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April 2008


JuliaKB wrote a great comment a few weeks ago. She told the story of a man who found himself overwhelmed by too much family living in too small of a space, so his rabbi suggested that he get a goat. After a few weeks the rabbi advised him to get rid of the goat and the relief was enormous. I feel exactly like that man right now; only in my case the goat didn't leave, he just started being able to unload the dishwasher.

Steve's knee has improved to the point that he can move from A to B without assistance, although usually he uses one crutch for balance. I keep clasping my hands together when he hobbles into the room, piping, "God bless us, every one!" Steve, as I frequently remind him, is lucky to live with this rapier-like wit of mine. Between his return to the living and the babies' - oh my god, my perfect amazing easy easy wonder babies; what did I ever do to deserve Caroline and Edward who both slept until 6 this morning and are so cute that they could pass for a basket full of kittens-  emergent schedule, I am feeling more human than I have in months.

-- Since it takes me about a week to write a post - typing, as I do, at six letter intervals - I started this before breakfast and it is now after dinner. I emerged from Caroline's room a few minutes ago (these babies? you feed them and they fall asleep and then you just... leave - it's like their evolutionary history and that of the Infant Patrick diverged at the phylum level) and ran into Patrick who was in the process of being put to bed. Patrick, who is not much given to physical displays of affection, startled me greatly by flinging his arms around me and saying, "I love you, Mommy."

I admit that I got a little misty at this unexpected declaration. Then he continued:

"I love you so much that I miss you even when I am in bed."

"Thank you," I said, placing my hand over heart. "That is very..."

"So I think I should stay up and watch one of my shows. With YOU."

And he widened his eyes like a bush baby and gave me that uber-insincere five year old smile.

I sent him to bed but he does amuse me so.

Speaking of Patrick, we are about 85% happy with his school so far. Assuming that 100% is more of a Platonic ideal and 95% would have involved, say, a musical written, directed and performed by his teachers called Patrick, He's Fantastic (featuring such songs as "You Must Be Very Proud" and "We'd Like to Thank You for This Career Opportunity") 85% isn't too shabby. As you may recall, I have been worrying about school for Patrick since, um, forever. We went with a multi-age place hoping that a kindergarten/first grade class would provide a good mix for the little dumpling and I think - for the most part - it has. He has learned a lot and he likes it, particularly now that he is going full day and gets to have recess and music and gym. So kindergarten has been good. We took him back to the educational psychologist last month to do some achievement testing and get ideas for next year and (without going into it too much because, no offense, some of you are raving lunatics and I am not getting enough sleep to cope with that right now) her suggestion was that Patrick do math, reading and spelling with the second-third graders next year but stay with the first graders for the social stuff. She further suggested that we consider a full grade skip in a few years or look for a school that just works with kids like Patrick. I am not sure how I feel about either of those things but we certainly do not have to worry about it just yet. As for going to a 2-3 class for most of his school work... I don't know. I like it in theory but I suspect that the logistics will be complicated.  Fortunately his homebase teacher will have him again next year and she has been very receptive to things; so I am optimistic we can work something out and that he will be able to have another good year at this school.

Steve is watching I Am Legend in the living room. For some reason the idea of a virus-based Armageddon movie did not appeal to me so much. I am watching it with one eye and typing this with the other - seems to be working as I am getting less freaked out by it than I expected. Good lord I almost forgot - someone wanted to know about Battlestar Galactica. What's the deal with Battlestar Galactica, she asked.

What's the deal with Battlestar Galactica? Oh HONEY. Quite simply if you are not watching Battlestar Galactica you are missing the greatest thing on television. No I'm not kidding. No I actually don't like Sci-Fi. It's terrific. I am fascinated by how the show imagines people coping with the near annihilation of the human race in the same petty, narcissistic ways they handle disputes with their neighbors over where to put the trash cans. It strikes me as likely. After one got over saying, "Oh my god, dead. All dead. Everyone, everything, whole planets gone... uhhhnnnnn"; you probably would start squabbling with the person sitting next to you about something.

Soooo... narcissism. I wanted to tell you about a couple of books that just came out but it is the next day already and Edward is grousing and Caroline is howling and Steve is in bed with a sore throat and I need to leave in fifteen minutes to take Patrick to the dentist. He has two middle grownup teeth in and one molar and I cannot for the life of me figure out how these teeth are going to fit in his mouth. I suppose they do though, right?

More later. And with less long silences, now that the goat has also mastered rudimentary childcare.

