Isabella at 3 Years, 3 Months

So, in the heat of last week's posts, I completely forgot to write Isabella's monthly update.

Isabella has had an interesting month. She's preparing for Oscar season not by catching all the great movies out now (of which I have seen none) but instead by prepping for her Best Actress in a Dramatic Role award. I'm not sure if she does it for attention, or to copy the babies, but wrong the child and she will burst into epic and completely fake crying jags the likes of which I have never seen before from her. It's easy to tell when she's faking and when the tears are legit now, because she can (and does) stop on a dime when she's crying to impress. She could be in the midst of an arm-flailing screaming fit, and if I were to say, "Hey-want a cookie?" she would immediately stop and say, "Sure!"

Little Miss is developing quite the sense of humor. My sister sent this hilarious book written by Andy Warhol's nephew (seriously, go order it for your kids right now. Thank me later) to the twins for their birthday, and Isabella has commandeered it as her own and makes me read it to her constantly. At one point in the book, Uncle Andy (Warhol's) cats take a nap in his wig drawer. A few weeks ago, I was getting dressed in my room and Isabella was with me. I said to her, "I don't know what to wear!"

And she said, laughing, "Look in your wig drawer!"

I love, love, love it that my kid has a sense of humor.

Last week, we had Isabella's room painted. If you remember, she wanted a red room. We ended up painting one big wall and one small, recessed wall red. I'd post a photo, but the room isn't finished and I am still on a desperate search for a cute red rug (preferably polka dot or striped) for it. The day after her room was painted, I went in to get her in the morning and I found her laying on her back, her feet propped up against her headboard looking at her red wall. I asked her if she loved her wall, and she said, "Yes, I really, really do." Score one for mom.

And speaking of scoring one for mom, I came up with a genius plan to get Isabella to start taking naps again (and it doesn't even include Benadryl!). Isabella began to give up her nap just before her 3rd birthday in August. Since that point, I've continued to put her in her room for around 2 hours from 1pm-3pm, and she's spent that time singing at the top of her lungs, rearranging her furniture, breaking my work concentration, and waking up her brother and sister.

So one day a few weeks ago, I told her that if she took a nap that day, she could stay up for a little while after the babies went to bed (they normally go to sleep at the same time between 7 and 7:30) and we would watch a few minutes of the Winnie the Pooh DVD the previous owners of this house left in the built-in cabinet in our family room.

Guess what? It worked. She napped, and we let her stay up for about 15 minutes while the 3 of us watched part of the DVD together.

And it has worked almost every day since.

I continue to feel as if I am short-changing her. I am constantly forced to tell her "not right now" when she asks me to play something with her that the babies can't be involved in. This rules out most of her toys, because so many have small parts that they babies would swallow faster than you can say mini Lego. I'm not able to read as much with her as we both would like. I can't engage with her on a one-to-one basis. I feel as if she is full of such incredible potential, and because of the neediness of the super-mobile twins, it's languishing. I don't understand how parents of more than one child can give each child what he/she needs. It is so difficult for me, and I feel like a failure at the end of every day.

But today was a good day.

She didn't nap (which is rare these days), and was calling me to see if she could get up. I went to her room, and she asked me if we could play with her dollhouse. Usually after naps, I bring the babies into her room, and we can play with the dollhouse for a few minutes while they entertain themselves with a train set I keep in her closet for exactly this purpose. But it's usually brief, and before long, the babies are scaling the walls, the furniture, and are getting into everything in her non-babyproofed room. But today, Luci and Nico were asleep. And I was able to give my full attention to Isabella and what she wanted to do.

And she (and I) had a blast.

Current Likes: Hiding under blankets, Dinosaur Train, stealing the twins' snacks

Current Dislikes: Loud traffic noises, string cheese, and the idea of sitting on Santa's lap (which we are desperately trying to talk up)

When There's Nothing Between the Lines

I've made my living with words for the past 11 years. I make it a point to write clearly. Most of my work is in the technical writing field, so precision is important, but I also try to write clearly in my personal life as well.

I like to think I'm a fairly skilled communicator. This isn't always the case, of course, but by and large, companies have been paying me to convey their messages to the public for many years now, so I think I'm pretty good at what I do.

Which is why it's very frustrating to me that several commenters on my last post seemingly did not even bother to read what I had written before commenting. Of course, these were individuals who hadn't ever commented on this blog, and who had probably never even visited IW before.

But comment they did, because apparently what they read in my last two posts was that I was somehow advocating against father's rights.

