Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Yours, mine and ours

There's one thing you don't consider when you have just one baby ... how two babies would interact. When there's just one, the thought doesn't really cross your mind, it simply doesn't have to. A singleton lives in his or her own baby world. She sticks her toes in her own mouth, is content with his own pacifier and can roll about freely, bumping into only the toys and other objects around the room.

Add another baby and the whole scene changes. He may lock his lips around her foot as they play on the floor. She reaches over to, quite adeptly I have to admit, scarf his pacifier and quickly put it in her own mouth. Let's face it, your fist is just as good as mine when I have the need to teeth.

They will roll right into one another. So young and unaware (yet too aware), there's no attention paid to who has the right-of-way. Kick, grab, drool and pull on any little body part that's within reach, doesn't really matter who it belongs to.

At times, their encounters are pure entertainment. You can just hear her thinking, "Get out of my way, buddy, didn't you see me coming?"

Or, "Hey doll, that's my ear you just chewed on and drooled in. You better not try it again once you have a tooth in that mouth."

There's nothing more entertaining than when the two are free to roll, scoot or drag themselves around, and they happen to be within a four-square-foot area of one another.

You can't possibly imagine their shenanigans until you've witnessed it. Sometimes, I think we don't believe some of the antics they pull even when they are unfolding before our eyes.

As toes are stuck in any one's mouth, fists become a free-for-all and "what's yours is mine" is the way of life, I've come ponder what life was like for them before 11:25 p.m. on February 19. It's interesting to think that this dueling pair co-existed for 36 weeks inside one seemingly small space.

Yes, they were much, much smaller then. They didn't have the motor skills they now have. But still, in relation to space comparisons and developmental milestones, the miracle that two grew where one really should is something to think about.

Good or bad? I don't know. Good for us, we got two for the price, I should say pregnancy pains, of one. Bad for them? I guess only they could say. Part of me is saddened when I think about one spending the better part of eight months on top of the other. By the sixth month or so, someone was kicked, prodded or poked every time their roommate made a move. It became a constant struggle for space, and God knows what else.

Issues inside the womb aside, the two are now at odds over who is being held, fed or coddled at any given time. Try as I might, when it's two against one, someone usually comes up short. Yes, you can hold, talk, read and play with two babies at once, but let's face it, you can really only cuddle one at a time. And we've reached a point where everyone is fully aware of what's playing out around them.

"Why am I in this Exersaucer while he's having his bottle and being rocked in your arms?," I can hear her asking even though she can't yet utter a word.

It's a constant balancing act of which I'm becoming more and more aware.

I've learned there are many things you simply can't prepare yourself for. Read the writings of experts, take to heart the advice given by doctors, but you can't really imagine the full potential of nurturing twins until you're living it. Filled with constant worry, never-ending work and infinite love, it's entertainment at its finest. I guess it doesn't really matter whose it is.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Buzz, we love your fair

Alena and Alivia made two trips to Grandpa Buzz's fair this week (also known as the Allen County Fair to everyone else who isn't a Buzz grand kid). We all traveled north earlier in the week to make our first visit, but just dad and the older girls headed out today since there's only so much six-month-olds can do at a fair (read ... ride in the stroller and get frightened by loud carnival rides, and that's about it).

Alena and Alivia's Friday adventure included a ride in a "huge" helicopter, a "weird hopper," a feed dispenser at the petting zoo that contained "bones" and miniature ponies that finally went to "sleep" for having worn themselves out parading the girls around in circles.

I'm not sure two little girls could have come home from a day out and about with dad and had any more fun than they did. There were tales of ferris wheel rides, pig poop and a large turkey. Their retelling of the day's events was even better than taking a trip there myself, as the people, places and things as seen through their eyes can't be beat. It's truly the simple things that leave a lasting impression and take their breath away.

You just can't help feeling like a kid again when you're surrounded by them, for their innocence, imagination and curiosity is consuming and refreshing. And for all the experience and knowledge we adults may have, it's their simple approach to life that captures your attention and teaches you what's really important.

Until next year Buzz, thanks for the fair memories ... they had a great time.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Here come the questions

We're going to the chapel. A church, really.

And we're going to get married. Well, not really us, but Jason's cousin Julie and her finance, Todd.

So we've been packing, and talking about weddings.

Due to the fact that virtually everyone we know is now old and married, Alena has never been to a wedding that she remembers. I think her last was at the ripe old age of ten months.

The little pixie hasn't ever been to a wedding, well, not outside of my uterus, anyway. She was two months shy of delivery when she and I attended our last wedding. And knowing the two have questions about EVERYTHING, I've been trying to prepare them for the big day.

We're going to go to a church. "No," there's no water involved and our babies will not be a part of the ceremony, I had to reassure Alena as she was quick to associate church with the recent baptism of Trace and Alysse.

Julie will wear a beautiful wedding dress and probably carry flowers. There will be other girls wearing pretty dresses, too. "No," Aunt Mandy will not be one of the girls wearing the pretty dresses.

