Dear Mason -
Yesterday, you hit 3 years and 11 months, but since you and your sisters have spent the last week in various states of fever, barfing, and runny nose, I didn't exactly have the quiet time needed to reflect on the past month.
It was so sad watching you be sick. You stayed in my bed all day long, asked to turn TV shows off half way through so you could sleep (something you never do unless you're told to) and turned down Popsicles. At that point, I almost took you to the hospital because something is very seriously wrong if you're turning down Popsicles. Of course as luck would have it, Mama had to work nights this weekend, so in accordance with Murphy's law, about 20 minutes after she left for work, the girls' "nap" "ended" (quotations because there was no sleep involved and "ended" is really just a euphemism for "I gave up") and about ten minutes after that, you started puking all over my bed. You were so scared, but so brave. Most of all, you were polite. You just kept saying over and over, "I'm so sorry mommy. I'm so sorry I puked in your bed." Even as puke was streaming out of your nose (mmmm) you were apologizing. For the first time in my life, I wasn't a sympathy puker. I held you and let you puke all over me and didn't even care. I went straight into Mama Bear mode. Meanwhile, the girls were totally left unattended downstairs playing with knives and small choke-inducing objects while I stripped sheets and did the 47th load of laundry for the weekend. Maybe I shouldn't oversell my Mama Bear capabilities.
I don't know how mommies of sick kids (really sick kids, I mean, not the passing bug or cold) do it. Watching you sick and sad and not yourself was heart-wrenching, and it only lasted a day. By last night, you were up dancing and practicing your ninja moves.
On an equally morose topic, you seem to be figuring out/grappling with the concept of death lately. We were watching Frozen, a movie we've seen a thousand times, but for the first time, you made this observation:
Mason: "Did the King and Queen fall overboard"
Me: "Yeah buddy, I think they did."
Mason: "Are they trapped in the ocean forever?"
Me: "I think they are"
Mason: "Mommy... if mommy and mama went on a big ship and fell overboard I would be so sad, and I'd have to take care of myself, and that wouldn't be good because I don't know how to cook."
Me: (In my head): It would be bad for a lot of reasons, but I'm glad to know I'm valued for my cooking skills. (Audibly in response) "Don't worry buddy, we're not going anywhere."
Since then, you've brought up people dying in various contexts. Like how you had an older friend that died yesterday (???). That was weird. I asked you what it meant to die, and you said you didn't know - but in a way that's very unlike you, you didn't press any further... kind of like you know the answer isn't good and you're not quite ready for it.
You're also into talking about your body - you tell me all the time how your skin protects your bones, or your hair protects you by scaring away animals. In one of the all time most creepy things you've ever said, you asked me one day, "Mommy, do you know what's in my body?" and when I said "what?" you responded, "Evil clowns. Turn around and look..." That shit is f*cked up, kiddo.
So you have a dark side.
But you also have the most brilliant bright side.
Whenever you and I walk by the mirror, you say "Look, mommy and mason are so cute." You ask me how much I love you and when I stretch my arms and pretend to pull a muscle saying "thiiiiiiiis much", you always kiss my boo boo. You also have warmed up quite a bit to Quinn, albeit at the expense of Hayden who you say is mean and bites you all the time.
I can't believe you're turning 4 next month. I recently installed a new app on my phone called Timehop and every day it does a flash back to pictures from 1, 3 or 5 years ago. Seeing how quickly the time has passed makes me dizzy.
I love you sweetpea. You're my favorite boy in the whole world.
Dear Hayden, when I was a little girl, my mother was constantly telling me to get my hair out of my face, insisting that my mop of permed hair, be pulled back at the dinner table. I remember thinking, "It doesn't bother me when it's hanging in my face; why should it bother you??" Well, fast forward a few decades, and I'm my mother (in this and so many other ways). You have awesome hair - it's thick and curly and too cute for words, but it also hangs in front of your beautiful blue eyes, and that drives me crazy. Fortunately, Santa brought you lots of little itty bitty clips for Christmas. Unfortunately, they stay in your super silky hair for about five minutes. You look like such a little girl instead of a baby though.
You too are starting to seem like such a big girl, in part because you're in the 95th percentile height and weight, but more so, because of your extensive vocabulary. There are some words you speak clear as day: mama, cookie, cracker, pooh pooh, baby, car (although "clear as day with a boston accent" is probably more accurate), and there's a whole host of words and phrases you say that sound like mumbles to anyone else, but I know what you mean. (eg. "I don't want that" but it sounds like "I oh unh dat").
For both of you,
This was a busy month. We celebrated your second Christmas, and you were so good throughout all the craziness. You sat in your high chairs and watched as everyone opened presents. You did your best to open a few yourselves, though you were equally content to just sit and watch.
Next week, you're going to be joining your big brother at day care on Mondays and Tuesdays. You two are already best buddies (exhibit A below), but you haven't spent too much time around other kids.
I'm sure you'll do great, unless of course, they expel you Hayden for being a biting bully like you are to Quinn and Mason. (Fingers crossed on that one).
We love you, munchkins.
Motherhood does strange, strange things to people. Or, maybe people are just strange in general and motherhood just offers a channel for all that weird energy. You see, I'm part of a group on Facebook called Real Moms of the South Shore (it dawns on me, by the way, that one day when you're old enough to go back and read all this, you'll probably wonder what the hell facebook is.) Anyway, this moms group has rules: 1) no advertising, 2) No fundraising, 3) no job posting, and 4) no drama. The idea is that it's supposed to be a friendly support forum of moms helping other moms out - and I've gotten a great deal of value from being part of the group. When our stove broke, I asked for recommendations on where to get it fixed. When I needed a restaurant recommendation in a certain neighborhood, I got lots of great advice. And I like to think that I've added value to the group. For example, I've shared my opinions (when asked) on the value of the baby brezza, an automatic formula maker (it's amazing, for the record) or chimed in when I thought I had something helpful to add.
But getting back to that last rule - No Drama - that seems to be the one that is the hardest for the group to abide by. I've also noticed that there are two topics which almost always, always bring out the drama - strong opinions, scathing indictments, proclamations of superiority, and endless mom-shaming. The first is breast feeding. I at least understand why people have strong opinions (even if I don't agree with chastising people who disagree with those opinions). The second? The Elf on the Shelf. The GOD DAMN ELF ON THE SHELF will turn, what I can only assume are otherwise normal women, into, well, bitches. Do the elf, don't do the elf - it doesn't matter. You're a horrible person either way. If you do it, you've caved to the commercialization of Christmas and you have too much time on your hands. Oh, and you're a lazy parent for relying on a tattle-tale elf to teach your kid how to behave. If you don't do the elf, you're depriving your kids of joy and have no sense of fun. You are also setting your kid up to be singled out in school because all the other kids have elves and they'll be emotionally scarred and never recover. Well, of course, none of that is true.
In our house, we do have an Elf. His name is Jebby. He's the one who fills the Countdown House (aka an advent-calendar for heathens like us) with Hersey kisses. Last year, he also brought you notes with "helping things" to do each day, but he's gotten lazy (I hear his day job is kicking his ass). He also does not get into mischief, and quite frankly, he is entirely unimaginative, bouncing from the Christmas tree to the mantle, to the stockings. The craziest thing Jebby has done is suggested that he might eat one of your candy canes - an action you did NOT approve of one bit and since then, every day when we leave for school, you ask me or Mama or Kellie to make sure Jebby doesn't eat your candy canes. (How does an elf "suggest" he might eat your candy cane, you might be wondering? By draping his little felt arm around it and looking around suspiciously, of course).
For the record, we are apparently falling down on the job of protecting the candy canes because the number of candy canes hanging from the tree seems to decrease by 1 every night. I hope you won't be too hard on Jebby. They're sweetart candy canes, which despite the fact that those sound gross, they're really quite delicious and very hard to resist.
Even though you got stuck with a boring elf, you wake up every morning super stoked to run downstairs and look for him (well, actually, if the skirt and earrings are any indication - and I'm not saying they are - Jebby is a girl, but we didn't notice that until long after we had already started calling him "he"...that should make for an interesting conversation down the line). Your excitement is why we do the elf. It's also why we built a gingerbread house, made salt dough ornaments, and watch Charlie Brown Christmas. None of these activities are better than the other, and if we didn't do one of those things, I'm sure we'd find something else to do.
In non-elf news, your obsession with ninjas continues (Ninja Turtles, Ninjago, sword fights),and much to your Mama's delight, you love the rock wall in the garage. She wanted to buy you rock climbing shoes for christmas, but I refused on the basis of practicality - a) they were not going to improve your rock climbing performance, and b) you will outgrow them in about five minutes. In fact, buying anything for your scrawny little body is difficult. You need a size 4T length pant, 2T sized waist, and 3T sized shirt. There isn't an ounce of fat on you, but you delight in showing off your muscles which are getting bigger by the day.
When I was growing up, we had a formal living room that nobody except grandma ever sat in. It was always so clean that you could see the vacuum lines in the blue carpet, and the only disruption was the little path from the kitchen to the world's most uncomfortable couch. Grandma would sit and read while we either watched TV in the sunroom or went about our business. I never really understood it. The couch was just so uncomfortable - why on earth would she choose to read there? Now I realize... she was hiding. I realize it because now I do the same thing. The trade-off for an uncomfortable couch was quiet.
Our couch in the "formal" (relative term) living room isn't uncomfortable, but it's not as loungy as our sunroom couch. At various points in the day, however, it's the world's best couch. Mason will be playing or watching a movie and you girls will be creeping all over the place, and I'll sneak up and sit on the couch and just sit. Because it's quiet. You see, when no one is looking, you entertain yourselves quite well, but when you see me, you whine or cry. So I hide and enjoy the relative quiet of the room. I'm only a few feet away, but you can't see me so you play for days ("days" in the life of twin 14-month olds being 10-15 minutes, of course). I sneak to door to peek in, being careful not to let you see me. You chase each other around. You fight over the remote or the phone (which hasn't been connected in weeks for fear you'll call China). You play with your toys. And I sit.
The other 23 hours and 45 minutes of the day are a marathon. You both are walking now, though Quinn, you still prefer the stump walk if you're in a hurry (which is almost always). You both look like little baby Frankensteins when you walk, teetering back and forth with a look that says, "Watch out, mommy, I'm comin' for you."
You're learning new words and expressions. When Drew and Mase were playing outside, Quinn, you pressed yourself against the sliding door and just repeated over and over, "Meesh! Meesh! Meesh!" You love your big brother, even if he still mostly doesn't want much to do with you.
This weekend, I spent a ton of time cleaning up the computer, which is almost running out of room because I take so many pictures of your cutie faces. I can't believe how much you've changed. I know it's been over a year, but if feels like a blink.
Some things haven't really changed, I guess.
Love you girls,
Something horrible happened last night on the eve of you turning 14, uh, I mean, 3 years and 9 months. I was putting you to bed, and you asked me to lay with you. I complied, and after a few minutes, you said, "mommy, you can go downstairs now." I didn't see you for the rest of the night. This is in stark contrast to your normal bed time routine which features multiple pleas to lay with you for 1, 2, 3, or a jillion more minutes, and multiple trips downstairs to "ask a question" that's never really a question, but a totally random statement unrelated to anything. Just like that, I was dismissed.
Every other night I have to outsmart and out manuever you to put an end to the constant going to bed games, and, knowing that sooner or later, you'll no longer need or want me to be as involved in bed time routines, I am constantly reminding myself "sometime this phase will be over and I'll miss it." And I was right. It was only one night, and it hit like a ton of bricks. You got just a little bit closer to being all grown up. Thankfully, it wasn't a point-of-no-return switch, and tonight, you resumed your mad pleas and anguished sighs in a desperate attempt to keep me laying with you just a little bit longer, and I complied, even longer than I normally would, because I know our nights like these are numbered.
I love you buddy. xo
ps: Cutest school pictures ever
You are 13 months, plus a day today. Quite honestly, I thought by this time you'd both be cruising around on two feet, but except for the occassional step here and there, you're really not having any of it. It's kind of a shame because you're heavy and there are two of you and it would really be a lot more convenient for me if you'd just hurry up and learn to walk. On flip side, Hayden, you crawl at lightening speed and Quinn, you're the world's fastest knee walker. As a result, I can avoid carrying you by dangling your bottles in front of you and luring you up the stairs to go to bed like you're dogs. "Here quinnie, quinnie, quinnie.... here hayden, hayden, hayden...."
