Thursday, December 31, 2009

Slam Dunk

I remember watching my parents on Christmas morning. They stumbled out of bed, questioned if Santa “really came”, and dragged on and on while making coffee. I used to ask them why they rarely got gifts. They said that “they didn’t need it… Christmas was for the children.”

I remember thinking that they were crazy.

And slow.

On Christmas Eve, I started the girl’s night routine a little early. Brad had a gig on the north side of town, so it was just me and the girls to prep for Santa. We set out a plate of cookies and milk. We also set out a plate of carrots and celery for the reindeer (they do get awfully hungry, you know).

I put the girls down to bed and reviewed the whole “Santa is coming to the house tonight” story with them.

Around 9:30pm, my mom and I set out the gifts. At 10pm, I heard the sounds of drawers opening and closing.
When I went into the girl’s room, the light was on and Ana was getting dressed.

“Ana… baby… what are you doing?”

“Um… Santa came… and left presents!”

“No, baby. It is night time. You can’t get up until the sun comes up.”

Guess who got up when the sun came up?

The girls were both dressed and ready to go when I walked in their room. We looked at all of the gifts under the tree, looked at the stockings and discovered that Santa ate the cookies and drank the milk.

(*Interesting note, here. I sat down to eat the cookies and drink the milk when my mother asked, "Maura, honey... what are you doing? You don't really eat them - put them back in the bag! Pour the milk back into the container." Some remnant of childhood cried out in horror. WHAT? You never DRANK the MILK? I checked the glass! "Maura... I hate milk. I always poured it out."


Back to Christmas morning...
The girls wandered in confusion for awhile as I got my coffee and got things together.

I told them to go wake up their Daddy. I followed up and watched them pounce on Brad and try to lift him with their hands.

"DADDY! Santa came! Get... UP. GET... UP. He left PRESENTS!" (If they knew to follow the sentence up with, "for the LOVE OF GOD" they would have.)

The morning was a nice pace of present opening with the family (Stacia's family, my mom and dad, Diane).

We started with stockings... which contained Ana's new brown monkey (Lightening Bolt Monkey).

Her happiness was amazing. She cuddled with it, held it up, introduced it to Brown Monkey.

It was at this moment when I got it.

I had slam dunked Christmas. I knew Ana would love the monkey. I bought the thing months ago.
But her face.

The absolute happiness.

I struggled to hold back tears.

I failed to hold back tears... although I hid them from everyone.

I was now the keeper of Christmas and all of the mystery of Santa.

I know why my parents didn't get gifts from Santa on Christmas morning.

The gift was seeing our happiness and wonder and excitement.

And the slam dunk.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Today we said goodbye to the cat who set the bar of which all cats will be measured.
Chad passed away this morning.
It just happened so fast.

I can't- won't - go into details.
Even though he was about to turn 17, we didn't see this coming.
Chad was still taking down our 3 and 4 year old male cats on an annoyingly regular occasion.
I was completely not emotionally prepared for the loss of my baby Chad.

Things I will miss:
Chad greeting us at the door or going to the door to greet visitor
Chad smacking in my ear when he is happy
Chad's bottomless patience with the girls. He let them do anything to him and sought out their attention
Seeing Keira run to find Chad every day
Having Chad visit me and spend time with me as I got ready every day
The morning, afternoon and evening "Worship Chad" routine
Just everything about him

I will miss our Chad.
Many people will.
His first mommy was with me today (for that and placing Chad into my life, I will forever be in her debt). His first mommy works in the Astronaut Office. Chad was well known to quite a few astronauts, which made crew debriefs spin into chat about my "fat cat" Chad.
She is working on having a memorial for Chad flown on the next shuttle mission, which launches Monday.
That makes me so happy.
People die every day and my sweet kitty will have a memorial from space.
He really was special.

However, right now I sit here empty and broken.
Grateful for having had Chad in my life and bitter that he isn't tapping my shoulder while I sit at my computer desk. (Yes... he could reach that high)

I'm going to go upstairs and drown myself in thoughtless television and the comfort of Lt. Kije, who seems to understand more than cats let on. He has known this was coming for awhile. He rolled onto his back to let Chad tackle him a few weeks ago and lovingly cleaned Chad's face two nights ago.

