Tuesday, September 30, 2008


You may or may not have noticed that I generally post on Tuesday. That is because the older ducklings are generally at Grandma's house on Tuesday. The past two weeks that did not take place. Hence even less opportunity to sit down and post than usual. I find that posts benefit from a certain amount of percolation, but after awhile they just dissolve. So most of the brilliant things I have thought about in the last few weeks have simply vanished, never to return. Or perhaps they have dissipated into the brain but will slosh about and crystallize at another time.

There are some economies of scale in a larger family (I speak here in the Time and Effort department. Money is DOB's concern.) It takes just as long to make a pot of oatmeal for two people as it does for six people. It takes just as much time to sweep up a dirty floor tracked upon by four little feet as by two.

Seasonal clothing changes are not subject to economies of scale. I only just realized this. It takes twice as long to trade out clothes for four children as it does for two, and is rather more than twice the effort in the box-moving department. And when the two smaller ones are likely to go through two whole sizes before the arrival of spring, that does complicate things. Also it turns out the hand-me-down wardrobes have glaring inadequacies, such as a complete lack of sleepers in one size. (In D4's case, I think this is due to being in a different season than D2; in D3's case I can only conclude I borrowed most of D1's clothes and had to return them.)

D4 continues to wow people with his knack for rolling over--he had everyone in the nursery (and our church nursery is quite the crowd these days) watching him show off on Sunday. But D3 has moved up to "Real Person" status in DOB's eyes by carrying on a conversation with him. Her part consisted of repeating the word, "uhhh-oooh" with deep sincerity.

The other day the mail consisted of nothing but two glossy advertisements--one for a children's clothing company, one looking like a black leather wallet for a mortgage company. I gave the clothes one to D1 and the wallet to D2. He smiled and said, "I love black mail!"


D2 has now officially turned three, after being "almost three" in my mind for some time. Not in his. On Sunday he was Two. On Monday he was Three. Now he is big, unless, of course, he wants to be picked up, in which case he discovers that he is conveniently still little. (My arms tell me otherwise.)

We celebrated by taking lunch (an imaginative combination of cheese sticks, carrot sticks, bread, and grapes--but there were cupcakes. Callipiddar cupcakes.) to the park overlooking the river that has the duck pond. He got to climb the hill in the woods, feed the ducks, and watch barges on the river.

His head is so full of words now that they get into traffic jams on the way out. He can dress himself, but he still likes help. He loves hearing and acting out stories, especially the Three Billy Goats Gruff: "Who's that crossing over my bridge?"

Monday, September 22, 2008

Housework Forecast: Light and Spotty

There is a time for everything. I have wasted some time and aggravation learning this, trying to interest children in some activity only to have them design their own version six months later, bemoaning our lack of outside time in February and our lack of crafty projects in May.

But I'm starting to learn to take things when they come. And when the mornings are cool and the afternoons warm and the sun shines day after day and the yard is dry and the bugs not too aggressive--it's time to play outside.

Someone should tell the house that, so it would not do things like spilling honey all through the cupboard necessitating a deep clean.

But take fair warning: anything that doesn't have to be done right away, won't be done until the fall rains come.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day! D3 is awaiting rescue, having been kidnapped by a villainous crew.
So far today we've read pirate poetry, gone to the park in costume, gathered treasure for our ship, been marooned on a desert island and built a hut from driftwood.

Still on the day's agenda: pizza from ye Sandwiche Islands, YouTube video clips from Pirates of Penzance, and a treasure hunt.

Well, why not?

The Mind Boggles

Not up to date on baby gear? Neither am I. I had no idea you could get a special timer just for remembering when you last fed, changed, napped, or otherwise interacted with the baby.

I'm not much on keeping track of things. By three days I haven't entirely given up on the chart from the hospital, but everything I write on it is entirely fabricated. I know I fed them sometime. They'll remind me if I forget to do it again. I probably forgot to change them, but I'll remember when they start dripping.

Of course there are people out there who keep those charts for months. They probably wouldn't use the timer that much either, as it doesn't have archives for the truly obsessive record keeper.

I'm still not sure why you would need a timer for something that comes with its own built-in alarm . . .

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Clouds and Wind Without Rain

On Sunday it seemed rather breezy out. I tucked the tarp under the stroller extra-carefully, and an hour later it blew past the window. (Fortunately only to the back yard.) DOB looked on the internet and discovered a few people in our local area were without power.

Poor souls, we thought, and went on our merry way.

Then our power went out. Apparently we got struck, rather unexpectedly, by the tail end of Ike. By Sunday evening, ninety percent of the people in our county were without power.

Clearly I have lived in the city too long. When I was a child, I was conditioned to start running gallons of water the instant the wind picked up. This time, it didn't even occur to me to get some easily-consumed food out of the refrigerator.

