Sunday, May 23, 2010

Country Mice Now

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More Wonder Twin Powers!

Super Jake...

.... and Super Zach
Turn 3!

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tunnel Light

They are finally cutting me open.

By "they," I am lumping together the cadre of neurologists, pain management specialists, orthopedists and various and sundry "spine guys" I've seen in the past three months. (Although, to be specific about it, the only one doing any actual cutting will be the surgeon.)

It's amazing how fast "the system" can function once you lose the ability to move something - like your toes. After months of white-coated "we'll sees" and a veritable pharmacy of pills to pop, last week my case suddenly morphed into something urgent, complete with late night MRIs, next-day second opinions and now, Friday, surgery.

I can't wait.

I suppose it's a bit odd to be waiting with baited breath for full anesthesia and a hot date with a scalpel. But, then again, anyone who's been through this (and its truly shocking how many have) can relate to my impatience. I simply can't wait to get my life back.

Of course, it's not like I've done a great job of admitting how compromised my life is now. In classic only-I-would-set-it-up-this-way-style, I have engineered an truly awe-inspiring set of logistical challenges for the next few weeks.

Did I mention we're moving upstate for the summer? And that our original moving date was the day I'm having back surgery? Because someone is moving into our Brooklyn apartment May 1st? Oh, and that my grand plan this summer is to commute from upstate New York - no small stretch mind you? And that hubby is heading overseas for two months, starting at the end of May?And that I, too, am slated to travel to multiple foreign countries for work in June and July? And that, currently, I can barely sit, walk or bend - let alone lift anything heavier than a Vicodin?

Like I said, I can't wait for surgery.

It turns out that, to keep on chugging through my i-can-do-it-all so sometimes i do-too-much, every-moment-is-a-moment-i-should-be-doing-something-useful kind of lifestyle, I need a functioning spinal column. And toes.

But we're working it all out. Even faced with an overwhelming to-do list of hauling, shlepping, and flat packs, even owning up to the reality that I can't do anything remotely helpful or useful for weeks, we're finding the way to get it all done. We are heavily relying on family and friends. We re-signed with the au pair agency, and a lovely young woman moved in last week. Telecommuting is a wonderful thing.

In a few short weeks, half-finished pill bottles and a small scar will be all that remains of this particular saga. That, and the fact that both boys want to be doctors.

Jake, this morning, when asked "what do you want to be when you're big?" replied: "A doctor. I want to be a doctor. Than I can make mommy all better."

Hear hear.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Waiting and Wait-listed

Chalk this one into the "update" column:

Despite my attempt on writer-ly kiss-assing (see: Wouldn't you want to teach these two?,) the boys were wait-listed at the one school to which we applied.

Of course that was the one school we tried. My bad. Our bad. Then again, they are NOT EVEN THREE YEARS OLD. And they are FINE where they are. So be it.

And Update #2, the spine saga: Round two of epidural injections tomorrow. And I'm cautiously optimistic that they might be working.

Actually - to clarify - I was feeling incredibly optimistic 24 hours after round one. I was walking around, bending my knees, hugging my boys, and claiming to be living proof of medical miracles. Then I regressed. Horribly (It was, no doubt, karma. And/or my own damn fault for not taking it easy enough). All that said, today was actually a good day. I sat - actually sat - through a meeting at work. A long meeting. And I took the subway. And I made it through the whole day on only half of a Vicodin. And, for the first time in days, I wasn't blinking back tears come 8 p.m. So, cautiously optimistic. Definitely in "wait and see" mode.

Three cheers for more giant needles!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sticker Shock

We're definitely in the throes of "terrible."

Every day holds a constant barrage of "No!", "ppphhhhttttt" (complete with stuck-out tongues and sprays of saliva) and my personal favorite "why? why? why?" Shirt collars serve a whole new function: hand holds in lieu of actual neck scruffs. Even more telling, the boys are starting to lie. White lies, but lies none the less. Witness the exchange Zach and I had the other morning:

Z: "Mama, I want to watch a movie"
Me: "We don't watch movies on school days"
Z: "I don't want to go to school today"
Me: "You have to"
Z: "My head hurts. I'm sick. I can't go to school." Pause for a beat. "Now can I watch a movie?"