Sweet dreams, Chad. I love you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

12 months later

A girl from my Mothers of Multiples group posted a note to our forum - one of her triplets had a seizure of unknown origin. My name was thrown out as a point of contact for neurologists, tests and someone who understands.
Remember when I told you that if Ana didn't have another seizure in a year that she was likely home free?
The year has past. *insert cheer here*

I'm sorry for my friend who now has the worries and the stress that follows any parent with a sick or hurt child. My heart breaks for her and a few other friends who are falling asleep to the sounds of their minds spinning out of control with stress for their child.

Brad and I talked about Sam's daughter and thought back to last year.
This time last year, we had dodged a hurricane, I broke my arm on a family vacation, Ana had a seizure and Brad was on disability. When you consider losing your home or a broken arm the least of your worries, you're probably having a bad year. Like my friend Will says, "if you have a neurologist on speed-dial, life is not going according to plan..."

I'm so thankful for every good day we have right now.
Every day is good.

Life is good when your biggest worry is telling your husband that "Twilight" is the next movie to arrive in your Netflix que.
Life is good when your biggest aggravation is waiting for the rain to stop long enough to install a swing set in the back yard.
Life is good when your worry about putting your little girls to sleep isn't if she'll be okay in the morning... the worry is if she'll make you read that Dr. Doolittle book AND the Teen Titans book... for the billionth time.

Life is good when you don't even care that it is raining at Seaworld, because you know that Shamu will get you anyways and you brought a change of clothes.

Life is good.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Catching up on adventures

The past few months have been filled with adventures.
We've visited Seaworld TWICE! Both trips were huge successes.
The girls are a great age for Seaworld. We spend most of our time (and money) feeding various animals.

On the first trip, we were greeted by Penguin characters at the door and were feeding dolphins within 10 minutes.

On the second trip, we fed birds. Keira LOVED it. Ana... not so much. Apparently, the birds do not like to be pet like a cat. They'll bite you as a reminder if you try. Ana was reminded twice.

The Seaworld trips were our first family trips by ourselves (not to a family member's house). We put the girls on a mattress between the beds in the hotel room. They stayed in their beds and were (for the most part) great.

It is SO easy to pack now that they're older. I didn't need to worry about extra baby items. They girls are grown kids. Such a life change.

We've really loved traveling as a family. We can't wait to go back to Seaworld and also on other family adventures. For now, though, we're all a little tired.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wait and see

Did I ever tell you of the time that I brought Ana to the ER in the middle of the night?
Well, it wasn't a mosquito bite, Dr. Substitute.
This is what Ana looked like earlier in the day. When Brad woke her up to give her benadryl, her eye had swollen completely shut. Completely.

I called the on-call pediatrician, who told me to take Ana to the ER. She said they might admit her for IV antibiotics. Admit her? Really? Hmm...

I don't mess around with the eye.
I mean, I'm a photographer AND I've had a serious eye injury, so this is just one of those things I won't wait and see on...

I packed up my happy, chatty little girl ("It is very dark outside. Keira is sleeping. It is dark outside...") and brought her to the ER at 3am. Ana was happy with holding Brad's iPod and watching a movie.

We didn't wait too long before we got the diagnosis (periorbital collitis er something... I'm just a photographer, don't ask me for more info) and a prescription for pretty strong antibiotics.

It was our first ER visit for the girls.
Our first.
I hope that any future ER visits are as uneventful.
... but we'll wait and see.

Monday, August 17, 2009

So much better than Morse Code

We had a great weekend. Brad's quartet concert was followed by a busy weekend visiting with his sister and her family.
At one point, we found ourselves at the Children's Museum. I waited upstairs (with kid #1) to meet up with Tracy, while Brad played downstairs (with kid #2).

At 10:58am, I started receiving the following text messages from the father of my beautiful children... who was stuck in the bathroom with Keira... who didn't make it all the way to the potty...

"I need some panties. i'm in the bathroom by the paper airplane place"
"Help. bad problems. disgusting."
"Good god"
"Please come"
"Seriously come to the door and call in"
"Need pull up"

What did people do without texting?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pushes Other Buttons

Speaking of pushing buttons, here is an example of one of the arguments my girls have.
I feel like I need a disclaimer here... My girls get along extremely well. They make up games, hold hands, laugh together and generally don't annoy the crap out of each other.
They save that effort for mommy and daddy.

They've had a few funny arguments over the last few months. They've even had an argument about whether or not it was raining outside. The arguments are never harsh or mean spirited - and for that, I'm thankful. I actually try not to laugh... but I did catch this gem to share with you.