At Mama's PMC fundraiser this summer, I bought a photography session with the very talented Kiki Larouge. When we talked about scheduling, we originally said "October" because the girls will be walking by then and it's a lot easier to get different/interesting shots, but alas, you haven't cooperated.
You're not walking, but you sure do like to talk a lot, especially you Quinn. In the car, you'll babble for whole hour long drives. I'd give anything to know what you're so excited about.
Hayden, I love you're fiery spirit, but I have to confess, you're kind of a bully. Poor Quinn is covered in head to toe bite marks and bruises from you beating on her, even though she outweighs you by a pound or so. She just sits there and takes it, too nice to fight back. She'll be playing with a toy and you'll just crawl over and take it. She'll try to take it back. You'll bite her. Screaming ensues. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Tomorrow is Halloween. You're both going to dress up like monkeys, while Mase is going as Raphael the Ninja Turtle. Last year you were goofy little pumpkins and were so tiny you just kind of slumped into your costumes. I can't believe a whole year has gone by since then. You were just little tiny new humans. Now you're so big.
It's all going too fast.
I love you girls, xoxo
Dear Mase -
I am a few days late this month because we were on Nantucket, where I got to spend some quality time with some of my oldest and dearest friends. I've always appreciated my high school friends, but as more people have come in and out of my life, I have come to appreciate these girls in a whole new way. I hope one day you have friends like mine.
But onto you, and the fact that you've done a lot of growing up this month...
You've moved up from Ms. Nancy's class, and now you're in with Ms. Lori and Mr. Mark. In this class, you don't have "Show and Tell" on Fridays. Instead, every couple of weeks, you get the "Mystery Box".
For your first turn with the Mystery Box, you put Mason Dragon inside, and you made up the three clues all by yourself with no help from me: 1) He likes to breathe fire and spin on his tail, 2) He's green and yellow, and 3) He has a button on his belly that shines really bright. I'm not sure if any of your friends guessed it right, but I loved helping you get Mason Dragon ready for his big day.
Because you're so big, you've also decided that you no longer want to take baths and instead only want to take showers. At first, I thought this was a good thing that would be a real time saver. I was right and oh-so-wrong. We do save time, but that's only because you ONLY want to take showers, and you ONLY want to take them with me. In other words, the only 4 1/2 minutes in a day I get to myself, I now share with you.
Your vocabulary continues to explode, and your latest party trick is reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Mama and I make you do it all the time. Grown ups eat it up.
The best part of this month though, hands down, is your changing attitude towards Quinn. It used to be nearly impossible to spot you playing spontaneously with Quinn; meanwhile, you could regularly be found giving unsolicited hugs and kisses to Hayden. And then you just changed your mind, telling me, "Mommy, I love Quinnie now. I was nervous so I only loved Hayden, but now I love Quinnie too." I'm sure there's some toddler-adjusting-to-a-growing-family thing that explains your one-sided fondness for Hayden for the first year so it never really worried me, but I'm sure glad that you're now best buddies with both of your kid sisters. I even have the picture to prove it:
I love you buddy. You're the best son and big brother. And dancer. And ninja.
My darling girls,
Happy first birthday. I can’t believe a whole year has gone by. We celebrated this week with friends and family. You obliged with adorable cake eating.
I would have bet money that you’d be walking by your first birthday, but neither of you has taken those first steps yet. Climbing, yes; walking, no. Hayden, you are the true daredevil--climbing stairs, chairs, tables, and basically anything you can physically reach. Quinn, you’re more content sitting back and watching her antics. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues into your teenage years.
You fight more now. I’ve spotted bite marks on both of you. You steal each other’s sippy cups and snacks. I’m quite certain this will continue into your teenage years.
Quinn, you’ve become a bit of a mama’s girl over the past few months. We used to refer to Hayden primarily by her nickname – “High Maintenance Hayden” – because she always demanded to be held, while you were content to sit in the swing and quietly rock. Not anymore. While Hayden is off climbing stairs and chewing electrical cords, you demand to be held. Maybe you two have brokered some deal where it is Quinn’s job to be the distraction, while Hayden raids the pantry for snacks. Either way, it’s exhausting.
Fortunately, Mama and I are going on vacation for the first time alone since your brother was born, so we will have a chance to recuperate. The only requirement I had for the vacation was that we go somewhere where the primary thing to do was to sit on a beach and have someone bring me drinks. And sleep until after 6 am. I didn’t want to go somewhere where we’d feel guilty if we didn’t venture to some museum, landmark, or natural wonder. A beach. A book. A bar. Sleeping past 6 am. Mama. These are the ingredients of my dream vacation, at least at the end of this particularly exhausting year. We’ll do culture another time.
Don’t take my enthusiasm for our kid-free vacation as a sign I won’t miss you. I will. Desperately. Not only do I love you guys so much, I also really like you...even when you’re being little a-holes. I like lying on the ground and having you crawl all over me. I like feeding you dinner and watching you smoosh it in your hair. I like picking you up and smothering you with kisses when you’re being needy. I also like putting you to bed at night and then having a few moments of quiet before I collapse lifelessly into bed.
I’m so proud to be your mom.
Dear Mason –
Happy 3 years, 7 months. You continue to exert your independence in new and interesting ways. You like to do everything for yourself, and if I dare interrupt, you start all over. I’m told several times a day, “Ugh, now we have to start from the beginning.” You would think I would have learned by now that in fact it is faster to let you put your own shoes on or let you buckle yourself into the car seat than dare try to expedite the process by informing you that you have them backwards or the strap is twisted. You're now in Ms. Lori's classroom, reunited with your older buddies Jack and Andrew. Watching the three of you interact gives me this weird glimpse of you in high school.
You’re super independent right up until it’s time to go to bed, and then you don’t want to leave my side. We start at 7:30. There’s teeth brushing. There’s 2 books, sometimes 3. And then the fun starts. “Mommy, don’t leave meeeeee. Lay with meeeeeeee. Pleeeeeeease, lay with me two minutes….” There are hugs and kisses and then my no-nonsense departure. Then there’s quiet… for 5 minutes. Then there’s the yell from the top of the stairs. “Mommy, I’m hungreeeeeeeeee. I’m thirsteeeeeeeeee.” There are more hugs. There are more kisses. There are more no-nonsense exits. Then there’s quiet… for 5 minutes. Then a yell from the top of the stairs. “Mommy, I pooped in my diaper.” There’s changing. There are hugs. There are Kisses. Then the threats start – “if you don’t stay in bed, you can’t go to Drew’s party. You need your sleep so you’ll be well rested,” or “If you don’t go to sleep, you won’t get big muscles.” All in, on a good day, you’re asleep by 8:30. On average, it’s closer to 9, and it’s not unusual for it to creep to 9:30. It’s friggin’ exhausting. Every night I think to myself, “what is going to happen when your sisters hit this stage and there are two of them?” Then I mentally pour myself a glass of wine. I don’t pour myself a real glass of wine because a) the effort involved to open a bottle of wine, and b) I accept the reality that I’ll be asleep before I have the chance to finish it.
Physically, you’re getting so big, but you also have the metabolism of a hummingbird. There isn’t an ounce of fat on you. This wasn’t particularly problematic in the summer, as your 2T shorts fit snugly in place, but you’re tall, so 2T pants come roughly to your mid-calf and look ridiculous. The next size up, though, and your bum is on display for the whole world and you can’t go more than a few steps without tripping. I even resorted to buying elastic-waist jeans, even though I think they look ridiculous and remind me of my maternity jeans, but those too kind of sag on you a bit. And it baffles me that you have no fat on you because you eat ALL. THE. TIME. The only thing I hear more than “Ugh, now we have to start from the beginning,” is “Mommy, I’m hungreeeeeee. Can I have a snack?”
I love you buddy, and it's so fun to watch how big you're getting.
I have to admit, mentally I’m skipping right past the 11 month milestone and already thinking about you guys turning 1. We sent out the invitation to your birthday party, and the reaction across the board was the same – “I can’t believe the girls are turning 1”.
We have had a great summer. We’ve mastered going to and from Nantucket on the ferry with all three of you in tow, without (for the most part) ruining the trip for anyone within earshot. We mastered going to the beach, which is no small feat given how much you enjoy eating sand. During one beach adventure, Hayden, you gave me the absolute worst scare of my life for a total of 3 seconds. We were riding Uncle Dan’s boat on the way back from Happy Place and you were screaming uncontrollably. I looked down and your ear was full of blood. It took only a few seconds for me to wipe it away and realize the bleeding was coming from a little scratch in the outer part of your ear and not from inside your brain, but if I think about how I felt in those few seconds, it still makes me feel like throwing up.
You are transforming into little people instead of babies – you can be bribed (usually with food), comforted, and distracted. You can also be determined and unrelenting. You’re covered in head to toe bruises and scrapes because you’re adventurous but gravity-challenged. You can stand on your own and walk if you’re holding onto something, but you’re no strangers to face-plants. I’m anxious for you to be able to walk on your own. I think I said this last month but it’s even truer this month: you guys are really, really heavy, and carrying both of you at the same time is a physically daunting challenge. Even Mama who is actually in shape thinks so.
You talk and babble back and forth all the time. Quinn, you even say “book” (well, it’s really more like “bahh” but we know what you mean). I love that “book” is your first word, even if grandma doesn’t think “bahh” sounds that much like “book”.
Today is also Auntie Kristen’s birthday. Despite having 9 years between us, we’re really close. I hope you guys have that kind of relationship with one another when you get older. It’s pretty special.
I love you girls.
Even when you try to eat a marker...
Or scale the furniture...
Or when you're eating sand.
I love you all the time. xo
Yesterday, you celebrated your half year birthday and I celebrated my regular birthday. As a result, today you are closer to 4 than 3 and I’m closer to 40 than 30.
In your new “practically 4” maturity, you continue to demonstrate new signs of independence. You now poop in the toilet on a regular basis (which is awesome), but you also insist on not telling anyone when you do and cleaning up by yourself. As a result, on several occasions, you’ve come down into the family room wearing no pants and holding an empty cardboard toilet paper roll, even if I’ve just put on a brand new roll. Those are the moments I dread, because what waits for me upstairs is really anyone’s guess (and mama has nothing to do with anything involving wet toilet paper).
You also continue to show frequent signs that you’re a future Rhodes Scholar. Your vocabulary and the way you try to understand context has me convinced you're a genius. Example: one night while reading the Lion King, I explained that Mufasa’s brother Scar is jealous of Simba because he wants to be next in line to be king. The next day you said to me, “Mommy, when Drew wants my toys, he feels jealous like Scar.” I love that you not only understood what I was explaining but a day later wanted to practice your new word. (Incidentally, at Mackenzie’s graduation a few months ago, Grandma’s friend Kerry told me that I used to do the same thing when I was little, reading the “word of the day” in the Readers Digest or some other magazine and then practice using it. Looks like you’re a chip off the ole nerd.) In a similar example, we were listening to NPR in the morning on the way to school and they were talking about the war in Israel. I didn't really think you were paying attention, until you chimed in and explained to me in great detail that weapons are bad because they hurt people, just like your friend Jack used a weapon at school to bonk you in the head.
It’s not just your vocabulary. You’re razor sharp and nothing gets by you. Mama and I recently decided that once you finished the last bottle of apple juice we had in stock, we were going to stop buying juiceand encourage you to drink more milk or water (or, like this morning, water with a little fresh squeezed orange juice, because in addition to being a genius, you’re incredibly high maintenance and demanding). Retiring juice was only an issue the first day. You wouldn’t believe me that we were all out of juice, so you wanted to go down to the kitchen to see for yourself. I promised I would look for you, so I promptly went downstairs, finished the last few swigs of a bottle of Gatorade that happened to be on the counter, and put the couple bottles of mommy’s lemonade we had on a top shelf in the pantry just in case you were to decide you wanted to give that a try instead of resorting to plain water. I then returned upstairs to tell you the bad news that after I looked reeeeeeeeeeally hard, I did in fact verify that we were all out of juice. I thought my plan was foolproof. If you called me on my fib, I could just as easily invite you downstairs to confirm for yourself that there was no more juice in the fridge. But you outsmarted me: “Mommy, you smell like juice. Are you sure you didn’t just hide it in the closet?” Fortunately, you’re still trusting, so even though I was cracking up and obviously lying, I told you nope, it was in fact all gone and that water would have to suffice.
