Monday, June 30, 2008

Caitlin Turns Seven

My seventh anniversary of becoming a mother began uneventfully, if predictably: the twins woke up at 7:30 am (They slept through the night...again!) and nursed. Then I ran off to the farm to put 32 tomato and tomatillo plants in the ground in what will eventually become a hoophouse. When I returned home, three hours later, the whirlwind packing began.

This marks the very first year that Caitlin hasn't been home for her own birthday. She's off at Camp Grammy in the mountains, so we had to travel to see her.

After a great deal of running around, we hit the road to Gramma's House. Over hill and dale and mountaintops, through rain and hail and 600' vertical drops. Miles and miles we drove! The twins traveled very well indeed this time and even though we stopped for a milk break, they were more interested in the cord to the radar detector than they were in me. We stuffed them full of snacks and kept on going. Five or six hours later, we arrived. Tired and sore from sitting for so long, we extracted our old and creaking limbs and were attacked by a squealing Caitlin.

Was it possible that she'd grown taller in a week? Is it possible to forget so much about your own child in such a short time or was it being around just infants that had me on a different wavelength? She looked so big and grown up. In only a week? What will two more weeks be like?! Aiee!

There was much squealing and hugging to be had.

The twins, who had just woken up from a nap, were not amused.

Eventually, everyone settled in and we had dinner and a small family celebration Saturday night, since that was Caitlin's actual birthday. Grammy, Grampy, Pop-pop and Nana-Sue were all there.
Chocolate mint cake provided by Grammy.

Actually seven!

On Sunday, we partied.
Backyard party.

I didn't take very many pictures, since I was juggling twins. Strangely enough, there was yet another hammock and lots of screaming.
Girls + Hammock = Screaming and Falling

Caitlin had a few friends over from camp, as well as our family friend, Ruby, to celebrate with at Grammy's. Grampy Jim, The Hardest Working Man Alive (TM), slaved away at the grill.
Grampy Jim, short order cook.

The twins were passed around and around and around until they finally gave up complaining when they were handed off to someone that wasn't me. Whew!
"My, Grammy, what a pink hat you have!"

"Dis not fit me so good."

"Dis party for me? Cool! Where's my beer? Daddy said I could have one."

The paparazzi stalk Logan wherever he goes. "Are you getting my good side?"

After a lot of noshing, we got around to cake. This time, we had an actual candle.
Making a wish.

Strangely enough, a few of the girls informed me that they "didn't like cake". Have you ever heard such a thing?!

The baker in me that slaved over the vanilla sheet cake with strawberries and whipped cream was insulted. I blame it on a plethora of birthdays that have featured supermarket cakes that taste like sugar and chemicals. That plus 7 year old tastebuds aren't particularly discerning, are they? Ah well. Even Caitlin, too busy playing, never had more than a bite of this, her third birthday cake in a week.

Feel bad for her. She's so deprived!
Looks like trouble!

Emma, however, upon learning that there was cake to be had, stepped up to the...errrr...plate and tried some.
Mmmmm! Cake!

Emma points out that cake has eggs, wheat, butter and cream it in. All the things a girl needs to grow on!

At least she liked it!

Seven seems to be looking pretty good, so far. Six has been a rough year for all of us. Six anticipated the birth of her very own brother and sister (A two-fer!), but Six didn't realize just how much of her own needs and wants would be put on the backburner when our whole family life would be tossed into the Baby Blender. It's hard to be Six. It's even harder to be the Only Child for six years and then suddenly be the Big Sister to twins. (If you thought just a single baby is cause for jealousy because of all of the attention a new baby draws, imagine what it's like when there are twins!) As the twins get more interactive, however, Seven will have a great time playing with them and teaching them all manner of fun things.

Seven will also find that as her parents get more sleep, they'll also be a lot more fun to be around.

That's my baby!

Happy Birthday, honey my bunny. I love you so!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Grilled Thai Chicken

Vegetarians: avert your eyes!

Everyone else: this is the best chicken that I have ever eaten. I swear. Hell, I pinky swear. No, I even really, totally mean it. This is not, however, a fast recipe. This recipe puts the Slow in the Slow Food Movement.

Was it the chicken? Was it the recipe? Was it the fact that it was cooked with love by Eric? Was it the hunger at the end of a long day? I don't know, but whatever it was, I'll be making this recipe again. It was fanTAStic! I'm not kidding: I had a hard time stopping myself from finishing my 1/2 of the chicken the first night.

OK! OK! Enough build up!

First, you need to get yourself a yummy all natural chicken from your local Farmer's Market. Failing that, get a good chicken from the grocery store. Expensive? Yes. Worth it! Also, did I mention that I'm reading Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma? Yeah. This book is having the same effect on me as Fast Food Nation did: we no longer eat from fast food restaurants. I now will no longer eat chicken/pork/beef raised in a feedlot (Confined Animal Feeding Operation = CAFO), if I have any other choice. It's bad news all the way around. The book, by the way, is awesome and eye opening. A total kick in the head, too.

