How to Worry Correctly

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Babies give us plenty to worry about. They aren’t growing fast enough! They’re going to choke on this food I’m giving them! They aren’t stimulated enough! Worry, of course, is rarely productive. But what hadn’t occurred to me was that worry might actually be a weapon…to be used against one’s spouse.

Here’s what I mean. With twins it’s impossible to watch them both at all times. Sometimes one needs a diaper change, and you can’t just carry them both upstairs. Or you have to take a shower, or you’re changing one, or putting the other one down for a nap, or maybe you just have to sit at the table and breathe for a minute. To keep them safe and happy we’ve been putting them in a super yard in the living room. But now this has created another opportunity for worry. Parents of just one baby don’t seem to have super yards. I don’t want my babies to get to explore less because they’re twins. (And I wouldn’t mind having the living room back, either.)

Last night I brought the idea up to D that we might make the whole living room into a big super yard by gating it off from other rooms and baby proofing. He took one look around, walked over to the cold hard fireplace edge and banged on it. This isn’t safe, he said. I took it as an accusation. I’m not concerned enough.

Of course, MY worry of choice for the babies is choking on coins, coins which D leaves all around the house in little piles which he empties out of his pockets. Hm. Something about these worries suddenly seems a bit arbitrary…or maybe not arbitrary at all.

“Well at least together we cover all the bases,” he said. True. And then it was kind of funny.

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There’s Only One Master Bedroom

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All four of my apartments in Brooklyn were large single-family homes that had been awkwardly chopped into apartments. In our last apartment in Sunset Park we were on the top floor of what had been a single-family limestone. It was a railroad-style floor-through, probably originally the bedrooms, and when we first moved in we spent at least a week moving the furniture around to every possible configuration trying to figure out what would work best. We ended up trying the bed in all four rooms, every one but the kitchen, before settling on the front room. This shuffling was not stress free.

When we moved to Pittsburgh I expected the same from the duplex we’d rented. But it hasn’t been the same. This is the first apartment I’ve lived in that was built as a small single-family home and remains that way. Upstairs is the master bedroom and a smaller bedroom for the babies. There’s one wall in the master bedroom where our bed would go. Each bedroom has a door that closes, and a closet.

Downstairs there’s a living room that’s clearly a living room, with one spot for a couch, and a dining room off the kitchen. Everything was designed for what we’re using it for.

Out front there’s a porch, out back there’s a porch. Downstairs there’s a basement with a washer and dryer. I still never want to do laundry, but at at least now we don’t have to set aside a day when we’re both here to go to the laundromat.

These are small things, but they make a difference.

 

Now if we could just make some friends here we’d be all set… But as D said last week, “Every time I start to get nostalgic for Brooklyn, I think of that time I rode the 4 train downtown with my face smooshed up against the door because it was so crowded.”

Check-In With the Space Monkeys

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I thought it might be worthwhile to take a moment and write individually about each of the monkeys, what they’re each up to these days. I’ll start with Bean.

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She has the most infectious, toothless smile–seems rather jolly in general, actually. I’m in love with the way she wrinkles her nose when she smiles, the fuzzy tuft of hair on her head. Though she’s working on crawling to some extent, she is often happy sitting and playing with toys nearby, or just rolling onto her tummy. Every time you look over at her her face contorts into that amazing grin, which inevitably brings you over, and then she lifts her arms to be picked up.

When you put something new and enticing in front of her, a new toy, or an interesting new finger food, she doesn’t just grab it immediately (though she is quite capable). Instead she lifts her arms in the air like she’s casting a spell and wiggles her fingers, staring intently at the new thing. She then cautiously lowers her hands to touch lightly, explore, thoughtfully suck.

Also, Bean loves music and is incredibly appreciative of any singing or dancing you might do for her benefit, smiling immediately and chuckling. She loves to dance with you.

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M is working hard all the time on her crawling. She’s a little monkey, gripping you when you hold her. When you put her for a nap in her crib she rolls immediately onto her stomach and pushes herself up to a crawling position. Sometimes she can’t fall asleep for this reason. She loves bouncing in the jumperoo or doorway jumper.

She’s also working hard on talking, very clearly enunciating Da Da Da, her little mouth working on the correct shape whenever she’s awake. She seems to take a bit longer to warm up to strangers, but that smile when it comes is beautiful.

She is intent on feeding herself and especially seems to enjoy finger foods for that reason. She goes at them with gusto, making me nervous by cramming whole broccoli or bread pieces in her mouth, but getting upset if I try to take them away. Also, she has a quizzical, flared nostril expression she makes sometimes if I do something silly. Occasionally she is content to snuggle quietly, her arms around my neck.

Other people have commented how calm and easy going both babies seem. They like to be in the middle of the room and watch what’s happening around them. They both have long attention spans for investigating new toys, babbling to themselves, to each other. If you put them both in the play area they tend to move around until they are sitting right next to each other.

They are my kind of people. I am lucky to have them in my life.

Walking Into the Drive In

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So this post is really a plea for help. I’ve never owned a car. Growing up, I occasionally drove my family’s Mazda MPV to school when they would let me, but most days I rode my bike. For a while my father owned a black Alpha Romeo Spider, which was a beautiful car. I also loved my parents’ pea green pop-top VW camper, a relic of the seventies–some day I hope to subject my own family to this mode of vacationing. But then, there you have it, pretty much the extent of my car knowledge.

