April 29, 2006

Funny… looking

Today, as I sat quietly watching the NFL Draft as TheMonk and Swee’Pea played with toys, I heard the infectious laugh of little Swee’Pea. I glanced over to see what she was laughing at.

She was laughing at me.

She sat there on the floor (her new trick this week is she can sit up all by herself now), no toys anywhere near her, looking directly at me while laughing her little bootie off.

Not one to pass up a chance to laugh, I joined her on the floor and laughed right back. She thought this was even more hilarious and we had a good back and forth of good old belly laughs until she finally got tired of laughing and scooted away to the nearest toy.

I went back to watching the draft while trying not to think about how just looking at me is enough to make my daughter crack up.

April 25, 2006

Family Traditions: Friday Playdate

I can’t remember how I came across Susan and her Friday Playdate blog. She just seems like the kind of woman you’d like to have as a neighbor. Hang out. Drink coffee. Laugh about the kids. In fact, I liked her so much, I campaigned for her to win when she was honored as a BOB finalist this year (for future reference, never ask me to campaign for you if you get nominated for something – apparently it’s a death sentence). This week has been a big week for Susan. She turned XX* this week and now she gets to walk with the Rhinos here at Childsplayx2. So, welcome Susan as we get ready for a truly summer tradition.


Friday Playdate Family Traditions: The First Day of Summer

I live in Oklahoma, where summer starts not when the calendar says it will (Memorial Day is still a good month away) but whenever God the Republicans Mother Nature decides it will. Like now, for example: it’s the end of April, and it’s already 120 degrees out (no, not really, but it IS in the 90s, which does NOT bode well for the actual summer). Despite the fact that school is still in session and the swimming pool won’t open for another month, it’s summer at my house.

My sons are nearly-four and nearly-six; to say that they are energetic is to understate the dawn-to-dusk frenzy of running and jumping that makes up an average day here. My husband was telling some friends recently that our kids never get tired; the run and run and run and then fall asleep. But they are never tired; instead, they are on the go all day long. It’s exhausting. I have made a career of thinking of ways for us to be outside and not die of heat stroke, in Oklahoma, when it’s 90 degrees. Or more! And in the process, I have started a new family tradition, one that marks the beginning of summer: the inflatable plastic wading pool.

Like most traditions, this is one we just fell into. In fact, I am compelled to admit, it is one that I actively resisted in the beginning. Five years ago, when H was just a year old and barely walking and I was out of town for the weekend, my in-laws bought him a swimming pool, one of those hard plastic one-piece deals. We never used it; H was terrified of the water and I was terrified that he would drown. The unused pool sat on our porch all winter; in the spring, my husband hauled it to the curb for our neighborhood Big Junk Pickup. And that was it–no more swimming pool!

But I was pregnant that summer and it was hot (when ISN’T is hot in Oklahoma?) and one day at SuperTarget, I found myself staring longingly at a display of colorful inflatable wading pools. For $7.99! And I thought how nice it would be to fill it with ice-cold water from the garden hose and put my swollen feet in, without ever having to put a swimsuit on. And H was two now, and less afraid of the water; he was also not talking much (by which I mean AT ALL) and I was desperate for things to do with him. I held the wading pool box up in front of H, who was was sitting in the cart, ignoring everything around him. I said, “Buddy, do you want a pool?” And he looked at me and said, “Pool!” So we bought it. And I spent the whole summer with my feet in the four inches of water in the bottom of the wading pool, watching H splash and laugh. At the end of the summer, I told my husband that we were going to deflate the pool and store it, for next summer, because we believe in recycling and not wasting things, even if they only cost eight dollars. He agreed.

In February, he popped it with a pair of garden shears and dragged it to the trash.

Spring came, and H–who has an autistic spectrum disorder that makes it difficult for him to make emotional connections or try new things, and who was still a little afraid of water, even in the bathtub–H said, “Mommy, where’s our pool?” When we told him that a tornado had taken it, he said, “Let’s get a new one!” And then when we got it home, he said, “Let’s blow it up!”

And a tradition was born.

At my house, the beginning of summer is marked not by the last day of school or the first day of camp but by the ritual purchase of the inflatable plastic swimming pool. When I was growing up, summer was all about playing and lounging. My brother and I didn’t go to summer school or summer camp; we took tennis lessons (through the city parks and rec program) and rode our bikes around the neighborhood and hung out with my mom. Some of my happiest childhood memories are of running in the sprinklers with my mother, or playing on our swing set while my dad worked in the yard. My parents encouraged us to go outside! and run! and have fun! We would stay out until it was nearly dark, playing in the big tree in the front yard while my parents sat on the porch drinking Manhattans. My childhood was peaceful and safe and free of worries. I want my sons to have the same.

