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June 2008


Patrick went to a birthday party today. This was one of our first forays into socializing with school friends whose parents we don't know from the Addams. Although I don't really care, I was still sort of glad when Steve said he was going to change before taking Patrick to the party. Steve had been working on his breakfast bar all morning and he was wearing one of his old shirts with bits of whatever lives under our porch still clinging to his person. I am sure Joe's parents would not have turned Patrick from the door after realizing that Patrick's father is a filthy vagrant (in fact they might have given him some cake to take home, the poor little mite) but I would have been embarrassed next September when they urged me to accept the box of canned goods that had been collected on our behalf. So when Steve went to change I was a little relieved. I wrapped the gift and helped Patrick locate his shoes and I was about to wish them both a fond farewell when I got a look at what Steve had changed into and I regretted for about the millionth time that we don't drink wine with lunch in this country:

Imagine, if you will, a place called Versailles (Ver-sales), Ohio. Every year this town hosts a Poultry Festival  (and they serve a very nice chicken dinner, too), which features a tournament in addition to the tilt-a-whirl and the used book sale in the high school library (at which I have on more than one occasion scored some truly excellent vintage Stories for Girls). The tournament pits a grab bag of co-ed players against each other and one of the more whimsical notions is that many teams will give themselves a name related to both poultry and the mixing of the sexes: Chicks with Dicks springs to mind. And, of course, every team has a t-shirt; of which Steve has collected more than a few over the years. Right? Right. So my beloved husband trotted out to meet some fellow school parents for the first time wearing a tomato red t-shirt of great antiquity that reads: Breasts and Thighs! and is emblazoned with the image of chicken whose anatomical realism is... dubious.

What. the hell.

I have a babydoll dress from 1992 that I still love. It is made of, I dunno, crepe paper and it  starts just above the aureoles and ends about 1/2 millimeter below my underpants. I wore it to play pool one summer night when I was 21 and it... it was a great night. There are occasions, generally after I have been listening to Alphaville one too many times on the ipod, that I will pull that dress from its hiding place in my closet, carefully lock the bathroom door behind me and put it on; shedding a few silver tears over the dear dead days beyond recall.     

What I do not do is pair it with some heels and trip off to meet the PTA.  

When I asked Steve if he was wearing that to take Patrick to the party he looked confused and said yes. When I asked if he wanted to just put on one of those trucker hats with the foam boobs on top and bring along a copy of Swank to flip through while the children play he said, "No. And yes."

No offense, but men are total fucking idiots.

Patrick, incidentally, had a lovely time. They went bowling.


Steve was in Florida for a few days and although practically everything else in my life is much harder when he is not home it is incredible to me how much tidier my house stays when he is absent. He made Patrick pancakes this morning and I am pretty sure that there is an eggshell - an honest to f.... ha ha ha ha OH MAN - a live action post. Steve just walked in from his breakfast-bar-in-progress project and asked, "What happened to my tape measure? It was right there"... he points... "when I left."

Right there being the center of the dining room table and when I left meaning last Thursday. As if a reasonable person would have kept an unused tape measure on a frequently used surface as a... what? A shrine? I rest my case. Steve just puts things down wherever and then he never thinks to pick them up until he needs them again. Of course, there are faults on both sides. While I am quite good (one might even say compulsive, if one was very rude) about picking things up; I never have any idea where I put them. So although I clearly remember taking the tape measure and later using it to see how tall Caroline is (still short) I have no idea where I put it after that. The garage? The bathroom? Caroline's dresser? You know, as many times as I have just typed that word in the past minute I am still unsure if it is right: I always say tape measure-r, like a thing that measures (a measure-er) constructed of tape; feel free to educate me.)

I took Edward and Caroline for the last of their four month vaccinations yesterday. I had been putting off the DTaP because my pediatrician said that is the one to which babies tend to react if they are going to have a problem with any of them and after the two month shots Edward was a high fever with a nasty rash surrounding a small speck of baby. Although I pride myself on my maternal detachment and my rational worldview I swear I have never been as close to Mrs Lovejoy as I was when I realized that I had authorized eight vaccines in one day and was directly responsible for turning my delicious Edward into a red, sweaty, screamy disaster. I am still pro-vaccine and I favor a planet in which no one dies from preventable disease but diptheria plus tetanus plus pertussis plus hep B plus polio... my god won't SOMEBODY think of the children?

