Sunday, December 31

Building Traditions

Building family traditions where there were none - starting from scratch. It's been fun creating or trying to create the ideal Christmas for our girls -- even if it's just a brief illusion of their childhoods that may fade when the rest of the world starts to encroach on their innocence. But for now - helping to create that illusion and preserving it for as long as possible is one of the most enjoyable things about parenting and the holidays.

Our goals or vision of this holiday are pretty simple. Lot's of love, family and spirit. NOT a lot of running from place to crazy place. NOT buying, buying, buying the 'perfect' gifts for every one of our friends and acquaintances. NOT spending more than we can afford. NOT doing EVERYTHING. Just doing simple little things—memorable things that happen each year—things that the girls can count on that become part of the fabric of their lives.

We started this past year with Thanksgiving, making the full turkey dinner with my special home made cranberries. (We hosted this year, but aren't likely to host every year. Need to give some of the other family members a chance too)

Our family's holiday traditions will begin with Thanksgiving:

* Each Thanksgiving we will make a list of all we're thankful for.
* Each year I'll bake and decorate cookies with my girls
*peanut brittle
*snow cookies
*sugar cookies/
* Each year we'll host "Baking with the Aunties" day
* Each year the girls will get new pjs for christmas eve
* Each year the girls will give daddy slippers for christmas
* Christmas is a ham dinner
* Each New Year will make a list of all that we're hopeful for, resolutions, goals, etc. for the coming year
* Each year I'll put these into our family holiday album.

I'm sure we'll add some flavor and details as the years pass. (Next year? Magic raindeer food: oatmeal & glitter :-) Building memories...., Living it all again through the eyes of our children! There is no Christmas gift that can top that!

Wednesday, December 27

LIFE isn't a sporting event

"The point is that business is not a sporting event. Victory for one company doesn’t mean defeat for everyone else. Markets today are so big—the global video-game market is now close to thirty billion dollars—that companies can profit even when they’re not on top, as long as they aren’t desperately trying to get there. The key is to play to your strengths while recognizing your limitations. Nintendo knew that it could not compete with Microsoft and Sony in the quest to build the ultimate home-entertainment device. So it decided, with the Wii, to play a different game entirely. Some pundits are now speculating, ironically, that the simplicity of the Wii may make it a huge hit. Nintendo wouldn’t complain if that happened. But, in the meantime, third prize is looking a lot better than steak knives."

I found some wisdom in this. That LIFE isn't a sporting event and that not everything has to be a competition and, when it is, it's not necessary to always come out #1. The key is to play to your strengths while recognizing your limitations - regardless of what anyone esle is doing or saying that you should do. You know you. You know what your strengths and limitations are. Make the most of who you are not who someone else thinks you are.

Simple words but hard to live by.

Tuesday, December 26

Christmas

On Christmas Eve Rachel and Alex were sure to leave hand made and decorated cookies with milk for Santa and carrots for the raindeer.




Once we put them in bed, Alex made me promise not to let the Cringe steal our Christmas and asked several times where Whoville is.

The next morning our little ones awoke at 6:00 a.m. - as usual. We on the other hand - were much more tired than usual. We had been up late the nite before - wrapping a few last minute gifts and working with Santa to arrange the presents under the tree and stuff the stockings. Rachel was just a little bit sick - just enough to wake up several times during the night and require a bit of comforting - further limiting our sleep the night before a VERY long, but (for the most part) happy day.

Our girls were comical. They were amazingly calm - sort of taking it all in as they looked at the presents. Not rushing in and ripping off the wrapping paper. Initially looking around with a glazed expression, Rachel was the first to see the lollipops sticking out of the top of her Christmas stocking.

"LOLLIPOPS!!" she shrieked.

So - 1st things 1st - the stockings. They really took their time - examining all the little presents that Santa had put in their stockings. When they found the mini piggy banks they were mesmerized and wanted money, money, money. They spent quite a while filling the banks w/ our spare change.



When they did move on to the presents under the tree it was great fun to watch them open the presents and spend a little time playing with each one. They were in heaven and I could feel the magic of Christmas. Simple and pure and fun.

We had to take a break when Rachel vomited onto the couch - which I was lucky enough to catch on video (ew!). Time to clean up and get a little bit of toast into the girls -- enough to settle Rachel's tummy and give them both a bit more energy. They returned to opening the presents with real enthusiasm and energy.

Next we went to church. Took a nap and started preparing for our holiday feast for 14 people.

The food was fantastic. I prepared the apetizers and Dave cooked the meal. We had a vegetable plate & dip, a fruit plate & dip, appricot brea, peanut brittle, ham, rice, sweet potatos, mashed potatos, cranberries, salad, peas, broccoli and two pumpkin pies. It was FABULOUS!! Shor tof my family not showing up with the food they had offered or commited to bringing - all was perfect. We had more than enough food and filled in rice for the missing stuffing, made our own salad and the other items weren't missed at all.

Ace brought along his son Tony with his wife, Rebecca and two kids, Sierra (18 months) and Hannah (8). They were the real treat of the day. Gracious and grateful guests, wonderful to talk with and their children were great with our kids. It was really nice to have other small kids in the house.

After exchanging gifts and packing up the extra food for everyone to take home, Dave and I cleaned up (mostly) and then collapsed into bed.

Santa called...,

Friday, December 22

If it's not the Box it's the Bubble Wrap

I think Rachel received her favorite Christmas gift today. I opened the box of gifts that Papa sent, ready to put the wrapped presents under the tree and Rachel shrieked with excitement!! I turned around and found her in the middle of a pile of bubble wrap - popping away.





She is so thrilled and, as I write this, is still happily busy pop-pop-popping. Alex, not to be left out of the action, showed Rachel how to jump on the wrap and pop lots of little bubbles at once.

Too funny. And thanks Papa for starting their Christmas fun a little early this year.