Silly me. I thought I had written about how awesome it was that my husband got the kids out of my hair for three hours one Saturday by taking them to a coffee shop and how it would be nice to receive the accolades he does for doing the same. I also thought I had written about how men fail to see the double standard, and questioned why it was that more dads weren't angry at being marginalized (because really, when people praise fathers for being fathers, they're in essence saying that society doesn't expect much of them).

But no. Apparently I was not being compassionate to dads fighting for equal parenting rights. One commenter even inferred that there are a lot of women (me?) trying to keep their children away from their fathers.


Here's my bottom line on this topic:

I want more paternal involvement, not less, because more of that = more time for me to regain my sanity without three children crawling up my leg and sucking out my brain cells and my will to live one meltdown at a time.

I think it's sad that more dads (married, not married, and divorced) aren't fighting the stereotype of the uninvolved, clueless father by pursuing equal parenthood.

And I think that one of the reasons the double standard women are up against every day is so demoralizing is because it pits men and women, fathers and mothers, against each other. When men receive heaps of praise for doing the very same things women do day in and day out without any recognition, it creates resentment and animosity. When women are the only ones criticized for so-called parenting missteps, while their husbands are being back-slapped for taking James and Jenny to their dentist appointments, chances are not everyone is going to be in a feel-good state of mind. This may not be the mommy wars, but the gender wars can be just as harmful.

I won't apologize for what I wrote to those who skimmed my last posts and misconstrued their meanings. I will only say that this is a very important topic for me, and I truly appreciate all the thought-provoking comments those of you who actually read my last two posts have left here.

Nerves. And How I've Hit Them

If you commented on my last post, you are either in

Camp A: Rock On, Sister


Camp B: Shut It, You Screeching, Unappreciative Harpie

Now, I've been known to act like a screeching, unappreciative harpie at times. Nobody's perfect, not even me. I realize this will come as a shock to many of you.

But, I wasn't when I wrote that post. And neither are those of you who agreed with what I wrote.

I find it very interesting that those of you who could relate to my experience were female, and that those who expressed a dissenting opinion were males.

I wonder why it is that (at least on my little blog) many men not only fail to see how the double standard affects women, but also perhaps more frightening, fail to see that it exists at all.

I wonder why so many of you are experiencing the same anger I am over the excessive praise being heaped upon our husbands, who are, after all, simply being fathers spending time with their kids.

And I wonder why so few fathers are disturbed by the adulation they receive for their parenting duties. And why they're not angered that their wives are not afforded the same treatment for theirs.

Michael, with all due respect, no one who commented on my last post was bashing her spouse. The problem I highlighted must be pervasive, or else so many of my other readers would not have taken the time to comment and agree. I agree with you- there are great husbands and fathers out there. But it's been my experience that those who really step up and who find the excessive praise ridiculous are few and far between. And speaking only for myself here, I find this sad.

Our society's portrayal of the typical dad might be partly to blame, as Andy suggested. If all we see are clueless, blundering, witless fathers on tv and in movies, then any dad who actually whips up breakfast on a Sunday morning, or takes the kids to the playground is a hero in comparison.

But I guess my main point in all of this is that this stereotype, and the rockstar treatment of fathers that may or may not be born of it shouldn't only anger moms, who in my opinion have the hardest job on the planet and receive very little respect or adulation for their efforts. It should really piss off today's fathers too. Why aren't more dads attempting to un-do the stereotype by creating an equal parenting relationship in their homes? Why aren't more fathers angered by the expectation that their wives are the ones who are mainly responsible for raising their children into contributing members of society?

These are questions that perhaps have no answers. Or maybe they do. If you feel so inclined, please leave a comment and discuss, because I am really enjoying this conversation. And if you feel as if I'm beating a dead horse, well, you can tell me that too.

To my readers in the States, Happy Thanksgiving.

Daddy Issues

The comments were seemingly innocuous.

We were at my husband's father's house, and the hubs mentioned to his stepmother how he had taken Isabella and the twins to a coffee shop to meet a friend and his kids earlier that day.

My stepmother praised my husband as if he had just announced a cure for cancer. She said how wonderful it was. How great for the kids and for him. She stopped just short of whipping some confetti out of her pocket and announcing an impromptu ticker-tape parade in his honor.

The hubs' stepmother is a very sweet woman, and she certainly didn't mean to hit a nerve, but her comments pissed me off.


Because I hear comments like those (about my husband and other fathers) All.The.Time.

