Thursday, March 27, 2008

Still Here, Barely

I'm still here, but oy vey! we are busy.

Our carpenter Dave has transferred the contents of the kitchen into the dining room while he levels all the cabinets & installs cherry butcher block counter tops.  Next he's going to build and install shelving on the walls for our glassware.  Then, hopefully, he'll move into the pantry and make all the built-ins I've been dreaming of for six years.  In order to hang one shelf, he's going to have to take apart the drywall, shave down the studs and then replace the drywall, because it is that out of plumb.  Super drywall job our original guys did, eh?  Regardless, Dave is working magic and the kitchen is looking better than ever.  The 14' stretch of counter along one wall has a 1.75" rise from one end to the other - it was very out of level, but Dave tweaked it into place.  This makes it higher than standard at counter level, and renders the higher end of the counter right about boob height for Homestead Mama, who is 5'1".   Since she is 5'10" or so in her mind, though, it is not a problem for her unless she tries to cook with the huge lobster pot.

At the same time, our contractor Roy is installing new windows in the house we own across the street.  The original 40 year old windows are aging, and three were cracked enough to replace.  He'll also do some work on our house, stuff that takes two or more folks to complete (like removing and replacing the offending lead-rich clawfoot tub upstairs).  Dave cannot do that by himself.

With all this going on, and managing the design & decisions, I'm also managing to keep Monito alive, which with his new found crawling skills is no small feat.  I lost him for a few minutes today, and found him under the dining room table reaching up to pull up to a stand with his hand on the utensil drawer from the kitchen.  Eight hundred pounds of stainless steel with a few chopsticks thrown in for good measure.  Good lord but Monito is quick.  Pequita is also very active right now, but is focusing on wearing our shoes all over the house, stacking everything (I caught her today with the contents of the recycling bin stacked in a loose tower in front of her smiling broadly), and prancing up and down the staircase with reckless abandon.  She has never yet fallen off the stairs, but we have just been lucky.  We do have gates, but she begs to climb and then turns to us and waves her hand in front of us and says, "Baaa, Baaa."  That is her telling us to 'back off' just like we do to the dogs.  Nice, eh? 

I start obedience classes with the new dog next Thursday, and none too soon.  He is getting friskier as the weather warms up.  He and Luna play very hard & aggressively together, and we need to socialize him with other dogs so he acclimates to a wide variety of play styles and personalities. 

We also have house guests arriving in two weekends.  The house will still be under construction, but the kitchen should be mostly back to rights.  Dave is extremely conscientious and does all his sawing outside and is sweet to the kids.  He and I have had some rollicking good discussions while we haul 12' slabs of butcher block around the kitchen. 

All this, and I've been feeling quite bad at my job lately.  The advent of Monito crawling has stretched my time and energy to such a thin wire that I am tired all the time and really doubting my ability to give each kid all that they need.  PMS right now isn't helping.  Pequita has always been able to absorb every last second of attention we have and still want more, and Monito is generally so easy going it is easy to let him amuse himself more of the time than I am comfortable with.  Now that he is crawling, he requires a lot more attention so he doesn't hurt himself and to quell the loud distress sound he honks out when thwarted by gravity or a too-high table, or his sister takes his toys and runs away.  [Do not think that Monito has been neglected, but he has received less attention than he would have if he were the first-born or a higher maintenance child, and this weighs heavily on my brain many days.]  This, along with normal developmental jumps - and the usual sibling stuff - has made Pequita have a mock-regression.  She now crawls instead of walking sometimes, wants to be carried all over, wants to be cradled like a baby, and has been really snuggly; none of these are her usual behavior.  It is all likely quite normal, but it is a lot of change and so very demanding of me all day long.  And I don't talk about it much, because who wants to hear, "Yeah, yeah, poor me.  I can't get over how much time and energy my two beautiful, healthy, much-wanted babies suck from my busy and fulfilling life." 

Bah. 

I'll post pictures when Blogger stops crashing on me mid-post (which is another reason you haven't heard from me in days.  If I actually take the time to write something and the damn thing gets lost due to some programming glitch it takes me a couple days to get over my fit of pique and try to write again.  This was written in an email so it was saved all along the way.)

Oh- if anyone knows a good source of info/ support for two lactating partners who are approaching night weaning, please let me know! 

Friday, March 21, 2008

Mobiles

I wanted so much to participate in the Mobile Swap that happened this year. http://www.elsiemarley.com/mobile-swap.html
 You can see the photo pool here: http://flickr.com/groups/632453@N23/pool/

I knew I just couldn't commit the time, and I was right.  I will try for next year.  There were some beautiful ones to be had!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Monito Crawls

Last Monday, Monito broke the motion barrier. My little potato is a Big Boy now, scooting along the floor with a remarkable speed. He is excited, but doesn't really yet understand the implications of this momentous feat. Pequita, on the other hand, is learning quickly. He follows her around now and grabs everything that she touches with his big meaty hands and won't let go. Much screaming is to be heard in our neck of the woods. I'm teaching her the concept of 'trade', since he doesn't really care what he plays with, but she is still shellshocked by the sudden rocking of her world.

