Monday, June 18, 2012

My Current Fascination with Hemlines: June 18, 2012

On Tuesday morning, we made a strawberry cake from a 100-year-old recipe. Devon helped, if you count running fast circles around the kitchen, grabbing my thigh every time he lapped me and demanding "strawberry in mouff".

After it was in the oven, his pace slowed to a jaunty victory lap, stopping each time at the oven to stab his pointer finger wildly at the treat and narrate:

 "This is OUR cake. This is OUR cake."

 I wasn't a huge fan of the finished product, although that didn't stop us from frosting it and eating a fourth before Daddy even got home five hours later.  Why all the carbs?  And why did I fill an hour with discretionary baking when I could've been steaming and pureeing carrots for the girls?

I had just put Carrie and Melina down for their morning nap.  Alone with a toddler, I could think of NOTHING TO DO during the day's Devon-and-Mommy time.  I started running down the mental checklist of usual suspects (playdoh-crayons-magnadoodle) and didn't get far because Devon picked up the t-ball bat and started beating a tribal rhythm on the window.  Needing another moment to think (watercolors-trainset-instruments) I put Devon in the pen.  He promptly ran out the unlatched other door and into the spare bedroom, opening the cabinet doors and pulling out plastic containers of CD's.  While I thought some more (kangaroo slide-hide Easter eggs-roll balls down the driveway) I chased after him, hearing a plastic-on-plastic noise that didn't sound good.

"Oopsie-doodles!" said Devon.  I wish I knew who got him started saying that.  Craig and I are far too dignified.  I can say sippies for his milk and piffles when he passes gas, but Oopsie-doodles is taking the babytalk thing a little far, don't you think?

"Oh no!  It's broken!" Devon said, holding up the handle he had just pulled off one of the cases.

"That's okay, Devon, give it to Mommy."

"Throw it in the GARBAGE!" he crowed, getting up and starting for the kitchen to make good on his threat.  I ran after him, fighting a rising panic because too many things (Green Nubbly Ball,-Pepe the Pig-his Mickey Mouse milk sippy) have been rescued from the trash and I'm trying to wean him off his fascination.  We were only two minutes into Mommy-and-Devon time and it was clear who was getting the upper hand.  I distracted him by opening the fridge, got out the container of strawberries when he expressed interest, and that's how we came to be baking a strawberry cake for no good reason.

Life with a toddler is busy, busy, busy. If it was just me with the girls, we could stay home all day.  Since the shut-in lifestyle doesn't suit Devon, we try to plan a few fun outings a week.  We've made a few thirty-minute pilgrimages to the Splash Pad in nearby Sebastian, and will surely make many more during this hot summer.  All the way there we converse as the girls take their morning naps. 

"Raminator is scary!" Devon admonishes me soberly from the car seat.  I brace myself for a retelling of the entire saga.  A month ago on our trip to the zoo, Devon was playing with a green Hot Wheels truck that he named Green Raminator because it reminded him of the similarly named red truck that we have to keep in the garage because it frightens Devon.

"Raminator dropped in the water!" 

Craig and I were waiting for the first interesting animal to distract Devon and give us a moment to nonchalantly slip Green Raminator in the stroller bag so it wouldn't get lost.  We paused on the wooden bridge over the alligators and saw that it was too late.  As I ran back along the path to look for the dropped toy, Craig was able to wrestle the real story out of Devon: he had offered it to the pond as a permanent keepsake.  This unselfish act apparently made a big impression on Devon.  Several times a week he reminds me of the whereabouts of Green Raminator, gone but not forgotten.

"Splash Pad not scary.  Splash pad lots of fun!"  The meanderings of this conversation are apparently all clear in Devon's mind.

At the Splash Pad, Devon takes Turtle Truck in the fountains to cool off.

"Turn it on!  Turn it on!" he asks.  I remind him that it doesn't turn on.

"Needs batteries!" When Tow Tonka stopped making its lights and sounds and Mommy changed the batteries, Devon got the idea that everything in the world will light up and do interesting things if you just put a few little silver cylinders inside.  

