Where’s Your Nose? A Portrait of M at One Year

I’ve been wanting to write individual posts about M and E and what they’re up to these days. I’m thinking of this as a sort of one-year portrait, though they are now 13 months. I started arbitrarily with M because I had a sketch of her I was going to include, but then I decided the photo was nicer. Stay tuned for poem of E.

A Portrait of M at One Year

M loves to walk around the house holding both your hands, leading the way to the shoe pile, to the window.

Strangers must earn her smile. Eventually she will make a subtle wave, raising one hand a bit.

She can climb the stairs, climb off of the rocking horse, climb onto boxes left within her reach, climb into the stroller, climb down from the couch.

When you are holding her and she sees something she wants she points to it, leaning her whole body in its direction, and says emphatically, “Dooh! Dooh!” until you take her to it.

Let free to explore a new place she crawls with purpose, lifting her arms high, pulling up on the nearest support. Then she turns to you with that mischievous, happy twinkle.

When eating, she enjoys rubbing her food-smeared hands all over her hair as if applying mousse.

Sometimes she waves with both her hands at once.

If you say, “Where’s your nose?” she puts one finger on her nose.

She will not sit still in the bath but insists on trying to stand and climb the walls, then cries when you try to put her back in place.

Her face lights up when she gets her hands on a light switch; the doorbell is exciting.

If you take a toy she’s playing with, she arches her entire body backward and turns red. If she doesn’t want to do something, like be buckled into a high chair, you will not succeed in buckling her.

She can often be distracted by belly zorbers, being tossed in the air, or hanging briefly upside down.

She smiles if you give her an eskimo kiss (rub noses).

When E takes a toy she’s playing with, many times she lets it go and does not resort to hitting. She does occasionally bite.

She likes handing you things and seeing you take them. Her milk cup, her sippy cup, a toy.

She can sit for an hour concentrating fixedly on a new task. Putting together and taking apart legos, moving blocks in and out of a box.

Her favorite book is “In My Tree” which is a board book that features a little felt owl finger puppet. When she sees this book she leans down and gives the owl a kiss. She also sometimes gives the rocking horse kisses.

She sleeps every night with a Snuffleupagus. When you lay her down in the crib and hand her the Snuffy, she hugs it to her chest thankfully and sucks on the trunk.

She hates having her diaper changed.

She likes holding the snack trap cup open and shaking the cheerios out all over the floor.

She laughs often.

Mtortilla

Pushing Buttons, Blowing Kisses and Pinch Me

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What a joy watching these babies discover the amazing things their hands can do. They are both pointing non-stop. If you pick them up they immediately become very serious and point at something, gazing with wide-eyed expectation. “Window” you say, or “toy,” or “books,” trying to see what they’re looking at. E is also taken with buttons and now pushes them very deliberately with one little finger. She’s fascinated by the doorbell, though hasn’t quite figured out how to ring it yet. They pick up slippery little bits of strawberry and banana, pass cubes of bread back and forth between them, and of course they can pinch, hard.

We will have to work on other hand motions like thumbs up. I’ve been trying high five, but though they are extremely entertained by watching me try to give them high five, it hasn’t quite caught on yet.

The best, though, and what is inspiring this post, is that this evening they started blowing kisses. E does it by putting her index finger in her mouth then pointing palm up while opening and closing her mouth, fish-style. M so far just puts her hand on her face. They were both doing it at dinner while sitting in high chairs. D was home and all four of us sat there blowing each other kisses.

Of course blowing kisses isn’t the only meal interruption these days. There are periodic episodes of clapping, where both babies take their cue from each other. Or both of them will suddenly start craning their necks all the way back to look at the ceiling. Sometimes M or E will bang both hands on the high chair tray and then the other follows suit and we have a little drum interlude. These babies are on fire with learning. And also very distractible.

 

Today, a List

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Today I was a bit distracted, and probably because of that there was a diaper malfunction, and poop all over a leg, and plum puree squirted from a pouch all over a car seat.

Today I stood in the kitchen looking at my two babies in their high chairs. They were both smiling at me, two teeth showing on the top, and waving by opening and closing their hands. They were so beautiful.

Today E continued to point at everything–the windows, paintings on the wall, toys, people..and call them all “duck,” enunciating very clearly in her precious little voice.

Today we woke up before 5 am to a baby crying. After a while we relented and brought E in to bed with us, where she crawled around happily, climbing up on our faces, breathing very close, trying to make it to the edge of the bed. Her perfect, round face illuminated by moonlight.

 

 

How Blogging is Like Birdwatching

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When I first met D, one of the first activities we took up together was birdwatching. I remember so vividly the first time we took a bird walk in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. The guide led us through parts of the park I’d been to many times before, but this time it was like we were exploring a brand new world.

We were walking slowly, stopping to watch for movement in brushes, listening intently. And as a result we were seeing things I’d never seen before. Red bellied woodpeckers with their brilliant red hoods and bold striped backs, hopping up the sides of trunks, handsome cardinals calling from every shrub, outrageously adorable titmice and nuthatches. It was the same city, but it was as if we’d stepped through the looking glass. I’d discovered a parallel universe.

