Thursday, April 26, 2012

Baby Stories

     The most sentimental thing on my extensive, ever-growing "To Do" list is to write in the Baby Books of each of my three wee ones.  It's something that is so important to me for a number of reasons - so that we can always remember these special moments that we've had, and to document the milestones that they're having at the blink of an eye (since my brain can't seem to remember them all), yet I cannot seem to rank it high enough on the list to actually sit down and do it. 
      So, my readers, few that you are, you get to have an inside look at the growth patterns of identical twin girls at 18 months and their 4 year old brother.  Enjoy; I know I will!

          Quinn turned 4 on January 9th.  Every year on his birthday, I have read back through his birth story, OUR birth story really, to remember each detail of how he got here, all that I went through for him to be born; the five days of contractions leading up to it, laboring in the hospital, the emergency c-section, holding him in my arms for the first time... 
          We celebrated his birthday at the Discovery Museum in Acton, along with his sisters, our friends from when we lived in Watertown, and most of the children in his preschool class.  It was such a great afternoon - he had a Disney "Cars" theme, we had a party with cupcakes and favors first, and then unleashed the sugared-up children on the museum, which we pretty much had to ourselves because it was a slow day, but that was perfect.
           Quinn has achieved many milestones over this past year. 
                    +  He was officially potty-trained by Thanksgiving, in that he was completely done with diapers, even overnight (Yay, 1 out of 3 ain't bad!). 
                    +  He started at Sunny Hill Preschool last fall, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and continues to thrive with his teachers, his classmates, and all the topics that they are covering. 
                    +  Suddenly around Christmas, Quinn started outputing all the handwriting and letters that he'd been digesting for a couple years - he was suddenly able to write his name, write every letter of the alphabet, and was constantly asking "how do you spell" this, that, everything, and then proceeding to write it down.  I'm so proud!!
                    +  He continues to dominate at soccer and just loves playing it, watching it, anything.  He is mainly a leftie kicker still, but is getting better with his right foot and feels so proud when he uses it, too.  He's also interested in other sports and really just wants to learn everything.  Our mission this summer is Jump-rope (T-Ball was last summer, Frisbee the summer before when we lived in Concord)
                     +  We moved his bedroom upstairs, and he started to finally sleep all night in his own bed (not everynight, but we were off to a good start!).  He's still in his twin bed with rails that we started him on when we moved to this house in August 2010, but he sleeps against the rails so I think those will be staying put for the time being.
              He is so smart and is becoming quite the little conversationalist.  He asks intelligent questions, seems to be thinking of bigger concepts...  It's amazing to listen to his conversations with friends and family, how he is getting bigger and is figuring out the world around him, he's a mini-adult in the making, leaving the baby stuff behind and becoming quite the little man!

              Sierra is a little mother, such a great helper and so loving and caring toward others, especially her brother and sister.  She blows kisses to animals on our walks and to anyone she is saying "Goodbye" to.  While she might cling to my side, she's quick to return a smile or a wave, as long as I am right there holding her. 
              She has a sly little smile sometimes, when she's feeling playful, and she loves to come up behind me if I'm on the floor, wrap her little arms around me and growl like she's "getting me". 
              For fun, Sierra loves to read books - her current favorites are Caps for Sale, Madeline, and Bunnies Noisy Book.  She will often bring a book over to you, hand it to you, then turn around and back up to sit in your lap.  She loves to swing on the swingset, and will literally sit in it for 20 minutes.  She loves to climb, especially any set of stairs and the ladder of the swingset, to go down the slide.  She loves to play "ball" and can say it, too, and she has fun pushing her little pink car around and making the noises.  
              She must have her binky and her blankie (a certain size burpcloth) in order to go to bed. 
              Sierra is so smart, she knows what I am saying or telling her to do or not to do - she gets very sad when reprimanded, and she helps me keep the other two in line by telling them "No No No" and shaking her finger at them if they're doing something they shouldn't be.  She hears an airplane and points to the sky, even indoors, and makes a plane motion and sound.  She can say various words, though most sounds are still coming.  She likes to whisper "Poppa", which is what they call my father, having seen him again a couple weeks ago over Easter.  She also likes to say "Mana", which is what they call my mother-in-law.
               Sierra does have a temper, and can be very clingy and fussy sometimes.  If she gets mad, she'll fall on the floor, throw her blankie a couple times, and then come running to me to be picked up.  Somestimes if she falls, though doesn't get hurt, she pretends to cry and comes to me, tapping her head as if that's where she got hurt.  Once she gets some love and attention, she'll run off with a smile on her face.
               She is such a good eater, tries everything and is so happy to get up into her highchair and have food delivered to her - she can sign and say "more", or she finds that yelling "mama, mama" gets her what she wants.  She absolutely loves grapes and apple slices, is crazy about cous cous, and just loves feeding herself, very expertly, with her fork.  She getting less interested in baby oatmeal, but doesn't like regular oatmeal yet; she loves to have bites of whatever Daddy or I is eating, or her own little bowl of our cereal in the morning.
               Sierra is such a loving baby and has the sweetest little face, you can't help but want to hold her close often and kiss those cheeks.  She's definitely Mommies Little Girl!

