Sunday, June 07, 2009

The GodUncle

As many of you know, I have a god-brother. For those of you who didn't know- well- SURPRISE! As a reminder to those of you who do not keep a journal filled with the minutiae of "facts about Emily" at home, his name is William and, to protect his privacy, I will only say that his last name is that of a not terribly popular car model. Will has two actual, biological siblings, and I would love to take them on as god-siblings as well. They seem like wonderful, fascinating people, but I don't know them as well probably because I never had my mashed potatoes ruined by their throwing socks into them, nor did I have the opportunity to help them transport a suitcase full of stuffed animals cross country . Although I did sew the tail back on one sibling's stuffed raccoon (or possibly squirrel) once. But that is not relevant to the present discussion.

Anyway, Will and I have god-siblinged from distance for some time now, so I was really excited when he decided to attend college in Arkansas. You know, sad for him (coming to Arkansas), glad for me, like I will be for you when I finally wear you down enough that you move here, too. Unfortunately, he goes to school 3 hours from here, but you take what you can get. He contacted me via Facebo*ok to ask me to stop writing things about his poor, defenseless father's advancing years on his dad's wall and promptly began hassling me about my own elderliness. He stopped by to visit last week on his way to his summer job, as part of my endevor to encourage him to stop by whenever he doesn't mind going three hours out of his way. Given his god-family status, we didn't do any of the MANY FUN THINGS there are to do here, but instead allowed him sleep in, to hang out and to volunteer to help Rob move some damaged limbs that Rob and his dad spent the morning removing from the tree out back. You remember, the limbs damaged from the ice storm in January, because Rob and I are quick to get right on those important homeowner tasks. Please keep in mind that we do not mandate that our houseguests do manual labor- so please come visit us Atlanta friends. We'll let you sit and watch while Rob re-sods. Don't feel at all guilty about that.

E and L love Will intensely, although they are shy about telling him so. They call him "William Rehnquist" after the judge on their Supreme Court Justices flashcards we make them work with every day. Not really. Actually, they call him this because his last name sounds sort of similar to the first part of Rehnquist and because he (William Rehnquist, not Will) , along with the Supreme Court from 6 years ago, is pictured in the back of their Oliva Forms a Band book and they always make us tell them who each justice is. In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you now that we recognize the non-white, non-male members of the court and Antonin Scalia and, while we know the names of the other justices pictured, we can not agree on which wealthy, white male Protestant is which. It's really beginning to cause some marital disharmony. Rob points out that it probably wouldn't hurt our children socially if we began to dial the "nerd quotient" down a little at our house. And my point was... yes! Will! He's remarkably good with small children and we are so pleased that might grow up with a fighting chance of getting to know their god-uncle. Because we all love Will, think he's incredibly funny and hope he comes back soon. Because the house is not going to just re-wire itself.
Here he is with them:

When E woke up from her nap and dicovered Will was gone, she was upset. A few minutes later, we captured this picture of her reading one of our books. We laughed really hard becuase of the expression on her face combined with the name of the book she was holding, How to Really Love Your Child:

After church today Rob took these, which might be more of interest to the grandparents, but also demonstrate that when Will comes back through, he might have an opportunity to cut down our fountain grass with a machete:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

One of the Pros to Having Girls

One of the first people I told that we were having two girls laughed and said "Good luck!" In fairness, this individual is not so much of a "glass half full" sort of person and would probably have said the same thing if I had told her that we were having either of the other two possible combinations of sexes. At the time, my feelings were a little hurt. Again, in fairness, I was 17 weeks pregnant and people not yielding the right of way on the Atlanta interstates were hurting my feelings more deeply than one would expect just by knowing me. One of the beautiful things about infertility (and there aren't a ton, so you might want to write this down) is that, while you might have had a preference about the sex of your baby when you first started trying to get pregnant, by the time you actually do "live human baby" is your basic preference- anything beyond that is really the difference between 71 and 72 on the thermostat- at the end of the day, who really cares?

As I thought about it, I began to discover that the reason that I was sensitive to the statement (which for the record, is funny, not insensitive) is that I was sort of afraid of having two girls. Not because I didn't want girls or wanted boys necessarily. It was that, as a girl, I personally lived through 5th through 9th grade and completely relate to the quote in Anne Lamott's fantastic Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year where she writes "worse than just about anything else is the agonizing issue of how anyone can bring a child into this world knowing full well that he or she is eventually going to have to go through the seventh and eighth grades." Girls can be brutal to other girls and I spent a good chunk of time on the receiving end of that. (Let's go ahead and pretend that I am completely blameless and have NEVER wounded other girls with my words or actions, because that is not the point that I am meandering toward right now). That, and I wasn't entirely looking forward to people being 14, slamming their doors and yelling that they hate me. The guys I knew as teenagers had the good grace to be sullen all of time, rather than yellers and door slammers. So when I was younger and thought about having children, I always just assumed that I would be a better mother to boys. In retrospect, I'm not sure why I believed this- it's not my extraordinary prowess at sports that I thought would make me relateable, nor do I have any special interest in superheros or the outdoors. In truth, my only marketable skill is an interest in talking about feelings and helping people sort through complicated relationships, so it's sort of nuts that I felt like boys were who I was best suited to help grow into competent adults.

