I have been dreading these days, the final decision, the waiting and the lottery! I saw “Waiting for Superman” by myself and sat sobbing in the theatre. How could it have gotten this bad that we leave our children’s education up to chance? Private school might have been an option before the twins but now public is the logical choice and truthfully I’m a supporter of public schools. It is daunting making such impactful decisions. My wife is finally starting to catch up with all that has been weighing on me for the last 6 months. I have done my research -immersion, charter, magnets; I have finally navigated my way through the challenges, the tours, the applications and now, I wait. Wait for the day when we find out if our daughter is one of the lucky ones or if she waits patiently with a number for her fate. I envy the people who have real choices rather than chances. I lie awake at night burdened by this process until I remind myself that everything happens for a reason and things work out the way they should. I don’t think a worrier like me could get through life without understanding that. Our daughter thinks that she will make the choice. I tell her about the schools, the rules, the fun and inform her that once we “decide” she can give her final word. I’m not sure how I will finagle that if there is only one choice, but I’m prepared to cross that bridge later. It’s all about baby steps right now. Sleeping through the night is first on my list.
It’s a family tradition to see snow around the holidays. Typically we’ll drive somewhere for the day but this year we decided to get a cabin in Big Bear, CA at Christmas. This turned out to be a great destination for our family because it’s only 2 hours away from Los Angeles, which is perfect if you are traveling with little ones. We have three kids! I will warn you that chains are a requirement to have with you over the winter season (this I did not know) and those switchbacks can be a bit dizzying, but once we got to our quaint town and adorable cottage in the snow, we were thrilled. Chalet Devora was a prime location for skiers, just a quick 10-minute walk to the slopes. We were set up on a hill, which was a little intimidating to drive on ice, but worth it for the sledding around the back. Fully equipped with Christmas trees (yep there were 2) and festive holiday décor, the place was lovely. It even had a hot tub! Although when we all got in one snowy night it was about as hot as a lukewarm bath so you might want to warn them to crank up that heat!
What to do with kids in Big Bear
There is a great little ski camp at the slopes that we enrolled our daughter in for 2 hours. It was her first time skiing and she came out with a good snow plow and the desire to ski down her first bunny hill. I couldn’t believe I was more terrified than she when we all went up on her very first chairlift.
There are a couple nice inner-tubing places that are great fun for kids. We spent the afternoon making snow angels, having snowball fights, and sliding down the hill.
I wasn’t sure if there would be much to do with the babies (they are one). People thought we were crazy motivating with twin babies, but they had a blast. We took them to Big Bear Village and bought a sled and pulled them around in the snow. We happened upon a tiny hill that every toddler in town has spotted and had great fun listening to them giggle as they traversed through the snow.
What to Eat
If you are a foodie, you might not be terribly impressed with the restaurants, but I thought it was just what you’d expect from a lovely little village town. I couldn’t get a good sidecar to save my life but I enjoyed my meal and fireside table at Captain’s Anchorage. They even had the 80’s salad bar.
We had a great trip and will surely do it again, although my next ski destination is Mammoth. Any recommendations before we go?
I found out a good friend of mine is pregnant with twins and it got me thinking about how I was feeling this time last year when I was just two weeks away from delivering my boy/girl twins. I was terrified. I think I was sick to my stomach most days, not only having to do with my pregnancy because yes, I hate to tell you, it continues into the third trimester, but because I truly had no idea what I was in for. All I knew was that on every level, my life was no longer my own. We suddenly had full time help coming to live in our home, my sane, balanced life was about to be disrupted by sleepless nights, crazy hormones, fights with my wife, tidying that never stops, and endless laundry. I had no idea that tiny little hearts beating on my chest would make it all worth while. I remember turning to Susan and saying “Why didn’t you remind me that I love our children?” I had forgotten when I was pregnant that the bond is so strong and for me so immediate that everything else falls away. Yes this year has been chaos. I have had more failure moments as a mother this year than any before it, but now as my twins approach one, our family is full of life.
Our son hugs -actually holds tight, squeezes like a tiny little monkey. His laughs make me cry. His smile is infectious and he bangs on things, loves making noise. He holds any given toy up in the air and yells with the power of a mighty lion. Our little man is tiny, below the charts, yet he is a masterful eater. He out-eats all of us and will eat anything. He is completely independent until he topples over. I can’t help but think about how lucky his sisters will be to have him as their brother.