Anyway! Get a good, whole, chicken. Then brine it.


Brining is key. While not called for in the recipe, let me tell you a secret: all natural, unconventional, minimally processed chickens can be a bit dry when cooked, since we've all become very used to more processed chicken which has been injected with broth. Which makes it moist. Natural chickens are killed, plucked, washed and frozen. That's it. Brining the chicken only takes 1 hour to do and locks in a lot of moisture, which ensures yumminess like you wouldn't believe.

Brining chicken
  1. Take 1/2 cup table salt and dissolve it in 2 quarts cold water in a large, lidded pot.
  2. Rinse chicken, place in pot, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Finally, rinse chicken in colander with fresh water and drain/pat dry.

Grilled Thai Chicken
From Fine Cooking magazine, July 2003, No, 58, pp. 63.
Serves four. (If you're good about sharing, that is.)

15 cloves garlic (You know it's going to be good right now, don't you?)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1 tbsp white peppercorns, toasted and ground
3/4 c minced cilantro stems and leaves (from about 1 large bunch)
1/4 c soy sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil

In a food processor, mince the garlic with the salt. Add the ground coriander seeds, ground peppercorns, cilantro, soy sauce and oil; puree until completely blended, 1 to 2 minutes. You'll have about 1 cup of marinade. Transfer to bowl, cover and set aside. Refrigerate if working ahead.

For the chicken:
1 chicken, 3.5 to 4 lbs, preferably kosher (Note: if kosher, do NOT brine), fat trimmed and discarded, chicken rinsed and thoroughly patted dry
Vegetable or olive oil spray

Butterfly the chicken (Or do what I did, purchase two halves.). Rinse and pat dry. Marinate chicken (Separate breast and thigh skin from flesh and slip a bit of marinade under the skin. Put chicken and remainder of marinade in a large zip-top bag, seal the bag and massage it to distribute the marinade all over the chicken.), refrigerated, for a least 1 hour and up to 8 hours (We did 8 hours.). Half an hour or so before grilling, remove from refrigerator and bag and put it on a platter.

Prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire with the coals banked to one side or heat a gas grill to high on one side and medium low on the other.

Spray the chicken generously with vegetable oil spray and set it, breast side down, on the hottest part of the grill. Cook the chicken uncovered, turning once, until the skin has deep golden grill marks, 7 to 10 minutes. Move the chicken to the cooler side of the grill. Cover the grill and grill the chicken indirectly, turning every 5 minutes or so, until the juices run clear when the spot between the thigh and the breast is pricked and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers at least 165 degrees F, another 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and tent with foil. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with Sweet & Sour Sauce.

Sweet & Sour Sauce
Yields 1/2 cup.

1 tbsp dried red chile flakes
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 c plus 2 tbsp rice vinegar
7 cloves garlic, minced

In a small, dry, saucepan, toast the chile flakes over high heat until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the salt, sugar, and rice vinegar; cook over medium-low heat until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Stir in the garlic. Remove the sauce from the heat and let cool completely.

It was sooooo good that I never took a picture of it. I had to make myself stop eating it to save some for lunch the next day. Even cold it was fabulous.

Yes, it was a lot of work, but most of that time is spent sitting in the fridge. It is definitely worth trying: just the smell of the marinade made my mouth water. I only wish I had some right now.

Oh, and the twins gave it four tiny thumbs up.

I bet you're hungry now, aren't you?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Toadally Squeamish

Got another toad today!

Still couldn't touch it.

You know, it's funny: I don't consider myself very girlish most of the time but when it come to the bugs and toads issue, I'm a complete wimp. I cannot make myself hold one or touch one.

I had a Daddy Longlegs crawling on me yesterday, freaked out and whacked it off of me. I think I turned it into a Daddy Seven Legs. Sorry Mr. Spider! Bleaaargh!

Today, out at the farm, Heather found another toad for me. She picked him up (I think this one is a male because it squeaked. The other one never made a single sound. BTW, she's still alive and hanging out in my yard. That, however is another story.) while he peed frantically, trying to convince her to let him go, she let her kids hold it and then popped it into the Bug Box for me to take home. My other toad, she needs a friend! All the while, I marveled over how easy it was for her to hold it and then laughed semi-hysterically when it lunged in my general direction.

Ack! Eeek! Ewww!

Not so brave around the squishy things in life, am I?

Well, as I was driving away, with the toad in Bug Box, sitting on the passenger side floor of the car, I suddenly figured that I should prop the box up so it didn't fall over and let the toad out. At that very moment, the toad gave a huge Heave! and forced its way out of the box.

The toad was loose in my car.