As I reflected on all of this, I started to feel less anxious about the idea of two girls. While admittedly middle school was a rough time that left me a little wary of members of my own sex, late high school and college more than made up for that- for Exbibits A through O, see my blogroll on the left. Without women, the world would be a barren wasteland of televised golf and hunting for sport. You can totally quote me on that.

I know that my mom friends who have only boys love them deeply and secretly feel sympathy for those of us who have only girls and would not trade their sons for any of number of daughters. I know, too, that just as I acknowledge the unique difficulties I am likely to face having only girls, those same moms will tell you that it is at least a little sad that there are not nearly as many cute clothes for boys and that while Star Wars sheets are cute in their own way, that sometimes they wish there were more attractive options for pillow cases for their preschool aged son than Darth Vader's helmet or some combination of blue and brown solids. That said, this week it has been fun to be a mom to girls, because this week we got to set up L and E's big girl room and when I took them in for the first time, L said "Mommy, it's just so beautiful." Perhaps a boy would have reacted the same way; it was a wonderful girly moment nonetheless. Please keep in mind that I have not yet put the art or the molding on the walls and I'll probably post more when I do:

View from the door.

View from the foot of E's bed.

L's first night in her "big girl bed."
E's first night in her "big girl bed."
Just before lights out. Because the lights have to be out before you can get up over and over and over again.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Welcome, Oliver!

Here are a few pictures of Oliver Elliot (his dad would have my emphasize that it's Elliot with one T). He was born around 6:45ish tonight, weighs 8lbs even and is 20and1/2inches long. Erin is doing well and was able to have an unmedicated delivery, just as she was hoping. We all think he is perfect and Erin and Elliot will be updating when we take them their computer tomorrow. I'm sorry there aren't more pictures, but I'm posting from my parents computer, which, as near as I can discern, is powered by hamsters running on exercise wheels which makes adding more an agonizing ordeal as I can actually hear myself growing older while I wait.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's Not That I'm a Bad Person, It's Just That I Make Terrible Choices About How to Spend My Time

I think the problem started when I promised to write a post detailing my thoughts and opinions about the whole octuplet situation. What octuplet situation, you are probably asking yourself, as the octuplets themselves are already in graduate school and starting families of their own? As soon as I committed though, I began to write. And write. And write. And write. Those of you who know me (or even those of you who have inadvertently stumbled across my blog because you googled "m*en show*ering together-which creeps me out, by the way- and read even one post) know that I have a hard time shutting it down once I get going. So now I am the proud author of a 10 page manuscript that details what I think went wrong in the whole Nadya Suleman debacle and my feelings about each one, but it seems unkind to make anyone read that, even if blogs are just a way to make other people read about what you think and feel. So-if you desperately need to know what I think about this matter, please call me at home and we can discuss this at greater length. If there specific question you feel I need to answer publically about this, post it in the comments or shoot me an e-mail and I'll get it on here eventually. If you are a college student and wish to purchase a 10 pages paper about the fertility treatment industry in America and the ethical implications thereof written in the first person, let me know. But for now, I have lots of pictures to post and things to say. Look- and I got that out of the way in less than a page!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Overheard in SmallTown

Yesterday, on our way to pick up Daddy from work, from the backseat of the car:

L: I'm so sorry, El-we.

E: That's okay, Lah-wen. You haven't done anything to me yet.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Modern Art

I'm not necessarily all that great an interpreter of art. I like art, but unlike a lot of people I know I can't tell you what the artist is attempting to convey or sometimes even the mood of a piece. It's a failing, I know. For example, I can look at a work like this and I say to myself "Look! Flowers! Also green apples and pears! Gosh, I'm hungry, but not really for an apple. Maybe M & Ms..." But the more abstract the art, the more likely I am to have less to say than one so obviously about candy. When I look at this, I am more likely to say "Umm, this person isn't happy. I don't think." Probably a great deal of my ability to interpret that latter piece so well though is because I'm a therapist- it's why people are so eager to come and see me, my intuitive grasp of the feelings of others. So imagine the difficulty I had with this, L's latest work of art and the one that she has been talking about for days:
When she first showed it to me, I was admiring (as I'm sure you are, too). I told her it was lovely and asked," What is going on in this picture, L?" And she looked at me pityingly (really!) and said "Mama, it's a cat taking a bath in the bathtub." I know all of you saw it immediately, as most of you are not art oafs, but I went ahead and labeled it so that her father would know how to best be excited when she showed it to him.
I am working on the promised post about the octuplets, but for some reason, it's turned very long and I still haven't finished talking. Since I'm trying to post more frequently, I may have to post it a little later in the week. Portrait of the artist as a young preschooler:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Conversation with My Elder-By-Two Minutes Daughter

E after nap this afternoon:

Here is a recent transcript of a conversation with E:

E (walking into my parent's kitchen where I am cleaning up after dinner, a concerned look on her face: Mama, I need to talk to you.