Christmas Snippets

“Oh you know what we haven’t figured out?” I mention to my husband on Christmas Eve.
“What?”
“How to give the D-A-N-C-E L-E-S-SO-N-S as a G-I-F-T from S-A-N-T-A.”
“Hey!" Alex exclaims. "She speaks Spanish!!”

******************

“Mommy?”
“Yes, Honey?”
“What are you doing?”
“I’m lighting the candles in the fireplace.”
“What? NO! Santa has to come down there!”
“Not to worry. I’ll put them all out before we go to bed and Santa will be safe.”
“OH. OK.”

******************

A little bit of magic – by mommy…
I remember when I was a kid and watched my mom wrapping presents. I was in awe – I love all the colorful paper, tape, bows and ribbon. But I especially loved when my mom ripped the ribbed ribbon to make curlies. It was like magic. And today I saw that look. The look that says, “Wow, she’s magic.” My girls, who also love the whole gift wrapping process, watched me make curlie ribbon for the first time. They were just as amazed as I had been and, for me, the 2nd time around was just as magic as the first. It was sooooo great to watch them watch me and feel them feel that same awe over the magic of it all.

I think this is the best part of parenting – reliving childhood through the eyes and hearts of my daughters. Somehow it seems to help heal old wounds.

******************

Friday, December 8

Love & Perfection

We don't love the people we love because they're perfect.
We love them because they are.

Monday, November 27

The Christmas Photos

The day was Black Friday and we were crazy enough to think that going to the mall for holiday photos on the busiest shopping day of the year was a good idea.

The night before I discovered that we didn't have the obligatory matching ivory colored tights for the girls. (Crisis!) This meant actually going into a kids clothing store to make a purchase BEFORE our 9:30 appointment. I know - you're thinking we must be CRAZY!! And, honestly, I was questioning our sanity a bit myself. Dave never said a word but I could see the fear on his face.

Well, we gave ourselves more than enough time - successfully avoiding a stressful, snappish morning. Surprisingly the line at Children's Place was just 2 deep and buying the tights was a breeze. I even had time to run into Nordy's for a quick make-up refresher (I love those girls at the Lancome counter!!)

The results???




Gotta love Picture People, the Santa at the Mall and especially those miracle workers at the Lancome counter.

Sunday, November 26

Just tired....,

AS a mom - or as a 41 year old mom - I am tired. DH has been on an extended period of long and hard work days, which means he doesn't have the time or energy left to give me a break. Nor should he - he is as tired as I am.

We've been spoiled. Dave has been spoiled with a job that - although challenging - doesn't typically require the amount of hours that similar paying jobs often do. And I'm spoiled because I have a husband who 'gets it.' One who appreciates that it can sometimes be tough to be home with the kids all day and that I need a little down time too. And - his job (typically) gives him the opportunity to be a real family man - give me breaks and be involved with his kids.

I love this about our life.

However, when we are forced to live like so many others - even for a short time - I get TIRED. Dave gets TIRED and we both long for a break. But with both of us needing a break there is no one left to carry the load during said break.

(sigh...,)

It's during these times that I gain a real appreciation for spouses whose partners work such long hours they aren't able to help and those with obtuse spouses who just don't get it. I am truly amazed by single parents, like my own mom. How in the world do they do it?? I'll bet they're tired 24/7.

OK - so I'll quit my whining and suck it up.

(sigh....,)

Just one more week and we'll be back to normal!!!

Wednesday, November 22

Giving Thanks

Wednesday, November 21, 2006

We’re hosting Thanksgiving for the second time and this year I'm starting a new tradition. Something that I hope will resonate with Rachel and Alex over time. We're putting together a list of some of the things that we’re grateful for and I'm going to put them into a Thanksgiving book that we can add to every year. I’m hoping to get lists from everyone that will be joining us for dinner and a few from close friends and far away family.

I’ll start with what I am most grateful for: First, I’m thankful for a husband who enables me to be the best mom I can be. Second, I’m thankful that I somehow stumbled into being a stay-at-home mom after more than a decade in public relations. (How could this NOT have been my dream for my life?!?!) And third, I’m thankful that this isn't a dream. I have an amazing husband and two incredible miracle children to share this life with. Add friends and family as icing and it's a pretty great life.

These are a few more things that I'm thankful for...,

* Jack-in-the-box drive-thru (comfort food)
* The Wiggles, HigglyTown Heroes and Little Einsteins & the extra few minutes they give me to get a few things done (or snooze)
* That Rachel's 'little' syndrome is so very little that its all but invisible
* The unconditional love of our dog, Ollie, for all of us
* The unconditional love of our foster cat for me
* Dave's willingness to do all the grocery shopping
* Dave's even tempered personality
* Giggles with the girls
* The wisdom of our three year old - "Mommy, Politics are NOT nice!"
* The miracles of modern medicine - giving us two beautiful healthy little girls & a healthy Marsha Cook
* DaMomma.com
* The International Rescue Committee & all it's given to me and my kids (& they're thanking us, imagine!) (www.theirc.org)
* That the two fender benders we had this year dented nothing more than fenders

What are you thankful for?? I'd love to know....,

Monday, November 20

Out of the Mouths of Babes...,

On our way to the park and listening to the radio....,

"What are they talking about, Mommy?"
"Politics, honey."
"Mommy, politics is NOT nice!"
"Oh Alex. You are wise beyond your years!"

Friday, November 17

Sometimes Being Mom is Tough

It's tough when a childless friend says, "Do you ever just pull the car over and....?"
It's tough when a relative says, "When you're not around children very often you forget how much patience it takes."

I took both statements as....

"Are you saying my kids are out of control?"
"Are you saying I'm not a good mom?"
"Are you saying I have 'bad' kids?"
"What ARE you saying? Because I don't like what I'm hearing"

It's tough being a mom and being surrounded by family and so many friends who don't have any children. People who can't relate or try to understand. People that bring inexperience, unrealistic expectations, and unsolicited opinions.