Our no-juice policy is an extension of an effort to be just a little healthier. Not maniacally “you can never have juice or sweets again” healthier… just a little bit healthier. At school, they teach you about “sometimes food”, like juice and gummies. I appreciate that they call it "sometimes food" instead of junk food or bad food, and we've adopted that at home too. I think it sets the right tone that it’s totally fine to indulge in whatever suits your fancy, as long as it’s in moderation.
You continue to be the sweetest little boy on the planet. You wait for me to get home from work, and then you and mama go out to the garden to pick all the vegetables, usually in your underwear (just you, not mama, because otherwise that would be weird). You then put all the different vegetables each in their own color-coded bins. You don’t like to eat them, and in fact, you get mad if we eat them, but you love to collect them, wash them, and put them in the fridge “so they don’t get rotten”, then you revisit the fridge 100 times to make sure they’re still there and doing ok.
Your relationship with your sisters continues to evolve and you’re really stepping into your role as big brother. A few weeks ago, one of the girls was crying and you went right over and said “Don’t be scared. Be brave. I’m your big brother and I’ll protect you.” My heart nearly melted on the spot.
Happy half birthday, buddy, and thanks for making my birthday so special. You cleaned up all your toys in the basement to host my “party”, and by far, my favorite part of my birthday was you singing to me.
You’re one of a kind, kiddo.
Happy 10 months!
In the past few weeks, I've been binge consuming my friend Rebecca's podcast, 10 Questions We Always Ask: Interesting Conversations with Everyday People. There are a few things that make this podcast really engaging to me: There's the logistical factor (podcasts are about the only media I have time to consume - I can listen in the car on the way to work, or on the ferry, or walking into the office, whereas watching television is an after-you-all-are-asleep activity, and by that point, I'm usually too tired myself, and reading while walking or driving is dangerous). I also like it because Rebecca is an awesome person, so it's just nice to hear her infectious laugh piped in through my ear buds. But perhaps a more salient reason why it will resonate with people who have their choice of media or who don't know the host personally is because of the Q&A structure of the podcast, you instinctually go to the place where you think "How would I answer that question?" The questions are things like "Everyone is the Michael Jordan of something, so what's your super power?", "What's your At-Bat Music?", or "Walk me through a perfect day."
Having listened to 20 or so episodes thanks to two roadtrips and 2 hours a day of commuting, I find myself feeling like a very uninteresting person. More specifically, I feel like my "soon-to-be-35-year-old mom of 3 who lives in the 'burbs and drives a mini-van" self is pretty uninteresting whereas my "20-something, lives in SF's Mission District/NYC's Lower East Side, works remotely in a cafe sitting at a table next to Malcolm Gladwell, spends Tuesday nights at some hole in the wall bar listening to a band the average person has never heard of" self was pretty damn interesting. Certain questions really underscore this point, like "What album are you most looking forward to in 2014?" If you paid me $1000 I couldn't tell you a specific album that's about to be released, much less name one I'm particularly excited about. What's my super power? I immediately go the mom-place: I can be five rooms away and still can sense when any of you are about to do something you shouldn't, or I have a ridiculous sense of smell that can identify a crap-filled diaper from 100 yards away.
I ruminated on this "I"m super boring" realization for awhile to try to figure out how I really felt about it, and the truth is, I'm more than just ok with it - I wouldn't have it any other way. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot about my responsibility-free life that I can wax nostaligic about, but the truth is, I'd rather lay in the middle of the living room floor with you guys crawling all over me and Mason watching Little Einsteins, and Mama mowing the lawn, or giving you baths while Mason "cooks dinner" in his playroom, and Mama cooks dinner in the real kitchen. I love my domestic, uninteresting life. The thought of going to see live music on a Tuesday night is completely unappealing to me, but the thought of watching Frozen for the 9 millionth time, listening to Mason sing totally out of tune (poor kid is totally tone deaf like me), is still alluring. I don't need to know what albums are coming out in 2014, because really, I only listen to the Children's Indie Music station on Pandora (it's awesome by the way - not kids music, per se, but a mix of contemporary indie tunes and old classic rock hits that are largely upbeat, strong melodies, profanity-free so suitable for kids ears).
I don't want to overly romanticize things or create the impression that being a mom is the end-all, be-all of every wish and dream I ever had. It's hard. Damn hard. And tiring beyond all recognition. And depressing that going to the grocery store by myself is my best form of relaxation. Mama and I recently booked a trip to Turks and Caicos for the fall, and we are literally counting down the days to go on vacation (63, by the way). We will be by ourselves on a beach where people will bring me drinks and I don't have to worry about getting up at 5:30 am. The thought is so appealing and intoxicating that I can't dwell on it too long because the reality that it's still two months away will depress the shit out of me. But my overall point is this: I'm uncool, but you and your brother and your mama and our house and the 'burbs and the minivan... all of it... is awesome.
But this post is supposed to be about you, not me.
So at 10 months, where are you guys at?
First, there's this:
There's also a lot of teeth coming in all at once (Incidentally, before I sat down to write this, I went
back and read December 2011 when Mason was 10 months, and the rush of teeth happened at the same time for him too). Quinn - I've taken to calling you the fang because your top two teeth are coming in at a slightly slower pace than the one just adjacent, which I find super amusing for some reason.
You puke a lot less and you eat a lot more. This morning you housed an entire plate of scrambled eggs, half a piece of toast (which I didn't rip up into bite sized pieces, but instead let you gnaw on whole, and you both devoured it in 5 minutes), yogurt, and pureed fruit. In other words, you ate more for breakfast than I do. You are tanks. I seriously cannot wait until you can fully walk on your own because you weigh a ton.
Next week, we are heading on vacation: 4 families, 8 kids, 1 house. It should be interesting. The house is right across the street from the beach, and as I've mentioned in the past, going to the beach with you two is pretty much a nightmare, but I'm optimistic we'll find a way to make it work.
I love you girls. Thanks for being awesome.
I've decided this picture pretty much sums up everything about this stage of your life...
You're inventive, turning even a mundane object like a big bucket into an amazing adventure.
You're enthusiastic about everything.
You're a good friend. You and Justin took turns and entertained each other for days.
You are always flying, jumping, sprawling, or otherwise mimicking a natural disaster.
Now that the girls are mobile, you have a love/hate relationship. They're always into your stuff, which drives you nuts, but they're actually more fun to interact with. My favorite thing you do is when you adopt a really high pitched voice and say "Hi boo boo, it's ok, I'm your big brother." (Granted, you say it a lot more to Hayden than Quinn. I probably shouldn't memorialize this, but Hayden is by far your favorite. You ignore Quinn all the time, while begging to hug Hayden. Or if I put Quinn in the backseat with you, you scream and ask for Hayden. People don't really notice it at first, but then when I tell them that Hayden is your favorite, they crack up as they watch you interact with both of them.)
Mama and me are still your best friends, except when you tell us "You're not my best friend anymore", which you say about 5 times a day. Not sure who at daycare to thank for teaching you that one.
We've put you and the girls through a lot of change in the past few weeks, traveling on the weekends, a revolving door of nannies and babysitters, me stuck at a conference all week so that I only saw you awake for an hour or two total...But things are about to settle down. You (and we) love our current nanny, no more big work trips, and mama has most of next week off so will get to spend plenty of QT with you guys.
Love you buddy!
Writing these monthly entries requires two things: 1) at least 10 minutes of relative peace and quiet and 2) an internet connect. Either of these things are relatively attainable on their own; it’s finding them together that’s the challenge. My boat ride offers me 30 minutes of peaceful downtime, but no wifi. Work has reliable internet, but finding 15 minutes between meetings and using them to do something than actual work makes me feel a little guilty. Home? Well… “quiet” is more of an abstract concept than an actual thing at our house. All of this is to lead up to the fact that once again, I’m late posting. I do hope you’ll forgive me.
When I found out I was having twins, I reached out to a girl that I went to high school with who had a young toddler when she had her twins. She gave me lots of good advice, and told me, “The first nine months are the hardest, then it gets a lot easier.” Throughout the winter’s many sleepless nights, I remember thinking that nine months was a very long ways away. And now it’s here. It happened too fast.
This month has been head-spinning. You guys aren’t just mobile—you’re fast. And you love trouble. You have fierce determination and you will crawl over anyone and anything to get what you want. You hate anything that restricts your movement. Even the walker, which allows you to scoot about the family room at lightning speed, you look at as an object of oppression.
All of this has led me to the conclusion that I can’t wait until you can walk. When I say that, people give me the “you’re nuts” look. The way I figure it, though, the easiest scenario is that you're not mobile, but that ship has sailed. The second easiest scenario is that you can get from Point A to Point B without me having to carry you (you're each ~25 lbs now, and though I love cut mom arms, you're starting to get really frickin' heavy). Plus, I’ve already bought those backpack leash things. I sure will be *that* mom.
Your developmental milestones continue to happen pretty much on pace with one another. We’re taking bets on who is going to walk first – not that we’re trying to breed competition. My guess is Quinn, though. Hayden, you move too fast, so the whole “learning to stand,” which requires being at least marginally still, seems like a bit more of a stretch goal for you. Hayden, you’ve sprouted two chompers, while Quinn, you only have one sad little bottom tooth. Your sleeping has improved and is almost what I would call (cautiously) "predictable."
My favorite part about this month is the changing relationship you guys have with your big brother. It isn’t all hugs and kisses for sure. Since you’re mobile and love trouble, you love to take his toys, which drives him absolutely crazy. “NO BABIES. BAD!” shouted from the mouth of a 3 year old is pretty funny. But he’s also realizing that you’re more than just blobs and that you’re actually pretty cool little people. He asks to give you hugs and plays (errr, teases) you regularly, and when he does, you squeal in delight.
You also play with each other more. And in a preview of what I'm sure is more to come, you fight over toys and steal each other's binkies. Still, I can already tell you're best friends:
I love you girls. Happy 9 months.
The body of a toddler, the attitude of a teenager. Ok, I stole it from Facebook or something, but it was just too perfect of a description to not steal.
Need an example? Your new saying when you get mad is a stormy “FINE!” The first time I asked you what “fine” meant, you told me: “It means, walk away and find another friend to play with.” I’m not sure if you were telling me to walk away, or if it meant that you were going to walk away, but either way, you said it with all of the ‘tude of the surliest of teens.
Also not dissimilar to teenage boys, you’re obsessed with boobs. My boobs, in particular, which I’m not going to lie buddy, is a little weird. The other night we were reading a book and you kind of slyly grabbed my boob. After explaining to you that we don’t touch other people’s boobs, only your own boobs, you had a galactic meltdown because you don’t have boobs. I tried to buy myself a little runway by saying, “sure you do buddy, they’re just little.”
Then this happened (the screen is mostly dark; this is really just an audio clip):
Yeah, I’ll be saving this as blackmail material for your actual teenager years. [Insert evil laugh].
I’ll admit it though, I’m a little nervous that you’re going to be quite the player when you’re older. You didn’t let the boob thing go, and a few nights later, you tried feeling me up again. Again, I asked you not to grab my boob. Your response this time? “Why mommy? Your boobs are lookin’ good.”
[This anecdote is partially hilarious, and partially horrifying. Sharing with the internet shows questionable judgment and that I value a good chuckle over just about everything else.]
Onto less skeevy topics…
You are a master of words. Your new phrase to show unbelievable excitement: “No. Way.” You’ve really mastered the pregnant pause with that one. And that’s not all. You asked me how a pile of dirt came to be sitting in our driveway. I told you a truck delivered it, and you responded, “I did NOT see that coming.” Your delivery – the perfect emphasis– just cracks me up.
You are ambitious. You have a firm handle of what you want to be when you grow up. “When I grow up, I want to be a grown up. And an engineer. And a doctor. And a monkey.” I think those are all wonderful aspirations. (An engineer according to you, by the way, is someone who drives the train.)
You are deeply analytical. The other morning just as you were waking up, you mumbled something. I happened to be walking by your room, so I popped in and asked what was up. You said, “Someone was tricky. I went to sleep in mommy’s bed, and then I woke up and was here in my bed. [Long pause while you survey your surroundings] Yes, someone was tricky,” you concluded.
