Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pretend Play

Monito is such a different kid from Pequita. He pushes every button he encounters - he has reprogrammed our fridge, washer/dryer, cell phones, etc. Numerous times. He opens cupboard doors and drawers (and then rummages through the stuff inside) when Pequita barely notices them. He has hit the testing / defiant phase already, and spends a lot of his day snatching the toy pequita is actively playing with, or the Wusthoff paring knife I set down for one second, and running away with it at top speed, ignoring my cries to STOP RIGHT THERE BUDDY! Consequently, he has started having time outs a lot earlier than his sister.

This past Monday I took them to play at my sister's house. Monitor got frustrated when he was denied the toy his sister had and he yanked her hair enough times as I was using my words to get him to stop that I said, "ENOUGH" and whipped him onto a far couch to sit until I released him. Peace returned to the room, but Pequita didn't return to her toy as usual. She walked over and stood right in front of me, smiled, and yanked on her own hair. It was immediately obvious what was called for. "Oops! You BAD girl! You aren't allowed to pull hair! Time out for you!". All with a big smile on my face. She giggled all the way over to the couch and happily settled into her 'time out' as I affirmed in a stage whisper that we were just pretending. She now frequently copies exactly what her brother does that elicits a big response and demands the same (although play acting) response from us. It is a great way to explore good/ bad behavior, consequences, and to lighten up the mood in the room.

Kids are so smart.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Churchy goodness

Since I'm visiting my parents, we went to church this morning. Not for services, since Mom still can't sit up for that long since it is only 2 weeks after her knee replacement and I didn't think my kids could handle it and I have NO idea what the Sunday school policies for drop-ins are. There was a big Thanksgiving meal after services which we went attended. Their UCC church is amazing. I went there all through high school, and the youth group really saved my mental health a few times. The congregation there? Truly warm, wonderful and amazing. They all flocked around me and my babies and cooed, hugged us, commented on how cute and smart they were, and told me how much they value my parents in their lives. My mom believes in God, my dad's an atheist who loves community building, religious theory and volunteers many hours a week to the church. Mom spearheaded the Open and Accepting movement years ago, after which the church openly recruits and accepts GLBT members (and has several Family families who are members). The associate pastor is a lesbian. I tend to be agnostic, but have always really thought it would be cool if we could prove that there was a God. The folks I know and love who believe really get a lot out of it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lead, revisited.

Pequita had her two year old blood test for lead, and scored a 10.4. Any score over 10 buys you a one way referral to the health department consult. We had her retested a week later, and did Monito at that time too, since if she was spiking the odds were good that he might be too. She had gone down to 8.2, and Monito is at a lovely 1.3.

The health department nurse came with her lead-testing dudes in tow and told me a crapload of stuff I already knew. I hate suffering through someone's spiel when they are unable to edit or adapt it for a new situation. The testing dudes checked a couple pieces of furniture and surprised me when one that I thought was safe tested hot for lead. I have an appointment for them to return with a crew of consultants a week from Tuesday; Pequita scoring over 10 won us the lead lottery, and means we get a free house/yard test with the $12,000 machine which I'm totally excited to get. I want the issue resolved once and for all.

Embarassment of...not posting

Sheesh. I am in Boston at my parents. I drove with the kids on Friday, leaving Homestead Mama behind to work through Tuesday. I've been wanting to travel with the kids to see my parents & sister for months, but have been intimidated by the daunting task of parenting them by myself, nursing them both 24 hours a day by myself, tackling bedtime by myself. I could only go where I have excellent support, which is why I was thinking of Boston and not somewhere perhaps more exciting, but with no grandparents to spell me.

