Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Love is in the Air

I know a lot of people think that Valentine's Day is a fake holiday made up by Hallmark but some folks need a dedicated day to remind them to say 'hey, I love you' or something romantic like that. If you're in need of a unique or great gift for your loved one, take a look at Mighty Goods 2008 Valentine's Day Gift Guide. While you're there, check out the awesome alternatives to Hallmark Valentine's Day Cards.

One Step for Nature

When you get a chance, go read this post by Lotus of SarcasticMom. Look for my post on February 11th that will outline the contribution I intend to make to Project Support Beauty in Nature.

What will you do?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Observations and Conversations

Jack has an accent laced with an East LA inflection. He says words like 'ghostes' instead of 'ghosts', 'lello' instead of 'yellow', 'weally' instead of 'really', etc. He calls me 'ma MEEEE' with the emphasis on MEEEEE. His favorite exclamation word is 'awe SOME' with the emphasis on some. His favorite color is still red but he will wear other colors now.

Dean has a valley accent. He says 'o-kah' instead of 'okay'. He uses the word 'like' all the time. Like, all the time. His diction is otherwise perfect and includes the proper tense usage. And, in fact, sometimes includes correcting his brother. Which is always welcome (NOT). He often uses his eyebrows to emphasize his point. Furrowed = mad. Raised = inquisitive. He will not wear long sleeved shirts.

Conversation between Jack and Dean this morning:
Dean: When are we going to get to wear braces?
Jack: What are braces?
Dean: They're special teeth that you put in your mouth.

Conversation between me and Jack last night:
Jack: Well? Did you know? That there's a new baby at the daycare? And the parents? Well, they call him a bad name.
Me: Really? What's his name?
Jack: Well, they call him Gun.
Me: Oh, that's short for Gunnar.
Jack: Well, it's a bad name.

Conversation between me, Jack and Dean last night:
Dean: Did you know we have another Katie at the daycare?
Me: You do?
Jack: Yes, now we have two Katies.
Me: How old is the new Katie?
Jack: Well, Katie is 3.
Dean: Yeah, one of the Katies is 3.
Me: Is that the old Katie or the new Katie?
Dean: Well, the new Katie is 8 I think.
Jack: No! She's 7.
Dean: Yeah, right. She's 7.
Me: So, is that Katie who has a sister named Sarah?
Dean: Yeah, right.
Me: She's the Katie who came to the daycare last week?
Dean: Right.
Me: But she doesn't go to the daycare anymore. She used to go there. She was just visiting.
Jack/Dean: Yeah, right.
Me: So who's the new Katie?
Them: She's 3.
Me: The Katie who was just at Callum's birthday party last weekend?
Them: Right.
Me: So besides that Katie, is there another Katie at the daycare?
Them: NO.
Me (to myself): Glad we got that cleared up.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Just a quick note today about Dean. I feel like I've been a bit down about him lately. Only posting negative reports about him and frequently complaining about him. We actually had a very nice weekend and he was pretty good. Oh, except for Friday night . . . I'm just now remembering how he was in Target (NIGHTMARE) but otherwise, an angel. No really, some of it is our fault. We know how he is with change (not good) and we know how sensitive he is (extremely) and yet some part of us still thinks we can get away with a quick trip to Target on a Friday night at 8:30pm to buy a birthday present for Jack's best friend and have Dean be all mature and compliant. Ahem.
Saturday morning brought us a new day though of good-natured boys who were, for the most part, good to each other and well-behaved. Or maybe, this is just the view through my hindsight goggles. Whatever. I'm remembering the sweet moments with Dean. The moments when he looped his arms around my neck and his babysoft, cool hands touched my cheeks and he looked at me with those deep brown eyes that look into my soul . . . what a wonder. That boy who is by turns all piss and vinegar and then the sideways wry smile, the knock knock joke, the unprompted 'I love you mama' melts my heart and all is forgiven.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Updates and Photos

To make up for my long absence from regular posting, here are some pictures for you! My brother was in town recently for business and we managed to get together for a quick dinner. Jack was suddenly very shy but Dean warmed up immediately and proceeded to charm the heck out of Chad. One memorable comment by Dean to Chad was, "You're hilarious! How did you get so hilarious? I didn't know you were so hilarious." I think Chad thought that was, well . . . hilarious!

Here, Chad is showing Dean how to do the Rock 'n Roll handshake. At the next table were some hard core rockers with black smudges under their eyes, tattoos, black fingernail polish and brightly colored hair. We had to show 'em how hip we are!

