Sunday, July 22, 2012

Bear Country Rules: July 21, 2012

My most vivid parenting memories often don't get captured on film.  Carrie and Melina got their first taste of caffeine this week, which I can only assume is to blame for my calmest child's wild eyes.

Thursday morning Devon ran around the corner and shouted to me: "We need to get some more paper in here!"  It wasn't his words that made me jump from my chair and run to see what he wanted.  As I learned last week, Devon gets flustered in emergencies and says things that you wouldn't expect because he can't make the right words come out.  When he uses a certain tone of voice I drop what I'm doing.

 I followed him into the kitchen and found Carrie and Melina crouched over a used coffee filter they had just dug out of the garbage.  They were grabbing fistfuls of the grounds and lifting them to their mouths to taste, eyes round with discovery.  As you can imagine, I ran for a wet towel instead of the camera.  I pinned one twin between my knees and held the other on my lap as I swabbed out their mouths, shucked off their crumbly sleepers, and wiped their stained fingers.

Devon got treats for helping Mommy protect his sisters.  He sat on the coffee table lining up his five M&M's and eating them one by one.  I could see the thoughts running through his mind.  So... if the babies do things they're not supposed to and I tell Mommy, I get treats?  This "big brother" thing could turn out to be a pretty good gig!

Devon's favorite word this week is "treat".  He's learning how to eat a fruit pop without making his mouth too cold and always begging for a sip of Mommy's tea.

Ahhh, I wish a fruit pop was all it took to make everyone feel that good.

Devon shouts "Pizza!" every time we pull into the Sam's Club parking lot.  He knows my weaknesses.  I'm such a sucker for sitting on a little plastic table and serving him pieces of questionably nutritious food as a part of my weekly shopping ritual.  It's just so easy to hustle him  right into the house and down for a nap when he's full and drowsy from the hypnotic ride home instead of putting away the groceries, drawing out the ritual of dinner, and getting out the wet rag and broom to clean up the inevitable mess on the floor.

The other reason we're such big fans of Sam's Club is the double-passenger carts.  My diaper runs to Target have been pretty hectic lately as I try to keep two unbelted girls from standing up.

We get a lot of comments on the adorable way their feet hang out of the cart in a jumble.  Melina (left) is wearing the white shoes with the bright pink bottoms.

We observe Syrup Saturdays a few times a month.  Devon picks away at his pancake, digging out blueberries like a strip miner. Slurries of syrup and flecks of pancake slop down the sides of his Big Boy Booster and end up on the floor.

"I found a ball!" he says for each one, breaking them so they stain his teeth and fingers with black juice.  It's amazing how much of my day is spent on food: going to the store to buy it, putting it away in the kitchen, getting it out, preparing it, serving it, and cleaning it off the walls, floor, and dishes.

The hard part of parenting is not that it takes all day and sometimes all night.  It's the number of tasks you're expected to accomplish effectively at once. Yesterday, Devon flung his spoon on the ground just for the pleasure of asking me politely to pick it up for him.  I unstrapped him and told him to get it himself and looked up in time to see Melina arching her back in another attempt to climb out of her high chair and a bored Carrie deciding to remove her clothes.  I felt a tug on my leg and heard a voice say "Go potty!  Get treats!"  The fifteen seconds it took to unstrap the girls and put them in a safe place were unfortunately too long for Devon to wait.  The ten minutes it took to change Devon's clothes and clean the mess off the floor was long enough for a hundred tiny Florida ants to find the mug of baby cereal on the kitchen table and go nuts.  The minute it took to wipe up the ants was all it took Carrie and Melina to make it to the kitchen garbage and find the coffee filter. 

 I don't think people like to admit that they're struggling with a pest problem because it implies shoddy housekeeping.  I do my best to clean up after everybody after breakfast, lunch, snackies, and dinner.  I wipe the counters twenty times a day.  I make Devon pick up all his dropped food and put it in the garbage after every meal, watching to keep him from deciding to slip a stray Cheerio into his mouth. 

Every ant in Citrus Springs has still decided that stopping by my kitchen to cruise the leavings on the walls, floor, and counters is a more reliable source of food than waiting around near the sidewalks for dead bugs and dropped ice cream cones.

A month ago, Craig came back from Home Depot with some ant bait.  I don't even get emotional anymore when I think of the ants feeding our poison to their children and dying in agony.  This is war.  It's either us or them. 