You love routine. We have read the same two books every night for the past few weeks: The Lion King and Toy Story 3. (I have no idea where Toy Story 1 and Toy Story 2 are.) I do read a slightly modified version of the Lion King because the first time I suggested we read it, I had forgotten how violent it is (the Uncle kills Mufasa and tries to kill Simba so that he can be king, and in the end, Simba kills the uncle. I'm not quite ready to have those conversations, so in my version of the story, they just get in a big fight.)
You are genuine. You got not one but TWO invitations to birthday parties from classmates, and you could not contain your excitement. That day you told just about every person you came into contact with that you were going to Freddy’s birthday party and Brennan’s birthday party, and Freddy was having an alligator birthday party and Brennan was having a ninja turtle birthday party (Point of record: I believe Brennan is just having a bbq, and I don’t anticipate that, despite the friendly cartoon alligator on the invitation, that it will in fact involve alligators. Freddy’s ninja turtle invite, however, was apropos – his party involves a full on karate lesson, which is fantastic, because that episode of power rangers you just happened to navigate to on the ipad didn’t teach you the proper technique for the 8000 things you’ve been hi-ya’ing since then. This will surely improve your form). When I say you told just about everyone, I mean complete and total strangers: the guy at the deli counter at the store, the checkout guy, the two guys in the lobby of a hotel, everyone in the doctor’s waiting room… multiple times… until they acknowledged you. It was pretty darn adorable. I think I'm equally as excited for these parties. We don't really know too many people on the South Shore yet, so this will be a good opportunity to meet other families. Naturally, mama is going to stay home with the girls because she hates small talk with strangers.
Time is sailing by too fast, but I love each day.
(Btw, I did in fact write this yesterday, but I didn't have an internet connection. Just in case you thought I was slackin' two months in a row...)
Dear Girls -
This was a big month, especially for you Hayden. 1) You started sleeping through the night, so I no longer threaten to give you away. You do still wake up between 4:30 am and 5:30 am for the day though, so I like Quinn a lot more in those pre-dawn hours 2) You sprouted two teeth. 3) You started legit crawling. This last one just really happened in the past few days. All month you were more what I would call "belly flopping with purpose". It was an effective way to get from point A to point B, but it lacked finesse. Now, you're a full on one-hand-in-front-of-the-other crawler.
Quinn, your month wasn't so eventful. You've had a cold that has produced a flow of mucus that seems impossible from such a small human. I think feeling overall crappy has limited your interest in being mobile, though you've mastered the roll and backwards scoot. Mostly, though, you just want to be snuggled and held.
Mama and I have discovered that child-proofing was infinitely easier the first time around. It wasn't that big of a deal to make sure things like pen caps, bottle caps, and other small objects weren't within Mason's reach. Now, however, our family room looks like a Hot Wheels graveyard, a broken crayon apocalypse, and a double AA battery mine field. We clean every day. Every day we lose the battle. Your brother is a hurricane. We'll continue to do our best to protect you.
Although your mobility creates new challenges, the fact that you're growing is solving challenges as well. You can both sit up on your own in the bath tub, which means that process is slightly streamlined. And I can take cute pictures like this one:
Admittedly, most of the pictures are a little blurry or not timed quite right because the two of you never stop frickin' moving, and I'm paranoid you're going to tip over and face plant in the water. And I'm pretty sure letting you drown while I capture a picture is generally considered bad parenting.
We had a nice visit from our bestest buddies, turning our house into a bit of chaos over the Memorial Day Weekend, but it was totally worth it. You girls and Ben posed nicely for a picture...
Getting all 6 of you to sit still and face the camera was another story. Quinn, you especially were quite pissed at us.
We love all of you to pieces.
I missed posting yesterday, but for good reason. It was Mother’s Day and a Sunday, so I took some advice from Kid President: “Rule #1: Put down the phone, unless your baby’s name is “phone’. Rule #2: don’t name your baby “phone”. So yesterday, we spent the whole day together playing and enjoying the nice weather.
In the morning, we took a trip down to the Cape to visit Great Memere. Unlike other families, where visiting older members is seen as an obligation, Great Memere is the grand matriarch of the Lock family, revered by all of her kids, grandkids, and great grandkids. She’s a very special, special lady. She sends cards for everything – not just birthdays and Christmas, but Halloween and Mother’s Day and anniversaries. She’s so thoughtful. She sends you cards with $3 tucked in. How cute is that?? She’s always so grateful when we come to visit, and even though I’m only related to Great Memere through marriage, you’d never know it by the way she squeezes me and tells me she loves me every time I see her. You’re a lucky boy to have her, just like I feel lucky to have her. When we were making plans to go visit, Mama asked me, “Are you sure you’re ok if we go down for Mother’s Day? You know how important she is to me,” and I just responded, “You know how important she is to ME.” It was the perfect way to kick off a day dedicated to celebrating moms.
In the afternoon, we spent time outside playing in the yard. Your little buddy Drew came over and you chased each other around on your four wheelers while the girls slept and the adults enjoyed adult conversations and adult beverages. In recent weeks and months, we’ve been able to give you a little bit longer leash. You and Drew went downstairs to play, and we didn’t have to hover over you to make sure you didn’t impale yourselves or swallow small objects. We’d hear you guys occasionally argue over a toy, but left you to work it out.
Along those lines, I’ve also deliberately started to beat you at the games we play, at least occasionally. I think it’s important that you learn that losing is a part of life and learn how to handle it with grace. I was very proud of you earlier this month at Justin’s birthday party where you played (to my knowledge) your first game of musical chairs. Each time a kid got out, he or she cried. You did too – but just for a second. You’re definitely learning how to channel different responses for different levels of disappointment in life, and that’s a good thing.
One tactic we’ve deployed when you do meltdown is to ask “big deal or little problem?” and we watch your brain go to work, mostly coming to the conclusion that whatever ails you is nothing more than a little problem, and then we work through a solution together.
Watching your brain work is my favorite thing in the world. You’re a sponge. You absorb words and phrases, and use them in context. For example, the other day, Mama asked if you wanted cinnamon on your apples. You grabbed the shaker and said, “let me do the honor.” Seriously, what three year old says that?
And it’s not just a matter of repeating what you’re hearing. You’re a thinker. Lots of kids always ask “why”, but you take nothing for granted. We can never use a word around you that you don’t understand, and you put together abstract things, like time. For example:
You: Mommy, I’m sad.
Me: Why, buddy?
You: Because I miss my birthday.
Me: Well guess what? You get to have another one!
You: REALLY!?! Oh, mommy, I’m so happy. You’re the best grown up ever. I’m so proud of you.
Me: Yay! You get to have another one, but not til February.
You: What’s February?
Me: It’s a month.
You: What’s a month?
Me: It’s a way to describe a time of year.
You: Like Pizza Friday?
Me: Yes, buddy, just like Pizza Friday.
I can only imagine what you’re going to be like when you get older. We won’t be able to get away with anything.
We love you buddy.
Dear Girls –
Happy 7 months! It’s been a long haul, my friends, a loooong haul. Raising you while chasing your three year old brother is the most tiring, challenging thing Mama and I have ever done. Don’t get me wrong – we love it, and couldn’t possibly love you guys any more than we already do. It’s just that the 7 month sprint is taking its toll physically. The other day, I threw down a challenge to Mama: we were going to go three days without complaining. No “I’m tired”. No “my head hurts.” No “my stomach feels off”. Instead, we opted for (admittedly in our most sarcastic, cheery tones), “Although I’m tired, I’m grateful for the chance to see the sun rise!” or “The rhythm of the pounding in my head reminds me of my favorite song!” I think we made it about 4 hours.
I think our physical ailments are almost entirely due to lack of sleep. Hayden, this is about 97.5% your fault. Quinn, you will sleep a good solid 10, 11, 12 hours. You enjoy a nice hour long morning nap, and maybe 2 hours of shut eye in the afternoon. Hayden, you like cat naps, and wake up 47 times a night. We are thinking we might have to move you into your own room and let you cry it out a little bit more so you learn how to put yourself back to sleep. You suffer from a major case of Fear of Missing Something (FOMS), so you rarely sit still. Quinn, you have mastered sitting upright and will sit and play contentedly on your own, at least for a few minutes. Hayden, you haven’t sit still long enough to master sitting up on your own, though you do get up on all fours and rock back and forth. Today, on the 7 month mark exactly, you even managed to make some forward progress. Now we are officially screwed.
We went to a birthday party this weekend and another Mama of twin girls was there. She said from day one her girls were like night and day. I think it’s so funny how even at this age, the stark differences in your personality are so pronounced and with each passing day, become even more apparent.
You are starting to interact a little more with one another, which makes me happy. When Mason was your age, he was just starting daycare. To put three kids in daycare would require Mama and me to each sell a kidney, so you’re going to have to rely on each other as your primary form of baby interactions for at least the next few months. Hopefully by the time you’re one, we can put you in school at least part time.
One milestone where you guys are exactly aligned: You. Love. Food. You’re both total porkers and will gobble up just about anything we put in front of you. Except avocado. Neither of you were a fan of that, which bums me out because that’s one of the easiest things to make you. Apples, pears, carrots, peas, sweet potato, spinach & potato… you both love it all. You’re tracking in the 70+ percentile for height, and you’re already too long for 9 month clothes. You’re giants.
As much as I want to fast forward to when you’re both sleeping well and our lives return to a relative state of calm, I hate how fast the last 7 months have gone by. I’m sure I thought the same thing with Mase, but it seems time is going by 2x as fast this time around.
I love you girls.
The girls in their natural states:
Mason - I knew it was coming. The mommy blogs all say it. Facebook says it. And man-oh-man, t's true:
2 is NOTHING compared to 3.
This mom pretty much summed up the top ten reasons 3 is worse than 2 (in bold), but I've added some color commentary:
1. At two, they can barely talk. At three, they never shut the hell up. [Generally speaking, everything you do is more unrelenting. You fixate on things and you have the vocabulary to express your fierce determination. "I want my stickers. Where did my stickers go? I DIDN'T use all my stickers. No I DIDN'T. I want more stickers...." You finally went to bed for the night, but 12 hours later the very first words out of your mouth: "Mommy, I'm sad because my stickers disappeared."
2. At two, they cry. At three, they throw temper tantrums so epic, you become convinced that they are possessed by the devil. You gave me one of the biggest scares of my life earlier this week. You were super pissed that I wouldn't let you bring your toy basketball into school, so I dragged you across the parking lot clutched in a death grip to prevent you from running back to the car. We got through two different sets of double doors with you kicking and screaming the whole way. We were passed by half a dozen parents: some sympathic, some judgmental. (F*ck the judgmental ones... wait til their kid turns 3.) By the time we got to the sign in desk, I figured it was safe to let you go, but the second I did, you bolted. And, as luck would have it, a few parents were coming in so before I even knew what was happening, you were through the double doors and running into the parking lot. (Sidenote: what kind of parent sees a three year old bolting towards a door and doesn't throw up a block. Help a sister out, for christsake.) We had a long talk about it, and the first thing you said when I got home that night was that you were really sorry.
3. At two, they’re happy to eat anything you present to them. At three, they eat only three foods (usually consisting of a starch and processed cheese. 95% of your diet consists of chicken nuggets, meatballs, waffles or pancakes with syrup, any fruit, carrots, and yogurt.
4. At two, baths are a ten minute event, the result of which is a clean child. At three, baths take over an hour, and result in a drenched bathroom, sopping wet mommy and 16 used towels. I am counting down the days until your sisters can sit up in the tub on their own and we can do big family baths because bathing all three of you takes days. Or maybe this summer we'll just strip you down and hose you off on the deck.
5. At two, they wear diapers that can be changed on your watch. At three, they’re potty trained and the world revolves around their bladders and bowels. On the plus side, it seems that you have *finally* mastered pooping somewhere other than on the floor. This makes me happy.
6. At two, they are distracted by a box of Gerber Puffs at the grocery store. At three, they want to dictate your entire food list. I've learned just to not take you to the store, even if that means we subsist off of non-perishables ordered from Amazon.