Some days it seems hubby and I spend half of our waking hours screaming. And some days - especially Monday mornings - the apartment feels like we're on the despot side of a police state. With some very, very annoying would-be rebels in our midst. It's brutal.

So we've decided to try a new tactic: incentives. And, so far, it appears to be working.

We're employing the popular tactic of "sticker boards." There are several categories of "good behaviors" (stay quietly in bed until 6:30, sit properly through dinner, etc.) Successful completion means the worthy child can choose from "special" stickers (a.ka., Disney, Pixar, Dora, Thomas) to put on his "board" (a.k.a., a large sheet of paper hanging on the wall).

Here's what we didn't anticipate (and should have) : sticker incentives are SO exciting, the boys are now scheming to earn more. Poor Zach sat on the portable toddler potty for a good fifteen minutes this morning, trying to squeeze out at least one tiny drop of pee (pee pee in the potty = 1 sticker. Poopy in the potty =2). And why? So he could get his hands on a sparkling Lightening McQueen. Poor kid hadn't drunk enough milk though.

A few moments later, I caught Jake dumping a box of Lincoln Logs on the living room rug, just so he could clean them up (clean up = 1 sticker). Needless to say, he didn't get any rewards for that maneuver.

In fact, the whole thing is working so well that the temptation is to start using the stickers for EVERYTHING. Eat your vegetables. Don't complain about getting a shampoo. Hold mommy's hand crossing the street. But I fear overuse. And I fear every moment becoming a negotiation.

Of course, that said, most moments feel like negotiations now.
"If you want to cookie then finish your peas."
"No TV until after bath."
"Pick up your toys if you want mommy to read a story."
... and so on.

Maybe, the bigger concern is, how long until it gets old, until the luster of tacky-backed animated characters has dimmed? Can I trust the Pixar film slate to keep up with my needs, providing me with enough fresh, shiny new characters to maintain the requisite level of excitement? After all, one needs heavy artillery for behavior modification. And potty training. And I don't want to have to escalate to *real* rewards, like money. Or chocolate. Stickers seem a reasonable currency.

I suppose, like everything about parenting (especially of toddlers, especially of boys, especially of toddler twin boys) it's about moderation. Deploy tactics wisely, sparingly. Remember that relative infrequency is what makes a treat a treat.

And trust that Disney will always know how to make a dime.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Not-so Criminal Minds

I'm not "doing" anything these days. No multi-tasking tight-rope-walking super-woman working mom-dom.

I'm just getting through.

Of course, I do have an excuse. If "'excuse" is, in fact the right sentiment. Unclear.

(Please note: I'm struggling - and failing - to avoid sounding like I'm blatantly stumping for sympathy here. So forgive.) At any rate, I've ruptured a disc in my spine. Currently I can't sit for more than a few minutes at a time. I can't bend or lift. And I'm in constant, significant pain - particularly in my leg. (Cue the requisite "Oohhhh you poor thing"s and "oh that's terrible"s).

It hit in the playground with the boys a few Saturdays ago. One moment I was pushing a tricycle while trying to explain "pedal." The next I was gray-faced, nauseous with pain, and en route to the ER.

Three days (and a ridiculous amount of morphine) later I was released from the hospital. And since then I've been drowning in a steady stream of pharmaceuticals, doctors and more than three weeks of lying in bed. Current approach is all percocet, all the time. Coming this week: edipural steroid injections (with a whole lot of fingers crossing that it works).

So, lots of reading books with mommy in bed. Lots of "don't climb on mommy" and "i'm so sorry sweetheart, but mommy can't do 'up' right now" and "Papa's coming in a minute." Poor papa. And poor boys.

Favorite moment #1:
"Zach, how was school today?"
He put hand on his lower back. "It was OK, but my back is hurting."