As the semi-hysterical laughter bubbled up in my throat, I considered my options:
  1. Stop the car, get out and get Heather to get the toad. Nah. Too wimpy.
  2. Stop the car, get out and get the toad myself. No waaaaay.
  3. Drive home, carefully, and get Eric to get the toad. Sounded good, so that's what I did.
Did I mention that I had sudden vision of getting in a car accident on the way home and having headlines reel across the TV screen:

Toad Causes Six Car Pile Up
Woman Crashes Car, Blames Toad: "It Touched Me!", she screamed.
Toad 1, Hatchet 0

You get the idea.

Well, I was almost home. I'd been listening to the toad shuffle around and squeak underneath the passenger seat. I kept hoping it would remain on that side of the car because it would get really messy really fast if it decided to crawl under my feet. At the last turn, I heard a shuffling noise, looked down, and there was the toad, looking up at me from its position in the door pocket.

I have to tell you, I screamed in, yes, semi-hysterical laughter. OK, maybe it was hysterical. You'll never know!

I mentally willed that sucker to not touch me! and somehow, it knew better than to jump out of that pocket and into my lap. Instead, it jumped under my seat. I consider the fact that I didn't floor it the rest of the way home an incredible display of Iron Will. Be amazed!

Upon entering the garage, I called Eric on the cell phone and asked him to come rescue me.

"The toad! The toad is loose in my car! Come get it!"

He laughed at me, but you know what? He came and got it and that's what really matters.

Then he released it out by the pond in back. Hopefully it will find Bouncer and they'll hit it off. I wish them lots of Toad Luck.

They'd just better not touch me!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Caitlin's Low Key Birthday Party

In Suburbia, there seems to be a trend in Birthday Party Escalations going on.

You go to Kid A's birthday and they have a Jumpy Castle. Then, at Kid B's party, they have pony rides. At Kid C's birthday, they're scheduling rides on the Space Shuttle.

Not being a part of the Crazy Party Circuit, we like our parties low key. Perhaps you'd recognize how we party from your childhood?

Take 2 additional kids, add to your almost 7 year old*. Add tent,
The tent. Turns out they didn't sleep outdoors. Not really surprised. They stayed up until around 11:30 pm in it, then came inside and slept on the livingroom floor. Then they "slept in" until 7:30 am.

a BBQ, liberal amounts of screaming,
She who screams.

They who scream and make funny faces.

Fun in the hammock.

possibly a movie and chocolate strawberry shortcake (Instead of a traditional cake, strawberry shortcake, where the shortcake is chocolate. It's too hot to get into serious cake baking.),
Mmmm! Shortcake! Chocolate! Strawberries! Whipped cream!

have sleepover and swirl.

For the adults, grilled steaks, salads and Mojitos.


Fresh mint leaves (As many as you want - we like LOTS.)
1/4 tsp turbinado sugar (Regular granulated works just fine, I just like the larger granules.)
Juice of one lime
1 oz simple sugar solution (1 cup sugar dissolved in 1 cup boiling water, let cool. No, really, it's worth the trouble.)
2 oz Bacardi (Or other light rum.)
Club soda
  1. Pour sugar into the bottom of a tall glass.
  2. Toss mint leaves on top. Using a long handled utensil with a flat bottom, muddle the sugar and mint leaves together to release the oils in the leaf.
  3. Add simple solution and lime juice and stir.
  4. Add ice and club soda to fill. Stir once again and enjoy!
No balloons. No decorations. Only two presents (and one of them is a movie date, so we only have one present's worth of debris), just 3 girls and no goodie bags.
Prior to singing.

Hey, if you get to spend the night at my house, eating burgers, salad, and chocolate strawberry shortcake, watching movies and sleeping in a tent in the yard, you don't need a goodie bag. In the morning we'll have blueberry pancakes (Wholesome!) and call it a day.
So low key we didn't even have candles! Note the lighter used in place of candles to blow out. The billowy clouds of cream wouldn't have held a candle up, anyway.

Caitlin didn't seem to mind either the lack of a candle or the lack of layer cake.

This party is so low key that I haven't even taken any pictures yet. Guess I'd better get on that, but mmmmm! Mojitos...!

Yeah, you can tooooootally trust me with your kid. Hic!
C'est moi!

* Technically her birthday is next Saturday. We're celebrating twice: once here at home with her girlfriends and then the second one will be in the mountains at Grammy's house with family. Grammy, you see, is taking Caitlin for three weeks**. We'll be bringing the party there.

** OMG! YES!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sleep! Glorious Sleep!

Is that title a bit over-used? Perhaps. But always a heartfelt statement.

The twins apparently have been reading the blog and after yesterday's post decided to show me up and put the lie to all my complaining.

Last night? Last night they slept from 11:30 pm until 7 am.

Huuu-what?! (I can hear Val: "No waaay!" Me: "Yes, way!")

Ohhhh yeaaaaaaah!