Our twin daughter is a lover of her Mama, she follows me around like a champ, tracks me in a room and makes sure she’s in my arms at all times. She loves music and dances from a seating position by moving her hips back and forth, waving her little arms around. She is genuinely happy until she’s not and then everyone in the neighborhood knows. She makes herself heard! She flips the light on every day for me with a huge proud smile. She continued my morning tradition when I forgot by grabbing her brother on his belly and saying “Tika Tika Tika.” He laughed and suddenly I realized she was doing what I do to them both daily–she was tickling.
They team up together– jump in the dishwasher when we’re not looking and pull everything out of the bathroom cabinet each morning as I shower. They laugh together, with each other and at each other. They are inseparable.
And our oldest, she prevails in the most valiant way. She has made it through this year! Through the tears, sometimes feeling like it will never stop. Today when the entire family went Christmas tree shopping and our son had had enough and began crying on the way home, she said very calmly “Why is he still doing that? He slept, he ate, he doesn’t need a dipes change, what is wrong with him?” She is patient and loving. I asked her to watch over the twins while we carried in our new couch. This was the first time I left the three of them in a room together alone for at least 15 minutes. I had given the twins bottles. When I walked in, the bottles were tossed aside and all three kids were gathered around the ipad dancing to music. They looked up at me with bright smiling faces and our future flashed before me. The future laughs and card games, holidays, fights, late night talks, dances, so many firsts. How could I have ever been afraid of this?
So, for you, going to into twindom, you have nothing to fear. Yes you will be tired. Yes you will likely hate your significant other on certain days, yes it is hard, sometimes feels impossible, but at the end of my first year, it is all that I could ask for.
This weekend I did the thing I’ve always feared I would. I may have created that 4-year-old memory that my oldest daughter will remind me of for years to come. Nope, she won’t remember the Nutcracker or sitting around the living room singing Christmas carols, or picnics in her bedroom. She’ll say, “Remember that time Mama, when we showed up 3 hours late to my friend’s birthday party, remember how everyone was leaving as we were arriving, remember how heartbroken I was? Remember how you stole my moment by crying even harder than I was so much so that I stopped to console you?” She won’t remember the part about her first soccer medal that day and dessert before lunch and fun times at Kidspace or the little white bag of treats I put together for her so that she could feel like she got the goodie bag from the party that I botched! Nope, she’ll simply remember that horrifying moment when one of her friends was shouting “Everyone’s leaving, the party’s over.” And I will remember her tiny hand in mine squeezing tightly and the utterly sad look on her face.
I have tried to avoid these moments as a mom; I swear I attempt to elude them so much these days that I’m terrified to volunteer to be snack mom or anything else for fear that I’ll fuck it up like I did Shabbat the other day when I stood around with the other moms wondering who in the world would forget their child was Shabbat girl until suddenly it hit me, it was ME! Thankfully Sophia missed that part, had no idea what a true failure I am and the teachers protected me from the wrath of the children by getting another class to share with us –but how horrible am I? I handled that well; I realized people mess up, we’ve got a lot going on in our life but this time, this party, it just broke me. I’m becoming overwhelmed and it’s all I can do to get through the day. When I think back to this past year, I hardly remember any of it. Sometimes I don’t know how I got my children from point A to point B, I just do it, I wake up and do what my iphone and my wife and our au pair tell me to. I convince people that I’m in charge and I know what’s what and I’ve got this three kid thing licked but the truth is I’m a mess. I fear people are judging me, well let’s face it, I’m sure they are but mostly I fear my children are going to hate me for all my mistakes. I want to be perfect for them, to show them what a good mom I am but I realized at the end of the night when I was tucking my daughter in and apologizing one last time, that my imperfections will one day help her get through hers and when she’s sad because something has gone wrong, I will remind her of my bad days and failures and this I hope will help her through her day.
Or maybe this is what I tell myself in order to get through my own.