                Kelsey is definitely the baby of the family, such a true sweetheart, and a little comedian.  Kelsey has two looks that she goes between - one where her tongue is hanging out of her mouth, or a grin where she bites her teeth together and smiles away.  Sometimes you have to earn a smile from her, but once she flashs you one, it is so worth it!  She likes to tease that she's coming to hug you, then stop short or run away laughing. 
                For fun, Kelsey loves to sing and dance, and is almost able to leave the floor when she jumps.  She loves looking at books, especially Good Dog, Carl, God Loves You, and Madeline.  She loves to go around picking up blocks, toys, anything, putting it into a bucket, and carrying it around.  She loves her blankie and has a babydoll that she likes to sleep with, but she will pick up any stuffed animal, really, and hug it to her and say "ahhhh", loving it. 
                Kelsey is so smart - she knows what I'm saying and is saying a new word almost everyday.  She can say "moon", "ball", "duckah" for the neighbor's dog Tucker, "booboo", "more", "waawaa"... several others.  She has been shaking her head 'No' for everything, even if she means 'yes', but recently she has started clapping if we guess what she wants.  She calls for her "Poppa", sometimes in a whisper like her sister does.  She also asks for Mimi (my Mom) and Mana (MIL).  If she's looking for something, she turns her palms upward and holds her hands out, as if to say "where is it?". 
                 She is a little bit of a picky eater; only likes certain crackers, will sometimes eat strawberries or grapes, but then spits them out the next time I give them to her.  I think she's just being dramatic, making her whims known, but she's very sweet about it.  If she starts to get fussy, she can usually be distracted from it with a tickle or a smothering of kisses, though if she is truly upset, she will go on extensive crying jags where her face gets red and splotchy and she can't stop; sometimes fresh air is all that will calm her down.
                 Kelsey is such a little darling, with winning, playful smiles, and such a joyful baby.  She is a real cuddler and so affectionate, she's impossible to resist.

        It's a beautiful thing to watch my babies interact with each other, all three of them.  The girls are more and more aware of each other, and of their brothers motions and presence.  They are getting to be such good friends, playing together, seeking each others attention and affection.  I know as the years pass, they'll be even closer, not without the usual ripples.  I know the girls will look up to their brother, as they already do, and Quinn will always be protective of his sisters.  I'm so happy that they have each other, and I'm happy that I can be home with them. 
       My babies are all growing so fast.  I want to remember every moment, I don't want to forget these magical times while they're little, because I know, having watched Quinn these past years, that they grow so fast!  I try so hard to be in the moment and enjoy things as they happen.  I truly treasure getting to be home with them everyday, getting to see each one grow everyday, watching them learn about the world around the, everything big and small - I just want to hold them so close today, to enjoy our time together, as these moments are passing in the blink of an eye! 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Dark Vader

     My husband started our 4 year old son on his first Star Wars (Episode 4, the true original) movie today.  I have mixed emotions about this, but I'd been leaning more towards "no" for awhile now...  I was in the living room today on the phone when I heard what sounded like thunder, only to realize it was the surround sound system in the playroom.  No biggie.  I happen to check Facebook and notice that my husband had posted, an hour before, that he was thinking about showing "Star Wars" to Quinn... sure enough, in a playroom not so far away, I hear the epic musical score coming to life.
      I think I must have been about 4 when I saw the <first> movie.  I vividly remember being scared to death at several parts (when Luke's aunt and uncle are burned in the fire, anything Darth Vader, the bar scene, when Obi Won is killed...) and very confused by it, too (the inuendo and sexual tension, and later, in Return of the Jedi, was Leia wearing that bikini?).  Overall, the original Star Wars trilogy was, and still is, simply amazing and life altering, so imaginative, a childhood-affirming volume of stories that I certainly want to share with all my children someday.  (And what goes better with the original trilogy than Episodes 1 through 3 that were produced much more recently).  I just always thought they'd have to be a bit older to really appreciate it, and I am worried that Quinn will be up now with a whole new realm of nightmares.
      Anyway, soon I'm off the phone and on my way downstairs, along with two babies who just woke up (Kelsey had freaked out for 45 minutes, her whole body red and splotchy from crying, hyperventilating... beside the point), and Doug and Quinn are watching the tv, Quinn sitting on his stuffed tiger chair, two feet from the television, mouth hanging open.  It's the part where Obi Won is killed by Darth Vader <tear>, and Quinn says "Mommy, look - Dark Vader just got Obi Won!"  Then Obi Won's voice comes over and tells Luke to run, and I tell Quinn that it's okay, he's still with Luke, and he goes back to the movie. 
       I run upstairs to change the bedding in the girls' cribs (Sierra's diaper leaked into her crib, and I may as well change both at the same time, especially since I'm doing laundry anyway).  When I get back downstairs, it's during one of the space fight scenes between the tie fighters and the x-wings, and my darling, little Kelsey is sitting on the loveseat with Daddy, toothy grinning away, arms bent and fingers pointing on each hand like she's holding guns, going "tst, tst, tst", bouncing as if she's pretending to be in her own fighter, and she's loving every second (and Daddy is proud as can be).  It's hilarious to see Kelsey do that, because she's usually oblivious about so many things, but I guess she liked the sounds so much and just felt it in her, that she had to move!  Sierra's crying because she's scared of the loud explosions and such, so I pick her up, and Quinn is enthralled, staring at the television, processing, taking it all in. 
       I sit and watch the end of the movie, from when all the X-wing fighters launch to shoot down the Death Star (just in time to try to explain what the Death Star is, to a 4 year old, like a planet, but made of metal and stuff, that it's the bad guys space ship/space station...), until the end.  Sierra lays on my lap, Quinn asks a question here and there about "Black Vader" and "Dark Vader" and overall wondering what is going on at different times, but mainly, I can see that he is still figuring it all out. 
       I doubt he will have any nightmares tonight, because I think it is still too soon for him to understand what most of the movie was about (though, Doug has agreed to get up with Quinn tonight).  I would bet that he will have a million questions about the movie tomorrow though, after havings some time to think about it.  I will be interested to see if he gets more into it now - I think my brother, Andrew, and I were enthralled by it but we also had each other to bounce ideas off of, and could try to scare each other with different characters and really get into it by repeating lines from the movie.  I know his friends Mason and Jude have seen it, but I don't know if other kids exactly his age have been introduced to it yet. 
     Only time will tell.  Until then, may the force be with you.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Friday, not the 13th

