Day 1: Project Grass Desensitization

Objective: Get subjects to accept crawling/walking on grass without screeching or panicking.

Procedure: Took subjects into lawn, with help of assistants (Grandma and Grandpa Haack), sat with them on laps. Allowed/encouraged them to leave laps and attempt grass contact.


Subject 1 (Saoirse) at one minute into the project was sitting on grass without protest. Five minutes into project she was crawling on grass and giggling. Ten minutes in she was excavating a small dirt patch with her fingers intently. See illustration. Consider first trial a success.

Subject 2 (Rowan) refused to voluntarily touch grass with feet at all. When gently lowered into grass, strong protests were made, necessitating termination of contact. Will attempt repeated trials at later date.

What moms do

I recently finished reading a book called "What Moms Do: Especially when it looks like nothing." Great book. The basic premise is that, for several reasons that I won't go into, there really isn't a language to describe what a mother does. All the tasks that go into "mothering" are not named. And, if there are no words, it can't really be communicated, and it's as if it doesn't exist. So when you spend (as I did today) 15 hours alone with your children, from the time they get up until they go to bed, and then someone says, "What did you do today?" the answer is usually "Nothing." But it's NOT nothing. It's a really fascinating book, and I feel like I should buy about a zillion copies and send them to every mother I know.

So, in the spirit of that book, I'm going to tell you what I did today. I monitored, throughout the day, the nutritional intake of two separate kids, with two different body types, appetites, and food preferences, and made sure that they ate enough and at the right times. I analyzed how much they've slept lately, and made plans for their schedule today. Then I woke them up at the right times, and put them down at the right times. Putting them down, of course, is a phrase that hides a bunch of tasks in and of itself. Making bottles, wrangling two kids up the stairs because I had stuff in my hands. Catching them before they made it to the 3rd floor staircase. Tucking them in with blankets and feeding them both a bottle, while cuddling each one and whispering to them, and keeping them from getting up and bugging each other. For the second nap, I spent some time holding Saoirse on my lap with one arm while feeding Rowan with the other. While socializing Saoirse, teaching her that biting is not acceptable, even when our teeth hurt. I refereed dozens of scuffles throughout the day, which involves monitoring all day long their interactions and assessing which ones are acceptable and which require redirection. When I decide to intervene, then there's that task. Intervening. Getting the point across that the behavior is unacceptable. Then soothing and calming and redirecting into some other, better behavior. I changed several diapers per day, per day. All of which now require distraction, and sometimes physical restraint. I bathed two kids, together. This involves more monitoring, paying attention to each kid closely at all times, to make sure that no one slips and whacks their head, or falls underwater. Or turns on the hot water. Or knocks her sister underwater. Or chokes herself while drinking bathwater out of the cup I use to rinse them off (Saoirse). Hmm...I picked up toys all day long. Hundreds of toys, since I had to pick up a lot of them several times. I read books, which really involves keeping two children from eating or tearing the books. (more socialization, teaching them what books are for) I went to pick up dry-cleaning. This meant dressing each kid, carrying two children to the car, etc...Hmm. What else? Oh, right. Play. I played peek-a-boo, sang songs, "chased" them, pushed them around the floor in a box, tickled, etc, etc...all day long.

Okay, I think you get the point. For 15 hours straight, my focus was, at all times, on these kids. Planning, assessing, analyzing, making decisions. And, of course, it's not just one child. It's two, with separate agendas and needs. So, besides the physical work of caring for children, the mental work of responding to the constant needs of two small people is amazing, really. Is it any wonder that after 15 hours of that all I want to do is fall into bed? And this isn't something that just I do. This is what ALL moms do. Whether they stay home or go to work, when they're with their kids, this is what they do. And the truth is, when you're not WITH your kids, the mental work doesn't stop. You're still totally responsible for them. So my question is this: How do you do all this, and still have energy for yourself, or for your husband? Because I will admit, after 15 hours (or even 11-12 on a more typical day) of being constantly on call to take care of the girls' needs, it is not easy for me to refocus once they're in bed on cooking dinner for Chris, or even just listening attentively to what happened to him at work. And I know it's important. But where do moms find the energy to do this?

