Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve....

I have been an inexcusably bad correspondent lately. But I have an excuse – I have been tirelessly working on the twins’ birthday present.

Don’t worry – photos will be posted of the abomination.

In all seriousness though – it has been exceedingly time consuming! So out went the window of my want to write a seasonal post of “A few of my favorite things” – but I bet you cannot guess what they are (hint - 1. Henry’s crooked bottom teeth and fuzzy curls that make me sneeze 2. Sophia’s seemingly perfectly-timed ability to ‘rock-out’ at random moments during the day and helpfulness in unloading the dishwasher. See a theme? Yes, my favorite things are my children). 

Out went the desire to post endless photos of Christmas Eve and Day (let’s just say Henry and Sophia were in complete awe of church at Mass – we lost them at the stained glass – and there was a children’s choir?! My heart is still beating thinking about their response. Totally beautiful.) 

And up…on the rooftop the chimney sweep went and cleaned a few days before the holiday (with Henry keeping a close eye on him and his shop-vac. H-i-l-a-r-i-o-u-s.)

So here I am shamelessly trying to sum up our first Christmas – which really can’t be summed up because so much happened. All-in-all it was more than what I ever could have hoped for. And – there were waffles. Homemade.

Speaking of homemade, I told myself I would get one last post in for this year. So here, dear Readers, is my post on New Year’s Eve:

I made homemade Pad Thai – yes, yes I am that neurotic. I made Henry and Sophia a ‘baby-version’ of the delectable dish. Basically they just had rice noodles, chicken, egg, cilantro, bean sprouts and one drop of soy sauce. Yes, I really only put in one drop.

I think you can see it in the picture. Tony and I had the sauce I made with rice vinegar, soy sauce, leeks, brown sugar and lime. But really – too much salt! So they had to watch us eat the ‘real’ stuff – but they seemed to enjoy it.

They also donned their new “Happy New Year” bibs. Henry and I played "Auld Lang Syne" at the piano.  

And I made fortune cookies.

Well, sort of. They were not my greatest creation – but they did the trick. And tasted better than they looked. It was my first ever experiment with them; and each one had a one-word fortune I made up.

Four cookies. Four fortunes. That is what we started out with. Henry seemed delighted to pull a piece of paper out of a cookie; he then lost interest in the cookie.

Sophia? We don’t know or remember what her fortune was. She ate it. And the whole cookie.

That’s my girl. 

No, they didn't make it until midnight. We wound down the party about 8. But maybe next year...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

better luck next year....

Yesterday, we went to the Hebert Candy Mansion in Shrewsbury where they have a beautiful Santa Claus. Its a bring-your-own camera event and the kids can take as long as they please chatting it up with old-Saint-Nick. Tony and I gave ourselves, and the twins, plenty of time.

If you can't tell by the various stages of panic on Henry's face - the visit didn't last long.

One of Henry's many strengths, however, is his ability to redirect. Once he was out of his lap, it was like nothing had happened. 

Oh (rein)deer.

Monday, December 6, 2010


I think there is an expiration date on pictures. Or an allowable time to post them. Forgive me for not getting these up sooner. We have been making holiday presents.

And I have been trying my hand at sewing. A brief word to the sewers out there:
A screwdriver will not and can not double as a seam ripper. I’m just saying.

Thanksgiving was everywhere. We went to Peabody. We went to New Hampshire. We all shared a bed. Not intentionally. It just worked out that way. Ever try to sleep in pack-n-play?

Me either.

And for that matter, neither would Henry and Sophia. So the five of us were in bed.
(Yup – Cappy too)...

The day we left I made an apple pie – and had a few slices left that didn’t quite fit in the pie (it was bursting out of its crust as it was…) so I just tossed them in the trash and went about preparing.

A few minutes later the twins were quiet.

They, in essence, became dumpster divers. Sad that at such a young age I cannot keep them adequately fed.

