Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year 2012

My heart sings with love. These two boys are the best thing that ever happened to me. I'm the luckiest girl in the world and so happy to be their mommy.
It's been a very good year.




- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bad NT Scan for One Twin--HELP

Hey Readers,


One of my best friends lives in the Netherlands is about 13-14 weeks pregnant with twins.  She's had a really hard time getting pregnant, has had repeated blighted ovums/miscarriages...you name it.  This was her 3rd IVF cycle and she finally got pregnant with twins.  
Everything was going really well until she went for the NT scan.
Here are her results:


I had one child with a Nuchal translucency (NT) of 1.6 and this one was considered low risk 1:1800.  The other one has an NT of 4.0 which is actually very high risk...sadly.  But, what can I do.  I got an estimate of 1:5 for Down's and this is with the NT and the blood combined. 


Can anyone share their experience with a bad NT reading/bloodwork?  Did you do a CVS and/or an Amnio?  Did you have the child?  Outcome?


She's going ahead with the testing, I believe soon.  It will tell her more and she can elect to do a reduction at that point if she wishes.


I am so very sad for her and her husband.  I just want to hear some voices who have been there, if you could leave a comment.
Or just wish her well.  Thanks.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Brain is About to Burst

In a good way.
But, oh.  The overload of information.  My mommy brain doesn't function as well as it used to and I'm not used to this amount work.
I dropped off a bit, I know.  Damn that NaBloPoMo.  I failed.  Anyway.


Let's pick up where I left off, shall we?  And I'm try not to bore you or take to long to get to the point.
We left off with pre-school.  Do we?  Don't we?  How?  Where?
The comments touched off a series of conversations I had by myself.  Silently, just me and my head.
I had to come up with a few 'plans' before I could let Chicken know what we were going to be doing next.


Chiang Mai, Thailand is what I came up with if we were going to live abroad for a year.  So for the next week or so I made my wife crazy telling her how we were going to do it and how much it would cost and when we were leaving.
And she balked.  Rightly so, I suppose.  She IS the one who makes the money in this family and she IS the one who is highly employable whereas I am merely enjoyable at a cocktail party (Eh, I used to be.  Now I'm too tired.).  But I'm a pretty good mom and I'm a damn good travel planner and I can be very, very persuasive.
Little by little she started coming around.  More facts, more ideas, more coming around.


And then I found my people.  My traveling family peeps.  
Now, I've been following a few travel blogs for years.  Not many, 2 or 3.  I knew if I let myself I'd find one blog led to another and another and I'd be swallowed up by all of the fabulous family travel blogs out there.  And I couldn't let that happen because I had babies to take care of and pregnant lesbian bloggers to cheer on and mommy blogs to follow and life.
But now...well, the twins are at the age where I can see this happening.  I can see us DOING this.  Taking off for a year (or more?) and living this dream.
I've been swallowed up.
I'm not even sure how many family travel blogs I'm reading right now.  And of course, I want to start from the very beginning.  I want to know everything.  Now.
And then I found some travel blogger and family travel groups on FB.  And well, well....the connections.  The ideas.  The inspiration.  The amazing-ness of so many people!
I seriously don't know the last time I felt this tingly about something other than my kids.  They make me tingle everyday.  But this...


Something seriously cool happened a few days ago.  I was reading FB posts regarding family travel in Chiang Mai.  I looked at the avatar of a poster and thought to myself "Oh, it looks like they are traveling with a toddler".  So naturally I am intrigued and click to their FB page...where it says "NY, NY" and I'm very intrigued because there's something about the photo of that little girl in the photo stream at the top of the page...and there's a link to a website and BAM.
I find myself staring at my neighbor's kids.  What a small world.  We aren't 'friends' per se, but I would see her kids almost daily and we'd met and chatted from time to time, but I didn't even remember her name until I saw her kids.
She, her husband, a 3 year old and a 1 year old have taken off for the next year to travel around the world.  Her husband has found a way to work part time while they travel and so far they are having a blast.
They are doing it.  And what a small world for me to have found them.  Read their blog here.


This couple and their story did something to Chicken.  Suddenly she was all on board, ready and willing to find a way to make this happen.  I know I'm making her crazy talking about all of this now, but we have to plan accordingly and these kinds of things don't just happen overnight.


Right now, we're really looking forward to our month in Costa Rica and 'trying' out living abroad.  Even though some of it will be in vacation mode, much of our life will be harder.  She'll still be working, I'll still be a SAHM.  
Only I'll have a 2 story house with no safety gates to keep track of munchkins.  I'll have a house that has no walls downstairs and leads straight to the yard (thank god the yard has a gate).  I'll go from knowing where my kids are at any given moment in my 750 sq ft one bedroom apartment to wondering if they are in the far corners of the gardens trying to eat poisonous frogs or if they've managed to get out the gate and are now being swept away in the ocean.  
I'll still have to figure out how to get two toddlers up, dressed, fed and transported a mile up the road (without my swanky SUV double stroller) where I'll wait with them to catch a bus to take them to their preschool in 'town' by 8:30am.  And then repeat it all over again when I pick them up at 12:30pm.  We'll still cook meals together only now we'll have to figure out how to keep the ants out of our open air kitchen. We'll still run errands and go grocery shopping only we'll have to do it by strapping the kids on the back of the bike and pedaling 6 km on a dirt road to the market.  
Yes, living within walking distance to the beach is going to be a mighty fine thing but convincing your 2 year olds to take multiple (or at least ONE) cold shower a day is not going to be so easy.  Yeah, I'm a little bit worried about snakes and spiders and bugs and scorpions and dengue fever from killer mosquitos.  But, hey, there's rat poop in the NYC playgrounds.  At least we'll have a sloth in our yard, howler monkeys in the forest around us and toucans flying through the trees.