Now, don't get me wrong. Those three hours the husband was gone with the Triple Threat a few Saturdays ago? Possibly the best three hours of my life thus far. I worked in uninterrupted silence. I enjoyed a full cup of coffee (or 12) that I didn't have to reheat 47 times. I basked in the ultra-rare silence in my house and seriously considered changing the locks to prevent them from entering when they returned.

But did he deserve the American Idol-winner treatment, because what he did went so beyond the boundaries of what's expected of fathers? I don't think so.

If I had mentioned that I had taken the kids to the coffee shop, to the store, the playground, the museum, or library storytime (all things I currently do or have done many times) no one bats an eye. I don't get back-slapped, praised, or made to feel as if my Mother Of The Year crown is in the mail. These things are Just What Mothers Do, aren't they?

But why is it, then, that when it comes to parenting, the bar for Fantastic!Fatherhood! is set so incredibly low?

Mothers who don't attempt to enrich their children's lives with cultural and social activities, who fail to enroll their offspring in the best preschools, the top-rated gymnastics class, the music class taught by a classically trained pianist are viewed just slightly better than Susan Smith. Mothers are dinged when their kids leave the house without their school lunch bags, when a permission slip is forgotten, when the three-year-old arrives at preschool without a hat on a cold day.

But fathers? Fathers just basically have to show up. And when they go slightly beyond showing up, they're made to feel like heroes.

The double standard enrages me, but what bothers me even more is why this low-bar treatment isn't bothering more fathers.

Why is it that being expected to meet such a low level of achievement is seemingly fine with them? Why aren't we hearing more about truly equal parenthood?

What's been your experience with this double standard?

Whorehouse Red

The dismal state of the economy has affected my family. Certainly not to the degree that it's affected the families of many others, so in many ways, I've been lucky. The hubs has a job, I have my freelance work (although earlier this year it took a hit from clients cutting back), we were able to buy a new house, and we're still able to pay our bills. The kids will all have to find gainful employment upon their 5th birthdays, but we're surviving.

But like many, I realize that financial ruin can happen in an instant. One minute you're employed, and the next you're fighting with the cats over who received the bigger portion of Science Diet.
Which is why I've decided to open a side business. Out of my home. I'm targeting a specific client base, and although the location is far from ideal (what with the toys and various other kid paraphernalia around), I'm hoping the ambiance entices clients to spend now and spend often.
Behold, my brothel.

We're having several rooms in our house painted. I chose Glidden's Red Delicious for the walls in my family room. The extremely reputable, big-name paint store made a mixing mistake. And as a result, my living room ended up being painted Elmo Red. Clifford Red. Or, as I see it, Whorehouse Red.

My point-and-shoot camera does not do justice to the horror that was this red. It looks much darker and much more subdued in these photos than it looked in living color in my family room. I hesitated to even post these photos, because actually, the walls look not half bad in them.

But let me assure you, they did not.

I knew immediately that something was wrong. I told our painter, a friend of the family, that it looked a LOT lighter and brighter than it should be, and he said that it would dry darker. When the first coat dried, it was still way off from what it should have looked like. He was suspicious that something was wrong as well, but painted a small section of one wall with a second coat, in case the true color wasn't coming through with just a single coat, and that was the problem. He said to check it out in the morning to see what it looked like.
That night, sitting in the middle of the Red Light District watching tv, I was having a visceral reaction to the walls. I loathed it. I wanted to take a butter knife and spend all night scraping it off. I had a vision for the red I wanted in the room, and this couldn't be farther from it.
The next day, I went to Large Big Box Store (not where I bought the first gallon) and tried again. This time, I knew the color was a lot closer to Red Delicious even before it went on the walls. Our painter came over that night, began to paint over Whorehouse Red and all was right with the world.
Tomorrow, we're having one wall (and a small recessed wall) in Isabella's room painted a different red altogether. This is what she's been wanting since we moved into the house and she declared she "doesn't like purple" and wanted a red room. She's getting one wall in red as a compromise. I am terrified, as visions of our Clifford-red living room are still embedded in my mind. I know it's just one wall (as opposed to the entire room), but I am nervous nonetheless. I'm currently looking for a red polka dot rug for her room, and having a very hard time finding one. Pottery Barn made one, but it's discontinued. Then, I need to find some cute white curtains (her windows are on the red wall) to finish off the room.
In case you're interested, here are some before-and-after photos of our living room/dining room, which was once a perfectly nice taupe, but is now blue. We also got rid of the awful faux-finish in our kitchen and downstairs bathroom (we have a downstairs bathroom!), and had it painted in a pale yellow instead.