No guarantee they'll do it again tonight (Crosses fingers and hopes!), but we'll see. Maybe tonight I'll go to bed "early". As in before midnight! Crazy idea, no?

But first, I must try my rhubarb strawberry crisp. A la mode, of course.

A girl's gotta have priorities, people!

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Today marks the day that the twins have been outside just as many weeks as they were inside: 38.
"We're how old?"

I've gotta tell ya, they're a lot easier to carry on the outside than on the inside. My lower back is much happier now! And you should see my arms! Woo! Slow resistance training! It also helps to carry them both around, so that you have a balanced workout.

They are very sweet, funny and fun to watch (Unless you're trying to get something done, then there's the crying!). They're mobile and making lots of interesting noises ("Mom! Mom! Mom!" says Emma.) and doing lots of interesting/dangerous/acrobatic things. They eat regular food, like the rest of us, just cut a whole lot smaller.
"Did someone say Food?!"

Except for the usual suspects, of course. No honey. No nuts. No peanut butter or chocolate. They're still nursing, but they also like their diluted apple juice in a sippy cup.

They love their big sister, even if she's sometimes a little mean to them. They adore their mom and dad, even when we put them down for naps (Oh the humanity!). Logan is still the first one to flirt with strangers, while Emma watches carefully. They both get worried if someone they don't recognize picks them up until they're ready to be picked up and comfortable around them (Sorry Grammy!). The kitties excite them and put up with being grabbed at for the most part.
Hey Canon! I got yer advert shot riiiight here!
Logan's fees are reasonable, he says.

They, however, would likely complain about the fact that now they have wants and needs that aren't immediately filled. Hungry? Tired? Cold? Lonely? Wet/Poopy? All of these are sensations that I cruelly imposed on them by evicting them from the womb. And what is all of this "waiting their turn" crap?! They want their mommy NOW!, not once that other baby is done. Life is tough and twins...twins gotta get used to crying.

Although, truth be told, Emma might admit to enjoying a decided lack of being kicked in the head.
"Dat's berry true."

It's been a wild rollercoaster ride: scary but fun. There's even been some puking (Glad that stage is over!).
Upside-down smoochies.

Still waiting for uninterrupted sleep, though. One day. We'll get there one day.




Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ice Cream or "Ice Cream"?

I love ice cream! Don't you? Mmmm!

There are certain vendors that I love(d) to go to as a kid, the one sporting 31 Flavors was key among them. Now though? Umm...I think we've come to a parting of the ways.

Jamoca Almond Fudge
Ingredients: cream, nonfat milk, chocolate flavored ribbon (corn syrup, water, high fructose corn syrup, cocoa processed with alkali, modified food starch, propylene glycol, artificial flavors, potassium sorbate (preservative), carrageenan, salt, propyl paraben (preservative)), sugar, roasted almonds, corn syrup, jamoca extract (coffee extract, sugar, potassium sorbate and methyl paraben (as preservatives)), whey, caramel color, cellulose gum, mono and diglycerides, guar gum, carrageenan, polysorbate 80.
The following ingredients are all made from corn (I'm currently reading Michael Pollan's book: The Omnivore's Dilemma. Wow! Get a copy!):
For modified or unmodified starch, for glucose syrup and maltodextrin, for crystalline fructose and ascorbic acid, for lecithin and dextrose, lactic acid and lysine, for maltose and HFCS [High Fructose Corn Syrup], for MSG [Mono-Sodium Glutamate] and polyols, for the caramel-color and xanthan gum, read: corn. Corn is in the coffee whitener and Cheez Whiz [Eww!], the frozen yogurt and TV dinner, the canned fruit and ketchup and candies, the soups and snacks and cake mixes, the frosting ans gravy and frozen waffles, the syrups and hot sauces, the mayonnaise and mustard, the hot dogs and the bologna, the margarine and shortening, the salad dressings and the relishes and even the vitamins.
-- The Omnivore's Dilemma, pp. 18-19.
So, with that handy list, the "ice cream" includes corn in 7 of the ingredients that I recognized. Also, why are there parabens in my "ice cream"?!

There I was, thinking I'd gotten rid of them in my skin care products and they're in my food?! I even noticed recently that there was methyl paraben in my toothpaste! And it's from Nature's Gate. Not so natural, the Nature's Gate, I'm thinking.

From the Environmental Working Group's website Skin Deep, Propyl paraben: 4 (Moderate Hazard) is implicated in developmental/reproductive toxicity, allergies/immunotoxicity, endocrine disruption, organ system toxicity (non-reproductive). Um. Oh. Oh dear.

When did we stop eating ice cream and start eating all of these chemicals? To me, ice cream is cream or milk, sugar, vanilla, a pinch of salt, eggs and whatever variety of fruit you wanted to throw in (or chocolate).

I guess I shouldn't be surprised, and yet I am. Must be time to break the ice cream maker back out and start making my own ice cream again. It's a bit of work, but at least I know what's in it.

