Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I Deal in Absolutes

After giving birth to twins, I've accepted some realities of life. My stomach will never be flat again. Ever. It's a little hard on my self-esteem, especially when I try on swimsuits, but I do believe that losing my girlish figure was worth the price to bring strong, full-term babies into this world. The memory loss has been harder to deal with. I've always prided myself on a somewhat photographic memory that allowed me to cram for tests like nobody's business, to remember names and phone numbers without writing them down, and to settle any and all arguments regarding who-played-what-role-in-which-film with my encyclopedic knowledge of movie trivia. Those days are gone. Now someone comes up to me in the post office and says, "Hi, Kim! How's it going?" and I have no idea who they are or from where I know them.

While I've made peace with the fact that I'm never going to reach my high school weight again, I keep hoping that my mind will sharpen back up—that somehow this fogginess is a temporary setback and at some point I'll be able to recall instantly the name of that funny actress who plays the waitress in that sitcom from the 80s. You know, the one with the hair and the gum.

Hope is supposed to spring eternal, but mine is dying. I've become aware recently of my increasing inability to read those subtle cues required for the most basic of adult interactions. I suppose that this latest disability is a direct result from staying home with 3-year-olds. Everything is black and white with us. My twins tell me what they want, straight out with no pussy-footing around. "Wanna watch a movie!" "Lunch!" "Mommy, hug!" I tell them what I want, without worrying about softening my approach. "Get off the table!" "Time to take your nap!" "Stop pooping on the floor!" I'm not exactly a sparkling conversationalist, but I thought I could communicate successfully with another adult if I really put my mind to it. Turns out I was wrong.

Without going into excruciating detail, let me just say that I was involved in an interaction that I totally misinterpreted. It became clear in a most embarrassing way that I was operating under one assumption, while the other person was not just on another page, but reading a whole different book. The person with whom I was communicating, in my opinion, was polite but vague, while I probably came across as the literal-minded, slightly grumpy crank that I am. Basically, I'm the dude nodding and mm-hmming in the following clip:

If I cared enough, I suppose I could put on my big girl Crocs, pick up the phone, and call the person-who-was-thinking-one-thing-while-I-was-thinking-another to ask, "What just happened? What did you really want from me? And why can't I remember the name of the guy on Numb3rs, because I absolutely loved him in that movie with what's-her-face?" Unfortunately, I didn't think to write down the name or phone number of the person who confused me . . . I think it was a woman. But it might have been a man.

Dinner last night: homemade chicken soup, sweet corn muffins

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Now I Know What My Friday's Five Bloggers Feel Like

I am a member of Multiples and More, a blog network dedicated to parents of twins, triplets, and quads. The Octomom would be wise to join this site, as it is chock full of informative posts, neat-o giveaways, reviews of mom-friendly products, and interviews. Fabulously interesting interviews. In fact, they've just put up a fantastic interview of this good-looking supermom of identical twin daughters; they all live up in Alaska . . . okay, I realize the "good-looking supermom" part threw you off, but do I have to spell it out? The interview is of me.

After reading my own interview, I've come to realize there's a fine line between "dry wit" and "sounding totally serious." Although I was kidding when I said it's never too soon to start worrying about whether to separate the twins when they start first grade three years from now, I was being perfectly serious when I stated that if I could take a family vacation ANYWHERE ON EARTH, it would be the Florida Keys. Because there's no way I'm dealing with the passports, jet lag, and luggage involved in dragging four children and a husband across the ocean to Italy.

That dream trip is reserved for me, and me alone.

Dinner last night: rice, sausages, corn

Monday, July 27, 2009

Out of Commission

My 9-year-old daughter broke her left arm on Saturday morning.

Whenever something awful happens to one of my children, I do not take pictures. I do not journal. Later, when they're all better, when the event has evolved into a great story, when perspective and optimism have been restored, I wish I had something other than my panic-filled memories to help me document the experience. I'm not even close to that point, however.

