How Not To Have A Relaxing November

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA WHAT WAS I THINKING.

 

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I mean, it’s not like I have a lot on my plate.  It’s not like I’m attempting NaNoWriMo – 50,000 words of writing in one month.  I’m not like I’m trying to survive the first year with my twins – who, even though they just turned 9 months old, still wake every 3 hours at night.

It’s not like I’m trying to raise my 5 and my 8-year-old sons, and all the complexities that come with kids as they grow older.  Sure, they don’t pee or color on stuff anymore, but solutions to their problems now require me to actually turn on my brain.  On the whole, I think I found the random destruction a lot easier to deal with it.

It’s not like I don’t have all of the stuff I listed above, or a part-time job, or household chores, or family visiting, or holiday activities, or or or….

But I received the sweetest email a couple of weeks ago.

“Caspian is such a dear – he never does anything wrong – but he’s not really settling in/thriving here at the barn…”

I mean, if you’re going to get politely broken up with by a barn, it was the nicest, softest way to break the news ever… but it was still a bummer.   I couldn’t disagree with her assessment – Caspian seemed lonely and a bit sad at the new barn. It was obvious a change was needed.

The truth is, I spent the first few days after receiving that email trying to figure out if I even really had any business owning a horse.

Yes, Caspian was and is receiving the best of care…. but I almost never get to see him.  I actually do have plenty of time to spend with him.  The problem is that my free time is when most barns are closed.  I have time every morning from 5:30am-7am, and then again every evening after 8pm…. but what barn is going to agree to let a boarder traipse around in the dark like that?

I spent the next week after the email looking at the hard facts.  It’s hard to justify the expense of owning a “luxury item”, so to speak, when I have so little time to enjoy him.The problem with having an accountant for a husband is that I have started taking a longer view of how much things cost.  I think it’s easy to justify a horse when you are looking at the month-to-month.  Can I afford his monthly care?  Yes.

Even if I technically can afford it… should I, when I never see him?  The times I have available to devote to my horse are probably never going to work with a traditional barns, and it’s going to be quite some time before the twins are old enough to let me visit during regular hours. Can I afford him for another “wasted” year or more, knowing that the $400 a month I have set aside for him adds up to $4800 in one year? $9600 every two years?

That’s a lot of money for a once-a-week (if that) horse habit.

And so began The Great Depression of 2016.

I hate being an adult.  I really, really do…. but I just couldn’t see any way around it. Shopping for a new horse barn just made it seem so much clearer to me.  So many of the places around where I live are self-care.  It’s not that I don’t want to do self-care – I actually really enjoy mucking stalls.  It’s that I just don’t want to do it with four kids in tow.  I’ve cleaned Caspian’s stall quite a few times while wearing the twins, and it left me sweaty and grumpy. Somewhere in the middle of it, while I struggled to push the wheelbarrow through some damp grass, desperately trying to keep it from dumping over, one twin strapped in front, one twin strapped in back, sweat pouring down my face, I thought…

Wait.  Am I actually paying to do this?  I mean, I’m not just choosing to torture myself like this, but I’m actually paying good money to do it?  I’m paying money to never ride and never groom, and just spend my time pushing around my horse’s feces?

So I came home, and I had a long discussion with The Bean.  And then another long discussion.  And then we had several long discussions.

And then the Bean and I sat down and had a long talk a week ago on Monday night, and we came to the final decision.

We decided to sell our house.

I know, it was a bit of a shock for me too.  I went into it thinking the conversation was going to end with, “Yeah, let’s sell Caspian and we’ll just find another horse when the time is better.”  Instead, the conversation turned into “Why don’t we just bump up our ‘find a home with enough land for a horse’ plan”?

We’re not looking to move far – we both love our town.  We just want a little land for the horse, and maybe a little more room for when my mom comes to help me with the twins.

Hey, did you know what’s easy?  Deciding to sell your house.

Do you know what’s not easy?  Cleaning your house so that it’s ready to sell…. in less than two days.  We decided to sell on Monday night, and we were due to leave for Thanksgiving on Wednesday night.

It’s not that I live in squalor, but let’s all agree that unless you are one of those fancy-schmancy OCD people, there’s a big difference between having a house that’s straightened up and having a house that’s ready for a realtor to show at an Open House.

Two days later, with every closet organized, and every bit of furniture positioned just so, and every shelf arranged, the basement cleaned, the cobwebs dusted, the floors waxed, the bathrooms scrubbed, the Thanksgiving ingredients bought and in the fridge, it was 11pm at night and the only thing I had left to do was put away the laundry in my bedroom….

And I couldn’t.

I just plain ran out of gas. I stood there and stared at the last little bit of mess in an otherwise pristine (pristine for me, anyways) house, and I just…. I just couldn’t.