It's tough when your parents who, after my little one fusses at the table, plays with her food and needs a quick time out (all developmentally appropriate for a 2 year-old who is minutes away from nap time) comment about how great THEIR kids were. How they "never had to be told twice" and "never really cried that much" or "never did this or the next thing." (When did we all grew out of being perfect little angles?)

Again ....,
"Are you saying my kids are out of control?"
"Are you saying I'm not a good mom?"
"Are you saying I have 'bad' kids?"
"What ARE you saying? Because I don't like what I'm hearing"

It's tough not reaching over and whacking them in head for being so stupid!!

Hey, BONEHEADS! I'm in the trenches - NOW, not 40 years ago (read blurred/romanticized memory). I'm around kids and parents every day. I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly - in both parents and kids.

My kids are doing just fine - thank you. They are well behaved (as far as 'well-behaved' goes for a 2 & 3 year old) but not so seemingly well-behaved that I've crushed their spirit or scared them straight. No - my kids are OK. They're independent, curious, autonomous, loving little sentient beings. I love them for all of it - the good, the bad and the ugly. And as their mom, I can tell you there is much more 'good' than anything else.

Here's a tip. Think before you speak and every now and again maybe offer a compliment and/or realize that (given that you're not a parent or haven't parented a toddler in some 40+ years) maybe you're not an expert with all the answers. And maybe, just maybe, I know what I'm doing and I'm doing a pretty good job.

Pat yourself on the back while you're at it. One of the prefect kids that you raised has grown up and is now raising two pretty great kids of her own.

Tuesday, November 14

Woman, Wife, Mother...,

Not necessarily in that order. Not any one dimension more important than another - but each the most important at any given time - the sum of the parts that make up me. And how lucky I am that I get to be all of these things separately & together.

Saturday, November 11

The Sexiest Man...,

A massage offered to a weary wife, sore from a hard night of volleyball followed by a day at the Wild Animal Park with two energetic little girls, and tired from an annual flu shot earlier in the day. A massage - complete with candlelight and vanilla scented massage oil - rubbing away all the muscle pain and weariness.

Ahhhh. So nice and warm and loving.

And we made love - warm, tender, fantastic, orgasmic love.

He is sleeping now - peaceful and beautiful in the candlelight. He is truely the sexiest man alive! And I am the luckiest wife in the world.

Friday, November 3

Halloween is for kids

and this one was perfect. Alex and Rachel really understood the concept this year and were excited about dressing up and seeing all their friends dress up.

We decided that - instead of big birthday parties and all the associated issues we will host an annual Halloween Party. And this was the 1st Annual - it was great...., 17 kids, 24 adults, a bouncy, halloween bags to decorate, pumpkins to paint, games to play, face painting and a Pinata!




Saturday, October 21

Cold and Flu Season...,

Sorry its taken me so long to get back to you. Our house is one big, swirling virus!! YUK!! We had ANOTHER cold run through here last week - not that it's actually left yet. Hubby came down with it last night. I hope it's done with us soon. We are worn out!!

I don't know what's going on this year - it feels like we've been about to get sick, sick, or recovering from being sick for the last 6 weeks! Usually we're a bit more resilient. Dave (that would be Hubby) is hoping that we're building our resistance to this year's bugs early and that we'll be healthy for the rest of cold and flu season. I hope he's right - because I am DONE with mucus and coughs and sad little faces, whimpering for a restful night's sleep.

Monday, October 9

I did it...,

... we did it.

Last night as I walked down the hall I heard something. It was unmistakable. I stopped to really listen and I could hear it. Feel it. A peaceful, loving quite washed over me. At that moment I was so aware of my own happiness - a sense of fullness and contentedness. A feeling that I think has been with me for a while now - but one that I rarely stop to feel, to appreciate or listen to.

My two incredible little girls were asleep in their beds, smiling, dreaming. My husband and dog were lazing on the couch watching T.V. Everyone in my house - at that moment - happy and content. I did it - we did it. Dave and I. Achieved the dream. The dream that I've had since I was just a little girl. I've always longed for a peaceful, happy and loving family. A safe and secure home free of drama and conflict. This was and is at the heart of what I've always longed for. Some people dream of great wealth and recognition and popularity. And while all that would be nice and I wouldn't turn it away, I don't think having all of that would make me happy without the very real foundation and emotional security of my home and family.

We may not have a great deal of money but I feel rich.

Snippets

In the car -- on the freeway, early one morning on our way to IRC preschool.

"Mommy."
"What is it Alex?"
"I don't see any police. Do you see any police?"
"No."
"That means we can go FAST!!"
(OH Lord. What am I teaching my children?)

********
At the dinner table.

"Mommy, close your eyes."
"OK, Alex. They're closed."
And she pokes me in the eye.
"OUCH! Alex what did you do that for? That hurt honey. You shouldn't poke people in the eye. It hurts."
"But I didn't poke you in the other eye!"

Wednesday, August 30

A Short Tribute

To my wonderful husband. He constantly amazes me with his ability to give what I need when I need it. Whether it’s a break from the kids or a simple hug he’s there to give it, freely and without expectation. He is the most amazing man. I must have done something pretty great in a former life for god to have given me this man to share my life with and raise my daughters with.

When I think of how unbelievably lucky and blessed my two little girls are to have such an involved and caring father it brings tears to my eyes.

He keeps me a float and helps me to be the best mom & woman that I can be.

Happy Birthday Dave!

The Budding Beautician

The girls are playing with the cat as I clean up from lunch. Or so I think. I go into the kitty's room (which we used to call Rachel's room but our foster cat has pretty much taken over) and start cleaning out the litter box when I hear Alex say, "Hey, Rachel. Want a haircut?" followed immediately by that horrible snipping sound.

"Noooooo. Alex STOP! Stop - come out from under there right now."

