Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Bipostennial Celebration (yes, I just made up that word)

Welcome to my 200th post!!! To celebrate, I thought I'd highlight my favorite post from each month over the past year. Which works out nicely since it's almost 2010, and therefore this post can double as my obligatory "Reflections on 2009" post. Isn't that fortuitous?

Without further ado, here they are:

January:  Overheard on the Baby Monitor
        
February:  Princess of Profanity

March:  In Defense of Jumbo

April:  Darwin Would be Proud

May:  Parenting Dilemmas
         
June:  On Parenting Identical Twins

July:  Hard Workin' Twins

August:  If You Like Pina Coladas

September:  Another Reason to Love Having Twins

October:  First!

November:  The Bug

December:  The Christmas Moose
              
It's been a fun and fabulous year!  Here's hoping that 2010 provides more laughs, a little less craziness and ZERO diapers!!!!  A mom of two year old twins can dream, can't she?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Picture is Worth a 1000 Words

As I was going through my various holiday pics tonight, I realized that the below photo, which was taken immediately after Ashley's preschool Christmas pageant, describes my children's personalities to a T right now. 

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As you can see, Owen is acting crabby.  And that about sums up Owen at the moment.  Oh, the hard life of a two year old...being asked to smile for the camera, having your teeth brushed against your will, having to listen to your mama sing the Itsy Bitsy Spider when you already told her telepathically that you wanted to hear The ABC Song instead.  The egregious slights!  The lack of dignity!  The disrespect of personal boundaries!  How will he ever survive?

Moving on to Aidan....oh, look at how happy and jolly he is.  And, he's saying "ho ho ho!" just like I asked him to before I snapped the picture.  See - this is one of the problems with having twins.  They are never in a good mood at the same time.  My guys tend to go in phases...two weeks on, two weeks off.  Just about the time I'll be ready to ship Owen off to boarding school, he'll turn all sweet again and Aidan will begin his fast descent into the inner circle of toddler hell.  By my calculations, we currently have about 6 days left of Ornery Owen before Angsty Aidan begins to take his place.

And then there's Ashley.  Oh, my Ashley.  Full of verve and pluck and joie de vivre and manic arm movements.  Which sounds like fun, but can get awfully exhausting after about, oh, ten minutes.  Tonight I had to threaten her with a time-out to get her to stop singing "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" so her brothers could finally fall asleep.  Damn that Barbie karaoke machine!!  Although I must admit I was humming along under my breath.

So yes, the picture above really does provide a snapshot of my children's personalities at the moment. And although I probably won't frame it or use it as next year's Christmas card, I will look back on it fondly as I remember how we survived this crazy time in our lives.  Either that or I'll tape it to my cubby at the asylum.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Greatest Preschool Christmas Pageant Ever

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Oy, what a Christmas.  I suppose I'll get to recapping it one of these days.

But first, I must tell the tale of the "Greatest Preschool Christmas Pageant Ever," starring who else but my favorite four-year old...Ashley.

Scott and I had known the Christmas pageant was in the works for awhile, mainly because it was highlighted via various handouts sent home over the course of the month, which is helpful for parents like us who forget to read the monthly calendar until the last minute.  That being said, the handouts merely confirmed what we already suspected, since the school had also hosted little shindigs for Halloween and Thanksgiving.   Both of those were very simple affairs, with the kids basically lining up and singing songs with various hand motions and the like, so we expected the same from the Christmas pageant.  We tried to ask Ashley about it, but she wouldn't spill anything.  The closest I got to getting any deets was when she messed up and sang twinkle twinkle "Christmas Star" instead of "Little Star" when we were singing the boys to sleep one night. 

"Aha!  So they taught you to sing "Twinkle Twinkle Christmas Star" for the preschool pageant!"

"No mommy, I just know that song all by myself."

She is a tough nut to crack, that Ashley.

Speaking of nuts, we were also supposed to bring cookies for the little party that they were planning to hold after the Christmas pageant was over.  But because the preschool is a peanut-free zone, Scott and I struggled mightily in selecting which type of cookie to bring.  We dug out the preschool handbook and tried to make heads or tails out of what kinds of cookies were prohibited - could we bake our own nut-less cookies?  But look here, it says something about how snacks need to be pre-packaged.  But this is a cookie party, not snack time.  But do we want to be responsible for inflicting peanut injuries on Christmas?  What about those nice packages of store bakery cookies - do those count as pre-packaged?   Maybe we should stick to a snack cookie...just to be safe.  But shouldn't we bring something nicer than a snack cookie??  It's the Christmas pageant for crying out loud!!

Who knew preschool could be so complicated.