7. At two, they let you dress them, looking innocent and adorable. At three, they insist on picking out their clothes, looking like pint sized versions of mental institution inhabitants. You used to be the best dressed kid in day care. Now you insist on spider man t-shirts and soccer pants. Occassionally you mix it up and insist on your Under Armour t-shirt. You're such a dude.
8. At two, they don’t like to get dirty. At three, they thrive on it. You still don't really like to get dirty, but that doesn't stop you from eating your aforementioned waffles and syrup with your hands and then leaving a trail of sticky handprints all over the house.
9. At two, you can do things for them, saving infinite amounts of time. At three, they must do everything by themselves, taking FOR-fucking-EVER. We go through this battle Every. Single. Morning. You INSIST on climbing into your car seat alone, and if I have the audacity to help you, see #2 in this list. I will say, for the most part, I am remarkably patient. I read an article about how your brain literally does not comprehend time. It helps if I mutter that to myself under my breath over and over as I watch you struggle to get into the car, get distracted by the shiny thing in the way back of the car, climb over the seat, somersault back over, and finally CANNONBALL into your car seat.
10. At two, manipulation is the last thing on their minds. At three, they own you. And they know it. Yep.
Probably the most horrible incident of being three occurred earlier this month when we were going through our morning routine. I had managed to get you half-dressed, which means you had one of your spider man shirts on, but no pants and no underwear. As you stood in the middle of the living room, you looked at me and gave me an evil little grin. I knew exactly what you were thinking and warned, "Don't you dare. Go to the bathroom right now." You didn't listen. Instead you laughed and unleashed a 5' stream of pee across the living room right in my direction. Now, I'm super patient when it comes to potty training accidents. But this my friend, oh, this was no accident. Half-way through you finally noticed the rage on my face and then got super confused, as if you were thinking, "wait, why doesn't she find this as hilarious as I do??"
On the positive side, you're also a lot sweeter at 3, and when you were two, I didn't even think that could be humanly possible. It's so fun to see you digest the world around you and then translate it to your own feelings. For example, the other day you walked over to our 2nd floor bedroom window and stared longingly down at our neighbor's house. When I asked you what was wrong you said: "I'm sad. I miss Drew. Peter Pan was sad because he missed his shadow, and Mason is sad because I miss Drew." Or like when we were reading a book and you explained to me, "Dash is grumpy and cranky, just like Mason was grumpy because you didn't buy me more popscicles."
As a sidenote, I find the way you randomly refer to yourself in the third person super endearing. Though I must admit, it does get confusing because you name everything Mason. At bedtime, we have a checklist. Mason Polar Bear? Check. Mason Dragon? Check. Mason Dolphin Duck (a rubber dolphin that looks a lot like a rubber duckie)? Check. Bucky? Check. (Ok, the last one only gets a name because it's from Jake and the Never Land Pirates.) Mason Boy never goes to bed without Mason Polar Bear, Mason Dragon, Mason Dolphin Duck and Bucky all piled into bed with him.
The only other name that's part of our bedtime routine is Burt the Frog. Somewhere along the line, I made up a bedtime story about a frog named Burt who was sad because kids kept throwing trash in his pond. Mason Boy came along and said "Don't throw trash in Burt's pond" and the moral of the story was don't litter and help mom clean up the room. It was a good one. That became our nightly ritual and since then, Burt has gone on many adventures with his friends Mason Polar Bear and Bucky. My favorite part of the last few weeks, though, is the fact that now you are the one that makes up the stories and I just get to listen (although, you actually usually make me re-tell you the story you just told me. I wonder if you're testing me to see if I'm paying attention). One night, Mason Boy and Burt went to Africa to play with the dinosaurs. And there was a park. A different night you explained to me that penguins, dolphins and whales live in the ocean, but not arctic foxes. Arctic foxes live in the snow and monkeys live in the jungle in the trees. That night, Mason Boy, Bucky, and Burt went to look for monkeys in the jungle, while Mason Polar Bear hung out with the Arctic fox.
You have clearly mastered the pregnant pause and flair for the dramatic. One night you told me a story about how Ms. Nancy, your beloved pre-school teacher, pushed you. When I asked, "She pushed you?" with a little bit of curiosity in my voice, you responded, "Yeah, so high and I went higher than Burt on the swing." The swing was of course located in Africa. Obvi.
You're one of a kind, my sweet boy.
Happy 6 months! I seriously considered limiting this post to the following message:
Please go the f%*k to sleep.
Mommy and Mama
(And Mason, who does not appreciate being woken up by your incessant mewling)
But then I reconsidered. We have stopped feeding you at night, and instead relied on binkies and backrubs to get you back to sleep. No eating. No rocking. Not surprisingly, Ms. Hayden, this has meant no sleeping for any of us. Strike that: you go to sleep great. You just don’t stay asleep. A quick trip to replace a binky or offer a calm word isn’t so bad – we’re up, in your room, and back in bed in most cases in under 2 minutes. But as I climb back into bed, I know it’s only going to be a matter of a couple of hours before I’m back repeating the ritual.
Sometimes we gamble and let you cry, but you see, it’s a fine art – the difference between “is she going to go back to sleep” or “is she going to really wake up and scream like a homicidal maniac for the next hour” is a game of inches. We have our window, and it is oh so small. For the most part, Quinn, you remain largely oblivious to your sister's wails. You get your power sleeping ability from your Auntie Lindsey who really is an expert sleeper. Don’t think you’re getting off easily though – you have developed your own high maintenance habits. Whereas once we could put you in a swing and let you rock contentedly for what seemed like days while we chased Mason or soothed Hayden, all of the sudden, you’re only happy if you’re being held. Although it’s more work for us, it’s nice to see you a little bit demanding—it gives me confidence that your siblings won’t take advantage of your easy going nature as you get older.
This month was also especially tough because I was away for a full work week. Although I was only gone 5 days, you both grew noticeably, perhaps because you’re total porkers who are on cloud 9 now that we’ve started feeding you solid foods. So far apples, bananas, peas and sweet potatoes are all a big hit. You both looked like I was trying to torture you, however, when I fed you avocado. I’ve also completely stopped nursing, which makes me really sad, but it was just too hard to balance being back at work and keeping up with you.
To ensure that Mama wasn’t left to fend for herself all week when I was gone, we imported Auntie Joy from California to come help. Mama survived, but not without contracting the flu. Auntie Joy survived, but she has severely chapped hands from washing them so much. You two continue to generate a lot of bodily fluids, and while Mama and I are totally immune to being puked on, shat on, and peed on, Auntie Joy still values personal cleanliness. Poor misguided fool.
You’re entering the little person phase – the time where silly baby faces are more than just cute; they’re communicating when you’re happy, sad, pissed, annoyed, overjoyed, hungry, tired, sated, or cuddly. You are also interacting more with one another, and those moments make my heart melt. You hold hands and pull hair (well, Quinn, you pull Hayden’s hair. You’re still a total baldy, but I’m sure Hayden will figure out how to torture you soon enough). You’re sisters.
I love you.
Nothing like a nice up-the-back poop.
You are 3 years and 1 month old, and I’ve been writing these monthly posts since you were five months. That’s 32 entries of chronicling your adorableness, your bodily functions, your funny sayings, and your developmental milestones. There’s no shortage of things to write about this month – like how yesterday at the grocery store with Mama, you insisted on buying mommy and mama flowers and proclaimed at the top of your lungs “they’re so beautiful”, which made everyone within earshot melt with cuteness overload. Or how you’ve memorized every word of Stuck Truck and Trashy Town and how you “read” it to me every night. Instead, though, I thought maybe this month I would write about me and how having you and the girls has changed me.
I read an article recently written by a woman who described her powerful case of Motherlove – a feeling of love so intense that it threatened to wipe out the woman she once was. Motherlove, the article explains, “is not a series of momentary bursts of joy and it is not an abstraction. It is constant and material. It is obsession.” The author quotes other women that have tried to describe it: “a love so sudden and huge that [you] don’t know how to make it fit.” Or love “without limits or expectations… a love that left people speechless, confused, delirious with misunderstanding.” I read that description and I thought: that’s me. That’s you. That’s our family.
For all of the positive attributes of Motherlove (and they are innumerable), there are downsides. “I am afraid in Motherlove,: she writes. "I worry over my son growing into a child, a teen, a man, having to make choices and mistakes, feeling confusion, anger, sorrow, regret. I dread his heartbreak. I pre-mourn his future injuries, illnesses, and death. These thoughts, the daymares of the loving, are nearly intolerable." Daymares. That's exactly it. Sometimes when I’m driving to or from work alone in the car my daymares can overtake me and make it hard to breathe. I would be tempted to blame it on post-partum hormonal rage, but the truth is, it happened the second you were born and never stopped. I know Mama feels it too. It's what happens when you love something so much.
Motherlove floods my otherwise overly-rationale brain with anxiety. It distracts me from the tasks at hand: work, making dinner, changing a diaper, listening to one of your stories. It takes discipline to refocus. It is the hardest part of being a mom. Harder than sleeplessness. Harder than figuring out the best configuration for 3 seats in a minivan. Harder than not dropping f-bombs when you’ve been smacked in the head with a fire truck.
Motherlove, the author explains, is like an addiction: high highs and low lows. I think of how amazing it feels when you tell me that you want to hug my face, or how devastating it can feel when you want nothing to do with me, and I know she’s right. Our family is my addiction. Maybe this is why I’m such a voracious consumer of parenting articles. It’s not because I’m looking for advice or that I’m obsessed with being the perfect parent. I don’t read an article about 5 foods never to feed your child and then rush out and purge the pantry. I don’t read 10 tips to make your child into a world-class sleeper (tip #1: stick to a schedule) and then become an adamant clock watcher. You eat frozen chicken nuggets more than I’m comfortable admitting. I let you watch the same episode of Paw Patrol 4 times in a row. You quite frequently go to school in the PJ shirt you wore to bed the night before. You got Target-bought decorations for your birthday and I haven’t spent a second on Pinterest. We are lots of things: "perfect" isn't one of them, and I'm ok with that.
What I do, though, is read all of these articles to create an intellectual context in which I make my own parenting decisions. Feeling like I’m doing everything I can to make the best possible choices for you and your sisters makes me feel empowered over my addiction to you. Like the addict in recovery though, I do accept that there’s a limit to what I can control. I can’t prevent future injuries – physical or emotional. I can’t be the owner of your forever happiness. I can only try to foster an environment of love and trust, where success and failure are each given equal billing, where you can feel the strength of my Motherlove without feeling oppressed and smothered by it.
And that’s my promise to you and the girls. I will always try.
I love you buddy. Happy 3 years and 1 month.
Since February doesn't have a "29", I've taken the liberty of waiting a few extra days to write. Really, I didn't have a choice -- there hasn't been a moment to spare. Mama worked 4 night shifts in a row and then took a much deserved weekend away in Miami boating and mountain biking and eating yummy fresh fish. She has a passion for the outdoors that I hope you inherit (but if you don't, we can always cuddle on the couch and read books).
I'm dubbing month 5 "the light at the end of the tunnel month." There are several ways that I see our lives getting easier in the next few weeks and months. We're not quite there yet, but there's hope and promise, and after five months, that feels pretty amazing. Here are three key ways, in order of how excited I am about each of them:
#1: Your little bodies have started producing your own melatonin. This means you sleep *much* better at night than you have for the first 4.5 months. On good nights, you sleep from 7-1:30am, up for a quick bottle and change, and then back to bed until anywhere between 5:30-7:30. If I go to bed at 8 or 9 (which I frequently do now), that means I can get a solid 4.5-5.5 hour stretch, followed by another 3.5+ stretch. This. Is. Amazing. In a few more weeks, we're going to try to phase out that last middle of the night feeding, but for now, I'm just loving the predictable nature of your schedule.
#2. You puke less. Don't get me wrong - you're both still never ending fountains of bodily fluids (particularly you, Quinnie), but it's definitely less. The doctor said that's typical for when babies start eating solid foods, which you two did this month. I bet in another month, we'll be down to only 2-3 outfit changes a day. Our water bill will grateful for the laundry relief.
#3. You can almost sit up on your own. You've been rolling over like champs for a few weeks now, and you can sit with just the slightest little bit of support to help balance you. Why is this one on the list? Is sitting really that big of a deal that will make our lives easier?? Yes - and here's why: it is nearly impossible for one person to go shopping with a double stroller. It is fully impossible to go shopping with a double stroller and a toddler. When you can sit on your own, you'll be able to sit in the cart and Mase can ride in the basket. I'm not saying that this adventure sounds at all enjoyable -- but at least it's doable. And we'll take doable.