    Wow, what a day...  I don't know what has gotten into these kids lately, but three kids in very bad moods, for whatever reason, makes for a really long, stressful, exhausting day.  It's like Jekyl and Hyde, angel and demon, Cane and Abel, Batman and the Joker.  My precious angels are smiley, happy little things one second, and the next they're weeping and hitting me, yet clawing to be picked up.
     Two little twin birds woke me bright and early at 6 a.m., the official start of the day (though, it should be noted that Kelsey and Sierra had chirped from 9:30 to 11:15 the night before, and Quinn came into our bedroom three times after that - I put him back into his room at 11:55 p.m. and 1:15 a.m., and then at some point after that, he successfully settled at the bottom of our bed without us noticing, where he stayed until morning).  I stumbled into the twins' bedroom in the morning, hoping it was just one baby, but alas, both babies stood at once, cried Mama and reached for me frantically, each wanting to be the first to be picked up.  Since it was so early, I took them into Quinn's empty room, so they wouldn't wake everyone else and because, honestly, I just wanted to lay down a little while longer.  They fussed and jockeyed for the position closest to me, rolling constantly, not at all restful.  Eventually, Doug came over around 6:30 a.m., the four of us in the twin bed in Quinn's little room, while ironically, Quinn slept, alone, in the queen bed in our master bedroom. 
     I brought the girls downstairs at 6:45 a.m., let them rip the bathroom apart in seconds just so I could use the facilities, and we hurried out to the kitchen to get breakfast set up and served.  I was able to distract Kelsey with a book (to look at on her own, of course), but Sierra would not stay down, so I had to hold her in my left arm.  I started to cut the grapes in half and stuffed them into the beaks of each chirping baby girl.  Sierra gave part of it back to me, and I realized these were not seedless grapes - seriously, why do they even sell grapes with seeds?  I'm so distracted at the store, apparently I assumed that I was buying the regular seedless variety to feed my children; what good is a grape with seeds in the middle of that tiny little thing?  Anyway, so I had to cut the top half of the grape off, dig out the seed in the lower half, and feed that half to them; multiply this by about 50, in order to get enough grapes for all three kids.  Thankfully, both girls let me place them into their high chairs to eat their first round of de-seeded grapes and a sprinkling of cheerios, while I get Quinn's oatmeal prepped, the girls baby oatmeals made, my own cereal poured, three sippy cups of milks poured, and sat down to feed the girls.  Of course the second I sit down, both girls start fussing and again, frantically start reaching for me, wanting to be held and fed in my arms instead.  And they're so sweet - once I pick one of them up, she wraps her little hands around my neck and smiles a winning grin and says lovingly "Mama", often placing each of her hands on my cheeks and planting a kiss on me with an exaggerated 'mmmmaaaa' sound, sometimes shooting a glance in her sisters direction.  This morning it was Sierra's turn, because, well, she was more forceful and crying louder.  She dodged her oatmeal almost every bite along the way, while Kelsey attempted to stand up in her highchair, smiled knowingly at me, waiting to see what my reaction will be.  Quinn comes down at 7:15, gruff voice, wiping the sleep from his eyes.  He sees his oatmeal and whines that he hasn't had his grapes yet, why does he have to have oatmeal already...  I told him to eat the grapes while his oatmeal cools, and thankfully, that was sufficient.  I continued to try to feed the girls, Kelsey bobbing up and down in her seat, though she finishes her bowl, while Sierra continues to fuss and push the spoon away, spilling it, getting it on her sleeve...  Doug tried to hold one girl or the other, but they are very "All Mommy, all the time" these days.  Quinn finally comes to the table to join us.  My babies, three little faces that I love to stare at, watching all their little expressions, see them figuring things out and learning and feeling.  Unfortunately today, those little expressions were those of anger and upset, sadness and discontent.
       Quinn - well, being 4 is not easy, and I know there is a certain amount of testing and antics that he is just supposed to do as a 4 year old.  But, oh, the whining and the crying, and that way he grits his teeth and drool pours out of the corners of his mouth when he becomes upset about something, usually in a forced, fake way.  We had a super-sized playdate today; three other boys, another little girl, plus Quinn and his sisters, three Mom's.  It was very nice, and the kids even got along pretty well for the most part, but as soon as they left, he was whining and throwing toys and very out of sorts.  I know transition is a hard thing, but I was also holding two screaming babies, so it was hard to get down on his level to calm him, when the girls were escalating the situation.  I was able to lure him inside with the promise of Thomas and Friends coming on, which worked, and it even distracted Kelsey for a minute so I could get lunch onto the table.  The girls both cried and cried, all through forced bites of yogurt for lunch; they'd had tons of crackers and cantaloupe, so I knew they weren't terribly hungry, so I called it and put them down for their naps (more on that later).  After lunch, I cleaned up from lunch and the playdate, and Quinn and I built a lincoln log cabin.  We were having a nice little playdate of our own when he suddenly kicked over the cabin and yelled something about not liking that I put a part of the roof on...  I reprimanded him, of course, but tried to switch to a new activity, to diffuse the situation.  He lost the first round of "Go Fish", and threw the cards at me...  That resulted in a time-out, through which he cried and cried.  After that, I felt maybe he needed to just lay and relax, since he doesn't nap anymore, so I put on a show for him to watch while lying on the couch. 