Don’t you love this picture? They were almost saying “hey, what’s wrong with these slices – they’re perfectly fine!”

Then Sophia fell asleep in her high chair. Sitting up. 

Too bad no one thought to bring a high chair….we spent the holiday….er…holding them. But not really ‘holding’ as they are too interested in everything to be held. It was more like we restrained them while eating quickly.

FYI the shutter speed is correct on this shot of Tony and Sophia. He was really eating that fast.

“No, really no seconds thank you.”

They did stay still long enough for a heavenly photograph though. Seriously.

Couldn’t you just eat them? Sophia, we are finding, is in the running for baby with the longest legs (which is kind of funny, if you think about it). So I had to make her black leggings to wear underneath her “dress” which was more-or-less a long top on the fly.

Miss long-legs.

And we managed to scare up a relative to take a belated family photo (who has thumbs – Cap has volunteered multiple times, of course).

And a parting shot showing Mr. Fuzzy head. After four nights of him cuddling him and trying not to sneeze whenever he moves, I have determined he has the softest hair ever.

Oh – and the bluest eyes too.

Monday, November 15, 2010

On a wire (but with nice pictures)

There is this breathlessly beautiful picture book entitled The man who walked between the towers by Mordicai Gerstein. It is about a Frenchman named Philippe Petit and his masterful tightrope walk between the twin towers in the 1970s. A few years ago there was also a documentary about the event (with ear heart throb Michael Nyman as the score composer). I have been waiting to read this book to the twins. Its one of those great ones where, if you’re insane like me, you’re like “what is this about? Philippe? The towers? Neither? Both?”

So we tried. I got all teary eyed, but not them. They crawled away. Alas.

But then I got to thinking about this new theory I have about seemingly disparate events and how they are actually linked to one another. And lo and behold, had a link.

Perhaps this calls for a touch of back-story:

I have been down. But not in a PPD sort of way, but yes, in a way related to the babies. I am, regrettably, a bad mother. Yes – it is said. There, in pixels before me. I thought as the months wore on I would feel more comfortable in my mothering style, not less. But it is not true. As the babies get older, confidence becomes slimmer. Style is something reserved for the mom’s in magazines. The rest of us – well, we have to pick a side.

With everything.
And stand firm on it.
And have opinions about it.
Oh – and research it. A lot.

Dear lord.

I do not have strong opinions. I don’t really care what other people’s thoughts are on my babies. Or me. And I really really don’t like having to pick a side. The classic convo about working and children? I cannot say what I really feel – that I like my job. A lot. And I treasure my time with my children. A lot.

But I've found you can’t walk that tightrope. You either a) like your career or b) like being a mom at home. But the way it reads is: I don’t like my children. I love my children less. Or: I don’t take my career seriously. My work is just a hobby.

So I smile and say “Hm…” when asked.

I think it might be easier for me to carry on a normal conversation with Eminem than with other moms. And there may be less apprehension.

And yup – bad mom alert – I listen to that music with my children present.

What’s worse though? I feel bad about it.

Or did, I should say. Besides my tightrope revelation, I also had a conversation with my neighbor, who has this amazing ability to sense when something is wrong.

Mothering is hard. I told her when prodded. Everything is wrong.

Relax. She told me. If any mom makes you feel even for one second that she knows what she is doing, she’s lying to you. None of us know what we are doing.

None of us know what we are doing. I’ve been repeating this. This was a revelation. I could have kissed her, or like Henry and Sophia do to me (another bad mom alert), affectionately mauled her.

As a result, I've eliminated some words from my vocabulary because I think they are fodder for bad-mom talk and, no matter where you fall, guilt-inducing. They are: “breastfeeding” “Ferber” “career-choice” and, just because I’m mean, “onions.”