I love you munchkins,
Happy Birthday, my sweet boy.
Today, you're three years old (even though anytime anyone asks you how old you are, you insist you're "4-11" or sometimes just "4.") I can't wrap my head around the fact that I've been your mom for three whole years. At the same time, I can't even remember what life was like before you were in it.
This past month has been a Tale of Two Masons. Half the time, you are an absolute prince. The other half, not so much.
In the princely category: You have made up a wonderful song that you like to sing all of the time that goes like this:
"I love mommy, mama, and my sisters...and my toys...and my couch... And my chair...and the snow...and [whatever other object is in your sight line]."
Sometimes hand gestures accompany your performance. You extend your arm pleadingly, palms to the sky, gesturing at the object of your love. When you're finished, you take a deep bow and say "thank you, thank you." It's the best song in the world, even though, sadly, you are entirely tone deaf just like me.
When you're not serenading us with love songs, you're driving us crazy by being a little too agro for my liking - swinging, kicking, hitting, and my least favorite: cannonballing. You don't do it out of anger... It's more a mechanism to get our attention or just you being silly, but you're strong enough now that you have the ability to do some serious damage. We spend a lot of time asking you "was that a good decision or a bad decision?" Here's a tip: cannonballing into mommy's overly sensitive boobs is a bad decision. In fact, cannonballing into anyone's boobs is a bad idea. You'll thank me for that tip when you're a teenager.
One night when we were lying in bed, you were particularly rambunctious and jumping all over me, so we had to have a little talk:
Me: Mason, I don't like when you jump on me like that.
You: Too friendly mommy??
Me: Yes buddy, too friendly.
You crack me up kiddo. "Too friendly" must be something they tell you in school when you're invading your friends personal space. And of course you remember everything. I love hearing you spit back the things you learn when I'm not around.
I'll give you credit though - despite the fact that you're a wrecking ball, so far, you've been very careful of your sisters. You have, however, started to exhibit signs of jealousy for the first time since they've been born, which I attribute less to their arrival and more to the fact that I've gone back to work. I've often considered you the kid who could roll with anything, but I think this adjustment might have thrown you for a bit of a loop. Whereas before you would completely ignore them (and me if I was tending to them), now if they're on my lap, you immediately come over complaining "there's no roooooooom for me mommy". Mama and I are making special efforts to do Mason-only activities or to ensure that we aren't letting the girls cramp your style too much. It's tough though, particularly when we are so tired all of the time.
You, however, have a seemingly endless reserve of energy. Lately, you're really diggin' the Olympics. In school you made tinfoil and ribbon medals, and now every night you do laps around the living room. We yell "ready, set, go" and cheer you on. We figure the more you run, the more likely you are to go to bed at a reasonable hour. It only sometimes works.
Being your mom is the very best thing I've ever done. It so fun to watch you grow up.
Happy birthday, buddy.
I love you.
Four months have gone by. All too fast for my liking, in case you’re wondering. I went back to work a few weeks ago, and that was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do – notably harder than when I went back to work after your brother was born. I’ve given a lot of thought as to why, and I’ve come up with several reasons:
First, with Mason, I went back to work after 9 weeks. The first few weeks were a blur of sleeplessness, physical pain and recovery, and an overall sense of being overwhelmed. By the time I got my feet under me, it was already time to go back to work. I barely had time to adjust to NOT being at work. With you, although the sleeplessness is the same/worse, the physical toll of delivery was much less, so much so that we checked out of the hospital a day early. And unlike last time, I didn’t rush back to work. I took a whole 14 weeks, including two weeks around the holidays. I got very, very used to living each day in my PJs.
Second, when I went back to work after Mason, Mama had just finished her teaching job and hadn’t yet started PA school, so from months 2-6, she stayed home with Mason. Now both of us are working (including a few night shifts a week for mama), which means there’s less sleep, more “single parenting” for both mama and me (she’s on her own with you guys lots of mornings, while I’m on my own with you guys lots of nights and some weekends), and that you spend a fair amount of time with a nanny. The logistics alone are enough to make my head spin.
Third, and after a lot of reflection, this is the biggest one: With your brother, we were new moms and it’s pretty safe to say, we had no idea what we were doing. When I went back to work after 9 weeks, I was back on familiar footing. I knew what was expected of me at work, and more than that, I was confident that I could deliver (I had even been promoted while on maternity leave). Not to sound boastful, but after three years I can say with a good degree of confidence I’m a good mom (the rolling-off-the-couch-incident aside), and as a result, I don’t need to get that “I wake up every day doing what I’m good at” feeling from work alone. In fact, I would even go as far to say I’m a much better mom than I am a Director of Communications. Don’t get me wrong – I still love my job, the people I work with and the work I do… it’s just different now. I don’t have mommy-guilt for leaving you every day when I go to work (and even if I did, I don’t think I’m quite cut out to be a full time stay-at-home-mom), but there are moments when I miss you all so much it takes my breath away and I have to stop what I’m doing and coach myself to refocus at the task at hand.
There’s another reason being back at work sucks a little more this time around, summed up in two of the most dreaded words in my vocabulary these days: Breast. Pump. I have a serious love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with that stupid thing. On the one hand, I love that I get to continue to provide you with the wholesome goodness of breast milk, even while I’m back at work. But on the other hand, pumping enough to feed one kid was hard enough; pumping enough to feed two is damn near torture. It’s something I have to do every 2 hours just so that half of your bottles each day are breast milk. On the upside, pumping at work does give me a few minutes a day to catch up on Facebook or Facetime with you guys (I tried working while pumping but in most cases, it’s hard to do anything that requires mental acuity with the reh-ru-reh-ru humming of a breast pump in the background).
Also on the list of things I should be grateful for: while other women have to pump for days just to get a few ounces, I do have rocket boobs that can express 4-6 ounces of milk in about 10 minutes (correction: I have a rocket boob. Righty is responsible for probably 80% of your lifetime calories, while lefty is a total slacker. How’s that for too much information? I would consider it over-sharing, but anyone who has seen me when I haven’t pumped or nursed you guys in a few hours can see very plainly that all boobs are not created equal). Even as I write this (a few days ahead of the 29th), I’m sitting on a plane with the breast pump secured under the seat in front of me. I pumped in the “nursery” at Logan Airport and I’ve packed two giant thermoses to fill while I’m in the Bahamas. Pumping is a logistical frickin’ nightmare.
Sleep and obsessing over sleep (yours, mine, mama's, Mason’s) has become a full time job unto itself. I lay awake at night thinking “if everyone settles down right now, I will get four hours of sleep.” In what seems like a blink, I’m mentally revising: “Ok, if everyone settles down right NOW, I will get three hours of sleep.”… “ok…two hours of sleep”… “oh fuck it, I should just get up and start my day.” Someone asked me how I was feeling one morning, and I replied “I’m really tired today.” Then I realized how meaningless adding the word “really” was – it was pretty much the equivalent of expressions like “infinity times infinity”. Really f-ing tired is just our operational norm now. I’ve read that biologically you start producing your own melatonin around 4 months. C’mon melatonin!
While comparing siblings to one another is generally frowned upon, I’m going to go ahead and do it anyway. You two are WAY more high maintenance than your brother was as a baby. For one, you require that we have the white noise app on our phones blaring in order to sleep. At first, this didn’t bother me, but now it drives me crazy. I’m convinced that the makers of the app have secretly woven in subliminal messages because beneath the fuzz and the lapping waves, I hear people talking. Really. Is it actually there or just a psychosis brought on by sleep deprivation? I have no idea, but I find myself focusing really hard to decipher what the voices are saying, which takes energy I just don’t have. Mama hears it too, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s really there since she’s just as sleep deprived as I am. Secondly, your bottles have to be just the right temperature. With Mase, he ate on a fairly predictable schedule, so we’d take a bottle of pumped milk out of the fridge 15 minutes before a feeding and that was warm enough to suit his needs. You like your bottles not just room temp, but warm, and you go from thoroughly sated to starving in 2.2 seconds and never at exactly the same time each day, so the time it takes to get the bottles to your particular liking can be the longest 10 minutes of the day. And then you puke it all over us anyway. Prince Mason never puked on us. (Are you already dreading your formative years when I say “why can’t you be more like your brother?? I promise I’ll never do that).
In terms of individual milestones, Hayden you are about 2 minutes away from being able to roll over. You get all the way on your side, hang out for a few minutes, kick and squeal in delight, and then roll back. I’m quite confident that you physically could complete the roll now, you just haven’t figured out that you want to yet.
Quinn, we’re fairly certain that you’re starting to teeth. In the past few weeks, you’ve begun to chow on your hand with reckless abandon, leaving you soaked in drool. It sounds gross, but it’s actually quite adorable.
By far my favorite thing about your development this month is that you both have mastered the belly laugh and smiles. We went to the Boston Children’s Museum one weekend and in the elevator you started to get a little cranky, so I told Mason to make you laugh. He did his funny faces, and you both responded with absolute glee, giggling and grinning from ear to ear. (There was a collective “awwww” in the elevator at the overwhelming cuteness of it all).
This last month certainly has been a trip. I love you, girls.
This month has been so crazy.
First, we said goodbye to your friend the “shee shee” (binky). Right around Thanksgiving, I had told you that Jebby the Elf was going to take your binky back to the North Pole and Santa was going to melt it down and turn it into a present. Auntie Kristen didn’t think this was a very good idea and that if you associated the Big Guy with the disappearance of your treasured binky, it might taint Christmas. Just to play it safe, I never really said anything again. A few weeks later, we lost your last binky. When we told you it was gone, you reached back into the freakish memory of yours and asked, “it’s at the North Pole?” By that point I was committed, so yep, that’s where it went. It didn’t really phase you much. In fact, getting rid of your binky was so easy that I was kicking myself for not pulling the plug months earlier. I wonder what I could have accomplished if I had redirected all the time I’ve spent looking for that damn little piece of nasty rubber and plastic.
So by Christmas time, you were totally binky-free, which was a little nerve-wracking because Christmas can be a very stressful time of year. Despite the sugar, late nights, and skipped naps, you were a sweet little boy, a prince, better behaved than any mom of an almost-3 year old has the right to ask for under such circumstances. The week after, though, you were a little punk. It was like you saved up all of your tantrums and whininess until after the people whose sole mission in life is to spoil you had returned home. Smart move my friend. Very smart move.
Santa is still someone you talk about regularly. Just prior to Christmas, we showed you a video courtesy of the website Portable North Pole where he spoke to you directly. You mistook the video for a live FaceTime call, yelling at the computer, “Hi santa!! Santa? Santa!!” It was 87 types of adorable.
Christmas morning you opened your stocking in our room, and you were so grateful for everything. The first present you opened was a Slinky:
Mason: It’s perfect for me!
Me: What did you get??
Mason: I don’t know.
I love that you were so excited about a present, even when you had no idea what to do with it.
Next, you opened your Spiderman toothbrush and yelled “that’s a toothbrush and toothpaste! Let’s go brush our teeth before my teeth fall out!!” After you had opened the last present in your stocking, you got this horribly sad look on your face. When we asked what was wrong, you said, “Santa forgot my polka dots.” I happened to have it on good authority that Santa didn’t in fact forget your polka dots and that they were sitting under the Christmas tree, but you didn’t realize there were more presents to come. Seeing the look of disappointment on your face, I almost ran downstairs to get them. Hopefully I’ll outgrow that “fulfill every desire” impulse before you’re disappointed there isn’t a set of new car keys under the tree (who am I kidding? Uncle Danny will probably give you an Audi for your 13th birthday).
When we finally made it downstairs, your preoccupation with the polka dots quickly dissipated. At the sight of the mountain of presents you screamed “PRESENTS! PRESENTS! WOOO!” and then literally jumped into the pile. Fortunately, you landed on a fake Coach bag Auntie Kristen bought for Grandma. (Sidenote: when you finally did open your polka dots, it was totally anti-climatic, though you have enjoyed sticking them all over the house in the weeks since).