In the last few weeks, H-Mama and I have begun a new nighttime ritual with the babes. We've had a hijacked evening life since the kids were born, nursing them down, fetching them from their cribs to comfort them whenever they cried, and once they awakened in the night pulling them into the family bed for the remainder of the night. This system fit our desire to attachment parent, our belief that easy = best, and our complete confoundment at how to crib/sleep train two babies by two lactating women. (Usually the father or non-lactating mom goes in to comfort a kid in the night.) Firstly, we never told them that daylight savings happened; we kept their old 8pm bedtime, but it is now 7pm. They don't know the difference, and we get more evening time. We now go into the nursery and the kids pick out two books each, then we brush their teeth and pile onto our big queen bed. We turn out all the lights, turn on the white noise machine (which admittedly is mostly for me, except that it does muffle noises for the kids, too) and read our books by flashlight. We then sing about 4 songs while we nurse the kids, then we put them into their respective cribs which flank our bed. For the first few days they cried with the horror of the whole situation. We let them go for about 10 minutes, then went up and let them nurse and they crashed within 90 seconds. We then stretched out the time we made them wait for us to go up - at one point they were crying for 30 minutes or so before we'd go up. Then, kind of suddenly, they seemed to get it. They fussed, they might cry for a few minutes, but they settled down fairly quickly. Pequita has a flashlight and a few books, and she reads and sings herself to sleep some nights. Monito usually fusses a bit and then quiets down. This is a huge success! We still go up to nurse them if they wake up in the hours before we go to bed, but they are both cutting molars and are sick, so we'll stop that once their mouths settle down.

We made this shift for us, but it works well for me travelling alone with them. Tubby, books with grandma and then songs with grandpa, who has a beautiful voice and makes even a song about bloodshed and murder sound peaceful and lovely. He sang it to us when we were kids, and I have a soft spot in my heart for it. When we were just little kids, my sister and I would ride our bikes around the neighborhood bellowing lyrics like:

"As Abdul's long knife was extracting the life —
in fact he was shouting "Huzzah!"
He felt himself struck by that wily Kalmyk,
Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar."

So H-Mama is home, admittedly lonely, but getting some things done that we haven't had time to do and really wanted to. I am having a super time here - Mom had purchased a massage for me, and the nice gay masseuse showed up with his table and heated shearling pad at 9 am this morning. Mom and Dad tended the kids while I had 17 months of co-sleeping and side-lie nursing rubbed out of my shoulders. The kids definitely miss their Mama, but it isn't as overwhelming as I had feared. Pequita has a hard time at bedtime, when she usually got her most concentrated time with Mama.

I feel quite guilty about leaving H-Mama behind. She has to pump a few times a day to keep her meager milk supply from drying up. I had forgotten this fact entirely, total humdar moment. And she is lonely. I would be too, but I think I would enjoy the time to myself a lot. H-Mama has a lot of stress on her, working full time in a job that completely overstimulates and strains her nerves, then coming home to kids who overstimulate her and strain her nerves. She maintains a higher level of frustration with the kids than I do; she prefers older kids, while I really like the baby & toddler times. I thought that the time alone in the house would help her appreciate the clutter, mayhem and cacophony a bit. It might, but for now she is rattling around in a medium-sized homestead by herself without me to entertain her, and without the babies she loves so dearly. I definitely have the better deal, I think. She'll drive out on Tues night and stay with us through Sunday after Thanksgiving, then we'll all return together. It will be amazing to be reunited. It is also a really good thing to miss the people you love. Distance certainly helps me value what I take for granted.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Embarassment of riches

I drove the babes through downtown to get them to sleep; we are parked outside the store at which we will start our afternoon errands. They fell asleep at 1 pm and are BOTH STILL ASLEEP. This is good on the one hand, since we were all awake many times last night due to one or all of us coughing, blowing our noses, smearing our copious snot on the pillows we all end up sharing*, and any extra sleep is a good thing. But long time readers know that my kids a) rarely sleep at the same time, and b) rarely nap for more than 45 mins. So today, when I fortify my morning coffee with a big diet coke to try to make it through the day with no nap of my own, today when I timed my caffeine intake (read: bladder capacity) perfectly for our standard timing, TODAY is the day they sleep on and on and on. I am sitting in my car ruminating on the fact that the bastard lawmakers who made it illegal for me to leave the kids alone and sleeping in the car for three measly minutes while I dart into a store to pee we're CLEARLY CHILDLESS.

*i hope it goes without saying that this is the kids and not Hmama or me.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pequita's favorite private time

When she wakes from a nap in the car, I pull her up to the front seat and she gets to sip my drink, eat pretzels and nurse while Monito sleeps on in the back seat. She really loves her private Mommy time. I love it too.
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I'm still here. My days are jam packed, between constructive house tidying and reorganizing, canning and baking, ongoing renovations, dealing with constant strong chronic pain in my bum ankle and getting several inches of surgical records tranferred to a local new orthopedic surgeon. The knowledge that I need a third ankle fusion depresses me and activates my surgical PTSD, making me want to stay in bed all the time.

