Archive for November, 2010

To my friends.

November 30, 2010

My ‘internet friends’ have sent us amazing homemade quilts for the babies to snuggle under. They’ve sent money for diapers, toy slings, books, changing mats, blank books.

My ‘internet friends’ have been there when I needed to ask someone about chicken pox, eczema, ‘feminine issues’, cancer. They’ve discussed, argued, and agreed with me on topics like mental health, twin parenting, writing, and poop.

My ‘internet friends’ have been there when I was alone in a little cabin with no phone reception. They texted my wife and tweeted to me, so that we could be in communication when she had taken one of our babies to hospital. They offered support while I quietly freaked out about not knowing which hospital it was.

My ‘internet friends’ have asked me interesting questions, made me laugh, offered me sound advice.  They have emailed, facebooked, commented here, tweeted, texted, and written me letters. I’ve met some in person and would like to meet more.

These people, the ones I know some people might refer to in quotations, are not just ‘internet friends.’ They are friends.

Ordinary, exemplary, smart men and women who make my life a little brighter because they are in it. I appreciate these people. I root for these people in times of hardship, I compete with these people for wordcounts of works in progress, I learn more about them than I know about many people who are not ‘internet friends.’

Thank you. You know who you are.

The worst idea I’ve had in weeks.

November 30, 2010

Yesterday I thought it might be nice to take Coconut and Snort for a walk. The two of them, the one of me. Boy, was I a fool. A big, big, big fool.

Hell, I thought. I’ve got hats, mittens, puffy coats, shoes, legwarmers. I’ve got two little harnesses.

(Sidenote: I feel weird using harnesses on the babies, but the actual fact remains that with two baby/toddlers I don’t think I’ll be able to on on walks alone with them WITHOUT harnesses. I’ve yet to meet a twin mum who disagrees. That being said, you’ll soon see what kind of fucking chaos ensued even with the harnesses.)

Because they’ve both been walking so well – though Coconut is very confident and Snort is only just getting there – I assumed a nice quick walk would be fun. I opted to go out the front rather than the back as it is drier and the ground is nicely paved.

Oh. I was going to draw you a picture, but let’s stick with a picture of the mental kind for now. I live in a block of four flats. In front of our flat is a pretty big, slightly sloping up to the road carpark thingy. There is a pavement/sidewalk running alongside the road, with nice snow covered grass between the road and pavement.

They walked like little champions to the front door, I lifted them down to the ground, and all hell broke loose.

Coconut wants to walk, and she wants to walk now. Or run. In ONLY the direction of her choosing.

Meantime you’ve got little Snort walking at a snail’s pace, pausing to look at every. single. thing. on the way. They are, of course, desperate to go in opposite directions. I find myself unsure of how to utilize the harnesses as I discover that hanging on means they will slam to the ground if they keep trying to walk.

Somehow we ended up on the pavement in front of the next block of flats. Somehow.

Snort is on all fours, trying valiantly to get up again amidst the tangle of winter clothes and harness. And gravity. Coconut is gleefully running full tilt for the road, and in fact, juts out into the road just as giant delivery van is cruising toward her.  My vocal cords, not to mention other people’s eardrums, are probably permanently damaged by the loudness of my NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!  STOOOOOPPPPPP!!!! I grab the harness and yank her backwards and off her feet, and her life is saved.

Snort, by this time, is walking in tottering steps on the snow, and I try to lift him back onto the dry pavement. He loses his shit. Like collapses weeping and kicking his feet. Coconut is running down away from us, towards the road.

At some point in this melee, I am holding Snort in my arms and have realised it is impossible to lift a second baby up because their damn winter coats are so slippery. Not to mention the fact that Snort has gone limp in an effort to get back to the ground.

I am holding Coconut up by the harness. Like a little fucking marionette. Her feet are literally dangling above the ground, because I am trying to buy some time to figure out what to do. I am scared.

I am sweating and wondering how we will ever walk the 20 feet back to the front door, or if this hellish struggle will last the rest of our lives. It’s a terror-based aerobic workout.

I begin to walk, encouraging Coconut to come along with my manically bright voice. But it’s like she’s forgotten how to walk. She is just dangling forward like a lunatic, pivoting around and around as I hold her up.

We finally make it to our carpark. I put Snort down, Coco suddenly obediently follows, and it’s lovely. For like ten seconds.

The Snort lurches for the delivery van (now parked in front of our house) and tries to peer under it. I know what it going to happen. He’s going to be like one of those cats that gets squished because they hang out underneath cars.