PS I am Legend wound up being more boring than scary. We desperately need a new Netflix series to watch. Any suggestions?   

And So On

I asked Steve yesterday if this is how he imagined adulthood. He said, "What? You mean sitting in a bathroom with four other people? Yeah, I guess so."

Caroline and Edward have reached a stage where they are (more or less) constant, albeit passive, participants in the daily whatnot, no longer sleeping it off in a corner all the time like newborn lumps. Last night I was going to have Steve help me give them a bath in my bathtub rather than the crappy little plastic one with sharp edges that I hated with Patrick but saved for some reason and then felt obligated to use since babies quickly outgrow the tubs in a few months anyway and I am remarkably disinclined to spend money on things that... good grief; I dither like an Agatha Christie spinster. Anyway, I thought I would try taking them one at a time into the tub with me, sluicing off the  detritus and then handing them to Steve to dry and pajama. Patrick, like his mother, loves a nice bath (the bubblier the better, which sounds kinda girly but becomes less so when you listen to him play in the tub and realize that the bubble mountains are just so many volcanoes spewing violent molten DEATH everywhere) so the sound of running water was a call to arms, rather a call to de-arm or at least de-robe and before we could say, "Patrick you don't need a bath tonight" he had stripped and slipped like an eel into the water. He was happy, the babies were happy when it was their turn to be wet and equally happy when it was their turn to be dried... so the entire family hung out in the bathroom for an hour.


I think Patrick snuck behind me while this was taken. It is not the very first time Edward and Caroline have noticed each other (as I mentioned) but it is close enough to melt me.


Caroline's exuberant mood continued into the tub and when Patrick started talking to her in that BIZARRE high-pitched voice that kids use with babies and that babies love ("You're a baaaaaaaaaaaad Caroline aren't you? A baaaaad baby! No? You're a gooooood Caroline? You are? Yes! A good goood goooooood baby!") she started laughing. Really laughing, which she has never done before and it startled me so much I had to check to make sure I hadn't accidentally dropped her in the water. She sounded a lot like she was drowning. Caroline's laugh is less like silvery moonbeams stretched through gauze and more like glue glopping out of a bottle. A slurpy gulpy gurgling thing -  slightly alarming, but sweet of course. 

Speaking of "less like" I no longer think Caroline looks like a young (a very very young) Audrey Hepburn.


More Marlon Brando, no?

Seriously, she must be the fattest low birth weight, tenth percentile baby (maybe. I am guessing. four month appointment on Friday will confirm whether she has indeed breached the dizzying ranks of the bottom ten rather than the bottom three or the bottom bottom, where she started) in the world. She reminds me of a really well done doll house - a perfectly perfect miniature. Although she is really not that small. Just last night -around 2 am actually - I moved her from the 0-3 month to 3-6 month sleeper in the hopes that perhaps her inability to fully straighten her knees was what was preventing her from going back to fucking sleep for the love of god (it wasn't. I wound up sleeping on her floor for three hours because I decided it was easier to just lie down there than get up one more time. Edward, meanwhile, for novelty, slept through until almost 5 am.) Where was I? Oh right, rhapsodizing about Caroline. I spend way more time than I should trying to decide what color eyes she has. Can you see them? I love them, whatever they are. Gray, I think. A wonderful clear gray. Let me see if I can find a better one of her eyes.



Will they stay this color, do you suppose? I have brown eyes and I have written sonnets (not really. that would be fatuous) about Steve's greeny-golden-cognac eyes but Patrick and Edward are definitively, determinedly blue. How long do babies' eyes take to change, do you know?

Hmmm, I had been wondering why I do not just put Caroline and Edward into their respective beds for an afternoon nap. Why I instead perform an elaborate ballet of swing/sling/car rides which only works for about 50% of the babies about 30% of the time. The angry yells that are currently drifting down from upstairs are serving to remind me that I should go rescue my children and transport them somewhere in something so they can get some sleep.


I think the New England Journal of Medicine soon will be publishing a piece on Steve. His case bears so many remarkable features that I cannot help but feel that humanity should be the beneficiaries of his unique recovery experience. Take, for example, the fact that this morning he was able to toast a bagel, slice wafers from both a red onion and a tomato, liberally smear the bagel with cream cheese, and arrange pieces of lox just so before sprinkling a generous tablespoon of capers on top of it all. He then proceeded to boil water, french press coffee, dose it heavily with a chocolate caramel  concoction and somehow managed to transport both bagel and beverage from the kitchen to his office without dropping them or scalding himself. And yet even the idea of performing the arguably simpler task of slapping peanut butter and jelly between two slices of wheat bread and throwing it in a bag with a juice box leaves him pale and trembling. Or, for another, there is his unusual restriction of motion that enables him to go downstairs to play xbox but prevents him from going upstairs to put Patrick to bed. Truly remarkable. I just hope the combined efforts of the global medical community might enable them to puzzle it out amongst themselves. Meanwhile, his strength and perseverance during this time of adversity is, naturally, an inspiration to us all.