I'll be sure to skip the step that suggests adding the propyl and methyl parabens.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hatchet's Day Spa

Hey! You!

Wanna lose weight and gain muscle? Would you like to get a nice golden tan? Do you want to get in touch with Nature (And have Nature get in touch with you!)? Are you tired of riding that exercycle to no where? Lifting those dumb dumbbells?

Then join me at Hatchet's Day Spa!

Just the place to get in shape and make a difference in your community.

Surrrre some people call it (Insert sarcastic eye roll and double quote rabbit ear fingers here -->) "Farming", but where else can you muscle up, slim down, commune with nature (Where sometimes "commune" means "be eaten alive by mosquitos"), eat what you're working on and get a tan?

Get handy with a shovel! Dig some holes. Move some compost. Plant a few hundred plants!

Need a cardiovascular workout? Run planting equipment from one end of the field to the other!
Interested in strength training? Haul loads of compost or water here and there!
Looking for some quiet time and a chance to meditate? Pull some weeds!

Just don't forget your bug spray and your sun block!

Manicures and pedicures not available. Get used to the way a Dirt-i-cure looks on your hands and feet. Learn which lotions really work on softening up chapped and callused hands. Get comfortable being sweaty and dirty and make showering really worthwhile.

Come on down and get dir-taaaaay!

Hmmm....Perhaps I should rename myself Woman with a Shovel?

Monday, June 16, 2008

OMG! I'm Pregnant with Twins! Now what?!


Since I seem to get a fair amount of traffic from people apparently trying to determine if they are pregnant with twins, I thought I'd let you in on what you should do next. (As for searching for a quiz to determine if you're pregnant with twins, I don't know how useful those things are. The same answers apply if it's only your second pregnancy: gaining weight fast, being hungry all the time and being nauseated - either more or less - are all normal since every pregnancy is different.)

  1. Panic. No, really. Feel free to completely and utterly panic. Give in to your instinct to freak out over discovering you're about to have twins. You may as well, since everyone else around you will be busy telling you things like "How fabulous!", "You're so blessed!", "Better you than me!", or laughing hysterically at you (I'm looking at you, Mom!). Feel free to set up an appointment with yourself to freak out, possibly on a weekly basis. After you've gotten it out of your system, it's time to get to work.
  2. Do your research. Get a good book. I highly recommend When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads, by Dr. Barbara Luke. There's a boatload of information in there and it's very reassuring to read about the research she has done specifically on women pregnant with multiples and how much better your odds actually are than the "common wisdom" seems to indicate.
  3. Make a goal. Decide now what is important to you for this pregnancy and then pursue it. What do I mean? I mean that when I was pregnant, my whole goal was that at the end of the pregnancy I would have two healthy, full term babies with no NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) time. That was the mantra that I kept running through my head when I got frustrated by how things were going during the pregnancy. It also meant I had to come to terms with gaining a lot of weight, no longer being able to work at the market and being physically unable to do many things that I would normally do.
  4. Eat. One of the key things you will need to do to support a double (Or more!) pregnancy is to eat and eat well. Take your prenatal supplements. Eat nutritious food. Lots of it. You may not have all 40 weeks of a regular pregnancy to put on weight, so you have to front load your weight gain. Ignore the information in the What To Expect books that suggest you should only need 600 calories a day extra. You're going to need more than that. See Dr. Luke's book for details. Before I knew it was twins I was continually stunned by just how hungry I was. I would be tooling along, lah-dee-dah and then suddenly: Pow! Starving to death, shaky and somewhat nauseated. So eat! You only have one shot at doing pregnancy right. Weight gain is temporary, especially if you nurse.
  5. Drink water. Do you think 8 8 ounce glasses of water daily is a lot? Guess how much you have to drink? About twice that. A little more if it's summer time while you're pregnant. You are supporting the life support systems for three people. You need a lot of water to do so. My doctor had me drinking 5 liters a day. Do you know what happened if I didn't? Contractions. Whoops! Not wanting any NICU time, I sat the hell down and drank yet more water.
  6. Sit down. All of that weight gain means additional stresses on your system and lower back. Your feel will swell up. You'll probably contract a bunch if you're standing too long or working too hard. If you're lucky, you'll feel the contractions and have enough warning about when you're over-doing it so that you can sit down. During my first pregnancy, I never felt the Braxton-Hicks contractions, I'd just occasionally notice that my belly was really tight! During this pregnancy, they were very obvious when they occured. More than 4 contractions in a half-hour period is cause for concern. The solution is to suck down yet another liter of water and lay down, then you track your contractions over the course of an hour. Still more than 4? Call your doctor. Do not mess around when you're body is trying to tell you to Slow Down!
  7. Slack off. Sitting down all of the time means you won't be able to wash the dishes, do the laundry, go shopping or any one of the hundreds of little things you'd normally do that involve standing and walking. Get used to it! I really resented the enforced idleness. I couldn't even focus enough to read a book after awhile. Now, of course, I really wish I had more time to slack! I don't, however, so learn this from me: enjoy your time off your feet and slack off. There will be plenty of work later. Make a list of all of those books you've been wanting to read and plow through it!
  8. Plan ahead. Here's where most everyone I know seems to mess up. Eric and I kept talking about how we should make double batches of food and freeze it for when we'd need it after the twins were born. Great idea! Did we? Nooooo! Which was crazy because we really needed easy to prepare food after they were born. Be ye not so stupid! (As Dooce would say.) Plan ahead for mealtimes. You'll be glad you did.
  9. Get help. You are going to need help. I. Am. Not. Kidding. YOU are going to NEED help. Whether you have Superman/Wonder Woman for your spouse or not, you will need all the help you can get. Ask for it. Accept it if offered. Pin down friends and family members for specific help. Laundry? Shopping? Cooking? Cleaning? Any of it and all of it: accept it. Your life becomes a blender set to Frappe! after your multiple babies arrive and trying to get your act together while immensely sleep deprived is hard enough. Get help. It doesn't mean you're a failure or a bad mother or a horrible housekeeper. It means you are overwhelmed. Trust me: twins are overwhelming!
  10. Delegate. Are you normally Super Woman? Do you run the family errands, do the cooking, cleaning, maintain everyone's schedules and all that jazz? Guess what? A whole lot of that is about to come to a screeching halt. Your spouse doesn't cook/clean/do laundry? Now, while you're pregnant, is a great time for them to learn! Things are only going to get harder after the babies arrive. Work those issues out early. Especially if you're planning on breastfeeding. If you are going to breastfeed multiples, you will spend the majority of your time doing just that and only that. Newborns are awfully hungry!
  11. Hire out. When all else fails, pay the money for in-home services. I'm using my Christmas money for a cleaning service. Best Christmas present I've ever received! (Thanks Mom and Dad!) Don't have the money? Barter with friends. Do you have skills you can trade for services? Suggest a swap! Also, be prepared to lower your standards...a lot. Cleaning the house is the lowest of my priorities at the moment. I'd rather be working on the farm, getting dirty, hot and sweaty outside than dusting and mopping inside.
  12. Hang in there. Pregnacy may "only" be 36 to 40 weeks long, but it will be the longest 8 to 9 months of your life. Pain and exhaustion will become really familiar to you. Just try to keep in mind that it will eventually end. In yet more - but different! - pain and exhaustion. I am fully aware that twin pregnancies can be risky and that I was very lucky with how well mine went. There's never any guarantee that everything will be OK, no matter how good your attitude or how perfectly you follow the doctor's advice. Just do the best you can and remember that it really is "only" 36 or so weeks.

