Wriggle, Wiggle, Squiggle and Squirm

Toys are haphazardly strewn about my living in room – they lay where they fell in the aftermath of Hurricane Muppet.

Both muppets are sitting on their own. They can’t get upright by themselves – but they look adorable when you prop them up. Logan isn’t as good at maintaining the posture. Caden will lean and catch himself. Logan? “Well, guess we’re going down now.” Thunk.

They’re far more interested in the continued discovery of each and every toy. The can reach out and drag objects toward them. (Deemed “advanced skills” on the milestone growth chart timeline.)

Caden spent the morning scootching his little legs up underneath himself and rocking back and forth on his knees. He is so close to crawling. He’ll scoot backwards a few inches, growing increasingly frustrated that the object of his current attention is seemingly moving farther and farther out of his reach. Then after several attempts, he lurched himself forward. He completely faceplanted – but hey, we’re making mobility progress here.

Logan’s big boy carseats arrived today. The UPS man rang the doorbell, surrounded by four giant Britax boxes. “Four, huh?” he deadpanned. (To be fair, we went ahead and ordered Caden’s at the same time.) Jon set about putting the seats together and we strapped the muppets into the land-yacht stroller – forward facing – for the first time. The muppets were giddy with glee. Freedom!

But I think we’ll prolong their childhood (in infant seats) a few weeks more; Logan has a good two pounds left…And Caden doesn’t quite fit. Although, it doesn’t appear he’s going anywhere in his seat; he gave a rousing Houdini effort, but stayed firmly ensconced in his seat.

Today the muppets are nine months old.

The same amount of time has passed in their young lives that they should have remained with me in utero. From two pounds to 20 – why dwell on the beginnings when we’ve come so far. Our days now involve the mundane dealings of infants growing up. (And rantings in the blogosphere from their slightly neurotic mother.)

The wiggles, squiggles, giggles and grins.

BFF

I still remember getting the phone call with her name. I was on a break at my job at Blockbuster, my mom had opened the letter from my new college – and it contained the name of my new roommate and dorm room. I was going to be spending my freshman year on the 11th floor of an 11 story building with a stranger named Rebecca.

We exchanged emails throughout the months leading up to the start of our collegiate career. (It was last century, but we still had the archaic email technology.) Each and every day of the summer, someone reminded me, “Remember – you don’t need to be best friends with this individual. You just need to tolerate her for one single school year.

On move-in day we discovered each other in the hallway. “Are you Rebecca,” I stared. “Yes. Are you Patricia,” she questioned in return? We set about arranging our room, my father puttering about building a bunk bed and moving bookshelves. “Your new roommate is very quiet,” he observed later in the day. “No, Gustavo,” corrected my mother. “She just can’t understand a word you say.” (GrampaStavo has a rather thick Italian accent).

And then I stood in front of the building, watching my parents drive away. I lived alone for the first time in my life; the only person I knew was someone I’d exchanged a few emails with. She seemed nice enough. But remember – I didn’t need to be great friends with her, I just needed to tolerate her for one year.

Back upstairs we awkwardly stared at each other a bit more. Finally Rebecca broke the ice and asked if I was interested in accompanying her to the dining hall for our first dinner as college kids. By the end of the meal, we were chatting like old friends. (Advice – emailing your future roommate gives you a great background to go off of when you get where you’re going.) By the end of the year, we were thick as thieves. She’d pile my laundry in the closet to avoid the “trails” I made for myself; I’d make her eat a bag of pretzels before any argument commenced in case it was just low blood sugar making her cranky.

We were both 17, the youngest kids on the floor. Neither of us were theatre majors (yet, I’d become one later), but we’d indicated that particular pastime as an interest on our personality form. (I think colleges match roommates by hobby and height.) Becca’s mom had warned her that theatre people were weird, but I’m glad she marked the checkbox anyway. We pulled one all-nighter together – the two of us calling our educator moms at 6 a.m. to say good morning in a fit of giggles before we finally passed out.

Birthdays were always a big deal in our room. When I got flowers on my birthday, Becca proudly marched them down the hall proclaiming, “We got roses!!!” Sophomore year, when her birthday morning arrived, I think I may have rolled over and mumbled “happybirthday” before collapsing into sleep’s warm embrace. Becca was definitely a little hurt – she’d even gone to the trouble of circling the date on all of our calendars. But the moment she headed out the door for work, our little gaggle of girlfriends leapt into action. We decorated the room with flowers and cards (but made sure not to include any balloons) and placed a giant bow on her aerodynamic new desk chair. You didn’t think we’d really forget her birthday, do you?

