Friday, February 25, 2011


I’m good with poop. The other day I was reminded in a funny way of just how talented, both physically and emotionally, I have become at handling poop.
I was changing one boy while Brian was changing the other(Brian had a snow day on account of the dusting we had the night before). This was in the morning after the boys had already pooped, so we don’t usually get another dirty diaper until later in the day if we do at all. Brian made a pained sound, and said something along the lines of:

“Oh gross. Ew. I think a fleck of poop might have fallen out of the diaper onto my hand. Disgusting. Excuse me while I go scrub my hands and boil myself.”

I laughed a lot about it, to the point where I was actually wondering why I found it so funny. (On a side note, Brian changes his fair share of dirty diapers when he’s around, but I’m the one usually home when they poop so it is usually me.) This prompted me to think about my poop-handling journey and how my attitude and behavior toward this smelly bodily function has changed over time.

The bare minimum poop-handling I do is two diapers a day and it’s usually more like three, four, or even five diapers, all of which vary in intensity, consistency, and sheer volume. With watching Alex, I’ve had to acclimate back to the intricacies of newborn poop while still maintaining the dexterity and quick-thinking involved in handling toddlers’ full diapers while they struggle to put blocks together or read a story or compete in a soccer match.

I remember my gag reflex creeping up when the boys were first born and we were changing their diapers. I wanted to disinfect the entire room and take a shower after the diapers were safely disposed of. These days if I get poop on my hands I am unaffected. Not that I don’t clean myself afterwards, but if I had gotten my hands in that situation in those early months I would have been grossed out, possibly vomited, and probably told a bunch of people about it, possibly causing them to vomit also. It’s amazing how I’ve changed.

I’ve come up with a chart but I see that it is too small to read...sorry. I'll try to interpret below the image because I can't figure out a better way to fix this.

On left: Intensity/Frequency of poop-handling incidents per day 10-1
The colors represent the level of grossed-out-ness/shock over time
Bars represent (from left) first 6 months, 8 months, 12, 18, 22

RED: Danger! Gag, choke, possible, vomit, boil hands, wash changing pad and all possibly-contaminated clothing, don't inhale, try to focus on happy place
ORANGE: Quite nasty, sanitize most things after, change at least pants/onesie
BLUE: Annoying, a little gross, change diaper only, wash hands, move on
GREEN: Don't even notice--rely on instinct, little fleck on the sock? no biggie just wipe off with wipe, think about dinner, dishes, or flower bed plans

Disregard the awkwardness of that...I've already spent WAY too much time on the chart to try to figure out how to edit it. I'm sure you get the general idea.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Epileptic Ninja Recharging

I have epilepsy. This is something I know and deal with daily in the form of medication since I found out about it eight years ago, but I don’t think much about it from day to day. I’m more focused on things like keeping my kids alive and well and my house passably clean.

The other night I attended a writers’ group meeting where one of my short stories was being critiqued. The main character in the story has epilepsy and that’s the main conflict—she is afraid to leave her house for fear of having a seizure in public.

I know a couple of the writers in the group fairly well from working with them last year, and they know I have epilepsy, but the leader and the others didn’t know. As they discussed what they thought of the story and the main character, I told them I have epilepsy and gradually, as they observed that I wasn’t shy about talking about it, they asked more and more questions. What they got from me, were abbreviated tales of my first accident and not walking for 6 months, second accident, move across the country, various seizures in the middle of streets and at bus stops, etc.

As I was walking home from the bookstore after the meeting I thought of
you—friends and family who have been so helpful and supportive to me. It has gotten to the point where with the last few friends I’ve made (friends with toddlers my boys’ age) I’ve straight up told them (sort of pretending to joke) that being my friend comes with a price—there are always going to be complications since I can’t drive. Fortunately my new friends don’t seem to mind driving us to the zoo and having more playdates at my house than at theirs since it’s hard to get out to walk even a few blocks when it’s cold. I must exude awesomeness.

Without the help of you I would be quite stuck, both literally and emotionally. You have driven me all over and held my hands before and after surgeries, helped me relearn to walk, and those farther away have prayed and sent notes. Without a husband willing to do all the grocery shopping and to spend more money for less space to buy a home in a walker-friendly location with good public transportation, my life would be much more difficult. Here’s to you. I am blessed.