Me (internally): Now I feel that I've over done the whole "you can always tell mommy whenever you want to talk about anything" bit. I was trying to prepare them to be good communicators with us when they're teenagers. Please let her not already want to talk about boys. I have it on good authority her best friend in Sunday School is a boy named Noah...

(out loud): Okay. Do you want to talk here?

E: (sits down) Sit down on the floor, Mama.

Me: (sitting down facing her) What is on your mind, sweetpea? Have you been thinking about something?

E: Yes. Lawnmowers.

Me: You've been thinking about lawnmowers? (Asked, because, well, you know with two and half year olds it can be hard to tell, plus it's a good therapist technique to indicate that you've heard what someone said by repeating it back to them).

E: Yes.

Me: What have you been thinking about lawnmowers?

E: I don't like them.

Me: You don't like lawnmowers?

E: No. (Gets up).

Me: Did you want to tell me about anything else?

E: No, that's all. (leaves room).

Good talk. I want my children to be in touch with their emotions, but I might be getting more than I was bargaining for that way.

Rob wanted me to mention he feels I'm getting the easy end of the bargain, since for every two pages he writes he has to translate 6 or so pages of documents from the 15th century handwritten in Arabic. He would encourage you to show me no grace for not posting. He and the girls kindly consented to come out of the cave they had spent the better part of the post-afternoon nap time constructing and allowed me to photograph them.

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Dissertation Resolve (Unless I Get Lazy and Change My Mind)

As most of you know, Rob is entering the home stretch of writing his dissertation. Every evening, I encouragingly ask him, "how much did you write today?" and "make other remarks like "if you'd rather write on your dissertation than check 'the news' on or, that would be fine with me." So in order to be less of a hypocrite (because if there is anything I value it's hassling others from a position of authenticity), I have decided that for every two pages Rob completes, I will post something on my blog. In seriousness, I want to be a better recorder of things that are going on here and I think that I would benefit from imitating Robert's incredible discipline at persisting in writing even when I feel like I'm too busy or that I have little to say. Because in real life having nothing to say doesn't really even slow me down from speaking. So in the next few days, I hope to post something in response to all of the e-mails some of you have sent asking me to discuss the octuplets in California, plus updates on the job situation here, E and L updates, and a discussion of why we love the Chris and Heathers and things we've learned from them. Feel free to suggest other things to you want to read about, because I can see this being a long spring if I really stick to this.
In the meantime, here's a fun L and E story. First, some background. As many of you know, I do all of the getting up in the middle of the night with the girls. This is not because Rob is a sexist. Although, if our friends in Atlanta would like to, they can begin, whenever Rob's name is mentioned, laughing and saying "Rob-he's such a sexist!" Here are some pictures I found this week of Rob being his sexist self- I like the one where he fell asleep reading to L from The Two Towers:

As I've mentioned before, I am a naturally gifted sleeper. I'm not trying to be boastful in saying that- I'm just stating a fact. Rob, however, is unable to fall back asleep once he is awakened. Given that he has graciously chosen to work so that I can stay at home with our children, it just seems fair that if anyone has to take one for the team in terms of sleep, it should be the person who does not have to be up at 6 to teach an 8:00 class. And, as I said, in most cases I can fall right back asleep. Now that the girls are two and a half, I'm only up proably twice a week. Last night, for example, I went in to help L at 4:00 am when she decided that she must have accidently gotten E's pillow by mistake and that she could best reslove the situation by sobbing heartbrokenly. (It was, as it turned out, a false alarm. She actually had her own pillow and, once she'd established that, we could all go back to sleep). Here's a picture of her from Christmas:

Other nights, when someone takes her hard, plastic octopus to bed, it is not uncommon for that person to roll on to that very octopus, possibly to avoid rolling onto the stuffed bear, seal, frog, rabbit and flamingo who, I am assuming, are contractually guaranteed a spot in the bed every evening. Naturally, my assistance is required to recover from the extremely unpleasant awakening that results. I don't feel that my words here have done the octopus justice. Here's a picture:
Just imagine how difficult it was for me to choke back my hysterical laughter the day that I witnessed E sweetly singing the lullaby we sing to them "Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep pwecious ock-o-pus," and them gently kissing each of his tentacles before wrapping him in a blanket and putting him down for a nap. Where was I going with this?
Ah, yes. So, I am the primary nighttime parent. On the weekends, though, Rob kindly allows me to sleep in as late as I would like on Saturday mornings. Which is why, in the story I am about to finally get around to telling, Robert was parenting alone. Saturday is pancake day, so he was in the kitchen making pancakes when E began to emit piercing shrieks. He rushed around the counter to see that L had E pinned against the floor and was shoving a nasal aspirator up E's nose, while E writhed around on the floor in protest. L, knowing she was probably in trouble, looked up and said, "Daddy, Eh-we's nose is stuffy. I am using the naso aspoator to clean it out." And then she smiled brightly and trotted off. Sweet sisters. Here's a picture of E, partly in her dress up clothes:

And here's a shot of the two together on the couch, attempting to avoid going to bed. Can you believe they once shared the bassinet of a single pack and play?