Memorial Day weekend

We headed to the West Side this weekend with the girls. We were really looking forward to some nice summer weather, visiting with Grandma and Grandpa Haack, and heading to Skeetown for Kevbo's barbecue. We were not disappointed on any front. Finally, the weather felt summery. Chris got to play golf, hang out with friends, watch playoff hockey and basketball, sleep in...honestly, what more could he want?

Rowan and Saoirse got to go to their first party at Kevbo's. Wow, was that weird for Mom and Dad. Kids everywhere, a party in the middle of the day. Very tame for Kevbo's place. Fun, though, to see everyone's cute babies. The girls had a good time.

One interesting thing we discovered this weekend: the girls don't like grass. Rowan REALLY doesn't like it, she picks up her feet and acts panicky if you try to sit her down on it. Because they were so teeny last summer, and the winter is so long in Michigan, they really have been indoor girls until now. I guess I've really got to start working on that, taking them outside more.

Tough day, but this was just what I needed

I don't know what's up with Rowan lately, but there has been a LOT of whining going on around here. And Saoirse is teething again, and she is not happy when she's teething. Of course, when that's how things are going, it's the perfect time for Chris to go play soccer (last night) and to have a late meeting for work (tonight) so that I have them all to myself for a couple of days. So today was verrryyy lllooonnngg. Felt like it would never end.

But, that being said...there was this:

Big day

So today the girls and I went to visit a friend of mine from grad school, Erica. She's got a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old, and we haven't seen each other now in four years. This morning while I'm working on getting the girls and I all dressed, groomed, fed, and ready to leave the house, Rowan is playing with my makeup. She does this every morning while I put my makeup on, for months now. But today, when we actually have somewhere to be, she decides to first pull the cap off a tube of lipstick, stick her finger down the tube, and use it to smear lipstick all over herself. I look over her shoulder (because of course she turns her back to me to do it) and see what she's doing, and I have to take a break to clean her off with wipes, take the lipstick away from her, and commiserate with her that yes, it is frustrating when mommy won't let you put on lipstick (as she lies on the floor screaming). Then I start putting my makeup on again. A minute later I look at her and realize that she has learned how to unscrew the lids off little pots of things. Like, for instance, the long-wearing gel eyeliner that she now has smeared over her arms, legs, belly, face, mouth, and hands. Honestly, I only looked away long enough to powder my face. I carried her to the tile floor, and have to scrub her from head to toe to get that stuff off. It's long-wearing. Once it dries on your skin, it's designed NOT to come off. I scrubbed under her fingernails with a toothbrush, and she still looks like she's been spending a lot of time lately working on cars.

So we were late getting to Erica's house. And still, Rowan was not done with her big day. She decided, apparently, that today was the day to WALK. Yep, that's right. She took a few steps. Several times, while we were there. She was very sturdy, too. No falling. She walked in between things, where there were only a few steps to go. Just inched her way along. I imagine that when Saoirse decides to do it, it's going to be a lot more exuberant, just flinging herself into space and hoping for dear life that momentum carries her. But not Rowan. She was careful and calm, scoping out the situation and deciding that she could do, and then trying it out carefully, one foot out, then pulling the other even...then another foot out. Almost sliding the feet along the floor. Testing. I didn't even want to cheer, for fear that if I called attention to her doing it, she'd stop. Like in the old Road Runner cartoons, where the characters can just walk out into the air, as long as they don't look down and realize they're doing it. So far, 4 steps is her record. I'll try to catch it on video over the next couple of days, so I can post it.

Saoirse, meanwhile, continued her theme of sweetness by hugging and kissing Erica, her daughter Maya, and their cat, Karma, while we were visiting. And she's never met any of them before today.