After this trip, we will put a plan in gear for what comes next.  Our ultimate goal is to start traveling at the beginning of 2012 during the boy's preschool years and (possibly) coming home for (free) Kindergarten.


Some of our concerns/questions:

  • Do we take a year off and travel around the with 3 year old twins?
  • Do we establish a 'home base' (Chiang Mai is our number one choice) and travel shorter distances from there?
  • Travel to a few different locations, set up 'home base' every 3-4 months and one/both of us works along the way?
  • What kind of work could Chicken and her MBA do in a virtual work world?
  • If we set up 'home bases', do we utilize local preschools or homeschool/worldschool?
  • How much money do we need (depends on if we work along the way....)?
  • What countries--as a same-sex family--should we cross off our list?

Yes, my brain is bursting and I've only just begun.  For now, I'm busy de-cluttering the apartment in anticipation of what we'll have to store while we are away.  The less, the better.  In the past week I've been able to clear out an entire closet of hanging clothes, 10 pairs of shoes, 4 coats and donate it all to the Bowery Mission.  I've shredded the contents of one file drawer, thrown away a heap of crap, and sold $200 worth of baby stuff.  I daily debate whether or not to sell my antique bedroom dresser, bed and cabinentry.


There's so much more going on but this is the big, big stuff.  Who were those people moving to Florida?  WTH?!  This is the life I was dreaming about.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

PreSchool Alternative in NYC?

I am firmly in denial that I have to start thinking of preschool in solid terms.  I mean, I *think* about it.  I practically obsess about it in my head; running the numbers and thinking of the gains and what does it all really mean for what price.  Oh, I think about it a lot.
But I haven't actually done anything about it.  Like, put my name on a list anywhere.  


Forget about preschool for a moment--what I should have done is put my kid's names down on a list for PreK.  I should have done that when they were born.  You know, for PreK. 
PreK is when the free stuff starts in NYC.  But only some elementary schools have PreK and not all are good.  So, you can imagine the competition (actually you probably can't imagine unless you are living here with kids.  It's freeking insane and besides rent, it's pretty much all people talk about).


However, we are lesbians with twins.  No one would ever, ever, ever admit it--but I know for a fact that we will get bumped up those lists because of the 'diversity' factor.  True story.
That doesn't mean I should keep procrastinating, but it does make me feel a teensy bit better knowing that finally I've got the edge on the straight white couple.


OK, back to preschool.  The cost is insane.  I don't know how much preschool costs average around the country and beyond (do tell!) but here in NYC, the average cost is roughly $1500-$2000 per MONTH.
Ahem, times two for twins.  Although some are generous with a 5% sibling discount.  Five percent, yee haw.
The highest priced preschool in NYC is $30K.  For a 3 year old to finger paint? Seriously??


Let's assume we get a spot for two kids in a (cough) reasonably priced preschool in our neighborhood.  Just your average 1/2 day program.  
I still can't go back to work full time because of the drop off and pick up times.  Or, if I did go back to work full time, I would still have to pay for a nanny.
It kills me either way because for 'what' I do workwise (for those of you who have been reading awhile I am most decidedly NOT the career-driven one of this couple) does not make me much money.
Going back into the workforce gives me a lot of anxiety.  I don't even know what I'm going to do next. But that bit of panic is all for another post.


We could keep them out of preschool until they turn 4 and can go to (free) PreK.  There are plenty of classes and activities to keep them busy and happy.  This city is full of possibilities and learning opportunities--many of them for free.  It would be a lot of work and I would really have to buckle down with my planning and scheduling, but a homeschool preschool could be a possibility.


The other option--one which we will know more about in April--is living abroad for a year and renting out our (furnished) apartment.  Chicken has the strong possibility of being able to work remotely and so we would keep her income, plus the rent from our apartment and we would live in a moderately priced country (Costa Rica?  Argentina? Thailand? Malaysia?) with a great alternative preschool.
This is one of the reasons we choose where we are going in Costa Rica this winter--the awesome Waldorf preschool ($160/month) and the low cost of living.  The ability for the boys (and us) to learn another language is also HIGH on my list.  
I would prefer that language be Spanish as it's the most beneficial (or maybe Chinese) but I also wouldn't pass up a year in Thailand if that presented itself.


So that's where we are.  Homeschooling or leaving the country.
How did this happen?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happy

Just in the last week or so, Grunter's speech has been making leaps and bounds.  W2 seems to be taking it all in and will say something (or try) if you ask/prompt him, but he is not as verbal as Grunter (even though he started off being more so).
Being able to pet the cat is their goal of the day.  I swear we lift them out of the crib and they chime "cat!" We have a rather shy and skittish cat who is not too keen on letting them near.  Lately the boys (especially Grunter) have learned to be quiet, calm, gentle and slow and then....maybe.....he can get near enough the cat for a quick stroke of fur.
This past weekend, while I was sick in bed most of the day, the cat was laying on me when Grunter came to nurse.  He approached very slowly and the cat let him not only pet, but HUG him.  While his head was resting on the cat's belly, I asked him if he heard the noise the cat was making?  He smiled and said 'Si' (they don't say 'yes') and I said, he's purring.  He makes that sound because he's happy.  
Clear as a bell Grunter said "Happy!" and his whole face lit up with a smile.
Now he goes about his day and randomly will tell us he's happy.  Today I saw him 'clapping' the hands of one of his dolls and saying "happy!"