Senior year we proudly stood in front of the Communications department and argued our joint thesis project together. We were both 21 and getting ready to move on to the next stage of our lives – the one where we played grownup.

In 2006, she got married and I was there. In 2007, on her one-year anniversary, I got married and she was there. In 2009, she had a little girl. I couldn’t wait to meet the newest member of our family. When I announced I was pregnant in 2010, she immediately demanded to see the ultrasound photos of her nephews.

During my hospital lockdown, we once again began exchanging emails as she sent me amusing anecdotes to keep my sprits up. And this Thanksgiving our families celebrated together, thankful for so much – especially friends who are family.

Today, Auntie Beeeca (nickname derived from GrampaStavo’s inability to correctly pronounce or spell her name) is 30. For someone I just had to tolerate for nine months, I’m awfully glad it was her. I’m truly lucky to have a friend like her.

Happy Dirty 30, Auntie Beeeca! Party like a rockstar. And here’s to our masquerade as grownups.

Happy Birthday Daddy

Happy birthday, Jon!

My husband always said he’d envisioned himself as a father by age 30. We didn’t have any children by his 30th birthday; he hits the ground running with double the trouble and double the grins – blessed with twins for age 31. Although, I don’t think our muppet story is quite how he pictured himself arriving at the point of “My Two Sons.”

To celebrate Jon’s arrival into his third decade, we did absolutely nothing. Zilch, zippo, squat, a big 0-fer. Normally, we at least go out to dinner as a family. This option was presented to me and I became a bit nauseous at just having the thought of a restaurant forced upon me. I suggested that perhaps he could go out alone. Instead we decided to have a laid back pizza party at our house. So I dressed myself up in my least offensive oversized sweats and perched at the kitchen table in what I hoped to be the most pleasant shade of green possible. My milestone gift? Not throwing up directly on him.

This year, I was determined to make up for last year’s giant fizzle. We’re all home, happy and healthy. If ever there was a year to celebrate! I conferred with my boys. Cooper and Scout readily agreed that for their father’s birthday surprise, they would refrain from eating poop for the day. (Gross, I know…whole separate blog post for that topic.) The muppets and I had a more difficult time coming up with the perfect “we love you Daddy” present.

Jon is not the easiest person in the world to shop for – especially when you’re searching for a “perfect” gift. Jon, himself, is a notorious fabulous gift-giver. Somehow, some way, he always manages to pick the perfect item to fit any occasion. (Granted, I would still argue not arfing on someone is a great gift for any occasion.)

Perhaps he would enjoy the new Xbox. I quizzed a few gamer friends about various consoles and platforms; they proved to be of no help at all. (What good are nerdy friends if they can’t provide video game support!) Ultimately, we decided upon the new Xbox Kinect. We’re parents now, so looking absolutely ridiculous as we bounce and flail around the living room using our bodies as the controller seems right in line with our current station in life.

Caden thoughtfully nodded his head at me. He agreed that the Kinect system would be a good idea. However, for the first birthday gift he was leaning toward a more traditional route. Dad has an affinity for all things “tactical.” So Caden followed suit with the video game theme, but chose to give Daddy “Call of Duty: Black Ops.” Jon opened the game, looked at Caden and said, “You look like a Black Ops kinda guy, little man.”

Logan had other ideas; he was going to do his own thing. We were all shocked when Logan smiled and proudly revealed his birthday gift.

His first tooth.

Logan now has the beginnings of one little tooth – one of his bottom incisors has officially cut. Jon and I are both in complete awe at how fast our little muppets are growing up. I know what you’re all thinking. Logan? But Caden is the one who’s been gumming his way through a minimum of three soggy drool bibs per day.

First to come home, despite so many medical proclamations, and now first with a tooth despite Caden having a significant jump on the teething process. I think Logan is still showing his competitive side a bit after being thwarted for firstborn.

For Jon’s 31st birthday, Logan got Dad his first tooth; Caden got him black ops. Edge to Logan, but just barely.

The New Generation

Welcome to the world little Harlan. Today, our friend had a little boy.

