Sunday Sketch: Twins in the Mirror

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Last week I took M and E to the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Most of the museum is for kids a bit older, but we went to the nursery area, which was fabulous and more than enough. When I got them out of the stroller they screeched with delight, immediately pulling up on a wood barrier and smiling at all the babies toddling around, the colors, the toys.

Their favorite thing was a very low wooden platform with a bunch of blocks on it. Attached to the wall next to the platform were two metal bins. M spent about a half an hour carefully taking all of the blocks out of the bins. E enjoyed crawling around on the low platform, practicing going from level to level and scooting off onto the carpet while holding a block in each hand.

Since it is Sketch Sunday, I thought I’d commemorate the outing with a watercolor. This is them at the museum, checking out a mirror. This is also part of my new “Explore Pittsburgh with Twin Babies” initiative. Stay tuned for the next edition.

Tiny People Live in Frick Park

There seems to be a population of teeny people living in Frick Park. Or maybe it’s little pants-wearing mice, or fairies? Whatever they may be, they live in the bases of trees and the entrances to their homes are plain to see for those who know where to look. The doors are a few inches high, made of wood, the handles tiny screws.

Discovering these teeny doorways all along the Tranquil Trail made me feel like a kid on a treasure hunt. I’ve found ten so far, more each time I go. Apparently a mysterious door has also been found in San Francisco–perhaps wood fairy ranks are growing?

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First Library Story Time!

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Today we finally made it to baby story time at the Squirrel Hill Library. I’d tried to go to the library for story time when we lived in Brooklyn, but I was a bit late and they’d locked the door. So though this was not the twins’ first visit to the library, it was our first story hour. It definitely gives me new insights into M and E’s characters, seeing them in different settings with other babies.

The Baby and Me program was at 10:30, and we arrived about fifteen minutes early. The room was already full of parents and babies, all sitting in a circle on the carpeted floor. I set M and E down and sat cross-legged behind them. They didn’t move. They sat staring at all the activity, at the babies–a couple toddling around, most sitting or crawling. A couple other adventurous babies came over to say hi, one reaching right for E’s face. Still she sat still, watching that babies’ hand come closer. When one baby came over and tried to take her toy, though, she kept an iron grip, yanking it back. Eventually M and E turned toward me and started pulling themselves up to standing using my legs as support, still not straying from my lap.

Then story time started. We sang songs like “I’m a Little Teapot” and “The Ants Go Marching,” along with some new ones I’d never heard. There was a lot of taking the baby in your lap, lifting them up, clapping, etc., so I took turns holding M or E, with the other sitting in front of me. Once, for a song about riding a horse, I tried bouncing them both in my lap, but my legs got tired. For one song, about the beach, they handed out a silk scarf to each baby, meant to represent waves. For another song, each baby got two little egg-shaped maracas. Those were a huge hit with both M and E. M enjoyed sucking on them. E managed to pick up two with one hand, smiling as she shook them above her head. After the program, the facilitator came around to collect the eggs. When she tried to take M’s, it was a no go. “She’s got an iron grip on those!” she said. “You let me know when she’s ready.”

So I guess my babies know how to stand their ground, at least with their stuff. As the program progressed, M and E were slowly inching further from my lap. By the time it was over and other parents and babies were beginning to pack up, M and E had decided the place was okay and it was time to explore…and then they were off! Crawling to opposite sides of the room, playing with a wall of magnetic letters, picking up teddy bears, and trying to drink from all the other babies’ sippy cups (they weren’t interested in their own).

All in all it was a great excursion. They definitely like exploring new places and situations, and I’m sure we’ll be back for more.

 

Sunday Sketch

 

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Sunday Sketch

I know this is a parenting blog and all, but maybe Sunday Sketch will be my new Sunday thing. Today was not the best day, but in the late afternoon I did take a walk alone in Frick Park.

I turned on a different path, which took me up a steep ravine and then suddenly dead-ended at Forbes Avenue, which traverses the park on a very high overpass. I was disappointed to discover that I’d have to walk the width of the park on Forbes to get back inside. But it turned out to be kind of beautiful walking along so high up, looking down on the trees. I stopped midway to do a quick sketch of the horizon, my sketchbook and pastels balanced precariously on the side rail. My second sketch is of some of my favorite houses along the bowling green.

Tomorrow back to regularly-scheduled baby announcements.

The Twins Reach the Most Important Milestone

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This weekend we took another outing with the babies. Part of our new “we can get out of the house,” and, “let’s try to explore a bit of this new city we’re living in” Saturday routine. We went to Oakland with the plan to go to the library, but ended up visiting D’s office so I could see where he worked, and wandering around the green outside the library watching the carousel and enjoying the sun.