Tonight as I was leaving their bedroom Grunter yelled out "Mommy".  He has only started calling me Mommy and Chicken Mama in the past few weeks.  Something clicked and he knows which one of us gets which name.  Since that lightbulb went off--I hear Mommy! all day long.  This can be good and bad!
But it's usual for him to want me to come back just one more time....
He stood up in his crib and reached out to hug and kiss me in the darkness.  Then I asked W2 if he wanted to give me another hug and kiss goodnight.  He replied by moving his face over to the crib slats and making giggly kissy noises.  I responded by kneeling down and kissing them both through the crib slats which they think is hysterical (and it's beyond cute).
Then they both blew my kisses and sang out "ciao! night night!"


These are the moments that I live for.  During the first year, which was so very dark and difficult--these were the days I was waiting for.  Well worth the wait.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ditching the Stroller

Chicken and I made a big leap today.  We took our first ever 'trip' with the twins without using a stroller, carrier, monkey backpack 'leash', etc.  Nothing!  A backpack with some diapers, wipes and snacks was all we took.
How liberating!


A friend of ours just had open heart surgery and we wanted to go visit her.  Both of us were actually wondering at the same time if we should take strollers/carriers and laughed when we realized we were both thinking the same thing--let's just do it.
These days the boys want to walk more and more.  I still take them to the grocery store with me once a week and they are great in the stroller--but for the last two weeks they get restless towards the end and I am hearing "out! out!"  This is when the matchbox cars quickly come out.


If I give them the option of going to the park (playground) or going on a walk--they will usually choose the walk.
They are both very good at listening and obeying the 'rules'.  If I say "no", W2 will almost always stop but Grunter is mischievous and will gleefully run squealing.  This sometimes upsets W2 (who may end up being the tattler!).  Anyway, I give them a lot of freedom around our neighborhood because it's largely car-free in the park area and safe for them to walk and explore--as long as they stay 'near'.
However, when we head out of this area and near the streets/cars I always stop and give them a little talk about where we are going and how they absolutely have to hold Mommy's/Mama's hand and that this is very, very important.
Now, they will both hold tightly to my hands and we can go on a walk together.  It's awesome.  It took a lot of work over the past 6 months to get to this stage but we've been seeing real progress for the past 3 months.
Whoop Whoop loves to shake his index finger at a car and say "No!" And I reply, "that's right, we don't touch cars and we don't go near them."


So, today we thought they were ready.  And they were.  They behaved so well in the taxi and in the hospital, even waiting in the queue for the taxi home they were patient and nice.  The afternoon was such a success we decided to do something really crazy and went out to an early dinner.  The last time we tried dinner was in Florida in March!  It was such a disaster (even at 5:30pm) that we have just stuck to breakfast.  I know it helped tremendously that today they were tired from all of the walking.  


We have one family-friendly restaurant in our neighborhood (there are a few others, but not many...) and we had 'dinner' at 4:50!  They ate a variety of food we doubt they would have touched at home (who knew they were such big fans of trout almondine?) and we--for the first time ever--actually ate out without inhaling our plates at lightening speed.  I even had time to drink a great Belgian beer!  Total success.


This gives me all kinds of hope for the months ahead--especially our month in Costa Rica.  I love this age and I kind of want it to last forever, but I know each stage will probably be my new favorite.


Today Grunter was helping me unload all of the groceries from the bottom of the stroller.  They have both been doing this for 3 or 4 months--such good helpers!  But today, I heard Grunter saying the same thing over and over as he would put something on the kitchen counter (how did he get to be so tall already?!) and finally I realized that each time he was saying "Helpful".  Melt.  Yes darling boy, you are so helpful!  How I savor these wonderful everyday moments.  

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Uh Oh

I missed blogging 2 days.  No prizes for me.
This afternoon I left the house for the first time since Friday morning.
Puffer got a little sick.  Not fever-puking-haggard sick.  Just achey, yucky, tired, stuffy, snotty sick.
I knew that if I could just Rest, that my body could *probably* fight it off.


It probably didn't help that I took the twins to the Zoo Friday morning and totally exhausted myself.
But I'd promised them and it was a gorgeous (if a bit nippy) fall day and I couldn't really deal with hearing "Ba Ba?" all day long. Even after we fed the sheep and looked at the pony, I heard "Ba Ba?  Nay Nay?" through the rest of the zoo.  Whoop Whoop loves his sheep and horses.
What I didn't know was that Grunter knows how to say "Baboon!" and knows that it is a type of monkey.
That is so cool.


They call the wallabies "Abby" and animals sound a lot like "Elmo".
Now, my kids have watched Sesame Street exactly 3 times, but we were gifted two SS books (an ABC and a counting one) and yeah, the kids love them.  It doesn't matter that they've barely ever glimpsed Elmo on the screen--that one look was all it took.  There is something about Elmo.  What IS it?
So, all night Friday the boys are saying "Elmo Elmo" and I'm wracking my brain trying to figure out where they have seen Elmo that day.
It doesn't hit me until the next day (when they are still saying it) that I realize they are saying "Animal".
Ah Ha.