A new friend

We visited friends today to see their new son. I hadn't really been around a newborn since the girls were born. I wondered if a full-term baby would seem kind of big to me. I mean, this baby we visited today was bigger at birth than both of my girls put together. But nope, he still seemed SO teeny to me. And it was funny to see the girls with him. It really highlighted that they are toddlers, not babies. For a while, the adults sat in the living room and talked while Saoirse and Rowan both went into the playroom with our friends' 3 year old son and played. Just like that. No grown-ups required. Periods like that are brief, of course. But the fact that it can happen at all seems like a miracle.
Saoirse, especially, loved the new baby. She's such a sweet kid, really. I was surprised on their birthday that both girls hugged and kissed their new babydolls. And Saoirse has been doing that with the doll ever since. But she's never seen a little baby, I didn't know if they would even be interested. But she loved him. As you can see.

Holding one this size seems so easy. :)

I didn't believe it until it happened to me

Before I had kids, people said things like, "Yes, having babies is painful, but afterwards you just forget the pain." Now THAT, I'm here to tell you, is bullshit. You do not forget it. Or at least, I don't. Now, do I think that it was worth it to have these little munchkins in my life? Yes. But I will never forget it. There are a lot of dumb things that people say, and I mostly dismiss them as just being something that gets repeated without people really thinking about it. I thought that when people said, "Once your babies get to be toddlers, you'll miss having little tiny ones, and you'll want more." it was just another one of those things. Because I thought I wanted lots of kids, but then I had these two and I, I really didn't understand what I was saying. Two children is A LOT of children. And being pregnant is really hard. Or at least it was for me. Puking, and wanting to puke pretty much every minute that I was awake, heartburn from day 1, pains in parts of body that just shouldn't hurt, waking up every 2 hours to pee, let alone hospitalizations, months of contractions, months spent on my couch... I could go on and on, but I think I get my point across. I really thought that once was probably enough. And newborns did nothing to change my mind. The exhaustion...(oh God, the exhaustion), and the colic, and the mindblowing responsibility...I just didn't think I could take it all again.

But lately...well, the girls are so much fun now. Really. Chris has been bugging me to hire a babysitter and take more time off during the week, and I just haven't gotten around to it. Because the days are alright. At some point I'd like some more time to myself, yes. And I should hire a babysitter so the girls can get to know someone else, for those times that we do need to go somewhere. But the other day when Chris asked me if I thought I'd like to go back to work at some point, I said...well, I'm glad I'm not now, because I'd miss so much during the days if I did. And I meant it. And that is quite a change. I used to stare longingly at him leaving in the morning while I held a baby (or two) and dreaded the 8 hours before we saw him again. Now it's routinely more like 11 hours, and most of it's enjoyable. They play, and they're silly, and I swear they get cuter every day.

And this week, I was going through old photos of the last year, putting together a book of our lives since the girls were born. And seeing how little and cute they were...oh, those chubby little cheeks, and those little milky smiles...doing it all again didn't sound nearly as bad.

Brangelina's jumping on the bandwagon....

So it was confirmed that Angelina and Brad are actually having twins. And not only in Star, I actually saw video of Angelina saying it herself. And, as another twin mom in my MoM group said, "Twins are the new black."

In honor of this, here's my favorite pregnancy photo, to show you how I stack up to Angelina. ;)
Oh yeah....we make this twin pregnancy thing look good.

365 Days!!!!

Wow. So yesterday was the girls' first birthday. I meant to post yesterday. I had big, ambitious plans for a nice birthday post, complete with a recap, letters to the girls. You know, poignant little reminiscing. But it didn't happen. That seems pretty apropos. One of the most salient things in my memories of this first year of parenting twins is that you just don't get as much done as you thought you would. You plan and dream and see how you'd like it to go in your mind. But real life just keeps intruding. And I'm mostly too busy mothering these little ones to write about mothering them.
Their birthday and Mother's Day were the same this year, obviously. It was a little strange that way, because it meant that 3 out of the 4 people in our family were having a special day. Poor Chris, trying to spoil us all at once. I got to sleep in, and didn't have to do much work all day. I even got a nap, and a shower. Ooohh...both in the same day. Serious luxury. :)
The girls were seriously goofy with all the excitement. They spent most of the day showing off, being silly. They loved getting presents, even though it was overwhelming. So much stuff, they couldn't even focus. But this was the first holiday where they enjoyed the gifts more than the wrapping paper, at least. And then, of course, there was cake. Cherry-vanilla cupcakes and vanilla ice cream. Rowan dove in to the cake, she was pretty intense about it. Saoirse took her time, and really barely ate any. So funny to see the differences between them.