Blogging, for me, has been a similar experience. For the past year I’ve been somewhat homebound. The first part of the year I was on bed rest at the end of a difficult twin pregnancy. After the twins were born, getting two infants out of my third-floor walk-up didn’t make leaving the house much easier. Needless to say there hasn’t been much birdwatching in my life lately (a gang of starlings landed on the windowsill this morning, and plenty of gulls drift overhead, which I do appreciate).

Then came blogging. I started this blog on a whim, at someone’s suggestion. I like drawing and writing. But it’s happened again. Suddenly here I am in a conversation with a writer and mother of twins in Tipperary, Ireland, and with a woman who does it all with twins, a toddler, and two dogs in Toronto. I thought about Christmas traditions with the most likable mom ever in Colorado, vicariously cleaned out my house with a photographer of pure, perfectly-titled photographs in Derbyshire.

And then there’s the man who loves painting oils of the old west, and a French woman raising a daughter in Brazil, the family living off the grid in Oregon, and even people here in New York City drawing beautiful pictures of animals, painting their claw foot tubs pink just a few miles away in their own universe/apartments. Every time someone “liked” a post it was a ticket into some new universe I never knew existed. The world keeps getting bigger. It’s a good feeling.

A Series of Word Images from Today, Home with Babies

I.

One baby started fussing as soon as I set her down in the highchair. To distract her I started waving around a red bib that was on the table, an impromptu game of peekaboo. She chuckled, slowly at first, as if something funny had just occurred to her. As I kept repeating the peekaboo she got more and more jolly, the chuckles rolling out in waves. Then both babies got into it. The second watching, rapt, as I covered and uncovered my face. Each time I quickly pulled the bib away both babies would give a start. Then came the happy belly laughs. This went on until my arms got tired of holding up the bib.

II.

Water!  In the little bathtub on the dining room table, she started kicking her legs vigorously. She was smiling, water droplets splashing all over her face. Half the tub water ended up on the table, the floor. You could tell she thoroughly enjoyed that sensation, the strong kicking, squeaky splashing, the warm wonder of it all.

III.

Both babies suddenly stopped nursing and looked up at me. Then both, wide eyed, reached their arms up to touch my face, my hair, my mouth.

Mom Style–I Get It Now

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Frumpy-looking moms in old jeans, hair in ponytails, spots on their clothes, tennis shoes: I get it now.

To the extent that mothers were on my radar at all before I had babies of my own, I had no idea why they would take it upon themselves to become unstylish. I thought maybe these sweatshirt and sneakers moms were just unstylish people, and I never thought I would count myself in their company. Not that I’m any sort of fashionista, but I try on clothes before I buy them, and I have some sense of what’s flattering. 

With twin six-month olds, I don’t think I need to explain what I’m looking like these days, or why. I count it as an accomplishment finding time to take a shower every day. My overgrown hair…it’s going in a ponytail so it doesn’t get yanked. And anything I put on has to pass the, “Do I care if it gets spit up/drool/food stains on it?” This is not because I’m some frumpy-no-style who has given up all hope in her life–at least I hope not. I’m pretty sure it’s because I don’t have time. 

Last month in the park I passed a group of teenagers. Two girls were doing a sort of bump and grind dance for the benefit of some boys sitting on a bench. As I passed with the babies in the huge double stroller, one of the boys called out, “You like that dance they’re doing?” And I suddenly saw myself through their eyes, as if I were ancient, just some mom passing by in the park. 

Getting Out Of the House: Brooklyn Walk-up With Twins

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I have a new way of getting out of the house. I’m not entirely sure if it’s an improvement over the old way, which you can read about here. The advantage of the new way is that once I’m out, all I have is a very lightweight umbrella stroller plus the other baby in the ergo carrier. I feel incredibly portable. I’m sure I could even fit through the checkout at the store. Plus, the babies are just too heavy to be lugging them, their car seats, and their very heavy double stroller up and down two flights. So, here for your consideration is my new leaving-the-house system:

Step 1: Bundle the babies up (it’s winter).

Step 2: Strap on the ergo. Carry the stroller, a car seat, and my jacket down to the first (but not ground level) floor. This takes two trips up and down.

Step 3: Carry a baby down to the car seat on the first floor and strap her in. Walk back upstairs.

Step 4: Strap the other baby into the ergo. Walk downstairs with her. Put on my jacket.

Step 5: Carry the stroller (with baby in ergo) down the stairs to street level.

Step 6: Walk back upstairs. Lift second baby out of car seat. Carry both babies at the same time down to street level.

Step 7: Strap second baby into the stroller.

Step 8: Roll out with one baby in the wrap, the other in the stroller.

Then, coming home, repeat the process coming back up.

I’m still not sure carrying both babies at the same time is the best solution to the problem, but it’s the best I’ve been able to come up with so far. It’s an evolving system. I am proud that I managed to leave the house today despite the dread that arises in me when I picture all the steps necessary to get out the door. In any case I’m getting my exercise, and probably keeping my brain fit solving these fox, river, rowboat puzzles, right?