I sat watching Sophia play soccer with the twins and Uncle Troy this weekend. A regular Saturday morning, except this time without our au pair or my wife to help get ready. From the moment the three kids got up until soccer I was solo getting everyone dressed, fed, toys ready, blanket prepared, drinks for the big game and out the door. By the time we arrived to the field I was already exhausted and it was only 10AM. Troy met me so that someone could cheer Sophia on while I juggled the babies making sure they didn’t crawl off somewhere. I spied a mom peeking over at us which I’m quite used to; we are a spectacle. I was ready for the comment, “Wow, a lot of work!” , “Double trouble” -we’ve heard it all. But instead we chatted and I learned that she had twins and a singleton as well with a similar age spread. I’m finding there are more big families out there than I thought and it eases my mind to know that others share the same pains and joys. We laughed over how everyone calls us Super Mom and although it’s nice to hear we’d rather someone grab a baby or hold open the door. It’s just another day for us.
But I digress. I truly believe all parents are Super Moms and Super Dads, as raising kids just isn’t easy, but the true Super Mom in our crew this week is Susan. She dared to go to Costco with three! I warned her not to, practically begged her, but she was determined. When she got to the door with the double stroller and S. by her side, she suddenly realized it would be impossible. Um yeah, I told her, just like I tell her she can’t parallel park in that spot that is half the size of her car but what does she do? Instead of racing out the door like I would have when I realized Costco was no place for me (come to think of it I do that when I’m alone) she simply turned to the guy at the door and said, “Do you have someone who can help me shop? I can’t do this on my own.” Suddenly out came a shopping assistant that took them around the store, gathered the items and stayed with her all the way through checkout. Who knew? So, props to Costco for having this unknown fabulous service available and huge props to Susan for taking on the impossible and having the courage to admit that she needed help. She is Super Mom. She does it in stride, she’s not afraid of anything and she knows when to ask for help. I’d like to say I taught her well but this time I think it’s all her!
It’s easy for a company like Chick-Filet to put money behind organizations that are anti-gay marriage when they have no association with these couples who are aspiring to have equal rights. But what happens when you put a face and a story behind the labels? Does it make a difference?
My wife and I were recently asked to participate in this project “What if you couldn’t marry the person you loved?”
I have never been a fan of formula. I swore when I had my first daughter that I would nurse her for at least one year if it killed me. I made it 14 months formula-free. This was a hefty challenge, given that I pumped 2-3 ounces no matter what I did. I tried all the tricks but the reality was my body just didn’t respond to that pump. My poor wife had to meet me at work a couple times a week just so that we could keep up with the demand. I would nurse over my taco salad. People asked what my issue was with formula and urged me to relax, explaining that there are plenty of healthy, happy formula-fed babies, but I refused any temptation. Our daughter didn’t get sick until her 1st birthday and I believe it was due to exclusively nursing. There aren’t many good arguments that can be had on formula over nursing and I knew this, but more importantly I was following my maternal instincts.
When my twins arrived I again vowed I would go at least one year nursing exclusively. The only trouble was no matter what I did, I still could only get 2-3 ounces –yet now I was feeding two! I tried Fenugreek, drinking lots of water, looking at pictures while pumping, you name it, with no luck. It broke me. I wouldn’t leave the house longer than two hours because I needed to be back to feed the babies. I was willing to make that sacrifice but when I had to go back to work, I knew I had to do something.
I finally sat down with our pediatrician and she told me to let go, that there was only so much I can do and short of quitting my job to stay home and nurse I wasn’t able to give them all that they needed. It was a hard transition, I had to invite the enemy into the house and although I worked from home and am still nursing to date, it has been a challenging process. The babies got sick about a month later and I blame the formula.
The only good that has come of this is that I now understand and have empathy for people that can’t nurse. I often judged too quickly and didn’t consider that people have their own set of circumstances that have likely been challenging to face like mine were. Similar to being single and hating people with kids on planes, I now embrace them with an understanding I never knew existed. I learn from parenting once again.