Saturday, for the first time in almost 22 months, Chicken took the boys by herself for (almost) the entire day.  I stayed in bed.  Sweet, sweet rest.  Now, it would've been much better had I been in a private bedroom with the door closed rather than smack in the middle of the living room, but the boys were outside a majority of the day and short of curling up in their crib--that's as good as it gets around here.
(I actually did think of putting one of their crib mattresses on the floor and sleeping in there...)
I was quite sad when the boys left in the afternoon and questioned "Mommy?" and heard Chicken say, "No, Mommy doesn't feel good, she's staying here" and then hearing Grunter's sweet little voice say "Mommy.  Night Night."


I woke up today feeling better, but not good.  Chicken's brother was in town for the weekend (formerly of Paris now in London) and he came over and they all played outside while I slept some more.  Only I didn't sleep.  Restless from so much REST, I got up and made banana muffins and a quiche.
Finally this afternoon I was able to summon enough energy to take the kids to the park.  I missed them!
Hopefully tomorrow I'll be back to new which is great since I'm going to have a long day ahead of me either way.  Thankfully the weather here is still holding steady at beautiful fall weather so we can go out and about.


I'm working on compiling all of the idea I got from the comments sections.  Wow!  There were some really great ideas and already I've started tweaking our mornings and have had great success!
Also....we're reconsidering on the play kitchen.  I think that having the boys paint/draw at the kitchen table (it's a vintage/retro diner type with a formica top that wipes clean) and using the extra space for a kitchen instead of an art table might be a better use of space.


Next up!  I'm going to try to tap into my crafty side and make some felt animals.....that can't be too hard, right?  And I'm looking for the best reusable sandwich bags as I'm trying to ditch most of our plastic/ziplocs, etc.


Hope you all had a great weekend.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Negatize

Chicken came home today and asked me if I'd done any work to monetize my blog.
"No, I went online shopping.  I negatized at Z.appos."


However, I added up all the baby stuff I've sold and it's well over $500 (what I can remember and what I kept track of anyway), but you know--then I bought shoes.
Chicken needed new boots for winter and so did the boys and me?  Well, my feet grew juuuuust enough during pregnancy that I'm neither a 7 (my old size), nor a 7.5.
Last week I cleaned out 1/2 my shoes and dropped them off at G.oodwill.
It's so freaking annoying.  But I can't afford to replace my entire shoe collection due to a bit of tight-foot-ness, so I'm just going to suck it up with the rest.
Instead I bought some really awesome wool slippers.  I can't wait for them to arrive.
Maybe if my feet are comfortable, I'll motivate to educate myself on how to monetize.

Cute

I went to bed without blogging. Oops. Not feeling well and fighting off a cold.
This morning W2 was hugging Grunter while he nursed.

I hope the boys are as cute today as they were last Friday when I took this photo.
We had a big painting party in the park with 6 other friends. My boys were the messiest. I threw away those sweatpants. Totally ruined. They had so much paint on them their skin was painted underneath.
Messy Fun!

























Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Packing Up the Baby Stuff

One advantage of living in a small space is that you can't really hold on to the stuff you don't use/need.  Well, I guess you can, but you'll be on Hoarders.
As the twins have outgrown things--bouncers, clothing, carriers--I've sold it as fast as I could either on my Twin Mom's Club classifieds or on CL.
It's always a little bittersweet, but mostly I'm glad to have more free space (especially the bouncer/swing plastic crap!).
This past weekend, I started gathering toys.  So many (too many) toys.  I put them all in a big box, took away most of the other toys and waited to see if they would play with them.  Eh, not so much.
These weren't even their baby toys, but nevertheless these almost-2-year-olds are over and done with H.aba blocks and activity cubes.  I catalogued and boxed up all of the toys that I'll now try to sell.
And I was sad.
Actually, I couldn't part with them all.  We aren't having anymore children, but I keep a few small things from each stage that I just can't bear to sell/donate.


Now that they are entering the "pretend play" (shopping cart filled with food, farm and animals, airplane and people) and want "things that GO" (trains, cars, scooters, trikes), or things they can build (Duplos and soon, Legos) I'm a little lost with what toys will get me through the dark, cold winter (113 days til the beach!).


We don't have much room inside and I get them outside twice a day to play in the park.  But there are going to be so many days we just can't be outside at all unless it's to fiercely bundle up and walk to the indoor play space or to someone's house for a playdate.


I believe my FIL is going to buy them an art table like this:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/toys-games-super-art-table/12607993
I need ideas for art supplies and things we can do around the house.


We thought about a play kitchen, but honestly the only place we could put it is in their bedroom and there is NO way they would stay back there and 'pretend' to cook when what they really want is to be under my feet while I am cooking!  I've learned to just set them up with kitchen things and cook fast.
The idea of a train table is enticing, but there is a big store about a 10 minute walk from our place that has a huge Tho.mas the Train table set up in the toy section and we go play with it a couple of times a week.  Why buy it when we can go there??


Those of you with 2-3 year old's, tell me--what worked for you and what do you wish you'd not bought?
The grandparents are asking for Holiday gift ideas and I'd like to be prepared.
And Chicken has the logic of "Oh, we just got rid of a bunch of toys--let's buy more, more, more!" and I'm all like, "NO!"
Anything without batteries and along the lines of Montessori would be great!


Thanks!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Home Study Questions for Second Parent Adoption

I'd like to start off by saying I'm pissed that we have to do this at all for us to be a "legal" family.  We procrastinated the adoption for a long, long time.  Partially because we are already legally married and Chicken is listed on the birth certificate, but mostly because we hired a lawyer that has made so many mistakes it's ridiculous.  She's so careless I have no idea how she gets through the day.
Anyway.