I make a judgment call and lift him, running to the front of the building and plopping him on the ground.  Miracle of miracles, Coconut is curious and follows.

My nightmare scenario of asking the delivery man to carry one of my children – though he has disappeared, or merely screaming for one of my neighbors to get their ass outside and help me, eases away.

They both merrily climb back into the outside hallway, where Snort promptly begins climbing the stairs and Coconut is banging on the door trying to get back outside.

We won’t be trying that shit again anytime soon, let me tell you.

Allergy appointment!

November 30, 2010

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Hope the following info helps people with kids younger than ours who are wondering about allergies, to food or otherwise.

Good result at Snort’s long awaited allergy appointment. The doctor treated us as if we were intelligent equals, and our appointment was relaxed, unhurried, and full of good info. This is a rarity.

He’s got a prescription for an epipen and a new liquid antihistamine.

He’s too little to sit through a full skin prick test, so that’ll happen in six months. In the meantime, he’s having blood tests next Monday for milk, eggs, peanuts, dust mites, cat…and I think that’s it. He’ll have a skin prick test for cooked potato at the same time.

She was pleasantly surprised that he is tolerating other nuts and legumes, thank you baby led weaning. Our style of weaning has actually helped him build tolerances!  We’ve been instructed to keep up his intake of hummus, black beans, chickpeas, and pesto lest a break from them will cause him to develop allergies. (sesame, pine nuts, cashews)

She, too, suspects that much of his ‘eczema’ has actually been an allergic reaction to his formula.

She thinks his potato allergy is probably going, and the egg too…though the egg one can be a predictor for asthma.  She says the peanut one is less likely to leave (though because he was sensitized so early it has a better chance of eventually being outgrown), though will do controlled testing to monitor his reaction to tree nuts in future. She mentioned hazelnuts as being little bitches to peanut allergy kids, and said they were always present in coffee shops. Perhaps this explains his face blowing up like the Elephant Man every time we step through the doors of one.

We will also do controlled testing (ie small amounts of The Bad Foods given in hospital under observation to monitor reactions, etc, once the testing shows that the allergies are borderline or going away) for eggs, the above mentioned tree nuts (peanuts are actually a legume, apparently), and any other foods he tests allergic to.

She said regarding the packaging saying ‘may contain nuts’, to keep having stuff he is tolerating (keeping that tolerance strong!) and we can experiment at home where we know his reactions, but that when he is away from us – no chance of that anytime soon – it is strictly no nuts of any kind, as well no foods where there may be traces of nuts.

Snort and Coconut both had a fabulous time there. Pretend cups of tea making, colouring, and wire pulling all contributed to the party atmosphere.

We also talked quite a lot about vaccines. She was actually working at the hospital where all the autism hoopla happened in 2001, and said when they looked at causal issues, many of the children in the group hadn’t even received the MMR! …though no cause was found, but there was a real chance it was a live measles infection/exposure, so that was interesting.

On the whole, I feel better as we’ve been told the swelling and hives are minor. We’ve been told when and how to use an epipen, and to call an ambulance as soon as we do. Hopefully we’ll never need to use this new knowledge.

Onward and upward to the first phase of testing!

First family holiday, just us!

November 29, 2010

You all know we went away for a week, but did you know it was our first family vacation? Sure, we’ve gone on transatlantic flights – but that was to visit my family. We’ve also gone and stayed with TMD’s family.

As far as holidays with just our little family go, this was IT! We went pseudo-camping (think electricity, running water, full working kitchen in a little cabin, mixed with longish walks through SNOW to get anywhere) about two hours north of where we live.

I picked this place because of the indoor Subtropical Swimming Paradise. I love me some swimming pools, and this country is sadly lacking in pools in hotels and things. Seriously. And basically no outdoor pools, at least when compared to Country A.

I can firmly recommend the Subtropical Swimming Paradise for Thanksgiving week (a new family tradition, perhaps!). It was mostly families with babies and toddlers (no Thanksgiving here in Country B), so no big kids going apeshit splashing….ha ha, big kids. Hope you enjoyed being in school while we went on the water rapids, waterslides, wave pool, and toddler pools!

I liked this place because it has activities from baby age through to kids, teens, and adults. Lots of progression for future trips, even though I hope Snort & Coconut just want to stay in the pool area the whole time.