So today we’re off to SuperTarget to get this year’s inflatable plastic pool. We will fill it up and put on our sunscreen and swimsuits and get some plastic dinosaurs and spray bottles and go outside. Because it’s officially summer here now. It’s time to have fun and be outside and play.

You can read more of Susan at http://www.fridayplaydate.blogspot.com

*I’m not telling her age! You can read that for yourself on her blog.

April 23, 2006

A Day in the Life

Before this time becomes a distant memory, I thought I’d write down my daily schedule as it relates to taking care of infant twins. Who knows, someday I might need this as evidence when TheMonk or Swee’Pea questions my parenting skills. :)

6:00 a.m. – Wake-up time. If I’m lucky, TheMonk and/or Swee’Pea will not have awakened during the night. It’s really a toss-up whether they will wake up or not. If they are sick (which covers about 80% of the past 5 months) then you can be sure one will wake up. If they have not awakened, I go get them out of bed at 6:05 a.m. while Andrea showers. I have already laid out their clothes and diapers. If fortune is on my side, I can usually scoop one out of their crib before the other knows I’m there. I then change diapers and clothing in our bedroom and put whichever baby I have on the floor to play while I go get the other one. Hopefully the one on the floor will play quietly but if he/she is hungry, I have to hurry to get the other one ready while listening to wailing.

6:20 a.m. – Breakfast time. I have weighed each baby on a special scale before Andrea comes in. This helps us determine how much they’ve gotten from breastfeeding at the end of the session. Soon, Andrea arrives and I help her set them up on the breastfeeding pillow. I then put pj’s away, throw the dirty diapers in the diaper pail in their room and head for the shower.

6:35 a.m. – Shower is done and I quickly get dressed. If the babies are feeding well, I don’t go into the bedroom for fear of distracting the babies. If they haven’t been feeding well, I help Andrea by burping the one that isn’t feeding well. Usually, a little time off the breast helps and when I put them back on, they continue to eat.

6:40 a.m. – I head downstairs where I put a bowl of 1-minute quick oats in the microwave for Andrea while I prepare a cup of coffee for myself. I also take Andrea’s breast pump downstairs and put the ice pack in her bottle carrier. I pull out Andrea’s lunch and fill her water bottle. I arrange everything on the counter so Andrea can grab them quickly as she heads out the door for work.

6:50 a.m. – I head back upstairs with Andrea’s breakfast. I then weigh one of the babies to determine if more is needed. Usually, Swee’Pea is done (she tells Andrea this with the sign language we’ve been teaching them) and I take her out to the loft. TheMonk will stay and finish off anything that is left.

7:00 a.m. – Both TheMonk and Swee’Pea are done feeding. If they’ve fed well I don’t need to change the amount of milk in their bottles that I take to daycare. If they’ve fed poorly, I’ll run downstairs and add a bit more formula for their next feeding. Then, I come back up and play with the twins on the floor. I might add some socks and I’ll wash their faces with a scented baby wipe to get them ready for the day.

7:10 a.m. – Andrea comes out after finishing getting ready for work. We hand off babies while she says goodbye for the day. We practice saying “bye-bye” and we blow Mommy kisses as she leaves for the day.

7:15 a.m. – Andrea has left and I’ll play a bit more. At this time, I might do a quick blog post as they play on the floor at my feet. Other times I’ll play with them a bit more as children’s songs play softly in the background.

7:30 a.m. – I finish getting ready. I comb my hair and brush my teeth. I then make sure the babies are occupied and safe while I run downstairs and load their daycare stuff into the car along with my work stuff. Once that is done, I head back upstairs to the twins.

7:40 a.m. – I put TheMonk in the exersaucer while I get Swee’Pea’s jacket or sweater on. We then go downstairs to the garage where I buckle Swee’Pea into her seat. I put a binky in her mouth and give her a rattle to play with and tell her I’ll be right back. I then head upstairs and repeat the process with TheMonk.

7:50 a.m. – Both twins are in the car. I do a quick walk-through of the house turning off lights and making sure I didn’t forget anything. Once all is fine, I get in the car and we head off to daycare.

8:00 a.m. – Once at daycare, I get Swee’Pea out of the car first as she is always on the driver’s side. I scoop her out and carry her and the daycare bag filled with extra clothes and the food for the day to the front door. On the way I give her kisses and say my goodbyes. Once I have handed her off to the very-excited-to-see-her daycare provider, I head back to the car to get TheMonk. Once they are both inside I sign them in, give the daycare provider any instructions (more food, more sleep, etc.) I say my “bye-byes” and head off to work.

