Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'm the last splash...

Today was my birthday.

It was the first one in a long time where I wasn't anxious. I wasn't thinking about the fact that I was another year older and still not a mother. I remember my 31st birthday, the year I knew I would be a mother. Hmph. That was six years ago.

But today, today I am. And it was different. It made a difference. I felt light, happy, some might say ebullient even. That heavy, heavy weight of the question--would I be a mother?--gone.

I took the babies swimming! It was glorious. I received gerbera daisies from a dear friend Gail. I did someshopping, completely alone--divine. And the night will end with a chocolate cupcake filled with a caramel mousse. Oh yes.

I leave you with these photos from my day.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

F'ing monkey

I have about six different draft posts right now but alas, I thought I'd share a little diddy about parenthood with the MTLs.

So...bedtime rituals have been established since the get-go and honestly, have overall worked out pretty well. Most nights, the Mister and I are sitting down to a quiet, grown-up meal by 7:15 pm. Now, it does bear pointing out that this is because the meals themselves didn't have to be cooked from scratch.they were meals from that delicious stockpile I froze prior to our trip, or from generous friends who made such things as artichoke spinach lasagna, so no real time was spent in preparation.

Ahhh, 7:15 pm how we loved you so. It was quiet. We could sit down. We could eat (and as anyone who knows us in real life can tell you, the MTLs do love to eat!). We could zone out while watching reruns of the Sopranos, or more recently dive into Project Runway (hello? I love me some Tim Gunn).

But lately, the past five nights or so, change has been in the air. No idea what prompted it but I'm fairly certain the babies are in cahoots with each other because they both decided, with no warning to us, to start holding rodeos in their cribs after they were laid down. During the normally peaceful rock in the rockers while drinking a delicious warm bottle of formula they decided to arch and kick and dance and sometimes squeal. They weren't crying, they just weren't relaxing. And thus laying down in the crib just invited more shenanigans.

So yeah, they didn't start off crying, but sort of ended up crying, and the thing is, with two babies, if one cries you freak out and don't want the other to hear and be disrupted so you probably do things a little differently, rush in a little quicker, try to appease the upset baby with, well, pretty much anything at some points.

After the fourth night the Mr. and I were at our wits end (I know, cry me a river). But we just couldn't figure out what went wrong, what was different (nothing!). It was mission critical time yet again, time to lay our daughter down, and she seemed to be ready. The Mr. held his breath and went to lay her in her crib, hoping for no rodeos and a peaceful drift off to a nice deep slumber like she had always done before.

I stood watching in the doorway, having already laid down our son who was mercifully being quiet...we were almost there! Almost there!

And then.

Where is the f'ing monkey? Mr. MTL didn't shout this (of course not!), but he mouthed-shouted and I could clearly make out what he was saying.

The pink Paul Frank sock monkey that our daughter clutches within an inch of its life when she falls asleep. The monkey! Where the eff was the monkey?

I dropped to my all fours and crawled across the room, desperately scanning under the cribs, under the dresser, under the changing table, everywhere, trying to stay under my son's radar (he has quite the ability to sense our presence in the room and then bam! pop up over the bumper pad, which is at once annoying as heck but incredibly cute), and met the Mr, who had laid our daughter down sans monkey and was desperately trying to figure out what to do next.

It felt like minutes, but I'm sure it was only seconds before I saw him belly crawl across the room to their toy storage and yank out another stuff animal, belly crawl back to the crib (remember: we can't let our son see us, hence all the belly crawling) and stuff it quickly into our daughter's arms, hoping beyond hope that she won't know the difference.

Of course I notice, but before it was too late, that the particular stuffed animal he grabbed was a dog. A barking dog, you know, one of those that if you squeeze in the middle you'll be rewarded with a ridiculous yappy bark.

Oi vey.

She clutched the dog within an inch of its life (maybe the monkey wasn't so special after all?) and we collectively exhaled. Of course we were inwardly gasping for breath, you know, from all the strenous belly crawling everywhere.

We slunk out of the room. I spent an hour worrying that that dog would start yapping and all would be lost, but alas, they slept.

We made it to our safe haven of a living room where we scarfed some food and I drank a--you guessed it!--Diet Coke. Ahhh, aspartame and artificial caramel coloring, how you soothe the tired soul.

So I leave you with two pictures:
I told you she loves that monkey, though in this photo she has clearly loosened her death grip.

This makes me happy.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Multitasking. When did this term become vogue? It actually bothers me now, much like the phrase "think outside the box" or--mega cringe--"paradigm shift". Did I just date myself? Ahem.

But more than just being annoying, I think the idea of multitasking has actually ruined a lot of us. Or ruined a lot of things, like the ability to uni-task <--(made up word I think).