Things I want to remember:

At one meal, Coconut finished first and was roaming around. Every now and then she would come by me, and I’d hand her a tiny piece of food. Then I heard raucous giggling, from two kids. She was stood looking up at Snort, who was still at the table, and he was putting food in her mouth!

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In the toddler area, there was one pool for very little ones, and one pool for slightly bigger little ones. That pool had two waterslides, and Coconut was determined. She kept climbing out of the toddler pool and marching over the the big pool, trying to climb up the slide.

One morning we were there before anyone else, so I told TMD to just take her on the smallest slide before we got caught by the Age Police. TMD climbed up to the top, set Coco down, and then Coco essentially came down the slide on her back, by herself. The look on her face as she whizzed by me was extraordinary. I have NEVER seen her look so happy, so joyous!

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In other swimming related new, Snort managed to fall and his entire body was underwater, despite the lifejackets they both wore. I guess lifejackets are pretty fucking useless in eight inches of water when you are flat on your back, but whatevs.

It was like time froze, and a lady nearby scooped him out while I was reaching for him. He just blinked, rubbed his eyes, and grinned before toddling back off to the water fountains he loved splashing in. Water baby!

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We were lucky enough to have the best fucking cabin in the world, considering it was the cheapest one – seriously a few steps below economy.  We had to bring our own toilet paper, people.

But luckily the people who own the fake camping place understand the families deserve some good times. Our cabin was the closest to – you guessed it – the Subtropical Swimming Paradise – and also situated right on a lake. So we had plenty of little visitors.

Namely, ducks….and consequently Coconut learned the word ‘duck!’ which she was prone to enthusiastically yell, 700 times in a row, every time the ducks appeared. There was also plenty of quacking….from her, and him. And the ducks, I suppose.

Both were a bit shocked by the sheer size of geese, but Snort was particularly amazed by squirrels. His whole face lit up and he couldn’t take his eyes off this little ballsy squirrel that hung out with the ducks. TMD bought duck food, and tried to open the patio door to throw some out to convince him to stay around for Snort’s sake, but the fucking squirrel ran at TMD, much to her horror, and tried to push past her into the house.

He got no food that morning.

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We also took the babies to their first fireworks! It was lovely, really. Everything was Christmas themed, so lights everywhere, music playing, etc. The fireworks were over the lake.

Due to some finangling mistakes with our borrowed double stroller and common sense, we had to babywear them to the fireworks. TMD was horrified because, as you all know, I’ve been in a pretty bad relapse (week four as we speak). But I really didn’t want them to miss the fireworks, so we popped on a baby each and walked down to the big lake.

Coconut was speechless, which is pretty rare. Her eyes were huge and staring. Snort apparently just kept beaming up at TMD. So sweet.

They were both on our fronts, but really at this age the back would be better – they both were leaning their heads right back so they could get a good look around.

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Our last morning we went to softplay, where Snort latched onto a giant hula hoop and would not let go. He took it on bike rides, on the seesaw, everywhere. He was also blown away by the slide. He’d never been on one, not really, and I held him as he swooped down (and his big blonde hair stuck up in every direction from static electricity!). The second he bumped down to the bottom, he held his arms out to be picked up and given another ride!

Coco ended up being pushed round on a bike that was way too big for her feet to reach the ground, and she freaking loved it. She adores being on bikes.

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Our main afternoon activity (we went swimming every morning…those fucking changing rooms!) was walking around the little centre – though we occasionally watched people play indoor badminton or wandered through a sweet shop (an incredibly big hit with both kids – all of the colours, tiny little sweetie toys and tins, the big clear candy canes filled with stuff). Coconut is enamored with walking and fearless.

She just walked and walked and walked and walked and walked. And got pissed if you tried to direct her or lift her up.

Snort really had the opportunity to practice as well, and our few afternoons in this place saw him get like 300% better. He, too, is fearless. He made friends with every adult male for miles. Including a crane driver who told me he could see my boobs.

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Snort’s mad giggles when we were in the pool singing ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’ and lifting him up and then speed splashing him down into the water. The kid loves this song anyway, but when it involves multiple throw downs into water, he BEAMS. Love.

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All in all, it was a rockin’ holiday. Singing reindeer, glow in the dark swans, a trip to the emergency room. All of these are ingredients in any great trip.

I can’t wait till our next time away. It should hopefully only get easier. It takes so much TIME with 15 month old twins to get ready to go anywhere. For any activity we did, we easily spent three times however long it was just getting ready to walk from cabin to activity and vice versa.