Since it's Craig's job as a researcher to control insects without harming humans, he knows which bait will keep the pesky bugs away without risking harm to anybody else that happens to be crawling around the floor. We're now on our fourth preparation, some of which he mixed up in our kitchen.  None of them have been able to keep the ants at bay for more than a few days.  I find ever more creative places to store our food and they outsmart me every time.  I even caught them crawling into the microwave to find the leftover breakfast rolls.

Even with all of his knowledge, Craig's best advice to me was pretty simple:

"Ants are attracted to food.  No food, no ants.  If we want a clean, ant-free kitchen, we have to pretend like we're trying to keep bears away from our campsite.  Every crumb of food and every sticky spill needs to be cleaned up and wiped immediately."

Wow.  Easier said than done. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Where's My 12 Step Program?- July 14, 2012

I had to stop uploading pictures to break up Carrie and Melina's first fight.  From The Pen just to my left I heard a struggle.  Carrie had taken off one of Melina's shoes and was putting it in her mouth.  Melina squawked like a cat and grabbed it back.  Carrie leaped onto Melina, who deflected and thumped her sister on the ground like the professional women's wrestler with whom she shares a name.  I'm reminded of something I said often about Devon when he was about this age.

Parenting was so much easier before he was old enough to have an opinion!

My big girls are drinking sippy cups,which brings on a few new challenges.  First, Devon recognized the infant Nuby sippies and wanted to swipe them away and drink them himself, retaining exclusive sippy rights in our household.

"Not supposed to be chewing on it!" he said.

"Yes," we explained to him, "Those are the baby sippies.  The babies are drinking!"

Then he decided he liked the idea of everyone sitting around drinking after a nap, lifting their sippies and clinking them together companionably in an apple juice Happy Hour.  He ran around the kitchen grabbing up the sippies and shoving them in the girls' mouths.  This was fine if they felt like a drink.  Not so much if they didn't.

"Good job!" said Devon.  "You're doing very well!"

I'm also shocked that they learned on the first try to drink through a straw!  It happened completely on accident.  We were having lunch out after a trip to the library for story time, and Devon wasn't drinking his juice box.  Usually when this happens I'm able to play Sneaky Mommy and convince him that he wants it by offering to feed it to the babies.  This time it worked like usual, with Devon reaching for the juice as soon as I waved it in front of Carrie.  Also, Carrie's mouth had closed around the straw in the meantime and she was sucking it down.  I offered it to Melina, fascinated, and she also was able to figure out immediately what it was for. 

Cheerios are a big favorite.  I look forward to one day soon when I won't have to get out the Beaba and spend time making purees for the girls, but I also wonder how I'll be able to keep the floors clean.

I won't.  It's that simple.

These are also probably the last two pictures of the girls eating off the table pulled up side-by-side like contestants at a pie-eating contest.  Carrie started hooking her legs onto the table edge and pushing off frog-style, tipping her chair and making Mommy very nervous.  Melina sealed the deal by grabbing onto Carrie's armrest and tipping herself toward it.  I looked up from my coffee three feet away and saw her hanging onto Carrie's chair like a kitten on a fire escape, still strapped into her own precariously tilted chair and supporting its entire weight by her bony little forearms.  I ran to break up the antics and got the trays down from the closet.  I suppose it's time.

Sippy cups.  Solid food.  Nap schedules.  A bubble of anxiety rises slowly from my heart and lodges in my throat as I type these words.  I've been avoiding trips to stores that play music because I'm afraid I'm going to hear Taylor Swift's "Don't You Ever Grow Up" and have to stop and bawl my eyes out right there in the frozen foods.

This unseemly rush of maternal nostalgia could be brought on by a recent surplus of unpleasant hormones that brought back my most unwelcome gal pal.   Yep, I was opening the bag of Dove chocolate that I didn't even want but felt compelled to buy and diving right in while Craig was asking me "What's that spot on your pants?" Ugh.  It wasn't the high point of my month, even aside from the trip back to the store to buy things I hoped not to need for a few more months.  I was more disturbed by the question rising in my mind: Is this the beginning of the end?

I don't understand myself anymore.  As my kids nap in the next room I'm flipping through photos like an empty nester, blubbering in a way my before-kids-self would find repulsive. 

Did I cherish them enough?

Did I take every opportunity to enjoy my babies?