                    Throughout the day, he was emotional and whiney and weepy, wouldn't listen or do as he was told, kept being rough with his sisters... I felt like a broken record, constantly saying "leave her alone", "put that down", "get your underpants off your head"...  I just want to be a fun Mom, I hate having to reprimand!  Finally, after forcing him through a bath, three rounds of "Go Fish" (which I let him win because I couldn't deal with another meltdown), and looking at the Planets on my iPhone, he was finally asleep; mouth open, drooling and dreaming, hugging his stuffed zebra.
         Sierra - She had a random fever back on Tuesday, for no apparent reason.  I could tell that her last four teeth were coming in and thought that might be bothering her.  She woke up crying and cried almost non-stop all day.  She had a few moments of independent play, but she spent most of her day either in my arms or reaching up my legs trying to climb up into my arms.  Several times, her sister thought this was a good idea, too, and followed suit, so I had two babies in my arms instead of just one (often, pushing each other to be alone with me, or trying to steal each others blankies).  After the playdate, after my normally eager eater refused lunch, I was getting her ready for nap, only to find that she had a raging diaper rash, and a rash all over her chest and stomach...  Sierra gets rashs frequently; a couple weeks ago, she had a fever and rash that lasted a week, but after extensive testing at the hospital, it was thought to just be viral and it eventually went away.  But still, I see a pimply rash on my baby and I can't help but be worried.  She gets up from her nap and is fussy and pushy and won't let me put her down.  Both girls briefly sit in their highchairs to finish their yogurt from lunch and eat a snack, but as soon as she's had her fill, back to my arms she goes. 
                     We play outside, but other than the swing and a few minutes here and there of playing on her own, she has to be in my arms.  And it's not just fussiness, it's fierce, pissed off fits of crying and full-body clenching.  I know she doesn't feel good, and I feel so helpless, but it's really hard to listen to such a cry and not feel my nerves clenching, too, and my heart race.  Thankfully my husband, Doug, got home early and was able to help to divide and conquer, mainly by keeping Kelsey and Quinn occupied while I held Sierra.  Sierra barely sat still for any dinner, had only a bit more to eat, before demanding to be out of her seat and back to my arms, and then the floor. 
                       I raced Sierra and then Kelsey through separate baths and got them down to bed.  Phew...
          Kelsey - Poor, sweet Kelsey.  She always wakes up crying.  I've still not figured out whether it's because something is wrong or is hurting her, or she has already learned that she has to fight for attention, and what better way to do it than to cry!  But her cry is usually a soft, sweet, babyish testing sort of cry. 
                   Yesterday afternoon, I brought the kids inside from playing at the playground for a long time, and Kelsey had tons of gunk coming out of her eyes.  Quinn had had the same thing several weeks ago; no pink in their eyes, just teary and yellowy gunk coming out.  Quinn had used drops for pink-eye which cleared it up in days, but there is no way Kelsey will sit remotely still for me to drop liquid into her eyes.  So, we're just waiting it out, but in the meantime, she's not a happy camper.  She isn't sleeping well and gets up wicked early, and because of that, by lunchtime, she's not into eating, and nearly falls asleep in her chair.  I put both girls down by 12:30 today, because they just couldn't stand it anymore, and neither can I.  Hopefully it clears up soon.
            By the end of the day, after pushing through so much fussiness, hurrying through three baths, getting three sleepy-heads up to fall upon their pillows, in their little beds...  I can finally settle down myself (after cleaning and tidying up, of course).  I know they must not be feeling very well, whether from being sick or just growing pains, and I really try to keep my cool and stay patient and loving, but by the end of that kind of day, I'm all out of patience and am anything but cool, though after only a few minutes of quiet, my love for them floods back in, and I can smile and remember the good times of the day, not just the bad - all the smiles, the laughs, watching them chase each other joyfully around the yard, the sounds of each of their individual voices and the way they sound when they're all singing together.  That's what I want to remember, especially in the difficult times of any day, so I can be a better Mommy for them. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Patriots Day