Most importantly, though, we visited Dave and Andy’s Homemade Ice Cream shop. This store had been recommended to us recently, and it was a spring-ish day, so I thought we better check it out. Which is how the twins ended up at this momentous milestone, this marker of adulthood: first ice cream.

They were appropriately serious about the whole thing. At first we weren’t sure if they liked it, they were so intently focused. Then we found it difficult to get the cones away from them because they kept craning forward to keep eating, and we were each holding a baby and an ice cream cone. Suddenly difficult to eat the ice cream out of their reach. Needless to say I think ice cream was a hit. Though I will have to explore other Pittsburgh ice cream options, since this one wasn’t quite up to my very high ice cream standards. I’m something of an ice cream connoisseur, you see, or a snob, or something. I’m very serious about ice cream.

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Going on an Outing, Because We Can (and a Broken Bottle)

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This Saturday we took an outing to the Strip District, a lively food-related shopping neighborhood in Pittsburgh. We explored the public market, full of local artisanal vendors, and a lot of the fun shops along Penn Avenue. Everyone smiled as we passed–the woman selling glitter tattoos, the two women in the woodworking shop, a pair of grandparents who watched, amused, as we took turns alternately holding both babies and visiting the restroom (a challenge).

In New York, taking the babies on the subway required carrying them up and down dozens of flights of stairs, getting tired before we reached the destination. Or carrying the strollers up and down stairs. Same problem. Or alternately taking a car service–other challenges. Our car has changed the equation. We put the babies, the Ergos, and the diaper bag in the car and drove to the Strip District. We strapped them on and were already there, ready to go. While out we decided to buy a gallon of olive oil, a bottle of red wine vinegar, a bottle of wine, and six doughnuts. And a bottle of water. And some ham and cheese deli slices. And some anisette biscotti (yum). Don’t ask how we managed to lug all that plus two twenty-pound babies back to the car. We almost made it except for dropping the bottle of vinegar right outside the store as we were leaving (it ripped through the bag), which cracked in shards and smelled like a stink bomb. Oops. But the store owner was nice enough to replace the bottle free of charge. I think the babies make us more sympathetic.

We realized it was really the first time since the babies were born that we’d gone out on a Saturday just for the heck of it. I can sort of remember, back before the babies, when we used to visit galleries, or a museum, or the farmer’s market on a lazy Saturday. Life is beginning to feel slightly more normal. A new normal, that is.

It’s Coming!

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Despite the roadkill robin I discovered on our street this past week, and even in spite of the random snow shower this morning, spring has sprung! This afternoon the sun came out, and suddenly there are flowers. Crocuses, and leaf buds ready to burst on every tree. I even caught a whiff of damp mulch. Oh, yes!

I realize these photos aren’t the best, but I’m posting because I’m excited. Every spring is crazily exciting, but this spring is particularly exciting! It’s been a long winter…

A Few Pittsburgh Observations

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I remember having a bit of culture shock when I moved from California to New York for college. Everything around me felt new, and at the same time I suddenly saw myself through other people’s eyes. In our recent move from Brooklyn to Pittsburgh there’s been some of that, too. (For one, I must talk fast, because here I’ve found myself jumping into breaks in the conversation too soon and accidentally interrupting.) Of course being stuck in the house most days with babies, my perspective this time is a bit limited. Still, here are a few differences I’ve noticed so far:

1. Here people just ring your doorbell to say hello. The landlord, friends, neighbors, acquaintances. They drop by. In New York even your best friend wouldn’t ring your bell unannounced. You’d have to schedule with them a week in advance. If anyone was coming to your house (with plenty of notice) you’d have time to clean the place up and put on a good show. Of course, when people drop by they see the real you, in your pajamas at noon, dust bunnies all over the rug, unwashed bibs all over the table.

2. Not everyone looks totally put together all the time. Maybe this goes with the just-ring-the-bell mentality. It seems acceptable to wear whatever beat-up tshirt you happen to be wearing. That was different in New York.

2. People acknowledge and greet each other when they pass on the street, smiling or saying hello. In Brooklyn, skeezy men say hello if you’re youngish and female, everyone else respectfully avoids eye contact.

3. It’s very quiet at night. Very quiet. If I went outside I bet I could see stars. Actually, hold on a minute…Yes. I just went outside (that fast) and saw stars. Actually first I saw the moon, which is very full and bright, brighter than the streetlights. The sky is deep night blue, not the maroonish color it is in New York. There was nobody outside, just dark, and the night-lit houses.

Tonight at dinner D and I agreed that we feel a fondness for Brooklyn, though we don’t miss it.

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.”