I haven't posted a picture of Kate in a while so here she is with her absolute favorite thing: her frisbee. She's still really sweet and eager to please. I'm looking into obedience training for her to start sometime in February. The training isn't for her as much as it is for me! She already knows sit, down, and paw but I want to make sure she comes to me when I call her - especially since she takes off if an opportunity presents!

This is Dean with Kate in our kitchen before I took a sledgehammer to it. Note the brick "thing" on the left? I hated that thing.

Here's Jack in the space where that brick thing once stood. He was my big helper. I knocked that thing down and he moved every bit of mortar, pieces of brick, etc. to the wheelbarrow parked just outside. He loved when large pieces came apart. He was my biggest cheerleader, best helper and absolutely tireless. He wouldn't take a break until I took one and hardly even wanted to eat in case he missed something. Don't worry about the missing shoes in the following photos. I shop vacced that whole place and picked up every stray nail or screw. Seriously, it's cleaner now than when the linoleum was on it.

See that door behind Jack? That will be removed and filled in. Who needs a door in the dining room?
And the view from the dining room looking through the kitchen towards the entryway. That countertop is on it's last breath. I can't wait to take the hammer to it this weekend! Yee haw!!Doncha want to eat Jack up in that photo? He looks like a little gingerbread man to me. I just want to nibble him! He's got a few tricks up his sleeve lately. The other day he was taking a bath and he washed his hair and body by himself, let the water out of the tub, got out and dried himself and then got dressed without my even knowing it. Yesterday morning while I was in the shower he got dressed for school, dragged the chair into the kitchen so he could reach the cereal, dragged the chair to the cupboard to get a bowl, took the milk out of the fridge and poured himself a bowl of cereal with milk. At school they tell me that he's the first to wash hands and wait at the table with his hands folded, patiently waiting for all the other kids to sit down to eat. He loves to sweep and does all the sweeping at the daycare. One day a parent commented to his teacher about what a great job he was doing and his teacher replied, "He's been doing this since he was 3!" He tells me that Jack does an exceptional job and doesn't miss even a grain of sand. Jack has a best friend at school and they spend every waking moment together. He told me he wants to move in with him and be his brother. And I found out that this boy's mother packs 2 of everything in a lunch whenever they have field trips - one for him and one for Jack. It's so sweet.

Dean is still a handful of drama. He's afraid of everything - windows, doors and (I found out today) chimneys. He doesn't want to go to the bathroom by himself or even go into the kitchen by himself! It's enough to make me crazy! Jack is kind enough to point out windows, doors and chimneys, thankyouverymuchjack, and Dean cries and clings until I finally give in and hold him. I'm trying to be all rational but clearly this isn't a rational fear and I'm sure he'll grow out of it soon. I've also been concerned about Dean because he's so quick to anger and his gut reaction is to hit, bite, push, etc. Every day I remind him to be kind with his words and kind with his body and still nearly every day there is some incident that happened at school in which he had to be removed from the group for some period of time. The teachers are all very nice and they don't "punish". The worst thing they ever do is remove the child from the situation. So it's my nightly practice to check in with his teacher to see how he was that day. In our chat last night I expressed my concern that when he enters kindergarten in the fall that he's going to get in a lot of trouble. His teacher told me that he thinks he'll be better when he's with all 5 year olds and that most of the time, it's his love-hate relationship with a 3 year old boy in the daycare that gets him in trouble. The other times he gets in trouble is when he is defending one of the younger girls in the daycare! His teacher told me that all the kids love Dean and he generally picks who he wants to play with each day and they do whatever he wants them to do. He told me that Dean would be fine and that his teacher is going to love him because he's so charming.

Finally, I asked him how Jack and Dean interact at school and he said that for the most part, they don't. Usually, the only time they do is if one of them is sick or upset then the other one will comfort him. Usually, the one needing the comfort is Dean and Jack does the comforting. His teacher said he loves to watch the way they come together when they need to but are otherwise completely independent.

As always, it's busy, chaotic, demanding and frustrating here at twintales but I wouldn't change it for the world.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Demolition Girl

Sorry to be so MIA. I've been a little preoccupied. I demo'd my kitchen yesterday. Pulled up all the linoleum, steamed the wallpaper off the dining room (that was Sunday, actually), removed the tile from the countertop next to the stove, took a sledgehammer to the built-in brick thing that was next to my stove and removed the brick (yes, brick) backsplash. My hands are raw, my back is aching, my fingernails are falling apart but boy was that fun! Jack was my little assistant. He carried all the linoleum and wallpaper bits and pieces to the garbage can. He filled the wheelbarrow with broken tile, mortar and brick pieces. That kid was absolutely tireless. I'll take some pictures tonight and try to post them soon. The countertop installer comes next Wednesday to measure and do the template. Then it will be another 5-7 days before it will be installed. So, by Valentine's Day I should have a new kitchen!!