 

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The Bean, who was in a miraculously good mood, looked around the room with a smile.  “We’re almost done,” he chirped, coming in with another armful of clean laundry.

I looked at him, I looked at the maybe 20 minutes of work left, and I fell face first on the bed and started to cry.  It wasn’t even a satisfying cry, either.  A satisfying cry would have involved sobs and… well, energy.  I just lay face-first on the bed and tears leaked out.  I was so, so tired.

Did you know that you can shove a bunch of dirty laundry in trash bags and that it fits neatly in the trunk of a Honda Civic?  That’s what we ended up doing, and the clothes is still in there.  We haven’t really missed the items, either.  Maybe I should just drive it to the Goodwill and dump it?

Anyways, I made it through the rest of the cleaning and through a Thanksgiving that was amazing and perfect, and kind of hazy from a fog of exhaustion.

And now my days have become a crazy string of “Quick, feed a baby…. crap, there’s a showing.  Quick, clean the house and make it look non-lived in.  Quick, grab Artemis.  Quick, grab my mom’s dog that I’m babysitting for a month.  Are the boys getting off of school?  Quick, grab a snack so they don’t turn hangry while we sit at a park and wait for strangers to stare at the house.  Quick, return home and cook dinner.  Quick, get ready for work the next day.  Quick, quick, quick….

I moved Caspian yesterday to what I am hoping is his last boarding situation – he has an huge box stall, and turnout all day, and I paid extra for him to have hay in his face all day.  He seems happy, even if I am sad I don’t get to stare at the GORGEOUS Morgans at the other place anymore.  (I’m still disgruntled he ruined my stay at my dream barn, but oh well.)

As I unloaded him, I pet his fuzzy, yellowish-grey, barely-groomed face with the large, sad eyes.  He looked… like an abandoned pony, and it made my heart sad.  I hate being the absentee owner that people on horse threads make fun of.  Caspian deserves better.

… but the neat thing is that soon he is going to get it.  As I ran my fingers under his mane he leaned in to the contact every-so-lightly, ever-so-politely, and it was so strangely thrilling to be able to say, “Don’t get too attached to the ponies here.  This is just a temporary barn.  The next move, you get to come home.  Permanently.”

Timehop keeps reminding me that 9 years ago I was a cocktail waitress in a bar, just starting to date the unassuming car salesman who liked to sit at the corner and drink a bottle of Heineken and eat chicken strips with ranch.

And now?

Yesterday I had to rearrange all the seats in my minivan to make a road trip, and when we finally returned home The Bean stood out in the pouring rain at 9:30 at night rearranging them back to normal it so I wouldn’t have to deal with it in the morning.  Over Thanksgiving weekend he took all four kids out so I could get a much needed nap.  And this morning he put up with me snapping at him (sorry Bean – I’m a cranky toddler when I’m sleep deprived) over tiny stuff, and still managed to remember to make out a check and put it where I could find it easily and change the babies diapers before heading off for his ridiculously-long day at work.

And today?

Today is the first day I haven’t had a lot on my plate.  The house guests went home (don’t get me wrong, they’re amazing and I’m so glad they stayed), and today there are no showings scheduled yet. Today I don’t work, and I don’t have to do a 3 hour round trip to drive to return a vehicle, and my husband is kind, and there aren’t any holidays looming.

And now, today, two kids are in school, two babies are napping (at the same time!  For once!) and I am sitting on my computer, researching fencing options.

Dude.  Fencing options, and pasture rotation details, and sacrifice areas for MY horse who is going to be in MY backyard in a few months.

WHOA.

So….. does anyone want to buy a house?

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I’m Such A Supportive Wife

“Becky, I stopped by Target yesterday and picked up some diapers.”

“Oh, good -we were running low.  Thanks, Bean.  Hey, you…. you have, uh…. Have a fun time with your motorcycle today on your way to work.  Also… uh…. ride the wind?”

 
“What?”
 
“I’m just trying to wish you a motorcycle-y goodbye.”
 
“Ah. Well, as I was saying, I picked up diapers and they’re in the trunk of my car…”
 
“May the road rise up to meet you? Zoom Zoom? Taste the speed?”
 
“Becky, it’s raining. The roads are slick, so I’m not exactly going to be speeding. Did you hear me about the diapers?”
 
“Yes – diapers. Car. Trunk. Gotcha.  Look, I’m trying to be supportive here, and offer you a motorcycle goodbye.  I’m trying to be a nice wife, except I have no idea what you motorcycle people say to each other before you head off down the road.  May the road rise up to meet you? Break a leg?”
 
“What?? Break a leg? No. No, how about let’s not do that.”
 
“Well, what do you guys say to each other before you go out and do your motorcycle things?”
 