Eventually, we settled on a box of Nilla Wafers.  Which seemed like a perfectly logical and safe choice, until I actually put the wafers on my decorative plastic plate and realized just how pathetic they looked.  After a hotly contested internal debate, I decided I'd rather be the lame mom who "forgot" to bring cookies to the Christmas pageant instead of the lame mom who brought a box of Nilla Wafers and called it a day. And I stand by that choice, because the cookie selection at the party would have made my Nilla Wafer tray look very sad indeed.  Let me tell you, it was quite a spread.  I'm sure they were all delicious, too, but I don't know for sure since I didn't eat any - I may be lame, but I'm not a mooch.  Also, I knew I had a plateful of Nilla Wafers back home waiting for me.

But prior to the post-pageant party, we had to first make it through the pageant itself.  Once we were seated, Scott passed me the program with a smile on his face and said:

"Did you see who Ashley's playing?"

I smiled back at him and thought, oh my gosh, the kids are actually going to put on a little play???  I just thought they were going to sing songs!  My mind started to run wild...could it be, that Ashley was given the role coveted by Catholic little girls all over the world?  Could she be...I could barely contain my excitement here...Mary, the mother of baby Jesus himself???  She has the long brown hair, she certainly doesn't suffer from stage fright, and she's kinda/sorta gentle with her baby dolls....it made perfect sense!  Ashley was going to be Mary!  (Although I'm mostly non-practicing now, Catholicism was burned into my brain at an early age.  Therefore, the thought of playing Mary in a nativity scene is only slightly less exciting to me than the thought of appearing in a starring role on Broadway.  And yes, I feel guilty for writing that).

I scanned the program, looking for Ashley's name.  But what's this?  A little girl named Hannah is playing Mary.  Hmph.  I'm sure her mother is very proud.  Well, fine, Ashley is too young to play a pregnant lady anyway...maybe next year.  I bet she's an angel.  Look, there's Mackenzie from Ashley's class...she's an angel.  Where's Ashley's name?  Huh, I guess she's not an angel.  Is she a shepherd?  The innkeeper?  A wise man?

Then I saw my baby's name waaaaaaaay down at the bottom of the page, listed under the following role:

Door Slammer

Yes, a door slammer.  I did not know "door slammers" were included in the story of Jesus's birth.  Apparently that part was left out when I was in Catholic school.  I only had a few moments to ponder what a door slammer might be doing at a nativity scene, when the play started.

I soon realized that a door slammer was essentially a sound effects person, as every time someone entered or left the innkeeper's abode Ashley slammed two blocks together to make a big "door slamming" noise.  Let me tell you, it was a key part of the action.  Without that sound effect, the audience wouldn't have known that the innkeeper was getting crabby at the shepherds and wisemen et al. who kept stopping by to ask for directions to the stable.  And if we didn't know that the innkeeper was crabby, we wouldn't have fully appreciated his change of heart when he realized, lo and behold, it was baby jesus who was causing all the hoopla. 

I had to admit, Ashley was perfectly casted.  The enthusiasm with which she slammed those blocks together, the glint in her eye as the sound echoed throughout the church...it was as if she was born to play the role of the door slammer.  I wonder how her teachers knew???? 

Wait...don't answer that.

Monday, December 21, 2009

If the Shoe Fits...

Oh, prom.  You were just how I remembered you, only with more alcohol.  I'm too tired for a full recap, but for those of you on the edge of your seats re: the great pantyhose debate....



I just couldn't do it.  So I invested in these bad boys from DSW.  And the sheer hose kept my legs toasty warm, which I know to be true because my arms (which were not covered in hose) were all chilly. 

Hey, new fashion idea!  Sheer hose for your arms!  Although then there would be great debate and angry divided internet camps over whether or not arm hosiery must be accompanied by appropriate handwear.  So it's probably not worth it.

Stay tuned for more fashion dilemmas brought to you courtesy of my blog - e.g., "Do these boots make me look like a pirate?"  Also, "Are these sweatpants or pajamas?"  I know - it just keeps getting more and more exciting around here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Great Panty Hose Debate

Stop the presses, everyone.  I have been struggling with something today.  Something of dire importance.  And I need your help.

I have on my hands what some people like to call a "fashion emergency."  Or a "potential wardrobe malfunction." Or a "panty hose predicament."  (I made that last one up myself). 

Here's the thing.  As mentioned in my last post, I'm going to prom on Saturday.  And I forgot that I need to wear shoes (there's always something...)

Now, granted, I could go to DSW and buy some new shoes.  They even sent me a nice little $5 off coupon the other day for my birthday.  But two things I am lacking in this week are both (i) time; and (ii) money in excess of a $5 coupon, which does not fare well for a mid-week shoe shopping spree.

So I want to make do with something I already have in my closet.  And, lo and behold, what did I find in there this evening?  These gorgeous black sparklies, that's what. 

Ooh, I love a good sparkly.  