Silence. AT this point they know there's trouble and they're probably thinking that if they don't make a sound I won't be able to find them and will go look somewhere else.

"Alex. Come out right now and hand me those scissors!"

Silence.

I look under the crib and Alex says, sheepishly, "Rachel's in the way."

"Come out of there. Both of you." I say as I pull them out and find what appears to be a sizable clump of wispy blonde hair. Hmmm, not good. I quickly assess the damage. Doesn't look too bad. Rachel now has somewhat of a layered look going. Pretty sporty actually!

As I'm checking out Rachel's new 'do,' I give Alex the requisite lecture on the dangers of playing with scissors. "Yes, even little kid craft scissors." (Can you believe they make kid scissors that actually cut hair!?!)

So - that crises dealt with, I go back into the office for a quick IM session with Dave. While I'm telling him about the budding beautician in the family, in comes Alex to see what I'm doing. I turn to tell her I'll be done in a minute and to wait in the other room, when I get a look at her for the first time since pulling them from under the crib

"OH ALEX!! WHAT DID YOU DO TO YOUR HAIR!!??!!"

Both sides are chopped almost as far back as her ears in so many different layers and lengths that I'm stunned.
Where is the hair she cut off - it wasn't under the crib and I have the scissors. Ahhh, she did this BEFORE cutting her sister's hair. No wonder she didn't want to come out from under the crib. She didn't want me to see her head!!

Back in the kitty's room I find a big pile of beautiful brown and golden curls lying behind the rocker. :-( I guess we'll finally have to get her hair cut. & Rachel too.

Another rite of passage in the Hart house :-)

A New Religion

"Alex, where are you going?"

"I need to get Anna."

OK.

She get's Anna and heads outside.

Hmmm.

"Alex, Anna doesn't go in the pool."

"I'm not going in the pool."

"Where are you going?"

"Surfing."

"Alex, Anna doesn't go in the pool."

"Mom, I'm looking for the surf god."
and off she went.

Monday, August 28

Damn! She's a quick study!!

Of all the developmental milestones, this is definitely not one that parents ohh and ahh over and brag to their friends about. This is one of those little milestones that happens and parents wince a bit. Definitely no shouting to the neighbors about how brilliant the little one is.

OK - I may be the exception. Because not only did I have to bite my tongue to stifle a laugh, I think I told anyone within ear shot during the following week.

Last weekend, Julia and Gama Amy came over for lunch. The two were chatting about something at the table when I heard a very soft, "Damn!"

"Ehh Uemm," I cleared my throat.

"Oh! Sorry!"

No worries. I didn't thing the little ones had heard anything.

Oh - but little Rachel proved me wrong. Later that day I was putting her to bed and she definitely didn't want to go. Rather than simply fussing, as usual, she exhibited her newly acquired verbal and comprehension skills and, as I laid her in the crib, said, "Damn! Damn! Damn!"

And then promptly went to sleep.

Brilliant!

Defiance? What? At 23 months old???

Wow - we might be in trouble with number 2.

OK - maybe not outright defiance - but Rachel has definitely exhibited a level of testing that we haven't seen with Alex.

Hmmm. Possibly more like me that I'd like to admit?

Tuesday, August 22

Fruit Salad

Alex had been in the potty for a long time so I went to see what was up. I found her at the sink with a handful and a sinkful of wet and shredded toilet tissue.

"Alex? Oh - this is not a good thing. This will clog up the sink. Come on - go outside while mommy cleans this up."

"But Mommy, I'm making fruit salad!"

Monday, August 21

All About Poop

"Rachel. No more poop."

"What?" I ask my oldest as I change my youngest diaper.

"Rachel is going to be a big girl and if she is going to be a big girl - no more poop!" Alex declares with some assumed authority.

"Alex, everyone poops. We just poop in the potty instead of a diaper."

Rachel is just laying there calmly waiting for the conversation to end and the diapering to resume. Opps - and I continue with the dirty diaper.

"Nu-uh. Daddy doesn't poop."

"Oh yes," I assured her. "Daddy poops BIG TIME!"

"Big Times?"

"Yep, BIG TIMES. But everyone poops sweetie. You poop, I poop, Daddy poops, Rachel poops. Everyone poops honey."

"Yeah, everyone poops," suddenly agreeing that pooping is ok. "Everyone poops. Even Uncle Scott - He makes BIG poops. Yeah - Uncle Scott really poops. BIG Times!"

Why Uncle Scott - I have no idea. But I cracked up so hard Rachel almost rolled off the changing table.

Thursday, August 10

Mornings at the Hart House...,

1st thing in the AM the girls are usually watching Sesame Street and this is what my house looks like on most mornings..., (Nice Bed Head Rach ;-) )

And when Mommy decides we've had enough TV for the day....,

Tuesday, August 8

The worst sound and they love it...,

singing as loud as we can - just this side of shouting. Flat and off key - but they love it.

Monday, August 7

Lazy little me & an effort to get some water

"Hey." I call to Dave as he leaves the room and I laze on the couch.

"What?"

"You drank all of my water....,"

He looks at me puzzled

"....the other day."

Lots o' laughter - but no water.

Sigh.

I guess I'll have to get my lazy little booty up from my comfy spot and get it myself.

**

Costco and Kids

A quick 30 minute trip to Costco turns loony with kids - Let me share a bit....,

All goes well as Dave and I split up, instigating our quick divide a conquer strategy. Meeting up for a bit of browzing - things start to go a bit awry.

"Mommy, I have to go potty," my oldest tells me as she holds her bum!

"Uh-Oh!" I think. "The turtle is a peakin'."

And off we trot to the potty. When we get there Alex first wanted to go by herself, requesting a little 'privacy.' But the potty she chose had a 'magic' automatic flushing potty, which scares her so she changed her mind and joined me in the stall next door. She pulled down her panties, confidently climbed up on the 'mommy-sized' potty and sighed. She must have somehow cocked her hips in an odd way because as she began to pee it shot straight out onto the floor and onto my foot!! "Stop!" I shrieked as my foot was sprinkled with urine - icky!!!

