Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ham, or, benefits

One of the huge benefits of babysitting is the food.  Sometimes there's nothing; sometimes I get a feast for lunch at the twins.  In the evenings, it can be a snacking free for all.

Easter was lovely.  We did nothing Easter-y, and really the only thing I missed was the ham.  Guess what Paisley's parents have in their fridge?

I get paid, and I get ham!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Sockies and socialization

I am slowly losing the ability to say "socks."  Most of my conversation on the topic is with the twins, and they only ever say "sockie" or "sockies."  Naturally, I've taken that up.  I don't mind my job getting involved in my life, but when I ask V to find me a pair of black sockies, it's a little worrisome.

What's more worrisome is the twins' complete lack of socialization.  I've been out with them a few times, and they absolutely refuse to engage or talk to anyone outside their family or me.  While the neighbor's son, who is the same age, runs over to me to show off his new shovel, Patrick and Lilly press themselves against my legs and into my lap.  They turn into silent statues.

V, who has met them at least five times, has probably only heard them say that many words.  Now, these kids are chatterboxes.  Completely so.  And it baffles me that they are so reticent around others; I would love to get them more comfortable and, well, normal.  The little girl V watches is close in age to them, and we're starting playdates, so I'm hopeful that consistent interaction will start breaking down their little walls.  But in the meantime it's frustrating.  They're hilarious, adorable, active, talkative kids, and no one would ever know.

I'm trying to figure out how to work on that.  At least at the park today, V and her little girl got a "Goodbye" out of Lilly.  It's a start.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Woodwork

The real title of this post should be "Woodwork, Pulling Kids Out Of"

V and I are sitting this weekend for Paisley, the little girl we met through Bug and Andrew's parents.  The other day, Paisley's mom asked if it would be okay if there was another little baby; of course it wouldn't be a problem, and we told her that.  I just listened to a voicemail where she went through a long story and said there might be two more little kids, and if that wasn't doable she fully understood, and feel free to say no, but the three of them should be asleep really soon, etc.

I don't mind at all, and I called back to tell her that.  I'm just wondering how many more kids she can conjure in the next two days!

Need

I guess I can't blame the twins too much for occasionally waking up on the wrong side of the crib.  I wake up on the wrong side of the bed sometimes too...like today.

Nobody needs to use the word "need" the rest of today (even thought I just did):
"Need nose wipe!"
"Need more cheerios!"
"Need help this!"
"Need go outside!"
"Need play dolly!"

You get the idea.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Quoted

My latest blog obsession has been one of those creepy people I find who are creepy only in the sense that I have odd similarities to them.  I discovered We Are Fambly through searching for two-mom blogs; during the course of my stalking, I learned she had an older blog, Bananie, which chronicled more of the pre-kid life.  While I don't know much about her, she has a Pentecostal background, a strong Episcopalian bent, and now two kids.  (To the author: if you ever come across this, and that's not how you'd like to come across, sorry!)

This quote really hit home for me.  I mean, ouch:
"Who knew. really. who knew, once upon a time, that sweet little bananie would grow up to be one of them? who knew that i could possibly become a threat to the institution of marriage? or rather, the stepford idea of an institution of marriage that has never existed. one man. one woman. one picket fence. one nation under god, quite divisible, with liberty and justice for one man. one woman."

So true.

And another, which I can totally relate to: "whoever thought i'd understand the love of God so much by being an abomination?"

Liberry

In a long-awaited moment, today I drove the twins somewhere.  The family recently acquired a third car (read: last Thursday), so now I have the van with the carseats in it.  We went to the library ("liberry"), very dramatic first outing.  I really did enjoy being out with them, even if it was just to read some books and do some puzzles and coloring.  Hopefully this summer we can do bookstores, the zoo, the aquarium, playdates, etc.  Unfortunately their schedule is funky compared to every other kid - they go to bed around 10:30, sleep till about 9:30, and aren't done breakfast till close to 11.  But we'll work around it.