“We usually just say ‘Have a safe ride’. ”

“Oh.  Ummm.  Well.  Have a safe ride, dear.”

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Step-KLUMP. Step-KLUMP.

So the first day I missed posting it was because I got super angry at The Bean and stomped off to bed. I didn’t realize I’d skipped a post until I woke up the next morning. Whoops. Yaaaay, marriage.

The next day I missed was because I pulled something in my back. I tweaked my back by sleeping wrong, and then as I was twisting the Kraken around to do a back carry with my new TwinGo baby carrier, I felt whatever muscle I had tweaked actually cramp up…. and by the time I was done with my shopping trip it had gone from cramping to flat-out HURTING.  I managed to get home and survive the rest of the day with the help of my friends Tylenol and ibuprofen…. but by 9pm I was hurting so bad I broke out some of the pain meds I have leftover from my 2013 appendectomy.  By 9:30 I was still hurting, but it didn’t bother me quite as bad, so I floated off to sleep.

I didn’t realize I skipped a day until the next day at 8pm at night.  Wait a second…. hadn’t I committed to writing 31 days in a row?  Oh my gosh.  I’d skipped two days!  I really had to sit down and… I really had to…. I really had

I really…..

Man, I really wanted a drink of water.  Oooh, I should get a drink of water and go to bed early.  That was a great idea. I bet I could get 3 solid hours before the twins woke up for their first nightly feed.  Water, then bed.  What a solid plan.  G’night, Bean.

….. in case you are wondering, yes.  Yes, I really do miss my ADHD meds.  Someone really needs to come out with an ADHD med that’s safe to take while breastfeeding.  Pretty please?

The next day I realized I had skipped WAY too many days in a row, and no matter what happened I needed to sit down and post, even if I had already ruined the “31 days in a row” portion of it.

Since my back was still really sore I decided I would take a quick bath before I sat in my chair to write.  It was still early enough that I could soak my back, write a post, and still get to bed at a decent hour.

I started the tub running and dumped in a healthy amount of my favorite soap in the world:

 

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Nicole, you’re the bomb-diggity for turning me on to this. It rocks.

While the bath filled up I threw on a robe and went out to get the most critical part of any bath:  a Ziploc baggie.

Ziploc baggies are a girl’s best friend, and I’ll tell you why:  I like to read in the tub, and all of my books are e-books.  Now, normally reading in the tub on an expensive e-reader would be a dumb idea, but awhile back I discovered they sell these expensive little bags that you can put your Nook into so you can read in a tub.  I was considering buying one for a while, when all of a sudden it dawned on me…. couldn’t I just stick my cell phone in a Ziploc baggie and read on my Nook cell phone app?

The answer to that is: yes.  Yes, you can.  I’ve been reading in the tub in this style for years.  Back in the beginning I used to put my cell phone in a sandwich-sized Ziploc baggie and then put that baggie in a bigger, gallon-size baggie, just in case…. but over the years I’ve relaxed my standards to the point that I only use a sandwich baggie.

So, that’s what I did this time:  I went and got my Ziploc baggie, and toddled off to the bathtub, looking forward to my nice, back-relaxing bath.  As I kicked off my clothes and prepared to get in, I opened the baggie and dropped my phone into the Ziploc baggie from about 6 inches above. I mean, if you’re a mom of four and you’re about to get into an Epsom salt bath and read a book, shouldn’t you do everything with a little flourish?

Aaaand the answer to that is: No. No, you should not.

What I hadn’t banked on this time is that this particular shopping trip I had decided to save a little money and I had forgotten that I’d picked up some discount, no-name baggies from Grocery Outlet instead of name brand Ziploc baggies.  When I dropped the cell phone into the baggie with a flourish, the cell phone dropped into the bag…. and then dropped straight through the seam at the bottom of the bag and bounced onto the bathroom rug.

It all happened so seamlessly (pun intended) that I couldn’t figure out what had just happened.

I stood there and stared at my yellow iPhone on the floor for a moment, and then at the baggie in my hand, and then back at the phone.

Me:  “What?  I’m so confused.”

Brain:  “That’s your phone on the floor, stupid.”

Me:  “Why is it on the floor?”

Brain:  “How the heck should I know?  You think I was paying attention?”

Me:  “Well, I certainly wasn’t.  Why didn’t it go in the baggie?  Why is it on the floor right now?”

Brain:  “Well, neither of us was paying attention, so I bet you just missed the bag.  I bet you went to go drop it in, and you dropped it beside the bag and it fell on the floor.”

Me:  “I do have bad depth perception, so that’s certainly possible…. But isn’t it possible that the bag ripped?”

Brain:  “Shhhhh.  I swear, you get so caught up on stupid details.  Just put it back in the bag and get in the tub.  I am gonna release so many endorphins when that hot water hits your skin.”