We've finally gotten to the home study portion of the adoption which means we're almost done!  Last week the social worker came over and spent 2 hours with us.  Good God.  I can't even believe that she wanted our entire life stories from BIRTH to present.  WTF?!
Now you know that I am not really a private person, but I was pissed that we had to go through all of these questions--to be so judged.
Today, I get an email from the social worker and I must say....I'm a bit in disbelief.

These questions...is this NORMAL for a home study??   Did anyone else have to go through all of this??
And the kicker?  The social worker is a pregnant lesbian I've previously met on several occasions.  Someone else is going to be coming to her house and doing the same damn thing.
It's so messed up on so many levels.

Emai:


Hope this email finds you and the boys well. I have completed my first drafts of the home studies and have some follow up questions.
 
What is your actual address?
 
Documents: I am looking for a letter from the Cryobank and also, egg donor letter. Does Stupid Lawyer have these? We need to find out. I will write to her but please also investigate.
 
Do you call each other wife, spouse, partner. Do you go by Ms. or Mrs.? I assume Ms. but you never know.
 
Chicken:
 
I need current info on your parents. How old are they, still working, retired? interests, hobbies, how often see twins, are they coming to Costa Rica? Relationship with Puffer and boys.
 
Puffer:
 
What did you get your B.A. in?
What was your job at XXX?
2007-09 you were a marketing manager for whom, I know it was an on line non profit.
How long has your mother been married to stepfather, confirm 22 years?
Your mother met the twins after their birth and again in 2010. When?
Are your mother and step father coming to Costa Rica?
Did your brother meet the boys on Mother's Day 2011?
Does your father know the twins were born?
Confirm you were in counseling in college and did you do any therapy since?
 
Boys:
 
I know Puffer is the birth mother. Do you consider Chicken to be the bio mother? Or the egg donor? I know that technically, she is an egg donor, but it seems significant that she is biologically related to the boys. Can you comment on this.
 
At birth, were boys born early, what did they weigh, were they healty? Which was born first?
 
I met the boys, but it was hard for me in the short visit to distinguish them apart yet. How is Grunter different from W2 in temperment, character? How are they different and alike? Play, language, etc.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Church on the Down Low

We went to church today.  No, my blog hasn't been hijacked.


I am, for lack of a label, somewhat agnostic, a bit Buddhist and more 'spiritual' than anything else.
Chicken has been getting close to the idea of God being your higher power for quite a few years now.
We both grew up "in the church"; she in a quite liberal Methodist where the idea of hell was never really preached about and me in a very conservative Southern Baptist where you are reminded of hell constantly.
While neither of us believe that Jesus is the actual son of God, we do both agree that he was a great (misunderstood) man in his day who had that 'certain something'.  Was he a prophet?  I dunno.  I guess it depends on your definition.  To me, I believe he was a great leader--much like Ghandi and MLK.


When I remind myself to live with full awareness, I am a much nicer person.  Having children has made me more aware of how I treat people, the things I say, the tone I say it, my critiques and praises.  I do want my children to grow up to be good, kind boys and men.  Don't we all?  I know that I need to model the behavior.
I don't need to go to church to make this happen.  It's not about that.


But.  For a long time now (before pregnancy) Chicken and I have talked about being a part of a spiritual community**.  One where we are not judged and we agree somewhat with the message.  Mostly, because of my upbringing, Christianity scares me senseless.  I've heard and seen so much hatred and bigotry spewed that it's made me believe, "Wow, if that's what Jesus would do this world is in deep shit."  I distrust organized religion.  Wars break out over which God is the right God.
I think that God is what you make of him/her.  He is just that--yours.  He is the Jews and the Christians and the Buddhists and the Muslims and the Hindus.  He is the same God.  No need to fight....


And Jesus....who ever he really was....he preached love.  And forgiveness.  And some seriously awesome life lessons.
I mean....if we really all lived our lives based on love....how beautiful and peaceful would this world be?


So we found this church.  It's one of those new kinds of churchs with a live rock band on the stage and you meet in an auditorium and it's filled with hundreds of (mostly) white 20-30 somethings.  You know, the kind of church where the volunteers hand out gum and granola bars on street corners and slip you a little card about how cool their church is?  Their non-churchy church.  Just come as you are.  Jesus love you.


We've talked about going to this non-churchy (me:  "It could be a cult.") church, so this morning we decided to just GO.  It's fairly near our place, the times worked with the kids schedule and why yes, they did have excellent child care facilities.


I admit I walked in completely skeptical.  I can't even remember the last time I willingly went to a church service, but I'm guessing more than 20+ years ago.  I am sure that I gave everyone a bit of my "I don't trust you Jesus freak" look.  Except that these people really were pretty cool.  And nice.  And real.  But still, they were at church!  Uh....but so was I.  Hmmm.
There were free bagels and coffee and tea and really nice people.  That is so suspicious!!
We went straight up to the child care to check things out and spend some time before going to the service.  I honestly thought the boys would flip out and I'd pack them up and say "See!  We weren't meant to go to church!"  Except that they loved it and didn't cry when we left and didn't freak out while we were gone for one hour and 20 minutes and W2 didn't even really notice when we came back he was having so much FUN.  Free child care on a Sunday morning.  And bagels?  Hmmmm.


