Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mysterious Stroller-Leaver(s)

Eating lunch
So the other day we found what appears to be a brand new double jogging stroller on the landing below ours (in between two levels, so not outside anyone's door), with the user's manual. For some reason my first thought was, "Someone's moving in with twins!!" because we have an empty unit below us. Silly me. It's clear now that it was for us, but we still do not know who did it. I have an idea...but I'm befuddled at the anonymity. The boys have taken to it. They insisted on eating lunch in it yesterday and after their nap they watched a movie in it, drinking their milk and eating their veggie straws. Why does the stroller-leaver wish to remain a mystery? Any ideas? Is said person reading this blog and chuckling right now?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bus Whisperer

Last week I took the boys on their first bus ride. We went with a friend and her little boy on a local bus route loop for about 20 minutes before winding up at another friend’s house for a playdate. I had mixed emotions about taking the boys on the bus because it scared me a little, but our trip was fun and even a little enlightening.
When the bus pulled up to the bus stop the boys were at first curious about being so close to a bus, and about how big the wheels were. They know a lot about buses; we have two bus stops we can see from our balcony and so they’re familiar with what buses look like and what they sound like. They will look up from playing and proclaim, “bus!” when they hear one. They also are quite fond of the song “The Wheels On The Bus,” and have a terrific pop-up book with the same title. So the stage was set for our sojourn.
Yet, as I prepared to take them out of the stroller and fold it up to board the bus, they freaked out, wailing and carrying on crying, “Mommy, Mommy!” like I was in some way betraying them. Meanwhile my friend’s son was taking it like a champ. He had ridden the bus before, so is an expert. Plus he was clutching tightly to two crackers. Somehow we got all of us onto the bus, Clark on my friend’s lap, Cal on my lap, and her son wedged in the seat between us. They even stopped wailing long enough for  me to notice my surroundings.
Back in the days of riding the bus and metro to work every day I was not accustomed to people being, well, friendly. Not that people were generally rude, but they were generally glazed-over on the commute. Like what deep-sea-dwelling fish—the ones with no eyes— must look like on their commutes. Creepy. Most of the passengers wore black and carried briefcases and smelled of expensive importance. Then there was me with my thrift store teacher’s slacks and whiteboard marker fingers messing It all up. Of course, I was nothing compared to the man who dressed like a woman and painted his nails with polish from a makeup Caboodle while riding the bus. That's right. He/she would show up occasionally and I always was so delighted to watch him/her. But enough about what kept me going while teaching middle school.

Anyway, the strangers on the bus were kind to us, especially to the boys. The driver talked to the boys and would have flexed his steering wheel for them if he could have. The passengers picked up dropped hats and waved and winked and one man talked to Clark for awhile about his little girl who is just Clark’s age.  A man climbed on the bus with garden tools, including a spade and some large sheers. I kept thinking that carrying those potential weapons must be against the rules, but I guess because it was so clear that he had just crawled out of a landscaping hole somewhere, the driver didn’t bat an eyelash at it. I don’t think he spoke English, but he winked at the boys and waved when he got off.  A tall black early twenty-somethings man with ear buds in, bobbing his head to the beat, grinned ear to ear each time he made eye contact with the boys. Kids seem to tear down invisible walls between people.
Cal kept saying, “Keeeeep going!” and they both kept pointing to the triangle wheelchair signs and loudly declaring, “yellow triangle!” The steering wheel elicited “big wheel!” every time they looked at it. They noticed with delight the way the bus driver lowered the bus to the level of the sidewalk as we got out. Ah the wonder of a child!
Not only was I delighted by kind strangers and excited about introducing public transportation to the boys, but knowing how easy it actually will be to get the boys on and off the bus was a great relief and very freeing. There are so many places we can visit!
Cal and Clark are still talking about the trip. Once-in-awhile Cal will pipe up with, “I sit Mommy’s lap bus ride!” because I like to ask them questions about our trip and they love to answer.
 Tonight as I was reading a bedtime story, I saw Cal slip away on his tummy with a little toy bus. He had his head down on the floor, watching it as he pushed it back and forth. “Bus ride,” he whispered slowly over and over, as if they were magic words. I’m pretty sure we’ll be boarding a bus again soon.
Here is Clark, driving his bus.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Library with a Capital L: A Concept