    Eat well. Drink a lot. Sit down. Slack off. Take care of yourself and your babies. You're the only one that can do that and they are counting on you.
Good luck!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Stop and Sniff

Emma says, "Mom mom mom!" as she stands at the gate to her bedroom door. She holds onto the gate and bounces up and down, looking me in the eye beseechingly.

"Mom mom mom!" She wants me to pick her up and let her out of "jail". Her twin brother sits behind her, motoring around the room, practicing his new crawling skills. "Mom mom mom!"

Does she really mean it? Is she saying it because she means me or is she just making sounds? I'm not sure, but it makes me light up when I talk to her, pick her up and snuggle her. Is she learning the right word to go with the person or is my response to a specific sound making that sound more likely to be repeated? Chicken and egg.

Logan has really taken off with the crawling thing. He goes from one end of the room and back again, in his very traditional style crawl. He also has been pulling himself up to a standing position and checking the world out that way as well. Emma still uses the weird one-leg-up crawl. However she has also been practicing holding onto things with just one hand and then letting go. She stands there, unsupported for one second...two seconds...three seconds and then Whump! falls back onto her padded bum. She bounces up and down, excited to practice balancing with one hand holding onto something or someone.

Emma also likes to motor around the room with sound effects: "Bbbbbbbbb!" Logan likes to make "Deedle deedle deedle!" sounds. Both say da-da-da, but don't quite seem to associate it with Eric yet. Emma might be a little closer to doing so, but it's hit or miss at the moment.

At 8 1/2 months, they are eating solid food like champs. Turns out that Logan is a strawberry fiend. If you give him strawberries first, he won't eat anything else you put in front of him and will fuss until you lay out more strawberries. Thus, we've learned to put them down last. Emma, not as neat an eater as Logan is (Those few extra weeks of eating practice have really helped his hand to mouth coordination skills!), likes strawberries too, but she doesn't go on a food strike until you load her up like Logan. She does, however, like Mexican food: guacamole, tomatoes, refried beans and Spanish rice. Nice to know! Both babies take bottles just fine now. Turns out that starting them with apple juice in a bottle was the key. That and leaving defrosted breastmilk cold, instead of warming it up. I now escape for hours at a time to go work at the farm or sell at the Market until my engorged breasts send me running for the twins.

