Friday, September 30, 2011

It Takes All Kinds

It's a funny thing when you travel around with multiples; you tend to become a magnet for the well meaning, yet socially challenged members of society. You know her,she's the one who will go up to a complete stranger and ask if she breastfed as an opening line. Or will smilingly ask a lady she doesn't know just when she might be due.

Yes. Her. She's the one I run into quite often as I'm out and about, living my daily life. She takes on many forms, of course. That's why it's exceedingly hard to spot her ahead of time and steer myself away, thus avoiding 5 very awkward minutes of pseudo-conversation. I know she's out there somewhere, lurking perhaps just around the next aisle. Sometimes I just don't recognize her. She could be young or she may be older. She may be well-kept and unassuming, or perhaps look as tired and bedraggled as I tend to feel. You just never know.

Today she appeared out of nowhere in Target. She had on her Mother Of 30 Year Old Twins disguise.

"I never dressed my twins alike," she said as she blocked my path.
A statement made as a pointed fact. I've seen this one before and always find it perhaps the most boring of all opening lines.

I gave her my standard, "Oh". Picture it with a closed mouth smile and raised eyebrows. (It's great with the raised eyebrows, and a slightly tilted head). I've found this is usually just enough to show I have heard the spoken words, so as not too appear snotty; and yet just aloof enough so as to imply I'm moving on my way now.

"Never." My path was blocked. Okay, apparently this lady was feeling a bit needy today. I'll play.

"Isn't that interesting? (Not really.) These two really enjoy picking out their clothes and today they chose to dress alike. And I'm okay with that." (Please allow me to pass.)

"How much did they weigh?" Her eyes were squinted at me, as if my answer were going to truly count for something.

We're still doing this? Okay. "Umm", I stalled as I mentally pulled out the Facts I Don't Use Often But Need To Use From Time To Time file,  "Five-fifteen and six pounds."

"Seven-twelve and seven fifteen," was her reply. As she said it, she tipped her head back, actually raising her chin in a defiant act of pure one-up-man-ship in a competition I wasn't aware I was a part of. (And was apparently losing.)

This sort of interlude is, thankfully, rare for me. Usually She doesn't show up with war guns, but today She did. So I pulled on my 'Well bless your heart, you're half crazy, aren't you darlin'?' smile that tends to also imply a readiness to move away.

But she stood her ground, still blocking my path.

"How far did you go with them?" Squinty eyes again and looking down her nose at me. This lady was in it to win.

"34 weeks."

"Full. Term." She turned the compound word in two words. Both spoken with clarity. With an underlying growl of sheer will. Full. Term. I pictured a poker player laying down his winning hand with  a Read 'Em and Weep air.

"Imagine that?" I said as I delicately moved passed her, ready to end this insanity before she started asking my about bra sizes or something odd.

Out of her line of vision, I hastened the girls and wove around, trying to put some distance between us and this strange competitive gal.

She found us in a household aisle. And stared me down with that intense glare of hers.
"Where. Do. They. Go. To. School." Each word punctuated and precise.

I scanned around for some hidden camera crew or perhaps someone else who may be able to claim this lady and say that she didn't have her medication today, thus explaining this ridiculous situation. Honestly, I just came in here for pencils. Please let me leave.

"Actually, they're schooling at home." Somehow (though I couldn't tell you how) I figured this would get her. Take that!

It did.

She loudly "Hmmmpphhhed" me and marched away.

I was dismissed, it seems.

I sighed and looked down at the girls. They were looking at me with silent and stricken looks on their faces. Eyes wide. Equally perplexed at what had just occurred.

I found the pencils and scooted right on out of there, thankfully avoiding any more interaction with her.

They say it takes all kinds to make the world go round. I guess I'm lucky to be meeting so very many of them.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Stormy Seas

The day started out picture perfect: blue sky, tannish sand, balmy breeze. Everything you want a vacation day to be; just enough of everything and nothing in excess. Bright but not blinding, hot but not boiling, breezy but not gale-force blowing. Perfect.

We spent the morning standing on the Apache Pier, gazing off into the vast expanse of the Atlantic. Lost in its rhthym. Quiet in its presence. Straight in front of us a pod of dolphins frolicked in our view. Several pods of them, actually. Breeching out of the water, skin shimmering in the sunlight. To our left a sea turtle floated idolly by, dipping beneath the glassy surface of the calm water and occasionally poking his head far above the water for a better view of something that had obtained his interest. To our right a flock of seagalls bobbed lazily together, a large group in the water. They made me think of a group old chums with their constant squawking. Perhaps they too were sharing the daily gossip and remincising days gone by over snippets of the silverfish that foolishly showed themselves. Below our feet schools of needlefish darted here and there, always in search of something that we couldn't quite make out. It was always just out of our eyesight, but very clearly within theirs.