Guess who likes to push buttons?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pushes Buttons

You should know that Luke's father is Polish... and his mother has a degree in music.
Put those two together and you get a toddler who can find the ONLY POLKA BUTTON on a keyboard...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream... and then I smacked you down to the floor.

The girls didn't nap today.
When I went in to get them, they were dancing together in the middle of the room.
Like, holding each other dancing.
And singing the "Sleeping Beauty" song.
And then pulling each other down in a WWF take down to the floor.
Almost so sweet.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Planets aligned

There are events when all the planets align and everything works out perfectly. This is not quite one of those stories.

For the past 3 weeks, my nanny has been on vacation in Ecuador. I've shifted my work schedule (thanks to the world's best boss) and taken the "morning duty" with my beautiful offspring. I've had a GREAT time. We've visited the library, worked on art projects, had playdates, shopped... pretty much had a beautiful time. At 1:30pm I would report to work and work until I dropped. I would come home, clean and collapse at 11pm.

About 2 days into the 3 week adventure, we received a notice from my work daycare that we were accepted into the program. We've been on the waiting list since I was 3 months pregnant, so this was an enormous opportunity.
Unfortunately, we needed to accept the 2 open positions and start paying in 2 weeks.

Today was our very first day in daycare.
I have to admit... I was quite worked up about the transition for the 2 weeks leading up to the event. We worked VERY hard on potty training and I even had a monkey stuffed animal "planted" in the classroom for Ana to find. Bags were packed, items were marked with names, 8 billion forms were filled out.

As it turns out, today was "Princess Day". So, yesterday I dutifully bought 2 princess costumes complete with shoes for their big Princess Parade today. It REALLY helped ease the transition into school. In fact, it seems that the girls had a great time today. Keira jumped right into the mix with the other kids. Ana found the "planted" monkey and also had a great day.

My fears of their possible unhappiness or lack of bladder control were laid to rest. For now.
I kept telling myself that I was silly.
I mean... NASA Daycare.
They're behind 4 sets of security (including armed guards), they have a wonderful teacher, the school is solar powered and has unprecedented IT support.
I mean... what is my PROBLEM?

Well, Brad pointed it out when I didn't see it.
1 milestone down.
You see, we took one giant leap forward today. And although I always wish for the days of older kids who can run around the world and creation with me, I must first say goodbye to my babies... who have already grown up so much in the past 2 years however-many-months. I'm also saying goodbye to our nanny, who has been part of the family for just as long.

So many changes.
In the end, everything is working out. After a rough month of activity and massive change, we're on the verge of settling into a routine.
The girls will love the activities that the school has to offer and the social interaction with other kids their age.

Goodbye babies, hello big girls.
They grow up so fast.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I would like to make this a long distance dedication

Last night Ana made up a song.
One line of the song was, "I'm brave and sticky!"

I told Brad that story today. He asked what all of us ask, "What does that even mean?"

I... I don't want to know.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Be careful out there... apparently...

Brad is back on his busy, busy work schedule. They play summer performances around town, which are called the "Sounds Like Fun" series. It couldn't be a less appropriate phrase. The ridiculously named series has a matching shirt that the musicians have to wear. A bright red shirt with the catchy slogan.

I love calling out to him, "Sounds like fun!" as he walks out the door. I've loved doing that for years.

Ana's "thing" lately is to close the door for Brad as he leaves for his concert. She holds the door open until he closes the main garage door behind him.
"Watch out for the booby-traps!, "Ana calls out.

She is insistent on closing the door and warning him of the peril that awaits as he goes to his concert.
"Watch out for the booby traps... and alligators... and... and... and the booby traps!"

Yes. Apparently, you need to put on your tight, red embarrassing shirt and watch out for the booby traps, honey.
Doesn't THAT sound like fun?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

War stories

You've heard the war stories. The parent anecdotes of raising toddlers. Parents "turn their heads for a second" and anarchy and mayhem take over. Something gets destroyed or someone gets embarrassed. Cats are covered with petroleum jelly, sharpie markers on the wall and red paint ends up on 9 walls that were not supposed to be red (stories courtesy of Teal, Warren and Bob, respectively).

These stories of raising toddlers represent a very, very small portion of parenting... and yet these stories are retold and make their way into parenting lore. They are the stories that frighten young couples into just taking a "little more time" to themselves before starting their families.