I have also started trying to embrace the more forgiving side of mothering. Where you try not to worry about which side you are falling on. There aren’t sides really – its just an illusion; like with the tightrope, its air.  I’m trying to be more like Philippe and rejoice the achievements as they come – as the opportunity finds me. And find inspiration, not irritation, in those who say I'm wrong.

So I continue to let Henry and Sophia rummage through the house and find what they want. There are no razor blades – but yes, there are post-its. And they do eat them. But I don’t care. No, really. I don’t care.

How liberating.

And you know what else? Yes – they played with Tony’s guitar. They grabbed at the strings. Where I should have been upset about how they could slice open their fingers by running their hands over the fret? I sat back and clicked away with my camera.

And wouldn’t you know? When you start relaxing you find more moments to celebrate. Just the other day I found Sophia with the dog on the floor. She was sort-of brushing her teeth. See? I thought. She is fond of oral hygiene – and of keeping the dog healthy. How wonderful. I should be proud of my mothering-ness. 

Until I looked closer and realized the toothbrush was mine.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Yup, I went there...

Henry and Sophia’s first Halloween was a busy one – filled with color, food, family and friends.

As I am practically seamstress-to-the-stars (hahahaha) I was well up to the task of making their costumes.

If you can’t immediately tell from the photographs, Sophia was Raggedy Ann and Henry was her brother, Raggedy Andy.

I am so grateful to the inventor of the hot glue gun; and needle, of course.

Yes, on my babies’ first Halloween I dressed them as rag dolls; I suppose it could have been worse.

Raggedy Ann & Andy, happen to be, after all, symbols of caring and love, of compassion and generosity. Its a beautiful story if you're interested.

Anyway, I think it is a good Halloween-costume-kick-off. 

There will be plenty of time to be ghosts and gypsies, pirates and princesses – this year they made perfect dolls ☺. We obviously did not do the candy thing, but our wonderful neighbors didn’t want them feeling left out.

They got “My First Halloween” bibs, gently used books and soft teeth-ers for trick-or-treats (yes, we did walk around the neighborhood, in the wagon with cousin Piper. And they kept their hats on!).

I really cannot believe how lucky we are. My parents, brother and in-laws came over. We ate lasagna, took loads of pictures, humiliated the dog and visited.

At the end of the day? Henry shared a quiet moment with the carved pumpkin and votive candle (battery-powered candle so no worries).

In his ghost pajamas.

Happy Halloween.

PS - And before you go thinking that Henry and Sophia went without any sort of “treat” (what kind of mother do you think I am?!) they did get one.

Sort of.

Ever make a baked good for a baby? There are loads of recipes. I broke in the new Kitchen Aid mixing bowl – an applesauce cake with no sugar. And raisin eyes, nose and mouth.

Shaped like a pumpkin, naturally.

Monday, October 18, 2010


I have been a poor correspondent.

And likely I am only going to be worse in November as I attempt a very stupid task; but I have to do it. I think I thought that as Henry and Sophia got older they would be less dependent on me and more interested in the world around them and I would have more time to write about their new skills, not less.

This is not to say they are uninterested in their world – they just need to be…um....supervised.
Often. Or they do things like eat ladybugs.
Dog food.
And jack-o-pumpkins.

Yes, its been a busy month.

And sometimes I would rather be a matador to a highly-caffeinated bull than change Henry’s diaper.

No, seriously.

{NB these photos were taken at Old Sturbridge Village - not exactly a bull, this Ox was making cider - Henry and Sophia found it compelling. Oh and the Ox's name? Henry.}

I have started seeing myself as a Curator to Henry and Sophia – an overseer and manager of a special collection which needs extraordinary care and attention as it grows. One with visitors. One with a traveling exhibition, carrying cases, handling policies, no-flash photography rules. Frequent condition updates. One which is endlessly fascinating. Enchanting. Smile-inducing. Intoxicating and thrilling to see time and again.

 In line with this new mother-metaphor, I had them framed. See? Even matted they still retain their personalities.


I always wanted to be a curator.