Of course water is not as much of a concern when you're on city water instead of a well with electric pump. And with a gas water heater, we even had hot water. So no getting out of doing the dishes (alas!) but we still had showers (hooray!). On the other hand, the prolonged power outages of my childhood were associated with winter storms, usually ice storms, and keeping food cool was of little concern, whereas it was our primary problem this time. (And since we had a wood stove, cooking it was no problem either, but that also is a difficulty now).

It's a good thing I hadn't yet made up my mind to get rid of the fondue pot. It makes a decent bean soup, and we had an awesome sausage-cheese dip for supper. Some friends came by with a portable generator to run our refrigerator and freezer for half an hour, so I was able to pull a little food out of the fridge to cook for supper.

Temperatures were down in the low seventies, so there really weren't any other difficulties. Children can roll in the mud just as happily with the power out. I did miss watching a movie or reading through the babies' late evening non-stop feeding time. My admiration increases for mothers of twins who lived before electricity.

At four-thirty this morning I heard the house fan begin to purr again and peeked out the window to see that the street light was back on.

Now today's job is deciding which of the contents of the refrigerator and freezer are beyond repair and which need to be eaten promptly. I think the chest freezer survived fairly well--the meat was all down at the bottom and it was quite full--but I have an uneasy feeling about the ice cream in the freezer upstairs. Considering the damage on all sides, and worse things further south, I should not feel too bad about losing a couple half-gallons of ice cream.

But when one of them was Breyers' Triple Chocolate, it's still hard.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I am not ready for this

When I left the room to grab the camera, they were in the same position. Every time I set him tummy-down on the Boppy, he climbs over it. Sometimes he flips while he's at it.
I think I must have taken too many vitamins when I was pregnant.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

25 Home Decorating Mistakes

According to HGTV. I've never had a toilet rug. Or a plastic couch cover. And I'm not afraid of color (although I might be guilty of too much).

But I freely confess to having too many bookcases for the walls. So much the worse for the walls. And all the furniture is up against the walls, because otherwise there would be nowhere to walk. Which is somewhat important.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Threat

I understand that modern readers are jaded by television's pacing and need some action up front. I get that you can't ramble around for three chapters before getting to the actual story like a nineteenth-century novelist. Even I get impatient with some of those nineteenth-century novelists.

But is it really necessary to put the murder in the first line and then dump in backstory with a backhoe? Couldn't we stroll around Lord Frogmorton's ball for a few minutes and mingle before the body is discovered? Instead we wind up racing to the phone, while somehow managing to reminisce on the way about the personal history of everyone we pass. Absurd.

So, to modern novelists, I offer three options: 1) Spend a wee bit of time on setup. Write it well and people will hang around until someone dies. 2) Write your backstory sensibly. Let it unfold within the story instead of dumping it all off at the first opportunity. If you can't do either then, 3) Know that I will toss your book across the room and refuse to read past the first three pages.

Of course, since I'm not buying the books anyway, the modern novelist probably doesn't give a hoot what I think.

Changing Out

Today I swapped the 0-3 month clothes for the 3-6 month size. It is the first nostalgically sad (as opposed to I-haven't-slept-in-three-days sad) moment of parenting for me, since I never can get worked up over not being pregnant anymore. But tucking away all those cute little sleepers which will never fit again, that's a little sad. Yes, it's like a soppy Carter's ad.

Fortunately it's immediately followed by getting out cute new clothes and, in the case of many of them, reminiscing about when D1 or D2 wore this. I have an absurd amount of clothing in this size, since it's the size most people give gifts in. I could clothe triplets (two girls, one boy: Girl clothes are cuter and D1 got to the presents first). The new size is still a little baggy, which is good when worn by someone whose diaper regularly expands significantly.

But here's an important question: Is D4's shirt too girly? It makes such a nice (if somewhat Freudian) coordinating set, but it is light purple polkadots.

Like-Minded People

I have never walked out of a church service, but I did come close to throwing up in one for similar reasons. (Later that week I discovered D1 was on the way, which probably affected why my distaste took that particular form.)

What's sad and funny is the number of people who replied to that post saying in effect, "We're people like you, come see us!" or, "We want to reach out to people like you, what can we do?"

Which is exactly not the point.

It's an icky feeling to walk into a church and find yourself pegged as a target demographic. Young professionals, married with children. Check. Let's plug you in! Like a toaster. I am not a toaster.

I suspect a lot of people grew up despising their parents' strict and legalistic churches and so determined to be different anyway they could figure out. But cooler-than-thou is no closer to the gospel than holier-than-thou.

When we were first hunting for churches we also despaired that we would ever find a church that was just about being a church. Where the sermons would be about the Bible, not about either How Everyone Else Is Evil or Self-Help With Jesus. Where we would not settle into a comfy little spot with people just like us.