I'm not ready to tell the story until I know her arm's going to be alright, and that won't be for another week when the orthopedic surgeon checks her again, when the swelling has gone down, when the arm is ready to go into a hard cast. I may not even be ready to tell the story for a couple of months, after the hard cast comes off and the physical therapy is complete. Actually, I don't know if I ever want to talk about it.

My husband snapped a picture on the ER doctor's cell phone right before my daughter went into surgery. That's all I can stand for now.

Dinner last night: spaghetti and meatballs

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday's Five: Michelle

Welcome to this week's edition of Friday's Five, my regular feature that asks a fabulous blogger five random questions.

Today I'm talking with Michelle, the author of Table for Nine. She and her firefighter husband live in Texas, where in addition to working full-time in real estate, Michelle is mom to seven children who range in age from toddler to teenager. You never know what you're going to get from this feisty blogger—she writes about her garden, shows you how to cook up some of her favorite dishes, documents the ongoing construction of her family's new house, and makes you laugh with her wickedly funny observations of life around her.

1. How old are your children and what quality do you admire in each? Leader of the Pack (15) will make a wonderful father when he has his own children. He is patient and kind and usually fair. He is a tad bossy like most oldest children, but since I too am an oldest child, it is endearing, not annoying.

Second in Command (14) is my protector and my most faithful defender. He does not tolerate the other kids being disrespectful to me. He is incredibly intelligent, but at the same time, a little bit blond.

Tonto (12) is very loyal. He refuses to say ugly things about anyone, even people he doesn't like. He is very quiet and reserved, but once he gets going, look out.

Mr. Dynomite (12) is extremely sensitive and caring. He can always tell when I am upset or sad. When I am busy, he is always around, asking if there is anything he can do to help out. Mr. Dynomite always does things in a big way. He will either be a Nobel prize winner or in prison, but whatever it will be, it will be big.

The Drama Queen (9) should actually be renamed Little Momma. She is very protective and nurturing to her two little sisters. She will step in and organize an activity for them when I need to distract them. She is very dramatic and her goal in life is to be famous. She doesn't care how she gets famous, just as long as she gets to be the center of attention. Look out world, here she comes!

Little Miss Sunshine (6) is my most easygoing child. She is very rarely disruptive or disagreeable. When you are having a bad day, she can always bring you a little ray of sunshine to brighten your spirits. She is a little bit clumsy like her Momma and she almost always has a bump, bruise, or scrape somewhere on her. Her middle name is Grace because it's the only way she got any.

Tornado is almost 2. Oh, goodness, the Tornado. Where do I even begin. She is a bundle of energy with a huge smile and an even bigger personality. When she comes into a room, everyone knows it. If she isn't crying, screaming, or breaking something, then she is charming the room with her big smile and too-big-for-a-two-year-old vocabulary.

2. You are in the middle of having a house built, you poor thing! Tell us the one thing we must know beforehand, should we ever decide to undertake such an adventure. Whatever they tell you, get it in writing, because they lie. Whatever they say it will cost, it will cost more, because they lie. Whenever they tell you it will be done, they are wrong, because, you guessed it, they lie! Even with all the stress and chaos, it is very exciting to build a house that no one else has ever lived in, or messed up, or cooked in. Every home I have ever bought the first thing I did was change out the toilet seats. Yes, I am that weird.

3. Here's what I've heard about Texas: oil, cattle, and it's second in size only to Alaska. What else can you tell me about your great state? You forgot the boots. If you have ever watched the TV show Dallas, then you are completely mistaken about what Texas is really like. Texas is this incredible place of extremes. We have cold weather in the pan handle, sweltering heat in the valley, beautiful pine trees in the east and dry, desert-like landscape in the west. I live in central Texas, in the Hill Country and it is beautiful and scenic. I am currently in the process of joining the Daughters of the Republic of Texas because my people have lived in Texas since we were our own country. Texans are so proud of our state that we teach a whole year of Texas History in junior high school. (By the way, was the comment about second in size some kind of dig? 'Cause I'm a little offended.)