8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Work, Work, Work.

5:45 p.m. – Arrive home from work. Prior to the removal of one breastfeeding session at 5:00 p.m. (which Andrea, Super Mom, would do on her own) I would get home in time to help feed solids. Now, however, I miss this. I go upstairs and play with the twins in the loft unless it’s Wednesdays. Wednesday is bath night and it’s my night to bathe them while Andrea showers and has some time to herself.

6:25 p.m. – Done with playing or baths and we put them down for a quick nap. I read them a story before putting them to sleep.

6:30 p.m. – Dinner preparation time. I have done all of the cooking since early in Andrea’s pregnancy so I have to hustle downstairs to start dinner. I usually try to prepare meals in advance or plan a meal that takes minimal time to prepare. On the weekends I might make a couple of crock-pot recipes and store the leftovers in the freezer for later in the week. Other than Fridays, when I get take out food, I cook.

7:00 p.m. – If I’m cooking from scratch then we don’t eat prior to 7:00 p.m. This is always a challenge because Swee’Pea doesn’t often sleep longer than a half-hour. If Swee’Pea wakes up prior to us eating, then we’ll eat while entertaining her at the same time.

7:20 p.m. – We get the babies up to breastfeed one last time prior to putting them to bed for good. While they feed I am busy washing Andrea’s breast pump accessories and getting them ready for the next day. I then head downstairs and start to clean up from dinner. I’ll also go into the babies’ room and pick out their outfits for the next day and take them to our room.

7:50 p.m. – The babies are usually done about this time. If they have fed well we don’t need any supplemental bottles which I miss because it was one time I could sit quietly with them and feed them. Most nights, however, they don’t need any supplemental formula so we change them into their pj’s and put them to bed.

8:00 p.m. – Unless it’s Tuesday night (American Idol is on!) I go downstairs and finish cleaning up the kitchen. I then take out the bottles in the daycare bag and get them ready for the next day. I’ll pour Andrea’s pumped milk into the bottles and add formula as needed. Right now they get about 26 to 28 ounces of formula/breast milk. I’ll also get out their solids that they’ll eat at daycare the next day. Usually it’s four ice cubes of pureed fruits or vegetables that I prepared earlier along with a few tablespoons of rice cereal. I also prepare Andrea’s and my own lunch for the next day and place everything in the fridge for the next morning.

8:30 to 8:45 p.m. – Depending on how easily the babies went to sleep and how messy the kitchen was I now have some time to think about meals for the rest of the week. If I’m tired and don’t feel like preparing something, I’ll check to make sure we have some edible leftovers in the freezer. Other times I’ll prepare a crockpot recipe to cook overnight or I’ll prep the food to cook the next night. I also might steam some vegetables or fruit and puree it to make baby food for the next week or two.

9:00 – 9:30 p.m. – I am finally done with the day’s chores. Usually, at this point, I’m very tired. I’ll surf some blogs or try to write something on this blog. I value time to myself. I also need to find time to spend with Andrea who by now is just about finishing her final pumping session of the night. If I’m feeling good, I’ll offer to wash the pump supplies before bed.

10:00 p.m. – I’m usually tired but not ready to go to bed. I’ll stay awake and watch tv or read my Sports Illustrated or surf a bit more.

10:30 p.m. – Bed Time. Hopefully TheMonk and Swee’Pea will sleep soundly through the night. If not, it’s my job to go comfort them (and do it in a way that the other doesn’t wake up) until they fall back asleep. Lately this has been happening at about 11:00 p.m. and/or at 4:00 a.m. It’s getting better though and I’m actually pretty functional now despite the interruptions in sleep. I guess 10+ months of doing that gets you used to it. But, if they don’t wake up, it’s heaven and I relish the sleep. Lord knows I need it.

After all, I have another big day in front of me.

April 21, 2006

A look back continued

As I have family and friends in town, posting will be light so I’m linking to some of my favorite posts of the past 10 months.

My first solo expedition

Daddy’s Son

What ails you?

April 20, 2006

A look back – The early days

We have family and friends coming into town as we prepare for this weekend’s baptism. As a result, posting will be difficult. So, I’m going to post some of my favorite posts from the past year. I hope you enjoy them.