I guess now I am.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

like a flame to a moth...

…or whatever the expression is.

Yes, we quickly discovered one way to draw out the neighbors.

As a way of introduction – our neighbors are special people. There is the professor who loves Wallace Stevens so much you can hear his heart sing. So as we walk by his house we whisper ‘the house was quite and the world was calm’ from the twins’ book of poetry. There is the father from Iran who says over and over:

There is the husband-wife printer team who give us jars of homemade jam. There is the school teacher. The family from Albania. The ninety-something-year old woman who says there is little difference between her and Henry.
Yes, I think quietly, just a century.
The power-intellectual-couple who preach and practice for peace. The Doctor who piloted the needle-box program for the City. The man no one ever sees. The neighborhood mother.

Friends. Mothers. Fathers. Children. Grandparents. Who all live together, on top of the hill. We are blessed to be here; and to be able to share our children with them. 

Via the wagon, of course. The wagon. What a tool! What bait! I wheel them around the cul-de-sac and out they all come to ogle. At the new hat.

Ah the hat. I bought it in a moment of weakness. I have yet to have one of these baby-clothing-swoon-moments. But I did with the hat.

Big time.

I actually had the nerve to go into a Janie and Jack.

That was pulling me in. I had to get it for my Sophia.

Gasp. I know. But wouldn’t you?! Look at it! Its perfect! And she doesn’t rip it off! The neighbors came out to compliment her on it. And her new Dutch sweatshirt from my friend Loes. 

And Henry? Yes, that is an Eeyore knitted sweater. With ears. Hair.

And pinned on tail.

And pensive expression. 

So after dinner we make a nightly round. To tuck in those who live, like us, on top of a hill. Up here we all say goodnight to the sun together. And good morning to the moon as it sails into the sky. Where we fit into this, I am not sure. Snuggly, I suppose.

Like in Hundred Acre Wood, I think, as I look at My Little Man.

Monday, September 20, 2010

the post-nap surprise

When Tony and I found out we were having twins *loads* of people told us not to expect them to be "on time" with their various developmental benchmarks. Twins are quite a few steps behind their peers we heard way too much a lot.

Whew! We thought. No need to rush into baby proofing the house! We're having twins! They'll just sit and stare at us adoringly until they are like 12 months.


Way wrong.

They turned 8 months last week. The day after they turned eight months, both Henry and Sophia sat up. Not one of them, BOTH of them.

No big deal, I thought.

The next day BOTH of them pulled themselves upright using the laundry basket.

Ho hum. Still fine, I thought. A fluke - it'll never last.

Today, I heard Sophia stirring after her nap and went in expecting to coo at my sweet little girl who would, of course, be on her back.

She was eye-level.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

edge of the season

The summer is over - the laundry was out all day Monday and still not dry. That is, after all, how you know. Although E.B. White said in Charlotte's Web that it was actually the crickets. Do you all still have a special spot in your heart for Wilbur?

I do.

I remember once reading this toxic essay that said everyone grows up from Charlotte - like Fern. That we all forget Wilbur and his friends and learn to embrace financial advisors at cheese and wine events, look for eligible suitors and have a side of bacon without a thought ever devoted again to our dear pig.

I hated that essay.

In honor of loathing that piece, I read CW aloud in between bouts of trying to wrestle the text away from the babies, as the summer took its bow.

{No, lit majors, not wrestle the interpretation away...which has a beautifully evocative visual to it - literally, I was trying to get them to not eat the book}.

Goodbye summer we cooed and photographed {summer, obviously, is disappearing through the clouds}

Mondays now are long stretches of days; Tony has class in Boston after work. So its just me, Henry and Sophia from dawn until post-dusk, and well into storm-filled nights. Whereas weather is a very commonplace subject in New England, I will not discuss it - save the fact that we had a storm this Monday. With hail.

And without Tony.