Me:  “Shouldn’t I check if the bag is ripped?”

Brain: “SHUT UP AND GET IN THE TUB.  That hot water is getting getting colder by the second, and if you don’t get in while it’s still hot enough to sting your skin, you’re not gonna be able to pretend you’re Daenerys Targaryen and whisper ‘I am the Blood of the Dragon‘ to yourself.”

Me:  “OMG, you’re totally right.  But…. but what if the cell phone…”

Brain: “Quit being a worry wart.  Just put it into the bag carefully.  You’ll be fine.”

And so I did.  I very, very carefully slipped the phone into the bag as I stepped into the tub… and my iPhone very, very carefully slipped through the torn bag and plopped right into the tub, disappearing beneath the bubbles.

I yelped out a curse word and with one leg in the tub and one leg still out, I began fishing around for the phone.  It took longer than I wanted to find it, but finally I pulled it out.  All I could think was “I need to get turn it off and get this thing in rice… STAT.”  I don’t care if the new recommendation is to keep wet cell phones away from rice, I’ve dropped plenty of phones in water (please don’t judge me), and rice has saved them every time.

Feeling the urgency of the moment, I bounced up from my crouch, trying to lunge at my bath towel so I could dry off my phone and dash into the kitchen…..

Except I forgot that I was halfway in a tub….a tub full of water, and lots of soap.  Do you know what happens when you try to bounce up from a crouch when one of your feet is in a tub full of soapy water?

The splits.  The splits is what happens.

And you know, the splits are awesome if you are 15 and flexible and a cheerleader and stuff like that.

But do you know when the splits aren’t awesome?  The splits aren’t awesome when you’re 35, and fat, and your back hurts, and you’ve never been flexible a day in your life to begin with.

One foot went one way, one foot went another, and both of my arms sprang upwards in a desperate attempt to…. I dunno.  Cry out hallelujah?  I have no idea what my stupid arms were trying to do, but I do know that my iPhone was SO EXCITED by the whole fiasco that it jumped out of my hand (I swear I heard it say”Wheeee!!!!”) and it plunged back in the tub again.

Okay, let me do a little bit of explaining before I launch into the next part of this story.  Back when I was young and spry and single, I did imagine being naked in front of my husband.  Oh, whatever.  Every teenager daydreams about it.  I could totally picture it.  I’d be posed in a doorway, with my arms over my head or something, because that always makes your boobs look GREAT and your stomach look flat.  Anyways, I’d be standing there, all taut and sexy, with the light playing juuuust right over my skin, and I’d say something like, “Hey there, sailor.  Wanna dock your ship?”

Yes, I know that’s a terrible sex metaphor.  I’m not very good at sexy talk, okay?  My inept sex talk is not the point of this.  Stay with me, okay?

The point is, I did picture being naked in front of my husband, and in these daydreams I was always really in shape, and posing, and totally sexy.

What I did not picture was the way I was naked in front of my husband last week, as I dragged my angry, tired carcass through the living room with my sopping went iPhone wrapped in a towel.

In my daydreams I pranced about, nymph-like.

In my daydreams I did not limp heavily by my husband on legs that were not working quite right after being forced into unnatural positions.

Step-THUMP.  Step-THUMP.  Step-THUMP.  Not only was I not prancing, but I could feel things…. swinging.  Ponderously.  There are many things that make you feel sexy as a woman.  Feeling your belly and thighs and other jiggly bits flapping about in the wind from the force of your limping?  That is not one of them.

Honestly, it looked exactly like this, only I was more hunched over, and there was an iPhone in my hand instead of an arm:

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I’d like to say I was saying sweet, wifely, Christian things under my breath as I limped my way through the living room…. but I know I wasn’t.  I don’t remember exactly what I was saying, but it wasn’t nice, and it wasn’t repeatable.

Step-THUMP. Quiet spewing of profanity.  

Step-THUMP.  More profanity.
And that’s when I heard it, from over near the couch.

“OOOH.  Heeey, sexy.”

I ignored it.  I was NOT in the mood for teasing.  Step-THUMP.  STUPID &!&@! PHONE.  Stupid phone with its bleepity-bleep bag WITH ITS STUPID BLEEPITY-BLEEP RIPPING…

“Heeey, sexy.  Do I see boobies?”

Wait a second….was he…. was he flirting with me?  No.  No, there was no way possible he could be flirting with me.  I’m pretty sure that this was, hands down, the least sexy I’ve ever looked.

Step-THUMP.  Where was a clean @(*@&#*! bowl?  Step-THUMP.  Where was the bleeping bag of rice?

“Heeeey, sexy.”