Favorite moment #2:
"Mommy, mommy..."
"What is it Jake?"
He has run up holding a cardboard toy drill, taken from a well-loved "fix-it" tool book.
"Hold still. I'm fixing your back." He holds the drill bit against my skin, and procedes to turn the handle. A beat. "All better?"

And moment #3, the classic:
Unseen little fingers yank up my shirt from behind, quickly followed by a succession of damp kisses on my lower back.
After a moment - say, five kisses each - two little heads poke around to the front.
"Mommy, now is your back all better?"

In fact "mommy, your back better? your back still hurting?" is a common refrain. Every day, multiple times a day. And there's a new game in the repetroire: Doctor (Not the naked kind. Not yet). They've created a whole new character named Doctor Super Snap. A doctor and super hero in one single super-duper package. Luckily for me Doctor Super Snap seems to have an endless supply of both bandaids and kisses.

It's simultaneously heart warming and wrenching to watch them navigate through having a broken mommy. Clearly the most traumatic series of events in their lives to date (not counting the NICU - and I'm sorry but I can't believe they were actually aware of that one).

But, honestly, there is a silver lining in all of this: I know without a doubt that they aren't psychopaths.

OK, fine. Maybe I'm reaching And maybe I've been clocking a few too many FBI CSI CIA CBI NCIS medical dramas while on bed rest. But what I mean is these boys of ours are undeniably empathetic.

And I know we are all going to be OK. I'll get better. The boys won't be scarred for life because I couldn't pick them up for a few months (or ever again). They won't need years of therapy because mommy had a bad back. They will indubitably need years of therapy for all the other things I'm doing. But not from this. Soon I will be "doing" again. We will all be OK.

Except maybe hubby. He hasn't slept in a month.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Escape Artists 2, Or Why We've Started Locking Their Door from the Outside

Ring. Ring.

I groggily reach for the night stand, knocking over books, tissue box, water bottle, as I scavenge for the phone. Squint to try and see the clock sans glasses: 5:02 a.m.

"Hello?" It comes out more like a grunt than a word.
"Um.... Rebecca? It's Tim, the doorman, from downstairs? Well... I thought you should know your boys are out..."

Yep. That's right. 5 a.m. They were out for a morning stroll. Or rather, running up and down the halls of our apartment building, screaming at the top of their lungs. I think they were pretending to be super heroes. But it might have been airplanes. The difference between Captain Pickles and a Jet Plane is murky at best, let alone at 5 a.m.

And how did they get there? Remarkable, really. A true testament to perseverance, ingenuity, and collusion. They moved a chair from the dining room table to get over the gate. Then they moved a stool from the kitchen to the front door. Then they clamored up and unlocked TWO deadbolts AND the safety latch.

That afternoon hubby bought another lock for their door. It's been two days, and, so far, so good. I'm not delusional though. Not in the slightest. I give it a week, tops.

And to all of our neighbors on the 16th floor: I am truly, truly, truly sorry.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Escape Artists

So it's happened. The inevitable. They made it out.

Apparently, while I was holed up in an office in London and relishing three nights of uninterrupted r.e.m., the boys figured out how to climb out of their cribs. At 6 a.m. hubby woke with a start to see two grinning little faces right next to his own.

This morning they gave me the demo: Jake climbed up on the railing and jumped down into Z's crib. (joys of apartment living: the cribs are jammed next to each other, nose-to-tail style.) Then, no doubt egged-on by mutual words of encouragement, they both climbed up the rail of Z's crib, levered over the top and onto the window sill, and jumped to the floor.

For the record, we live on the 16th floor. They were on the window sill. Feeling really good about enormously thick, double-paned glass right about now.


So. It's over. No more crib jail. No more: well, i'll just let them scream a smidge longer so I can finish my shower. No more: well, sure he doesn't want to go to sleep but lets just let him cry it out, he'll stop soon.