Astonishingly - Alex did stop. Instantly. I was amazed at the muscle control but quickly regrouped and repositioned my girl and she finished her job as I wiped off the floor and my foot.

And we were off to find Daddy and Rachel and Daddy again.

Once we regrouped Alex spotted the bologna vendor and got a sample for herself and Rachel. Alex enjoyed her treat and Rachel split hers with Daddy or so we thought. Daddy ate the bologna and Rachel was left with the cracker. As we walked along in browzing mode Dave turned back and caught sight of Rachel and the cracker. She was 'feeding' the cracker to a group of little blue piggy banks. Not sure the pigs enjoyed the meal - but true to form they made a mess and each of the boxes is now filled with cracker crumbs!!


... and we left our mark on Costco and went home!

Sunday, August 6

end of a long day at the end of a long weekend

tired and one and a half margarita down.

My littlest has a terrible cold that seems to have come from no where. She's exhausted and so sick that she can't sleep. Unlike her sister, cuddling mom and sleeping beside me doesn't offer her enough comfort to sleep. Nope - Little Rachel equates that with play time. So the most I can do is sit at her bed side and rub her back, which calms her enough to allow sleep - for a while, until the next caughing fit wakes her and it starts all over again.

my heart hurts when my babies hurt.

Saturday, July 29

Changes

The closest of friends aren't after kids.

I was told. "Life changes," knowing moms patiently explained. "Everything. In ways you can't imagine and your friendships can take the biggest hit."

No. Not me - not my friendship with my best friend, a woman that I had known for more than a decade, a woman who I considered a surrogate sister. No. It won't happen. She and I are too close - surely she will stand by me as we always have for each other in the past. She'll be almost as excited about our kids as Dave and I are. She'll love them like the dear aunt that she will be.

What I've learned is that change is inevitable and some truisms are just inescapable.

We just aren't as close as we once were. She has avoided spending time with me when I'm with the girls on more than a few occasions and, while I intellectually understand, I am still more than a bit offended. I know spending time with little ones when you don't have any of your own, and never wanted any of your own may sometimes be a bit tedious but my kids are a part of me - love me, love them. She's also become short and terse more often than a friend should have to deal with.

This part of motherhood - this change - this loss - has been the saddest of all. I've bemoaned the situation, whined about, gripped about it and, finally, mourned and grieved this loss.

Our friendship will never be the same. And now? I'm just letting it go and accepting it within its new boundaries. It won't ever be what it was - but it will continue to be something special, something meaningful - but something different.

Friday, July 21

Time Warp

"Mommy."

"Yes, sweetie?"

"Dinosaurs were a looong time ago."

"Really?"

"Yeah, a really, really long time ago."

"How long ago do you think?"

"Ummm. 5 weeks."

(Alex)

Sunday, June 25

Toddler Parties

More than 60 people at a party for twins reaching the milestone age of three! Yeah, sounds a little crazy but it was a really great party. Mom rented a big 'bouncy' for the kids and they all had a ball. I had met enough of the guests in the past that socializing was easy and the mood of the party was easy and fun.

The kids raked in a ton of loot. More than any two kids need really, but "They soooo wanted them."

And that's a good reason for anything to do with kids. (Note the sarcasm?)

I'm not sure about the reason for the big parties. Does it prove that your kids are popular? Does it prove that you are more popular? Does it prove that you love your kids more? Maybe none of the above. Maybe you just like throwing parties. Not sure - but, you know, after going to the twin's birthday party I think I'd like to have a party for Alex and Rachel and rent a Bouncy - the kids just LOVE it and it was great fun. I think I'd still nix the gift giving aspect. Hey, wait, maybe I'll set up a way to give $$$ to the IRC (International Rescue Commitee) instead of buying gifts. HMMM. Not sure - it sounds very 'Mommy Dearest.'

New idea - an annual party not tied to birthdays. One party for both girls - they'll invite their friends and no gifts will be required and we'll have just the one party for both girls. That would be fun. Now - we will still have the small family birthday parties for the girls. Just not a HUGE community party that delivers a deluge of battery operated plastic crap.

Friday, June 23

The Awe of it....,

This morning I surprised the girls with a trip to see Sesame Street Live - a performance of grand scale created just for kids.

Sesame Street is their favorite show and of course Elmo tops the list.



Grover, of course, is a close second.



The girls sat, munching on popcorn, transfixed...



...for the entire show as the bigger than life characters from Sesame Street came alive.



They were in awe of it. Mesmerized by the magic. And I was mesmerized by them. The sweet innocence of two little girls, sisters, experiencing this grand spectacle created just for them. No squirming, no impatience - just a look of wonder in their eyes and on their faces that was so honest. I hope they'll have many, many more experiences like this throughout their lives and that they get to experience that kind of wonderment even into adulthood. Maybe they will and if they have kids of their own I'm they will.

The chance to be a kid again and to see the world through a child's eyes is one of the greatest gifts of being a parent.

Wednesday, June 21

The Irony of my reproductive system...,

I spent years on birth control in my 20s and 30s - acting as a responsible serial monagomist prior to marriage. Then we struggled with infertility for two years we gave birth to beautiful little Alex. After five months of breastfeeding my menstrual cycle returned. UGH!! Most women don't menstruate while breastfeeding and what good was my cycle to me - an infertile woman.

Or so I thought! Six months later we were speachless to find that I was pregnant!! Wow! Another miracle

After the birth of Rachel, we decided that we had the perfect family and Dave had a vasectomy.

And just 4 months later the doc puts me on Depo (birth control) to control migraine headaches!! So now the partially infertile 41 woman with a 'snipped' husband is on birth control!!!

hmmm. What's up with that?!?!

Craziness Reigns!!

As I pull up to Marshall Elementary for my weekly volunteer position I find a closed gate.