Frame of Reference

Isabella has hated having her picture taken for over a year now. Each time I break out the camera, she either runs away, throws her hands over her face, or scowls and/or frowns at the camera. Bribery attempts (Candy! Cookies! Caillou!) don't work, and neither do pleas that mommy will cry if you don't let her take just one photo of you. 99% of the photos of her that you see on this blog were highly covert attempts that took more energy and stealthiness than any mother should have to exert to take a damn photo of her kid.

Yesterday was Picture Day at Isabella's preschool. Her school is semi-cooperative, and parents have to serve on two committees. I'm on the Fundraising committee (under which school photos fall), and back before the school year started, I volunteered to herd the kids to the room where photos were taken, and once they were there wipe snack off faces, pick dried Play-doh off shirts, and attempt to tame wild preschooler hair before the kids were put in front of the camera.

Half of me didn't even want to bother putting Isabella through the photoshoot, but even more than that, I didn't want to expend the energy of getting her photo-ready, because I figured there was no chance in hell we'd end up with a decent picture to buy. But I did, and she looked very cute.

Her pictures did not.

I tried standing behind the photographer and making funny faces while she yelled "Stinky Cheese! Stinky Cookies!" in an attempt to get the little curmudgeon to even crack a semblance of a smile. I tried hiding behind the equipment, figuring she might follow directions better if she didn't see me.

Isabella was having none of it.

I had very low expectations for the event, but I was still disappointed. I would have been more disappointed if I didn't have these.

At the end of the summer, we took advantage of a free photoshoot offered by a photographer friend of one of the hubs' friends. She wanted experience shooting newborn twins, and wondered if we wanted to serve as her subjects. In return, she would give us a bunch of free photos. I figured if I couldn't convince Ness to come to NY and take photos of my kids, this would have to do.

The plan was originally to do the shoot when the twins were a few months old. We soon realized that given Luci and Nicholas', shall we say, "challenging" personalities, this wasn't going to happen. The colic lasted for way longer than anyone anticipated, and then we decided we wanted to wait for them to be sitting up on their own before we did the shoot.

On a beautiful day in September, we spent just short of 14,000 hours preparing the kids and schlepping gear, toys, and ourselves to a park to have photos taken. It became immediately apparent that things weren't going to turn out well. The photographer could only meet us at 11:30am, which is close to the kids' lunchtime. Isabella didn't want her photo taken (no surprise there) and the twins? Well, they were the twins. They fussed, cried, and screamed through most of the session.

The photographer, bless her unprepared-for-the-maelstrom-that-is-my-family heart, tried her best. She took what seemed like thousands of photographs, just following Isabella around, pretending not to take her photo when she really was snapping away, and enticing the twins with anything and everything she could to eek some smiles out of them.

We left feeling bummed about the whole thing, but hey. It was free. So really, we didn't have much to complain about.

But when we saw the proofs, we realized that we didn't end up with perfectly posed photos that featured 100-watt smiles from our kids. Isabella, Luci, and Nicholas wouldn't be appearing in any Gap ads, and school picture days for Isabella are going to be a wash for the foreseeable future.

What we did get were pictures of them. No posed shots. No artificial smiles. But snapshots in time that represent what they were like in that moment. When I look at these photos of Isabella, I see her - the faces she makes when she's excited, happy, or about to laugh. And for me, these are so much better than my feeble attempt to force her to smile for the camera. The photographer captured the essence of my kids in a way I never could, and I'll always be grateful for that.

Oh, and speaking of essence, the session would not have been complete without a few shots of the twins. This one is cute

and these individual photos are nice too

But this one? This is Luci and Nicholas. Undeniably, unquestionably, my twin babies.

And it's our favorite shot of them by far.

Luci and Nicholas at 13 Months

The wee babes turned 13 months old today, and it's been a big month of milestones for both of them.

But first, The Evaluation, which was on Wednesday of last week. Two Early Intervention specialists (a speech therapist and a physical therapist) came to the house to assess the twins. The reason for their visit, as I mentioned here, was their pediatrician's slight concern that neither twin was pulling up or crawling on all fours yet. Nicholas decided to do both the day after his 12-month checkup. Luci started crawling on all fours a few weeks ago, but hadn't yet pulled up.

The visit was actually a lot of fun for the twins (shiny new toys to play with!) and super-informative for me. The therapists performed a full evaluation (speech, fine motor, and gross motor skills) by basically watching how the twins played with toys, moved around the room, and interacted with them, me, and eachother.