The sad part is... most of the stories are the parent's fault. I mean... you can see the ending coming. These stories are really the "ball to the crotch funniest home videos" of parenting. I mean... what do you THINK is going to happen when you leave a kid in a room with box of 20 washable crayons and 1 non-washable RED crayon?

This is what happens:

I mean - you might as well set up a tee-ball and and have a father stand a foot away from getting a take-down shot to the shorts. Video tape it, send it in and get your money. OF COURSE the guy gets it in the balls. OF COURSE I have red crayon all over my carpet, tile and coffee table.

By the way, you get red crayon off of wood furniture by using mayonnaise. Getting mayonnaise off of furniture is only the 2nd problem...

The next day, I found my shoes full of cat food. I'm not pointing any fingers, but I'm pretty sure I made the person who did it. I'm equally as sure that I'll tell this story to the next newlywed couple that crosses my path. Watch out, young couples... I'm saving these gems for you.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Don't call 911... yet....

*Photo by Ana

At this very moment I don't know the whereabouts of a certain brown monkey named (suitably) "Brown Monkey". This isn't just any brown monkey. This is my daughter Ana's Brown Monkey and it follows her wherever she goes.

Brown Monkey is her lovey that has reached levels of attachment I didn't know existed in a wee child. She wakes up with it, plays with it all day, brings it in the car (Brown Monkey isn't allowed out of the car for fear of losing it) and Brown Monkey goes to bed with her at night. I've actually had arguments with my husband about the care of Brown Monkey. I, for one, don't believe that you should allow him in the sandbox or washing machine. The care and lifespan of Brown Monkey is one of my top priorities in my life.

Say what you will. Brown Monkey means everything to my daughter, so he means everything to me.

My sister-in-law has a heart breaking story of losing Quinn's blanket lovey in a taxi in Mexico (you aren't finding THAT, again). She said that she cried as hard as Quinn.

When I couldn't find Brown Monkey this evening, I didn't go into my normal panic ("Did we leave him in a parking lot or lose him in a freak alien abduction?!").
I KNOW he is here somewhere. I just don't know where.

I kept Ana consoled as I put her to bed tonight. ("Hold on honey, I'll be right back... let me go look downstairs for Brown Monkey"). When I couldn't find him, I called my husband and my nanny. When I still didn't know the location, I walked into her room and acted as calm as I could.
I couldn't bring myself to lie to her and tell her that Brown Monkey is taking a bath or ran to the store (she would believe either). I just couldn't do it. I told her that I didn't know where he was, but we would find him tomorrow. I gave her Purple Monkey and Black Monkey (are we seeing a pattern?) and told her to snuggle with those monkeys tonight.

She went to sleep peacefully.

When I find Brown Monkey again (and I WILL), I will likely tell Brown Monkey the words I usually save for the most precious people in my life. I will tell him how much I love him. You see, he gives my baby comfort when I can't be there... and that is priceless.

The next morning I found Brown Monkey sitting on the couch in my bedroom. I seem to remember my cat sitting there during my Brown Monkey search party. I remember him laying on the couch and asking the only question cats can actually ask, "What the hell do you want?"
As it turns out, Chad was lying on the monkey. He is *cough* quite large, so this isn't a stretch to cover up a small, brown stuffed animal. In fact, about 3 weeks ago I found the remote control... under the cat.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Compressed by two rocks and a monkey

I've spent a few of my nights editing videos, posting them to my blog or creating other little projects. I've had a great time and I hope that you'll enjoy some of this week's posts.

I need stop at this point and identify to you (my constant reader) that I have two very distinct groups of friends:

1) I have those friends who are impressed that I edit videos and post them online. Those are the friends who volunteer me for projects or call for my help.
2) I then have the work friends. It is important to know that I work with an impressive group of people - video engineers, video editors, colorists, video operations, etc. When I compare myself to those friends I feel like a monkey smashing two stones together.
"But... you have a degree in photography", you say.
Yes. Still imagery I've got. All over it.
Those movin' pit-ures? Eh...

So, with that long disclaimer, I bring to you a series of videos of the girls. If you are not a family member, you'll probably stop at the first video... If you're my mom, however, you'll probably watch the videos at least 8 times in a row and then call your neighbor to bask in the glory of my children. Who doesn't?