We’re at that age where everywhere we turn, someone we know is having a little one. We counted once – in the three years since Jon graduated, there are more than 20 future grads. And that’s just on Jon’s side of friends. Harlan is the fourth little guy in our circle of friends to enter this world since the muppets arrived. (To be fair, there was one girl.) And I know four more still expecting. (One is also having twin boys – welcome to the doubles tournament!)

Admittedly, Jon and I were seemingly a bit late to the baby game – most of our friends are announcing the imminent arrivals of their second children. But we were one of the first to have two (with one of the others who beat us to two doing so with twinkies of their own less than a month before the muppets breakthrough performance).

It’s interesting to sit back and realize that all these tiny humans are our future. It’s fascinating to “compare notes” if you will with other mothers as our progeny develops. High school friends, colleagues, new friends, twin moms, preemie parents – the experiences are shared with a complete amalgamation of people connected to me in different ways. And of course, in addition to celebrating new life, it’s nice to have a circle to share with. What goes around, comes around. And that’s true for baby stuff just as much as karma.

Harlan’s baby shower was the first outing the muppets attended. They never even got out of their stroller. They snoozed soundly in their land yacht, which I’d maneuvered into a corner away from direct sunlight in a manner befitting the skills a mother who grew up playing hours of Tetris on GameBoy.

On Halloween, as I was juggling my monkey and little lion man, another friend joined the shindig with her one-week old. He was so tiny. I was elated! This tiny little baby was the first newborn that instinctively made me think that my guys were getting so big. The muppets were no longer the smallest of the bunch!

At our 2010 Kid’s Christmas Party, another friend brought her brand new two-week old little girl. Caden and Logan were very squirmy, as they were already big giant boys (now in 3-6 month size clothes). So amidst juggling muppets, I was able to congratulate the new mommy of two. Both of the muppets younger new friends were happy, healthy babies. And we had clean bills of health from all the wee ones yet to debut. The atmosphere made me grin from ear-to-ear.

In the past few months, I’ve had countless conversations about what it’s going to be like when our kids start growing up together – who might be the ring leader, and who might be the mischievous one who figures out who can’t refuse a dare… At this point, we may have our own baseball team. Anyone up for a kids vs. parents game at our summer barbeque? I figure we can take them down through at least t-ball.

Yesterday I was gleefully informed that Harlan’s mom had finally been admitted to the Labor and Delivery unit. Harlan was already four days late; everyone (especially his mom) was very ready to meet him. Perhaps it was because she had just checked into the same hospital where I’d spent so many tearful days/nights, but I suddenly felt a twinge of jealousy.

I can’t imagine that you’ll hear many stories about women jealous of other women going into labor, but the news made me start reminiscing about the stark contrast of our boys’ earthly entrance.

“Walk, walk, walk.” Four days past his due date (and truth be told, about two weeks before), Harlan’s mom was encouraging her little man to depart his cozy nine-month abode. I was afraid to drink too much water because walking the ten feet to the bathroom might be dangerous. She was so excited to finally be admitted to the hospital; I replied to the news letting her know I was partial to L&D Room 10. (And not that she would likely be watching a lot of TV, but beware the broken unit in Mother/Baby Room 23).

My phone buzzed at 5 a.m. this morning. Jon grumbled and asked who would be texting at such an hour. An adorable, healthy, 7lb 9 oz Harlan was here. Jon smiled. “That’s an acceptable interruption,” he noted as we drug ourselves out of bed to cater to our own growing boys at the early hour. Early, late, preemie, term – none of them are going to care when they’re running amuck together throughout the days of their youth.

We’re so excited to have you here Harlan. The muppets can’t wait to meet their new friend.

A Bloody Birthday Cake

Grandpa Gary’s birthday is the day after Christmas. This year, that also happened to be the day of our fancy family dinner.

I set out our fine china – complete with wine and water goblets. The table was lined with the linen tablecloth and cloth napkins we received for our wedding. A peppermint candy-cane lay across each place-setting to mark the season. Martinelli’s sparking cider was set out and zinfandel red wine was decanted in preparation for the toasts. Jon ordered a Honey Baked Ham. He made garlic mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and croissant biscuits. Aunt Ivy brought a sweet potato dish – made from See’s marshmallows.

I was responsible for dessert.

By now you all know that traditions are very important to me. Which means two things: Yule Log and G.G.’s pumpkin bread. On a whim, after the success of the pumpkin bread at Thanksgiving, I decided to make a pumpkin roll as well. (Many of the celebrants have not yet fully comprehended the fabulousness of Yule Log.) I’d practiced twice before this particular feast, so I felt very confident in the quality of the outcome. Or at least relatively certain that I wouldn’t blow up the Yule Log’s pudding topping.