Anyway, I gave them both a healthy slug of infant tylenol half an hour before the shot and I continued to give Edward a dose every four hours until bedtime and (deo volente) he seems to be fever, rash and scream free. I definitely think staggering the shots has been a good idea with him, and it probably doesn't hurt that he is five and a half months now and a good, I don't even know, eight pounds heavier than he was the last time. I was so anxious about this last set of vaccines; I'm glad he did not have the same reaction this time. Caroline, on the other hand is so congested she can't breathe. If I had realized at the time she has gotten Patrick's recently acquired camp cold I might have put the shots off again but I did not - so I did not. Fortunately, she is not the delicate flower young Edward seems to be.

Caroline is a menace. I put her down and she flips over and rolls until she can't roll any further. This is usually because has wedged her head under something; popular choices being the bouncy seat, the couch or an end table. Then she shrieks. However, sometimes she just gets her feet sandwiched and she will lie there grinning fiendishly at her own cleverness. Either way I say "Oh CAROLINE" a lot:

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I just looked at this picture and realized that the entire front of her garment appears to be covered in slime. That appearance would be... true. Reflux-y babies are not tidy babies. And that blue thing is Steve's physical therapy whatsit, the stretchy thing he uses to exercise his knee. A trained forensics expert might be able to trace the line of drool extending from Caroline's chin down to the rubber loop and conclude that the baby had recently been chewing on it; perhaps while her mother tried to remember where she had put the camera. No comment.

Edward rolled over this morning. Back to stomach. Then he did it again. Although this is not his absolute first time doing so; it was the first time it looked like it was accomplished with any forethought. Prior to this Edward has been content to lie on his back and smile at things. When he felt the need for exercise he would keep his arms pinned rigidly to his sides and flail his legs. He looked just like the Lord of the Dance.  He's a happy little thing.

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They both are. They're good babies, and now that I have learned the rule of the 6:30 bedtime and the need to put them down for naps every two hours or so whether they are unconscious or not... they are remarkably easy.

Patrick was very excited about Caroline and Edward before they were born. When they arrived he was fascinated and proprietorial for about a month. Then he was SO TOTALLY OVER the babies and everything having to do with the babies and when he wasn't completely ignoring them he was lavishing me with praise about how good, how fantastically good I am with babies and didn't I want to take them... somewhere? somewhere else? so that he and his father could play? He mentioned that Sassy does not like babies because they always need someone to carry bottles upstairs for them (one task; Patrick has ONE task that we regularly ask him to do for Caroline and Edward and that is it: every now and then Steve asks Patrick to carry the evening bottle upstairs for Edward; and despite the infrequency and relative painlessness of the chore this is the first thing Patrick mentions when people ask how he likes being a big brother, "Well, I have to carry bottles around all the time for them..." - drama queen)  and they cry when she is trying to watch one of her shows so she misses learning stuff. At first I was sympathetic. After all he had been an only child for a long time, naturally he would take a while to adjust. Then I noticed the way other children greeted their infant siblings after a long day at school or camp and I thought, huh. I could not think of the last time Patrick was actually friendly to Caroline or Edward; and most of the time he was downright crabby. So I told him to shape up and when that did not work I told him I was disappointed in him.

He was stung. "That's not a nice thing to say!" he told me, which is kindergarten-speak for "How dare you!"

I told him it was true.

We left it at that but I notice he has been going out of his way to talk to the babies lately. Part of it might be the fact that the are getting more interesting (Patrick finds it hilarious that Caroline scares the beejeesums out of me by disappearing so quickly - the more safety minded among you will be glad to know I finally brought the pack n' play back) but I think some of it has to do with my lecture. Which makes me feel all wise.