The service opened with live music and the words were projected on a screen at the stage if you wanted to have a sing-a-long.  The musicians were very talented but the words did freak me out.  I seriously thought about leaving when the lead singer did that 'thing' where you sway and put your hand up as you sing (reaching to God?).  That shit is just freaky to me.
But I stayed.  And the (preacher?) was young.  And had a great message and said (mostly) things that I could agree with.  The message was--overwhelmingly--about love.  And I can't deny that sitting there for an hour listening to him speak made me remind myself to live my life with more awareness.


That can't be a bad thing.
Having a community of nice people who accept you and your family with open arms, that can't be a bad thing, right?
I don't know.  We'll give it another shot next week and see how we feel.


I know one thing for sure:  I cannot tell my mother!!!  Oh, the confusion this would cause that poor woman. (Who AM I?)
For now, my church-going is on the down low.


**For the record, the Unitarians were our first choice, but the church is too far and the service too late for the kid's schedule.  Ditto the MCC (gay church). This one worked.  We'll see if it keeps working.








  

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Tea Time

Every morning the boys watch with great interest as we make ourselves a very elaborate double shot latte.*
When I'm done steaming my milk and dusting it with cinnamon, they get to dip a finger in and taste.
They know these little cups are special because the mommies use them.


So, for the last week, we've started evening "tea time".
After dinner, we bring out the cups with 'tea' (water) and practice drinking. I don't care if the get themselves and everything wet because it's the end of the day anyway.

Grunter got the hang of it quickly but W2 feels the need to tongue everything. Needs work.

Eventually they will get it. I'd love to travel without any special cups, spoons, etc. It's possible in 4 months, right? We won't have a D/W and in the humid conditions...those straws...could be pretty yucky.

When did you transition to only an open cup? How long did it take?

**Before I was pregnant a very bitter woman told us to sell our espresso machine because once we had a baby we would never have the time to make 'fancy' coffee again. Well, we have made them for 21 months. Our love of good espresso is that strong.**

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dirt! Dirt! Clean! Clean!

My boys love to clean.  They hate dirt.  Um, we might have had something to do with this.
I really hope they aren't going to end up terribly OCD about the state of clean, because right now--dirty things drive them crazy.
Not getting dirty.
But a dirty floor.  Kitty litter.  When something spills or drops on the floor or the table.  They need to pick it up, clean it up.
They learned months ago to go get a wipe or a paper towel and clean up.  Also, they live for the morning hand vac session (the bathroom gets cleaned every morning because the kitty litter box is in there).  They won't step foot in the bathroom until the 'dirt dirt' has been cleaned up. Hey, I don't like feeling kitty litter on my bare feet either, who can blame them?
And oh yeah, they give good vac.
When they are in the bathtub, they love to take the wash cloth and scrub the sides of the tub and walls--and people, they have never seen ME do that.
But I do have a habit of picking up bits of kitty litter off the living room carpet when we are sitting and playing....
They love, love, love to throw dirty things away.  They hate seeing garbage on the street--because they know it belongs in the trash can!  
They've been throwing their own diapers in the trash can for months and bringing their dirty clothes to the laundry.
It's awesome.  They really do imitate what they see every day and I guess they see me doing a lot of cleaning!
They really are my worker bees and it's great how much they just always want to 'help'.  I hope it lasts!


video
Here's a cute video of some cleaning in action:  We decided to carve pumpkins with the twins....FUN! Oh yeah, they picked up every single pumpkin seed afterwards and took them to the trash can.  

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hello Brother, Hello Sister

We've got 1/2 sibs out there.  Looks like 8 that I know of.  Most of them on the East Coast.
Whoa.


Last year I started to sign up for the Donor Sibling Registry--paid the $50 and everything, but then Chicken wasn't so keen on the idea so I didn't go through with it.


This year she's had some time to think about it and so last week I signed up for the free registry on CCB.  And....then I got an email.  Single mom with a 4 year old.  Lives about an hour away.  
I was stunned.  I knew there was someone in NY and I had a feeling they could be in the area, but still...there's nothing like the knowing.
There's a couple in PA, RI, MA, Seattle and Portland.  Some families with twins, some with singletons.  Heavy on the boys.
We've started connecting on FB.   I've seen the photos and heard about the similarities.  It's crazy.


The mom who made initial contact has met all of the other families and kids.
Well....we have always wanted to visit Seattle and Portland....now we have a really good reason to make it happen!


I'm excited.  I came from a very small family and don't have a close relationship with my siblings at all.  The boys have us and they have each other, but they only have one close cousin through Chicken's family and none close by.  


This past week we had the chance to watch "Donor Unknown" on PSB and I thought, "Yeah, I want to go forward with this. I want to see if we can find the other families.  I want to give my kids the opportunity for a bigger family."  If, when they are older and they choose something else, then that is up to them.


For those of you who saw this documentary--did you cringe when you found out how the 'star' donor #150 turned out 20 years later?  Brilliant, but a crazy stoner?
Chicken and I just looked at each other and said, "Oh god I hope our donor turns out ok."  We do have an open donor, so in just 16 short years our sons might also be taking a trip to California looking for some answers.  And whatever they find, I hope we can all handle it with grace.


In the meantime...looks like we're going to do some more family-building after all.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It's True, I Signed Up for NaBloPoMo

And I mean I officially signed up.  Never been that committed before, but things are a-changing around here.
I've always got a ton of 'posts' that I'm writing in my head plus I have a lot of drafts going, so I know I've got the material--I just have to get it out there.