"That's weird," I say out loud.

I honk at two women that I see walking across campus. They turn to look at me, wave and keep going. Not in any apparent rush - but too far away to clarify anything. So I get out of my car, pull back the gate and drive onto campus. The next gate, into the parking lot is also pulled shut. I get out, again, and pull open the gate. At this point, no one is in sight and I pull into the parking lot.

As I open the door to my car a woman comes running at us, shrieking, "THIS IS A LOCK-DOWN. YOU CAN'T BE IN HERE. YOU CAN'T DRIVE THROUGH THE GATE. THIS IS A LOCK-DOWN, GET INTO A CLASS ROOM - NOW. THIS IS A LOCK-DOWN. GET INTO A CLASS ROOM NOW!! HURRY! THIS IS SERIOUS - YOU CAN'T BE HERE. THIS IS A LOCK-DOWN. GET INTO A CLASS ROOM NOW!! HURRY! THIS IS SERIOUS - YOU CAN'T BE HERE."

My pulse began to race as I imagined a crazed, teenage gunman or two loose on the campus and coming fast in our direction. I rushed to get the girls out of the car. They were now panicking as the woman kept shrieking, "THIS IS A LOCK-DOWN. GET INTO A CLASS ROOM NOW!! HURRY!"

The commotion outside caused three teachers to open their doors (a grave error during a lockdown, apparently) to offer assistance to a mom wrestling to get her kids to safety.

"SHUT THE DOORS!!" This crazy woman shrieked. "THIS IS A LOCK-DOWN. GET BACK INTO THOSE CLASSROOMS!!" She then turned back to me and resumed, "THIS IS A LOCK-DOWN. GET INTO A CLASS ROOM NOW!! HURRY! THIS IS SERIOUS - YOU CAN'T BE HERE. THIS IS A LOCK-DOWN. GET INTO A CLASS ROOM NOW!! HURRY! THIS IS SERIOUS - YOU CAN'T BE HERE."

Finally - after she had succeeded in initiating panic in all of us, I responded with, "LADY! SHUT-UP!! I HAVE TWO KIDS HERE AND I'M DOING THE BEST I CAN SO BAAACK OOOFFF!!"

She then seemed to realize that she was a bit out of control and came to offer a little help - but by then I had my two girls in my arms and was running across the parking lot toward the preschool room as I imagined gun-toting crazies closing in.

Once I got into the room everyone was shaking - including the people already there. She had freaked everyone out with all of her incessant yelling. But the ladies in the room knew something that I didn't. The lock-down was not to protect us all from some crazy loons but from a stray family of coyotes that had been spotted on campus. Animal control was on their way to trap the animals and all would be well soon.


Apparently the only loon on campus was the screeching woman instilling needless panic. Where is the Department of People Control??

Multi-tasking


Sleeping and eating simultaneously. Wow - what a time saver! That little Rachel - Just 21 months old and already so efficient ;-)

Wednesday, June 7

In an instant....,

It all happened so fast. In an instant. I was driving and my girls were sleeping in the back seat - I was driving. It was a clear day - stressful because Rachel had developed a UTI and had been hurting most of the day. But finally, on the way back from the Doctor's office, she had fallen asleep. Alex, too, was sleeping. I decided not to wake them - just to let them sleep as a drove around town a bit. I turned off HWY 67 on to Archie Moore Road in Ramona. I looked off to my left and saw an interesting housing development and decided to turn left, into the development to check it out. I looked ahead for traffic and then back to the left - I tried to look beyond the initial gate structure, which was open to see if there was another gate beyond that but couldn't see anything so I began my turn.....

BBBBAAAAMMMM

A silver car - a volkswagon GTI - was there. ON my left front fender! Bouncing off again. In an instant.

My girls, strapped safely into their car seats, began to cry. They were terrified - but without a scratch. THANK YOU GOD! THANK YOU GOD! THANK YOU GOD! THANK YOU GOD! THANK YOU GOD! THANK YOU GOD! THANK YOU GOD! THANK YOU GOD! THANK YOU GOD! THANK YOU GOD! THANK YOU GOD! THANK YOU GOD! THANK YOU GOD! THANK YOU GOD! THANK YOU GOD!

I got out to check on the other driver. She was also pretty shaken up - but otherwise seemed OK. She was also seemed VERY pleasant. She offered to help me with my girls once she realized that I had kids in my car.

When I think of what could have happened my stomach flips and I feel literally SICK.

"Hello, Mr. Hart? We're calling to let you know that there has been an accident...."

"Hello, Mr. Navarro? We're calling to let you know that Maria has been in an accident....,"

In an instant....,

And the instant has passed and logistics and after affects must be considered and dealt with.

$1000 deductable dollars and a few headaches later and our car will be fixed. $400 more a year in insurance & that's about it as for our family's repricusions. That a new realization about my responsibilities to my kids and my husband as the driver of our children.

But what about Maria? What about her family? She was driving a 1992 Volkswagon GTI. It looked like it was in pretty good shape - will she get enough money to replace the car? I'm assuming that she was working for one of the wealthy area families as nanny or house keeper - will she be able to keep her job? She lives all the way down in Tacate, Mexico!! That's over an hour's drive with out traffic!!

This accident was my fault - so I'm responsible for her loss. I should help make this right somehow....., Somehow.

Sunday, June 4

A Parenting Survey Question....,

Please list the three most stressful/traumatic events that occurred in your life in the past year, and rate each on the following scales.

well, 18 months ago we moved across country with a 6 wk old and a 2 year old. Adjusting to that took a lot of time - I'd say we had really adjusted by about Christmas of this past year. Then my youngest went on a sleep strike about a year ago - she REFUSED to sleep unless she was being held and rock or walked. My husband and I took shifts until it became unbarable for the whole house. We then had to let her 'cry it out' -- OH - that was hard. And in between all of that was the fear that our youngest had a severe congenital birth defect or syndrome (turns out its VERY minor). Add to that fevers, colds, bumps and bruises - oh yeah and TWO - not one but TWO trips to the emergancy room on poison scares (both false alarms). OK - so maybe we've just been living in a state of stress for months and months. But in the past 8 weeks - all has been calm and happy. I think our girls have reached a more manageable age (20 months & 3 years) and life is just easier now.