Our six legs now have four wheels!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rain

It's been raining for over a week, and it's supposed to through the rest of this week too.  Needless to say, this doesn't make Lilly happy.  V and I had a good trip though.  We headed south and didn't get rained on; we saw many of our close friends who came to the wedding, which was the best way to spend Easter weekend.  In addition, we saw old friends we hadn't been able to see in awhile and they'd spread word of our wedding.  When we were out dinner with some friends and some strangers, it was the strangers who demanded to see our rings and asked how the ceremony went.  Basically, it was a great weekend of feeling loved.

Now it's back to work, and neither of us slept well over the trip, so we're both exhausted.  V has been texting me that she's falling asleep in her little girl's rocker; I've been a lump on the couch for a good chunk of my day with the twins.  Tonight's plan is to take some Tylenol PM and go to sleep around 9, if we make it that long.

Lilly, when she doesn't feel well, would be perfectly content for me to read to her for two hours straight.  And by perfectly content, I mean will throw a fit if I stop.  Here I go again (on my own)...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cute lines

Two Lilly quotes from today, and then V and I are off to spend Easter weekend with a series of good friends.  Easter day will be spent driving about nine hours in the car, but that's not a problem.

I always have yogurt when the twins do in the morning; this morning, I didn't produce any, and they both asked where mine was.  I told them I was out and I'd have to buy more.  Lilly informed me that "Daddy go store buy more yogurt for Lina."

Later, we were at the playground, and they'd had bunches of goldfish.  Lilly walked over and contemplatively said, "I need some milk, I think."

If you don't hear from me, have a wonderful holiday weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Technique

Patrick has this twin thing figured out.  Lilly's very much in a phase (okay, her entire life has been a phase) of wanting whatever he has, just because he has it.  He's finally figured out what to do if he wants something and she goes for it.  He finds another toy and starts feigning interest in that (asking her if she wants it would be too overt), then as soon as she latches onto that, he goes for what he really wants.

Smart kid.  They also blame stinky diapers on each other.  I'll ask who's got on, and they each instantly call out the other one.  Silly silly twinsies.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Moments of Grace

I don't think I've ever had an unredeemable day with the twins.  I've had some pretty bad ones - they are two and a half, after all - but there always ends up being a bright spot.  Usually it's toothbrush time after lunch.  No matter how chaotic and difficult lunch has been, when I sit them, one at a time, on the bathroom counter, and hold their toothbrushes, each (though more so Patrick) will lean his/her head into me and watch us in the mirror.  It's a calm moment of precious baby and me time that refocuses me and puts the preceding four hours into perspective.

I thought today was going to be close to unredeemable, though.  Lilly woke up on the wrong side of the crib, again, and was bursting into angry tears at the slightest provocation.  She's still polite - she paused a fit to thank me for blessing her sneeze - but I knew from the moment I got her out of the crib that today could easily be war.  After breakfast, she stopped playing with a toy; Patrick started to play with it a few minutes later, and Lilly had a meltdown of "my car, my car!"

I did my usual explanation of "you stopped, he can have a turn, etc," but she was just genuinely upset.  Her nose was stuffy, too, which I'm sure didn't help.  I scooped her up and carried her upstairs to the nursery, where we sat in the rocker and read two books.  I started singing to her, and kept that up for almost half an hour as she drifted in and out of sleep.  Her big blankie was wrapped around her; her little silky one was on my chest, with her soft strawberry blond hair resting on it, her fingers in her mouth.  It was a moment of peace - more than a moment.  Patrick played downstairs by himself quietly, thank goodness.  When he finally came up, Lilly began to perk up, and soon they were playing together mostly nicely.  Life went back to normal.