4. What keeps you blogging, and do you think you'll still be blogging a year from now? I blog because when I write, I can be myself and I don't have to care what anyone else thinks. Also, it's hard to get interrupted when you blog, because no one is there to argue with you. Except those voices in my head, but I have been told not to mention them.

5. What did you have for dinner last night? Shoot, I can't remember what I had for dinner tonight! We drove home from a funeral that was three hours away, so it was junky car food. Pistachios, Dr. Pepper, crackers, beef jerky. No telling what else I ate. At one point, the Tornado was pulling out old stale cereal from her car seat and throwing it at me. I won't admit that I ate it. I won't.

Thanks, Michelle! (By the way, I've come to the conclusion that "Michelle" was the favorite girl's name among our mothers' generation, as you are the third Michelle I've interviewed!) I love your spontaneous style of writing and really do admire that you are able to post whatever you feel like, without caring what anyone else thinks. I've always wanted to explore the Lone Star State and some day I plan to visit Texas, and when I do I will make sure to wear a T-shirt that says, "My state is BIGGER than your state."

Don't worry, gentle readers, Michelle knows I'm kidding. I promise I won't give my next blogger such a hard time . . . unless she's from Texas. You'll have to tune in next Friday and see!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

View from a Soccer Field

My 11-year-old daughter's soccer team played their last league game of the summer last night. Hallelujah. They have one tournament left, then they're off to compete for the State Cup. The end is in sight, my friends.

As I was sitting there in my fold-up chair, swatting mosquitoes and harumphing to myself about better uses of my time, I looked around and thought count your blessings, Kim. I could be stuck in some urban sports complex somewhere, surrounded by concrete and city lights. Instead, I'm encircled by mountains. And fireweed.

After walking on a short path through the trees, I'm sitting on the edge of a grassy field breathing clean, crisp air and watching laughing girls kick a ball around.

Not such a bad way to spend an evening.

Dinner last night: baked ziti

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sorry for the Imagery

It's been HOT these past couple of weeks. I think even by most of your standards. Okay, by none of your standards unless you live in northern Canada, but I'm telling you the temp hit over 70 every day last week, and into the 80s once or twice! It was so hot that I wore shorts to the grocery store. THAT'S HOT, and I don't mean in a Paris Hilton kind of way.

Speaking of hot and shorts-wearing, if you ever need a boost in your flagging self-esteem, come visit Alaska in the summer. You think you're a little overweight? Maybe a tad on the pale side? I can guarantee you, we've a state full of portly, fish belly-white humanoids that'll make you feel better about yourself.

We're a people who don't own cute summer outfits, so when we get HOT, the men pull on their one pair of swimming trunks and the women go out publicly in boxers and tank tops that they normally wear only to bed as pajamas. We're talking cleavage spilling out of tiny shirts—and not the sort you see on Carls Jr ads. They're the look away, quick! kind of Grandma-saggy bosoms. With old tattoos of little flowers that have long since lost their brilliant color and now just look like Bic pen drawings.

Whatever. It's too hot to begrudge my red-faced, sweating neighbors their inappropriate attire. In fact, I appreciate their lack of modesty if it makes my own jiggly paleness—or is it pale jiggliness?—less offensive. Now where'd I put my tankini? It's time to run to the market.

Dinner last night: pasta alfredo with grilled chicken strips

Friday, July 17, 2009

My Never Ending Quest

Someday I'm going to snap a picture of both girls at the same time with their eyes open and smiling normally . . .

Someday . . .

Oh, who am I kidding?

Dinner last night: chicken and scallops, green salad

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

No Fun Like Balloon Fun

My friend, Kelly, knows what kids like. Years ago, she bought my eldest daughter a pogo stick, on which she jumped ad nauseum. When she grew too heavy for it, she passed it on to her younger sister, who has since become a carnival freak with her tricky pogo stick jumping.

Then Kelly gave both my older girls scooters, which taught my girls to share, because every kid on our street begged, pleaded, and offered up their stashes of candy to ride them. We've since moved out into the woods, so the girls are limited to toodling around on the driveway, but since the heights of the handle bars are easily adjusted, my 3-year-old twins are learning to ride the scooters.