Both of the twins really like being "walked" around now, where you hold them by the hands and let them walk around the room. The only trouble is that they're so short it makes my back hurt and there are two of them! So you have to do twice as much hunched over baby walking as you would normally. Ouch! It is fun to watch their faces light up as Eric or Caitlin bring them walking quickly towards me.

It's fun to watch them play together/side-by-side. Emma climbs up and over me, 4-wheeling it (As we say.) over my legs and feet. Logan crawls away, plays with a toy and tosses me a charming grin from across the room before crawling back into my lap and getting chewed on. He laughs and laughs when I make raspberries against his neck and sides. Emma doesn't laugh quite as easily as Logan does, but when she starts, she's so very sweet. I like watching her nose and eyes crinkle up in delight.

It's definitely getting easier to have twins, but it's still a whole helluva lotta work! Each day feels like being tossed in a blender, with only a few minutes here and there to get anything approaching "work" done. Most serious work still has to wait for them to be asleep at night. I tend to resent all of the interruptions during the day until I just give up and sit down with them and watch them explore the world around them. Then, suddenly, it's all new again and I'm too enthralled watching to get up and get my camera. I have to learn that instead of "stopping to smell the roses", I instead "stop and sniff the babies". This is one of my favorite stages and it will be gone all too soon.

Must remember that.

Stop. Sniff babies. Snuggle. Photograph. Repeat.

Especially that photograph part!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

One Good Day of bratty behavior, Caitlin had one good day yesterday so we jumped all over it and had a sleepover with her friend T.

It is bizarre how having an additional kid in the house makes it easier to deal with Caitlin. You'd think one more kid on top of our permanent 3 would make things more chaotic, but instead it has the opposite affect. Caitlin was better mannered and a lot less needy because T was there. We had a couple of run-ins with Whiny Caitlin, but nipped that in the bud by threatening to send T home with her mom, before she'd went home, but Caitlin shaped up nicely. It also helps that I don't bluff.

I have to admit that it felt really good when confronted with the randomly asked, "Can we have a sleepover?" that the answer could be "Yes." The associated squealing was particularly appealing.

They had a great time together and Eric and I kept them up waaaay past their bedtimes. Yes, we did it to them.

Heather and I were outside weeding and planting and we had no idea what time it was. Um. Yeah. It's summer, so what we thought looked like 6 pm was actually 8 pm and we hadn't even had dinner yet. Eek! So after a late dinner and even later dessert, the girls went to bed willingly enough and after some giggling (That woke up the twins at 10 pm. Ack!), fell asleep pretty quickly and both of them slept through the 5 am feeding.

It's good to be a kid!

I wish I could have a sleepover!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Dear Mom...

Happy Birthday!

I just wanted to let you know that I love you dearly and that I'm sorry I wasn't there to share the day with you. Although, when I called you were out in the garden, so in case anyone is wondering where the plant lust and green thumb come from, they can wonder no longer. Clearly the plant thing is an obsession I inherited in full measure from you.

Also the love of baked goods and baking. While I'm not ready to tackle a wedding cake (Sorry Sierra!), I still love the fact that you made mine and that it was not only beautiful but delicious. This was clear by the fact that I had exactly one bite from the cake and that was the piece fed to me by Eric. After that, the cake was gone. Those guests of ours knew a good thing when they tasted it. Thanks for the thousands of batter covered beaters you let me lick clean. One day maybe I can return the favor. Mmmm! Cake!

However, I do know that I don't get the photography skills from you. Those skipped sideways or something in the family and went from Cousin Jamie over to me. Most every photo I remember from childhood that you took had the tip of your index finger in it. Or was blurry. Or our heads were cut off. Or some fabulous combination of all three. Although, being the second child, I consider myself lucky to have any photos of my childhood at all! So thanks for that!

I also have to thank you for my fabulous skin, crazy Jamaican heritage and looks. Dad may have been good looking when he was younger (Well, you liked him!), but you are clearly the Looker in the family. Eric thanks you for that. All of my friends still comment on how lovely you are when they meet you. Don't I know it!
Dawn, Mom and Mini-Hatchet

Thanks again for coming out for 6 weeks before the twins were born. It was lovely having you (And your cooking!) here for all that time. The twins really enjoyed being held all the time. And we loved the cooking. Did I mention the cooking was great? Yum! Please come back!
Mom and Emma.

Finally, thanks for the sense of humor. It's been obvious that I have Dad's sense of the ridiculous, but I've also got your reserved humor hiding quietly in the background. Also, it's probably what got you through the worst of our crazy childhood years. I find myself wondering how you survived all four of us when just one is making me go prematurely grey and bald at the same time. I'm really sorry we were such brats! Please take the Mom Curse back!
Mom and Caitlin, 2005.

