’round here…

Just a few diddies, in no particular order…

I had Annie on her floor mat, working on rolling over. Ellie came over, intrigued by what was going on.

“Ellie, want to help me teach Annie how to roll over?” I asked.

“Sure. I got this.  Watch.” And I did watch as Ellie unceremoniously pushed Annie over. “There. Done.”

Annie, because she’s cool as a cucumber, was unfazed.

 

As we pulled into the Peapod Pick Up location, I told the girls to say “hi” to Peapod.

“Hi Peapod! We are here! How are you today?” asked Ellie.

“Oh, I’m OK. I’m just tired and taking a nap,” answered Carrie in a squeaky voice, apparently in-character as the Peapod building.

 

This happens nearly every morning at breakfast: Ellie gulps down her orange juice just as I’ve started feeding Annie her long-awaited, much-deserved cereal and/or bottle.  As I explain to Ellie that I am feeding Annie and cannot get her more juice, she says, “OK, fine, I’ll feed her, you get me some juice, OK?”  Girlfriend is a logistics queen already!

 

Ellie, upon realizing we have a library book that needs to go back, delivered the following monologue.

“Mommy.  OK.  So, we can ONLY keep a library book for SEVERAL days. We cannot keep it forever. We have to return it, OK?” Her little eyebrows went up and she nodded her head. “OK. So, we can go tomorrow, OK Mommy? And when we go there, we can get WHATEVER we want.  First, we can go down the movie aisle. And then we can go down the book aisle, OK, Mommy? OK. Good.  Here, let me show you this book.” At this point she started paging through the book a la Vanna White.  I couldn’t stop giggling.

 

“I want a (fill in the blank).” This question is asked daily in a whiney, plaintive, accusing voice by both of my children.  I hate it. I always correct them.

But they Just. Don’t. Get. It.

So instead, I’ve started responding with, “Well, I want an oompa-loompa!”

At first, that response stopped the whining as they pondered what I requested.

A few days after I started this response, their Auntie Cay-Cay said, “I want a drink of water.”

The twins responded, “Well, our mom wants an oompa-loompa!”

 

A storm came through a week or so ago, resulting in a lot of downed tree branches in my parents’ neighborhood.  We drove through to survey the damage.  Carrie’s eyes became as big as saucers as she took in the scene.

“Wow. This was a LARGE storm!” Then, deftly, Carrie merged the world she saw with her imagination. “Let me look at my phone. Oh wow. Yes, this was a LARGE storm. Mom, do you see the trees? It was a LARGE storm. We should call Grandma Gigi and tell her.  I think there were bad lizards. Mom, can you use your real phone and see if there is another LARGE storm coming? We better tell Grandma Gigi about the bad lizards.

After thinking about what she may have meant when she said, “bad lizards”, I finally deduced that she meant blizzards.

“Honey, do you mean blizzards?” I asked.

“Yes. Bad lizards!” she replied.

“Oh, no, it’s not bad lizards, it’s blizzards. Like lots of snow and wind. That’s a blizzard.”

Carrie was not impressed. I am sure that a bunch of naughty reptiles raining down from the sky seemed a lot more interesting.

 

Carrie, upon eating a Skittle, said,”Mommy, this jelly bean (she knows not what she eats) tastes like an eyeball: sweet and squishy.”

… Um, what?

That is all for now…

contextual learning

***DISCLAIMER: THIS IS A PG-13 POST.  PLEASE READ WITH CAUTION. PLEASE DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE NOW OR EVER HAVE BEEN A PASTOR OF OURS (HI BILL). OR IF YOU ARE MY MOTHER-IN-LAW. INSTEAD, READ THIS.***

As an observational-type learner, I tend to glean information and learn from day-to-day interactions.  This has generally been a fine way to learn, with only a few missteFps along the way.

At the age of four, I remember my dad talking about someone getting fired at work.  In my four-year-old brain, I imagined a horrifying scene of someone being actually set on fire.  I felt awful for my dad’s former coworker and his family. I couldn’t believe how casually my dad spoke of something so absolutely terrifying!