The result? Both babies are completely are completely average in the gross motor skills department for their adjusted age (11.5 months). Luci is obviously a little less advanced than Nicholas, but she's still fine. For speech and fine motor skills, both twins are average and even slightly abve average when compared with their peers (other 13-month-olds). They said that Nicholas is focused on his gross motor skills and that Luci is focused on her speech and fine motor skills, and that in a few weeks, they'll likely switch. Neither is going to qualify for any kind of therapy.

The speech therapist also told me that in a few months, the twins might develop their own language for communicating with eachother: twin talk. It will sound like gibberish to us, but to them, it will be a "secret" way to interact with eachother. Cool! But also, bizarre.

I'm glad I went through with the evaluation. If I didn't, and they didn't progress as they should, I wouldn't have been able to forgive myself.

Luci is now doing wonderfully with crawling on all fours. We've seen her pull up a handful of times (but still not consistently), but she really enjoys being upright. She loves to "walk" by holding our hands, and she likes playing at her table with her brother. Thanks again for this, Kellie!

Her language skills are really developing, and she blows kisses in addition to giving them, waves bye-bye, and follows simple instructions (hand me your sippy cup, press this button, give me a kiss, etc.). She's going through a bit of a mommyitis stage (which is proving difficult to deal with, since her brother has had this since birth), and she becomes wildly upset during diaper changes (thrashing, kicking, and crying), but in general is a sweet babe whom I've decided to keep (today anyway).

The feisty middle child is much more pleasant, calm, and low-maintenance during the day than her brother, but at night, all hell breaks loose. At least 4-5 times a week, she is awake and screaming in the middle of the night for over an hour. We can't figure out why. It's not a diaper issue, a warmth issue, or a sick issue. The hubs will try to rock her back to sleep after we let her CIO for awhile, and sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn't. This would be incredibly frustrating under normal circumstances, but with my workload, I'm going to bed between 11:30pm and midnight and getting up for the day around 6am. I am wiped out, and to have an hour of precious sleep snatched away sucks. Seriously, WTF gives, Luci-Lu?

Nicholas is a crawling, pulling up, beginning-to-cruise ball of trouble. He's obsessed with trying to open cabinets he shouldn't be in, and trying to escape from Shawshank, which we've recently re-erected in our family room.

He too waves bye-bye, gives kisses (his are accompanied by less drool than his sister's) and can follow directions when he's in the mood. His favorite activities include the "throwing the sippy cup off the tray" game and positioning his legs parallel to the floor when we lift him up and encourage him to hold our hands and practice walking. This is very odd, considering the boy loves to pull up on everything.My mom recently bought the kids a little CD player, and the boy adores dancing to the music.

I'm noticing a lot more interaction between them lately; mainly, if one of them has a toy, the other wants it and attempts to take it. Fights ensure, but so far, no bloodshed, although Nico did bite Luci's finger today when she wouldn't give up a book he wanted.

Both twins are going through a maddening fussy-eating spell. They are rejecting foods they used to love left and right. About the only constants in their diets are cheese, yogurt, Cheerios, and bread. Huh. This is eerily similar to my own diet. Herein may lie the problem.

I've all but eliminated their morning nap. If the twins weren't up by 7am, I used to wake them up and then put them down for an AM nap around 9. However, in the last few months, I found them either refusing to sleep in the morning, or else sleeping so well that they wouldn't sleep longer than an hour in the afternoon. Considering I still stash Isabella in her room for a "nap" each day for two hours along with the twins and then use that time to work, the afternoon nap is more important to me than the morning nap, during which I still had Isabella to care for. If they get up exceptionally early, I'll still put them down for a morning and afternoon nap. But I don't wake them up anymore, and more often than not, they're on a one-nap-a-day schedule.

And then there's nursing. I am still nursing them - Nicholas, only once a day, right before bed, and Luci before bed and also, before her nap, because she will not settle down for me unless I do. She stopped taking a pacifier around 5 months old, and I do believe that I am her pacifier.

I do not like being her pacifier.

I have lots to say on this subject. Stay tuned.

My twins are still hugely high-maintenance, but I'm beginning to think that if it was only Luci or Nicholas instead of Luci and Nicholas, I wouldn't think I had a high-maintenance baby, if that makes any sense. It's the fact that there's two that's making life so hard right now.


Likes: Using toys to pound the sh*t out of her brother's head, brushing her own hair

Dislikes: Diaper changes, her mother attempting to do anything else but hold her


Likes: Oscar-worthy crying jags, music

Dislikes: Connecting skull with sliding glass door, his mother attempting to do anything but hold him

Teeth Count: Nicholas 2, Luci 0 (The question is, will she break Isabella's record of 15 months of toothlessness?)