When I approach you to tell you that my child has two moms, to make sure you know so that you don’t refer to my daughter’s daddy unknowingly, I am not looking for your opinion. I do not need to know that you are “ok with it” that “you don’t judge”; frankly I don’t care what you think. I do, however, expect you to ask intelligent questions like, what does she call you? and Do you go by ‘Mommy’ or ‘Mama’? Perhaps take it a step further and ask if we have any good kids’ books with two moms that you can add to your library in the classroom. Those are relevant, thoughtful questions. But if you simply tell me that you are “good with whatever” it makes me think that you do in fact judge, or that you think I have something to be ashamed of, that I’m worried that you might judge me. You see, the world is changing and has been for quite a while now. There are two moms, two dads, single moms, mixed race families, transgender families. And although I don’t expect you to understand how to deal with the ever-changing family dynamic, I do expect you to educate yourself on the matter. Perhaps we are not doing a good enough job of educating our educators.
When there is a positive relationship between families and schools, students perform better academically and socially (Pyszkowski, 1987);
FEARS of the teacher/school:
Addressing issues about lesbian- or gay-headed families means that I will have to talk about sex in the classroom.
I am uncomfortable using the words “gay” and “lesbian”.
I don’t know what words to use when interacting with members of lesbian- and gay-headed families.
I don’t know how to reconcile my personal beliefs with my responsibility to all the children and families in my classroom/school.
I don’t know what resources on gay- and lesbian-headed families exist, or where to find them.
FEARS of the child:
Teachers and kids will think I am strange.
Teachers and kids will treat me unfairly.
My family and I will be called names.
My family will not be included like other families in the school.
My friends’ parents might not let their kids come over to my house to play or for a sleepover.
Teachers and kids might think I will be lesbian or gay.
Use appropriate language when acknowledging the parent(s) in a gay- or lesbian- headed family.
In order to foster a positive relationship with lesbian or gay parents, use terms they choose. Be proactive, and ask the parent(s) what names their child uses for them such as Mama Kate, Mommy, Papa, Daddy. Find out about what other family members their child might refer to in class.
Update your curriculum to include materials that address the issues of gay- and lesbian-headed families.
Change your school forms and other community documents to use neutral, inclusive language.
Resources provided by Opening Doors: Lesbian and Gay Parents And Schools
I sat at Baskin Robbins with my 4-year-old eating ice cream cones in the sun, racing each other before they melted. I smiled at the mom and her kid sitting next to us and then became unsettled with their exchange. Her child was no more than 1 year old by my estimation, he couldn’t talk yet and was barely walking. She pushed the ice cream cone to his mouth and said
He shoved it away and shook his head no.
She tried again
“Try it, you’ll like it, it’s ice cream”
He pushed it back at her again.
“Just try one bite”
He tries a bite and shakes his head no.
She ate her ice cream quietly. A couple minutes later she made her request again.
“Try another bite, it’s really good”
I have never understood why anyone would give their child sugar before they can say the word SUGAR?! What possible good can you be doing by getting them addicted to something that they don’t even know exists. I understand if you are at a birthday party with a bunch of kids and your kid sees others eating cake and they want some too, fine give them some, no harm but to not listen to your child’s cues is downright awful. Sugar is the enemy. Let’s not be fooled, I’m addicted to it, most of us are, we don’t even realize that we need it in the middle of the day as a pick me up until we have a soda, or a cookie or a mocha and suddenly get a blast of energy followed by a crash but this is besides the point, we are grown-ups we make educated decisions that we have to live with but our children are at our mercy. They learn from everything we do and if we are teaching them at 6 months old (yes I’ve seen this) that ice cream is man’s best friend, should we be shocked when they are five that little Becky has a sweet tooth. Of course she does. She learned as a baby that we like sweets, that they make life happier, that candy is something all children should love. Have you ever spent time looking at children’s books and noting how often candy, ice cream, cookies,cakes etc are celebrated. Good kids eat sugar. Happy kids. Kids that didn’t cry when they got their shots. I think we are so desensitized that we don’t even realize how often we are telling our children how delightful sweet things are. When do we marvel at vegetables?
But the truth is kids don’t always want sugar. I sat at a birthday party and watched a grandmother spoon feed the birthday girl even after the little girl requested to go and play with her friends.
“Here have some more, finish your cake, the icing is good isn’t it?”
I understand, she was excited that it was her two-year-old granddaughter’s first experience with cake but she was more interested in her own pleasure of the moment than the little girl who ate her 5 bites and was now ready to move on.