At 22, I entered the work-world.  While most of my coworkers enjoyed straight-swearing with a few creative twists or flourishes, there were a few that modified their language so that the words were almost swear words, but not quite.

I remember one of my bosses referring to a particularly messed-up client situation as a “cluster.” Cluster seemed appropriate. So I began to use the word freely to describe other situations that also seemed to have characteristics of a cluster.

“What a cluster!” I would lament at the grocery store, waiting in a long line behind someone paying for $400 of groceries with a check.

“Isn’t that a cluster?” I would comment to strangers about a particularly frustrating Packer’s game.

I was even freely using this new word at church. Cluster this, cluster that. Until, of course, Frank alerted me to the fact that cluster, in the context I was using the word, was usually a part of a longer word combination.  And that second word was the f-bomb.

Whoopsies!

Considering my long history of contextual and observational learning, you would think that Frank would have been smarter about his word choice for describing the period of time from December 26 through December 30. You would think he would at least thoroughly explain his word choice to avoid me using the word casually in conversations.

You would think all of that and be totally and completely wrong.

The conversation with Frank went something like this:

“Yeah, this time of the year is kind of a bummer. It’s the taint of the year,” said Frank, nonchalantly.

“Taint? Why?” I asked, curious to know more about this new word.

“Yeah.  You know, tain’t Christmas, tain’t New Year’s. Taint.”

“OH!”

Armed with this amazing new word that perfectly described in-between situations, I casually texted a friend of mine and asked if she wanted to get together during the taint  of the year.

I was so proud.

She was a little… surprised. Seeing that she was unfamiliar with this swanky terminology perfect for describing this in-between time of year, I explained it to her the same way Frank explained it to me.

There was a long pause in her response to me. “Sure, yeah, we can hang out.”

Later that same day, I told Frank that I would be getting together with my friend in the Taint of the Year. He raised his rather large eyebrows.

“You didn’t actually USE the word taint, did you?” he asked carefully.

“Well, yeah, sure, that’s what this time of the year is, right?” I was confused. And I was starting to become a little concerned as well.

He started to laugh. I was really concerned. He laughed harder.

When he finally wiped the tears from his eyes and pulled himself together, Frank explained that the taint is a somewhat common slang term used to describe a specific region of anatomy.  (Google it if you must…  I dare you.  Do it at work.  Use image search.)

I was horrified. I started wondering if I had used this word in any work emails.  Like, “Hey, I’ll be working during the taint of the year, so email me with whatever you need…” or something like that.  But I was afraid to search Outlook to see if I had, in fact, used that word.

So. There you go.

Happy Taint of the Year to You and Yours.

the time when Frank ran a marathon

Last Sunday, armed with body glide stuff to prevent chaffing (I didn’t ask… you probably shouldn’t ask, either) and band aids and ibuprofen and bizarre space energy-type food and water, Frank lined up with 45,000 of his besties and ran the Chicago Marathon Bank of America Chicago Marathon (hey, they didn’t pay good money for naming rights to have me mess it up on my blog that three people read…).

Being the loving, caring, amazing wife that I am, I dragged my sorry pa-tootie out of bed at 6:30 a.m. on a Sunday and schlepped myself all around town.

I have the pictures to prove it.

There may or may not have been some adult libations at the half marathon point.  Not for Frank.  For me.

Also, somewhere between mile-marker 13.1 and 26.1, I may have had a delicious egg white & spinach & swiss & mushroom omelet with The Most Heavenly Corn Bread Muffin Ever.

By “may”, I mean that I DID have the aforementioned breakfast before bolting without paying (I’ll catch ya on the flip side, dear brother) because I realized that I might miss Frank crossing the finish line and then I’d have to say, when he asked, that I was stuffing my face while he was running a MARATHON.

Considering that I have acquired quite a rap sheet, I figured that Sunday, October 7, 2012 was not the day to add to it.

All told, I walked about 9 miles on Sunday.  Frank ran 26+.  He got a medal and his name in the paper.  I did not.  Life is not fair, right?

Without further adieu/whining, here is the photographic evidence from this weekend. Future grandchildren, please enjoy this evidence that your grandfather DID run the Chicago Marathon.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t start this post with a picture of the site of the McDonald’s where Frank and I enjoyed our first married breakfast. Please note, in 2003, it was the “Rock and Roll McDonald’s”. Now it is just The Giant McDonald’s.