This is in addition to keeping the babes alive, fed, happy, clean, and making sure they get to playgroup on Mon, hosting playgroup at the homestead on Wednesdays. And they are both cutting molars right now, so nursing incessantly and not sleeping very well. Yawn.

H-Mama has a huge exam in early Dec to get certified to enable her to get a *much* deserved promotion and she can't find time to study. She is a little overwhelmed, as I guess I am. We aren't getting along as smoothly as usual, and had a lovely fight first thing yesterday about something stupid, but based on problematic underlying communication issues. It feels so damned impossible to make headway on our few relationship issues that linger after 8.5 years together with our breakneck speedy lives. Being busy is but one impediment, though; my style is to actively process everything quickly and with vigor right away while it is fresh. H-Mama's style is to stew about things for days before bringing it up, or not talk at all. Period. And never the twain shall meet. Sigh. To her credit, she goes to therapy with me and alone to keep working on things. And by some blessed good luck, we have a pretty good therapist who had 5 kids of her own, gets the quagmire we live in, and therefore is willing to make house calls after the kids go to sleep. So yesterday we fought in the morning, did our own thing for a couple hours, made up mid-morning, and at 9:30 pm were settling into our living room with our therapist and tea and cookies for some productive work. See - even our emotional loves are breakneck.

Clearly, both kids napped today at the same time. Pequita just awoke in a storm of snot and coughing, though, so I'll have to sign off. (I love having internet on my phone; if I didn't, you all would never be reading this, as I wouldn't have time to write it.)

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Asian pears

We picked six bushels of apples and pears yesterday. Six. I have just a tad od processing to do. We gave one bushel to my good friend with three thriving - read HUNGRY - preteen boys, and the rest I'll end up canning. Picking the asian pears was amazing. Being high up on the ladder in the sun with no one around, no souinds but the wind and fauna. The pears have withstood a couple good frosts, so the ripe ones are slightly rosy and soft, and the skin barely contains the juice. They have almost started to ferment, so when you bite into the pear the juice is cool, delicate and sweet like a liqueur. Really amazing. It seems a waste to mix them into applesauce, so I might try to make some pear jelly and maybe some juice, too.
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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunday Morning Rituals

Monito always wakes up early; I come downstairs with the loud boy and change his diaper. He has started asking for nay-nay time, which means he wants to feel the cool autumn air against his naked butt. Since it is now cold, I dress him in a hat, a warm shirt and slippers and leave the rest to the breeze. I have bitten the bullet and let the kids start playing with water IN THE HOUSE. No nice water table outside in the yard, no tidy hose to spray on the grass. It is in the house where tides of water splashing on the floor and cabinets have equated mess in the past; now, Mommy sucks it up and lets the kids experiment and figure out about gravity and bubbles.

I put on the coffee; he helps me measure out the grounds and fill the reservoir and push the ON button. Monito then sidles his cute, long-limbed half-naked self up to the extra-deep farm house kitchen sink, which I bought with baby baths and water play in mind. I push his tower up to the counter and he climbs up. I fill two pans with hot water and offer him many kitchen implements to play with. There is much squealing and splashing while I sit and sip coffee brewed with nutmeg and he plays. Once Pequita starts chirping upstairs - that girl wakes up happy! - I fetch her and she joins her brother at the sink. His favorite activity at this point is filling the cut up pieces of sponge with water and then squeazing them dry onto the floor while I recite my mantra - it is just water it is just water it is just water. Pequita prefers a more methodical approach, and uses the mesh ladle to scoop sponges out of one pan and transfer them to the other bowl. After everyone is thoroughly soaked and done playing, we have a hot shower and get dressed.

Today promises to be a gorgeous sunny and cool day, and we are going back to the orchard to pick apples to make into more applesauce. The end of the season means it is only ten dollars per bushel, and with the depression coming I feel like really filling the pantry now.

I Vant to Be Alone [with my pretzel]

Saturday, November 1, 2008


We have been having campfires in our backyard. We bundle up, the kids help Homestead Mama pile up the wood and start the fire while they learn about fire, heat, and safety. Then we have s'mores and hunker down and sing songs, watch the sunsets, and enjoy the fall weather.