The other thing....and I've been thinking about this a LOT....is that I'm thinking of taking this show out on a bigger road.  No, I'm not going to try my hand at stand up comedy.
But, I do need a job of sorts.  Anything that will pay me even a little bit of money would be nice.
And I like writing.  I have an established blog.  And for some reason, people stop by here every day.  Quite a few people.  
When I get an email from a total stranger saying "thank you for writing this"....well.  WOW.  Thank YOU for reading.


I didn't start this blog to make money.  I had no idea what I was doing when I started.  All I knew was that I'd been lurking around reading everyone else's blog for over a year and there were things I needed to say!  I still don't know what I'm doing (hello, have you seen my generic template?!) but I finally have a bit of 'free' time to work, learn and put forth more effort into my little blog.


Blogging has been an amazing form of therapy for me.  I have formed so many relationships, made friends and been able to be a part of a community that never would have existed in my 'real life'.
That community started out as lesbians TTC, then my circle grew to include infertility, then women trying to conceive through egg donation, then to pregnant with twins and raising twins and lesbian families and gay dads and now....I'm branching out to the travel families.
So many of us ended up here because of the TTC process.  Many of us left after 'goal achieved'.  Some of us kept blogging...sporadically....because life with a newborn sure does take away your blogging time.  Others decided they were too private to be a mommy blogger and put there family 'out' there.
I've had my own experience with a crazy lady or two that made me think twice about whether to go private or even shut down the blog altogether.


In the end, I decided to keep writing.  Put it all out there--I am who I am.  If I'm able to find a way to make some money off my blog while still staying true to the Pufferfish, I hope you will support me and keep reading.


Or maybe you'll at least stick around for the cute photos.


Who needs a step stool when you can wash your hands and brush your teeth while standing on top of the kitty litter box? (more space savings tips from "How to Live in a One Bedroom Apartment with Twins" coming up!)


I believe Grunter tried to push W2 off right after I took this photo.  
But, oh the love.  If only for a moment!  
Yes, we have a map of the world as our shower curtain.  
I like to learn geography on the toilet.



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Buzz

The Queen Bees and Their Worker Bees
As an adult, I have had the lamest Halloween costumes.  Chicken and I are usually too cheap and too lazy to do the holiday right.
Last year, I made sure the boys had adorable costumes for their first Halloween, but we didn't bother to dress up at all.  When I saw how many other parents were dressed up with their kids, I vowed to do things differently!  

This year, by the beginning of September, I knew what we were going to be and had everything ordered. Go me!
We had so much fun out with the boys (even if they don't look so thrilled--they were a little overwhelmed!) and went to a couple of parties Friday and Sunday.

Monday evening we took the boys trick or treating for the first time. In true NYC style, we hit 4 bars, a nail salon, a Chinese massage parlor (where they took many photos of us), a Mexican grocery, a coffee shop, 2 restaurants and a pizza joint. 
When we got home I taught them the true spirit of Halloween: Mommy gets the good stuff and the crappy stuff goes to the trick or treaters now knocking on our door! (Bonus: no candy to buy!)
Our baby bees then happily handed out all of their candy and went to bed--which never would've happened if they'd actually eaten any of the candy--and we ate the snickers.

This morning when we were getting ready to go out they were both asking for "Bee Bee".  After 3 days of playing dress up, how do you explain it's all over?!

Can't wait til next year...I've already got some ideas brewing....

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Place of Beauty Destroyed by Nature

I was looking for updates on the current flooding situation of Bangkok when I stumbled upon the news that flash floods have wiped out some of the villages of the Cinque Terre in Italy.
While it's been quite a few years since I visited these 5 unique villages--linked by a series of footpaths--my vacation here ranks as a favorite for Chicken and me (and we've got a lot to compare it to--see list at right!)
Only a few months ago, Ruby, Rose and G stayed in the same apartments we rented in Manarola.  I'm devastated to think of the damage this village sustained and that others no longer exist and may never be rebuilt.
My heart goes out both to the residents of Bangkok and the northern regions--whose homes have been flooded and possibly destroyed--and the villagers of the Cinque Terre for whom life has been changed forever.


And here...in NYC...it's only October and snowing.  Time to start the countdown to Costa Rica.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Smarty Pants

When my grandfather died over 20 years ago, my grandmother wanted me to have his hand-carved wooden drum. It was the first thing I ran to when visiting their house.

Today, for the first time, the boys were allowed to play with it. They loved it!

But when Whoop Whoop tried to sit on it, I told him it was to play with--not for sitting or standing.
I guess he really wanted to sit on it because a minute later he retrieved his step stool and carefully put it on the drum and sat down.
Because he knows he's allowed to sit there.
Mr. Smarty Pants was clearly impressed with himself.
I'm in trouble!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Twisting, Turning

As usual, I find I have so many things to say I get writer's block and don't say anything at all.


One of my best friends in the entire world is pregnant.  With twins.  Saw the heartbeats today.  She has been pregnant before--more times than I can even remember--and it's never come this far this well.  I am so excited for her I shed tears of joy upon hearing the news.  Send out good vibes to the universe to make this one right and see this pregnancy through to the end.  She so deserves it.  I love you LadyKat.