The thing that attracted us to our church was that it was full of people who were not like us. And not because they are busy trying to be cool and relevant. Nor because the church is trying to "reach out" to a particular demographic, but because they treat anyone who walks in the door as a person, not a statistic.

That's not always comfortable. Sometimes I wish for a larger buffer of People Like Me between me and the old ladies with (untested!) strong child-rearing opinions, or the random character who seems to be missing a few hymnals from his pew. Sometimes I am not charitable at all.

But I wouldn't even have a chance to learn in a church--or a ministry group--full of people like me. I still gravitate towards people of similar age, education level, and outlook, but fortunately there are few enough that I don't really have the option of staying there. I have to learn to connect with people with whom I have nothing in common except living in the same town and knowing Jesus.

Whether the church at large can be more like that, I don't know. I doubt you can do it in a big church. Anytime you get a large enough group of people freely associating, they start forming cliques. They may be diverse in their outward appearance, but they are always very much alike in outlook. (On the internet this can be even worse. People start identifying themselves based on things like their diapering style.)

It's only in accidents like families and neighborhoods that you can be forced into relationships with people you wouldn't naturally like very much. And so I suspect it's only in rather random small neighborhood churches that you can really see the kind of love that Jesus said would characterize his disciples.

Whatever it is, it can't be done by trying too hard. There's no book to be read or program to follow. Like homemade soup, as soon as you start packaging and selling it, it stops being homemade.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Dreams Come True

I used to say, when I was twenty-one or so, that I would rather just skip over the whole ooky falling-in-love business, the awkward newlywed stage, and just wake up one day to find I'd been married five years.

Saturday it happened.

And I do like it.

Falling in love was not as bad as I feared, but it was still rather unpleasant in spots. Being a newlywed had its good points, but isn't something I would want to repeat.

Now is better. We are starting to feel like a real family, with traditions and favorite dinners and inside jokes.
"Babies are very nice. Goodness knows I like babies. But a baby is not a family."
"Isn't that a fact!" said Father. "A family is everybody all together." (A Baby Sister for Frances)
I am glad, though, that I didn't skip over the last five years. Life moves fast enough without missing parts of it.

We popped popcorn and showed the ducklings our wedding video. D1 was quite excited to finally get a chance to learn how to watch movies. She has been practicing with an empty picture frame so that she would be ready whenever the opportunity arose.

The day was spent (like all the other days right now) taking care of the four extra people whom we have accumulated along the way. It was a good day. But I don't think it diminishes the enjoyment of now to say that I look for even better things in the next five years. Maybe one day we'll be able to get out of the house . . .

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I didn't mean to fish for sympathy

It was more meant as a documentary. Let me hasten to add a few things:

1. D3 and D4 are really very, very easy, healthy babies. One baby with colic or reflux would be far more challenging. And they do both sleep fairly well. It's just that there are two of them and they aren't quite synchronized in when their longest stretch of sleep is. Now that the six-week growth spurt seems to be over, that is getting better, too.

2. Grandma takes D1 and D2 for two nights and a day every week. I realize it sounds ridiculous to think of only having two month old twins as being a break, but at least I can read what I want to read and rest when the babies do. And no one asks me a surreal question even once, let alone fifteen times. DOB also takes one or both of the older two out with him at various points during the week.

3. Nursing hormones are amazing things, as I discovered when I weaned D2 and had to face motherhood without them for the first time. A few minutes of nursing can transform me from "Who are these kids and why are they calling me Mom?" to "Awww, aren't you the cutest widdle fings." I may be delusional and goofy, but I'm happy. (And I'm very grateful to be able to exclusively breastfeed the babies without any complications. I just have to eat a lot. Not a great hardship.)

4. That great big twin nursing pillow allows me to feed the babies hands-free. This means books! Books! And lots of them. (Not very profound books, I'll admit, as those hormones don't do that much for sleep deprivation.) Still, I can be quite happy as long as I have plenty of books. Of course, D1 and D2 have discovered this, too. So the books are not always those of my choice.

5. Although Wondergirl is gone, Cicero is still here a few nights a week, which means help with dinner and dishes and an extra pair of hands to hold babies, much to the relief of our shoulders.

6. Why are we having an easier time with four kids than with one or two? The answer is, we have given up doing everything else. The world at large will have to wait to benefit from our presence for a few years.

7. D2 has potty-trained with amazing ease, and that means only two in diapers. And breastfed babies' diapers are really not so bad, as long as everything stays inside.

Not that a little sympathy--especially if accompanied by chocolate--is unappreciated. But I just wanted to give both sides.

Besides, if there is anything cuter than two sleeping babies, I certainly haven't seen it:

And D1 and D2 are quite a bit of fun to be around, too.