As we made our way back to our hotel "home", the wind stirred behind us. Looking back from the direction we had come, the air shirred with haze and the movement of current and changing tempreture. The stillness of the air around us dropped to our feet, replaced by an electricity that hastened our pace, pushing our feet forward.

We reached our room before the first booms of thunder sounded across the shoreline. From the safety of our balcony we watched as a line of dark, churning clouds marched across the ocean in front of us, covering the blue sky and brightness with heavy, dark clouds. Dark. Heavy.

The wind picked up, swirling the clouds and pulling them from the ocean's now rippled, chaotic surface and enveloping them into their billowing depths. Swirling rolls of fast moving clouds rolled before our eyes, making their way down the beach in one magnificent push. The thunder sounded and the lightning streaked from the surface of the water, illuminating the dark clouds above.

As the first wave of exotic clouds paraded past, they pulled a veil of rain behind them. Drenching, blowing rain that obscured everything around us. It blew past the buildings, forming a white mist as the wind whipped it past. We were enveloped in a cloud of persistent rain.

Beach umbrellas left open were buffeted in the wind, pulling the fabric and exposing the white shaking skeletons beneath. We kept waiting to see one uproot and take flight, but alas, they all stayed snug in their spots.

The waves rose up, forming lines of white caps far out from the shore. They rushed in, crashing heavily on themselves as they made their way to the beachfront. In their fury, small fish were swept up along with a tangle of seaweed; all to be deposited along with seashells along the shore.

And then it was gone. Just as quickly as the wind whipped up the world, it calmed back down again. The clouds, like Sherman's army, marched forcifully on their way down the shore, gathering up stray clouds and pulling them along the way.  The sky cleared. The sun came out from hiding. The beach refilled with umbrellas, brightly colored beach towels, and people.

And it's calm now. Again.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


The wonders of human nature never cease to hold me captive in their wonder. Nope. Never.

Today I had the occasion to visit Barefoot Landing in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. For any of you readers who haven't come upon that locale yet, it has my high endorsement, and so you should go.
But I digress. This evening I also had the experience to visit the "Powder Room" at said location. Twice, actually. But that is neither here nor there.
For those unfamiliar with this location, you'll need a primer on Barefoot Landing Bathroom Stalls. You see, they are a bit different from the stalls you may be familiar with. Or at least, they sure were for me.
It seems I am used to a bathroom with many stalls, all in a row, and all sporting doors that go from near the floor to high above my head. I think of them more like closets of anonymity really. I go in there, I'm hidden from view; all on my own in my own little cell of solitude. Then Flush and out I come.
Call me crazy, but I feel a certain need for this particular level of privacy in a public bathroom. I do. I need it. I love it, really.
And so it came as somewhat a surprise when I entered this bathroom to find that the stall doors stopped where my chest began. I felt like an absolute giant (all five foot, 6 inches of me) as I stared out around  me; a mighty creature surveying the kingdom of the bathroom. My eyes briefly met the furrowed brows of several other patrons, equally confused as to why we were able to make eye contact in a place where little to know ocular acknowledgement is the way to go.
I hastened about my purpose, keeping myself bent at my knees and truly begrudging my silly choice to wear a stupid belt. And then I was outta there, with no plans for a return visit.

And then Caedance had to go.

"Mommy, I gotta go poopie. I think it's coming out, right now."

Great. Let's run, honey. Off we go.

I quickly ushered my slightly waddling offspring into the bathroom, delivering her to the nearest stall and stepping inside with her as she began her important task of "making a twosie". Normally I would lock the stall door, but honestly I couldn't see why that was necessary this time. I mean, for heaven's sake, with my standing up in there I was more than completely visible. You could read my Bayside Tigers shirt. (I love Saved By The Bell). How could you miss me? So I stood there, silently hoping that Caedance didn't do the whole "Take My Time" thing right now because it was just really awkward to stand there.

About 3 minutes into our quiet contemplation over "Where The Poop Could Possibly Be" (I didn't have an answer for her), the door to the bathroom opened up and another lady walked in. Now I'm not sure if it truly exists or not, but if it does, this lady literally waltzed into the bathroom doing a lovely rendition of the Pee Pee Dance. She truly did. She had her pants ready to go, all that was needed was a stall.
And that's when she began to push into the stall that Caedance and I were in. Since I was against the door, it didn't really open, but that didn't phase our intrepid, Pee Pee Dancing visitor. She pushed harder.

"Um, yes..I'm in here, actually," I said as I looked down at our unwanted guest over the door. Her head was down in concentration, perhaps more worried about her own issues just then, so she gave the door yet another gentle push.

