Thursday, September 29, 2011

There's a hole in my stomach where my muscle should be

After 20 months of wondering, I've finally learned the truth.  I have diastasis.
Which basically means that my stomach muscles separated during pregnancy because I was so freaking huge.  And that without a whole lotta specific ab type of work, I will never get my body "back" to the way it used to be.
I'd brought up my concerns to a couple of pilate instructors in the past about this, but (without examining me) they declared that I probably didn't have it because I'm fairly thin.  And I am.  But, no matter what, there's this poochy, jiggly, sticky outy belly thing going on.
Even the trainer who examined me on Tuesday initially said I didn't have it.
And then she stuck two fingers straight into my stomach.  It's so freaky.

Where I live, there's a stroller fit class once a week (for free) and I did it for the first time on Tuesday (after 20 months!  Go me! Haha.)  She's trained in the Julie Tupler technique and I don't know....maybe I'll see about some sessions with her to try to get rid of it and strengthen my core.
I admit there's 1/2 of me that says "You're 42, you had twins, who cares?"  And the other less self-assured 1/2 that says "You're only 42, why not look your best and get rid of the mummy tummy?"

Anyone else get this and have you done any work on it--like the Tupler technique?

Here's a link to some great before and after photos.  If I do this, I'm aiming for #12!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Life Changing Blogs and Winter Adventures

Back in July when Whoop Whoop abruptly decided to wean himself, I spent a fair amount of time googling for 'toddlers/breastfeeding/weaning'.  Alas, I did not find any stories that paralleled my own.
However, what I did find ended up changing the direction of my life.  It certainly helped me come to some of the decisions discussed in my previous post.

I randomly stumbled upon Tripping Mom blog written by a Brazilian single mom--a surfer chic who is traveling and currently living with her young daughter in Costa Rica.  After reading her very well written post on breastfeeding her toddler, I was hooked.

You know how you find a blog and instantly you want to read the entire story--every single post?  Yeah.  That's what happened (I still haven't gotten through the entire blog).  I was so smitten with this woman and how she was living her life and raising her daughter (although we agree to disagree on some things....) that I reached out to her via email and we started communicating.  We clicked.  Sometimes it's just like that.

Her blog led me to other blogs.  Traveling families, single dads traveling with a toddler, single moms traveling with teens.  So many people out there seeing the world with their children.  I had already been following the adventures of a family with twin boys who biked from Alaska to Argentina.  Theirs was armchair travel as I have no interest in extreme bike riding.  But slow travel, educating my kids on the road....yes that was very appealing to me.
Moving to a place where we knew no one, strapped with mortgage and auto debt, surrounded by red necks and homophobes and relentless heat?  Was moving to Florida what we really wanted?  We could not continue to travel if we made this move.  Wouldn't we rather take the money and find a better use for it?

Many late night discussions with Chicken led us both to the realization that we were obsessed with finding a 'new and better' place to live when really what we should be concentrating on was how to survive the winter doldrums.
I love nothing more than a new project to obsess over!  Now, I just had to find a way to get through winter.

Something I never blogged about last winter--because it sounded so insane (and it was)--was when Chicken got it in her head that because she could work anywhere with an internet connection, we should try to sublet our apartment and go somewhere warm for the winter.  With 13 month old toddler twins.  You know, just a jaunt halfway around the world to say, Thailand or Malaysia or maybe somewhere closer like South or Central America.  But a place with enough western amenities to have comfort and a nice beach and safe and good medical care and WiFi and an airport close by and cheap and and and.  Oy Veh.  It was a tall order.  And the twins weren't even a year old.  We had no idea if they would be walking or what by 13 months old.  What about cribs and highchairs and play equipment and baby proofing?  In the end, I DID find a couple of places and we could have made it work, but I finally told her it was a crazy idea and it wouldn't be fun and I called the whole thing off.
This past Spring when they started walking we looked back at that idea and thought Oh My GOD.  What were we thinking?!

So, where am I going with this?  (a) We are a little bit crazy--but you already knew this.  (b) We are a lot travel obsessed.  (c)  I had a head start on my new project  (d)  Tripping Mom

In the end, we believe we have found a solution to the New York City winter doldrums.  

We have rented out a 3 bedroom beach front house in a small village in Costa Rica for March 2012. 
Chicken is taking 2 weeks vacation and working the other 2 weeks.
The boys will be 24 months old and we won't have the same worries as we had for them last winter.  There is a Waldorf bilingual preschool nearby and the owner has agreed to enroll the twins for the month.  They will attend 'school' from 8am-12pm, 2-3 times a week.