As ever your Sparrow.

Eight Hours in the Car With Twin Babies

This week, for Thanksgiving, we drove eight hours with the babies, from Brooklyn to Pittsburgh. As the day of our departure drew closer, we wondered if we had made the right decision in not flying. We wondered if we were completely insane.

We had decided leaving early, at 4 am, would be our best option. We would put the babies, still in their PJs, in their car seats and hit the road. This, we hoped, would give us a couple hours while they were still asleep, getting us out of New York City before the morning rush hour or Thanksgiving traffic.

What we hadn’t factored into the mix, in addition to baby and traffic schedules, was the storm of the century advisory, which would hit the very night we had planned to leave.

“I can’t even describe it,” the radio commenters said of the traffic leaving New York the night before the storm. “It’s so horrible, it’s so horrible. A parking lot.” There were ice storms, tornado warnings, wind advisories. Batten down the hatches, because we’re blowing away to Oz, was the tone. A friend called me as I was packing. “Don’t forget to pack some emergency supplies for the car.” She mentioned jumper cables. I stuck a gallon of water and some baby formula among our supplies. I imagined us stuck with the babies on the highway in a white out.

That night I woke up at 2:30 a.m. to the wind driving rain against our window panes, shaking the house with a low moan.

At 4 a.m. we convened in the kitchen, where coffee was dripping, set on a timer from the night before. “Should we go? What about the weather?” We watched some online weather videos, looking for clues. The longer we waited the closer it got to rush hour, the closer it got to time for the babies to wake up, while the weather remained just as bad. The wee hours are not the best time for decision-making, but after about a half hour we decided to go for it.

We drove the first few hours out of New York in the dark, frantically. I was still wearing my coat, having jumped in the car so quickly. It was dark and raining, we expected to hit massive traffic at any point, for the babies to start wailing at any second, for the weather to blow us off the road.

But none of that happened.

The babies slept. They slept right through until 9 a.m. when we had to stop and get gas and thought we better feed them, though they weren’t crying. They slept for most of the whole trip. Also, we didn’t hit traffic, and the weather, though there was a bit of snow and rain, was fine.

I think the babies rather enjoyed the whole driving experience. When we stopped to feed them they were so busy chattering away and looking around we could barely get them to focus enough to eat. And they laughed out loud at being changed in our laps in the car.

Clearly we should travel with them more often. They are ready for adventure.

This little piggy went to market…this little piggy is cute.

This little piggy went to market...this little piggy is cute.

These babies have adorable feet. Actually, they have many adorable attributes: feet, cheeks, noses, bellies, bottoms. They are great big bundles of adorable. And that’s not to mention the cheerful voices, or their smell of baby shampoo and milk, which of course you can’t sketch.

“They are so amazingly cute,” D said to me yesterday.
“Yeah.” I agreed. “But then again, how do we know? Maybe they’re actually just fat and drooly and not cute at all.” D laughed, and we looked at each other for a minute.
In any case, they’re the most beautiful babies we’ve ever seen, though I’ll admit we’ve got stars in our eyes.

Five Important Baby Things I Forgot to Pack

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This weekend the babies took their first trip out of town. Very exciting. They did well, didn’t seem disoriented, slept well. Packing, though, was a challenge. The car was stuffed to the gills with two adults, two babies, suitcase, double stroller, playmat, two carseats, this that and the other. And still there were five things I forgot. Maybe I will be organized and put together a checklist of baby things to pack for next time. Or maybe I’ll just write down these five things: 

1. Lots of plastic bags

Where do you put diapers when you’re at someone else’s house? They don’t have a Diaper Genie or Diaper Dekor (I love the names of diaper pails, so comedy, but that’s a subject for another post…). You need lots of plastic bags so you can take them to the trash outside. 

2. Stain remover

The babies pooped on my friend’s pillows. Not the best guest behavior, which leads me to number three… 

3. My Breast Friend Double Nursing Pillow

I thought the pillow was just too gigantic to bring, even though I use it seven times a day every day. I thought I could just substitute a pile of regular bed pillows (see item 2 above). Turns out bed pillows are cumbersome and you need a lot of them to support two twins in an upright position, and there’s crying and repositioning involved and you’ll probably just end up nursing them individually instead of together, which is a pain. (And they might get pooped on.)

4. Two moby wraps

I only packed one. In fairness, I thought D was going to bring the other up with him when he came (we went up separately). Still, there is nothing that is more of a pain than a double stroller. We want to take rustic walks in parks, and go to stores, and make our time away from home feel as much like a vacation as possible.

5. Two play mats

Again, I only brought one. Why am I only bringing one of these things? I have two babies! And they are big. They don’t fit in one moby, they don’t fit in one crib, they don’t fit on one mat. I will get it next time I swear.

And just as a note, we went through a pack of 31 diapers. In two days. And almost a whole pack of wipes.

But we did it. We got out of town. We moved ourselves and the babies to a new place for a couple days, levitated the house, and it was lovely.