They slept on a twin mattress (ha!) we dragged into the lounge next to the couch. Hopefully next time they can sleep in the freakishly tall beds in one room, and we can sleep in the freakishly tall bed in the other.

I adored our trip and could write another million words about how I manifested a McDonald’s, the fucking blizzard we experienced (by Country B standards, anyway!), paninis for lunch ‘a’,  the way they both sucked down fruit smoothies from Starbucks, or the items yanked from the grocery store shelves that exploded when they hit the floor.

Another time, maybe.

Ironically, it’s the classiest tree we’ve ever had.

November 28, 2010

I feel pretty much as happy as a person can be. We went shopping this morning, and it was my first time seeing them both in one buggy!

They are growing so fast; while on holiday last week, Coco was learning 3-4 new words per day. Freaky. They are both walking out to the car and back into the house.

And now?

We’re getting ready to decorate for Christmas. The CD we’re listening to has a little ditty that goes ‘I’m the happiest Christmas tree, ho ho ho, hee hee hee.’ Coconut JAMS out to this song.

So: this is what my life is, what my Christmas is now.

A little girl dancing around to music, bouncing up and down, stomping her feet, clapping, beaming with joy. A little boy carefully examining the strand of lights sitting on the couch waiting for the tree to be erected. Grabbing the top third of the tree (oh yes, it’s artificial!) and dragging it over to us.

A quite tired little girl who likes the lights but may be afraid of the tree. A little boy in awe of the tree and entranced by the lights.

Two years ago I was undergoing IVF. Today I am happy. Plain and simple happy.

Being a parent is better than I ever thought it would be, and I have to say, I had pretty high expectations.

Sure, everything is different, adjusted. We are not getting out any of our normal tree decorations. We’re not, in fact, decorating anything but the tree – with the special shatterproof baubles we bought this weekend, and some garlands. We may make some homemade ornaments, we may save that for future years.

Everything is different. Everything is better.

We let Snort pick the decorations. We held up a tube of all purple, and a tube of red and gold. His face lit up and he reached for the all purple. Coconut was shown both tubes twice and shook her head no both times.

Snort is a Christmas geek, it appears. What do you think of his choice?

He’s even helping us hang the baubles, while Coconut is twirling them around in her hands.

I love, love, love my children, my wife, our family.

Happy early Christmas, from my happy heart and family to yours.

From bruises and bashes to funny skin rashes.

November 26, 2010

This morning, within an hour of being awake, Snort got a HUGE black eye. Crash collision with a second little moving body (leading to both falling and smashing their faces on furniture).

A body that, this evening, has spots that have spread from her tummy to her chest. I’m thinking maybe chicken pox.

No lie. I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried. Not that I feel like trying. Still lovely holiday posts to come (we’re home now, you would be robbers!), just had to note the black eye and spreading zit looking raised spots. For posterity.

And here is a pic of them this morning just before we left for home. Snort is modestly turning his head so The Black Eye is invisible. Coconut is modestly wearing clothes so The Pox (?) are also invisible….though I’ve taken some nakie pictures this evening.

Our family.

November 26, 2010

We wouldn’t be us if it wasn’t 11:04 pm and I wasn’t trapped in a place with no landline and no mobile reception, as TMD is at hospital with our daughter.

We wouldn’t be us if the bathtub was not full of baby poop.

We wouldn’t be us if it was our last night here, and rather than being packed up for tomorrow morning and getting sleep, there weren’t suspicious rashes, dirty dishes everywhere, and charcoal smeared all over everything Snort was wearing today because he climbed into the fireplace.

We are booked in for softplay at the crack of dawn. You know, when TMD is supposed to be loading up the car. We’ll see how that goes. As it stands, I broke my own rule about never ever telling the internet you are away from home…and not actually managing to post anything that did not involve nightmarish changing room escapades or frantic late night tweeting about not knowing what hospital my kid is in.

We DID have a great week, though. More on that soon. I swear.

Show me the SEXY.

November 24, 2010

Imagine two hot women, naked, in a changing room. As they move, their bodies occasionally touch briefly. Got that basic image in your head? Good. Let’s see if I can sexy it up for you a bit.

One of the women is bent forward over a changing mat table that has pulled down from the wall. Ignoring all the stern pictures and directions everywhere – MAKE SURE YOUR BABY IS PROPERLY STRAPPED TO THE CHANGING AREA AT ALL TIMES – she has her arms around two toddlers who are sitting on the table. The straps are dangling over the edge.