Holy crap.  He was.  The Bean was honestly flirting with me.  The only thing propelling me forward and keeping me from collapsing in a puddle in frustrated tears was one good leg and stubborn anger….. and he was flirting with me.  Couldn’t he see me limping? Couldn’t he see my deflated stomach flapping in the wind? Couldn’t he see the pure, unadulterated rage oozing out of my very pores?  I limped over to grab my phone and shove it in the rice bowl.

Step-THUMP.  Step-THUMP. Flap-flap. Step-THUMP.

“Whoo-whoo.  I seee your boobies…. Hey, sexy!”

And that’s when it hits me, and that’s where we come to the whole point of this post:    I always thought The Bean was lying, or just saying stuff to make me feel better….

But I think he’s telling the truth.

I honestly don’t think he notices the weight gain, at least not when I’m, errrr, “en deshabille”.

 

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So while my iPhone’s SIM card is now damaged beyond repair and I can only use it to go on Facebook or other apps, and then only when connected with WIFI,  and while I didn’t get the satisfying bath I’d daydreamed of, and even though I step-thumped my way into pajamas and straight to bed and spent the next few days sulking instead of writing…..

I dunno.  It’s a small price to pay for realizing that The Bean still loves me, and that he’s not nearly as hard on me as I am on myself.

Love ya, Bean.

Also… do you have any idea where we put your old cell phone?  I need to activate it tomorrow.

Late Still Counts!

You know, if I actually wrote a post ahead of time I wouldn’t be struggling for words at 9pm at night….

Or, in the case of tonight, 11:44pm at night.

I would have posted sooner but I left The Bean home with the boys tonight and went out to get my hair dyed.  It’s the first haircut I’ve done in over a year, and I was lucky enough to find a hair salon that’s open late.

The theory was that I could relax in peace at the salon while all four kids were sleeping….

But I just got home ten minutes ago to two very awake babies and a very frazzled looking husband, so it appears that the kids were not on board with my awesome plan.

Anyhow, if I don’t manage to get a post out in the next 11 minutes then I will miss a day, so here’s my super super quick story:

Two days ago I woke up waaaay too early to a rustling in the living room.  There wasn’t any specific noise in particular that alerted me… just a general awareness that something was moving in a living room that should otherwise be quiet.

I glanced at my clock … 5:50 am.  Ugh.  With twins that still wake all night long any time in the morning is too early, but if I am up before 6 am I just feel like it should be on my own terms, and not because of early-waking children.

I did my best to creep out of the bed without disturbing the twins and made my way over to the living room couch.  There, on the center of one of the seat cushions,  was a suspicious looking lump under a blanket.  I grabbed the blanket and lifted…. and there was DragonMonkey, grinning up at me.

“Ahhhh, dammit.  You weren’t supposed to find me,” he said.

I stared at him.  “Whaaat?”  I mean, we’re not in the habit of throwing around words like “dammit” on a regular basis….well, the kids aren’t, at least.

“You weren’t supposed to find me yet,” he amended without missing a beat, or even appearing the slightest bit guilty.  “Want me to start your coffee?”

And with that he hopped off the couch and headed into the kitchen to start my coffee, like the world’s tiniest roommate.

I stared at his back.  I really ought to get after him for using inappropriate words…. but it wasn’t even 6 am and he was offering to make me coffee.  Maybe I should just let it slide.

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How to Even

So, the only thing that is really annoying about the whole “I’m going to post thirty-one days in a row!” is that I never remember about my promise until about 9 pm at night, when all I can think about is sleep.

Today I decided to be proactive, and I spent most of the day figuring out what I was going to write about.

I opened up my laptop right at 8:30 and I started typing.

By 9:30 pm I was about 3/4 of the way done.  All I had to do was add another 100 or so words, insert a few pictures, and then proofread.

I went to go insert the photos and WordPress couldn’t attach them.  I closed the tab and reopened it to se if that solved the problem….

….only to find out that WordPress hadn’t saved a single word for the past 30 minutes or so I’d been typing.  Instead of being nearly done, the computer had eaten nearly everything I’d written and I was pretty much just beginning.

First off, let me say how much I hate computers at the moment.

Second, please allow me to attach this photo which I feel adequately expresses my emotions at the moment:

 

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And with that, I’m gonna go to bed…. although I suppose I ought to leave you something other than grumpy graphs for the bother of stopping by.

Here— here’s some horses.

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I’ll do better tomorrow.  Scout’s honor.

 

Breastfeeding and Weight Loss

My favorite thing about nursing twins is how much weight I am losing!  It’s amazing!  I eat whatever I want, and the weight keeps falling off, and now I’m wearing a size 4!  I do feel like I am getting too thin, though…. do any of you have any meal suggestions to help me put on weight?

 

Sometimes the Facebook La Leche Group For Nursing Multiples group is a real source of help.

Sometimes it makes me just want to stab people.