Keeping with the fine dining theme of the meal, I found nice holiday platters to present my culinary creations. I proudly showed them off to GrammaJ, GrampaTavo and Jon. At that point, Jon brought up the aligning dates of this Christmas feast and Grandpa Gary’s birthday. Perhaps, Jon inquired, I could write “Happy Birthday” on the pumpkin roll with some decorative frosting remaining from a holiday cookie exchange endeavor.

Martha Stewart I am not. But I tried. Very slowly, I squeezed each letter onto the roll. I even allotted for the excess frosting as I drew individual letters.

“Jon,” I called, as I examined the final results. “This doesn’t look quite right.”

He sauntered over from the living room where he’d been chatting with his in-laws, assuring me that it was just fine. As he finished his statement he caught the briefest glimpse of the birthday roll and laughed out loud.

“It looks like I murdered something,” I admitted.

The decorative frosting was red. The frosting on the roll was still warm. And the roll was, well, a roll. Despite my intense focus as I carefully crafted the words, the lettering had begun to drip down the sides of the cake.

Jon returned to the living room chanting “redrum….redrum….”

GrampaTavo proclaimed no one would notice; it’s the thought that counts. GrammaJ was certain it was’t that bad.

Then I entered the living room with the bloody birthday cake. GrammaJ tried, but even she couldn’t keep a straight face. She and Jon joined together in a chorus of Psycho sound effects.

When Grandpa Gary arrived for dinner, Jon pronounced that we had prepared a murder cake in his honor. Everyone agreed it was delicious and would become a staple of all Christmases to come – by the name of Murder Cake.

This was not quite the tradition I was going for.

Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’

Time passes by in the blink of an eye. Today, our million dollar miracle muppets are six months old. Even though it seems like they just joined us yesterday, it’s already become difficult to imagine our lives without them.

And the muppets chose this milestone weekend to celebrate by becoming big boys. They’re rolling. (Jon called this one. When we returned home from our Thanksgiving excursion, we put the boys to bed and Jon looked at me and said, “They’ll roll over this weekend. They’re ready.”

On Friday (our first day home as a family in a long while), our happy family of four was hanging out in the living room. Jon and Caden were on the floor goofing off on the playmat for some tummy time. Suddenly Jon said, “Um, babe – you’re son just rolled over.” He had propped Caden up on his elbows and when Caden turned his head over, his little body flopped over onto his back. He was rather surprised.

The next morning, I put Logan down on his back so his brother could enjoy breakfast. When I looked up again, Logan was in a prone Superman position on his tummy – arms and legs flailing in the air. I definitely don’t think that move was purposeful. He appeared rather disconcerted with what had just happened.

This morning (again during Caden’s breakfast), I put Logan on his tummy in his crib. He can now easily lift his head to a 90 degree angle. He looked up, looked around and rolled right on over. When we got downstairs, I set him down on his back. He immediately rolled over to his side. Apparently, he’s figured out the idea of throwing his leg over for momentum. The only thing still thwarting him was the arm remaining under him.

I sat watching him. I could see him trying to problem solve. Finally, he figured it out. Oh kids…life just got infinitely more exciting.

He started squirming around – eventually turning in a full 360. When he had wiggled his way to face where I was sitting, he lifted up his head again. “Look what I did Mommy!” He was terribly pleased with himself. He squiggled a few more degrees and passed out.

Logan spent today rolling himself over at every opportunity presented to him. Both of our kids have been determined to get mobile from the moment they were born. Ready, set, go! And now that we’re rolling – catch me if you can…

Hard to believe it’s been half a year. 2010 (the whole year) has certainly been one for the record books. Happy six months Caden and Logan.

Dirty Thirty

Today, I am 30. It feels surprisingly similar to 29.

Whoever coined the term “dirty thirty” obviously had kids – my third decade is already filled with dirt, mud, spit-up and baby poop. And it has been an amazing birthday weekend. Because this is my first birthday as a mom.

The one thing I wanted most was for G.G. to meet the muppets. So the weekend began with an auspicious start. On Sunday, the muppets had a Welcome Home shower. How many kids are lucky enough to attend their own baby shower?