There are no paved roads, no TV in the house, no A/C.  We are in front of a gorgeous toddler-friendly beach.  We have a beautiful gated yard.  We are renting bikes with toddler seats for getting around (and bringing our own helmets).  We'll be visiting the farmer's market every Saturday morning with the locals.  There are howler monkeys in the jungle nearby and a two-toed sloth lives on our property.  
It's pretty perfect.

But even better--Chicken's mom and step dad are coming to stay the first week, her dad the third week and my parents are arriving for the fourth week.  They will all get to spend quality time with their grandsons and between preschool/family care Chicken and I will both get a true break.
Not a bad way to spend the last (and in my opinion, worst) month of winter.....

The money we saved this summer by NOT hiring a nanny and NOT going to Florida on a scouting trip (minus the extra money I spent on espresso to make it through those days!) made it possible to pay for the house--it was a great deal at $1500/month.  Plus, all of the parental units will be dividing the costs, so it's practically nothing.  We are paying for two of the plane tickets (about $1100 total) and getting two free with our frequent flier miles.
Even with the added cost of food, restaurants, entertainment, transport, preschool and bike rentals it's much less than what most families of four spend on a two week vacation.
I have averaged that we will spend $20/day (each).

Why am I telling you the costs?  Because, I think most people falsely assume that travel has to be expensive and that they cannot afford it.  Also, because we are not rich and we manage to make it work.  We cut costs in other areas of our lives to add money to the travel fund.  It's important to us and as long as we stay within our means we will continue to travel with our kids.
We both believe this is one of the best educational opportunities we can give them--the chance to see the world, learn another language (or two or three), appreciate how others live and value the differences.

Thank you Tripping Mom.  You changed my life.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Someone Else's Dream (warning--long)

I feel like I spent the first 1/2 of this summer deep in pro/con land. Should we move? Should we stay? I'm not a person who makes decisions quickly. This has served me well in life. But more than that, it's simply my nature. I research, I ponder, I examine the line-by-line financial picture, I make pro/con lists and then I think some more.
We had a running joke for most of May. At the end of the day we would say, "Was it a Florida day or a New York day?" It went back and forth for both of us--sometimes multiple times a day.
The trip we planned to take--meet with the realtors, house hunting--kept getting pushed back and back.

And then....there were more and more New York City days. Now, of course summer had something to do with it. The weather was (mostly) gorgeous and there are tons of things to do each and everyday. But more than that, things just became...easier.
I realized that big decisions should never be made while developmental milestones (learning to walk) are taking place! The 'should we move to Florida' came directly upon 'twins are now walking and life is crazy!'
Now, they are practically running, but life is not as crazy. The novelty of walking wore off. They stopped throwing their shoes at the door at 8am every morning. They became better listeners and learned to hold mommy's hand outside. They know that if mommy says she is going to count to 3, mommy means business and I rarely get beyond counting to 2.

So yeah, things changed.

But what hit me in mid-July....was that I was trying to live someone else's dream. This big house in Florida was never my dream. I'm a 'downsize' kind of girl, not a '3,000 square foot house' lady. I'm a 'less is more', not 'buy into the American dream that bigger is better'. We both were seduced by the idea that we could afford a house like that. A house we could never buy here. A house with a pool and a yard and a playroom.
But a pool and a yard and a playroom doesn't solve problems. Living close to the ocean or having a swimming pool if you can't take two toddlers there by yourself doesn't solve problems. Living half the year with oppressive heat is almost as bad as living here with the crappy, freezing winters.

I don't want to be tied down to a house. The housing market in Florida is complete shit. If we bought something there we had better be ready to stay there for 10-15 years. I've never stayed in any one place that long in my entire life. We want to travel, maybe move abroad or do a sabbatical. We need the freedom to do that. And I'm not saying it can't be done if you own a home, but it's sure a lot easier to change things and take off when you live in a small apartment. Not to mention the direct flights NY offers to oh, just about anywhere.

We don't know jack shit about working on a house or fixing anything more than a burnt out lightbulb. I am not fond of painting or spackling or mowing lawns or sanding or cleaning pools (or huge houses). I am not very good at those things (and Chicken only used a hammer for the first time last year), so together we'd be spending a chunk of change to pay someone else to do all of these things. That doesn't make financial sense and it certainly doesn't sound fun.

And speaking of finances--after calculating the moving costs, the new furniture, etc (um, we don't have enough stuff to fill a house!), the car/s, the myriad of insurance policies, the yearly flights to visit both sets of parents, the cost of private school (because the public schools are crap)....well. Well. We certainly wouldn't save any money and in fact, we'd be spending more. Potentially putting ourselves in debt. We worked hard and saved for too many years in order to achieve zero debt. I really have no interest in going back to a shaky finance lifestyle. The paycheck to paycheck existence and constantly checking balances was a life lived with great stress and not one I care to re-visit.