I swear, if I hear one more person complain about how nursing makes them lose weight too fast, I’m gonna track down their home address just so I can throw a brick at their head.

Maybe nursing=weight loss for some people, but for me…. for me it just makes my body go into “CONSERVE ALL THE CALORIES” mode, even with nursing double time.  I mean…. I am already gluten free for my health, but because of the twins’ stomach sensitivities I’ve had to go dairy and soy free as well.

Is that sinking in?  I am exclusively nursing TWINS on a dairy, gluten, and soy free diet….. and I haven’t lost a single pound since the first week after I gave birth.

I really do think I missed my calling to live on a prairie and raise 18 babies.  If I lived on a prairie I imagine my ability to stay fat and healthy while nursing twins would be a real bragging point. I bet we’d go to all the… errr…. corn-shucking parties? (is that what olden-time prairie people did for fun?) and all the women would flock to me.

“Becky, look at your ample thighs!” they’d exclaim.  “Look at that back roll!  Can I touch it?  Can I touch your back roll and jiggly arms?  You’re so impressive!” they’d fawn. “How do you stay so fat, even though you’re been nursing your passel full o’ kids for years and years?”

…….

Sigh, you get the point.  I was going to joke about this further, but after I typed the phrase “passel full o’ kids” I realized I really would have had something like 18 babies if I’d lived on the prairie in the 1800s, and the daydream kind of made me shudder.  Maybe I’m better off in my current lifestyle.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to bed, without even proofreading this stream-of-consciousness bit of writing.  This post is brought to you by extreme, extreeeeeme sleep deprivation… but (if I can take a moment to pat myself on the back) – there was a post. Go me, actually managing to post every single day for 11 days straight!

Anyways, I really am off to bed, but not without asking…. if get a moment, can you cross your fingers that Magpie would actually sleep tonight?  I don’t think she slept more than 45 minutes at a stretch last night, combined with Finn’s normal 2-3 times of waking..  I’m feeling pretty ragged.

Babies

I was never much of a baby person.

Oh, I did the odd babysitting here and there in my teenage years.  I liked kids, they liked me, and it was easy money…. but I usually refused any jobs where the babies were younger than 8 or 9 months old.

If that sounds harsh it’s because the feeling was mutual – I didn’t really care for little babies, and little babies didn’t really like me. They let me know in no uncertain terms.

“Oh, Becky, it’s just in your head.  Here, hold her,” someone would say, depositing a blank-faced infant in my arms.  Almost immediately, the baby would stiffen.

“Relax – just hold her close,” they’d say.

“I am.  She feels like 2 x 4.”

“Just…. just relax.”

“I’M TRYING,” I’d say, through gritted teeth.  “Hey, uh… baby.  Hey there.  Good girl…. good…. girl.”

The baby would usually stare at me dubiously for a few more moments, and then burst into frantic tears.  Get me out of this imposter’s arms.  SAVE ME.  SAVE ME FROM HER UNCOMFORTABLE INCOMPETENCE!

It never failed – you could give me the happiest, most complacent, 100% asleep infant and I could have it crying in a matter of minutes, just by trying to hold it.

What can I say?  It was a gift.

The good news is that the first few weeks after a baby is born, they tend to be pretty much dead to the world.  They wake, they cry for food, you feed them, you change their diaper, and they go back to sleep.  In terms of being interactive, they’re about as socially fun as a hermit crab.

I think the reason they sleep so much in the beginning isn’t because they’re tired from birth…. it’s because it’s to give inept baby-handling parents like me a chance to figure out what they’re doing.  Eventually they wake up from the just-born stupor, but hopefully by that time you’re not as uncomfortable with handling your own baby.

Since I never had any desperate desire to have or hold little babies of my own,  I could never understand why people went so ga-ga over babies.  They weren’t all that cute, in the grand scheme of things.  They have swollen faces, they twist up their faces with really weird expressions, and they generally look kind of, well… weird.

I mean, here are some newborn otters:

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And here is a newborn infant (mine, to be exact):

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From a purely logical perspective, I think we can all agree the otters are cuter.  They’re fuzzy, soft, round little bits of adorableness.  You can practically feel your hand reaching out to pet one.

The newborn babies just kind of looks… pink.  And swollen.  And disgruntled.  They look like disappointed, naked little grubs…. and yet when I see those photos of the twins just after they were born, something wrenches on my inside, and I can practically feel my brain hitting the release switch on a massive load of bonding hormones.

It’s not just because they are tiny, or because they are mine… I think it goes deeper than that.  When I see tiny babies on the street, I think I am drawn to them because I know how incredibly fleeting that first period is.  I don’t see a newborn baby – I see DragonMonkey as he was when I first met him. Even though I wouldn’t trade the lanky, logical, fun boy he is nowadays, I miss his sweet softness.