We'll have to sit quietly during the service and try to be good big girls. That means no yelling, no bursting into the chorus of "Johnny Cash" and absolutely no monkey business. Alena's concerned she'll be thirsty and need a drink. Check ... a small bottle of water has been packed for each so she need not worry about dehydration.

After the wedding, we'll go to a party. There will be dinner, dancing and a big cake. "Yes," Alena can dance with Aunt Jeanne and Alivia can dance with daddy. Guess I'm odd man out.

We've looked at pictures of mommy and daddy's wedding. The tall cake, the church, the dresses. Of most interest, so far, has been mom and dad feeding the wedding cake to each other.

We've practiced this amongst ourselves. Alena feeds mommy the cake, and mommy feeds Alena the cake. Alivia feeds mommy the cake, and mommy feeds Alivia the cake. "Yes," we can feed each other wedding cake at the reception. Please, just don't let them witness Julie smashing the cake in Todd's face or vice versa, as I might come to meet the same fate.

We've looked at the flower daddy wore on his tuxedo jacket. "It's a boutonniere," I told them. Okay, that's a big word for little mouths, even for our little parrots.

We've looked at mommy's wedding dress. "Yes, you're right, mommy didn't have a big belly then," I had to agree. But I didn't have you either, I thought to myself, and I wouldn't trade back for anything.

We have sitters

Trace and Alysse are sitting. They've been "practicing" this new skill for a couple weeks, but today, I officially declared them sitters.

While they still have to be watched in this new upright position (if something amuses Alysse, she'll arch her back to let out a squeal causing her to tip back), they're now able to sit and interact with what's around them.

Trace is still a bit wobbly if he becomes too engrossed in something and forgets he's now controlling his position and not using someone or something else for support. But, they deserve their "sitters" designation as they are able to sit for several minutes without incident.

Stay tuned. Next up is crawling and Alysse is off to a good start getting her knees positioned under her and her butt in the air. I've even noticed in the last day or two, she's discovered that she can get her chest a great distance off the floor by pushing and straightening her arms. She's already managing to cover a serious amount of floor space without mastering the crawl ... although moving in reverse.

Take this job and ...

I wanted to quit my job today. And truth be told, if I worked for anyone other than my current employers, I'd have slapped a letter of resignation on the boss' desk, packed my things and hit the door. No two-week notice, no exit interview. Adios baby, I'm out of here.

The problem is, there's not a boss around that would have been able to read my letter of resignation. None of them would know how to go about posting an ad seeking my replacement. And I don't think any of them would actually want to fess up to the job description.

I had had it. There's only so much a person can take, and I had taken it and then some. Three-year-old sass. Twenty-two-month-old screeching. And six-month-old grouchiness and hysterics, TIMES TWO.

We managed to make it through the morning with only a couple of time-outs, several threats and baby naps cut in half due to their apparent need to make me crazy. Despite the rocky start, we made it to lunch relatively unscathed and even threw in an alphabet game and plenty of tummy time to boot.

As I finished getting Alena and Alivia's lunch fixed, Trace went from bellyaching (compliments of his teething, this has been a constant for the past three or four weeks ... I've lost track as I've wished for temporary deafness on more than one occasion) to all out screaming. Just as I get him in his high chair next to Alysse so that I can feed them lunch, she chimes in.

Okay, for anyone who can tolerate one baby just all out screaming, give two a try. Nothing I tried would calm either one. Holding, peas, bottles, toys, singing, squash. Nothing worked. Screaming, screaming, screaming. Let's try the vacuum. Maybe the noise of them vacuum will quiet them enough that I can regain some control of the situation.

Sure enough, plug in the vacuum and go to work on the living room and they got quiet. Sure enough, turn the vacuum off and the screaming started again. Immediately. Holding, peas, bottles, toys, singing, squash. Just not cutting it.

Then Alivia started her yelling, as Alena's demands she needs this, that or the other "right now."

"Please don't yell at the table," I asked Alivia in a tone I'm still not sure how I managed to muster. "If you yell again, I'm going to turn your videos off."

And she did it.

And I turned the videos off.

And then she did it again.


A high chair tray was slammed on the kitchen table as I took her out of her seat for a visit to the naughty step (the place she has to sit when she's done something bad). A door was slammed just because it was there. And out of sheer desperation (and knowing both were so tired there was nothing I was going to be able to do with them), I took Trace and Alysse to their beds, wished them luck and shut the doors.

It was an ugly scene. Yes, in the realm of what's done to children on a daily basis that's truly abusive, my little fit was nothing. But for me and my ability to handle the day-to-day crap in a pretty go-with-the-flow fashion, it was ugly. Today they pushed too far.

Soon enough the babies were quiet. It actually took them less time to fall asleep than it took me to clean up the macaroni and cheese that flew off the high chair tray I had slammed down. Alivia spent her few minutes on the step and was quickly back to dragging out toy after toy. And Alena, being older, and bearing witness to the whole mess didn't demand another thing "right now" for at least 20 minutes.