Later that night I got an email from a guy I know in the group. He told me I had a lot of courage to talk about my condition in front of the group like that, which got me thinking… I don’t consider it courage and that’s probably because of all the support I’ve had. I’m sure people have made fun of me, but I’ve never heard it, or rarely, and I participate in it sometimes.

Because I am (was) a teacher I’ve always had to be transparent about having epilepsy. To not do so would be dangerous. I tell my students on one of the first days of class, so they know what to do if I have a seizure. I have to tell administrators and teachers on my hall and hand them emergency contact numbers.

I can’t lie, I am dreading being a mom who can’t drive her kids to baseball practice or birthday parties. I hate the dependency I have on everyone. But you wonderful people in my life make it easier. I lead a slower-paced life amidst the rush around me, and that is probably worth something. It gives me more time to write and spend out of the car with the boys. Perhaps it aids in my creativity.

Anyway, the experience at the writers’ group provided the opportunity for introspection and counting my blessings. And I needed that. Thanks. I’m recharged.

I’m including pictures of our neighborhood that I get to walk around and our balcony in the spring because I long for spring to be here, but also to break up all this text.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Word on Vomit

I don’t want to elaborate on the graphics of the horrible night I spent with my very sick boys the other night, but I made a few important observations. I’ve had a number of horrible nights in my life but there was something newly horrible about this night. It wasn’t me in pain but it was worse because I couldn’t do anything but hug them while they puked and cried. They didn’t understand what was happening or why.

I would have much rather puked so they didn’t have to. My suspicion is that this is just a part of being a parent—hurting for them when something is completely beyond my control. Though it was awful and seemed unending, there was something heartwarming about it that I want to share.

After Cal had gotten sick several times, Clark started. Clark was sitting on my right leg and Cal on my left. I was catching Clark’s vomit in a bucket while Brian cleaned the carpet from the previous explosion. (Sidenote: We all call Clark “Shark” sometimes) Calvin leaned over toward Clark, put his hand on his shoulder and started crying, “Sharky, Sharky!” then looking at me and saying “Mommy, Sharky.”

He was more upset about Clark throwing up than he had been when he was throwing up himself. On and on all night they both showed so much concern when the other one threw up, making sure that I saw the other one’s distress, and even though we were in such disgusting circumstances, I was proud of the love they showed for each other. What a cool thing, to have a twin.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Oatmeal: A Lifestyle Choice

I find that one of the more weighty decisions I make every day is whether or not to feed the boys oatmeal in the morning. It sets the tone for the day. Much different than its cousin the straightforward scrambled eggs and toast or the safe pancakes-with-only-a-tiny-bit-of-syrup-that-soaks-in-before-they-get-their-hands-on-it, oatmeal follows no rules and seeks to explore every corner of everywhere.

Since the boys started demanding “SELF! SELF!” every time we eat and “SIM!” (which means spoon), oatmeal has become more of a lifestyle choice than a normal breakfast that is finished in 30 minutes.

On oatmeal mornings the boys must remain in their pajamas during breakfast because by the time they are done eating most of the oats and raisins will be clinging tightly to their fuzzy (or unfuzzy) pajamas even in obscure places and clumped in piles on their laps and the carpet below.

Again—if this is done with pajamas on, it is an easy remedy as far as their clothes are concerned. The part that used to never cease to amaze me is how expansive and complete the oatmeal’s travels are, and sometimes how long it takes before stumbling upon them. Oatmeal is often the answer to the following questions in our house:

Why did it take an hour to clean up breakfast?
Why won’t the brush get through my hair?
Why is my sock stuck to the tile?
Why won’t your cup work?
What is that hardened blob on the couch pillow?
Why can’t I see through that window anymore?
What just fell out of your diaper?

Of course oatmeal is the boys’ favorite thing to feed to themselves. That and tuna, which would be worse due to the smell except that it doesn’t bond things together (think bib pockets) or get into diapers or adhere to the carpet regardless of scrubbing.

