Alivia were no exception at the annual Mick family reunion Saturday when they sank their teeth into the cupcakes Claire made for the occasion. Both girls enjoyed the moist sweetness and ensuing mess.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Glamour pusses galore

Anarchy reigns when a dad goes out of town for a few days. Especially when the dad leaves behind three drama queens, some of which moonlight as hot mamas. The feathers started flying Friday, less than 24 hours after his departure for Ft. Loramie, Ohio and his annual Country Concert getaway.

As if the head hot mama needed any encouragement, Aunt Mandy came bearing gifts of feathered velvet gloves and more costume jewelery than a little girl can keep on at the same time. A trip to Wal-Mart and the costume section of the toy department later and we had glittery wings and boas that can double as slinky back-up singer dresses. I'm beginning to think we need an addition to the house just to store all the get-ups we continue to acquire.

Little Liv got in on the hot-mama action as well with her purplicious evening gloves and earrings that tap her cheeks when she turns her head quickly from side-to-side. While she eventually settled into her Cincinnati Reds shirt and short outfit, let it be known that she doesn't mind a little hot-mama action every now and then.

The highlight of the hot-mama parade was when Alena laid claim to a bathing suit her mother wore on a honeymoon cruise (and will never again wear thanks to our three little drama queens and a handsome little devil). The suit's bottom fell below her little knees and its push-up bra cups sat well beneath where they needed to be.

Needless to say, after adequate adjusting and modeling, she packed the bathing suit in her storage unit on wheels (aka. her baby doll stroller) before taking a nap. Just because she's broken onto the hot-mama scene, she's never forgotten her bag-lady roots.

Beauty ran amok for three days. And yes, dad owes Trace big time for leaving him behind in a house full of glamour pusses (although, he did receive a nice fanning from the glamour puss queen with a pink-feathered hand fan).

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Drip and drool

Just call them Drip and Drool. The only thing worse than having one beaver in your house is having two of them. Teethers, wash cloths, fingers and forearms ... nothing is safe within the reach of a beaver. Both Trace and Alysse are teething and their need for something in their mouths grows each day.

In their defense, they come from a long line of teething beavers. Alena would chew on any and everything whenever she was getting a new tooth. I remember on more than one occasion she tried to cut a tooth using my shoulder.

Alivia was even more persistent in her teething ... we've got the scarred crib rails to prove it. And even today she'll nearly gag herself trying to fit all five fingers into her mouth at once to help those molars along.

Alysse has been working on her first tooth for weeks. She's quiet and diligent. She's mastered getting the pliable blue elephant that hangs on the Exersaucer into her little mouth for some teething relief. Despite her not-going-to-give-up attitude, she has nothing to show yet for all her hard work.

Trace just got serious within that last two weeks. And while he lagged a bit getting out of the teething gate, he has come on strong, making up for lost time. He recently managed to get my forearm between his gums while I was holding him and held on as though he were a Pitt Bull. For his efforts, we've spotted a small white dot on his gum just days ago. While there's not a first tooth yet, the beginnings of one is peeking out.

Let the fun begin ... fussiness, drool and biting. Did I mention drool? We're on our way to two first teeth, to be followed at a later date by 46 more.

She's one hot mama and knows it

Prancing around the living room in her stars and stripes bikini, sunglasses and purple high-heeled slippers complete with purple faux fur across the top of her feet, Alena said, "I'm a hot mama." How could I argue? If you've got it, flaunt it.

We've got several get-ups that make her a hot mama. Some of her props include pink hair, a tiara, rubber boots, Mardi Gras beads that resemble dice, numerous purses and an abundance of hair accessories. Anyway she combines them, she knows when she's got the hot-mama look going.

It's amazing the things she knows now. The things she says ... to Jason and I, to Alivia, to Trace and Alysse. Sometimes, I hear the words coming out of her two-and-a-half-year-old mouth, but have to look up to make sure she's not 11 and I somehow missed the last eight and a half years.

As I held Trace and Alysse both in my arms one night preparing to take them upstairs and put them to bed, she says, "Be careful mom, you don't want to fall with both those babies." Is she really just two?

On a recent trip out and about, she spotted a gas station. "Dad, do you need some gas?"

"No," he replied, looking at me, "We're good right now." Should she be concerning herself with the gas gauge years before she has a license of her own?

I sometimes wonder if she was forced to grow up too quickly. Did she not get to be the baby long enough?, I guess is the better question. Was 13 months too early to be robbed of being the youngest under our roof?

While I cannot lengthen her babyhood, I take solace in knowing she's a happy kid. That, I don't have to doubt. Full of life, sass and personality. Yet, at the same time, she holds on to an innocence that's so special I hope she never lets it go.

Maybe she knows too much (a baby needs to be burped after a couple ounces of formula), can do too much independently (complete an entire potty trip on her own) and is aware of things other kids her age wouldn't think of (while taking her bunny for a walk outside in her doll stroller, she'll stop to put the shade over his head to make sure he's out of the sun), she's happy and full of love. At the end of the day, that's all I wish for her.

Besides, if you're a hot mama at the age of two and smart enough to know it, you've got something going for you.