A dude inspiring and motivating the volunteers at 6:30 in the morning. God bless them all!

A helicopter circling overhead to catch a glimpse of Frank!

These are the awesome wheelchair racers! Can you imagine pushing yourself with your arms for 26.2 miles? Picking up a can of soup is a triumph for me! Watching these folks race was so awe-inspiring and amazing, I couldn’t even cheer because I was on the verge of crying giant, meaty tears of amazement.  I had never seen anything so excellent and perfect and inspiring – a raw tribute to beauty formed through challenge – fire refining gold.  But I didn’t sob big snotty sobs. I guess I figure that the only people allowed to cry at the marathon are the people who actually have to haul their tooshies 26.2 miles.  Everyone else can be strong, right?  ::sniff::

The elite runners are SO FAST that I don’t have a clear picture of them. As my sister-in-law Lauren said, “I don’t run across a room that fast for a donut!” These runners ran sub-5 minute miles for 26.2 miles STRAIGHT! Me? I walked really fast to the diner for breakfast.  Did I mention the cornbread muffin was out of this world???

After getting quite worried that I missed Frank, I saw him emerging from the dense fog of runners – along with brother-in-law Dave! (bright orange jerseys) So happy to see them – and they seemed pretty happy to see me, but this was only mile 2. Even I’d be happy at mile 2…

Dave and Frank. Frank and Dave.

Frank, “Wanna sing a running song? You know, get into the spirit of the marathon?” Dave, “Um, do I know you?”

There were quite a few funny/cute/interesting signs along the route, but this one was particularly amusing. I also liked the one that said, “Because 26.3 is just CRAZY.” (Joke Explainer: the marathon is 26.2 miles. That extra .1 would put the whole event over the edge. Is the joke not funny any more? OK. Good. Onward)

While waiting for Frank to run by at the 1/2 marathon point, I wanted to artistically capture the conflict between me and my inner runner. Based on this representative photograph, I think it’s safe to say that I have restrained my inner runner inside a cage and she will NEVER get out to run a marathon. Phew.

While we (Andy (my bro) and Lauren (my sis-in-law-extraodinaire)) were waiting for Frank at 13.1, we were also enthusiastically cheering on other runners. By “we”, I mean “me”. Andy was trying to get some artistic, beautiful shots of the raw athleticism streaming toward him. As he reviewed his pictures, he found that my hand (in the shape of a giant “thumbs up”) was prominently featured in most – if not ALL – of his pictures. Ha ha ha. Ha. I rule.

FRANK! So far, so good. Despite some leg injuries prior to the race, he made it to the 1/2 marathon point without a trip to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Or Rush. Or Cook County. Or wherever they would’ve taken him. Way to go Frank! And, he looked pretty jubilant to boot!

Around mile 8 or so, Frank and Dave were separated. I tried my best, but only got a few shots of Dave heading down the final 200 meters. Hi Dave!

There he is, right behind lime-green dude. Way to go Dave!

And… THERE HE IS!! Frank heading down the final 200 meters! I saw a couple cross the finish line hand-in-hand and I thought, “Wow, that’s amazing!” And for like, a nano-second I thought, “Maybe Frank and I could do that one day…” and THEN I thought, “No, the only way that is happening is if I jump this fence and run with him right now…” and then I thought, “Who are we kidding? I’m never going to jump that fence.” So yeah, maybe we can settle for a DVR marathon of great fall TV… that’s more my speed, anyway…

And of course, none of this was possible without the generous support of folks who donated to Frank’s Team World Vision goal. Frank has a heart for those who live on less than $1/day and the 1 BILLION people around the globe who do not have access to clean drinking water. Kinda hard to be all like, “you’re STILL training for this marathon??” when your spouse is all like, “Yeah, for THE PEOPLE WITHOUT WATER!! Geesh.”

 

So there you go.  Frank’s marathon in pictures.  He made me promise to remind him not to let him run the marathon again.  He made me promise to remind him of his three lost toenails, blood blisters, chaffing and his general inability to use the stairs the next time he says, “Babe, I’m thinking about running a marathon.”