Friday, January 18, 2008


I went to a sauce class on Tuesday night. This was the second class that I took from the gift certificate that Tom gave me for my birthday. She showed us how to make a compound butter, veloute, vinaigrette, bechamel, reduction sauce, and a creme anglais flavored with coffee beans. I went home from that class feeling totally inspired. Wednesday night I made corn chowder with crispy pancetta and golden shrimp for dinner. Okay, seriously it was so amazingly good. Then Thursday night I made cream of mushroom soup and tonight was Pasta al Forno (fancy way of saying mac and cheese). But the best was the corn chowder. Soooooo good. Here's the recipe:

1 T. canola oil
small onion, diced
1/2 C. cubed pancetta (or bacon)
3 T. butter (divided)
2 T. flour
2 C. chicken stock
16 oz. frozen white corn (w/ 1/4 c. reserved)
1 C. milk
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
Tapatio or Tabasco Sauce
salt and pepper

In a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, add the oil, onion and pancetta. Cook until onion is translucent and pancetta is browned. Add 2 T. butter and cook over medium heat until the butter is melted and sizzling (do not let it burn). Add the flour, whisking constantly until it begins to have a nutty aroma - about 3 minutes. Whisk in the chicken stock. Stir in the corn (except for 1/4 cup) and bring soup to a simmer for 5 minutes or so. Stir in the milk and simmer for another 5-10 minutes. In a separate skillet, melt 1 T. butter and cook the shrimp 1-2 minutes on each side. Remove the shrimp to a clean bowl after it turns a light pink, add the 1/4 cup reserved corn to the skillet and saute for 2 minutes. Chop the shrimp into small pieces and add with the reserved corn to the chowder. Add a couple of dashes of tapatio or tabasco and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a green salad and crusty bread. Serves 2.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dean's Five Year Check Up

The day of Dean's check up dawned early - at 5:00am when he came bounding into our room, jumped onto our bed and refused to go back to sleep. He also complained of an earache and was kind of a little pain in the you know what. The day wasn't starting off too well. But, when I picked him up at lunchtime, he seemed fine. Excited, even. Dean requested chinese food for his special lunch so we went to Panda Express. We had fried rice, chow mein, orange chicken (he ate most of it), beef with broccoli and pot stickers. Then we headed over to the doctor. Like Jack, Dean gained 5 pounds and 3.5 inches since last year but he's still 4 pounds less than Jack. Doctor S asked about Dean's eating habits. I told him Dean hasn't changed much from when he was a baby - he still doesn't want to have to stop what he's doing to eat. He's never been able to focus on food. Jack, on the other hand, focuses on food from the moment he wakes up every day. Anyway, the doc isn't concerned since he's clearly growing and is otherwise fine. A quick check in the ear did confirm that he has an ear infection but it didn't stop the vaccinations. Poor Dean. As soon as the nurse came in with the 5 syringes he started crying. And they were short staffed so they couldn't double team him like they did Jack. Soon though it was over and I gave him a shot of motrin right away. We stopped at the little cafe on the way out and Dean chose oreo cookies for his treat. Considering how upset he was, Dean did really well. Later when we got back to the daycare, his teacher told me that he was pretty anxious before I got there. Poor kid was probably worrying about those shots.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Jack's Five Year Checkup

This year, I decided to do their annual exams separately. I did that because last year when I did them at the same time I almost couldn't hold Jack down long enough to get his one required vaccination. He was all ambivalent about the shot until Dean started crying and there was no way in hell Jack was going to volunteer for that. Jack's exam was today and I picked him up early so we could have lunch together, just the two of us. He wanted pancakes so we went to IHOP. I let him have hot chocolate and a miniature Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity (my arteries clog just typing it). It sort of seems like the last meal of a doomed man, right? Right.

Jack wasn't nervous or anything and he seemed happy just to have some one on one time with me, even if it meant he'd have to have a shot. He has gained 5 pounds since his 4 year (normal is 5-7) and grew 3.5 inches (normal is 2). His vision is excellent, blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, etc. - all normal. Doc is pleased and proud - what a success, what luck. Hard to believe he started out at 3 lbs 5 oz and 16 inches.

As I said, last year I almost couldn't hold him down long enough for his shot (singular, one shot). This year, he had to have 4 shots and a TB test. He had a nurse on each arm and they did two shots each in rapid succession.