Which, now that I think about it, is low-down dirty lie. He was only sweet and soft for the first 2 or 3 weeks.  After that he screamed and puked and was in all ways an incredibly high-needs baby….

But eh.  It’s a sweet lie.  If my brain is going to feed me lies, I don’t mind that one all that much.

Moving on to the whole point of this musing: I never really expected to be that “into” babies…. but lately it feels like I just can’t get enough.  You’d think it would the opposite. With two babies pressed to me all day long, you’d think I would be over holding infants, but the opposite is true.

The twins are 7 months old now, and the other day I looked at Magpie as she was stretched out during one of her naps, and I realized she no longer qualifies as a tiny baby. I saw my first hint of toddler.  It’s subtle, but it’s there – a slight lengthening of her forearms, the way she throws her arms above her head like a child instead of the tight curl of the just-born.

I’m not really sure what it is, but lately when I’m looking at the twins I can see the hints of the people they will become, and it makes me both proud and nostalgic, as if they’ve already grown, and flown away….

When in reality, Magpie is pressed against me, laying flat against the still-soft surface of my stomach.  Kraken is crashed out in his baby swing – he’ll be too big for it soon, but for the time being it’s a helpful bedtime tool.  Magpie though… lately she’s been weaning her own self off of the swing, much to my dismay.  It makes getting her down for the night a lot harder, and by the time she’s finally asleep I have a tendency to just sit still and hold her rather than risk waking her.

Besides…. the view is pretty sweet.  She’s sprawled over me in the complete, sleepy abandon that only the truly young seem to manage.  Her cheeks are flushed with the heat of sleep, one arm thrown back, lips pursed in a nursing dream.  I ought to put her down.  I ought to clean up the living room, or prepare the boys’ lunch for school in the morning.  Oh, sure, everyone likes to quote that “I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep”poem, but they forget about the other lines: “The shopping’s not done and the bills are past due, and out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo.”

There’s so much that needs to be done, not the least of which is getting to bed early.  I’m very, very sleep deprived this week.  I ought to go to bed early, so I’m not grumpy and mean tomorrow from lack of sleep.

But instead, I press my hand against Magpie’s head, feeling the pleasing curve of her skull beneath my palm.  I feel the heat of her skin against my own,  brush my thumb against the curve of her cheek, and I watch her breathe… and grow.

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Laziest Post in the World: DragonMonkey Dreams

If I  go through all my old draft posts and find the one that requires the least amount of editing (even if that means it’s been languishing as a draft for nearly four years), and if I edit it and then type these words…… it still counts as writing, right?  Right?

*******

The door slammed open to the boys’ bedroom, and the dark shadow hovered there for a moment, face indistinct against the haze of shadows and bright hallway light.

“Not that one,” he said, his voice raspy, almost guttural with its malevolent harshness.  His finger flicked disparagingly at the younger brother, who gripped the bedspread and stared at him in terrified silence.

Slowly, oh so slowly, his head rotated on his neck, before fixating on the DragonMonkey, who sat up abruptly in his bed.

“THAT one,” he said, his voice full of a deep satisfaction.

He crossed the room in one stride, lunged forward, and slammed the DragonMonkey face down on his bed.  The force of the attack was so sudden, and so fierce, that the DragonMonkey’s leg caught on the wall as he flipped.  His leg broke, the bone shattering and the foot dislocating, spinning the entire bottom half of his leg the wrong way.

The pain of that was overwhelming, and the DragonMonkey began to cry.  The man snarled at him indistinctly, angered by the sound of his tears, and with one dark look he swept him from the bed and slammed him on the floor.

Meanwhile, down in the living room I sat uncaring, typing on my computer. I heard the slam of the DragonMonkey’s body as he hit the ground, but I didn’t get up to check.  “Stop that noise, SQUID!” I hollered up, unaware, uncaring, unfeeling,,,,,oblivious that it was a bad guy abusing my children, and not the Squid jumping off of his bed.

*****

“And you didn’t come.”  The DragonMonkey narrows his green eyes at me.  “You were supposed to come.  You weren’t supposed to say ‘Stop that noise’.  It wasn’t Squid.  It was a bad guy.  And you were supposed to come save me from a bad guy.”

I sigh.  Again.

And I apologize.  Again.

“I’m so, so sorry, DragonMonkey.  That sounds like a very scary, very bad dream.  Mommy has bad dreams like that, too. And you know you are so much more important to me than my writing, and that in real life I would know if a bad guy was up there. I wouldn’t ignore you. I would go up there and save you from him, so you don’t have to worry about stuff like that.”

He glares at me, unappeased.  “But it wasn’t Squid jumping on the bed.  You said ‘SHHHH’, but it wasn’t him playing.  It was a bad guy. You shouldn’t tell me SHHHH. You should come save me.”