So Caroline is fine (but congested) and Edward is fine and Patrick is fine and Steve is fine (his knee seems to be doing quite well) but I am falling apart. I had a pinched ulnar nerve in my left hand that was bothering me so much I went to see a hand surgeon. He sent me to a nerve place and they tortured me. Literally. They put needles into the different muscles in my hand and then ran electricity to test how much it hurt. It was awful and if I could remember what it was called I would warn you to be very very certain you have nerve damage before blithely scheduling an... EEG, was it? Anyway, I hated it and a week or two later my hand felt better anyway. Then it started to hurt on the other side (the thumb rather than the pinkie) but I was too embarrassed to go back to the hand doctor again. So I am just wearing a brace and taking lots of ibuprofen and I hope this too will clear up on its own.

In a more dire development I noticed a painful lump in my breast yesterday. I assume I have a blocked duct and I have been pumping more on that side and I took a hot shower and tried to massage it but... yikes. It is worse and larger today. Do I need to see a doctor (I never know who to call, my OB or my family practice) do you think, or will it work itself out eventually?



We had to put Rusty to sleep on Tuesday. Although for the past year and a half I have been expecting him to take a turn for the worse I was still caught off guard by what seemed like the suddenness of his decline. Friday he was frail but fine. On Monday night he fell into the sink and just sat there - up to his neck in a soapy roasting pan - crying while I ran to get him out. All night long we woke up to his cries and it would take us a few moments to find him since he would have wandered into an unusual corner somewhere - crouched in the pantry, wedged half under the stove. Despite the fact that we added a nearby litter box to his hospice area on the kitchen floor (you would have wanted to step gingerly in my kitchen last week; fortunately I don't run a catering business or anything) he kept leaving bloody messes as he staggered around in confused circles... it was definitely time to let him go.

We miss him.

Steve has become obsessed by mushroom hunting, which seems like a good way to start a murder mystery. Oh damn it. I was just feeling rather clever until I remembered that Dorothy Sayers wrote an entire book about poisoning a mushroom enthusiast - no wonder it sounded like a good idea. I'll bet she sold a bunch of 'em. Anyway, to be fair Steve has always been interested in rooting around for things in the forest that he can eat; but I refused to let him involve Patrick until I was absolutely positive that the child could grasp the difference between looking for specific types of edible mushrooms while under the constant surveilance of his father and just putting random crap he finds outside in his mouth. Five and 11/12th's, by the way, is apparently our family cut-off point for this distinction. Steve and Patrick have been devoting a portion of every day to the pursuit of the elusive morel and they could not be more boring on the subject if they tried. Last night I told them they had forty minutes before dinner as I had just put Edward and Caroline to bed and I had a little over half an hour's worth of prep work to complete before we could eat. An hour and fifteen minutes later I finally bellowed into the woods loudly enough that I was able to bring them down again to a meal that had become both cold and overdone (and it would have been great too: tenderloin! shallots in a red wine reduction! mesclun! potatoes all gratined and whatnot - I finally finished my Tivo'd backlog of old Top Chef  episodes and I have been inspired; I have also learned that it takes a whooooole lot of salt to be too much salt). I was pissed and the fact that they had scrounged a king's ransom in morels was completely immaterial to me. Personally I don't like my food so... organic. Naturally the moment I sat down to eat Caroline woke up for what the hobbits might call her second dinner and by the time I returned Steve and Patrick were done eating and had started admiring their mushroom haul again.

Huh. Why was I telling you this? I know I had a point somewhere... hmmm. Maybe it will come back to me later.

Caroline. Second dinner. The advice on that last post that I should put the babies to bed at six-thirty when they start to become unbearably obnoxious was so good I could kiss you. Why had I been resisting this obvious step? Oh, right. Because I was afraid that if Caroline and Edward woke up at 6 when I put them down at 8, they would then wake up at 4 if I tried to put them down at 6. And if I was forced to wake up for the day at 4 am I would try to strangle myself with my hair before lunch. That's why. But! No worries. I am now putting them to bed at 6 and they still wake up at 6. I have not experienced the miracle that some of you described in which the children not only go to sleep earlier they stay asleep all night long but I'm ok with that. I don't actually mind being woken up in the night. I don't love it or anything and I will be glad when it is over but I don't feel the need to attempt anything drastic to change things. Besides, when Caroline and Edward do wake up in the night they are starving and I don't see how one gets around that or would want to do so. When I feed Caroline around 2 she sounds like a marathon runner knocking back paper cups full of water at the 23rd mile marker and Edward (who just started being able to breastfeed with more ease - at FIVE MONTHS; not sure what the lesson is there because in the absence of a twin what the hell was a person to do in the interim? - but only during the day) will easily take eight ounces at 4 am and sometimes more. Where was I? Man I am scattered today. Oh, Caroline. She recently started this neat little self-regulating feature at bedtime. I don't know if I have mentioned it, but Caroline is the spit-uppiest kid on the planet. She spits up all day long.  It doesn't seem to have anything to do with anything either. I have watched her spit up hours after eating. Recently she has started eating at bedtime and then waking up an hour or two later to take twice as much again. She gives herself a little time to digest and then... voila - second dinner. I said that she is clearly evolving to enable herself to sleep for longer periods and Steve said that my ignorance of the basic tenets of biological theory is appalling; that a species can evolve but an individual merely adapts. I suggested that he bite me.

