Swing

Image

Today I got out of the house and took the babies on a walk to the park. It was cold but the sky was blue. The sun was that blinding winter sun where you want it on your face for the warmth, but you have to close your eyes because of the glare. 

When I got to the park it was nearly deserted, and as I turned the corner I saw that the swings were empty, too. I love swings. Usually they’re occupied by teenagers or, of course, kids. Last time I was in the park some guy was using the swing enclosure as a dog run for his two rambunctious hounds. I pushed the huge double stroller next to the swing set, then climbed on the outermost swing.

Swinging is so amazingly liberating. I’ve been stressed about our move to Pittsburgh; I needed something. I had a strange feeling watching the carriage get closer, then further, watching the red laces on my black boots sweep past the ground, up past the Manhattan skyline to the bare tree branches and back. It was fun, and I felt kind of like a kid. But I saw myself, too, a mother on the swings mid day, with the pram parked beside her. I was old and young at the same time. 

What Happened to Our Living Room?

What Happened to Our Living Room?

As of today, here’s what our living room looks like. That’s right it’s a big baby corral. In preparation for our imminent move to Pittsburgh, this morning I sold the couch that used to be across from that TV. Without the couch there was a big hole, so I finally set up our super yard. The babies aren’t crawling yet, but they’re scooting enough to where I feel uncomfortable leaving them to get in the shower.

I showed my sister a picture of the new setup and she said, “It’s clear who’s boss at your house now!” Oh me. I like to think this isn’t a permanent state of affairs. After we move I’m still holding out hope for a nice (though baby proofed) living room to relax in, a new couch. But there’s no denying we’re in baby world now. Goodbye to our book-filled, curl up on the cozy sofa for two, feet on our white-striped carpet and watch a movie in peace living room. Hello family room!

ps: Has your house/decor changed since you had kids? How? Might be fun to share.

The Power to Make Someone Happy

Image

I can make these babies happy. That thought occurred to me today after I gave up trying to get M to take a nap. Recently, every time I lay her down in the crib she turns over on her tummy and then starts to cry. The last nap of the day was not happening. She cried and cried. I kept going back in, turning her over on her back again, re-tucking the swaddle, positioning her bunny at her arm, hoping she might fall asleep and make the evening easier, and each time I’d leave she’d start to scream again. I was going insane. Finally I gave up.

I brought her to the living room couch. She looked so thankful, smiling through the tears streaking her pink cheeks. Tired, and with my mind still on trying to get her to fall asleep I decided to let her nurse. I positioned her comfortably in the crook of my arm, my elbow resting on a pillow, her whole body cushioned against me with the pillow behind her. She nursed a bit then looked up at me. I could see in her face she was in heaven. She couldn’t believe the amazing thing that was happening, how good life was. I wondered why I was making us both miserable with the nap.

A minute later Bean woke up. The moment was over, but it was striking. I can make these babies happy. Tickling their tummies, kissing cheeks, supporting them as they stand wide-eyed and proud, on my lap. That’s not a small thing. You can’t always make someone happy like that.

But now that I think about it, I guess it isn’t just babies we have the power to make happy. Adults are much more challenging, but it’s still a choice we have, right? I’m learning a lot from these babies.

Hello Babies…Goodbye Plants?

Image

Jasper the Dracaena Marginata has been with us for about ten years. At over five feet, Jasper has presence. He is dignified at the same time his goofy green poofs remind me of the trees from Doctor Seuss’ The Lorax. I just found through googling that this type of plant is also called a Dragon Tree, which makes perfect sense. He is our dragon.

With his three heads, Jasper is a combination of what were previously two little identical Dracaenas. One I gave to D for Valentine’s Day shortly after we started dating, and the other my sister left with me when she moved across the country.

Jasper is now a massive being who has adapted himself perfectly to his current location in the bay window. WIth his three heads, he looks simultaneously through each of the three panes. At the same time, he guards our bed nearby, watching over it with his shaggy green mane.