I'm a bit afraid that if he ever finds a stray battery, he'll feed it to one of the girls to see what it will make them do.  Probably not, though.  Devon is ultra-protective of the girls, or maybe of his toys.  He keeps busy at home by turning his hawk eyes to whatever the babies are reaching for.

"Not supposed to be chewing on it!" he says, grabbing toy after toy away from them.   

"Wait, that's a teether.  Devon, they ARE supposed to be chewing on that!"

Here he is building his first Megablock structure.  He was so proud, saying over and over: "You did it!  All by YORR-SAY-YOWLFF!"

Previous efforts have been more impressive, but have the miracle-of-modern-engineering stamp of Daddy's help.

Here he is giving White Truck a bath.  He said that it needed to go to the car wash, and asked me for a washcloth.

Finally!  We've reached the point where Devon feeding himself isn't more work to clean up than just sitting there and feeding him.  I still have to be close by, admonishing him to "take little bites" instead of lifting a huge scoop of oaties that just splats down the front of his shirt.

I have to admit, I cherish the times of day when he's contained in the Big Boy Booster and I can relax, breathe a bit, and give my voice a rest.

Here is The Pack in the mall play area on last week's shoe shopping expedition.  The moment I let them out of the stroller I learned that Carrie and Melina are now able to climb stairs. 

I'm thankful that places like these with only one exit keep the kids corralled, but it was still a workout to keep them safe and playing nicely, especially since all three of them wanted to play separately on opposite sides.  When I finally put them back in the stroller, I heard a few awed whispers from moms that just realized that the blue jumpered baby that whizzed by them several times was really half a set of twins.

Sometimes it feels like too much too fast.  I need about a decade just to appreciate Carrie; to stare into her wide smile, to teach her how to give Eskimo kisses, to ruffle her wispy cornsilk hair.

 Then I could use another decade to appreciate Devon's new language phase, and finish up with another ten years of holding Melina so she doesn't fuss and watching her eyes roll back in her head and flutter closed while she's nursing, and then lifting her to her favorite neck nuzzle pose and feeling her pop like a puzzle piece into place.

And yes, in case you are wondering, some days I do feel jealous of other moms who have their babies four or five years apart and can spend more individual attention on them.  Once in conversation I started to refer to one of my children as "the baby that gets thrown under the bus" and I couldn't.  I realized that violent hyperbole and babies don't really go together, no matter how apt the point I am making.

Here's the sentiment sans disturbing imagery: I occasionally worry that one of them won't grow up with enough love because the other two are more demanding and I settle for giving all my attention to the squeaky wheel because it's just easier.

It's hard to fight those thoughts when I feel overstimulated, but I have to.  I don't think any Mommy gets an easier hand than anyone else.  Everyone has distractions they have to filter out.  Life's little nuisances and big hurts don't just automatically go away during the baby years.  Ants in the kitchen, job frustrations, and hours on the phone disputing incorrectly billed medical expenses are still a part of life.

Parenting isn't about me.  It's about them. 

It's about their development, not my enjoyment.

It's about their energy, not my occasional fatigue.

It's about what I can build into them, not what I can get out of them.

Sometimes when Mommy needs a time out, we do Babies Pen, as Devon calls it.  We all go into the Pen together so everybody's close and nobody can take off to climb into the bathtub or sneak around the corner and eat cat food.   If it's time for nursies, I sit in the corner on the toddler sofa and hold one or both of the girls.  I reach for the hem of a shirt or a dress and curl it around my fingers.  It reminds me of a saying that a friend posted on facebook that came up on my news feed this week:

When you reach the end of your rope,
you find the hem of His robe.

I hold my babies and pray and if I'm feeling emotional my eyes leak a little.  I thank God for giving me three indescribably perfect miracles, and I think about Matthew 18:20.

two or more... check.
gathered together... check.
in His name... check.

In Daniel 3 there were four men instead of three walking around in the fiery furnace.  Thankfully, that fourth guy also handles problems that aren't  HVAC related.  He even makes house calls.  So the  five of us cuddle in the Pen having a moment I can only describe as holy.

And I feel better.