I needed that rocking chair time as much as she did.  I'd already written off today as a "grumpy monkey" day.  I was just counting down to naptime.  Instead, I had a warm, soft little body curled into mine, breathing regularly, both of us grateful for a pause in our crazy two-toddlers days to simply rest and love each other.  I couldn't stop kissing her head; I whispered "I hope you love your Lina as much as I love my Lilly."  She'll throw more fits - she did before today was over.  But grace shone through instead of temper: grace for the two-year-old trying to figure out the world, and grace for the twenty-two year old trying to do the same.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Growing up

I've been with the twins for nine months now.  Every month brings so many changes when kids are under four or five, and looking back to last summer, it's amazing to me how these kids have grown up.  We were playing outside today in the beautiful weather; I kept getting flashbacks to late last summer when we'd do the same.  "Don't let them go up and down the stone steps by themselves," I heard their mother tell me almost a year ago, as I watched both Patrick and Lilly nimbly do exactly that.

We've been having three-way conversations lately, too.  It's a new thing.  I asked Lilly this morning what she wanted to do outside, whether stroller (go on a walk), paintbrushes (paint the sidewalk with water), or slide (play on their little slide).  She said stroller, and I said we should ask Patrick.  She yelled down the stairs for him (he was coming up) and asked what he wanted to do; when he said paintbrushes, she thought for a minute, and said, "Okay, paintbrushes."  They both then told me they wanted to paint, and which color paintbrush each wanted.

Almost two year olds are very much alive.  It's the age Bug is, as well as Isabella, Sean, and many other kids I watch.  But the difference from the twins at almost two to now, just past two and a half, is stunning.  They're talking so much; they're so interactive.  They've really just come alive.  I love it.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Conversion

From what I hear, it's a common fear that the gays (or "teh gayz"?) are trying to convert everyone to their same-sex lovin'.  It's a stupid fear.  I'm sure there are some who think that in general gay people > straight people, but they're in the minority.  I like straight people.  Sometimes I even like kissing them.

All that said, I do happen to have a handful of good friends who would make awesome lesbians.  I'm not even sure I can elaborate on that statement; it's just something I know (and V agrees).  I don't think they should immediately run out and find a girl, turning their backs on men everywhere.  I think in part it's me wanting a more gray society: less self-proclaimed 0s (and 6s) on the Kinsey scale, and more willingness to contemplate variety.

Therefore, when I found out last night that a good friend made out with a girl, it made my night.  The circumstances are irrelevant for the moment; it's just the fact that it happened.  That she was willing to go with it.  That I'm sure it was super hot.  I don't want to make everyone gay, but it sure makes me happy when people are open to the possibility of something different.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What big brothers have

I chatted with Seth and Isabella's mom tonight, for probably half an hour before she left and another half hour after.  We hadn't seen each other in two months.  The beforehand was all about the wedding; the afterward was all about the kids.

Apparently Isabella, who's two on Easter Sunday, went through a phase recently of, not to quote Freud, penis envy.  It started as, "Mommy, Seth has penis, I want penis," and escalated into, "Mommy, I really really want penis!!"  After about two and a half weeks, she came to a grand realization.
"Mommy, Seth big boy, he have penis.  Isabella big girl, have bagina!"

This is why I love working with toddlers.

What happened

I have one question for the world today:
Who took my adorable, sweet twins, and what on earth did they replace them with?

Needless to say, today wasn't the greatest.  There was a deliberate dumping of food on floor incident, there was a tantrum over the presence of strawberries, there was a bit of a screaming session over a certain story...  I'll spare everyone the rest, though really I think I just want to spare myself rehashing it.

One more day, then the weekend!  Tonight I'm watching Seth and Isabella, whom I haven't seen since sometime before the wedding.  It'll be good to catch up with their mom again (occasionally an ulterior motive for babysitting).  Then the twins tomorrow morning, and then friends are visiting and I'm not sitting Saturday or Sunday!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Snippet

V commented earlier, as she sent a letter to a representative (via Freedom to Marry) asking him to support the Respect for Marriage Act, "I've never been this politically active."

My response: "We've never been this discriminated against."