 I had no idea at the time these pictures were taken how precious they would be to me now.  I don't remember the lack of sleep or the post-delivery puffy ankles or worrying that I was going to drop my baby if I couldn't put him down for ten minutes to eat a sandwich. 

I remember the pushed in look of Devon's little mouth, and the way he would startle every few minutes and lift his head and peer at me like he was asking "Who's got me?", recognizing me and collapsing back down on my chest like a puppet with the strings cut.  Devon was never much of a co-sleeper.  By six months he was thrashing and restless when he was on me but settled immediately into a deep and inert sleep as soon as I set him down.  Babywise would say he was a well-adjusted, independent baby.  Dr. Sears would say he had poor attachment skills.  Dr. Dobson would say that he, like every baby, had his own personality.  I resorted to waiting until he had been asleep for a few hours and then sneaking into his room to see if I could pick him up and hold him for a few minutes without waking him.

I remember the two precious months my girls were small enough to hold side-by-side on my chest.  During that time I recovered from surgery, sold our house, moved 900 miles, packed and unpacked our stuff, pumped three times a day to increase my chances of successful twin nursing, and paid attention to Devon who was still every bit my baby.  If anything, it made me choose to take every moment I could and hold my girls.

I know the girls will never remember these moments.  Who are we kidding?  I don't think I even remember some of them.  Look at my eyes!  This one must have been sometime in month two when the girls would tag-team all day long.  One would wake up and have fussy time as soon as the other would drop off to sleep.  All day long.  I'm holding Melina in the crook of my arm because she won't sleep on her stomach and Carrie on my chest because she won't sleep on her back.  I probably really have to go to the bathroom but am too afraid to move unless one would wake up and fuss again.  I look exhausted!

I also look happy.  Since I knew I didn't have all the time in the world, I figured out what was important.  The twins didn't even have a bedroom until they were six months old.  They often wore hand-me-down sleepers that didn't match because I didn't shop for cute clothes.  Some days I held them all day, stopping only to spend enough time with Devon so he wouldn't feel replaced.

The only thing I would do differently is figure out how to make it last a little longer.  If I could start the year over and live it again, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

Lately when I least expect it I have to smile a little too brightly or blink a little too hard.  It keeps me from starting to hum the words to THAT SONG, the one by the skinny little twenty-something teenybopper who couldn't possibly know how I feel because she DOESN'T EVEN HAVE KIDS!

Oh, darling, don't you ever grow up.  
Don't you ever grow up.
Just stay this little...

It's been a big week for the girls.  They're each cutting new teeth: Melina's #5 and Carrie's #6.  On Thursday, Melina let go of the wire shelf in the pen, raised her arms like an orchestra conductor, and took a single unassisted step toward me.  Carrie followed up with a single step toward Melina during book time later that evening.  This morning I set the girls in the exersaucers and ran to get something out of the car, only to be met by a triumphant Melina crawling across the kitchen floor to tell me "Look what I just found out I can do!"

I admit with a shudder that this same child wiggled her way out of her high chair harness this afternoon.  Devon started calling my name:

 "Krista!  Krista!"

I frowned and started explaining to him that my given name was for Daddy and other people.  He is my special boy and therefore one of only three people in the world to call me Mommy and so I really would prefer that.  I turned my head and out of the corner of my eye saw what he was trying so hard to bring to my attention:  Melina suspended in mid-air, hands planted on the dining room table, her feet on the high chair tray. 

They're getting so big!

Once in a while I still get my cuddles.  Devon wants to "Hug the Mommy, blanket on head" and we lay on the Big Boy Bed together under the afghan that Auntie Amy made for him.  Carrie wakes up an hour before the rest and she pushes her head up under my chin to enjoy a long, leisurely hour of thumb.  Melina goes limp in my arms at afternoon nap time so I pick up my book and let her rest on me instead of in the pack and play.

I'm addicted.  I'm not ready to give this up yet, not even for playgroup and preschool and Little League and the thousand things I can't wait to experience with my kids. 

Oh, darlings, don't you ever grow up...


What am I going to do?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Better Late than Never, July 8, 2012

I came home from church and turned into a baby-feeding, sippy-filling, vegetable-steaming machine, determined to get the kids down for naps and post a blog this afternoon.

Not everybody cooperated.

Devon and Carrie ate their dinner and promptly started showing signs of fatigue. I placed them in their cribs, sat down at the computer, opened up Blogger, and had to immediately stop and feed Melina.  She hadn't just been unable to stay awake during dinner.  She decided to get her nap in so she could have my undivided attention later on.