     Ah, Patriots Day.  When I moved to Massachusetts 8+ years ago, I was like "what day?", and some of you may be thinking the same thing.  Patriot's Day is a Massachusetts and Maine only holiday, which is supposed to commemorate the Revolutionary War battles that took place in Concord and Lexington (most notably, the Ride of Paul Revere) in 1775.  Not everyone has the day off, banks are open, the post office is open, but many people do get the day off, and there are plenty of things to do, if you don't mind crowds. 
     The Boston Marathon is run on Patriot's Day, which is pretty exciting.  I remember when I worked in the city, it meant a rough, long commute home by train, but a good excuse to take a lunch break, to venture out and watch some of the racers as they crossed the finish line.  The Boston Red Sox also play their first home game of the season on Patriot's Day, usually starting in mid-morning.  I did get to be a "bleecher creature" one Patriot's Day many years ago; they lost that game (today's, too), as they often do, but it was still really exciting to be there, and then head over to Copley in time to see some of the first marathon runners cross the finish, before celebrating on their behalf by hitting the bars. 
     And let's not forget the true meaning of the Holiday - there are amazing re-enactments in Lexington and in Concord, of Paul Revere's ride out from the city, to battles in each town, and a parade in Lexington.  I've never had the luxury of attending any of them, being one of the unlucky one's who never had Patriot's Day off, but this year, I was determined to go to something.
     I knew that taking three wee ones into the City to watch the Marathon was going to be a marathon of my own, one I would surely lose very quickly upon setting out, so that was out.  No Red Sox tickets, and I wouldn't take three kids to that alone anyway (my hubbie never has the day off).  So, I planned to drive the kids up to Concord, normally 15 minutes away, for the re-enactment at the Old North Bridge.  We set out in the car ( and we were leaving almost on time!) and found that the driving route was closed for the festivities, and I knew that going around was going to make us late.  To make matters worse, as we were going, I was telling Quinn about the soldiers and the pretend battle they were going to be putting on a show about, and he started crying and saying he was afraid of soldiers and that he didn't want to go.  I didn't have any fight in me this morning, I couldn't take the whining before even getting out of the car, so I let him win that battle.  Decided on a mundane trip to the grocery store (which, in my defense, was long overdue and weighing on my mind), followed by a trip to the Dairy Joy to eat lunch outside in the 90 degree day. 
     We made it through the store in a little over an hour, record time; the kids ate their way from the produce section (grapes), to the deli (free slices of cheese), to the sample lady part way through the store (granola and yogurt), filled in with the pretzels and Kashi crackers I had brought along myself.  We even only had to go back through two aisles before finding the shoe that Sierra had thrown off without my noticing - that's better than the last time when she threw it off in Aisle 3 and four workers had to help me scour the store to find it, or the "My Little Pony lost in the produce aisle" debacle the trip before (searched the entire store as Kelsey cried her eyes out, only to find that it had been turned in to the Lost and Found, and thankfully the woman working there noticed the other Pony in our cart and stopped me to return it...)  I even bought two of those insulated Hot-Cold bags to keep our cold groceries in while we enjoyed our lunch out under the sun.
      We headed to the Dairy Joy and parked in front of their new "Now Open" sign, while I looked at the menu and helped Quinn decide on his usual, a hot dog with french fries and chocolate milk.  Then I had to think of what the baby girls would eat, and what I should order to cover in case they didn't eat what I ordered them.  I left the kids in the car - with the mini van doors open for plenty of air, I'm not a completely thoughtless mother - and walked up to the window to order.  I waited a couple minutes, waved to Quinn in the van behind me, turned back to the window... no one came.  I poked my head inside the door, and saw a guy filling ice.  "Hi, are you taking orders at the window?", I asked excitedly.  "Oh, sorry, we don't open until 11:30", he answered (it was barely 11).  I was pissed - "then, why is there an 'Open' sign outside?" I shot back.  I had been looking forward to our lunch all morning, our replacement for the way cooler and more spontaneous activities, like the marathon or re-enactments, not wanting this to be just another boring day, and here he was ruining it further.  I left the building and told Quinn that they weren't open yet, and he started crying again, so I promised we'd find another "outside lunch place". 
       I was wracking my brain, trying to think of where else would have outdoor seating, ever, not just because it is only April.  I knew there wasn't anywhere in Sudbury that would, and there aren't really any restaurants like that in Stow (and our favorite Stow restaurant is closed Monday's anyway), so we proceeded to drive to the next Dairy Joy, one in Maynard.  I didn't know if they were even open yet, and it wasn't very close by, but off we went.  We arrived at 11:23 (it didn't escape me that the other Dairy Joy was to open minutes later, but it was too late for them), but they didn't have food until 12.  Ugh!!  So, we drove into downtown Maynard; not a bustling metropolis, by any means, but I knew there were restaurants there.  I spotted a "Halfway Cafe"; it didn't have outdoor seating, but we'd been to the one in Watertown countless times and the food was good, so I parked in front and jumped out to check their hours - it said they opened at 11:30, but the door was locked.  Damnit!  All my efforts for an outside lunch had been thwarted, and I couldn't continue to drive around; I was hungry, these kids were hungry and getting cranky.  The only option we had left, which I knew Quinn would be thrilled with, was the McDonald's just down the street.  We hit the drive-thru, and we hit the road to go home, I planned we'd have a picnic there (I sucked down a chocolate shake on the way, for my troubles). 
      We got home, I set up the twins' little seats on the small front porch, and Quinn and I set up on the top step.  We were in the shade but the day was hot around us, a warm breeze blowing the baby girls' blonde hairs around, rustling Quinn's brown tossled hair.  The girls kicked their little feet and chewed away with their little teeth, and Quinn made quick work of his McNuggets and french fries.  We chatted about our wild goose chase this morning, I explained twice what a 'wild goose chase' meant, while the girls honked to tell me what a goose says.  It was so simple, so joyful, just so wonderful to be there with them.  I let my pursuit of extraordinary Patriot's Day activities and a different definition of "special" fade away, and just enjoyed being there with my three babies, in that moment, and savored how truly special every day I have with them really is. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Till death do us part