The smell of stale paper and new books, combined with the titillating knowledge that inside each book was a secret life—an adventure waiting to happen—made The Library a magical place for me as a small girl. It was where in the summer I could go to collect exciting prizes such as bookmarks and stickers and canvas bags for all the books I read, and where in the winter I would go each week and pick out as many interesting and entertaining books as Mom would allow and spend the wintry inside-week learning about exotic places and time periods and enjoying the escapism and intrigue of the mysteries of The Boxcar Children and The Bobbsey Twins and The Hardy Boys. I’m thankful that Mom took my siblings and me to The Library like clockwork, once a week—rain or shine.
Later The Library was a place that made me feel exceedingly collegiate, even exceedingly brilliant when I got too carried away in my thinking. Going to the reference section and printing out (at first on the dot matrix printer paper), information only valuable to me—the eccentric who chose to do her papers on obscure topics when possible— made me feel important. Much of the goal of going to the library during the first part of college was to lock myself away from the chaos of dorm life and force myself to focus. Somehow it usually worked. Since I went to a college with an embarrassingly small library, I often went to a nearby university library where I felt intelligent and important just by walking up and down surrounded by so many, many books and bespectacled scholars partitioned off in soundproof rooms. I came away hoping I had absorbed some universal truths and worldly wisdom just by exposing myself to the books.
When I made my cross-country move, The Library became the place I went for bus and metro-riding reading material. Since I could suddenly read for pleasure and not for class, and had time on public transportation every day, I read like a crazy-person, sometimes missing my metro or bus stops because I was buried in my books.
As a teacher, my relationship with The Library changed a bit. For one thing there was always the pronunciation struggle. At the end of each of the years I taught seventh grade I had a floor-to-ceiling exposed beam covered with papers on which students had correctly spelled LIBRARY after pronouncing it LYE-BERRY. Ridiculous. Also,it can be challenging to keep track of 24 students in a library. But I always tried to present it (even to my disillusioned 12th graders who oddly enough already knew everything) as an inspiring place to be, and one we were privileged to visit.
Though I was technically getting paid for it, parading unwilling high school students down the halls and into the library where I cracked the whip of graduation above them was not as great as when I worked writing curriculum courses. I GOT PAID to go to The Library, which gave me all kinds of chills. I remember going to collect information on various authors for the British Literature course I helped write and pinching myself, knowing that I was on the clock taking this kind of trip. Always though, entering The Library has been like walking into a quiet sanctuary of peacefulness.
Enter Twin Boys. The Library has changed. When the boys were younger it was pleasant enough, pushing them down the street and around the corner and into the air conditioned silence of The Library made me feel responsible as a parent. I would check out all the board books that would fit into my canvas grocery bag and hang it on the back of the stroller for the trip home. The boys were fairly contained most of the time just looking around at that point, though I lived in fear that a cry, possibly even a wail, might escape them and that the librarians would scowl at me. I even had a librarian basically kick me out of storytime for not being able to contain the two boys (13 months at the time) on my lap at once, and not allowing me to use my stroller as a means to contain them. (The first and last time we ever went to storytime at The Library. The bookstore nearby is much more friendly. It seems the readers there have actually been around children and know what to expect from them—namely that one year olds don’t sit in perfect semi-circles quietly.)
Eventually the boys started wanting out of the stroller on our visits. I could only put one of them out at once, which I learned after I took them both out and they ran in opposite directions, tripping on the edges of their sandals, falling face-first onto the thin carpet, and sobbing—one at each end of the children’s section. One of the most memorable times was not long ago when Brian and I both took them to The Library later at night, to get some new books and sign language videos (they’re obsessed with sign language). We each just walked in with a boy at our hands and no stroller. Immediately they started squealing, squirming out of our grips, and running around, pointing at the lights, the “new stories!” “Signing Time!”and giggling at eluding our clutches. We got some of the “How cute, what a handful, I know what you’re going through” looks as well as the “What the devil are you doing in The Library, go home and take your seed with you” looks.