Also, in this batch of pictures is an example of Monito's new favorite face. He does this in utter playfulness, and will scream with laughter if you mimic it back to him. He is developing quite the sense of himself and humor. He is covered in some of my applesauce that I added grapes to. It is, as Monito is pointing out, delicious.


I found a plastic carousel at the local thrift store. It was $3, and has lovely animals, lights, the horses go up and down and it plays 5O songs. On eBay it sells for $85. For Pequita and Monito, it is priceless. They sit in awe and watch it each night, taking turns manning the controls. The joy is immense. I think we will pack it away each year and bring it out for Christmas as a special toy. When I was a kid, this kind of thing was so special. I really like sharing the same kind of wonder and delights with my kids.

Lead Again

While I was having my gall bladder out, Pequita had her two year old lead check and H-Mama had her 43 year old blood panel. H-Mama's cholesterol is slightly elevated, which was a sad surprise. The doc prescribed increased fiber and a glass of red wine each night. H-Mama is diligently trying to keep up with this.

Pequita has a blood lead level of 1O.2. Can I just say goddamn it? God only knows where it is coming from now. I bought a big box of lead swabs today to start testing, but suspect I will just pay the health department to come to our house to do a thorough testing of all surfaces interior and exterior. She goes back for a retest next weekend, and I'm taking Monito in for one too. I am really surprised and irritated, and of course worried. This is such bad news.


I've been feeling very much like baking since it has gotten cold. This has matched well with the holidays and all my recent time off, a.k.a. surgical recovery. I've made brownies, finished canning [with Mom's help], two batches of cookies, and I've got a bunch of cookie dough frozen for future cookie cutter fun with the kids. Having my parents here to help with my surgery was super. Extra hands, good company, so much attention for the kids, and always someone to chat with, play with, or help me get around afterwards when I couldn't drive. I started missing them before they even left last Thursday.

Coming off of my latest surgery, I totally sold out for the easy path this year and got both kids matching pumpkin costumes for Halloween. A week ago, on Saturday night, my moms group had a party with 45 people or so in a gymnasium we rented. Good potluck food, lots of activities and toys and much jovial milling about. It *might* have been overdoing it just 2 days after my gall bladder surgery, but was a lot of fun. I made sugar cookies and frosted them with Pequita's help. She really liked it. I let the kids frost their own cookies later, which involved a bit more frosting in their mouths and a little less frosting on the cookies.
We also went to the local grocery store Halloween candy give-away where we strolled around the whole store and the babes were given handfuls of candy in their pumpkins by costumed staff. In my anticipation of their enjoyment of being in and seeing other kids dressed in costumes, I overlooked the tiny fact that they aren't really allowed to eat candy but do really like it. Once Pequita and Monito figured out what was being dropped in their buckets, all desire to admire costumes, greet their friends, even to continue walking through the store, ceased. They sat hunched next to the tomato display plunging their hands into their plastic pumpkins and coming up with fistfuls of chocolate bars, gum balls, tootsie rolls, and other items they just aren't allowed to eat. I acquiesced and let them nibble on chocolate bars for a little while, which might have had something to do with the hour of screaming I endured on the drive home, through tubby time, and didn't end until we were warm, pink, pajama-clad and settled into tandem nursing on my bed. Homestead Mama had to work late and missed the joy. It was a true delight to have her arrive and help ease the household into sleep. I think we will have no more trick-or-treating until the kids are begging for it and allowed to enjoy some of the spoils.
One pleasure we *have* been enjoying is The Gingerbread Baby, illustrated by Jan Brett. Every night we read it at least once and finally I made gingerbread cookies. We can all enjoy them, as they only have a half cup of brown sugar. Little people, cats, dogs and hammers, all with white frosting. I found the hammer cookie cutter at Salvation Army, and knew immediately that my little tool nut would love it. Right now, Monito's favorite thing is Nunu, a.k.a. vacuum cleaners. He is a bit annoying about them, kissing them goodnight before he will consent to go to sleep, asking for them immediately upon waking in the morning. His favorite activity is for me to spread shredded paper on the floor for him to suck up as he makes little slurping sounds. He is also enamored of all things construction and cleaning, toting around brooms, drills, 2x4 lengths. We have bought him his own tape measure, which he treasures. He is only 16 months old. Below, they are brandishing their gingerbread hammer cookies. They were the clear favorites.