Things that go bump in the night

Peace, Love, Believe, Hope, Dream


The Adventures of TheMonk and Swee’Pea – Part I

April 19, 2006

Family Traditions: Deanna’s Corner

It’s rare when someone leaves enough info in the comment section that you actually feel like you get to know the person. However, with Deanna from Deanna’s Corner I have done just that. Just by reading her comments, I have learned that she is hails from the Great Northwest, that she is such a diligent baby food cooker that she shelled the peas before blending them, that she caught a baseball at a Seattle Mariners game in 1997, and even knows alternate lyrics to the tune “Copa Cabana” that parodies Star Wars. How could I not want to keep checking out her blog? I also learned that Deanna found my blog when Busy Mom was kind enough to write about her own Family Traditions back in December. So, Deanna has come full circle as she has been kind enough to contribute her own Family Tradition tale. Please welcome Deanna from Deanna’s Corner!


It’s April in Seattle, and that means several different things around here. One thing it means, as a local comedian once said, is that the rain gets warmer. The Mariners start the baseball season. The lawn gets mowed. For me, though, it also means the Cherry Blossom Festival at the Seattle Center.

The Cherry Blossom Festival is basically a large, weekend-long fair of everything Japanese and pseudo-Japanese (I am pretty sure that there is no tofu carving for kids at any cherry blossom viewing in Japan). There are ikebana (Japanese flower arranging) displays, the local language schools show off their projects, there’s the kimono dress-up, calligraphy, art displays, the origami table, taiko (drum) music, martial arts demonstrations and other fun things to look at. In more recent years, there’s been a table for the Orix Blue Wave, the Japanese baseball team that Ichiro Suzuki came from. The website for the Seattle Center says that the Cherry Blossom Festival is the oldest cultural festival that they host. I think the roots probably stretch back into Seattle’s pre-World War II Nihonmachi (Japantown, now the modern-day Chinatown/International District). In Japan, the first cherry blossoms of the spring are celebrated with people taking time off work and having picnics with family and friends, so I’m sure that’s where the beginnings of the local Festival came from.

My parents took my siblings and me to the Festival for many years. I’m not exactly sure if it was to expose us to Japanese culture, or because it was free and we also had a family pass to the Pacific Science Center for several years. Even though my father is Japanese, he’s a third-generation American. We were raised with some of the trappings of Japanese culture, but it was an unconscious part of our daily lives. We ate a lot of rice, had Pocky in the cupboard and used a handful of Japanese words (chopsticks are “hashi” and soy sauce is “shōyū” in our family), but we were just as likely to eat lasagna as sukiyaki. The Cherry Blossom Festival allowed us to get a closer peek at our Japanese heritage, and it was something that I always wanted to do every year. Family outings were always special to my brother and sisters and me, because our parents worked odd schedules (to this day, my Dad works a swingshift as a janitor for a local school district, which meant that he wasn’t home in the evenings during the school year), so we always loved the times when we were all together. Once my youngest sister was born and my brother started playing baseball regularly, with games on weekends, my parents stopped taking us. I missed it. When I started college, I took some friends with me and went again – and it was still fun, even though I was grown up.

Even though it holds some great childhood memories for me, the Festival has another even more significant meaning for me now. In April of 1999, it was the setting of my first date with my husband. I took him around to all of the booths and the ikebana show, and he was interested in the technology prototypes that were on display. It was there, after years of knowing each other and being friends, and a couple of months of beating around the bush, that we became a couple.

We have been back since that fateful day, but we haven’t yet taken our kids with us. That will change this year. Our daughter, the Munchkin, is now 2, and our son, Baby Boy, is 8 months old. She is now old enough to enjoy some of the kid activities, and if I’m lucky, she’ll hold still long enough to get dressed up in a kimono. Baby Boy will enjoy the people-watching, because he’s a social little guy. I want to share this part of my childhood and my heritage with my children for many years to come, and I hope that they will enjoy it as much as I did. And I hope that hearing the story of their parents’ first date every year doesn’t bore them too much.

You can read more of Deanna at http://www.deannascorner.com

April 18, 2006

Chomper Alert!

When I was a kid, I used to be afraid of old people. The part that freaked me out the most was the fact that they could take their teeth out. The thought of someone without their teeth still gives me the heebie-jeebies. This has me concerned because TheMonk still does not have a single tooth. And until today, Swee’Pea didn’t have any either.

But now, ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to announce that my daughter has a tooth. No longer will she have to gum her food! No longer will she be defenseless against a brother intent on stealing her binky! No longer will her school-mates be able to call her Gummy Bri! And no longer will her daddy worry about her giving people the heebie-jeebies later in life. She has a tooth!!!