Ok, how about this six word story?

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

That's Hemingway, of course, but isn't it great? Didn't that justify the clicking? Or, if you are feeling a little French, I offer this line which always pleased me:

Ronsard me celebrait du temps que j'etais belle

That is part of a poem in which Ronsard is telling some nice young woman that - just think! - one day when she is old and faded she will be able to look back upon this poem and know that Ronsard himself once thought she was beautiful.  What an ass he must have been.

For the first time ever I won an NCAA basketball pool. Me. I won it. First place. And a fairly sizeable pool it was. I would be prouder of myself if I had done anything other than gone through the brackets clicking favorites and refusing to let Duke get past the first round but there it is - the secret to my success.

So let's see...          

I think being a three month old twin must sort of suck. You get all of the disadvantages of having to wait your turn with none of the much lauded built-in companionship. Caroline and Edward, to name just two, have no idea the other one exists. Usually, I mean. It is true that this week for the very first time they actually looked at each other like they meant it. Edward said Ahgoo and Caroline blew a raspberry and then they went back to looking at me again. It was like neighbors introducing themselves in a condo parking lot - pleasant but noncommittal.

Edward is absolutely adorable. He started laughing about a week ago and now everything cracks him up. Covering my face with a blanket and saying "Wheeeeeere's Edward"? Hilarious. Being naked and flown around the bathroom like an albatross? Hysterical. He is also ticklish on his back, his neck, and his cheeks so when I am not amusing him with my thought-provoking antics I can always prompt a giggle with basic physical comedy. I wish I could capture one of his face-splitting muppet grins on film but every time the camera comes out he just stares at it with puzzled concern. Caroline, on the other hand, has only laughed one time but she looooooves the camera. Nothing lights her up Tokyo-style like having her picture taken. So I have a million cutebaby photos of Caroline and an equal number of guy-on-the-street-asked-opinion-by-television-news-crew-paralyzed-by-self- consciousness pictures of Edward. I am sitting on my hands right now to keep from posting examples of either or both, since I am trying to see if I can make it through an entire post without slapping up photos of my children.

When they are not being photographed for my entertainment they are doing normal baby things. Edward never did roll over again but he is working on it. I had to move him out of the Moses Basket since he is tall enough that he was having to bend his knees in there. When he unbent them his head touched the top and his feet touched the bottom and he would start to rotate face downwards into the loose smooshy mattress. Which seemed dangerous to me, what can I say? He sleeps in his crib now and I rolled some  receiving blankets up to create the illusion of a smaller space for him. Not that he cares because he just goes to sleep whenever and wherever the urge takes him. I cannot count the number of times I have returned to get a recently bathed Edward off the bathroom floor having first moved Caroline only to find Edward sound asleep already. It's a rather nice habit in a baby.

Caroline can traverse surprising distances while flat on her back by  moving her feet and scooting herself backwards. She keeps winding up under the couch. She continues to stay up later than Edward  and she continues to sleep through the night.  Right now she is lying on a Boppy in the living room making spitty airplane noises for her own amusement. She has been doing this for the past forty-five minutes. Another rather nice habit in a baby - self-sufficiency.

Patrick just came out of his bedroom, choking with laughter. The reading in bed thing has been tacitly accepted and I went so far as to buy him a clip lamp today at Target. Usually he stays in his room, rebelling by reading after hours, but tonight he had to share something funny, something SO FUNNY, that he had just discovered in Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. I still have no idea what it was; he was laughing too hard to be understood. But I am shimmying with glee - MRS PIGGLE-WIGGLE. Patrick is reading fiction. I have selfishly longed for the time when Patrick would start to read my favorite books (the Mrs Piggle-Wiggle in question is from my private collection) and all it took was leaving stacks of novels on his floor and then implying that they were NOT to be read. It's like Br'er rabbit. I am a super genius.

And, finally (I have Battlestar Galactica to watch), speaking of super geniuses I think Edward might be the smartest baby in the whole world. I say, "Kiss, Edward" and he sticks out his tongue. Feeling a little French, indeed, but STILL. Smartest baby ever.