Kelly did it again this past weekend with, of all things, balloons. Now these aren't your ordinary balloons. They're long, brightly colored tube-shaped balloons that shoot up into the sky like rockets when you release them. The kids absolutely loved them!

My husband quickly became the blower-upper, partly because of his lung capacity, but mostly because he's still a 13-year-old at heart.

Anticipation is the best part.

Fly away, balloon!

I realize that without trees or airplanes or even a cloud for context, this picture is useless . . . but let me assure you that this balloon flew soooo far up into the sky we could barely see it any more. Don't worry, though . . . after all its air went out, each deflated balloon would spiral and writhe down through the sky like a snake's shed skin, falling back to the ground where a happy kid would retrieve it and run it back over to my husband to start the process all over again.

Dinner last night: rice, sausages, and peas

Monday, July 13, 2009

Masked Avenger

My 11-year-old daughter's soccer team spent the entire weekend battling it out in a tournament against four other teams. The weather was hot and sunny. I bet you can't tell that my girl wore her prescription sports goggles three days in a row.

Dinner last night: birthday barbecue (cheeseburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, baked beans, watermelon, chips and dip, chocolate cake)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday's Five: Dawn

Welcome to this week's edition of Friday's Five, my regular feature that asks a fabulous blogger five random questions.

I'd like to introduce you to Dawn from Bee and Rose. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two children. Dawn has been blogging for only a little over six months, but she's already amassed a large following of readers who enjoy her funny, honest style of writing. She will move you to tears with her lovely dedications to Grandma Gigi, who's been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and then turn around the next post and crack you up with hilarious rants about topics like PMS or the horrible dye job she received.

1. How old are your children and what kinds of things would they buy if they each received a gift card to Wal-Mart? Connor is 12 (about to turn 13!!! . . . can you hear me crying??) Connor would make a beeline for the video games with his gift card! Catherine is 6 (going on 16!) She would buy crafts, puzzles, and movies with her gift card . . . and lip gloss . . . lots of lip gloss . . . I think she's going through a hooker phase . . . lol!

2. Even though my girl plays soccer, I can totally relate to the posts you write regarding your daughter's sport. Tell us a little about the training and competition involved in Catherine's Irish dancing.
Catherine currently takes two classes per week (3 hours). We supplement that with extra classes and private lessons when time allows. She loves to practice at home as well. She also performs at many local events. It's a very complicated form of dancing, and great exercise, too! She's been at it for one year now and has just begun competing. A competition is called a feis (pronounced "fesh"). She's had two competitions now and won medals at each one. At her second competition, she was moved into a category with older dancers. She placed first (out of 11!) in Light Jig and won two third places in other dances. This allowed her to advance to Beginner 2 level after just two competitions! She's won six medals already! We are very, very proud of her!
      We are blessed with two amazing teachers at her dance school, Christopher McGrory and Michael Patrick Gallagher. Christopher is a world-renowned feis musician (platinum selling!) and world champion dancer. Michael Pat has been a Riverdance dance lead for years. Catherine is truly fortunate to have this kind of talent working with her!

3. You've blogged about some of the stress involved with your husband's recent health issues. How do you cope when you start to feel overwhelmed by all your responsibilities? I read! Books have always been a source of comfort for me. Now that I've discovered blogging, I have lots to read! I also hang with my kids . . . playing games, reading with them, etc. I find that scrapbooking helps me remember all we've shared as a family. That helps pull me back into focus when I start feeling the big overwhelm. Writing about it has also been very cathartic. And prayer! Lots and lots of prayers! I'm very lucky to be surrounded by lots of supportive family members and friends.