Tuesday, May 30

I'm the lucky one

All this time I've been fretting the loss of my career and identity. I've worried about money and our limits on attaining stuff. I've been completely focused on what these changes have 'cost' us as a family. I often times intermix how good these changes are for our kids - but never for me. I've looked at this as a net loss for me.

But...,

I get to spend this irreplaceable time with my kids. A time when Dave and I are the moon and the stars to them. The girls and I go on daily adventures. We go to the Zoo or the Wild Animal Park, Balboa Park or the Beach, Museums or playgrounds, we make play dough cookies or paint or glue baubles to colored paper to create artistic treasures, we go to an international preschool twice weekly (http://www.theirc.org), we visit grandma or have play dates with friends.

I don't have to get up in a rush, dressing my girls in a hurry as I throw a breakfast together and run off to drop the girls at day care and fight traffic to get to work.

No - I wake up slow (OK, slower than I'd like to admit really) enjoy a little alone time to shower and dress while the girls have a little morning TV. We then have breakfast together before heading off for our morning adventure. We're usually home for lunch and then nap time.

I'm blessed with two little girls who aren't prone to temper tantrums or constant sibling bickering so are days are pretty happy and easy.

My girls are happy. My husband is happy. And, surprise, I'm happy too.

I've realized I am the lucky one - WE are the lucky ones. We're happy. We have love and comfort and security and while more money might make give us a little more breathing room - the cost of making that money (me working full time, away from my kids) would represent too great a price for our family.

Monday, May 22

Words to Live By....,

"Values are the shield that you carry with you throughout life and it protects you from whatever life throws at you."
-- Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah

"I want my children to feel like they are global citizens, to really have an understanding of the world at large. Because once you feel that others are like you then you want for others what you want for yourself and that way you start helping others. When you solve someone else‚s problem you solve a problem for yourself because our world is so interconnected."
-- Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah

"To whom much is given much is expected."
-- Unknown

Thursday, May 11

Poop on Parade....,

Sitting at Kidsville with Ron, Alec's Dad, we were talking about the kids while we watched them play. Alex alerted the large warehouse sized room that she had to go potty. 'Poopy' to be specific & she was going to go by herself! Well, I could not have been more proud.

"I can't believe how grown up she is. Just three and she can take care of business. How cool is that!" I beamed at Ron.

"Yeah, that's great. Alec (who is 5 months older) isn't anywhere near that stage," he replied.

And, as I continued beaming about my daughter, we chatted about Alex and her apparent advanced potty training & verbal skills for the next few minutes until we were interrupted by our subject.

"MOMMY! MOMMY!" Alex yelled excitedly from the restroom door, where she was now standing with her shorts and panties around her ankles. "Mommy come here!! You have to see this - I made a REALLY big POOP!! Come see!"

A bit more sheepishly then before I stood up to go 'see' my daughter's latest great accomplishment as my friend said with a grin, "We tend to celebrate other things in our house."

Wednesday, April 5

Husband Chronicles

As my level of burn out progressed toward the brink, Dave saw the impending crash and did his best to to reign in the emotional wave. We struggled at first with my poorly conveyed worries about money, our future, the cost of living increases, our possible decrease in living standard, etc. Once we got by the issue of 'keeping up with the jones' we moved on to more productive discussions.

Monday, March 20

Woman

It's not about being a school psychologist or a teacher or a public relations professional. It's about finding something that I want to do that offers the pay and schedule that will enable me to do what I want to do outside of work. Something that gives me a sense of accomplishment and pride that doesn't consume me, my time or energy. It should be important but not all consuming.

Balance. So cliche. But I think its really worth striving for.

My other problem is that I want the big house w/ the nice yard. For that I'll have to go back to work full time and put the kids in day care.

My other problem is that I don't want to be my mother. And I have a question about my mom - why wasn't she involved with more school stuff? She worked as an aide at a local elementary school. Anyway - I don't want to be my mom. A bitter housewife. A bitter dependent, unhappy housewife and not the mother that I want for my own children.

So what do I want and where am I willing to compromise? hmmm. And does Dave give a crap? He doesn't even realize that we actually NEED more money. Life is getting more expensive at a pace faster than his income is increasing. I've said it several times, if we needed a new car today we would be in some serious financial hurt! More scary still - we're spending pretty close, sometimes more, than we take in every month. Dave puts the off to all the work that we've done on the house. But I think he'd be surprised at how much is going to just our daily living. I don't think we live extravegantly and don't really want to cut out more than I've cut already.

I color my own hair.
I don't eat lunch out more than once a week
I wait far too long between haircuts
I put off buying clothes until I NEED something and sometimes longer (i.e. shoes)
and apparently my birthday.

It just occured to me that I really am still upset about my birthday and valentines day. Make that 2 birthdays. Dave knows how much I love B-days and he did nothing 2 years in a row. The second year he blew it off saying that he was planning something big for Valentines Day and then he gave me cheap sleazy crap. Nothing even sweet and romantic. When I brought it up to him and expressed my hurt, he promised that he'd make it up to me - but nope. It's been six weeks and nada.

He is sleeping on the couch tonight. Why? Because when I started the conversation about me feeling burned out and trapped he decided that he needed to go shopping. Later I made a comment to open the conversation again and he chose to continue watching and not engage. I feel like I'm facing a crossroad and huge thing for me and that our family has a financial issue that needs to be addressed at the same time. The implications of this decision will affect our whole family and he can't be bothered to engage.