Like one of Pavlov's dogs, Melina is trained to salivate when Mommy finally gets a moment alone. That's why we're a week into July and I'm still working on the first blog post of the month.

Our first Fourth of July in Vero Beach did not disappoint.  We're in a resort town at the lowest point of the tourist season, so we enjoyed the perfect setting without the tourist traffic.

We took advice from the locals and saw the Veteran's Island fireworks from the mainland side.

Devon was a little unsettled by all the noise and smoke, so he wouldn't let go of Mommy long enough to show off his patriotic "Rushmore Shirtie."  I tried to get him to point to his shirt and say "Washington, Jeffowson, Woosafelt and Lincoln," like he had been all day.

So I guess between Devon's shy mood and the fact that we didn't have anybody in the crowd take a picture of us, this is the closest we got to a family picture on the Fourth.

Oh well.  When Mama and Papa visited last week, I did ask a passing stranger to snap a picture and STILL didn't get a good picture of all of us.  Thanks a lot, Devon.

He proposed on the beach, we spent our first married day on the beach eating leftover catered dinner and wedding cake, and ten years later we live close enough to the beach to go every week.

I raided our wedding box for some of the hand stamped periwinkle napkins to take on our celebration picnic.  Yes, ten years ago that was the stylish wedding color.  If you're wondering how we could've ever stooped to join our lives together with such a tacky color scheme, just wait.  Ten years from now all the brown suits and spring green hydrangea bouquets you see now will look just as old and outdated.  Trust me.

We made a replica of a sand drawing we made on our honeymoon, updated a little. 

It's on a much different beach than the one we used to visit.  The sun set behind us as we ate our smoked salmon and cupcakes and stared at the water, instead of over the water as it would by the Pacific.

We're really into books at our house.

Unfortunately, a water leak closed the nearby Brackett Library, so every time we're sick of hearing Devon's two favorite books we have to drive a half hour to Sebastian.  It's worth it.  Mama and Papa brought Devon the classics The Little Engine That Could and Little Toot.  Every night before bed Devon dances around in circles shouting "Engine A-Could!  Engine A-Could!"  We begin book time every night reading about the merry little engine valiantly trying to deliver the dolls and toys to play with and all the good food to eat to the little boys and girls on the other side of the mountain.  Devon apparently has great confidence in its ability, because just as the engine is thinking it can Devon changes his mind and shouts "Little Toot!  Little Toot!  Little Toot!"

It makes me sad to think that many kids start preschool nowadays without knowing what a book is.  Teachers have to show kids how to turn pages because the kids think the pictures will change if you swipe your finger across the page like it's an iphone.

No danger of that in our house.

Yet another reason to love Chick-fil-A:  their prize this month is a full length children's book.  I also love that Devon is more thrilled by the book than a plastic action figure.

Devon has one teacher parent and three teachers for grandparents. 

Yes, we're unashamedly raising a nerdy child.  Poor kid wouldn't stand a chance unless you take into account his mile-long eyelashes, kissable lips, and sparkling social personality.

Even if we fritter away his childhood reading books to him and taking him on educational trips to the aquarium, he'll probably not have any trouble getting a prom date.  Just look at that face!  I'd go with him in a heartbeat!

Last week Melina found an old paci behind the couch, assigning it all the excitement and significance of a major archaeological find.  She turned it over and over in her hands wonderingly, figuring out what it was for.  Then she must have reburied it somewhere because we haven't seen it since.

It's too hot to do much here, but we're always in the mood to put on our SPF 50+ and head to the pool with friends.

Unfortunately, I only got a picture of Carrie in her new turtle floatie.  I'm tempted to make two copies of it and put one in each of their baby books.  They're identical twins.  Who's to know?  Unfortunately, that kind of thing could become a slippery slope.  I already have a few snapshots where I can't be sure which twin is pictured.  If I start mixing them up on purpose, it'll only get worse.

I did get a picture of Melina helping herself to her buddy Cullen's popsicle.

She found it a bit cold.

This was the only picture I got of Devon that day.  He's such a perpetual motion machine around open water.  I spend so much attention keeping him supervised that I forget to record his cute moments.

When I do, he notices.  He's picked up a new phrase from me that he uses any time he sees me point the camera:

"Did you get it?  Did you get it?  Did you get it?"