Time will tell.

nine

So I’m a bit late on this one.  Between work, Frank’s travel schedule and, oh yeah, TWINS (BAM! I played the twins card!), I didn’t have time on 9/19 to write a gushy, mushy post about the amazing love affair that is our marriage.  Our marriage turned nine years old on 9/19.

Yep.

#WifeFail

But Frank, my awesome, amazing, excellent husband DID send me flowers at work and DID write a sweet note to go with the flowers about he’d do it all again – exactly.the.same.

As sappy and mushy as that sentiment seems to be, I couldn’t agree more.

Sure, we’ve had lots of warm, cozy, snuggly, and, dare I say, schmoopie moments over the course of the last nine years of togetherness-foreverness. But we’ve also had plenty of times where the statement, “I will be with you until the END OF TIME” could’ve been construed as both a promise and a threat.

Like, you know, how long is it until the END OF TIME? Is it time on this particular reality, or does that pass on to the next life?

You gotta really get these fine points ironed out, ya know?

So it’s been nine years.  Good, bad, awesome and ugly.

There was the time when we had an epic fight via text message over how Frank lost all of our little spoons.  He still hasn’t admitted to losing said spoons, but we all know the truth.

There was a time in the middle of the last nine years when the greatest tragedy that had befallen us to that point was the loss of ALL of our freshly put down grass seed.  An absolutely horrific rainstorm flushed about a THOUSAND dollars worth of seed down the Milwaukee County sewer system.  I like to think that there is a beautiful green field at the end of that pipe, and that we had something to do with it. Sometimes I’m a little too optimistic. I digress.

Not to worry, time taught us that grass seed was small potatoes in the scheme of things.

My dad was sick.  Frank lost his job not once, but twice in the same year.  We moved. I changed industries.

We lost Lily.

It was hard. And messy. And gross.

What we did with those hard, messy and gross times is our story.  We stuck together. Frank and Emily VS. Crappy Stuff.  Frank and I have outlasted all of those other temporary, crappy situations.

Frank and Emily: 9, Crappy Stuff: 0.

I know, kinda sounds like a downer.  But it’s not.  It’s honest.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the face we present to the world.  It’s important to both Frank and I to be on our A-Game as often as possible.  To not dwell on the negative.  To stay positive and happy and forward-facing. We know we’re pretty darned blessed, no matter the circumstances.

The best part of the past nine years wasn’t all the times we made it to church on time or all the times that our kids looked cute and put-together in pictures.  The best part of the past nine years was going on this outrageous adventure together.  Loving and laughing and crying and arguing as a team, a partnership and a family.

That. Is. Life.

So when Frank says to me that he would do this whole crazy thing over again, and do it all exactly the same, that means more to me than anything else he could’ve said via a Hallmark greeting card.  That is true love.

And, babe, I agree.

Happy ninth anniversary. TM, A.

twinfessions

Ah, twins.

Many a fellow parent has commented to Frank and me, “I don’t know how you do it!”

And I’ve been all like, “Um, what? Raise two infants simultaneously? Like that’s hard or something?”

Ha ha. Ha. Hummm.

It’s time to fess up.

Raising twins is like juggling grenades: If you drop one, everyone gets blown up.

Ok, maybe that’s a bit dramatic.

But let’s be clear: twin infants (even twinfants who enjoy projectile vomiting all.the.time) are a piece of cake, once you get them sleeping through the night. From 4 months through 13 months, it’s all just a matter of budgeting a little extra time to accommodate doing everything twice.

Twin toddlers? It’s like dealing with lunatic zombies. Cute lunatic zombies, but lunatic zombies all the same.

Logistically, if both Frank and I are watching the girls, it’s easy-peasy.  Man-on-man defense.  Done.

The challenge is when we are doing some demented version of zone defense because one of us is at work. That’s when it gets exciting.

Case in point: Frank left the room to brush his teeth. He was gone 2 1/2 minutes, tops.

He came back to the twins perched on top of their changing table having a grand old time.  They scaled the rocking chair and the dresser to get on top of their changing table pad.  And they were smiling like they were supposed to be there.