I generally don't read forwards that people email me (sorry, folks!), but for some reason, I clicked on one that my sister sent me today, and it so saddened me, and really made me think, that I thought I would repost it here.  Whether you are married, in a relationship, or single, I think the message may be important for all of us to remember in our daily lives:

When I got home that night as my wife served dinner, I held her hand and said, I’ve got something to tell you. She sat down and ate quietly. Again I observed the hurt in her eyes.  Suddenly I didn’t know how to open my mouth. But I had to let her know what I was thinking. I want a divorce. I raised the topic calmly. She didn’t seem to be annoyed by my words, instead she asked me softly, why?

I avoided her question. This made her angry. She threw away the chopsticks and shouted at me, you are not a man! That night, we didn’t talk to each other. She was weeping. I knew she wanted to find out what had happened to our marriage. But I could hardly give her a satisfactory answer; she had lost my heart to Jane. I didn’t love her anymore. I just pitied her!

With a deep sense of guilt, I drafted a divorce agreement which stated that she could own our house, our car, and 30% stake of my company. She glanced at it and then tore it into pieces. The woman who had spent ten years of her life with me had become a stranger. I felt sorry for her wasted time, resources and energy but I could not take back what I had said for I loved Jane so dearly. Finally she cried loudly in front of me, which was what I had expected to see. To me her cry was actually a kind of release. The idea of divorce which had obsessed me for several weeks seemed to be firmer and clearer now.

The next day, I came back home very late and found her writing something at the table. I didn’t have supper but went straight to sleep and fell asleep very fast because I was tired after an eventful day with Jane. When I woke up, she was still there at the table writing. I just did not care so I turned over and was asleep again.

In the morning she presented her divorce conditions: she didn’t want anything from me, but needed a month’s notice before the divorce. She requested that in that one month we both struggle to live as normal a life as possible. Her reasons were simple: our son had his exams in a month’s time and she didn’t want to disrupt him with our broken marriage.  This was agreeable to me. But she had something more, she asked me to recall how I had carried her into out bridal room on our wedding day. She requested that every day for the month’s duration I carry her out of our bedroom to the front door ever morning. I thought she was going crazy. Just to make our last days together bearable I accepted her odd request.

I told Jane about my wife’s divorce conditions. . She laughed loudly and thought it was absurd. No matter what tricks she applies, she has to face the divorce, she said scornfully.

My wife and I hadn’t had any body contact since my divorce intention was explicitly expressed. So when I carried her out on the first day, we both appeared clumsy. Our son clapped behind us, daddy is holding mommy in his arms. His words brought me a sense of pain. From the bedroom to the sitting room, then to the door, I walked over ten meters with her in my arms. She closed her eyes and said softly; don’t tell our son about the divorce. I nodded, feeling somewhat upset. I put her down outside the door. She went to wait for the bus to work. I drove alone to the office.

On the second day, both of us acted much more easily. She leaned on my chest. I could smell the fragrance of her blouse. I realized that I hadn’t looked at this woman carefully for a long time. I realized she was not young any more. There were fine wrinkles on her face, her hair was graying! Our marriage had taken its toll on her. For a minute I wondered what I had done to her.
On the fourth day, when I lifted her up, I felt a sense of intimacy returning. This was the woman who had given ten years of her life to me. On the fifth and sixth day, I realized that our sense of intimacy was growing again. I didn’t tell Jane about this. It became easier to carry her as the month slipped by. Perhaps the everyday workout made me stronger.

She was choosing what to wear one morning. She tried on quite a few dresses but could not find a suitable one. Then she sighed, all my dresses have grown bigger. I suddenly realized that she had grown so thin, that was the reason why I could carry her more easily.
Suddenly it hit me… she had buried so much pain and bitterness in her heart. Subconsciously I reached out and touched her head.

Our son came in at the moment and said, Dad, it’s time to carry mom out. To him, seeing his father carrying his mother out had become an essential part of his life. My wife gestured to our son to come closer and hugged him tightly. I turned my face away because I was afraid I might change my mind at this last minute. I then held her in my arms, walking from the bedroom, through the sitting room, to the hallway. Her hand surrounded my neck softly and naturally. I held her body tightly; it was just like our wedding day.