The expansion of oatmeal is not as mysterious to me as it once was. It makes sense that it could get to outrageous places. I now understand what a commitment it is and so I am not as devastated when I find it in my bed (not hyperbole! It was there the other morning). Oatmeal is truly a lifestyle choice for us.

Here is Cal in the heart of an Oatmeal Morning. Notice the two medium-sized clumps under the table in front of his chair and the goopy hands reaching toward my hair.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Silence Denied

A little over a month ago I started taking care of 4 month-old Alexandra four days a week. Since then I’ve been getting up at 6:15 because she gets here around 6:45 and goes right back to sleep. This gives me roughly an hour and a half to two hours of silence as the sun rises and I read and/or write for virtually the only me-time I get until 8pm.

I can’t even describe how amazing I feel, energized from an entire cup of coffee that hasn’t had to be reheated 8 times and a bowl of Cheerios that is not a soggy mass by the time I finish it, when those little rascals bounce out of bed. They are usually immediately looking for fire trucks and dogs out the window or yelling in excitement for a story to be read to them or something equally startling to un-caffeinated and un-showered adults.

The boys go down for their afternoon nap right about when Alex wakes up after her first nap and is ready to eat. While the boys nap Alex is awake most of the time. She’s a baby and doesn’t run and yell and climb yet, but this time is when I feed her and give her tummy time and play with her and rotate her positions including on my lap which is where she was when I started writing this post. Without the boys around to entertain her she doesn’t have a very long attention span in any one spot so I’m lucky if I get much of a lunch before her mom comes at 3pm.

Obviously I knew what I was getting into when I agreed to take on this job and I can’t complain. She’s an amazingly easy baby and it’s so fun to see her grow and see the boys interact with her. (She just now drifted off to sleep holding a cloth Elmo book beside me on her lounger.) Today, however, has reinforced for me the importance of my morning silence.

I noticed a small sound in the boys’ room when I woke up this morning, and cringed but figured whichever boy it was would be back to sleep soon. I showered. I said goodbye to Brian. I still heard some slight bedroom-sounds. Cringed again. Alex came and went back to sleep like the angel that she is. Meanwhile the cribs started to bounce. My morning time was ruined. A frenzy followed. I went in to find that Clark had pulled pants out of the drawer by his crib and flung them about the room. He then told me that he wanted to be in Cal’s crib now. Calvin started counting and talking about lights and cookies—his two favorite subjects—and about the friends that were coming over later. There was a brief skirmish over two green blocks and I pretended not to notice that they were flung across the room as I got clothes and diapers out.

I felt unbalanced and vulnerable as I made breakfast and lunch and am only feeling more normal now as I’m rationing out pretzels to the rejuvenated troops. I’m thinking I’ll get up earlier tomorrow, for my silence is even more valuable than I realized.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Astronauts and Sippy Cups

Calvin's newest word is "astronaut" because today we saw and touched an astronaut's suit at the Air and Space Museum just down the road from our house. The boys' favorite exhibit was not an exhibit. It was one end of the hangar where there's a bunch of open space. They ran around crazily and only went splat a few times. We went with my aunt and uncle and it took all of us to stop them from:

1) making friends with everyone who made eye contact with them
2) picking up forty-seven million germs by wiping their hands along each and every rail
3) throwing their sippy cups on the space shuttle Enterprise

Sometimes I wonder if it's worth the trouble of taking them to see things like this, but I'm almost constantly reminded that it is. They've been jabbering about astronauts and airplanes all afternoon and I know they will remember it because they seem to remember EVERYTHING these days.

The Blog Decision

Yesterday when I was pushing my twins in their stroller that needs new wheels, through the crumbs and piles of last week's snowstorm, I pushed a fallen limb out of the path. Of course I grabbed a section with sap on it. I would. It was then transferred to the handle of the stroller, so there's that to look forward to next trip. I don't know how it relates, but I thought suddenly that perhaps I should start a blog.

I've used facebook status updates to tell the tales of my boys since they were the positive marks on the home pregnancy tests, but those don't really do the tales justice. I would like to have this log of events and tales to remember and even read to my boys when they can stand to sit still for more than one minute at a time. Oh, and I like to write. So here are my whispers and shouts and thoughts on the wonders of silence.
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