They love to dance on top of our glass topped coffee table.  Specifically, they love dancing to Rolling Stones on our glass topped coffee table.

The second we put them down in the family room, they identify all of the weak points and attack relentlessly. Remote controls? Cell phones? Glasses? Open baby gates? Nothing slips by them.

And the twins are completely fearless, a la lunatic zombies.  I’ve noticed other toddlers are more hesitant to go down the slide at the park, but not our girls. Ellie, our generally more cautious girl, went down the slide the other day, her foot caught and she summersaulted the rest of the way down. I thought for SURE there would be tears. She stood up, brushed herself off, and hurried back to the stairs to go down the slide again. What the what?!

wheeee! Carrie conquers the slide!

This weekend I took the girls to the park solo. Seemed reasonable enough.  How bad can a park be?

I don’t know if you’ve been to a park these days, but holy-crapola, these parks are DEATH traps. Sure, they coat everything in rubber and plastic, but every single piece of equipment has a side that is a free-fall into wood chips. If you are only watching one toddler, this wouldn’t be a problem, but since I am watching two lunatic zombie toddlers, this is a major issue.  Carrie likes to walk right up to the edge and growl at me.

 

Grrr, Mama!!

Again, this would be fine if I wasn’t already distracted by Ellie going up and down the stairs to the slide with the grace of a heavily intoxicated, stiletto-wearing monkey.

Oh, and then there are the communication issues. The girls know how to wave “hi” and “bye”. This is really cute until Carrie is waving “bye” as she walks off in one direction and Ellie sprints in the other. They only sort of understand “Stop!” and “SIT STILL!” and “STAY THERE!”  We’re working on it, but right now the communication gap adds a totally interesting layer.

So yeah, raising two toddlers makes for some very interesting/challenging/exciting/crazy times.  I’m forever grateful that strollers and wagons have seat belts. And I’m even more grateful that I have a husband who is truly a partner in raising these girls – cuz man alive, I certainly wouldn’t want to do this solo all the time!

Plotting to take over the world…

what are you eating? – WHAT ARE YOU EATING!?

In the 1993 classic Mrs. Doubtfire, Sally Field has an incredible moment in a very public restaurant when she discovers that Mrs. Doubtfire is actually her ex-husband, Daniel, dressed in drag.

“Daniel? Daniel?? DANIEL?? It was you- it was YOU?- it was YOU! The whole time… the whole time?  THE WHOLE TIME??”

Oh, the shock mixed with denial mixed with realization, all converging upon themselves simultaneously in an excellent mess.

Love it.

But lately, I found myself having the Sally-Field-My-ExHusband-Dressed-In-Drag-As-Our-Housekeeper moment on a lesser level.

Generally this happens when the girls are playing quietly on the floor in the family room.  Perhaps I am sitting and playing with one twin while the other goes nuts.  Or, sometimes I’ve stepped out of the room to load dishes into the dishwasher.  And still, there may be times that I am intently watching House Hunters and providing my own commentary on their home selections.

Whatever is going on, there is peace and quiet. I remember my mom saying that her most panicked moments were when there was quiet in the house. Quiet means that someone is doing something that they know they should not be doing.

It’s taken a while for this instinct to settle in, but I think I’ve firmly grasped the silence = trouble instinct. So when the not-so-subtle droning of baby babbling and innocuous crashing noises (dropping toys to check gravity, throwing dolls to check gravity, and unceremoniously dropping on their behinds from the standing position) stops and the reason is not apparent, I look over at the twins in a flash.

Sometimes this reveals that Carrie is trying to make her great escape, has gotten stuck and is now drifting off to sleep.  Sometimes this reveals that Ellie has found a remote control and is seconds away from turning the volume ALL THE WAY UP. OMG. (seriously, if you have poor bladder control, this is a liability)

And then, there are many times when the twins have stopped what they are doing because they found a day old puff/craisin/cheerio that fell under a couch or an interesting, and, by the way, DELICIOUS-looking fuzz on the floor. Oftentimes I catch them early in their investigative process.  This is where they pinch the item between their squishy little fingers and examine it very, very closely. And then? AND THEN! they put it in their mouth.