Well, I heard you had a great dinner. I wish I could have been there. Especially after seeing this:
Mom put a what?! on her head?

Yeah. I think Cindy's gonna suffer for that one!

Ooh, I think I may not have stopped being a brat yet! Whoops! Um...thanks for all the forgiveness! Did I mention how forgiving my mom is? Very! Hee!

I love you mom! Happy...errr...29th birthday! Can you be 39 next year when I turn 40? Thanks!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Growing Challenge: What's Up In The Garden?

No time for a lot of nattering on (Oh, how I love to natter on!), instead I'll just jump right in with pictures from the garden!
Front yard, xeric garden: June 5, 2008

It rained for two days and the ground was soaked. Not being able to work in the yard, or on the new flower bed (Mud.) meant that I was able to direct my energies towards the assorted container plantings that I wanted to make.
Front door container: Millet 'Jester', Agastache 'Purple Pgymy', Salvia 'Purple Volcano', Silver Dichondra, Portulaca 'Sun Gold', Agastache 'Golden Jubilee'. Yes they are all tiny. I grew them from seed and this is how big they are right now. Have faith! They'll fill in very soon and should be crazy and full by the end of summer.

Right side of door container: Four different Sempervivum (Hens and Chicks), three of which were languishing in my front yard. They are surrounded by a random assortment of Portulaca from the seeds I gleaned here. Should be interesting to see what colors they come in! Pink? Striped? Orange? Who knows!

This is one of two succulents that survived last winter. Sedum album 'Murale' (The "invasive" one. Figures!)

The other succulent, Sedum hispanicum 'Purple Form'. I didn't do anything to them all winter, but they survived, while everything else in the small pot didn't. Here's what it looked like originally. I suspect it's because the pot that now has Sempervivums in it is right up against the house, where it wouldn't get as much snow cover/rainfall, while these smaller (Yet taller.) pots aren't stuck in the house's rain shadow. Either way, I didn't have to plant them so Yay me!

I have a few other containers that I've planted but haven't photographed yet. I'll add those in tomorrow. Yeah, the big pots.

Moving on to the front yard:
Rocky Mountain Blue penstemon.

Red penstemon. Sorry, don't remember the proper name!

Culinary sage in flower. Very pretty and smells yummy, too!

In the back yard, let's talk about food plants!
The finished tomato and pepper bed has a few volunteer marigolds stuck into it for good measure. I think the tomatoes are visibly taller already! I think I'm going to go put a mark above each plant and the date, just to see how fast they really grow. Now if only I could remember to bring a pencil outside with me....

Sweet Genovese basil seeds popped up on 6/5 (Four days!). I'll have to thin/relocate a bunch of them. We sowed pretty heavily since these seeds were a few years old, but apparently they're still very happy!

First bean seed up! I noticed this one on 06/07/08. (A date that won't occur again for a hundred years!) The watermelon seeds also popped up, but I noticed them at the end of the day, long after I'd shot this picture.

Today I noticed the cucumbers are pushing up, but haven't photographed them yet. Still no squash, though. Slowpokes!

Remember how small these were two weeks ago? Yeah, me neither. Follow the link! The cilantro is filling in nicely. Still only one spinach plant, though. This fall, I'll try again. I may have to thin out that cilantro as well!

Peony: Bowl of Beauty

Another peony. This one was supposed to be white with red markings in the center. Not quite, eh?

Keys of Heaven.

Wild Sweet William. Very nicely scented.

The noxious weed I had to rip out of the front yard. Now I have to rip it out of the backyard, too. Yeah, I'll get to that reaaaaaal soon now.

Yellow honeysuckle. Planted for the hummingbirds before I realized that hummers just don't show up in my yard until July (As far as I've noticed.)

Honeysuckle 'Magnifica' is scented. Yum!

Japanese honeysuckle. Also scented, it's on an arbor at the base of my deck stairs. I love it and so do the finches that have built a nest in it and raised their young. Fortunately for me, they built the nest on the side closest to my kitchen window, so we got to watch the adults flit in and out with nesting material and now with food. Haven't seen the babies yet.

Finally, I also planted 117 bell peppers today, over at the farm. Stole away from the family to dig in someone else's soil for awhile. It was very nice. Almost got another toad, too. Poor Bouncer must be lonely! I haven't seen her since the day I released her, either. Hopefully a hawk or a raccoon didn't get her, but I wouldn't know, would I?

I need a nap!

By the way, in case you were wondering, it's now taking me about twelve hours to complete a post. I may have started this one at 10:15 am, but I didn't finish it then! I start a post, tend to everything else that needs my attention, pop back and write a little more before the next Baby Fire occurs and finally finish everything up right before I fall asleep at night. That's my life: squeezed in between babies and plants.
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