In the hotel room, we arrived at a peaceful solution. He had the floor level, she got the banquette in front of the window. This had the added attraction of being a good vantage point for her favorite game these days, Bus Spotting. Sadly, now that we are home there is only the one plane upon which to play. They will have to duke it out.



video

Home Away From Home

We had a super time in Boston visiting with my parents. We spent a lot of time with my brother’s friend; his presence more than anything else brings my brother to life for me. I think because he also loved Jason, and misses him as much as we do. My mother, the Hostess of the Century, also put on a birthday party for my nephew who just turned two; the event was really more of a coming out party for the grandbabies, most of whom had not been formally introduced to my parent’s circle of old family friends. It was a good time seeing the people that I miss most from my home town, and getting to have so much company in my admiration of the babies.

We left Boston on Sunday afternoon, and for the past three days we’ve been in a nice hotel in Saratoga, NY. I have logged miles and miles in my shoes. Sadly, not the shoes that are modified to make walking easier for my fused ankle, but the nice comfy slip-ons that I wear around the house. I packed perfectly to clothe, entertain and feed two babies for six days, but forgot to pack shoes for myself. Duh. The kids and I have logged many an hour in the local coffee house charming (the kids, not me) the locals and students who are hanging out too. We have seen hundreds of pounds of coffee beans get roasted because the machine is next to our favorite couch and the woman roaster has a four year old at home and was really accommodating and playful with Pequita. Despite my long hair and what I thought was a benign, pretty much completely out-of-style wardrobe, I have set off the gaydar of the lesbians in town; no fewer than six in three short days have come over and started up a conversation which usually resulted in a discussion about donors, kids and either how to do it or how great it is. Goodness knows what I'm putting out there, but it has generated a nice sense of belonging in a new town.

We're leaving Saratoga today as soon as H-Mama's training is completed. It is a nice town for kids, and for walking. It reminds me a lot of Northampton. I have had full easy access to a children's museum (with a mock fire engine - see below), a park, many nice shops, and a main drag that is full of babies to meet and dogs to pet. We met a 200 lb Newfoundland dog - Pequita was about as tall as his elbow. He looked like a bear. Sweet, though. His owner whipped out a towel and swabbed off his muzzle when I asked if he was friendly, and the pooch proceeded to slurp Monito's face and Pequita's cookie. They were enchanted. I think Pequita was asking to ride it, but I can't be sure what her unusual hand gesture was. Saratoga also has one of the best stocked kid's stores I've seen, with the requisite train table in the back of which we made full use. If the fantastic children's section of the public library is any indication, the locals here pay pretty steep taxes. We spent hours playing with the $1500 worth of wooden animals (they sell them in the aforementioned children’s store and I estimated), the Lego table, the ride-on toys and the carpeted mini-amphitheater. And they had books, too. I’ll be happy to get home tonight. I miss our friends, dogs, house, and having more than one room in which to entertain the kids.



Friday, March 14, 2008

Where have you been?

I get around! I won't be making it to Boston, however, unless I stop taking quizzes.


create your own visited states map or check out these Google Hacks.

No time to post...

I'm supposed to be packing for our trip. Homestead Mama has both kids in the car in the hopes that they'll nap on the way to dropping the doggies off at the kennel.

I just folded the laundry, and as a reward, I took time to do this. Damn - I WAS paying attention back in 8th grade.

JustSayHi - Science Quiz

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Beast

My brothers ex-girlfriend is one of the contestants on Top Chef this season.  I recognized her immediately, then heard them calling her Jen, and knew it was her.  http://www.bravotv.com/Top_Chef/season/4/bios/jennifer/index.php
I am oddly giddy and excited.  It feels like Jason is really present right now.  The reason we're traveling to Boston this weekend is to see his best friend who is visiting from Switzerland.  I haven't seen him in years, and am really excited and all emotional about it; it is rare these days to have Jason's spirit really come alive for me.  With his friend visiting, his ex showing up on TV, well, it feels great.

Jen was always my favorite girlfriend of Jason's.  She is adorable and didn't take any shit, smart enough to give him a run for his money.  It will be a treat to watch her on the show.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Enjoy the park



New York and the environs fence off the parks to keep them safe. We had a lovely time, regardless.


Healthy Living

You know all that plastic that is in your drawers? The stuff you feed your baby with, but might cause all sorts of ills?