"Hello there?" I smiled down at her.
She looked up at me, startled perhaps at the vision of a blond giant looking down at her from the bathroom door.
"Yes. Hi then. We're actually in this stall. So. You know, maybe you could try another one?"
She snapped out of her stupor just then and shook her head. "Oh!" she said in surprise. "I'm sorry. So sorry. I.......I'm sorry."
"No problem. None at all. Have a nice day," I added generously, being the kindly giant that I clearly was.

At this moment Caedance announced that all was good and she was done.
It was with a feeling of great relief that out we went, leaving that odd little porcelain kingdom behind us as we entered the nightlife that is, Barefoot Landing.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Two Weeks

Today we passed the Two Week milestone. We've made it through two weeks of our newest adventure: schooling at home. There have been 'Ups' and there have been some lows; some times where I've felt like I was on top of the world, and other moments where I felt trampled on, ground into the dirt.

You know what those two extremes have in common? It's one very, very simple phrase: This is why we're doing this. This is why we're sacrificing with my staying home. This is why we're giving up so many things.

For better or for worse: This.

Both of the girls have struggled with math. I'm not sure how genetic such a thing is, but if heredity plays any part it, they had a 50-50 chance of this. And no, I'm not too ashamed to admit that I am the weakest link in the genetic train of thought here. Math and me got along about as famously as a feral cat and a rabid dog. Which is to say, I would have rather been almost anywhere in the whole entire world (including a backed up bathroom stall in Grand Central Station), than sitting in a math class. I'm sorry, Mathletes of the world, I do not mean to offend. Math just never came easily to me. It's why I'm dabbling in words right now and not numbers.

But I digress. Math has always been their weaker area. I have approached each of our daily Math lessons with some amount of thoughtful trepidation; my eyes keenly scouting out cracks in the foundation of their understanding. And this week I spotted a gap. I taught the concept, Greater Than, Less Than, with the same hands on approach that each lesson takes. They played with my base 10 blocks, we used flash cards to create True or Not true statements, and we played rounds and rounds of Ready, Set, Compare. And for each activity, each new thing, they did well. Perfectly well. And yet the very moment I put a worksheet before them for more practice, the 3-dimensional world of manipulatives and play fell away and they were faced with the flat reality of numerals on paper. 34 __ 88  had no meaning for them. They could not do a single problem.

My frustration level grew. How could this be? When I handed them the 10 rods and some cubes, they were golden. 34? You mean 3 ten rods and 4 cubes? OH! Yep, that's smaller than 88. But to look at it on paper, no go.

But, as I said before. This is why we're doing this. It's for times like this. Rather than let them feel behind or move on to a new concept, we put the work and frustrations aside and took a breather. We did math in other ways: counting, reading numbers, finding numbers on signs, and so on. We did math, thank you. In a different way, going back to a place where they felt comfortable and confident. They smiled. I smiled. We breathed again.

This morning we revisited those irksome Greater Than & Less Than devils, with rested minds and fresh perspectives. And you know what? They didn't get us today. Not this time. The girls rocked the snot out of Chompers and his unworldly hunger. They did every problem with a sense of confidence that wasn't there yesterday. They took a test on it with assurance and strategy in place.

Then they looked at me and declared, "Mom! I can do this. I can. I really, really can."

And I'll say it again. This is why we're doing this.

Monday, September 5, 2011

It'll still be cute, even when they're 20.

"Mommy, we are a family and in our family we love 'our-chother'", one of my daughters joyfully announced to me today.
And even though she's nearly 7, I am very much determined never to correct her choice of words there.
Not today, and probably not ever.

It's not as if the girls are unaware of the word 'eachother' and it's various uses. They are most familiar with the term. It's a frequent guest in our daily routine; a common companion along the journey of our everyday life.

"Girls, please share with each other."

"My ladies, let's wait for each other before moving on."

"Yes, dears you do look very much like each other."

And the list goes on and on and on. A nearly infinite lineup of 'Each Others' parade around our world, it seems.

But not when it comes to our family and the deeply precious affection we share for one another. Then it's 'Our-Chother'. Universally; to each of us. That is the word they began using forever ago and what we continue to say.

"We love our chother".

And every single time I hear it from them, my heart melts a little bit. Because  I know they know the correct wording, but are choosing to continue on with the little tradition we've started in our own family. Because even though every single aspect of their lives is blaring out "I Am Growing Up!" at the highest decibel possible, this one little bit is still mine; it's still belongs solely to our precious family. "Our chother".

 I am all too aware that the forever well intentioned "Society" at large will see fit to attempt to change that; they'll try to steal that bit of innocence from them and from us. But rest assured that I am here awaiting their arrival and will fight with claws out to keep them at bay and away from my precious little creatures.

Because we love our chother around here. And no one is coming in between that. Not as long as I can help it, thank you very much.