I know, I know - in the long run, its a good thing. After all, think of how unimpressed any woman would be if showing her his crib was, in fact, a truly literal suggestion. And I know even in the nearer term, that additional bit of autonomy could, theoretically, grant us a teensy bit more sleep on a Sunday morning. Maybe, just maybe, they'll crawl out of their beds, head straight for the legos, and entertain themselves for, say, 20 mins. One can only dream.

Still. It's a milestone. And now we have to actually *assemble* the big-boys beds, still nesting in their flat-packs.

Anybody need a crib, or two?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

These are not G and Ts

... although apparently we've spawned the next generation of I-Bankers. Note to self: keep as roast fodder for when they become angst-ridden, bleeding-heart, non-profit-working liberals trying to change the world one grant at a time. (a Mom can only hope).
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Friday, November 20, 2009

Wouldn't you want to teach these two?

"Without relying on physical attributes, what three descriptive words would you use to best describe how your child navigates his/her world? Please support each descriptive word with a short paragraph. "

- School Application Form

So, here's what I wrote. And why the heck not go for multiple distribution channels?

(Edits, comments welcome. )


The Listener
From a remarkably early age, Zach was hearing the world around him. From music, to words, to the cadences of speech and city, Zachary is constantly absorbing and replaying sounds he hears. And as we listen to him sing himself and his brother to sleep each night through the vent in the wall, we are witnessing his evolution from clever parrot to lyricist and composer. He “composed” his first song at 18 months – an ode to Broccoli, sung to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle. Now his nighttime ritual has become a collage of the songs and sounds of the day, his words the emerging pattern of his memories. “Old McDonald had an engine, e-i-e-i-o, and the engine had a magic feather, they can’t find it, where is thumbkin, e-i-e-i-o, broccoli-broccoli-broccoli song”

The Flirt
There is a certain girl that is magic for Zachary. She’s between the ages of 5 and 8. She’s small enough to be at the same playground, young enough to find entertainment in a slide, but big enough to know what she wants, when she wants it. Without fail, Zachary will find her – impossible to miss in her red sparkly flats – and within 5 minutes he will be holding her hand. Our theory is language: he can communicate with older children clearly. Not only does he understand directions, he can hold up his own end of any exchange. But he’s also young enough to be starry-eyed at the attention of every Disney Princess he meets.

“You could drop him on the moon, and he’d be OK, wouldn’t he.” So said another mother, as she watched Zach during his first day-care drop-off. He turned with a wave (“bye bye mama!”), made a bee-line for the Thomas trains, and never looked back. Zach is comfortable in his skin. He’ll sleep in any strange house in any dark room, no matter what creepy shadows dance on the walls. He’ll dive right in to any play date, jump onto any new jungle-gym, and accept every baby sitter we throw his way.


Although Jacob (Jake) is only two and a half, he has already shown himself to be a prodigious problem-solver. Whether it’s figuring out how to reach an apple on the counter (move a stool to a chair to a high chair and voila, a make-shift staircase!), turn on a CD (play drum music!), or find the missing pieces of a puzzle (under rug!) Jake displays both ingenuity and tenacity. We are convinced he will have dismantled – if not actually fixed – a DVD player by the time he is three.

When Jake is thirsty, he always asks for two glasses of milk –one for himself, and one for his brother, Zachary. When I strained a muscle, he asked, every day for weeks, “mama’s back feel better?” and gave me a kiss on the small of my back. He is often the first to give a hug and a kiss, and is able to share with the grace of a much older child. Of course he is two –he is just as liable to yank the toy from the hands of his twin brother versus grab an alternative or attempt a trade. But Jake is clearly attuned to the feelings and needs of those around him.

Jake is not one to let his hands sit idle. He is a busy guy. He’s not particularly interested in the television, but give him a set of legos and he can built the world’s tallest towers for an hour straight. He is constantly finding ways to be physically engaged in the world around him- turning the pages, connecting the dots, sorting my change and hearing each penny land with a satisfying ‘clink’ in his piggy bank. At least one part of his body is almost always in motion – his feet, hands, fingers – even in his sleep he’s moving his legs as though he’s still making his way through the world.