So here I find myself in Pittsburgh. Today I took a walk down Penn Avenue. The traffic rushed by. I was the only pedestrian for miles. When I finally reached an intersection I met another human, a homeless man carrying a small cardboard sign, and then it started to rain.

Yesterday I took a walk with my sister. We passed a store where they sold beer (which, by the way, is a whole thing here. You have to go to a beer store.) I thought I’d better take advantage of being there and buy a six pack…which I then carried the half-hour walk back home. I think I may have embarrassed her.

And again, this morning we were going to see friends who had kindly invited us for brunch. We thought we’d take the bus. Ha! Haha. Fussy babies and no nap later we looked at the bus schedule. Two transfers, and one bus per hour. Hm…

So if it was a pain not having a car in Brooklyn, here it’s laughable.

Anyway, I’m going on a bit, but what I really want is advice. We’d like to buy a car used. How old of a one is too old? Mileage maybe less than 60,000? My inclination is to try to find a car as cheaply as possible (Let’s get this over with and just get some wheels to get us around town!), but I’m fighting that, because that doesn’t seem wise, and I’d like to invest in something safe that won’t fall apart next year.

A few people have recommended the Mazda 5, a small minivan. Some say that’s no good because we’ll need four wheel drive for the icy winters. Frankly I’ve always fancied myself sort of a hybrid person. I’d love a Prius. But the Prius is so much more expensive–would fuel efficiency make it worth the price? And is it big enough? I’ve heard Subarus are solid. But maybe Honda is most reliable? Or, um, Scions are kind of cool. You can see I’m all over the place.

Please help. What recommendation do you have for a car that’s safe, reliable, big enough for a tall driver, twin babies, and all the cargo that comes with them, plus doesn’t get terrible gas mileage? What year? Where should we start? Leave a comment! Any thoughts much appreciated.

Discombobulated

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Moving is so disorienting. I feel a bit like I’ve been thrown off the merry-go-round. There are no longer any mindless tasks; everything takes mental energy. You want to mail a letter–where’s the mailbox? You want to make a salad–where did you put the olive oil? You want to take a walk–which way? But more than that, now that you don’t know any of these things, who are you?

I used to be a Brooklynite. Or maybe I was a California transplant living in Brooklyn so long it had become home. Now I’m in Pittsburgh. This is of course not the first change in my life. We’re constantly changing…surroundings, circumstances, attitudes.

I used to live in California’s Central Valley; then I moved to New York. I used to be a conscientious student of the humanities; then I graduated. I used to be the youngest in a tight-knit family of five; then my parents separated. I used to be single and dating; then I got married. And suddenly I’m a frazzled non-working twin mom living in Pittsburgh.

My stuff is around, but it doesn’t quite feel like home yet. The more I think about it the more I realize how fragile our conception of self really is. Our brains must have to work pretty hard to maintain anything as constant.

Luckily, even though those past iterations of myself now seem utterly foreign, some things remain constant. I love and have always loved the arts. The people I love are still around me. I have probably always been a home body, which is maybe why moving is so disorienting. But I will get all this stuff we hauled in boxes into its right spot. I’ll create a new mental map, like roots.

And really, it’s good for me. People aren’t trees. We’re meant to move.

Hello Point Breeze, Pittsburgh!

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So somehow we landed in a pretty amazing neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Or maybe every neighborhood in Pittsburgh is this awesome? What do I know. Anyway here are a few pictures from my walk around trying to get oriented. Above is the entrance to Frick Park, which is just a few blocks away. Birding, here we come. And maybe we can actually motivate to go running again when the weather improves. I remain ever optimistic.

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Here’s a picture of our bodega. Okay fine it isn’t a bodega. I think it might be Italian. Anyway it’s a corner store! It’s a few blocks from us and we can get a quart of milk! Or some Italian Wedding Soup. Or some candy for 10 cents. That’s all we need, really.

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Here’s what the houses around here look like. I’m pretty much in love with the houses. Porches! And the blue sky down to the horizon is nice, too.

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Also, our neighborhood has a little downtown. There is a cafe and restaurant within walking distance, and they both look great.

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Finally, here’s the adorable snowman now gracing our front yard courtesy of my niece and nephew, who live nearby (which is pretty much the best thing).

So all in all, yay Point Breeze! Yay Pittsburgh! More soon on the house, the twins, and everything. The babies have not taken the week off, despite being squeezed amidst a sea of packing material and boxes with some very distracted parents. They’re now babbling (ba ba ba, da da da, bla bla bla). Also just today M started smacking the buttons on the exersaucer with real purpose, clearly knowing that would make them play, whap whap whap (“moo”, “meow”, “cat”, “gato”, “duck”, “woof”). They’ve also developed necks–much easier to keep clean. And in the mirror, they’re looking back and forth between me and my reflection–it’s all beginning to make sense, this mirror thing.

A lot happens in a week! I’m so happy to be back blogging! And so happy the move is behind us and now the fun part can begin.