I've been doing a lot of researching and pondering and reading and (obsessing) about education for the twins.  Four new Montessori/Waldorf (yes, I know they are different for for now, they seem quite similar) books sit by my bed and Chicken and I lay in bed wordlessly combing through them.
For me, less is more and I find myself very attracted to these types of schooling.  I want free form play.  I don't want TV (yet) or iPads or batteries or noise.  I see my boys outside in nature everyday (yes, here in NYC!) playing in the piles of leaves and splashing in the puddles and I see sunshine and joy on their faces in the simple things in life.


We can't afford Montessori or Waldorf preschool.  The prices are ridiculous.  If we sent our boys to private school we would be spending over a MILLION dollars before we ever even sent them off to university.  That is insane.
Chicken talks of sending them to a 2x2 program and I think of doing it all myself at home until they are...four? 
Chicken talks of buying 2 plastic helicopters (probably flashing with lights and sounds) because "they like helicopters" and I tell her we have a lot of fun spotting the helicopters in the sky and walking by the helipad to watch them (loudly!) take off/land.  Chicken wants to buy them more! more! more! toys because "Everyone else has a ton of toys" and I look at her like she has sprouted a new head.  She's not really serious.  But she is...sort of.  And meanwhile I'm trying to get rid of toys because I think they have too many as it is.
I don't know where this is going to end up.  We are OK, don't get me wrong.  But I see some hiccups on the road to parenting that I did not anticipate.  We agree on just about everything when it comes to how we raise the kids, but I think as time progresses I'm really tapping into my inner (homeschooling?) hippie-like type mom and Chicken is...well, she's a Type A New Yorker.


I fantasize about saving up enough money and world schooling/traveling for a year (or more) with the boys.  That would be cheaper than a year of preschool and more educational, right?  I've been tapping into a whole different blogosphere--familes traveling together--and I'm hooked.  But that should come as no surprise.  My goal is to convince Chicken we have to do this.  Her goal is to convince me we need to be saving for our 401K and retirement.  My goal then becomes to convince her how cheap it is to retire in developing countries and with the worldly education our boys will have received they will be willing and ready to support their old mom's in their old age.  And besides...what if I die at 50 or some other hideously young age?  I can be crazy to live with.  I am aware of this:)


This past weekend we went upstate to the MIL's house.  It was our first visit there since the Christmas holidays last year.  I think she got the message that if you aren't going to play nice, we aren't going to come visit you because she was on much better behavior and we all had a very pleasant weekend.  They had the TV on and they fed the kids sugar and I tried not to freak out too much about either of these things.  I'm honestly less freaky about the TV than the sugar.
She sent the boys home on the train with a bag full of some kinds of mystery O's.  It's an hour and 1/2 train ride down the Hudson River and I have never seen Grunter so attached to any type of food but O how he wanted these O's.  And then, I tasted one.  Sugar, omg so much sugar!  The kid was singing at the top of his lungs and bolting for the aisle and banging on the glass and speaking in crazy tongues.  On the trip up?  Not so much.  Pretty calm.


They'd been eating these O's all weekend...and all weekend having a hard time going to sleep or calming down.
So, I try really hard not to give them things with sugar.  Because they are crazy enough already.  But I make them muffins.  And while I sub out or 1/2 some of the sugar, I DO bake with sugar and they DO eat things with sugar from time to time.  And I have offered them cheeseburger and fries and pizza.  Yep.  And they don't want any of those lovely items.  But sugar O's, please please mommy please.


The shopping.  Good lord I had no idea how much shopping you have to do when you have kids.  It's no secret that I really don't like shopping.  Chicken HATES it so she's no help in that department.  I can't even tell you how many freaking hours I've spent searching and reviewing rain coats and rain boots and sneakers and fall jackets and winter coats and snow suits and hats and gloves and an ENTIRE new wardrobe x 2 of everything Size 2T because my boys jumped from a size 9-12 months on their first birthday to an (almost) 2 T  and 26 lbs by the end of summer.  
Shoes.  Why are there so many shoes to choose from?!  I adore Za.ppos but I get overwhelmed.  I can't even imagine if I had 2 girls.  Good grief.  Whoop Whoop went from a size 5 to a size 7 in less than 3 months.  Now he's almost a 7.5.  I don't know how much money we've spent in the last couple of months 'outfitting' them.  I knew kids were expensive but I really didn't see it like this!


I made a killing at Baby G.ap yesterday.  I never shop there because the prices are ridiculous but I got all sale items PLUS 40% off and ended up with 7 items for $52.  Score!
After that I hit a few things at Baby O.ld Navy with an extra 25% off and then ended up with some super buys at Marshalls.  I have always been a bargain shopper but now I'm on every mailing list out there and hunt down the sales.  I wish we had a good resale shop here but sadly almost everything resale in the city means some sort of used Baby P.rada like outfit that is still 10x more expensive than the G.ap sale stuff.  And I just do not have the time or patience to hunt down the non-crap stuff at our (overpriced) city Goodwill.
The only way I'm going to save up enough money for long-term travel is for the boys to stop growing so I can stop shopping!!!  (which would be OK because this age?  I LOVE THIS AGE.)


The hole is still residing in my stomach and Grunter loves to grab at the roll while he nurses to remind me that it's there alrighty.  I have done nothing, 100% nothing, towards making it go away.  I keep saying I'm going to go to the gym or to yoga or to pilates and maybe someday...when my to-do list is done and when I've caught up on all your blogs and I've written all the blog posts that are rattling around in my head I will.  Maybe I won't.  Maybe the fact that I can fit two fingers in the middle of my stomach where my muscles used to be will just be my reminder that I housed two precious, wonderful babies in that stomach.