Now, you may have noticed that these heels would be classified as being in the sandal family.  And you may have noticed in the "about me" section of my blog that I live in the midwest.  Which is covered in snow at the moment.  And is very, very, very cold. 

So, against all better judgment and the limited fashion sense I have, I'm considering wearing...brace yourselves...sheer hose.  With open toed shoes.

Oh no, she didn't!

(Well, I might do it).

Ugh ugh ugh.  I've been googling this all night without getting anywhere.  The internet camps regarding the open toe shoe hosiery debate are firmly divided....which I have summarized thusly:

Anti-Hose:  NEVER wear hose with open-toed shoes.  EVER.

Pro-Hose:  It's not the "reinforced toe" kind!  It's the "sandal" kind!  Why would they make a "sandal hose" if you weren't supposed to wear it with sandals?

Anti-Hose:  No way, no how.

Pro-Hose:  But it's coooooooold in the midwest!!

Anti-Hose:  Tough.

Pro-Hose:  But I'll tuck the tiny seam under my toes so you can't even tell!

Anti-Hose:  Forget it.

Pro-Hose:  Everybody else will be doing it.

Anti-Hose:  You are an embarassment to open toed shoes everywhere.

You see my dilemma?

I want to wear the sparkly shoes.  At the same time, I do not want my toes to turn purple and fall off mid-prom.  I think that would be a mood-killer, don't you?  But I don't know if I have it in me to commit a fashion faux pas of this magnitude.

So I see my choices as follows: 

(a)  Wear the sparklies with a sheer hose, tuck the seam, and pray that there are no anti-hose protesters at the prom

(b)  Wear the sparklies without hose, and accept the risks of frostbite and hypothermia

(c)  Suck it up and go to DSW and buy a pair of closed toe shoes.  Or maybe peep toe?  Can you wear hose with peep toe shoes?

(d)  Spend some more time googling the issue whilst eating Ghiradelli Peppermint Bark.  Dang, that stuff is good.

Feel free to share your advice in the comments.  :-)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Young at Heart if not in Digits

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My birthday is this week. I used to looooooove birthdays. But now that I'm in my thirties?

Not so much.

But aging can't be helped. So I half-heartedly try to embrace it. (Half-heartedly because the other half of my heart is fervently hoping that the $20 I just dropped on Olay regenerist night cream will work a miracle on my finely lined face).

Oh, who am I kidding. I only quarter-heartedly try to embrace aging. Okay, fine... one-eighth-heartedly, tops. The other seven-eighths of me is is protesting against aging with all the energy I can muster (which, frankly, isn't that much...because I'm oooooooooold).

But here's what I've been able to come up with so far to keep myself fairly young at heart, if not young in digits.

1. I saw New Moon in the movie theatre (twice).

2. My favorite song on the radio right now is Whatcha Say, followed closely by Replay.

3. I giggled and giggled and giggled at the "Shy Ronnie" digital short on SNL last weekend. Still giggling.

4. We're getting a Wii for Christmas and I am soooooo flipping excited.

Note that all of my attempts to stay young so far just involve various forms of media - movies, music, tv, video games. I think I'm already too far gone to actually do any young physical activities.

Except for one.

5. I'm going to prom this weekend.

Granted, "prom" is actually a client's black-tie holiday gala/fundraiser. But it's out of town, and my firm is springing for a hotel for the night so Scott and I can attend. There will be dinner, alcohol, dancing, Scott will be wearing a tux, and I will be wearing this little ditty:

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That's enough to qualify as a prom, in my book.

Although there are a few key difference between this prom and the proms I attended of yesteryear: (a) there is no curfew at this prom; and (b) I actually like my date.

Maybe being an adult isn't half bad. Or seven-eighths bad, depending on how you slice it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Blizzards and Bad Jokes

There is currently a blizzard raging outside of my house. It makes me want to wear footie pajamas and curl up with a cup of hot chocolate. It made Scott want to go play Tiger Woods PGA Tour on our neighbor's Wii. Maybe the footie pajamas freaked him out?

The blizzard is turning into a rager, so I texted him to come home ASAP because I'm scared. Plus, Tiger has had enough play the last few months, don't you think?

He replied that he's on the 14th hole and he'll be home right after. I'll bet that's what Tiger said, too.

Ooh, I'm on a roll.

Who knew that a blizzard could bring out my stand up comedienne side? Don't get me started...don't even get me started.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

World TTTS Awareness Day - Our Journey with Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome

World TTTS Awareness Day
I don't know if I've ever really talked about my twin pregnancy on my blog, but let me tell you...it was a hair raiser.

When I was about 18 weeks along, I was diagnosed with twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS). TTTS is a condition that can develop during an identical twin pregancy if the two babies share a single placenta. Basically, one twin gets too much blood flow from the shared placenta, while the other doesn't get enough. This can lead to the death of both twins if it remains untreated.