Before the twins were born I had built up quite a collection of plants. They took up the large living room windowsill, and overflowed onto the tables and bookshelves. One much-beloved specimen had deep purple leaves on thin white stems; it looked like a flock of butterflies had just taken off from the pot. Every evening at dusk the butterflies shut their wings for the night.

After the twins were born I didn’t have time or energy for the plants. It was all I could do to remember to water them sometimes, let alone fertilize or repot. One by one they died. But Jasper, the oldest and largest, persevered.

I remember one winter, wheeling him in a granny cart from one apartment to another on the coldest day of the year. I put a garbage bag over him, which whipped off in a frigid vortex right in the middle of an intersection. After that all his leaves turned black and fell off. Another, weaker plant I had transported at the same time never recovered, but Jasper regenerated. After that, on the bark of each of his spindly stalks was a rough scar, like a knobby knee, allowing me to chart his amazing growth.

Another time I transported Jasper on the subway. He was giant and unwieldy. D was embarrassed to be seen with me as I whapped people in the head with him each time I turned around.

Shortly after the babies were born someone pointed out that some house plants are poisonous. Sure enough, Jasper doesn’t take being eaten lying down. Though not lethal, he won’t go down without some vomiting and pain. He is a Dragon Tree, after all.

Today I realized that even if we could find a place for Jasper away from the babies in our new house, he wouldn’t survive an eight plus hour drive in the unheated back of a moving truck mid-February.

So we will have to say goodbye to Jasper. I’ll miss you. May you find some new sunny windows and an owner who tends to you better than I can. Goodbye, old friend.

*The title of this post is inspired by a great post at Olivia FitzGerald’s blog, “Hello babies…Bye-Bye Friends?”

Trying Out the Baby Swing

Trying Out the Baby Swing

This is a sketch of M at the playground. A couple weeks ago I took the babies to the park to try out the baby swings. This was before the temperature dropped permanently below freezing. Anyway it was a lot of fun. There was only one swing free, so they had to take turns. M really seemed to enjoy it, swinging her legs and grinning away. Bean wasn’t so sure about the whole thing. I think she was tired. Looking forward to trying it again when the weather warms. Is it spring yet?

Babies with OPINIONS–I Guess They Can Join the Family Now

Image

I think I’ve mentioned that the babies now have very distinct personalities. Well, along with the personalities seem to come distinct opinions. I am enjoying sucking on this rubber ducky. This is a good toy. NO I AM NOT HAPPY YOU TOOK THAT AWAY. Oh okay being carried is okay, I’m happy. NO I AM NOT HAPPY YOU ARE PUTTING ME DOWN ON THE CHANGING TABLE. And so on.

Today, after playing on the mat for a while, the babies seemed to be getting restless. I put Bean in the exersaucer. She was fine looking at the toys until I put M in the doorway bouncer nearby. “Waaaaaaaiiiii”! Lips turning down in outrage. It was so sudden I thought she had somehow hurt herself, but there was nothing wrong. I turned around, and again the scream–she was staring pointedly at M, who was now bouncing one-handed, with relish, like she was riding a bucking bronco. Bean stared, horrified, Not Fair! If she knew how to point she would have. I took her out of the exersaucer and moved her to the Rainforest Jumperoo. Bounce, bounce, bounce and immediately a huge grin. Okay, she said without saying a word. You did good.

These are not two passive little birds we’re dealing with. When mama comes with the worm, they’ve got their mouths open crying for the spoon, upset when it’s going in the others’ mouth. If you pick one up from the crib and walk out of the room, the other cries in outrage at being left behind. They know what they want. They are amazing little people.

Is It Wrong to Blog About Your Kids?

Image

Before I get into this post, I’m just going to say up front I’m pretty in love with blogging. Not just in love: it’s what’s keeping me sane right now. This afternoon I had a play date scheduled with another real human being and real babies. Then out of nowhere came this blizzard and I had to cancel because I can’t get down the stoop or push the stroller through the snow. But then, like a light from heaven here is this blog, my communication portal.