But her much lighter weight made me sad. On the last day, when I held her in my arms I could hardly move a step. Our son had gone to school. I held her tightly and said, I hadn’t noticed that our life lacked intimacy. I drove to the office…. jumped out of the car swiftly, without locking the door. I was afraid any delay would make me change my mind…I walked upstairs. Jane opened the door and I said to her, Sorry, Jane, I do not want the divorce anymore.  She looked at me, astonished, and then touched my forehead. Do you have a fever? She said. I moved her hand off my head. Sorry, Jane, I said, I won’t divorce. My marriage life was boring probably because she and I didn’t value the details of our lives, not because we didn’t love each other anymore. Now I realize that since I carried her into my home on our wedding day I am supposed to hold her until death do us apart. Jane seemed to suddenly wake up. She gave me a loud slap and then slammed the door and burst into tears. I walked downstairs and drove away. At the floral shop on the way, I ordered a bouquet of flowers for my wife. The salesgirl asked me what to write on the card. I smiled and wrote, I’ll carry you out every morning until death do us apart.

That evening I arrived home, flowers in my hands, a smile on my face, I run up stairs, only to find my wife in the bed -dead. My wife had been fighting CANCER for months and I was so busy with Jane to even notice. She knew that she would die soon and she wanted to save me from whatever negative reaction from our son, in case we push through with the divorce.— At least, in the eyes of our son—- I’m a loving husband….

The small details of your lives are what really matter in a relationship. It is not the mansion, the car, property, the money in the bank. These create an environment conducive for happiness but cannot give happiness in themselves.

So find time to be your spouse’s friend and do those little things for each other that build intimacy. Do have a real, happy marriage!

If you don’t share this, nothing will happen to you.
If you do, you just might save a marriage. Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.....

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tardy for the party...or practice

     I hate being late.  I have always been perpetually early, preferring to arrive with plenty of time to spare, time to grab coffee, relax, to feel calm and collected.  Since having kids, however, especially the twins, I am late for everything; or at least, barely on-time.  Playdates, appointments, birthday parties, you name it...  It drives me absolutely crazy.
     Tuesday is our busiest day.  Quinn has school in the morning, then we go home for lunch and have to get the baby girls down for their naps, before heading to Quinn's soccer at 4 p.m., about 25 minutes away, when the girls usually sleep until about 3 p.m., and then we don't get home until almost 5:30 p.m., which is when the kids like to be eating dinner before heading off to bed.  Just the idea of signing him up for soccer in the afternoon, so soon after naptime, made my stomach churn.  But, he LOVES soccer, and he's really getting good at it, and I want to see him having fun and being a little boy.  So, we enrolled for an 8 week session. 
      This forces me to fall back on my time management and organizational skills, which were once so honed, but have definitely faultered since having the twins.  My head is constantly spinning, thinking of all the things that lie incomplete around me, all the things I have coming up to accomplish, cleaning and laundry and shopping to do, and the ever-so-important daily snacks and meals to prepare, often while the kids are either ripping the house apart while I cook, or they're wrapped around my legs in hysterics, wanting to be picked up, attended to.  If only I could freeze time, so I could plan ahead, instead of constantly falling behind, but of course, life doesn't work that way.  I'm just waiting for the day where I feel like I'm "caught up" on something, anything.
       In the meantime, I have to do the best I know how. While the girls are napping (often for only an hour) and Quinn has "quiet" time (as quiet as a 4-year old boy can boy), since he no longer naps, I have to prepare snacks for the kids to take to soccer, get Quinn dressed and ready to play soccer, prepare the quickest dinner I can so I can turn everything on on the stove/oven the second we return home, so that dinner is ready as close to dinnertime as possible.  Plus, take care of any tidying up, laundry, putting away of groceries, making of phone calls, etc, that may still need to be done.  And eat my own lunch... 
       Today, with my best intentions in place, I had a second load of laundry going, snacks packed, fresh waters poured and by the door, dinner prepped, Quinn in his soccer clothes (I could just eat "lunch", a Mojo granola bar, on the drive there).  I took our items out to the car, got the girls coats and shoes on (while the "ready" one ripped the shoes off the shelf and attempted to take off her own coat or shoes), finally put the baby girls into the car while Quinn went potty one last time...  derailed when Quinn forgot to open the lid of the toilet, which resulted in him peeing on the lid and down the sides of the toilet, so I had to stop and clean the toilet and bathroom floor, finally got Quinn out to the car and buckled in (which he refuses to do himself...), ran back in for my coffee.  3:35 p.m., not too terrible a time to be enroute to soccer in Acton (again, 25 minutes from my house in Sudbury).  3:45, while stopped at a traffic light on the way - Quinn: "Mommy, I'm thirsty, where's my water?"; Me:  "oh crap... it's still at home on the windowsill by the door... thinking...thinking...thinking".  There was absolutely no time to turnaround and go back for it, and the water bottle in the car that I'd had for a week was almost empty, and the girls cups, which I did have, were already drunk from, cold germs and all...  At 3:50, we pulled into the drive-thru at Wendy's on the way, because there's no way I have time to unload three kids to run into a gas station or "convenience" store.  We order and receive a "special water", which Quinn is delighted about, thank God; and I managed to resist the urge to order french fries and other goodies, my stomach rumbling from hunger and anxiety.  3:57, we pull into the soccer complex in Acton, barely time to load the baby girls into their double stroller, along with all our belongings, and run inside.  3:59, we get inside, Quinn runs into soccer class and does a wonderful job, smiling the whole time, truly beaming with happiness and with prowess.  He's such a cute little soccer player, and he loves every minute of it, and the baby girls love eating their bananas and then some popcorn from the concession stand... 
     All that rushing around was worth every second of worry and anxiousness that I went through, just to see the smiles on those three little faces.  Someday, maybe I will arrive early for things again, get to enjoy a hot coffee, relax, feel calm and collected.  Now that's something to strive for and practice for, every day in the meantime...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Make new friends and keep the old...