Yes, Chicken has a great internal work-from-home job. For now. Will she always want to do this? What are the options for her in Florida? Not many. And what about me? I'm not always going to be a SAHM. And I don't have a clue what I'm going to 'be' next. I've always been good at reinvention but NYC has definitely made that an easy option. I have no true career. I need a place with many choices.

After walking around day after day trying to imagine what my life would be like that day in Florida, I realized that I really, really like my life here.
Sure, the winter sucks. I don't like it. Walking around in the freezing wind and rain with your stroller wrapped in plastic sucks. But I love the summer and fall and spring isn't bad. Yes, winter with infant twins was rough. But this winter will be different because they are walking and running and capable of so much more. Every winter and every year will be different whereas my life before children was pretty much the same season after season. That is exciting and that sounds fun.

Life in NYC with twins can be hard. You have to walk pretty much everywhere (at least I do) and getting off this island can be time consuming and expensive. But I'd much rather pop the kids in the stroller and go across the street for milk everyday (in the heat or cold or rain) than deal with getting them in and out of a car and then into a shopping cart and back into the car and meltdowns while you drive and you can't do anything about it....
I'll take walking and stroller pushing thank you very much. It keeps me fit, it's interesting for the kids (they are excellent in the stroller), I can do all of my errands with them and I can be right there for them and pull over any time (although I've never had to--unlike the car!).

NYC gets me outside multiple times a day whether I like it or not. I don't have the option of staying inside all day long. For someone who is prone to depression and can easily stay inside for days at a time (pre-kids), this is an excellent set up. If I had a big house and yard and pool, well.....I can see myself sending Chicken for milk and not leaving because 'it's too hot and it's too much hassle'. I can see it and it would not be good for me at all.

This past Spring/Summer we've established a wonderful community of moms in our neighborhood. We have a FB group and we get together weekly if not on a daily basis. We share ideas and strategies. We make play dates for certain playgrounds/sprinklers. We meet up at the indoor kids space when it's too hot or rainy. We have 4th of July picnics and pizza parties on the lawn. We bring toys outside and pool them so that all the kids have a toy buffet. We share our snacks (OK, I don't like that part so much...), loan books and give away too-small shoes. Sometimes we even get a babysitter and have a girl's night out just to talk about the kids while drinking beer:). I even started a babysitting co-op so that we swap out free babysitting insuring we all get a date night--which all parents need.

Some of these new friends have really surprised me. I didn't really expect 90% (or more) of my mom friends to be 100% straight. And a fair number are church/mosque/temple going religious types. But you know what, they have accepted Chicken and I and our family without hesitation and I have found myself questioning how I feel about religious people much as some of them have probably found themselves thinking a bit harder about gay/lesbian families.
I do wish we had a few more lesbian mom friends we hung out with regularly. But none of them live close to us and getting together and connecting with children in tow has proven to be extremely sporadic. We mainly stay in our neighborhood and have a new set of friends I never expected but in fact, had always hoped for.

When we were thinking of moving out of NYC, we said the only thing that might make us stay is if we found an affordable 2 bedroom with some outdoor space. Guess what? Our name came up on a brand new building housing lottery--a 2 bedroom, rent-stabilized apartment on a high floor (25th floor) with a terrace and a view and a rooftop outdoor space. Just what we thought would make us happy.
But the rent is over a thousand dollars more and the building is next door to the projects and we can't even use the area parks because they are so filthy and crappy. The neighborhood is great if you are young and single or childless, but after walking about a few times, we realized that while we'd be adding square footage 'space' to our lives--we wouldn't be improving the quality of our lives in this neighborhood.

So we are staying. We like it right here. In our cozy (rent-stabilized) one bedroom with our bed in the corner of the living room. It's nice. It's really, really nice. Maybe we'll put up a wall eventually and have a real bedroom. Maybe we'll move into a true 2 bedroom. Maybe we'll end up in Brooklyn with tons of other lesbians.

But for now, there's no moving anywhere in our future. We don't obsessively talk and ponder it anymore and my GOD that is nice. Things are damn good and I feel more hopeful about raising kids in this city than I ever have before. We have made friends and have the sense of community that I was so longing for. I think my Vitamin Z also helped me come out of my funk and depression and negative state so that people wanted to be friends with me. I'm pretty sure I'm a nicer person now.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I know you're out there. Can you please comment if you live in Boston and use a reliable babysitter.
Help a Puffer out....

Also, if you want to leave me any helpful ideas of the top 3 things to do with 20 month old twins in early October (which could include a Sunday meet-up....), please do so!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Potty Training Update

We decided to go ahead and order the Baby Bjorn potty seats for the twins--one each.
They--and I--are not ready to begin the real process, but since they'd shown an interest in the big toilet and Whoop Whoop had used it a number of times, I thought, 'hey, why not?'
Interestingly enough, it's Grunter--not Whoop Whoop--who wants to sit on the potty and has gone pee quite a few times. It's so cute! He's so freaking proud of himself.