Wait – What?- WHAT?!

Who does that?

Toddlers, that’s who.

Crawlers, too.

If it is interesting, it must also, therefore, be DELICIOUS.

Duh.

If I catch them late in their fuzz investigations, they are already trying to subtly chew the fuzz.  You can see their little cheeks working away ominously.  And that’s when I have to do the sweep.

If you have kids, you know the sweep well.  You pinch their cheeks to open their mouths, stick your finger in and fish around for the object.

“What is in your mouth? – WHAT IS IN YOUR MOUTH?!”

Personally, I think the best time to ask ANYONE a question is when you have a finger jammed in their mouth and you are pinching their face. I also think it’s great to ask infants questions that they can’t answer.

Sometimes I’m relieved when all that I pull out is a day old craisin that they found. Sometimes I’m horrified at the items I pull out. I will not mention these fuzzy, insectish-like items here.

And it always ends the same: the girls always look at me as if to say, “What mom? What did you expect?”

When the phrase, “from the mouths of babes” was coined, I now know what they really meant.

Yuck.

for posterity…

So, for posterity’s sake, and so our children know how crazy their parents are, I am posting a copy of the baby sitting notes we left for my awesome brother Andy and his fantastic girlfriend Lauren.  This was from a few months ago.

I don’t believe any further introduction is warranted.  The note reads as follows:

Andy, Lauren – Your mission, which you’ve already chosen to accept, is to KEEP THESE BABIES ALIVE FOR 8 HOURS! Also, they will try to kill you as well. Try to avoid that. Make no mistake, these are pretty indestructible little monsters, but they’ll try their best to test their indestructability.

  • 5:00-6:00 Play with them in their play–pen. They like to be tickled, play peek-a-boo, be bounced on a knee, and continue their nun-chuck training.
  • 6:00 They’ll start getting pissy around this time. This means they’re hungry. First, change their diapers. Diaper training 101:
  1. Remove outer garments.
  2. Slide clean diaper under soiled diaper
  3. Check for hidden explosives
  4. Remove soiled diaper. Place out of reach of little monster.
  5. Secure diaper at belly–button
  6. Replace outer garments.
  • It’s now time to feed the little “angels”. Their food is in the fridge. Bibs are on the chairs. It doesn’t matter who gets what, just so that it’s even. Throw it in the microwave for about 20 seconds so that it’s warm. When they’re done eating, give them a bottle. The bottles are put together and in the corner of the kitchen counter. Put 3 ounces of formula in each bottle. Then add 3 ounces of HOT water to the bottle. If they still seem hungry, give them some puffs that are on the counter (NOT the bourbon sitting next to the puffs – the bourbon is for you). These also placate them while you’re warming up the food.
  • 6:30-6:50 These gremlins LOVE to barf. It’s how they mark their territory. They need to stay in their seats for 20 – 30 minutes after dinner to let things settle. There are two suction cup toys that you can stick on their trays.
  • 7:00-7:45 Continue playing in the pen.
  • 7:45 Change diapers (see above) and put on pjs and sleep sacks. Sit on the floor and read a few stories out of the kiddie bible we set out.
  • 8:00 Lights out. Their vision is based on movement in both bright light and darkness, but they can’t see in dim light. Dim the lights to just above dark. Ocean sounds also seem to distract them and disrupt their plotting. Press the second from bottom button on the back of the sheep with the beret (I can’t believe I just wrote that) for wave sounds. They may cry for a bit. Let them cry. The taste of tears is a natural sedative for them. If still crying after 5 minutes, give them a binky. DO NOT PICK THEM UP. It’s probably just a ruse. We’ll be back around 12 – 12:30. Call if you need anything. God be with you.

Now, I would’ve just scanned in a copy of the actual note and/or saved the original in the twins’ baby boxes.

Unfortunately, I can’t do that.

Why?

Because the next day, the twins ate the note.

No really.  They. ate. the. note.

Have you ever had to tell your childcare provider to check the diapers for a quarter sheet of 60# bright white copy paper?

We have.

It rocks.