After the blow-up, we read nursery rhymes and looked at Alena's stack of pictures. I told them I was sorry I had gotten so upset and that I love them very much. Too much, maybe. Once Trace and Alysse got up with hungry bellies, they ate, drank and were perfect angels. Damn it, I was going to quit my job today, but I already want it back.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Put on your dancing shoes

Look at these little numbers Alena and Alivia are sporting. While Grandma Butterbean thought they'd be fun for walks and playing around the house, we've taken a liking to them, and decided they are dancing shoes ... way too special for just any old walk.

In fact, we like them so well, we went back and each got another pair - red for Alivia (think Dorothy's ruby red slippers on a pixie) and black for Alena. You can't beat the fun factor.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

And my heart's all aflutter

I had the most wonderful afternoon I've had in, well, months. I fell in love all over again and was reminded just how wonderful she is.

Today was Alena's early three-year check-up, combined with a physical required for her to start preschool in September. I had expected the worst. The mere mention of the word doctor sends her into a frenzy ... even if it's someone else's doctor visit. I put off telling her today was the day to save her the days ... hours ... minutes of worry, fretting and all-out fit throwing. But once this morning came, I knew I had to spill the beans.

As I got her out of bed, I reminded her of our mom and Alena afternoon that we had talked about yesterday. "Just you and me," I said. "We'll spend the afternoon together."

We had already made plans to stop by Aunt Angie's beauty salon for a quick hair cut. Scheduled ever so slyly AFTER the doctor's appointment for leverage. "But," I explained to her, "before we go to the beauty salon, there's something we need to do. We're going to the doctor's office today," I told her. "You need to have a check-up."

And we were off. The tears started, the defiance set in and her reaction was just as I expected.

Trying to interrupt her fit, I explained that if she went and was good I would take her to the mall to ride the Nemo carousel afterward (she enjoys the heck out of this little three-person merry-go-round for whatever reason). She couldn't even hear my attempted bribe over the bellyaching and declarations that she wasn't going, she wasn't going to talk to the doctor and that the doctor wasn't going to touch her.

Fine ... I let her have her drama. Downstairs we went to start the day.

After a bit of calmness, I again made my Nemo peace offering. Go to the doctor, behave like a good girl and ride Nemo to your heart's content. Again the whining erupted and the tears resurfaced.

"We're going," I said nonchalantly. "Whether you want to or not, we're going. You can either go and cooperate so you can ride Nemo afterwards, or you can go and yell and carry on and we'll come home without a Nemo ride."

And it was over. Not another tear was shed the rest of the day. I expected a tantrum when it was time to leave for the appointment. Nope, total cooperation getting into her carseat.

"Okay, she's teasing me ... I'm going to get it when we actually get there," I thought to myself. Again, total disbelief when I put the car in park and opened my door in the parking lot.

The final test came when the nurse opened the door leading back to the examination rooms.

"Scott," she called.

"Here we go," I thought as I reached for Alena's hand. I could have fallen over as we marched back to the scale and she stepped right up on it.

I couldn't have asked for a better behaved, more cooperative little girl. She obliged the doctor's every request. She answered the doctor's questions (Do you eat chicken? Do you ride a bike or a bigwheel? Do you wear a helmet when you ride? Do you sit in your carseat in the car?). She even offered up information about her new scooter she learned to ride this week.

She checked out perfectly. Exactly where she should be developmentally (a vocabulary of around 1,000 words), socially (testing limits constantly) and physically (able to undress herself and redress with limited assistance).

Following our appointment, we drove through Old McDonald's for a small orange drink. It was hot and we were thirsty. We then headed to the mall to ride Nemo. She was all smiles going around and around. After two dollar's worth of riding she climbed off so she could check out the "Claire's" accessory store visible from the carousel. We left the store with a Hello Kitty cell phone and bracelet.

Next up, the beauty salon. After a quick trim of her bangs and ends, she got her first French braids compliments of her favorite stylist. Not getting the whole hold-one-mirror-to-look-back-into-the-other-mirror concept, I took a picture of the back of her head so she could preview it on the digital camera to check out her fancy do.

On our way home, she fell asleep in her carseat (something that hasn't happened in I couldn't tell you how long), confirming that we still aren't ready to surrender our afternoon nap. Can't fault her there ... hey, I'd take one too if given the chance.

I think she enjoyed our time together, and I know I did even more. In the craziness of day-to-day life, it's easy to forget just how wonderful these little people are. In the monotony of getting up, getting dressed and getting on with the day, it's easy to overlook the specialness each moment possesses. In the madness of laundry, making sure every one's fed and the abyss of toys thrown about, it's easy to lose sight of why you're really doing it all. I was reminded of the essence of motherhood ... her.

She's one of the most amusing, insightful, entertaining, polite people I know. She's amazing, and I've had something to do with it. More importantly, I get to spend every day with her.

I'm now plotting how we can institute mom/Alena and mom/Alivia afternoons on a regular basis. Yep, I fell in love again, and this time don't want to wait so long to do it all over again.