Speaking of biting poor Edward is producing teeth in the strangest places. Well, ok, they are all in his mouth so it is not that strange but the teeth he has starting to poke through are weird ones. Bottom left canine (not the bottom middle but the pointy one next to that) and right top molar (poor kid) and then the two middle top. Only the canine and the molar are beginning to break the skin but I can feel the other two right at the surface and the molar on the other side as well. Edward keeps his fingers or a blanket in his mouth at all times and I can't blame him. His gums must feel like they've been paved. I have an appointment to take him into a pediatric Ear Nose and Throat person tomorrow with the understanding that she will diagnose his floppy trachea as floppy. I have no idea what that will do for us but his pediatrician listened to him breathe the other day (after first establishing that it was really Edward making that noise, not a low flying plane overhead) and believed me when I said breastfeeding is rotten and it is all Edward's fault. He said that the ENT will put Edward on Zantac since the current understanding is that reflux (silent in Edward's case - he rarely spits up anymore) aggravates the whatsit that enlarges the other thing and that causes the stridor. Also choking when he eats which is more of a problem, particularly when he is, you know, trying to eat. Although sometimes he has no trouble at all so I find it a little mystifying. But since the ENT will start with Zantac the pediatrician opted to be proactive and Edward has been on the stuff for about ten days. To be honest I cannot tell that it makes a damned bit of difference but we'll see what the doctor says tomorrow. Oh! And before I forget, re. Edward's belly button: you were all right. Well, most of you anyway. Edward does have an umbilical hernia and that allows the stomach contents to bulge out a bit which forces the belly button to poke out which enables a person to see the interior of it more easily which allows one to note the inflammation which is caused by... some kind of infection. Yeast most likely. The doctor put him on a prescription cream for it.

You know, Edward is really not nearly as unhealthy as he sounds.

Finally I have an HGTVesque question for those of you who like these sort of things. Steve - as I have mentioned about a thousand times - likes to do home improvement projects and his latest plan is to move the exterior wall of the kitchen and add a breakfast bar. Although my initial response was one of incredulous horror (I am still recovering from his knee surgery, you know, and we have baby twins and Patrick gets out for the summer this week and... WHAT? Move an exterior wall? In my kitchen?) he quickly suckered me into it and now I am rather excited. I keep picturing all three kids in a few years sitting in a row eating breakfast or coloring or whatever and it seems... nice. So two questions: we want to use the space for both adults drinking wine and kids eating jelly - do we go with a counter top height or a higher bar height? Also, we have run into a major snag. There is no longer a supplier for our counter tops. Since the idea was to extend the counter top (should we opt for a counter top height bar which is my inclination) with a tight seam in the middle that kinda complicates things. Would you use a different granite? Something similar or something contrasting? Or a different stone? Stainless steel? Tempered glass? Wood? I favor wood, actually but I might be failing to perceive an obvious problem with it. Here's a picture so you can see what we are dealing with:

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Steve is going to move this wall back by x feet and put a bar on the far side of the counter. Any thoughts?

And since I am in Picasa anyway, here are photos of Caroline and Edward in Patrick's old exersaucer. Note how very short Caroline looks. It's like Kilroy Was Here.

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PS I never did remember why I started to tell you the mushroom story. I hope it wasn't subconscious foreshadowing.