After the holidays finally passed, you started a new school. Your teachers commented right away at how smart you are. They probably tell all of the parents that, but I think Miss Nancy really means it in your case. You’ve started to “write stories”, narrating your scribbles. You "read" every piece of paper you see. Your imagination blows me away. You also use your smarts for evil, like when you got out of bed, saw the look on my face, and sheepishly said "I love you mommy". Only a whip smart kid starts that kind of manipulation this early.
Our big struggle these days is getting you to try to eat new things. We have a few staples to your diet: meatballs, chicken nuggets, yogurt, any kind of fruit, carrots and peas. I’m trying really hard to expand your horizons though. Because you love peas but won’t eat string beans, I tried to fake you out by calling string beans “pea sticks”. You wouldn’t fall for it, and in the end, I just ended up looking like a weirdo yelling “eat your pea sticks”, which sounds very inappropriate when it’s said aloud.
You say funny things too. Here’s a list of the funniest things you’ve said this month. Not surprisingly, many of them have to do with bodily functions:
And our bedtime conversations continue to be the absolute best part of my day:
Mase: Mommy, you gotta feel my feelings.
Me: Feel your feelings?
Mase: Yeah, feel my feelings.
Me: Oh buddy, I do. When you’re happy, I’m soooo happy. And when you’re sad, I’m soooo sad.
Me: Because I love you.
Me: Yeah bud?
Mase: You hold my hand now?
Now our new night time ritual includes me asking him how his feelings are doing today.
I love you bud.
Girls - There's a few reasons that I didn't start Mason's blog until 5 months: 1) the first few months are too exhausting and 2) the only thing to really write about are eating, bodily functions, and being tired. But, since I've had a longer maternity leave and I'm not as hapless this time around, I've managed to squeak out the first two months, so I'll try to keep it going now.
Hayden, physically you're the strongest baby I've ever seen. Even the nurse at your 2 month check in commented that you might be the strongest baby she has ever seen and she's seen a lot of babies. You completely took her by surprise when you writhed away from her oncoming needle with freakish Herculean power. I was very proud. She did, however, win in the end, but you were very brave when you got your shots. Your strength has gotten the both of us into a little bit of trouble. I was nursing you and your sister at the same time (something I've gotten quite good at), but when I put you down to take Quinn to the swing, you did this back-bend thing that sent you rolling right off the couch. It scared the living bejeezus out of me.
Quinn, you continue to be the mellow one, and a result, I think you often get the short end of the stick while your more demanding siblings command my attention. People say you look like mama, and I think this "put others first" personality might be another thing you got from her. I promise to always make sure that just because you're not screaming that doesn't mean you don't get just as many snuggles and kisses.
The biggest source of strain in our lives right now is keeping up with your feeding. If I'm not feeding you, I'm thinking about feeding you, trying to figure out when to pump, worrying about whether or not I have enough supply to keep up with your hungry mouths, wondering if I'm breaking some cardinal rule or sabotaging my own supply by giving you the occasional bottle of formula. I nursed Mase for 5 months and not only did I want to go that long with you guys, I wanted to go longer (in large part because formula is so ridiculously expensive. Oh, and because of the health benefits yada yada yada). We'll see though. The most important thing is that you're happy and healthy babies, so if that means going halfsies with breast milk and formula, so be it. Having a mommy that's not stressed out all the time is probably more helpful to your long term development than whatever the liquid gold is in breast milk that makes people crazy opinionated about what's right and what's wrong. At the end of the day, please know that I did my best. (Side note: as a demonstration of my love, I'm committed to breastfeeding, even though when full with milk one of my boobs is twice the size of the other. I'm willing to walk around with this lopsidedness because I love you *that* much).
On the topic of bodily functions there are two things I've realized: 1) whoever says that the poop of breastfed babies doesn't stink is a flat out liar. Your poop is disgusting (especially yours Hayden). And 2) there are few things more disgusting than cleaning neck cheese, aka curdled puke stuck in the rolls of your neck (especially yours Quinn). Your brother was not a puker, so these things are new to me. Honestly, it's one part of this phase of your life that I could really live without.
I read an article not too long ago that said these are the three most uplifting and simultaneously devastating words ever: "This is temporary." Uplifting in the sense that faced with sleepless nights, neck cheese, stinky puke, and the annoying hum of the breast pump, it's reassuring to know that it's a phase and in a few weeks or months it will be a thing of the past. They're the words I say to myself to power through. But they're also devastating. The fresh out of the bath new baby smell is temporary and in a few weeks or months, although you'll still smell sweet, it won't be the same. The bond of nursing in the middle of the night when the rest of the world is asleep will be a thing of the past, and while I'll be more rested, I'll be sad that period of our lives is over. Sometimes it blows my mind when I put an outfit on you that just a few weeks ago you appeared to be swimming in, and now, it looks like it is painted on.
This notion of time passing weighs more heavily on me now that my return to work is imminent. With just one week of maternity leave left, I've been battling the anxiety that comes along with such a big change. I'm sure when I've been back for a week or two, it will be our new normal and none of us will be worse for the wear, but I'll miss spending all day with you guys. Fortunately, we have a great family friend who has agreed to be your nanny, so we know that you'll be in good hands.
Ladies, with 1/4 of a year under our belts, I think we're doing pretty damn well for ourselves. We even survived Christmas.
Love you loads,
It's the holiday season and now that you are almost three, do you know what that means? Tis the season for manipulating the crap out of you with promises of presents and Christmas magic. I. LOVE. IT.
Exhibit A: A few months ago, you started saying "Jesus!" and as parents, we totally botched how to deal with it. First, we laughed. Can you really blame us? A cute little 2 year old stubs his toe and then yells "Jeeee-zuz". It's funny, and I don't want to be friends with anyone who doesn't think so. Those people need to lighten up. But, in a half-hearted attempt to fulfill our responsibility as parents, we made mistake #2: we told you not to say it, which only gave it more power. We tried to cajole you into saying "jeepers" or "geez" but you refused and to add insult to injury, you started yelling "jeeee-zuz" and then you would look at me and say, "mommy, I said 'Jesus'" and grin. Yep, you're a little devil. BUT, now we have the man in red on our side. After telling you that it makes Santa sad when you say "Jesus" and that he preferred if you said "Geez", it's been smooth sailing. Now, you say "GEEZ!.... Mommy, I said 'Geez'... Santa sooooooo happy." I must admit, it's a little awkward when you yell "geez!" in public and then we all squeal about how thrilled Santa is with you, but whatever.
We have embraced the Christmas spirit in more genuine ways too though. Like many others, we have an Elf that lives with us. Her name is Jebby, named after Mama's imaginary childhood friend. Unlike other elves who simply watch over you and report back to Santa on your behavior, Jebby brings us little notes with good deeds and acts of kindness to perform each day (well, some days. Other days, Jebby is too tired and forgets to bring an assignment). These acts have included things like "give your sisters a hug" and "help mommy clean up your toys before going to school." The best one, however, was "Give a present to a friend to make them smile." We colored a picture for Jocelyn and she was so happy she hung it on her office wall. That, my darling little boy, is what Christmas is all about.
I suppose our manipulation isn't limited to just invoking lessons from the Santa Claus School of Behavior Modification. Earlier in the month, you were on amoxycilin for a possible case of Lyme's Disease. We told you it was Spider Man Muscle Juice, and taking it was your favorite part of the day. Then you'd run around the house flexing your muscles insisting that they were getting biggerer and biggerer and biggerer. And so was born a picture that appears on this year's Christmas Card:
For the most part, you've been a super good boy this month, and when you do do something naughty, your cute little apologies that I wrote about last month have gotten even cuter. Now you tack on "I was just trying to help you." So, for example, you'll do something you know you shouldn't, and then a few hours later you'll say: "Mommy, I have something to tell you. I'm really sorry I [threw a block at your head, pooped on the floor...]. It was an accident. I was just trying to help you." Someday you'll have to explain to me how treating our playroom like a personal toilet is helping me, but you're so sincere and cute in your apology that I really don't even care about whatever infraction you've committed.
Because it's December, it also means that I'm going back to work soon: something which I have decidedly mixed feelings about. With Mama working crazy hours, you and I spend a lot more 1:1 time together, including many bath/dinner/and bedtimes. Every night now you say, "mommy, will you cuddle with me for three minutes ago?" so I lay there with you and rub your back. I also ask you what your favorite part of the day was, and you've started to ask me in return. Yesterday I told you my favorite part of the day was playing in the snow with you. You then corrected me and said "No, it's holding my hand." Seriously, you may be the cutest little boy on the planet. You were right: holding your hand is always my favorite part... though playing in the snow was a close second.
I read a blog post recently by a parent who is a reformed rusher... you know, the person who rushes through one thing to get to the next thing. I often find myself fighting the urge to rush through. When you ask me to cuddle with you, I'll lay there for a minute before I start thinking about the sink full of dishes or the laundry that needs to be folded, but I've been fighting the urge to get up, and in exchange, I've gotten the most wonderful treats from you - like opportunities to hold your hand and having you recognize without me even telling you that it's my favorite part of the day.
I love you buddy. You're such a good boy and a good big brother. You're so excited for Christmas and that has made me exponentially more excited for the holidays this year.
Well ladies, we've survived two months. There's a few things I've learned/decided since last month. Mostly I've decided that having twins is hard (ok, call me Captain Obvious). It's much more than double the work of a single baby -- it's more like 3x or 4x. You guys have started the twin-mind-meld thing where one of you cries while the other one sleeps peacefully and just when I get the crying baby settled down, you give me about 30 seconds to sit in peace, luring me into a false sense of calm and relaxation, and then the other one wakes up and starts hollering. I can't be sure, but I'm pretty sure I see you both laughing when this happens.
In general, you're both 100x more alert than you were just a few days ago. You follow us with your eyes and you respond to toys. Your personalities are emerging and continue to be very distinct from one another. Of course, because you're only 2 months, your identity is largely tied to your bodily functions.
Quinn, you're still a power puker. We do way more than 2x the laundry than we did with Mason, due in large part to your consistent eat-puke-eat-puke daily rhythm. It's not just your laundry that creates the never ending pile... yesterday on our way to Memere's for Thanksgiving, Mama looked so nice...until you puked all over her. I have learned that wearing plaid button down shirts hides puke stains very nicely and this has saved me on several occasions from having to change clothes. You also earned a new nickname this month. Our friend told her mom that your name was "Quinn Sierra" and she said "ooh pretty" but after a few minutes, she asked quizzically "Quinciera? Like a spanish girl's 15th birthday?" Yeah, that could stick. Sorry pumpkin.
Hayden, your puking has gotten better. Your flatulence, on the other hand, is enough to gag an elephant. For some reason, you've decided that you only like to poop once or twice a week. In the interim, however, you drop room-clearing bombs that adults in a 50 mile radius would insist isn't just poop, but the world's nastiest poop. I don't think I can count number of times I've checked your diaper thinking that the drought was over. I even warned the babysitter at the gym, but she didn't believe me until she experienced it first hand. During a 30 minute workout, she admitted that she checked your diaper at least half of a dozen times. Maybe you're not pooping because you don't like the mess. You're definitely a little OCD, just like your brother who spills one drop of milk on his clothes and then insists on being changed. You, for example, won't eat if your diaper is even a little bit wet. You scream and fuss until we change you, which is fine, but then we feed you and then you promptly pee again. Diapers are expensive lady - it's just eating into your college fund, so consider that next time you're wailing. You can perhaps make it up in the long run though... if you and your brother continue your OCD ways and that translates into obsessivey cleaning the house, maybe we can save money by no longer hiring a cleaner.
This was a big month of adjustment for all of us because after 2 long years of school and a few decades of not having her dream job, Mama started working as a PA. She loves it more than anything (except us), but we have all had to adjust to the kooky hours (7 am - 5 pm one day, 3 pm - 1 am the next, and starting next week a few 4 pm - 2 am shifts). We were fortunate that Mama had Thanksgiving off, but she has to work 7-5 the next three days and since I'm afraid to be alone with all three of you, I'm taking the entire brood to Nantucket where Auntie Kristen and half a dozen women will all fawn all over you and your cousins will keep Mase entertained. Mama, on the other hand, will enjoy 2 nights of child-less sleep. I'm a little jealous.
I'm grateful I have another month of maternity leave left though I must confess, I have turned into the stereotypical suburban Stay At Home Mom (and boy is it exhausting). This is an actual account of what I did on Wednesday:
This is my life, and I love it.