People keep pushing open the doors, which are on both sides and unlockable.

One of the women says, ‘Two sets of families have seen my boobs.’

The other replies, ‘Everybody in this place has seen my cootch.’

As both women struggle with dressing screaming, overtired toddlers in slightly wet clothing, they are singing. Loudly. So loudly that it almost overpowers the echoing noise of the other 50 babies and toddlers who are also screaming.

So loudly that a lady leads her screaming kid outside their changing door and says, ‘Listen! Someone is singing.’ The kid stops crying, presumably left standing outside the door.

Perhaps he heard one of the women scream, ‘Help! He’s pissing! Pissing all over me!’ as she grabs for a towel (and disturbingly cannot now remember which towel, and no laundry facilities are available) and presses it over her child’s penis. She peels back the towel, starts to use the pee soaked towel to wipe off some of the pee that is rolling down her stomach and coming to rest in her pubic hair, when he begins to pee again.

Strangely, she is so cold and tired that she almost welcomes the warmth of his pee on her goosepimpled body.

Her eye catches the other sign issuing stern directions for the fiftieth time – ‘No one with infectious diseases should enter the subtropical swimming paradise!’ She flushes as she pictures the razor burned mess her inner right thigh has become. Misshapen, red, lumpy. Possibly oozing.

Nevermind, she thinks. At least her swimsuit is red and orange and probably means her thigh/bikini line is not noticeable. Her other side still has the odd merry pubic hair dancing about, but she is now afraid to take a razor to the area again.

Doesn’t matter. In this world, the world of screaming children and tiny family changing areas, razor burn doesn’t matter. Nothing does.

Everyone in this place, this swimming paradise, is human. All of the women have stretch marks and sagging tummies – not to mention their shoulders being pulled out of sockets by children yanking them in every direction. All of the men are far too pale and drawn looking.

Every now and then you hear the low hiss of a father saying to a child, ‘You calm down. Right now. Do you hear me? If you don’t calm down we are leaving.’ This is often in harmony with an unrelated mother a few feet away, grabbing her toddler and heading for the pool, her voice falsely bright. ‘We’d better just go in, darling, there’s no point in waiting for your father any longer.’

‘Passive aggressive,’ one of the women whispers to her wife.

‘Look! There’s that other lesbian couple with twins!’ the other whispers back, nodding her head furtively toward the family walking past.

This is how all ‘conversations’ work. None of them are joined on. You are in the Changing Rooms now, and you are subject to the laws of trying to speed change your 15 month old twins, as an ever growing line of impatient and harried families waits to pounce on the first door to open, staking claim.

You keep singing songs. You eye up the two soaking swim nappies on the floor and consider holding one to your crotch so you can pee, because, let’s be real here, you really have to pee. There is no time for you to worry about your bra being twisted, or about yanking on a winter hat over your soaking wet bun. It goes without saying you have not shampooed or even combed your hair.

You are at a holiday spa for toddlers, and the parents are only along to do the domestic chores. So your thigh is probably getting infected, and is more attention drawing than the original pubic hairs? Who cares. So you leaned over last night talking to two strange men while holding up a small child, only to have one of the men point out that he could see all of your breasts hanging out? Move on.

You have a goal, a primary objective. You will wipe small noses with your thumb and smear it on your sock. You will not bother to rinse off your pee soaked stomach. You will jam your soaking wet feet into socks and shoes with nary a thought for the possible athlete’s foot you are inviting.

You are a mother now. You are in the subtropical swimming paradise changing rooms. You don’t care who sees you naked, you don’t care about sitting on the ground to stop your children from sitting on the ground, you barely have a chance to notice your wife is naked before she jams her equally soaking wet body into clothes.

Your kids are all fashionable and looking gorgeous. You are wearing velour sweatpants and a sweatshirt that is ten years old. Nothing you are wearing matches. Green mittens, brown hat, black scarf, red sweatshirt.

None of this matters.

You are in the subtropical paradise swimming changing rooms. You will spend thirty minutes in the actual pool, but these changing rooms? Prepare to sign away your life, because this is it. Your new home.

People check in, they never check out.

Brief.

November 23, 2010

Hi. I’m having…well, we’re having….a super good time. More on what this ‘good time’ consists of will come later.

Just thought I’d swing by and say, y’know, hola. Hiya. Hello.

Naptime.

November 21, 2010

Otherwise titled ‘What I am looking at right this second.’

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