We're praised for multitasking. Go to an interview and get asked to name your strength and many would proudly say "I can multitask with the best of 'em!" The interviewer would smile and nod enthusiastically. Yes! Yes! We want you to do ten things at once, and do them all well.

I am guilty as charged of multitasking. I make lists about making lists and I fold laundry while talking on my hands-free while watching the news while checking my email. Sheesh. The other day I was rocking one baby and rubbing the dog's belly with one foot while using the other foot to keep the rocker in perpetual motion and I'm sure I was going over a to-do list in my head and if I could have been, I would have been folding laundry at the same time. I am always--ALWAYS--thinking of what is next. I say our schedule out loud. We'll be running together as a family of four on an early Saturday morning I'll say to Mr. MTL "OK so next we'll do this, and then after that it's this, and then it will be time for X and Y and of course don't forget Z." And while I'm hearing my out loud voice proclaiming the day's schedule my internal voice is going over the mega list--you know the one--the one that lurks in the background always....things like.... readoption...circumcision (ack). Buy more life insurance. Change financial planners. Make a will (double ack). Etc. etc. etc. But all the while I'm missing the run. The sound of our feet on the pavement, our rhythmic breathing, the feeling of my muscles doing work, my children's coos and babbles as they notice everything around them.

I am not in the present so much of the time which sounds ridiculous because all you can ever be is in the present. When I am in the shower, surprise! I can only be in the shower. I cannot be anywhere else so I might as well enjoy it instead of thinking about what is coming next. One time, I started squeegeeing the shower walls while the water was still running before I realized what I was doing. That's pretty embarrassing.

Regarding parenting--multitasking can ruin that in a heartbeat. You cannot be blogging, commenting, checking email, Facebook, talking on the phone, whatever--while playing with your kids. But yet I adore my Iphone for exactly that reason. Enter-->guilt. Sure, I can semi-play. But I can't really play. Down on their level moving with them playing. And I must admit that I cannot fully experience the wonder of watching 9 and almost-9 month olds really play unless I'm fully in the present with them.
Yeah yeah yeah, mindfulness and being present might as well be 'paradigm shift' of today huh? You read about it everywhere. But it bears repeating, especially to my multi-tasked out brain.

Because, really, if I'm not really playing, down on their level, how will I ever see this?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Phone numbers

My parents have had the same phone number since I was two years old, which means it's been the same number for a very long time.

I can say it so fast it just sounds like one big word, as it's been rolling off of my tongue for years and years.

Tomorrow will be the last day I can call that number and ask to speak to my father.

He is moving out of his house tomorrow.

My mom simply cannot take care of him at home anymore (even with nearly full time help).

The disease that has ravaged his mind is too much, for her, for everyone.

We are grateful that he was home for as long as he was.
Herculean efforts were made to help him recover as much as possible after his stroke (he went to the same rehab as Congresswoman Giffords) but alas, there was nothing that could be done, really. Dementia is cruel.

My mom is exhausted. Spent. Mentally, physically, financially (and no, it is not about finances).

She is also heartbroken, having to be separated from her husband of 40+ years. I can scarcely stand to think about her on their acreage, in their big country house, all alone.

After tomorrow I will have to call another phone number--one I will undoubtedly have to look up repeatedly--and ask to speak to my father, ask someone I don't know if he would be willing to talk on the phone.

But he won't want to talk.
It's a rare occasion that I can get more than two sentences out of him on the phone, and it's clear he really doesn't know what's going on. He only knows it's me because my mother always tells him to say hello to me. She can't stand for him not to know his own daughter.

I guess we're lucky that most days he doesn't know he's at his own home anyway, maybe that will make it less hard on him.

But it doesn't make it any less hard on me, on my mother. I know some of you have lost your fathers and I don't know which is worse--to lose them outright early or to watch them disintegrate into nothingness when they were the strongest person you ever knew.

My dad--he could chop down a huge tree while wearing a J-collar with a broken neck. He could work in the hot sun all day long and never complain. He could run marathons. He could ride his bike longer and faster than Mr. MTL and I ever could--he exhausted us on countless rides. He could do the hardest crossword puzzle of the week in the newspaper and never.give.up until every last blank was filled in. He could read the Christmas story to us every year and always choke up on the words "And she pondered all these things in her heart." He could give you a gentle squeeze with his calloused hands, he could laugh at your bad joke, he could sing off-key but from the heart...he could do all of those things and now, he cannot.

And tomorrow he has to move out of his house. And into the care of virtual strangers to live out his days with more indignities than anyone should ever, ever have to suffer.

Oh Dad.
I'm so sorry.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Finally, an update and new photos!