You also must know that as I hit "cut clip" and then compressed the bah-jaysus out of the videos, I actually stammered out loud, "Kirk... forgive me..."

What's going to work, I ask you? The girls know the answer...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Set the bar lower...

This weekend I had a mother of twin girls tell me that she reads my blog.
"It lets me know what to expect," she said.
What to expect...

We expect the late nights with our babies, the teething, the feeding...
We blissfully imagine the holidays with young kids... For some reason holidays stand out as a focal point for most people when you talk about "family".

The perfect picture of children opening gifts with the sound of Christmas carols playing in the background...
Or you can listen to Christmas band music play while watching twin girls wrestle each other to the ground.

Welcome to the world of twins, Tammy.
This is what you can expect.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Encore, encore!

I tried to explain the girl's singing to a coworker the other day.
"They have no modulation to their voice, " I said.
She gave me a look and wondered out loud if they were trying to "out do" each other.
No... no... they just don't have modulation to their little voices.
I don't want you to get me wrong. I did not want her to get me wrong either...
Their singing is music to my ears.

*Note the cat (Lt. Kije) running away... probably not music to his ears...

What is minimum wage these days?

I really love cooking with the girls. Weekend mornings are our special time together.
The girls pull up chairs to the island and help measure and mix ingredients. We like to make breakfast cookies, banana bread and muffins. (*Good to note here that Ana calls English muffins "Angry muffins". There is always excitement as I explain that we're going to make blueberry muffins and not Angry Muffins...)
Ana was helping me cook one morning. She pulled up her chair to the island in the kitchen. She waited patiently for me to get out the ingredients. To keep her attention, I told her that I was going to give her a job to do.
She leaned forward and very seriously said, "... I need a job."

Friday, March 6, 2009

That's Funny...

This is an old video from January that I've been meaning to post for awhile.
All I did... was step away from the children to take the carrots off the stove and put them on the plates. In that very short amount of time... my children painted each other...
(*Keira has a cold, so her voice is a little funny)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I don't even like martinis

I love old movies.
I laugh at the old 1950s idea of Father coming home to a clean house, clean kids, a happy wife with food on the table and a martini before a little much deserved "alone" time after a hard day at work.

Women's lib brought a few wonderful joys my way.
I have an amazing job. I have equal rights for equal pay.
I work a standard work week and come home to immediately pick up "mommy duty" where I left it in the morning pre-coffee. As a twist, my husband is at home for most of the day with the kids. They run to him for comfort and look to me for discipline.
Whoa. Back up.
I'm the hammer?
Oh yes.
I have become the hammer. This is not to say that Brad doesn't discipline... he does. Absolutely. I just have a little quicker follow through (probably because we have little girls and I know exactly what they're trying to pull with Daddy.)
What Daddy can't give into their cries? Their plea for him to hold them both while he tries to eat. Their sing-song chant of "Daddy-My-DADDY!"
Yes. "Daddy-My-Daddy", much like "Captain, My Captain".
With the cry of "Daddy-My-Daddy", my angels could probably bring down small countries. With their whimpers, they'll likely end up with convertibles by their 16th birthday.

I came home late today after an errand to pick up a pool motor (very woman's lib of me, I know... I just nodded and asked the young man to put the thing in the car for me... I'm much to delicate for this "man's work", you know).
I was home late and slow to pick up on my nighttime activities as Mom. Ana picked up on this and ran to Daddy for attention, instead of sitting on my very empty lap.
I was a little annoyed with this recent preference for Daddy. I looked up at my husband, who was holding both of my girls... and I thought... damn.
I'm one lucky man...err.. woman.

As I'm typing this, Brad is out installing the new pool motor (thank god... wires and dirty messes... bleh). I love him for all of those qualities that make him sensitive to the needs of a 2 year old girl. I love him for fixing things that I would smash with a hammer or move to a new home to avoid. I love him for how much my girls love him.

Now, if he could only have a martini ready for me when I get home from work...
With that... he might be the perfect 1950s housewife.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Creepy 26lb-Blond-Haired-Blue-Eyed 2 Year Old

So, Keira and I went for a walk one night. We saw a man out for a nice jog in the neighborhood.
Right as he passed us, Keira yelled, "GET HIM!"
Kinda freaked the guy out.
Kinda freaked me out.
In fact, if that was a scene from a scary movie, it would be really creepy.