I was slightly nervous about what to wear; I haven’t had many opportunities to dress up in the past six months. And since the muppets arrived, my body has decided to rearrange its weight carriage so it’s always a fun surprise to see if an outfit will fit on any given morning. I chose a little black dress – seemed safe, can’t go wrong with that. The first dress fit on the first try. Success! I matched the dress with some fabulous patent leather peep-toe pumps and completed the outfit with the Tahitian pearls Jon got for me on our honeymoon. (Little things excite me these days.)

I strutted into the nursery to make the muppets even cuter. (I know, very hard to do.) I asked the boys what they wanted to wear. The selection process was based on which outfit elicited a smile and giggle. Caden picked out a pair of khaki pants with a very preppy sweater, and Logan chose a pair of plaid overalls. We were ready to go.

I felt good. Our last attempt at a baby shower didn’t go so well. I concluded that weekend on lockdown for my final hospital stint, before we began our adventure with preemies. But this weekend, I was healthy, but so much more importantly – the muppets are healthy. Even their cold from the previous week has completely cleared up.

I scooped up Logan and headed down the stairs. It was time to play the music, time to light the lights. Time to meet the muppets on the muppet show tonight. Caden and Logan were ready for their close-up.

Blarf.

No sooner did I hit the bottom step, then Logan arfed on me. Did you know baby arf is white? And have I mentioned I’d chosen to wear a black dress? Well that was no longer going to happen. Logan looked up at me and giggled, his outfit was still perfectly clean. I whirled around in my no longer applicable patent leather peep-toe pumps and headed back up the stairs to find outfit the second.

Once we (meaning I) had changed into a non-pukey outfit, the muppets, GrammaJ and G.G. loaded ourselves into the car and headed off to the shower. If I may take this moment to be uber shmoopy, I am really blessed to have so many wonderful friends and family who came out to a doubles-themed shower: Doublemint gum, Twix and a delicious menu with two options for every course.

Since GrammaJ and G.G. had to head back to the badlands early this morning, we decided to celebrate last night. G.G. suddenly exclaimed that she couldn’t find the gift she’d gotten me. She retraced her steps. Our black lab Scout chose that moment to slink out into the garage. Well, drat. Jon headed out after the dog, flashlight in hand, to attempt to locate whatever Scout had dragged out. We found half a bite of the card. It will certainly be an evening to remember.

My dog ate my birthday present.

I was sad to say goodbye to GrammaJ and G.G. this morning. It was a fast-paced entertaining weekend and I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday present than to see G.G. enjoy muppet smiles and twin giggles.

So today, I am 30. And tonight, I will spend a very chill birthday evening surrounded by my five boys. Pure bliss… Thirty’s going to be a good year.

Growing Up

Happy Birthday GrammaJ!

My mom was 28 when she had me. Now I’m 29 and she has two grandkids. It’s a whole new generation – and hopefully I’ll be able to do as good a job as she.

In celebration of GrammaJ’s birthday and growing up, little Logan has chosen today as the day he officially graduates into the next size up of clothing – 3-6 months. At only seven weeks adjusted, our muppet is in the proper size clothing for his actual age of four and a half months. On a slightly stinkier note, he has also demonstrated his need to move up to size 2 diapers.

In honor of the next generation, I thought we could all enjoy some Silicon Valley humor:

How Today’s Twins are Made

(Not the muppets)

May your next year be filled with double trouble, twins and the growing up on their end…

 

A Stitch and a Prayer

Today marks four months with the muppets. And even though they’ve only been home for half that time, it’s already hard to imagine life without them.

The other day we received a box. Surprisingly, it wasn’t from diapers.com. Inside were two beautifully knitted baby blankets.

The card noted that the blankets began coming to life this past April – when I was first admitted to the hospital at 22 weeks. And with each stitch, came a prayer that the muppets would come home smart, strong, healthy boys.

As we unfolded the cozy completed blankets, they were a wonderful representation of all the thoughts and prayers directed toward the muppets during what can only be thought of as a very stressful entrance to the world.

One always has a general idea of what the completed craft will look like at the start. But there’s always the danger of a dropped stitch – sometimes what you find the finished project to be isn’t what you initially imagined, but you may just find yourself amazed at what you accomplished.

The blankets are beautiful. And much enjoyed by their little recipients. Thank you.

Thank you to everyone for helping us get the muppets home.

And with that, I must sign off. Muppets are screaming. They’re on a quest to keep getting bigger by the day.