Look at these little ones, can you believe this is what a year does?

Random stuff

Rowan is trying some new things this week. For one thing, she has now attempted to take a step a couple of times. One step on Tuesday, one step on Wednesday. At this rate, the kid will be able to walk across the room by the time she's five. :) Just kidding, she's not even one, a step is good. She's not in a hurry about it, though, which surprises me. She's been standing independently for so long, I was sure she would have walked by now. She's also figured out talking on the phone. For a long time now, both girls have been fascinated by phones. But they mostly try to put them in their mouths. This week Rowan holds them up to her ear and babbles. Occasionally she'll try to put one in her mouth, and I say no...and she shakes her head back at me. That's new too. Neither one actually says words yet, but Rowan has learned how to signal "no." Another sign the toddler years are here.

I took the girls to the mall with me this week. I went looking for something for them, which we did not find. But while we were there, hiding out from a rainstorm, I decided to shop for myself. Over the last few years, clothes have been a trial for me. First I was trying to get pregnant, which didn't seem like a good time to buy a bunch of clothes. Then I was pregnant. Since then my weight has changed pretty much constantly, and I'm really limited in what I can wear. The girls used to throw up all the time, now they smear food on me with those sticky little hands. Plus, I spend a lot of time crawling around on the floor. So my wardrobe for the last year has pretty much consisted of jeans, workout pants, and either long or short sleeved t-shirts. It's depressing. So I bought myself some grown-up clothes. I guess it's a signal to myself that this first year of intense mothering that leaves nothing unchanged is ending, and I have to start redefining myself. Who I am, now that I'm a mom. Not a brand new mom, this isn't temporary. So it's time to start dressing like a grown-up, at least occasionally. It was also the first time I took the girls with me and tried on clothes without someone else to watch them. The stroller is too big for the stalls, so I took them out and let them crawl around on the dressing room floors. They loved it. Saoirse loved it so much, she crawled out under the walls of the stall in Ann Taylor to visit some other ladies trying on clothes. By the time I got clothes on and got to her, she was three stalls over. Luckily, it was a women's store, so people took it well and just commented on how cute she is. Shopping with two almost-toddlers is tiring, and it is a lot slower than shopping alone or with girlfriends. But we had a pretty successful afternoon, and that's one more thing down that we've done just the three of us and lived to tell about it.


You know how sometimes people intervene in Nature, and they think they're doing a good thing, but then it turns out that they didn't really understand what they were doing and really they just should have minded their own business? Yeah...I feel like that with the girls a lot. Earlier this afternoon, the three of us were in the playroom and I had to change Saoirse's diaper. While she was lying there, Rowan crawled over and started smacking her on the forehead. Not hard enough to hurt, but still...I was reaching for Rowan's hand to stop her, and Saoirse cracked up laughing. Apparently she considered it a game, and Mom was just being uptight. They both giggled like crazy.
I make the same error at times over their struggles over toys. Of course, they take toys from each other all the time. They're too young to get that this is a problem. Sometimes it happens right in front of me, and I tell them no and give it back to the original owner. Only, a lot of times, if I'm patient and just watch, they work it out. Either the original one just takes it back, or they just grab something else. Sometimes they essentially trade. I actually have to intervene because someone's crying or about to get injured like 10% of the time. But which 10%?...that's the tough question. Sometimes I misjudge, and when I do...well, Saoirse ends up with bitemarks on her arm. :(