I try to avoid plastic, although as an act of self preservation I am less militant than I thought I would be. Anyway, I found some demi-tasse spoons that are stainless steel and the perfect size to feed babies with. I have less guilt, and the kids like them just fine. I Freecycled half the plastic spoons, and mosly use the demitasse ones unless we are traveling.

Demi tasse spoon
Plastic 'disposable' baby spoon
Regular tea spoon

No-Knead Bread

I got this recipe from my dad, who got it from the NYT. It is cheap, easy, and just look at how lovely. We added chopped fresh rosemary and coated it with olive oil before baking to mimic the $4 per loaf artisan bread that I used to buy. It was fantastic. Get to baking!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Daylight Savings

The time warp that is daylight savings here in the US caught us.  Both babes were awake at 6 am.  H-Mama and I dozed while they played on the bed with us.  We watched Sesame Street and then Thomas the Tank Engine (bless you, PBS!) and then, by a miracle of epic proportions, we all fell back asleep.  Monito and I were up by 10:30, and H-Mama and Pequita slept until noon.  Which was really 1 pm, new time.  I feel better than I have in weeks.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Hairy

Voila. The boy has a skull profile.

How to Amuse Babies in a Hotel




With three days to kill in a hotel in a strange town, there are some key activities to keep in your arsenal. I have listed a few choice ones here.

Help Unpack, then Play Hide-And-Seek.
First, slide one half of the mirrored closet door open and move all the clothes Mommy just unpacked into the dresser drawers into the bottom of the closet. Then, after housekeeping leaves the room door open for a few moments accidentally, slide the other side of the closet door open and hide quietly until your mommy finishes running up and down the hallway yelling your name trying to find you - then jump out and giggle. Pat her gently while she pants with relief.


Crayon Wall Art
Take this opportunity to discover the beautiful effects that a pink crayon can make on textured wallpaper. Don't limit yourself to just the one wall - other walls may be different, so try them all.


Find the Cheerio In the Sea of Carpet.
Trust me. From a distance, this is harder than it looks.





Play a Counting Game
Mommy will certainly want to know how many wipes she has left so as not to run out at an inopportune time. Make sure the package is almost impossible to reload through its tiny hole, it is the only pack Mommy packed, and that it is a brand not sold anywhere near the hotel.


Teach Your Bubba to Stand
Keep laughing and lure him over to the hearth, then push his diapered butt up so he can stand. Keep doing this each time he gets distracted or falls down. Don't laugh when Bubba gets his first real war wound & bloody nose from his efforts. Wave hello to concerned hotel staff who flock to the lounge at the persistant and loud screams that Bubba offers. (Hi, Jorge and Manuel!)





Play in the Elevators.


They are all different, so check out each one and each floor. Some have mirrors!






Play Find The Orange Bead Bracelet All Over the Hotel.
Mommy will hide it in each lounge open to the public, including the gym, and you find it over and over again.



Have a Snack.
The first company to make a foul-tasting bitter but still non-toxic crayon will make a fast million.





Sing a Song.
Sing an ode to Mommy's ever-so-upstate-clearly-not-cityfolk Birkenstocks. This is endlessly amusing.






Go Bowling.
Fondle the bowling balls. Make sure to insist Mommy lets you keep poking her teeth because they glow blue in the black light. Pretend not to notice the other patrons laughing at her.






Enjoy the Arcade
Insist that Mommy pay fifty cents for you to ride the Incredible Hulk toddler ride, then freak out and refuse to finish the gentle swaying back and forth while a crazy green man pretends to eat your brains from behind you. Make sure you are dressed to the nines in leopard print. A low-class venue is no excuse to go slumming with your fashion choices.



Ride the out-of-order steeplechase horse instead to calm down. Phew.


Note that complete and utter overstimulation and horrifying volumes results in comatose infants. Toddlers? Not so much.

Take a Nap.
While you wait for Mama to return, have a little rest. Sleep is optional, but some rejuvination is in order.

From Thursday

Home again, home again, with a blissful 54 mbs wireless speed.


----

Thursday, March 6


I drove from our hotel in New Rochelle to the Bronx on Wednesday. I dislike driving with no copilot surrounded by crazy people with no break down lanes WHILE navigating with a Google Map ("was that 0.8 miles before the next turn or 1.8?") Thankfully, I did fine, even when encountering cars backing up an on-ramp at 45 mph because they didn't want to get caught in a traffic jam on the parkway. (The parkway backup, by the way, was because an 18-wheeler was too tall to fit under the bridge it tried to go under at 55 mph. It was on its side blocking two lanes of traffic. That must have been quite the spectacle.) Who backs up a one-way on-ramp with traffic hurtling towards them? New York City drivers. I had the kids in the car with me, and they were strapped into their convertible car seats so tightly that I suspect neither could take a deep breath with ease. I learned how to drive in Boston; I am no naive bumpkin. However, I think New Yorkers are crazier than us.