File under "sad but true."

Good good day

V and I took Bug to the zoo this morning.  Highlights:
  • We all got a pet a little penguin.  Literally, they are called Little Penguins.
  • I had a conversation with a turkey, and we have it on video.
  • Bug hugged a goat in the petting zoo and then asked if she could hold it.
  • She overlooked the sleeping bears on the big boulders in their habitat, and when I asked her what she saw, she looked around, puzzled, and replied, "Rocks?"
  • We rode the carousel!  She rode a tiger, and since I was stuck being next to her, I rode an ostrich.
  • There were a ton of gorgeous tulips.  I dangled her over them, as well as let her sniff them, and V got some great pictures.
After Bug, V and I went to visit a friend who just had a baby.  He's four days old now.  Needless to say, I did lots of snuggling the newbie.  It's just been such a good day, and I keep thinking we're heading into the weekend.  We have friends visiting this weekend; it's just taking awhile for it to be Friday.  But if it has to be Wednesday, it was a darn good one.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hair

I've started putting Lilly's hair up in a ponytail, or occasionally pigtails.  Her dad admits that he doesn't know what he's doing, and her mom has told me that Lilly is already more girly than she ever was (and I don't think Lilly is that girly!).  I bought her some ponytail holders; at first, she wasn't very thrilled, but now she's getting used to it.

Yesterday I did pigtails, which was adorable.  That kid is so cute.  Today, I did the classic Pebbles look: one ponytail, up on top.  As she walked out of the nursery, Patrick looked at her, then me, and said,

"Two ponyhairs?"

Monday, April 11, 2011

Communication

I don't feel like the twins should be old enough that I can have conversations with them when they're upstairs.  Whether I should be yelling up the stairs at them is a different matter, but we'll leave that alone.  I just called from the bottom of the stairs, "Lunchtime!"
Lilly shot back, "Nooo!"  So I said, "Yeees!"
"Nooo!"
"Would you like a few more minutes to play?"
"More minutes!!"
So, I'm going to finish getting lunch ready, and then go try to snag them.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

New designation

While walking to the playground...
Patrick: A squillel!
Me: No, that's a chipmunk.
Lilly: Monk.
Me: Chipmunk.
Lilly: Monkey!
Me: No, it's a chipmunk.
Lilly: Chipmunkey.
And that's what she proceeded to call them.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Overload

Every now and then, rarely, I watch the twins on a week night.  This isn't a big deal, except that I also watch them weekday mornings and afternoons.  Today I literally fed them breakfast, played with them, fed them lunch, put them down for a nap...came back, got them up from nap, fed them dinner, went for a walk, let them play (now), and will put them to bed.

Thank goodness I like these kids, though Lilly this morning almost literally drove me to tears.  She's been on edge.  In a two-and-a-half year old way.  It's punctuated by adorable moments like her liking my homemade bread, and coming over to say, "May I have some more bread please?" every thirty seconds.  But there are also fits about five per hour, and screaming, which is a new thing with her.

I'm glad tomorrow is Saturday.  V and I are babysitting tomorrow night for Katie and Sean, who will already be in bed by the time we get there.  Sunday night we have Bug and Andrew, also together.  When we're together, things are manageable.  At least now the twins will go to bed in half an hour!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Balance

Last night was rough.  V read my cousin's message, and talked me through some of it, and I made it to bed without crying.  This morning, we woke up to find that Offbeat Bride featured our wedding.  The comments are still coming in about how beautiful we were, how perfect everything was, and how it's our families' loss for not wanting to be involved.

Life does balance out.  I just need to remember that on the downswings.