Word Count: Nicholas: Mama, Dada, Uh-oh, cat
Luci: Mama, Dada, Uh-Oh, hi
Diaper Size: Huggies Size 3
Clothing Size: 6-9 months, but mainly 9 months now

I am slowly climbing out of the work-induced hole I've been in for the last two weeks. I hope to return to a more regular blogging schedule this week, and to catch up with all your blogs. I know all of you will sleep better tonight knowing that.


On October 15th of last year, when I learned that my body had decided it was time to evict the twins or else, no one in my family seemed to get what twins born six weeks early had the potential to mean. There was lots of talk of, "Oh, they'll just be small" and not much else. Being a hyper-vigilant Type A who had done plenty of research on twins born at 34 weeks, I knew better.

I knew there were possibilities of delays, both physical and cognitive. I knew they could have been born with breathing problems and myriad illnesses. I knew they had the potential to have more wrong with them than just being small.

To this point, we've been very lucky. The twins are very small. At their 12-month checkup, Luci tipped the scales at 15 pounds, 14.5 oz and Nicholas weighed in at 16 pounds, 12 oz. Neither is even on the charts for weight or height, which means they are in the less than 5th percentile.

Because they were early, their skills are evaluated based on their adjusted age, so instead of having to meet milestones for a one-year-old, they are assessed based on the skills of a 10-and-a-half-month-old. But they've met their 12-month-old speech and fine motor skills milestones. Both twins say "Mama," "Dada," and "Uh-oh," (all in context). Luci says, "hi" and Nicholas makes the "Ca" sound for "Cat." They feed themselves, and they drink from their sippy cups. They look for dropped objects. Luci points to things she wants, and they're doing well on identifying body parts and objects around the house.

The one area where they seemed to be falling behind is their gross motor skills. At their 12-month appointment one day after their 1st birthday, I mentioned that neither twin was crawling on all fours or pulling up (both were commando-crawling on their bellies, however).

Their pediatrician didn't seem overly concerned, but said that crawling on all fours and pulling up was a 10-month-old milestone (although a quick check of Isabella's abilities at 10 months old revealed that she was only commando crawling. She was, however, pulling up). She suggested I call Early Intervention to have them evaluated for a deficit in their gross motor skills, although her hunch was that they were both going to be fine and crawling within a month. But if they didn't, they would have lost another month where they could possibly have received therapy to help them learn.

Oddly enough, hearing this news didn't bother me. Perhaps it would have if they were my first children. Isabella walked at 13 months, but one of her two best buddies didn't until she was 19 months. I wanted to get them evaluated and any help they might need in their babyhood, so they have a better chance of catching up to where they should be sooner rather than later. Preemies generally "catch up" to full-term babies by the age of two. I placed the call to set up the evaluation that day.

The following day, Nicholas decided it was high-time to start crawling on all fours. And pulling up. He is now a highly destructive, into-everything, pulling-up-on-everything force to be reckoned with.

Luci, however, is still a bit behind. About a week ago, she started crawling on all fours. She's not as fast as her brother, but she's getting there. She is not, however, pulling up. We've watched her do it only once. She will pull up to her knees, but that's as far as she gets. And it pisses her off.

She's frustrated she cannot climb up and over the step from our recessed family room into the kitchen, as her brother does. She cries when she can't pull up on the couch to see what we're doing up there. And it's heartbreaking.

My suspicion is that she's close. But I'm not sure. On Wednesday, two physical therapists will come to my house to evaluate both twins (I kept the appointment for both of them, just so I can have the peace of mind that they're both okay, and that if they're not, I'm doing everything I can to help them). Before they do, I have to fill out paperwork just slightly shorter than War and Peace on each of them, to give the evaluators an idea of their abilities and where they might fall short for their adjusted age.

Wish the little hellcats a bit of luck, won't you?

And Then There's This

The house, my work, the twins still-cranky temperments. The fact that Jon and Kate Plus Eight is ending. All of these are areas of my life marked by complete stress and anxiety.

But this little girl is my lighthouse in the storm.

I think I will stash her in my laptop bag when I run away to Bali.

House of Cards

You've been wondering how I'm getting settled, how the new job is going, and whether or not my sanity is still intact with all the Major Life Changes happening in one giant perfect storm of less-than-ideal timing. I've read your emails and I am so grateful for them. Of course, I've responded to your displays of kindness with the cold shoulder not just because I am a giant slacker who often spends her 10 minutes of kid-free time each day with her head in her hands, wondering which of the 14,000 items on her to-do list to tackle first, rather than, you know, actually tackling one of them items, but because to explain the ridiculousness of my life right now in an email message would probably max out the available storage in your Inboxes.