I love you girls so much, and this Thanksgiving, am extra thankful that you have joined our family.
You and your sisters are all sleeping, which means that I have a choice: I can sleep, eat, shower, or write your monthly blog entry. I'm choosing the last option because sleeping, eating, and showering all have temporary benefits, but this will live forever... so here we go...(though keep in mind, I haven't really slept, so if this doesn't make sense, just fill in the blanks for me, ok?)
At 2 years and 9 months, the terrible twos have set in in a new sort of way. You yell and hit when you're angry or frustrated, and you go from the happiest, sweetest little boy on the planet to a holy terror at the flip of a switch. I don't suppose anyone would blame you given all the changes that have happened in the past 2 months. You don't really seem affected by the girls directly. In general, you seem to at best like them and at worst, not really care one way or another. You coo at them. You offer to help with them. You even share your toys. About the only time they really bug you is when you're watching a show and they're screaming too loudly for you to hear, which quite honestly, bugs me too. You call them pooky - which on the one hand is really cute, but on the other hand, I think in your language "pooky" is synonymous with "a-hole." I came to this conclusion because "pooky" is something you used to yell at me when you were mad, and the first time you called them that, you looked at me with a devilish grin and said "mommy, I call them pooky" and then you giggled like you had just gotten away with something big. So, perhaps this new onset of terrible-two-ness is in fact related to the girls, even if not exhibited directly at their expense.
One thing that really has been upsetting you lately is when I tell you to do something you don't want to do, like clean up or that it's time for a nap. This seems to have violated some unwritten rule.
"Mommy, don't tell me what to do!"
"Mase, it's my job to tell you what to do."
"NO! THAT'S NOT THE DEAL!"
I apparently didn't get the memo.
If I persist, you run to mama crying and when she asks you what's wrong, you wail "mommy told me what to do!" as if I had just beaten you or something instead of, you know, parented you.
You are still at your core the sweetest little boy. Among the many reasons I know this is because hours after you've done something you're not supposed to and long after I've forgotten all about it, you'll come up to me and say "Mommy, I have something to tell you... I really sorry that I [insert]... it was an accident... I really sorry" and then you give me a hug.
In fact, in general you've become more cuddly and affectionate lately. You like when one of us lays with you at night and you randomly come and sit on my lap -- something you never really did before; you were always a very independent kid.
You're getting even smarter and mastering vocabulary and context far ahead of your age. You remember EVERYTHING. The other day we had this conversation:
"Mommy, you lay with me?
"No buddy, sorry, I can't. I have to go downstairs and eat my dinner."
"Why? You need your energy?"
It was the understatement of the century, but reflects that even though you were screaming at the top of your lungs that you didn't want eggs, or toast, or yogurt, or cereal, or waffles, or whatever else we could think to offer you, you were in fact listening while mama and I were explaining that you needed to eat your breakfast in order to grow big muscles and have energy for the day. One parent point for us. Yay.
You are learning so many new things and have so many things to say that they can't spill out of your mouth fast enough, which has resulted in a rather hilarious stutter. Internet research assures me that this is totally normal for a kid your age and isn't actually a speech impediment that will continue to plague you - it's just that your brain is working so much faster than your mouth.
In addition to being in the midst of a cognitive growth spurt, we think you're also in the middle of a physical one that is causing you pain in your legs and fatigue. One night at grandma and grandpa's house, you put yourself to bed, and at school, they said instead of lunch, you asked for your nap mat. It was a little worrisome, so we took you to the doctor to get checked out. I hauled you and the girls there by myself since mama was working, and all in all, it went well with the exception of "the incident". You see, your doctor's office has a beautiful atrium and indoor garden. When I was checking in, you were off looking at the plants a few feet away. I happened to turn around right as you had pulled your pants down around your knees. I caught your eye and you yelled, "Mommy! I gotta go pee pees!!" In one fell swoop, I asked the woman behind the counter where the bathroom was, picked you up and carried you like a football down the hall while steering the doublestroller with one hand. It was a sight to be seen, but we made it and the plants were left to thrive without a golden shower.
This month also included the first Halloween you really "got". You were an amazing pirate and your sisters were cute little pumpkins. See:
You thought trick or treating was a pretty awesome concept. In addition to being deluged with presents all month as people came to meet the girls, now Strangers. Gave. You. Candy! October might go down as the greatest month of your life from your perspective.
For me, I'm more looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'm off work until January, so that's affording me lots of non-distracted time to play with you and the girls, and that's going to make this year's holidays in our new house even more special.
Love you loads, bud, even when you're being unbearable :)
Ken Follett: Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy
Not as good as Book 1 but still eager for Book 3.
Heather Armstrong: It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita
From the creator of dooce.com.
John Grisham: The Appeal
(Don't judge me: I had a long plane ride, and I like John Grisham)
Kenneth Cain: Emergency Sex: And Other Desperate Measures
It's a memoir about 3 UN civilian peacekeepers, not a naughty book you'd be embarrased to show your friends.
T.C. Boyle: The Inner Circle
Fictional account of the research of Dr. Alfred Kinsey, narrated by one of the researchers in his inner circle. Starts strong, but gets boring quickly. (***)
Matthew Pearl: The Poe Shadow
From the author of the Dante Club, a novel about the mysterious death of Edgar Allen Poe. Nowhere near as good as Dante Club. Boooo. (**)
Augusten Burroughs: Dry: A Memoir
It's darker than the first memoir - a challenging feat at that. It lacks a little of the humorous edge that made Running with Scissors so engaging, but it's still a good/tragic read thus far. (***)
Augusten Burroughs: Running with Scissors
I took a break after Vowell's recount of the Lincoln assiinations to read about even crazier people. Burroughs first book is exactly like it's marketed - a funny, dark, sedaris-like memoir that's 100% engaging. (****)
Sarah Vowell: Assassination Vacation
Because I just can't get enough of Vowell.
Jonathan Safran Foer: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Love the story. The narrative voice reminds me of Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, but in a way that doesn't make me dizzy.
Richard Ford: The Sportswriter (Vintage Contemporaries)
I hope I like it -- I have three Richard Ford books on my shelf.
Carolyn Parkhurst: Dogs of Babel
The whole "teaching a dog to talk" thing is weird, but it's a sensitive story about dealing with grief. (****)
James Clavell: Shogun
I hear there are stories of jade gates in this behemoth novel. I like jade gates. (*****)
Kristin Gore: Sammy's Hill
Kind of terrible but entertaining, both at the same time. (**)
Myla Goldberg: Wickett's Remedy : A Novel
Not as good as Bee Season, but a good read. (****)
Jonathan Safran Foer: Everything Is Illuminated : A Novel
Since I'm too lazy to write a review, check out this one, as I agree with 99.99% of it. (****)
Tom Robbins: Wild Ducks Flying Backward
The short writing of Tom Robbins, including travel writing, tributes, essays, poetry, and others. Highly recommended thus far, though I haven't got to the poetry section yet, which I hear is, um, labored. (*****)
A. M. Homes: Music for Torching
Homes tells odd, odd stories about mundane things, like life in suburbia. So far, so good.
John Irving: Until I Find You : A Novel
Not recommended, particularly for diehard Irving fans. I almost gave up half way through, but pushed on, only to be let down. (**)
Sarah Vowell: The Partly Cloudy Patriot
A collection of essays - a visit to salem, mass and the chapter on presidential museums are especially entertaining. Highly recommended. (*****)
Barry McCrea: The First Verse: A Novel
I didn't love it, but I appreciated it.
Romaine Patterson: Whole World Was Watching: Living in the Light of Matthew Shepard
Buy this book immediately. It's not actually out yet, but it's due out soon, and aside from the fact that my friend wrote it, it's exceptional and important. (*****)
Chang-Rae Lee: Aloft (Wheeler Large Print Book Series (Cloth))
eh, it's ok. I'm not feeling very inspired by in, so I might put it down in favor of one of the books I got for my birthday.
Eric Schlosser: Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
I appreciate the business savvy of the early pioneers of the fast food industry, even if the effect was the fattening of a nation. The chapter on the flavor factories was also exceptionally interesting. Recommended. (****)
Michael Chabon: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
I didn't like Wonder Boys because I had seen the movie too many times, but I love his writing styl. Though I felt like I needed to carry a dictionary with me when I read this, I thought it was exceptional. Highly recommended. (*****)
A.M. HOMES: Jack (Vintage Contemporaries)
Because I loved Safety of Objects, i thought I would like this. But I think it would have been better as a short story versus a novel.
Khaled Hosseini: The Kite Runner
In many ways, similar to my all time favorite book, The Power of One. Set against a backdrop of modern Afghanastan, story of a boy battling his own lack of courage.
Adrian Nicole LeBlanc: Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx
Final book club selection. Excellent book about growing up in the Bronx and all things foreign to my own childhood.
A. M. Homes: The Safety of Objects
Love, love, love this collection of short stories.
Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club : A Novel
Written by fellow Harvard alumn, a clever, sophisticated historical fiction/mystery novel. Don't read before bedtime - it's creepy at parts.
Jennifer Weiner: In Her Shoes : A Novel
ICAHN Book Project #3. One of the trashiest, worst books I've ever read. In good news, I read most of it during a single lunch break.
Barbara Ehrenreich: Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
ICAHN book project #2. Anything is a step up from Miriam the Medium.
Michael Chabon: Wonder Boys : A Novel (Bestselling Backlist)
I'm having a hard time reading the name "Crabtree" and not picturing Robert Downey Jr., but I'm hoping that goes away as I get more into the book.
Anita Diamant: The Red Tent
It's a book I never thought I'd really enjoy, but was pleasantly surprised. (****)
FREDERICK BUSCH: Girls : A Novel
One of the most depressing books I've ever read, but well written and a good read. (****)
Mark Haddon: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Vintage Contemporaries)
It was good, though it made me feel like taking ritalin the entire way through. (***)
Paul Auster: The Book of Illusions: A Novel
A beautiful book. Auster is really climbing the ranks as far as favorite authors go. (*****)
J. M. Coetzee: Elizabeth Costello
I haven't been able to get into it yet, but I like his writing style so much, that i'm sure it will be great.
Paul Auster: Leviathan
An amazing character story with a pretty decent plot to keep the pace of the book going. (****)
CHITRA DIVAKARUNI: Queen of Dreams : A Novel
A book about a dream reader, that's not as flighty as it sounds. It's an exceptionally thoughtful book and I'm enjoying it immensely. (****)
Jhumpa Lahiri: Interpreter of Maladies
The first story is so good it almost made me cry. (*****)
SUSAN MINOT: Monkeys (Vintage Contemporaries)
It's kind of like checking in with distant relatives you only see every few years. The chapters are brief little glimpses, somewhat unconnected, but all of which speak to family ties (no, not the television show) (***)
John Kennedy Toole: A Confederacy of Dunces (Evergreen Book)
this is one of those books that I feel like I should like, but that I'm just not really getting into.
Susan Minot: Evening
A charming love story written in a style that reflects the rhythm of memory, which I very much enjoyed. (****)
DAN CHAON: You Remind Me of Me
A sweet book about families, confidence, drugs, and feeling lost. (****)
Jeanette Winterson: Sexing the Cherry
I have high expectations for this book given how much I enjoyed Written on the Body. It's never taken me so long to read such a little book. It's great, just very dense... almost like a philosophy textbook instead of a novel. (***)
Andre Dubus III: House of Sand and Fog
I like reading books set in SF, but my god, if they talk about the fog anymore I'm going to have to throw the book out the window. Update: I would have been better off throwing it out the window. (**)
TOM ROBBINS: Still Life with Woodpecker
I've read a few Tim Robbins books (Jitterbug Perfume, Skinny Legs and All), and so far, Still Life is in keeping with the weirdness, originality and artful storytelling that I liked about the other two. (***)
Jeanette Winterson: Written on the Body
A book that accurately deals with a wide range of emotions across the spectrum of love, and articulates it in ways I didn't were possible. Loved it. (*****)
T. Coraghessan Boyle: Riven Rock
I left it on a plane before I had the chance to finish it. Anyone have a copy I can borrow? (***)
Jeffrey Eugenides: Middlesex : A Novel
The first half was excellent, but then the book lost steam. The last few chapters are ridiculous and disappointing. (***)