We will see what happens from here. No pressure. When we're all ready I'm going to try the na.ked 3-day potty training. The weather is too nice to do that right now!

And with most things that come in a box, the box is way more fun than than the product inside! W2 is obsessed with the broom and dust pan, so we have 2 small ones for each of them.
Grunter's got the best seat in the house to read with his dolly.

Story Time in the Box. Love it. Both books are upside down:)

Friday, September 9, 2011

19 Months

Whoop Whoop

Get the Balance Right

When HN left our family, I panicked. I posted an ad for a nanny and the sheer amount of responses I received left me overwhelmed. As a slogged through them (over 200) and did a couple of interviews, the weeks kept passing.

Me and the kids. Figuring it all out. It was a lot, sure, but I was doing it. There was a feeling of pride that finally, I was doing this--I could do it alone.
Chicken was also able to help from time to time. Her work was flexible enough that she could take an hour or two in the afternoon and either give me a break or we'd go out and do something together and then she's work in the evening.

The summer continued. The boys were getting easier. The one-on-one time we spent and the message they got from ONLY me was really soaking in. They were better at listening and doing what I asked them to do and NOT doing what I asked them not to do. They didn't run away as often when outside. Things started to click, really click. Taking them to the playground was fine. It was all going OK.

But still, around 4pm, I needed a break most days. And as the summer went on I started to get antsy when Chicken couldn't take them out because she was too busy. I started to get short tempered and I found myself yelling at them a few times. That was horrible. I wasn't having as much fun. I hadn't had any time off to do anything. My to-do list just kept growing. I was exhausted and for the first time in my life I started to feel stiff and old when I woke up in the morning.
I had no time to get to the doctor or the dentist or anything that my double stroller couldn't fit through the door.
When Chicken could take them for an hour or by the time they went to bed, I either had to cook or I just wanted to sit/lay down and do nothing.

I remember one day Chicken asked me if I could "vacuum and mop on my break". I thought I would kill her. I did neither.

And then, by the end of July, Chicken started working non-stop. No more breaks, no more Chicken help. She worked all day and all night.
And my meds...well, I wasn't feeling so great anymore. It was a nice 6 month Vitamin Z run, but I had to up my dosage and admit that I couldn't do it all.

Finally, after 3 months of doing it solo (because while Chicken tried to do as much as possible, I certainly did feel at times that I was a single mother raising twins PLUS cooking, cleaning and shopping for another adult as well), I felt like I was cracking.

We have zero family help around us and there aren't any friend knocking at our door offering their services. I needed a nanny. I needed to do something for me. I needed a bit of time for Puff. And holy crap do I feel guilty about that. I feel like I should be able to do this by myself and not complain and not crack and just get it all done--perfectly.
I can't.
I also feel guilty that we are in a position where this is an option for us when it's not for most. I never saw my life this way and sometimes I feel very undeserving. I used to be the one taking care of someone's kids and cleaning their house and now I hire "me". It's weird.

I need to enjoy my kids and provide a good and loving example for them. I need to be a loving wife and supportive partner. I need to take better care of myself.

The other day I came home to find my hair only 1/2 in a ponytail, blood smeared on my forehead and my tits hanging out of my shirt because it had been pulled so far down by one of the kids. Oh, and I only had one sock on (that part I knew, but didn't want to run to the bedroom to find the other one). In a nutshell, I'm a hot mess. I didn't think I'd ever take the garbage to the hallway looking like this, let alone go OUT for hours and SEE other people. I'm skinny and I've got nice cleavage. That's about the only thing I've got going for me right now. I don't have any photos of me with the kids because I HATE the way I look. That has to change.

So, two weeks ago when Chicken had worked 22 days straight--I found a part time nanny. She's not hot, but she's awesome. She only speaks Spanish to the kids and they are already asking for "mas". She helps me out in the kitchen and cooking and cleaning and the kids laugh and play with her. She can handle both of them outside and asks all the right questions.

But the best is that I am enjoying my kids again at 4pm and at 6pm and again the next day at 9am because at 9am MsP is in the kitchen cleaning up the breakfast mess and all I have to do is play with my kids instead of trying to do it all while they want Mommy and they want to go outside, etc. It's awesome.

And, as Chicken said last night "between the meds and the nanny, you're so much nicer again". Which I'm pretty sure is a nice way to say, "I'm glad you aren't such a bitch anymore".

It's all about getting the balance right.

Hopefully you'll be seeing a bit more of me around here. I sure do miss you and I miss writing.