I am busier now than I've ever been in my life.

The House

We are moved in, but there are still unpacked boxes everywhere. The kitchen is settled, which I suppose is among the most important areas of the house, but there are unorganized toys everywhere, which makes me extremely anxious every time I see them.

This is the view from the cutout window in my kitchen. And yes, the family room/play area always looks like this, and more often, it looks worse than this.

The kids' rooms essentially have their cribs (and Isabella has her bed) in them, a dresser, and the all-important white noise machine, and that's about it. I need to do some major unpacking and rearranging of furniture among the three rooms (for example: Isabella no longer needs her combo changing table/dresser, so she needs to swap dressers with Luci. And Nicholas' clothes are still in the dresser we had in the twins' room at the old house, which is located in Luci's room). These are only two of the several dozen little things that need to get done, but for which I have no time whatsoever.

There are walls that need painting, a rug that needs professional steaming, two fireplaces that need cleaning and many, many other projects. None are getting done anytime soon.

Most depressing for me is that my office is still in boxes and not set up. I finally have a designated space of my own, and yet being in that room causes me a great deal of stress since it's full of clutter.

The view from my desk calms me down a bit, or at least it does when I'm not being summoned away from it 400,000 times every hour.

I despise living in a state of chaos. Of course, that's pretty much defined my life for the past year, but moving into this house and then not having the time to settle it because of having three non-sleeping kids around all day long and having tons of work to do (more on this soon) means that every time I enter a room, I see a project that needs completing or a box that needs unpacking. What I would not give for 24 hours in my house, alone.


The deal with freelancing is that when it rains, it pours. Not only have I begun teaching for Large Online University, but I have three freelance projects queued up as well. Where were these projects when I was desperate for work and not planning on moving anytime soon, just four months ago? I have taken all of them on because we need the money, because I want to work and enjoy working, and because I am a complete and total masochist. The timing of all these projects could not possibly be worse, but it's also forced me to put some thought into getting childcare help beyond what my older relatives are capable of. They come over a couple times a week for around two hours to help out with the kids, but because they're in their 80s, they can't watch all three kids at once, which means I still need to be visible and watching one or more of the kids (more often than not, the twins). On the rare occasion that I need to make a quick 15-minute run to the store solo, I come home and all hell has broken loose. It's too much for them (hell, my kids are too much for ME most of the time).

I have the number of a friend's babysitter's friend (follow that?) and I am thinking of having her over to watch the kids for one or two hours a few afternoons a week. I'm also contemplating dropping off one twin each at my grandma's and at my great aunt's one day each week on a day Isabella is in preschool for the morning. The only problem is that they live about 15-20 minutes from me, and by the time I did the drop off and drove all the way back home, I'd have an hour before Isabella would need to be picked up. But then we would come home and then she'd be in her room for her "Not A Nap" for 2 hours, so I could work during that time (as opposed to listening to the babies take turns screaming off and on for 2 hours, which is what I do now during their "naptimes").

I'm still working on a plan, but something's got to give because I cannot take on as much work as I have and cram it into the cracks of my day like I've been doing so far. I need childcare help, and I need it now.


I am a frazzled, exhausted, hot mess. My mom took one look at this photo from Halloween, which I had posted on FB, and immediately called me to tell me I looked like sh*t (in not so many words) and to ask me all the motherly questions as to whether I was getting enough sleep, rest, etc. Oh, hahahahahahahahhaha! Sleep and rest? What the hell are those?

Granted, I do look like hell, but I've become so accustomed to looking exactly like I look in this photo (12-inch-deep dark circles under my eyes and a "I-had-5-hours-of-sleep-and-12-cups-of-coffee-this-morning" expression on my face) that it's completely normal to me. In fact, I think I have to look back to 2005 (pre-Isabella) to see a decent photo of myself.

As you might imagine, I have been working late into the evening to stay on pace with my deadlines. This is the only time of my day when I know that I will not be interrupted by needy, screaming children. I have tried to beat them awake in the mornings by getting up at 6am and trying to work then, but each time I've done this, someone is up shortly after.

It's like they are purposefully trying to thwart my plans.

I may try to switch up my schedule by going to bed earlier and then getting up around 5am, but I can barely get up at 6am. Why, you ask?