   So it seems that I am horrible at keeping in touch with people - case in point, I haven't even updated my blog in almost a week;  though in my defense, we've been in Vermont since Thursday, and packing food, toys, clothes, etc for three children took a few days to accomplish before even leaving on the trip! 
   At any rate, I wish it wasn't this way; I wish I spoke with my siblings more often, had kept in touch with friends throughout the past years, even though we'd all gone our separate ways after high school, college, or upon leaving past jobs.  I used to love having so many friends around me; I really valued knowing a broad spectrum of people, enjoying everyone's company and just having fun in activity or simple conversation.  But somewhere along the line, I lost track of people, lost touch with friends, and even contact with extended family declined. 
   Back before email was rampant, and long before social networks like Facebook and Twitter existed, I was really good about writing letters, sending cards to just say "Hello" or for birthdays, and picking up the phone to call and talk to someone.  I thrived on relationships with friends and family, and really made an effort to continue them.  But what changed to make the effort less of a priority?  I think in some cases, some friendships became one-sided, so there wasn't any contact unless I made the call, or if I failed to return a message because I was busy with work, life, and eventually babies.  Having moved so many times growing up, I was lucky enough to have formed so many great friendships.  After moving each time, I kept in touch with old friends for a little while, but eventually, the letters were less frequent on both sides, as I made new friends in my new hometown, and as those old friends made new friends, too; we all moved on.  I know people just naturally drift apart sometimes, especially when there are so many miles between them, and that's fine, though it is still sad that the friendship didn't last. 
    There are two lost friendships that I miss the most - both were my best friends from my high school outside Pittsburgh.  The first was a wonderful friend that I had so much in common with, so many great memories and milestones we shared, so much fun, who I loved like a sister.  She was in my wedding, and we were in touch in the summer following the wedding, before I moved up to Massachusetts.  After I moved, I wrote her emails, sent letters, cards, left a few messages on her parents answering machine, because I knew that she could possibly have moved, too, but I had no contact back from her for a number of years.  About 4 years after our last contact, I received a wedding invitation from her, which had been forwarded from my previous address in Massachusetts.  I was so hurt that she hadn't bothered to contact me over those years, when she clearly had my address.  We had always talked about being in each others weddings, having babies at the same time, being friends forever; here she was getting married, a huge milestone in life, and I couldn't share it with her.  I still don't understand why she never returned my letters or calls, and it pains me not knowing what happened for such a true friendship to die without explanation.  Did I do something to hurt her feelings, did something happen that I'm not aware of?  If only I could know what happened, maybe it would help me to not make the same mistake again, to save a current or future friendship. 
     The second lost friendship that I miss was with another girl from high school, who was so much fun to be around, such a lover of life, a contagious laugh (and a snort sometimes, too).  She traveled to Boston to visit me a number of times (I only went to Pittsburgh once to see her, but she said she loved doing the traveling), and we had so many great times together, making trips to other states when she came, hiking, drinking, talking as if we still saw each other everyday.  Her last trip to Boston was with a new beau and a new religion.  I had really hoped and truly thought that just because she had religious views different than mine, we could still be friends.  We talked about her new beliefs, and I wholeheartedly accepted that that was who she was now; even though I didn't plan to convert, I didn't think it would get in the way of a 12 year friendship.  But on the last day of their visit, her beau started digging in on my husband's religious beliefs, even though the topic was unspokenly off the table during their visit, and not that it came to blows by any means, but I think there was some definite discomfort, and after that, our calls and emails were less frequent, and eventually ceased, other than the occasional 'like' or 'comment' on one another's Facebook posts.  It saddens me that that friendship was lost, too, whether it was for the difference in religious beliefs or something else entirely.  I guess I'll never know.
       I wish I could know exactly why those two friendships were lost, but I guess what I need to do is learn from them and value the friendships I do have, and make more of an effort to maintain them.  Facebook and email definitely make it easier to keep in touch, but I think I need to do so more regularly, so there isn't more time in between messages or calls.  And I definitely need to make phone calls more, though the excuse of "When?" already comes to mind.  Finding time for phone calls, in addition to having three young children, is not easy (let alone finding time to shower, eat, regular things...). 
       My New Years resolution was to put myself out there and make new friends for me, and to show my children how great friendship can feel.  I think I need to add to that and work harder at reaching out to family and friends that I don't see as often, and strengthening those friendships, too.  There's a song I remember from my childhood that says "Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other's gold".  I have to try to make that my mantra!