My case was a pretty severe one. Because Aidan was getting too much blood flow, his heart was starting to fail from having to work so hard to pump the extra blood circulating through his system. And Owen wasn't growing as well as he should have been. And due to all the extra fluid I was carrying, I was huge and at risk of my water breaking...I was already measuring as if I were 36 weeks pregnant when I was only 21 weeks along.

I ultimately had to have in utero fetal laser surgery to try to sever the blood vessels in the placenta that the boys were sharing. We were given a 58% chance of both boys surviving it. I truly believe with all my heart that if we hadn't had this surgery, the boys would not be with us today. And my life would be very, very different.

One moment from the day of the surgery stands clear in my mind. Scott wasn't allowed in the OR, so he kissed me goodbye and I was wheeled in alone. Although not completely alone, because I had my baby boys with me. The anesthesiologist gave me an epidural, and I laid back on the table with my arms spread out beside me, starting at the bright lights above. I had the choice to either stay awake or be put to sleep for the surgery, and I had chosen to stay awake.

But then my blood pressure dropped, and I got very dizzy, and even though I was trying to be strong and brave, it all overcame me at that moment and I started to sob. The anesthesiologist asked me if I'd changed my mind about staying awake, and I said yes because I was worried my crying would somehow unsettle the boys or distract the surgeons. So they gave me some medicine to put me to sleep.

But before I drifted off, I stared up at the lights again, and I prayed. I prayed to God to let me keep my baby boys. Oh, please God, let me keep my baby boys.

And when I woke up, the boys were still there. And they were there the next day, and the day after that. And they were still there 15 weeks later when I finally gave birth to them when I was almost 36 weeks along.
I don't know why I was so lucky that day and for the remainder of my pregnancy. It would be easy to say that it was all God's doing, but I can't...because so many women don't have the same outcome that I did. And I refuse to believe in a God who would spare one woman's much-wanted babies while allowing another's to pass. Instead, I believe in a God who lets the world work its own way out of things...but who is present to comfort those who ask for it and are open to receiving it. And I was comforted that day.

I do know I will always be in debt to the doctors and surgeons who monitored me throughout my pregnancy and gave me and my boys the best care imaginable. And I am indebted to the TTTS Foundation, which gave me the tools to educate myself about TTTS and seek out the type of care that I received.

December 7th is World TTTS Awareness Day. And while my journey with TTTS is now over, I'll never forget what we went through. And I'll never stop hoping that one day no other mothers will have to go through it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Christmas Moose

So, I heard about this cute Christmas tradition from one of my friends the other day. It's called "Elf on the Shelf". Have you heard of it?
Apparently, you can buy this cute little book with elf included for $49.99 from Amazon. Then once it arrives, you tell your kids that the elf is really a "scout" sent by Santa to see if they're being good or bad. The elf sits on your shelf during the day and gathers information for the man in red, and then flies back to the North Pole at night to report back his findings. And there's a trick - the parents are then supposed to move the elf to another shelf before the kids wake up the next morning so they actually believe the whole shebang. If you do all of this correctly, you can then threaten your kids throughout the day that "The elf is watching!!!" whenever they act inappropriately.

I like it.

But I do not like that price tag. So I decided to explain the whole concept to the kids using my own mad creative story-telling skills, and then sent Scott off to Target to buy a cheaper elf to put on our shelf. He called me shortly thereafter to report that he hadn't been able to find any cheap stuffed elves at Target. So instead, he bought a stuffed moose with a wintery scarf.

Unfortunately, moose does not rhyme with shelf. But that's okay...we could work with this. And really, how many shelves do people own anyway? One of those days we would have run out of a shelf on which to put our elf, and then where would we be?

So instead of having an elf on the shelf, we dubbed our Santa scout...."The Christmas Moose." The children were all duly impressed. So much so, that Ashley began to have a panic attack when Scott reminded her that "The Christmas Moose is watching!!!!!" when she began to engage in some behavior that Santa would have classifed as naughty rather than nice.

She asked him, "Daddy, can I ask the Christmas Moose not to tell Santa what I just did?"

Scott replied, "Well, you can ask him, Ashley. But it's up to the moose on whether he tells Santa or not."

Ashley quietly approached the moose (which was not sitting on a shelf, if you're curious). She looked up at it and said "Moose, please don't tell Santa I was being bad." The Moose looked down at her silently. Ashley nodded as if he'd spoken to her telepathically, and said "Mmm hmm. Okay."

Before we could realize that the tables had been turned, Ashley continued her conversation.

"Moose, can I have a piece of candy? Mmm hmm. Okay."

She then turned to Scott, who was just now beginning to catch on, and said "Daddy, the moose said I can have some candy."

And now for the moral of the story:

As with any type of weapon, you must always maintain control over your Christmas Moose. Otherwise it may end up being used against you by highly creative and devious children.