Well, Luci has been getting up around 3am and crying for over an hour off and on every night for the last week or so. The hubs attempts to get her back to sleep (he can settle her down and I cannot, because she wants only one thing from me, and it's something she cannot get from him, if you catch my drift), but she wakes up and starts screaming again the second she's placed back in her crib.

I have no idea WTF her problem is, but when Mama goes to bed at midnight, Mama does not want to be awakened 3 hours later every.single.night.

Luci and Nicholas have had colds for the past week-and-a-half, making them even more challenging and needy and whiny than they normally are. By the time the hubs gets home each night, I am damn near suicidal and ready to run far, far away.

My grandma was over the other day, gushing over Isabella and the twins as she normally does, and I told her I cannot wait until the twins turn 3. I am not a baby person, and I cannot stand the level of need L & N have for me right now. It's suffocating. She, of course, told me that I will miss their babyhoods when they are Isabella's age, and maybe I will.

But two years from now, Isabella will be in kindergarten (I'm crossing my fingers that my district switches to full-day) and the twins will be in preschool (I am totally opting for the 3-day plan for them), and then?

Then, I can have my life back. I might miss their open-mouthed, slobbery baby kisses and the way they always want to be held, but I will not miss the crushing responsibility and constant attention they require.

Until that point, I see a lot of boxes staying unpacked, a lot of late nights, and a complete dearth of time for myself in my future.

Everyday is Halloween

Halloween in the House of Chaos and Insanity was a good one.

Isabella and I started the day making these Pumpkin Pie Bites. The fabulous Kristen (mom to adorable twins herself) posted about these on FB, and they were super easy to make. Our friends from the old 'hood who came to visit us and see the new house on Halloween afternoon really liked them.

Isabella's joie de virve just emanates from every pore of her being, doesn't it?

After "naps," we dressed up the kiddos and began our annual Halloween road show to my grandma's, my aunt's, the hubs' mother's, and the hubs' father's houses. Next year we're issuing an edict: if you want to see the kids in their costumes, you know where we live.

Initially, Isabella was opposed to being The Cat in the Hat. Then we filled her head with things like, "The Cat in the Hat is the BOSS of the Things" and "The Cat in the Hat is totally in charge of EVERYTHING," which appealed greatly to the little benevolent dictator, and she acquiesced.

Isabella's costume was from Target. The twins' Thing 1 and Thing 2 attire was homemade, insomuch as you can call red sleepers from The Gap (thanks for all your suggestions about where to find these a few weeks ago, and thanks to Jenny for buying these for them!), hats made by my great aunt, and adhesive felt circles with "Thing 1" and "Thing 2" hand-written by me "homemade."

In the spirit of Halloween, Isabella took a break from steamrolling the twins into the fibers of our carpet to pose for a photo with Luci.

Afterwards, she promptly stole her snack.

Once the road trip was over, we headed to our old neighborhood (because we will not accept the fact that we don't live there anymore, Oh No We Won't!) to meet up with some friends and go trick-or-treating. It was a Dark and Stormy Night, windy, cold, and starting to rain. I didn't plan on staying out long (especially with the twins) anyway, but the weather cut the trick-or-treating time down even more. We hit the houses of most of our favorite neighbors, including our fantastic former next door neighbors. We spent awhile talking with them in their front yard and gazing longingly at our house next door, while simultaneously plotting the best time to return later that night to slash the tires of its new owners.

The twins? Didn't know what to make of Halloween. I'm thinking perhaps all their brain cells were frozen into a state of inertia.

We were home by 7, and I quickly put the twins to bed. Isabella had a blast handing out candy to the kids in our new neighborhood (you know, the one in which we did not trick-or-treat).
The next morning, she kept telling us that "kids were trick-or-treating in the middle of the night!" because we told her that it was a special night and she could stay up late to pass out candy.

Isabella came home with a sugar high...
Exhibit A:

but I may not even have to employ Amy's fabulous suggestion of the Sugar Plum Fairy to remove the vast quantities of candy Isabella scored not so much from the houses where we trick-or-treated, but from the relatives we visited before starting. It seems she's all but completely forgotten about the candy, and has only asked for a piece once.
I ran to the store this morning to pick up a few things I forgot during my weekly grocery run on Friday. I immediately experienced a panic attack when I saw two store employees stringing lights on a freaking Christmas tree in the store's entranceway.
53 days to go.

Quick Snapshot:

  • 34-year-old writer and
    mother to a daughter
    born in August 2006 following
    IVF and girl/boy twins born in October 2008 following FET. Come along as I document the search for my lost intellect. It's a bumpy ride. Consider yourself warned.

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