The kid barely made a sound.

I bought him an ice cream sandwich. Told him he deserved it.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Always with the Questions

Dear Internet,

Jack has lots of questions and it's wearing me out. He's making a list of things that you can make such as, glass (melt sand) and wood (comes from trees) but there are so many other things he wonders about and his mother isn't any help. So, that's where you come in:

  1. How do you make gold? Dean thinks you make it by twisting threads together but Jack told him he's wrong.
  2. What is the street made out of? And asphalt isn't good enough.
  3. How do you make wires?
  4. How do you make water? Oh, and don't think you can just answer Hydrogen and Oxygen. Amateur.
  5. What else do you know how to do besides cooking? Oh, sorry this was a direct question to me, his mother. But I honestly couldn't think of a thing.
So? Whatcha got?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Lessons from the Weekend

1. Don’t underestimate the power of Chuck E. Cheese’s to entertain the kids for 2 hours thus allowing you the opportunity to talk to your spouse with few interruptions.
2. 4:00pm on a rainy Saturday turns out to be the perfect time to go to Chuck E. Cheese’s. It’s between birthday parties and before the dinner crowd.
3. When your child wants to try to put the K’NEX windmill together by himself and insists he can follow the directions, let him try. He learns nothing from watching you do it for him whereas when he tries to do it himself, what he gains is much bigger than just a windmill.
4. When you go to the roller skating party, don’t be surprised by the number of times your kids fall down. Do be surprised when the one who is usually less physically coordinated, and more likely to get frustrated and give up, turns out to be the better skater.
5. When you lay down with your kids at night and one doesn’t fall asleep soon enough for you, don’t get frustrated and stomp out of the room. But, if you do, take a deep breath, take a sippy cup with water back into the room, give it to the still-awake child and ask him to scoot over. Wrap your arms around him while he sips and tell him how proud of him you are. You will never, ever regret the time you took to let him know how much he is loved.

Friday, January 04, 2008


I was in the waiting room at the doctor's office this afternoon. As I waited, I leafed through TIME magazine with particular interest in the article on birth order - not surprisingly, it doesn't mention how birth order affects twins. In the chair opposite mine sat an elderly man with a weathered, lined face, his oxygen tank hissing rhythmically. Shh . . shh . . shh . .
He paid no attention to me but I sat across from him deliberately.
He could have been someone else, not in looks but in manner.
A cell phone began to ring and I was surprised that it was his. Why am I surprised?! Why shouldn't he have a cell phone? I don't mean to eavesdrop but I hear him say that he's at the doctor and should be done soon. "What are you doing" he asks and then "can I buy you a sandwich?".
Suddenly, the waiting room goes into soft focus and I remember sitting at McDonald's, having a cup of coffee. I see us sitting at a table, a younger me and Grandpa Jack. I remember the day distinctly. He was still driving then and he drove me around Lafayette and showed me the new construction. He talked about my Grandma and told me how much he missed her. He told me how proud of my Mom he was and of all his grandkids. Then he bought me a cup of coffee.
Then I was back to the present day and my elderly friend was called into the office. I went back to my magazine.
Still, time stopped for a moment and that memory filled me with warmth.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A New Year

I can't believe it's 2008 already. I don't have a long list of resolutions per se, but there is a lot that I want to do this year. I have several books waiting for me like "The Art of Power" which was given to me by my friend Priscilla and two books by Pema Chodron "Start Where You Are" and "Don't Bite the Hook" - all of which I look forward to reading. Naturally, I want to be more disciplined about exercise - that's a perpetual resolution. I told my friend Peter the other day that I plan to practice meditation every day and take 15 minutes every afternoon to enjoy a cup of tea. He kind of laughed and said good luck with that. He's right, I'm afraid. I'll be really good about it for a week or so and then I'll get busy at work and won't take the time. Still, I'll give it a shot. I also plan to write more on this here blog. I've been playing around on another hosting site, too - it seems to have more flexibility when posting pictures - so I'll probably move over there. I'll post the link when I'm ready to unveil the new site.

Tom, being the adventurous one, wants to do some fun things this year. He wants to go whale watching and go up to the mountains so we can do some sledding with the boys. We also talked last night about signing the boys up for soccer or Tball this summer. They may need it more after they start school since I'm not sure how much physical education they'll get. In any case, they're ready for it this year.

Dean's resolutions are: he wants to go to the new park a lot and he wants to collect leaves.

Jack's resolutions are: he wants to collect rocks and crystals. So he can kill the bad guys.

Here's to a New Year!