4. I love the title of your blog. How did you come up with the name "Bee and Rose"? We are huge nicknamers in our house. I don't think my husband has called me by my "real" name (Dawn) in years! It's either Minnie or Mouse! I call him Chilly or Smitty depending on my mood . . . hee hee! The kids, of course, have various aliases, too . . . we're just weird that way! lol!
      When I decided to do a family blog, I knew I would have to nickname the blog. Bee is symbolic of Chilly. He has a Dodge Rumble-bee truck (known as "the Bee") that I affectionately refer to as "his mistress." I chose Rose because I have always loved the movie Sleeping Beauty, especially since the name Aurora means Dawn. "Bee and Aurora" just sounded completely idiotic. Then I remembered that she was also called Rose. That just seemed to click. So basically, it's fancier than saying "Minnie and Smitty"! I also like that it sounds kind of shabby chic!

5. What did you have for dinner last night? We enjoyed Nana's (my mother) delicious spaghetti!

Thanks, Dawn! Your little girl looks so precious in that photo—tell her all the Internet mommies say congratulations on those medals she's wearing! And you're absolutely right about "Bee and Rose" sounding shabby chic; maybe that's why it appeals to me, because I am nothing if not shabby. And chic, of course. You can tell by the sky-blue Crocs on my feet.

Well, I'm off to the blogosphere to find another blogger to shout questions at! See you back here next Friday with the answers.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Love Hurts

You'd think that a cat possessing all her claws would use them against twin toddlers who squeeze and pat her to death. But not Tie-Dye. She just relaxes into a bag of bones and waits for me to rescue her from the arms of her 3-year-old stalkers.

Sorry, Tie-Dye. Just think of it as payback
for all the times you "played" with mice.

Dinner last night: tamale pie

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

FORT FUN (Try Saying THAT Five Times Fast!)

No sooner did I post that my older girls have no desire to enter into the woods, then my 9-year-old decided to build a fort back in the trees. She's been out there from morning until night with the wheelbarrow, a rake, and work gloves on her hands clearing a big space under the alders. I remember "building" the same kind of fort with my sister when we were kids.

Whereas boys sneak hammers and nails from their dads' tool benches to construct an actual shelter, girls are more into the essence of a fort. They draw a line in the dirt to separate rooms, which are then furnished with chairs from the deck, cups from the kitchen, and their baby sisters' training potty from the bathroom.

Under threat of indictment for high treason, I'm prohibited from revealing the location of this TOP SECRET hideaway that only my daughter, her sisters, my husband, the neighbor kids, and I know about. But I can show you where the trail head starts . . .

Maybe if I write a post that mentions how my daughter has no interest in making her bed or unsetting the table, I'll wake up tomorrow to a TOP SECRET clean house.

Dinner last night: barbecue salmon, salad

Monday, July 6, 2009

Things I Learned Over the 4th of July

Some children will sit politely and wait for their mother to cut a piece of cake . . . 

. . . while others will rudely stick their hands into the blueberries
and help themselves . . .

. . . while still others will sit off by themselves in their bicycle helmets and mother's gardening gloves, making goofy faces.

Dinner last night: leftovers from the 4th (cheeseburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, baked beans, watermelon, cake)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Home of the Free

If you're like me, you'll be busy in the kitchen today getting ready for tomorrow's picnic. I'm making a flag cake, potato salad, and baked beans; my husband's in charge of the grill. Watermelon ain't going to slice itself, so I best be getting off the computer . . . here's my post from last year's Things to Do with Your Kids This Weekend:

Celebrate Independence Day!
Happy Fourth of July, Fellow Americans!

Dinner last night: steak and mushroom fajitas

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Small Peeve

Before kids, my husband and I lived for several years in Southern California and then for a couple more in northern Ohio. I remember taking long bike rides—in both states—on trails that wound back into parks and around lakes and through lovely wooded areas. Did I just dream those bike trails? Because, in Alaska, most of the bike trails run parallel to the road. They also double as sidewalks.

I suppose they come in handy for the many, many people who use them to jog, walk their dogs,and push their baby strollers, but all the cars and trucks roaring by sure do make for a noisy ride. Didn't stop us, though, from getting out and enjoying the sunny afternoon.

Relax, Mom! I promise not to stray
off the bike path into oncoming traffic.

Dinner last night: spaghetti with meat sauce, green salad