Now my library visits feel more like a military drill. I take them in the stroller, push them in as fast as I can without exceeding some imaginary speed limit set forth in the mind of the stuck-up children’s librarian, hold my breath as I pass her and the boys lean out of the stroller saying “walk, walk!” or “down, down!”, get to the place I want to go, quietly distract the boys by asking about the books they recognize while I search madly for more books and signing videos. When I’m done I give them each one book or video to hold and sprint-push the stroller back to a self-checkout station where I madly scan the copies of the books, pulling a couple from eager fingers, “Book, MY BOOK!” and return them to the flailing arms and arching backs threatening to tip over the stroller. Usually by that time my headband or hair tie is falling out and my hair is in my eyes and I’ve worked up some ridiculous sweat since I didn’t want to take the time to take my coat off. It seems that everyone in The Library is glaring at me and rolling their eyes, though I’m sure it’s only a few. As soon as the boys are placated with their reading or viewing material, I whisk them out the door and take in a deep breath. I have survived The Library Drill and I somehow still love books.
I started tutoring in The Library and occasionally I am even able to slip away to The Library by myself. I am relieved to know that when I walk in alone it has the same appeal that it always has had. It is a sanctuary. It is the medley of words and stories and possibilities that I love. I get no stares. I do not cringe. I do not sweat. I sip my covered drink and calmly saunter down the narrow aisles of the Classics section that do not accommodate the double stroller. It is My Library.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Peacocks and Teapots

It is unending fun to observe the boys’ growing speaking skills and comprehension of the world around them. Yesterday Cal asked to see the “peacock” on the shelf, while pointing to my teapot. I’ve of course never noticed that those two words sound similar, but they sure do. In a minute’s time though, we worked on the differences between Mommy’s green teapot and the pretty blue peacock we saw at the farm the day before.
When Clark says “strawberry” it sounds like “diarrhea.” Hopefully that pronunciation will evolve soon, as it is not pleasant to be cutting up strawberries while he chants “diarrhea!” in the background. Both of them pronounce computer as “beer.” The other day Clark was using “potty” and “buddy” interchangeably. Brian called him “buddy” and he said, “Potty. Sign potty,” and did the sign for potty. They called candles “little fires” for quite awhile. And Cal called Alex’s pacifier a “fire fire” for a few days. He still calls Baby Alex “Baby Akis” and asks every night if she will be here when he wakes up in the morning.
Once Clark thought the container of spackle I was using to patch the walls was yogurt. Fortunately he did not act on that. I have a small tin of lotion that they always call “salmon” because I feed them canned salmon sometimes. At the farm the other day there was a big puddle in a field. Cal pointed to it excitedly and said, “ocean!” In an awkward situation (namely an unfamiliar person talking to him) he will point and comment on the nearest lighting fixture with “light!” or on our vacuum cleaner and its color, “makah meaner blue” both in very serious tones as if these are somber, important truths of the universe.
I’m working on clarifying for them the meaning of the word handsome (“hassom”). Cal called his sweater a “hassom red sweater” yesterday and then promptly assigned the same word to his scuffed-up, muddy shoes. When I put on a hat they both say, “Mommy hassom.” We’ve worked on the fact that you call boys handsome and girls pretty but it hasn’t quite hit home with them. So far they call brightly-colored things pretty.  Here they are being handsome in my headbands.

Yesterday when we were outside our building Clark kept insisting that the dead brown grass was hay. I told him it was grass that would soon turn green, but he seemed skeptical. I still have not figured out why he calls things “mouse.” There seems to be no consistent reason behind it. He was calling each street light a mouse the other day, but he also says “mouse” when he points at trees, holes anywhere (which makes sense), bark on the ground…maybe I will soon figure out what is similar about those things.
For now I am just enjoying all the creativity and wonder that they boys approach the world with every day. It kind of makes me want to make up my own words.