I had a lovely visit in the Bronx with my sister's partner's mother. She has a nice little apartment that is arranged to maximize her space. This means that 1/3 of her belongings are below thigh level = at Pequita's eye level, and ripe for Monito to pull up to and grab. My little marauders. Luckily, there were enough toys and a park across the street with at train-shaped jungle gym that the only damage was a little mud on the beige carpet, a few plant leaves ripped apart, and one broken vase. It was a welcome change from hotel amusements, since it was still rainy and windy. Plus, two rides across town = two naps. The twenty minute drive took me an hour on the way over, and only 25 minutes on the return. I am super once I have navigated a route once, but the first time anywhere can be hard.


I chatted with my mom while the babes slept for an hour in the hotel parking lot. She's planning quite the little shindig around my nephew's birthday weekend after next, since we will also be there. Perfect grandbaby showing-off time, and more power to her since we made her wait as long as we did. It will be Monito's first meet-and-greet with most folks, and I'm looking forward to showing him off a bit, even with the scab on his nose that learning to walk keeps renewing.


We are heading home today, and it has actually been a lovely trip. A little too over stimulating for all of us, though, so our relatively quiet Homestead will be welcome. Homestead Mama's training ends at 3pm. Late checkout is at 1pm. She is 15 minutes away, and only gets 45 minutes for lunch. This feels like a math word problem: How much time will it take a single adult to load 9 bags into a Volvo station wagon with two babies, a double stroller, and a small elevator? 5 extra points if you can figure out how to get in the regular naps at 10:30 am and noon. 25 extra points if you can figure out how to guard the car, which will inevitably have the huge toys given to us by our friends here in New Rochelle, strapped to the roof rack, for two hours while keeping the children happy. My guess? I'll be hunkered down in the penthouse sitting area enjoying the expanse of carpeting with all the walkers, ball poppers and riding hippo toys and wait for H-mama to help me finish loading. Admit it. You wish you could be me for the next several hours.


Update: (Since I cannot get online with the generous 1 mps that the free wireless is averaging today, this could be a long post.) Monito went down for 45 minutes at 10 am, Pequita cried and nursed to sleep at 11am after bonking her nose twice in as many minutes. There will be no early packing of the car.

We're home!

This means I'll be able to post some pictures.  And actual posts.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Screen Cleaner

Now the chorus of More! More! More! that Pequita hollers when gesturing towards the laptop isn't necessarily a request for Hippos with Noodles on their Backs.  http://www.invasioncreations.com/Flash/Noodles.htm

It might be the nice new screen cleaner found here: http://www.chalnet.net/swf/screenclean.swf
You know, it has always been tough getting the inside of the screen clean.  No longer.

Awesome.

Sunrise and Shoes

Pequita loves shoes. She also loves balancing things on thin edges. Thus the game of "Show Your Shoes the Sunrise" is born.

Westchester County

We arrived in the down-state area around 10pm last night after a blessedly uneventful drive.  As always, the kids loved being in a hotel room so we didn't get to sleep until around midnight, but the kids were awake at 7:30am as usual.  I totally do NOT know how they do that.  We awoke in the nice suite hotel with a view of a river - not sure yet which one, but odds are it is the Hudson.  Monito and I didn't so much 'wake up' as 'never settle down enough and stop twitching long enough to do more than doze'.  I remember this learning-to-walk time with Pequita; she took weeks to get back to a good nights rest.  She did do it, though, so I just have to soldier on and focus on the cute behavior. 

Homestead Mama went off to her training at 8am, and we can smell the scent of a buffet breakfast down the hall, so are about to get dressed and zip down there for sustenance.  The hotel is next to a huge entertainment center, with arcades, bowling, go carts and movie theaters.  I suspect that we can exhaust all of us just by running around in that area for a little while until both kids drop into a nap. 

Since the wireless is clearly working, I'll post more later.  The babies are entranced with the room, the sliding mirrored doors to the closet, the kitchenette.  This leaves me with time to blog!


Sunday, March 2, 2008

BBC Surveys

I only got 10 out of 20 smiles pegged right.  A very poor score, given that I think of myself as a fairly good reader of people.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/mind/surveys/smiles/

And there are more tests here, if this Sunday finds you bored and with time on your hands (or your Monday needs a little easing into at work.)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/mind/index_surveys.shtml

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Fingerprinted

Well, I fixed it.  We have some connections in the nearby big city, and instead of waiting a week and a half for a local appointment to get reprinted, I took the kids up to visit Homestead Mama at work yesterday and had one of her buddies print me.  Work that system, I say. 

Right on.  Almost back on track.  And I got a nice Chinese food lunch out of it.