Let the record show that Swee’Pea has produced her right central incisor at 10 months, five days. Never mind that the average baby produces this tooth at 7.8 months. It just goes to show that TheMonk and Swee’Pea are NOT average. I could have told you that. (And don’t worry, TheMonk. Years from now they’ll call you eccentric which is a lot better than Gummy)

What is most impressive is that we really had no idea that she was teething. In retrospect, she might have been a bit crankier than usual but nothing out of the realm of normal. She did have a runny nose the past couple of days and she did wake up unusually early on Saturday and Sunday but who knew she was teething? Not me. I’m going to have to work on her communication skills. I mean, we’ve got Orajel and Infant Tylenol all ready to go, just for situations like these and she goes and does it naturally.

So, if you want to see what a girl with her first tooth looks like, I’m happy to oblige. Behold, the one-tooth wonder!

Bri chewing on Daddy’s camera lens cap

bri smiling
Daddy, this would taste a lot better if it was a cookie!

April 17, 2006

Family Traditions: The Dog’s Breakfast

When Momma K, Queen of Petroville was kind enough to name my post about the Catholic Church a “Perfect Post” I was honored. The best part, however, was getting a chance to see a lot of great blogs that I had not visited before. Someone had nominated Panther Girl at The Dog’s Breakfast for her touching post about her son and dealing with the death of his father. I have some experience in this area since I lost my father at a young age and, as a result, Panther Girl and I bonded.

So, I’m happy to have her as my first non-holiday family tradition. Please welcome Panther Girl and go on over and say hi.


I’ve never been a big “tradition” person. My family growing up did certain things over and over, but I’d define them more as habits than traditions. Sundays alternated between my father’s mother and my mother’s mother cooking ginormous meals, enslaving the women before and after while the men unbuckled their swollen bellies in front of the tube. (I would usually sneak downstairs, in feminist defiance against the almighty dishtowel.) Even the holidays held very little tradition. We’d usually open our Christmas gifts alone while my mother clanged the coffee pot around in the kitchen. Easter brought out the patent leather shoes and spongy coats that made us look like peeps. The most festive holiday around our place was Halloween, but I think that’s only because it allowed my parents to flex their racist muscles by dressing us up as Aunt Jemima and Buckwheat.

When I had my first child, my daughter, there was a part of me that wanted to create some family traditions but I just didn’t know how. Luckily, it just happened. The night before her first birthday, my husband and I were reminiscing about the previous year…how we had gone out to dinner and ate soft shell crab while I experienced some weak contractions every 20 minutes or so. We went home, went to sleep and the next morning I was in full-blown labor.

We thought it would be cute to eat softshell crab again as our daughter was turning one, and from that year on we continued the “tradition”. Three divorces and one kid later, I continue to eat the early labor meal each year on my kids’ birthdays…. softshell crab for Emma, and chicken fajitas for Lucas. They think it’s really fun, and it inevitably leads to a walk down memory lane about the day they were born. Kids love that stuff.

You can read more of Panther Girl at http://www.thedogsbreakfast.blogspot.com

April 16, 2006

Six Weird Things

I was tagged by Becky. I’m supposed to write six weird things nobody knows about me and then tag six others. Okay…… Here it goes.

1) When I was a kid I would compusively count the syllables of everything that came out of my mouth. (26 syllables) I know, I know, weird. I no longer do this and I only did this for a short time – so don’t go judging me and my weirdness, okay!

2) I hate the taste of cilantro.

3) I have read works by Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hume and Locke and the only thing I remember about any of them is their name. (How’s that for an Ivy League education?)

4) On October 15, 1991 at 12:01 a.m. I joined my track & field teammates by running naked around the Columbia campus singing “Roar Lions Roar”, the Columbia Fight Song. This run has been repeated each October 15th since. (Nothing perverted here! It was a male bonding thing that only 18-22 year-olds can think is a good idea).

5) I have an inch-long birthmark on my left shin that looks like a russet potato. When I was born, it was on my ankle.

6) When I was a kid I could never figure out how Encyclopedia Brown knew who did it.

Ivory Frog
Pixie Mom

April 15, 2006

Show me the money!

April 15th usually strikes fear into the hearts of millions. It’s tax day. Time to face off with Uncle Sam. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose but in the end you’re still paying taxes. This year, we got a reprieve due to the 15th falling on a Saturday. So, now Monday is the new April 15th. Usually, I would do our taxes at the last minute and rush them to the post office at 11:59 p.m. on the 15th. This year, however, we’re ahead of the game and I’m not feeling the pressure.

The best part of 2005 for us was the birth of TheMonk and Swee’Pea. The second best thing in 2005 was getting double tax deductions – which is the only time we have saved money having twins. Before we had our taxes done, TheMonk and Swee’Pea were just babies. Now, they’re not only babies, they’re Daddy’s little tax deductions.

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