He can't be bothered by much around here and it gets less all the time. Could be my moodiness. Probably not helping - but his increasing detachment isn't either. Missing my Birthday 2 years running SUCKS! Doesn't show much appreciation.

God I've given up so much. My career and my independence. I've got 2 great kids - I throw that in here because I feel guilty even acknowledging things that I've given up or sacrificed anything.

So. I also need to make sure that I'm in a position to be independent if need be.

Monday, March 13

Precious Moments....,

One of the wonderful moments of motherhood is soothing my babies when they are sick or hurt and helping take the pain away. Tonight was one of those times. Rachel, sick with a cold and a fever, cuddled deep into my arms (was she actually trying to get back into the womb?). Finally she settled down, let out a tremendous sigh and fell asleep as I rocked her. It was an incredible moment of closeness with her. I actually cried - a bit overwhelmed with my love for my girls.

After holding Rachel until my arm went numb I finally put her in the crib and went in to check on Alex. She half awoke from what seemed to be a very deep sleep. She looked up at me as I tucked her in and, with droopy little sleep-filled eyes quitely said, "Mommy, I love you." And just as quickly, she was sound asleep again.




Curous George
The day Alex found the worm

Monday, March 6

Melt Down - It's a Contest

Who will melt down more quickly? Mom or the three year-old?

Today is one of those days. A day that is filled with unceasing "I want....," fussing, whining, demanding, etc., etc. A day I contemplate duck tape :-).

Screaming from another room "MMMMOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!!" Banging on the door of the office - where I've gone to hide and have my own time out before duck taping her to the wall - "MOMMMY! MY DRRIIINNK!! I WANT MY DRRIINNNKK!!!" BANG, BANG.

My pulse/blood pressure/adrenaline has increased with each subsequent demand. Ad the adult in this equation, I know its my responsibility to remain calm but on days like these, at times like this calm sounds like a tall order.

Sigh.

It has quieted down out there - I should probably go and check what's going on.

Monday, February 27

An excerpt....,

"She breathes and coos and folds herself into the warmth of breast and abdomen and I stroke her back. I nuzzle her downy head. I smell myself and her -- sweat, milk, sweet baby musk. There is Daddy, and there is sister, and soon there will be a whole wide world. But in the early morning dark it is just us -- I am only her mother and she is only my child, and as I gently brush my lips across her downy head I offer blessing and sanctification. May my kisses be with you always, may the peace of this moment sustain you for a lifetime, may any danger in your path come down mine instead. May this moment exist in your soul and your flesh for all eternity so that you will always know I am your mother and I am with you no matter where you are."

From a great blog called: Motherhood is not for wimps.

Friday, February 24

Kidlet Quips

********

In the rest room with Alex. She is excited because its a short little potty that she can get onto herself. Once she's done and its my turn I start to sit down and she becomes alarmed saying, "Mommy! No! Don't sit down on that - your bum won't fit!"

********

Driving down the freeway: "Mommy! Mommy! I saw a bird (digger or INSERT ANYTHING HERE)!!" Alex exclaims from the the safety of her car seat. "Back up so I can see it! Mommy backup!"

********

Time Escapes Me

Where does the time go.

Blogging is the 'in' thing at the moment and I follow a few (primarily mom-centric blogs) and I'm sometimes amazed at the quality and quantity of the posts. With two little ones in the house where do you blogging moms find the time. And when you do find the time where do you find the brain power?

Tuesday, February 21

Sick little ones

Oh my little noodles are sooo very sick. They've got an unending cold. Mucus and coughing. So very drippy.

Wednesday, February 15

Welcome to our World
Our world is a simple one. Well - as simple as a life with two toddlers can be, but it is comparatively simple.

My husband works at SDSC and has for more than 10 years. I left my career in public relations and now work full time caring for our two incredible little miracles.

We are fortunate not to indulge ourselves in drama.

My husband is amazing. He works hard and is very well respected by his co-workers and superiors.

I think I am amazed at how happy I am with the 'simple' life.

Sunday, February 12

Oh the things they'll say

"Grandpa," Alex smiles sweetly as she cuddles up to her follickly challenge maternal grandfather. "I like your hair," she says sincerely as she rubs his scalp!

Saturday, February 11

Sharing...,

"Oh the things we can share....."

First - an entire large jar of vasoline
Second - self-tanning lotion
Third - a tube of Mommy's expensive lipstick

Alex found each one and 'shared' them with her sister. Sharing in Alex's world apparently means smearing all over your baby sister, who is thrilled with the attention of her older sister. Thankfully there was no lasting damage to Rachel, furniture or anything else of value. Though one pair of pajamas bit the dust and Rachel's self-tanning scars will last for at least a week of two. Funny - she now appears to have a birth mark on her right ankle.

You'd think that I would learn NOT too leave these two little explorers alone - but a mom has to take a minute (ok - five!) every now and again. They amaze (& amuse) me with what they can get into while I'm taking that minute or two. I don't get upset because these really are just innocent moments between sisters. They're sharing and playing together, which in my book is far better then bickering and badgering.

The competition (?)

Ok - so here's the thing. I've been reading this great mom-centric blog: MOTHERHOOD IS NOT FOR WIMPS! at http://damomma.com/ and I love it. This woman is so clever and well spoken that I'm a bit intimidated. The stories that she writes about her kids are hystically funny, touching and heartfelt. It's great. But then she is a professional writer so I guess we should expect that from her.

But since I don't think anyone will really read MY blog - I guess I don't have to worry too much about being pithy.

Wednesday, February 8

Day 1

So. Here I am beginning my very own blog. It's the latest trend - journaling on line for all the world to see. A fairly arrogant thought really. With all the junk out there - really - why would the world beat a path to MY virtual door.

Anyway - I'm here because I have two beautiful girls and a wonderful husband and I want to savor the little day-to-day things that make up our lives together. Without the benefit of journaling these little tidbits blur into one long memory less the minutia that makes life so rich.