I take a deep breath and prepare to apologize again.

Seriously though, where does a four-year old brain come up with this, anyways?  I mean… if the ability to have incredibly realistic dreams is genetic, couldn’t he just get the nice ones?  How did he come with this Steven-King-worthy nightmare?  I mean, I know I have my own share of scary dreams, but SERIOUSLY.  If he’s got insecurities about how much I love him, or whatever created this nightmare, can’t he just daydream about me buying toys for other little boys, or something normal like that?

At least his happy dreams outweigh his bad dreams by a good margin.  Still.

Also, I’m sorry Bean.  Now I know what it feels like, when I wake up angry at you from my dreams.  I probably shouldn’t make you apologize, now that I know how silly it feels.

Although, really. I’m still a little bit angry.  You should have known better, even if it was a dream.

 

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Stomach Flu

I was looking at TimeHop today, seeing all the neat stuff I’ve posted over the years.

I mean, I’d use that whole “On This Day” memories feature of Facebook, but I still don’t have it….. not that I’m bitter.

Anyways, this was my post from October 8th of last year:

The vomiting.  The non-stop, soul crushing vomiting.
Friends don’t let friends get pregnant with twins.

Now, a year later, the twins are 6 months old, and we are celebrating in our own, unique way:

With a nice round of the stomach flu.

 

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Sick Magpies are sleepy Magpies.  Also, towels make lovely blankets when they are just going to get thrown up on a few minutes later.

 

At least if they are still causing puking, I get to enjoy looking at their faces between the vomit-fests.  It’s a nice perk.

 

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Norman: The Book-Eating Goat

It was 34 degrees out, I was 22 years old, and I was sitting in the snow.

Well, okay.  I’m exaggerating.  I wasn’t exactly sitting IN the snow – I was technically crouched on the edge of a set of wooden steps, outside a never-used guard shack – only my feet were actually in the snow.

There really wasn’t any reason for me to be crouching in near-freezing temperatures, on rotted wood, in the snow.

It’s just… I had finished feeding the horses, and it was at least 200 feet back to my cabin. The record snowfall made trudging something you had to pay attention to – with two feet of snow, you couldn’t just meander without looking.  it was too easy to fall into troughs, or holes, or other items that hid beneath the pristine, innocent-looking mounds of snow.

So in order to get back to my cabin, I would have to put aside the book I was reading and actually walk there.

That would take at least three minutes.

Did I mention it was my first time reading through the Da Vinci Code.  Whether you approve of the plot or not, Dan Brown knows how to write a good suspense tale, and I was at an incredibly crucial moment.

Having to wait three minutes while waiting to figure out a crucial plot element in a book is an ETERNITY.

So…. instead of walking back to my cabin and reading the remainder of the book while sprawled on my couch in luxurious warmth, I was crouched on the rotted steps with my feet in the snow and my nose turning numb.

Keep in mind this was back in 2003/2004 – Amazon wasn’t really a “thing” like it is now, and when you live hours from the nearest bookstore, the first time through any book will grip you like that, much less a bestseller like the Da Vinci Code.

I was just reaching the critical part of the scene when….

Norman happened.

Norman was a sweet, bottle-fed goat who followed people around wherever they went.  I do mean everywhere – somewhere along the lines Norman had decided he was a human, and that the company of horses was no match for hanging out with people.  It was cute at first, but eventually became a little annoying.  “Wranglers, the goat is out again” was a familiar cry coming over the ranch radio – that goat could slip out of everything.

Still – he had silky white fur and large, intelligent, amber eyes so it was easy to forgive him anything.

Until that day.  That day, Norman crossed a line.

I still own that copy of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. Did you know my copy falls open to the page that gives away critical information that’s crucial to the entire book (you know, the whole Last Supper thingie).
 
It falls open to that page because as I was sitting on steps in the snow…. just as I got to that particular page….
 
 Norman, came up behind me and ripped the page out of the book and started eating it.
It was like a scene from a cartoon.  I was in the mountains, trapped in by an epic snowfall, with no access to a replacement book….. and Norman had torn out the most important page of the entire book and was calmly eating it.
Look, I’m not proud of how I got the paper back, but let’s just say that I managed to make Norman understand that it was very, very important he allow me to retrieve the paper from his mouth.  The good news is that with a little bit of cleaning and a little bit of scotch tape, I was able to restore the page to my book and finish the story.  I forgave him for tearing my brand new book and trying to eat a critical page, and he forgave me for pouncing on him and making the mountains ring with the echoing cry of “NORMAAAAAAAAAAAAAN” as I retrieved it from his wet, sticky little mouth.

The bad news is that…. well, if you’re ever over at my house and if you ever want to read that particular book…. well, I just hope you already know the big reveal, because the book now opens permanently to that page.