Monday, March 14, 2011

National Walk for Epilepsy

On March 27th I will walk in DC in the National Walk for Epilepsy. Since I've never participated in the walk before and I've only ever met a couple other people with epilepsy, I'm looking forward to meeting more people in my situation. If you want to read more about the walk, go to their website. If you'd like to help sponsor me, go to my participant page to donate.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

P.S. Email Updates?

Please let me know if you would like to receive an email when I post on this blog.

Fashion or Fighting Instincts?

I’ve been wondering when the boys would develop their own fashion sense, or more fittingly put, their attachment to one article or type of clothing. They’ve always just shared all their clothes. I was imagining that maybe in their teens it would start— when perhaps one of them wants to wear only gigantic basketball shorts, huge shirts, and straight-brimmed hats and the other can better express himself in skinny jeans and tight t-shirts, or whatever the equivalent styles are in the future.

Here is the mohawk Clark woke up with the other day. Bedhead? Sure, honey. I saw that gel in your crib.

But alas, it happened today. That’s right. The boys have these similar shirts—they are both striped, one green and one orange. The orange one has a blue monster on it and the green one has a space ship, stars, planets, and a moon on it and says Spaced Out. For whatever reason I usually dress Cal in the orange one and Clark in the green one. So as I faced two wiggly, naked-chested boys this morning, I grabbed the green one to put on Cal. He immediately started screaming, “ORANGE JUICE!” which is what they call anything that is the color orange. I didn’t understand him at first and I thought he was simply trying to elude getting dressed. But then Clark started screaming and frantically tearing at the green shirt coming over Cal’s head. Clark raced over and picked up the orange shirt and threw it in my face. When I handed them each the correct shirt the crying immediately subsided as Clark patted the planets and stars fondly and Cal laughed lovingly at the monster. Clearly Clark feels he is the more spaced out one and Cal that he is the monster.

And on a similar clothing/accessory note, they both love my headbands. Usually when I’m wearing one they reach for it and say “turn, turn, hay-band,” which means they need a turn with the headband. When I relent, causing my hair to fall into familiar disarray, they smile confidently and proclaim themselves “hassom” which means handsome.

I’m not sure if this means they will have a keener sense of fashion than their mom, (let’s face it, I don’t really DO fashion, especially since motherhood set in) or if they just like to fight.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Words Cal Shouldn't Say In Mixed Company Because They Sound Like Swear Words

1. Truck
2. Fork
3. Flag
4. Frog
5. Shirt
6. Sit
7. The hybrid frog/duck word he uses for the bath towel creature

This was especially evident this morning when he was running around with a little American flag that he was taunting Clark with. He was saying, "Flag! You! Flag! You!" Oops.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Totally Inapropriate Old Man Comment

Since my last blog entry was about poop I thought I could follow with a short one about a comment made to me today by an old man about the anatomical parts of boys. My boys, specifically. Which, by the way, this 60-something year-old dude called “pee-pees.” That’s right.

I was standing in line at the coffee shop by my house, with the boys and the double-wide stroller, (the duplex) minding my own business, absently scanning the pastries and organic this and that for sale. Another old gentleman, with more tact than the second one, said to the boys jokingly, “no coffee for you too,” which was cute and fine and disappeared into the soft music.

Then after I had ordered, the old man who is the subject of this anecdote cupped his hand and said softly to me, “Good for you for bringing an extra pee-pee into the world.” Hehe, I chuckled back, before I could completely process what he said. And then he was gone. Really? Who says that? I replayed it in my mind to make sure that was what he said. I still wonder if I am correct in my recollection, but I’m pretty certain I am. It doesn’t sound like anything else.

After he had left I thought up some witty comebacks, which is usually what happens to me after the moment has passed. “Yeah, it was my lifelong goal, two pee-pees.” “Yep, replacing yours and then some.” And I’ll pretend like there were others.

Not that I would ever say that to him. I’m not very daring in such situations.

Anyway, that was the funny quote of the day. The second funniest was when I asked Cal if he wanted juice this morning and he answered, “Juice me.” I take that back. That was probably funnier than the pee-pee comment.
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