Then Craig gets home and we whisk the babies off to what passes for Date Night lately.  I've been fearing the day that we approach a restaurant and they offer us free takeout to just go away.  Until it comes, we think that if we're reasonably behaved and it's a family-style setting we deserve to be there just as much as everyone else.

Then we walk on the beach with the girls in the Ergos as the sun sets behind us.  Devon spies the barrier buoys and he tries to swim straight out to them and rescue them from being towed out to sea.  I explain to him that they are not balls.

Not so, Mommy.

They are round and bright and bobbing tantalizingly just out of reach.  They are balls.

So we duck-dodge each other as the waves surge around us, geting more wet than we intended.  I hope that Mommy's shrill panic yell doesn't disturb the vacationers I see dining on the beachfront condo's balcony just above us:






Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Not Much, June 12, 2012

Sometimes when I look at the clock and it's already 3 pm I wonder what I've been doing all day.  Not much, still.  I haven't started the baby books or the Christmas stockings or even loaded the dishwasher some days.  It comes with the territory of having two little girls just about to start walking and seeing what mischief they can make to pass the time.

We've rearranged the pantry.  When Devon chivalrously opens the door to give them access, they'll go for the harmless Gerber cereal and not a jar of jam.  Carrie pulls out a box of rice and tries to cram a corner into her mouth.

"Fees notch poster eschewing bat!" I hear.

"That's right, Devon.  She's not supposed to be chewing on that."

Devon's vocabulary is growing, more on the strength of him repeating sentences he recognizes as opposed to learning new words.

I've been taking lots of bad pictures this week, like this truly hideous one of Melina's head.  I think it's a combination of a short attention span, poor natural light in the middle of the house where most of the action takes place, and very quickly moving subjects of my photos.  My morning face studying the touchscreen...

Carrie and Melina in the exersaucers...

My foot....

The inside of my pocket...

This frightening series of my kids playing in the pen....

...perfectly safe and content but not appearing to be either one.

Okay.  I'd better go break that one up.

 Last night Craig got home from work, said hello to us, and


"Streets nostril coastery shoo-in gnat!" said Devon.

Melina wasn't chewing on anything, she was standing in the laundry room in a puddle of water and broken glass.

Even if Ally kitty's heavy glass water dish is out of reach, it's apparently not too hard to use the plastic place mat to lasso it and bring it closer.  Since they (rather less spectacularly) broke the ceramic food dish a few weeks ago, I get to buy a new set.  I'm thinking stainless steel this time.

We're having a week where it's hard to get through a day without breaking yet another dish.  I marvel constantly at the enormous reaching radius I need for safety around the twins.  I jump up to get the door, a new spoon, or a napkin, hear a noise behind me, and turn around to discover that two feet away wasn't really far enough.

The girls have also given up on wearing their bibs.  Usually I get through a bite or two before Melina reaches over and pulls off Carrie's bib.  Carrie fusses and grabs the bib away from Melina.  Melina grabs it back, so Carrie grabs Melina's bib so she can have one to put in her mouth.

"Please notch sop oyster bedewing fondant" says Devon from his Big Boy Booster.

Yes, Mr. Malaprop.  They're not supposed to be chewing on them.

Sometimes if things are getting too intense I have to improvise a quick snack for Devon to occupy himself.  This one was whole wheat toast and Nutella.  If you're thinking this is not a healthy snack for a growing boy, don't worry.  As you can see, he managed to eat all the toast and spread all the cocoa-hazelnut spread on his face.

I gave him a napkin to wipe up and it stuck to his hand.  He flapped and giggled wildly, waving what might as well have been my white flag of surrender.

That's how we ended up at Sam's Club at 7 last night, picking out a watermelon and strawberries and other things that Devon likes to eat with a fork.  We're going with it because a large plate of meticulously cubed food is the only thing that will occupy him for a peaceful twenty minutes.

I guess that's what I do all day.  Here's Melina borrowing a page from Devon's playbook: shaking her skinny thing until her pants shimmy down, and then stepping nonchalantly out of them and shaking it some more.

Work it, girl!