The thunder was so loud and the lightening so sudden that my eyes filled with tears. I winced at the thunder and stared at Henry, who was staring back:

Okay, I thought. This is the make or break time. I can tremble and be scared (what I wanted to do) - or just totally ignore it and embrace it as a learnable/teachable moment. Henry was clearly looking for guidance. His eyes pleading "how do I respond to this (thunder/weather/noise/fear)?"

So being any good semi-lunatic mother, I reached outside, grabbed a handful of hail, put it on the tray of the high-chair, and let him play with it.

I documented it just to prove its brief existence:

{hail to the left of the squash}

I realized that I have to be careful of such moments - so my fears do not become their own.

And how to play with pieces of ice from the sky and hold it until it melts away like summer.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I have little doubt that this picture will drive some of you completely insane. The color is off, Henry is blurry and the only focused items in the picture are the corner of the piano and the lower keys.

Sorry to say, this was intentional.

My apologies to all those offended.

But this photograph captures the moment perfectly; my arms wrapped around his little waist as he looks at the contrasting keys - some tall/some short, some long/some stout, some black/some white, some high/some low, some left/some right. Each making a near-perfect sound (one more tuning session and the piano will be pitch perfect...)

I have never known so much soul could fit into a body so small.

I do have one picture, in focus, with my little man smiling and happily banging away on the keys like a real baby should.

Maybe I'll post it when I'm in a less thoughtful mood.

Until then I leave you to imagine the music of an 8-month old. Which isn't really as loud as you might think.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


There are many surprises I hadn't considered about being a new mom. Here are three which come to mind:

1. I never thought nine o'clock would be an obscene time to get a phone call.
2. That my babies' pediatrician would suggest I walk around the house topless. And he wasn't being fresh.
3. What are considered 'normal' sensory habits and patterns go out the window when you're 8 months old and figuring out your world.

You see with your ears,
hear with your nose and
smell with your tongue. Oh and feel with your mouth. Like, everything. :)

Times two.

I love these pictures. Tony and I each held the twins arms and let them 'smell' the rosebush (to prevent accidental grabbing...there are thorns).

Surprisingly, or not surprisingly actually, they didn't quite know what to do.

And so licked the petals.

Monday, September 6, 2010


I think they like it. 

I finally finished draft #1 of my thesis and dropped it off at Clark. I also brought home a copy for the twins to read over and provide their earnest feedback. When I put it down on the blanket outside, they abandoned their toys and really went at it. 

Quite impressive. 

They literally devoured it {note Sophia in the background with the title page}

Friday, September 3, 2010

chew on this

We went to the farmer's market in Barre again this weekend; in addition to our weekly trips to the one in Worcester. And, for a treat, got some grass-fed beef.

Since we are, arguably, unfit parents, we let Henry have a bite (he's teething like mad). So yes, this picture (with remarkable depth of field for your novice photographer) shows Henry gumming a well-wrapped piece of beef.

I have this philosophy that parenting is like driving through Kelley Square in Worcester. Everyone closes their eyes and just goes. And that's what makes it work.

Please don't report us - he liked it, I swear.

It was a peaceful day. Henry and Sophia completely love the grass. To feel it, run their fingers across it, pick it (how sweet! we left with grass-fed babies too!). We try to keep them on a blanket, but that doesn't usually last very long. Like little weeds, they just can't keep out of the grass.

(I'm sure there's a better metaphor to use for cuddly infants, but that's all I got, its very early).

Oh! And a find! What trip out to Barre wouldn't be complete without finding something completely random being sold on someone's lawn? Its like freecycle only you have to pay. Which is, arguably, nothing like freecycle. 

We but we found this (slightly used, but completely beautiful!):

We thought that the twins wouldn't be interested or 'old enough' to use it until next Summer. 

But when we got home, they insisted (really) on trying it. 

I know - the 'cute' is totally addicting. I don't know how I get anything done. 

I love that they have this "have I seen you before?" look on their faces.