Cute anecdote to end with: At the playground today, a boy, roughly age four, was talking to the twins.  They did their usual staring back silently, but by a few minutes later he was on the other side of the playground.  Lilly looked at me and asked, "Where little boy go?" and when I told her I didn't know, she yelled across the playset, "Little boy!!!"  I almost doubled over laughing, and tried to explain to her that he wouldn't answer to that.  And there's your dose of cute.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bursting bubbles

I've finally gotten so far inside my happy bubble that I forgot the pain of being told my marriage isn't right, true, or valid.  I knew this day would come, and I always wanted to be at the place of such certainty about V and me, but the corollary to that place is the reality that I'm exposing myself to the same pain that I fought for months and years and finally overcame.

A cousin of mine is getting married in a few months, one close to my own age, whom I've always been somewhat close to.  I was invited to the wedding, not V, and I sent her a message on Facebook (we already had a string going) casually saying I wasn't aware that cousin's spouses weren't invited.  Passive aggressive?  Maybe.  But if she was going to discriminate, I wanted her to own up to it.

I got a message back tonight.  It's long.  It explains, politely and "in love," how God's plan for marriage is a man and a woman, and part of the purpose is procreation.  It admits that I've probably heard it all before.  It clarifies that space is limited, and so only those who are married according to her (and her fiance's) definition of marriage can come.

I'm hurt.  I'm trying not to think about it, because I don't have the energy to cry (and because I'm two glasses of wine in), but I guess I'm undoing all that good by writing about it.  I'm angry.  I'm angry that someone can make me feel this way.  I'm angry that this isn't over yet.  I'm angry because I know it never will be.  But mostly, I just have that hollow feeling in my chest, the defeated one that tells me I'll always be fighting, that there will always be someone - someone close to me - ready to tell me I'm wrong.  And so, I start crying.

War wounds

Bug has a violent streak lately.  Out of nowhere, she'll kick, hit, or scratch someone - the dog, baby Andrew, and, as of today, me.  I sat down on the floor next to her, and next thing I know, she raked her razor-sharp nails down my face.  Thankfully the only part that bled was a tiny scratch above my lip; otherwise, I don't look damaged.

Her mom and I sat there, dumbfounded, for a second, before she yanked Bug over to time out.  I ran to the mirror, checked that I was still alive, and came back to play with the baby.  I was not about to interact with Bug at the moment.

Speaking of, in an attempt to get out of timeout on the stairs, she banged her head against the floor on purpose a few times, then started crying for Mommy.  Her mother - I love her - totally ignored her and kept flipping through her coupons.  Eventually I got an apology from Bug, and she even brought me flowers when she and her mom went out on a walk.  I stayed home and played with adorable Andrew.

So, yes.  A scratch above my lip.  It hurts to smile - which is so not fair.  After how awesome our apartment looks with the cleaning V and I did this afternoon, I want to smile.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The dreaded sniffles

The twins are sick again.  Runny noses, coughs, medicine as soon as they wake up.  If I hear "nose running!" one more time, I think I might scream - and I'm sure I'll hear it lots on Thursday and Friday.  Though tomorrow I watch Bug, and she's known for a perpetual runny nose that she won't let anyone wipe.  Which is probably worse.

Other than that, there isn't too much going on in my world.  Today is V's and my one month anniversary, though I forgot that till she mentioned it about half an hour ago.  I'm attempting to make bread from scratch for the first time; she's attempting to hang our teacups.  This house needs a lot of help.  It's a mess.

My sister-in-law had her baby girl today.  I feel so disconnected from my family; I got a text when she was born, and I've seen pictures on Facebook, but it doesn't really resonate with me.  I feel guilty about that.  At the same time, I don't want to worry about caring, or making myself care.  It's just like some people I know, whom I like, whom I see on occasional holidays.

I'd better go before this turns into blog therapy.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Planning parenthood

Is the title a reference to Planned Parenthood?  Yes.  V and I just came back from volunteering there, making condom-and-info packets to give out at various events.  As she said on the way home, as semi-monogamous, mostly-lesbians, we've never been around so many condoms.

And of course, if I'm mentioning Planned Parenthood, I'm going to have to talk about the defunding campaign.  I don't get into politics on this blog (nor, really, in real life).  But this isn't about politics; it's about families.  That's where I do get involved, and easily frustrated.