That said, it is a strange thing, sharing information with the Internet. How much is okay to share? What are the issues? The blog has to involve my kids because that’s a major part of my life right now. So I thought I would put these questions out there and see what you all say. Here they are:

Is it wrong to share photos of the babies? And videos?

It’s sort of irresistible to share sometimes. The blog is incomplete without at least the occasional picture. So why do I get an uneasy feeling each time I post one? The worst-case scenario that comes to mind, of a stalker or pedophile finding photos of your child online and deciding to target them is not an actual danger, according to this New York Times piece. As with anything you put online, the danger is with misappropriation of the image. Pedophiles, as the Times piece points out, are also not going to use your child’s picture. More likely is something like this bizarre story of a family whose christmas photo ended up being used as an advertisement for a grocery store in the Czech Republic. Clearly at minimum I should start using watermarks.

More worrying, I think, is the fear of photos being used for cyber bullying. Some bully in the future using the babies’ images against them. But then again, these are baby photos we’re talking about. I don’t think using anyone’s adorable baby picture would be an effective bullying technique, but maybe you can convince me otherwise. I wouldn’t post naked photos, or photos of the babies in any compromising situation. D says maybe my photoshopping funny hats onto their photos, as I have done, could be compromising to the babies in future (he has a way of making me feel morally guilty). I took those photos down just in case, but in my opinion it’s harmless. At some point, though, they won’t be babies anymore, and then I think the conversation changes.

Babies can’t decide for themselves how they feel about the blog, so is it wrong to write about them on it? 

I talk about my husband on this blog on occasion. Each time, I am extremely conscious of what I say and how he will feel about it. I try not to be over-revealing, speak for him, or portray him in a way he might object to. I also don’t use his full name, and I don’t put his picture. Do I do the same with my babies? Yes and no. Their pictures I mentioned. I don’t put their names, and I portray them in a positive light (how could I possibly portray babies in a negative light?). I think of this sort of like a book for them, and I envision them years later reading it. I try not to post anything I think they might object to, and to be conscious about not comparing or pigeon-holing them.

I’m not making any sweeping pronouncements or points here. I would love to know how you all decide what images or information you’ll share online about your kids (or self or family), be it in blogs, Facebook, or whatever. Thanks for reading!

Best Thing Ever: How to Get out of the House on a Date for Free

Image

We have this great thing going with another couple in the neighborhood. It’s a date night swap, and it’s pretty much the best thing ever. 

Here’s how it works. They have a baby, we have babies. One Saturday a month I go to their house at 8 pm after their baby has gone to sleep for the night, and they go out on a date. Then the next Saturday one of them comes to our house and does the same for us. No one has to shell out for a babysitter. Each couple gets a regular date night. Everyone is happy! 

There is nothing like a date. We feel sort of like teenagers, D and I, skipping through the lamp-lit streets to a cozy restaurant, no strollers or babies, sharing a bottle of wine, candlelight, dessert. Seeing each other clearly without the distractions of home. Having an uninterrupted conversation. I know I don’t need to sell anyone on the idea. 

But I have to say, going to someone else’s house to babysit while their baby is asleep is enjoyable in its way, too. Yes, I admit I’ll take whatever “me time” I can get. The first time I went over I remember joking, “I could call my husband on the phone. Isn’t that what babysitters do? Talk to their boyfriends?” We laughed at this image of a teen babysitter on the couch, the cordless in the crook of her neck, painting her toenails. But seriously, how sweet is life for that teen? I can appreciate that now. Once on my babysitting night I watched the first episode of Game of Thrones. Another time I watched Miss Universe. Ah, sweet vegging bliss. Once I composed a blog in one sitting, with no interruptions. 

I’m telling you, I’m almost hesitant to move because of this. Hope we can find a family in Pittsburgh interested in the same!