I don’t believe in my children cleaning their plates, I don’t believe in telling them when they are or are not full, I don’t believe I should ever tell them how wonderful sugar is, I believe in listening and watching for their cues. I think it is my job to give them healthy options and let them choose the bad ones too but the key here is let THEM choose.
I was so anti-sugar when my wife and I had our first daughter that we would often argue because I didn’t want them to have any sugar at all at home. My wife felt that an extreme like that would leave them wanting more and ultimately cause the opposite affect that we were looking for.
I spoke at length with our pediatrician about this and she helped us make our decision by telling me about a study in which children over a three day period were given options of any food they wanted to eat with no restrictions or limits from parents. The first day the children chose the cookies and candy and all sugary things but over the next couple days they completely balanced out their eating and ultimately ate the foods that made their bodies feel better. She explained that if we really listen to our children’s cues that we’d be surprised how they will self regulate.
I decided after hearing this news that I would meet my wife in the middle allowing sugar to pop in and out of our lives with the goal of no negative or positive emphasis on it. Surprisingly our daughter sometimes doesn’t finish her dessert at all or will skip it completely and other days will devour it and ask for seconds.
It is a goal of mine all together to not allow food and my children’s relationship to food to overtake them. Food is something we need to give us energy and keep us healthy, it is used as an excuse to gather around the table and tell stories about our day, to spend time together as a family.
So, please, whoever you are out there at the Baskin Robbins, stop feeding your kid ice cream when he says NO! Maybe you should in fact listen to your child as he is already showing early signs of obesity along with 30% of the children in this country.
The twins are almost 8 months and suddenly life has changed. I wrote a blog a month ago about how having three isn’t as difficult as I had suspected. In honoring the promise I made to myself when I began writing intimately about my life, I vowed that I would always be as honest as I could; I must admit the recent discovery of a new truth. It’s hard, it’s gotten really hard. This weekend has been the most challenging yet. The twins are both moving quickly, not quite crawling but scooching around, inevitably one goes one way the other the opposite. My 4-year-old is so over watching out for the twins, as she’s been doing it for months now that she can no longer be held responsible. The babies are eating which I thought would be the highlight of our meals but in fact is exhausting. When I feed the twins, I don’t eat and my daughter makes a request for milk, butter, whatever, every couple minutes so by the time it’s all over I’m still hungry and ready to go to sleep. The stress level is so high over here that Susan and I have begun fighting about measurement of formula and the state of our blender. It’s insane. I woke this morning ready to go to the Dodgers/Cubs game, I’ve been craving baseball all summer, but when I played the three-hour excursion out in my head, it was depressing. I’m tired of our double stroller that I can’t turn worth shit when I go into my new favorite little breakfast place. I can’t stand the “you’ve certainly got your hands full” comment and am afraid I might actually hit someone next time they say anything to me. I don’t want your help! Yet, I totally want your help! I feel insane and my usually sane wife has lost her cool too.
I did yoga today (thank you Susan for making me go), but the entire time I was focused on whether S. was having fun in the “playroom” by herself since there were no kids there when I checked her in. I didn’t go in the much-needed jacuzzi because she seemed lonely in that little room on her own. My escape is blaring “Call me maybe” in my car and feeling like I’m 20 again. That lasts a couple minutes and then my mind wanders off to how we are going to afford three kids. I’m so intimidated by the notion of it all that I sometimes can’t breathe.
We got invited to a BBQ this weekend and had every intention of going but when Susan had one set of plans and I another, I couldn’t stomach bringing three kids to an afternoon party. ”Hi everybody, hope you don’t mind the three-ring-circus I’ve brought along with me, do you wanna hold a kid while I kick back a shot of tequila?”
This is my state, it’s not pretty. When I asked parents of three what to expect, I wanted the dirty, gritty details. I have a demented way of playing out the worst so that when it actually happens it’s not so bad but they kept telling me I’d get through it and some days would be harder than others. Well here I am, here to tell you that I’ve hit my wall. I’m at the 20 mile mark counting to the finish line, the only problem is, where the fuck is the finish line? I remember literally saying that to Susan through blurry eyes when we ran the marathon, it felt endless running in slow motion, feet feeling pulled down by tar, eyes glazed and mind so numb I could only listen to her words talking me through each step. Well ladies and gentlemen, I’ve hit my wall and so I put my head down and pray that we all make it through intact.