Lesbian and gay families have to plan parenthood, in most cases.  We need surrogates and sperm and fertility clinics.  Straight families have the opposite "problem."  They need birth control and the morning after pill.  Sometimes, they need abortions.

Am I a personal fan of abortions?  No.  Do I think they should be available?  Absolutely.
But this isn't about abortions.  It's about Planned Parenthood, and, contrary to what some people declare, that name isn't synonymous with abortion.  It's more synonymous with condom packets and breast cancer screenings.  It's about keeping women healthy, and helping them do exactly what their name says: plan parenthood.

We gays are forced to plan parenthood.  Sometimes the straight folks need a little help.
So how about we continue to give them that help, and keep everyone healthy?
Four colorful Durex condoms at a time.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Marriage, by V

V and I both are on various email lists, and Freedom to Marry sent out an email earlier with this link.  They are calling for stories to pass on to President Obama along with their petition for, naturally, the freedom to marry.  When I came home from watching the twins this morning (told you my schedule was strange this week), V told me she'd submitted a story.  After she read it to me, I asked her if I could post it here; here are my incredible wife's words.



At twenty-two years old, I will admit that I haven't seen much of the world.  I don't know many of the things that come with age or trial and error.  There is still much I am learning.  How to do my taxes; how to pay student loans and rent; how to pursue what I want in life.  But the most important thing I'm learning--is how to be a good spouse. 

My now wife and I traveled nine hours to Washington, D.C. four weeks ago, and in front of our closest friends, we declared our love, support, and steadfastness to each other.  We exchanged rings, held hands, and joined souls.  Our families were not present because we both come from conservative religious households. 

Our love has been a struggle.  A fight.  A war at times.  But never between ourselves.  We battle our families, our faith, and our government.  Filing taxes was a formidable reminder that in the eyes of the government, I am single.  Many married people choose to file their taxes separately, but I do not have that choice.

As my wife and I drove home from D.C., we were anxious about crossing the border from Maryland into West Virginia--from a state which recognizes same-sex marriage, to one that doesn't.  Would we feel different?  Would we feel that our marriage had been futile?  We held hands as we drove across the border, apprehensive.  But our love, our newlywed giddiness, and our marriage, remained.

Our marriage.  It is a reminder, a beacon, a shelter.  We are committed.  We are bound from here to eternity.  And we are going farther together, than we ever could have alone.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Volume

Last night, the twins' mom asked me if, when I'm trying to get the twins to listen, I tap by my ear.  I told her I didn't think so...then I told her it might be one of those things I do subconsciously and don't know, because there are lots of those...then I tried doing it, and it felt perfectly natural.  We laughed and decided it must be common for me.  Apparently they've picked it up now, and it's adorable (of course).

Their mom's words were, "When I'm trying to get them to listen, I tend to just say 'Listen!' but this is a very soft gesture, and you're a soft person."  I find that characterization interesting, but I like it.  So many times, people go louder to get attention.  I'm not trying to extrapolate into metaphor (though it probably wouldn't be too hard), but think about it: when kids aren't listening to you, many times the natural reaction is to be louder so they'll hear and pay attention.

One of the things I've found with younger kids, though, is that they do want to hear you.  They may not like what they hear, but they want to know what you're saying.  With Patrick and Lilly (and Bug, and many toddlers), it's so much more effective to get as close to their level as I can, tap my ear (apparently!), and say softly, "Listen to me please."  There seems to be a natural curiosity or cooperation that quiets them down, at least for half a second, to see if they can hear you.

I'm not soft-spoken by any means.  I'm not always particularly gentle, either.  And I definitely fail at being passive.  But with toddlers and preschoolers, soft and gentle seems to be the key, at least for the ones I know.  A steady voice, repeating itself calmly, is much more likely to achieve the desired results than an escalating volume and pitch.