Wow, I guess my last post was just too heavy. How I wish it didn't need to be written, didn't need to be said, how those emotions weren't there.

So this post is dedicated to all things happy and good.
  • The mister went back to work this week. OK, so that sucked royally, for him, for ME, for the babies, but the good news is, we survived! Taking care of them is exhausting, my back aches, my wrist hurts, I am still losing weight just from the never-sit-still nature of it all but I'm getting it all done. And keeping the house clean. And everyone is fed. And we play play and play some more. And during their naps I do sit still and enjoy Diet Coke that has been in the freezer for 25 minutes and is just a little bit icy and frozen. Delish.
  • Watching Mr. MTL with these babies is magical. Who else would play music for them, every single night, while he does bath duty? I'm serious--he plays songs for them on the ukele--Buddy Holly, some Mr. Leebot, and some stuff he makes up off the cuff. They adore it. He also turns giant red toy tubs into drums and gives them great beats to bounce to while they go nuts in their jumpers. And of course they've had many private Mr. LB concerts where they shake their little shakers to the beat! These kids may not end up liking music, or being musical, but no one will be able to say they weren't exposed to it.
  • Running. We go every morning, at 6:45 am and I push that damn Bob Revolution Double Jog Stroller up and down the hills of our little community. They are early risers and it's fine by me--it's hitting 105 and 106 every day lately so the only chance we have for outdoor time is super early. It is quite the workout, I'm slow as ever, and I only make 4 or maybe 5 miles but I get it done.
  • They love to play! And read! And help me bake! And play some more! And get in the baby pool! And pretty much everything (OK well the little guy doesn't so much like the carseat for very long) we've done they seem to like. We still keep it simple and mostly at home but now that we're in a routine we know when we can safely venture out. Target, watch out!
  • No one is sick anymore! Well, scratch that...there are still issues with our son that we will work with PT on but that should be manageable. But at least we're not running to the pediatrician every other day anymore.
  • They are eaters. Big eaters. Our daughter is up to 19.6 pounds, whoa. Our son is 18.5 pounds. They are doing great--solids three times a day and I love to feed them! Once I was given permission to use one spoon for the both of them (by some twin moms out there) it got a lot easier. I mean, they lick each others faces so why was I worried about them sharing a spoon? Maybe it's because I, personally, share spoons with no one (not even the mister) so I was projecting that onto them. I don't know.
  • They are showing the earliest earliest signs of attaching to us. They look for us, they cry for us, they call out for us. It's wonderful. We're not dumb and know that attachment takes months and years, but we are grateful for the smallest of signs.
  • Baby laughter. Never did I imagine the ridiculous things I would do to make a baby laugh. But we do, and we are rewarded handsomely.
  • They are delicious. In every way possible. You will see, in the photos (our first professional photo shoot--> and only one!)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I know.

I'm a horrible blogger lately. I'm a horrible commenter.

It's weird, being on this side. I read it time and time again--as people cross over they don't know their place anymore.  I don't think I was meant to be a "Mommy Blogger." I'm an infertility blogger who transitioned into an adoption blogger. I don't know what to be now. Just a regular blogger?

I promise an update type of post soon, there's certainly lots to say, but lately I've just had so many moments where my heart is in my throat and I nearly succumb to sadness that threatens to take me down.

East Africa.

What is going on there is horrible. It causes my heart to break.

We are connected to East Africa. Our babies came from there. Our babies have relatives there.

There but the grace of God go I.

I go to put up their baby food and there isn't enough room for all of it.

I go to dress them and find that they are outgrowing clothes left and right and putting on more rolls of fat and chub.

And mothers in East Africa are leaving their starving babies on the side of the road to die because they simply cannot make it any further. Refugee camps are swollen with the starving, the exhausted. They don't hope for a better life, they just hope to live, period.

And we spent $80K trying to have a biological baby. While babies starve to death. And yes, you could insert anything--bigger car, better house, vacations, clothes, going out ot eat--anything that we don't need but simply want. And yes, I know we all do it while so much of the world suffers. And that there will always be horrific disparities between the haves and the have nots but I sometimes wonder how did it get like this? Why do we allow it? If I could go back, with hindsight...

I cannot even fit all of their food onto the shelf in the pantry.

Abundance. No hunger pangs here. Fat babies.

That I love with all my heart.

There were sisters on Oprah a few months ago that run a food pantry. They said their motto was the following:
There is only one race, the human race.*
There is only one father, the Heavenly Father.
And you should never take the last piece of bread because someone might come along who needs it more than you do.

Those words are always running through my mind.
But most days all I can do is just hug and love on my sweet chubby babies.

*And just to be clear: as an international adopter I do not believe the first line as a way to go about parenting across cultures, I just think it's a sweet sentiment.