status report

Yesterday my laptop died, and today I’m sick as a dog, so no post. We’re working on getting my data off the toasted hard drive, but until then I don’t have a device on which it is comfortable to type. Hopefully I’ll be up and running soon. So, sorry for the hiatus in the ongoing adventures of our tribe. Best wishes to all.

Music and food

It felt really good to practice today. There are days that nothing feels quite right. There are days that are good but not stellar, days that I just get through everything I need to practice, working along without a ton of immediate reward knowing that the results will show up later. Then there are days on which it just feels so right, and things come easily. Today was one like that. I love the cello. I love its voice, its power, its flexibility, charm, delicacy, roughness, and depth. I am so happy that when I was four years old I picked the cello, and when I was six I started to learn to play it. I am happy that I persisted, and that I can make music by myself or with other people. I am grateful to have that in my life.

Teaching was good today too.

This is a bit ironic; I felt pretty tired, cranky, and foggy today. It was hard to process this morning. But I managed to work my way through that, keep some perspective even when my inner crank was cranking. And as a result I got some things done, and got real pleasure from my profession.

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In other good news, our nanny used solid food instead of pumped milk this evening, and when I got home we had another first: the babies didn’t immediately start crying when they saw me, urgently demanding to be fed. So, we had a smoother transition, more relaxed. I did nurse them about half an hour after I walked in the door, but was able to chat first, and to have Hazel in my lap for a bit. I loved being able to welcome her into it when she ran up and jumped on me. I haven’t been able to make lap space for her very often since the babies came home. I love snuggling with her, and it’s lovely to have the chance.

So, having the twins on solid food is good. We have kinks to work out: both babies are having some GI tract issues we have to resolve. But they are both loving eating. They love it so much, in fact, that feeding them at the same time is tricky; Emily in particular cries when she sees someone else, including the person feeding her, eating. “Feed ME!” she yells in her baby squawk. But that’s ok. It’s just logistics and little baby life lessons, and will all be fine. (Famous last words, of course. It’s a little too easy to imagine food fights in the future.)

Momentous Firsts

Last night went better. We fed the babies dinner, but considerably earlier in the evening. They still woke up a few times, but it wasn’t every hour, thank goodness. And everybody slept in this morning. Ted got up with the twins at 9 am or so, and Hazel and I got up about fifteen minutes later. We snuggled for a bit and then I pumped, and got a more reasonable amount, too. Hopefully we’re returning to something like normal, though of course now all three kids have a cold, so “normal” will be what it is. How’s that for a uselessly vague and overly generalized philosophical position statement? Maybe I’ll just say we’re hoping for things to trend in a positive direction.

Today we spent a few hours at my sister’s house. We’d had some oatmeal here, but we had second breakfast there, like hobbits. Hazel got to play with her cousin, and then they all went off to storytime at the library while I fed the babies and they napped for an hour. While we were there, two amazing things happened. First, Hazel’s cousin was showing me her second loose tooth, and it came out! I got a picture of the gap-toothed grin, very cool. And second, Joanna sat up totally on her own, unaided by anyone or anything, and stayed that way for quite a while. She was even able to recover when she started tilting off-balance. She did tip over a couple of times, but that didn’t seem to bother her. She went so far as to reach over and take a toy from Emily, who was lying next to her on the floor. I gave her discarded toy to Emily, and the two of them were entertained by them for almost 45 minutes.

On our way home we stopped off at an office supply store to get a dry erase board eraser that we’ve been promising Hazel for literally months. That felt good to do. And it delighted her.

Chamber music coaching, housework, sleep

I coached a piano trio today. This is a group I’ve worked with for a number of years. Sometimes I wonder what I’ll be able to offer them, but every session is productive, and energizing for me. I really do love coaching chamber groups. It’s a privilege to be able to help developing musicians hear more of what’s happening in a piece of music, to show them the relationships that exist between their parts and everyone else’s, to understand more deeply the character of what they’re playing. It was a bit of an effort to get there this morning but well worth it.

I napped with the babies this afternoon, so Ted got an hour and a half to himself. Admittedly, he was working on taxes, so I’m sure it wasn’t the most enjoyable and relaxing time, but at least he wasn’t having to answer the incessant question of an almost-four-year-old. I have taken to sometimes responding to Hazel’s questions with, “Well, why do you think that is?”, or, “I think you just answered your own question,” which is often true. Of course, the tried and true way to deal with them is to give her a ridiculous answer she knows isn’t true; then she will correct me, and I get to laugh. Much better than getting irritated by the forty-seventh repetition of the same question.

Then we had four hours to work on the house. We made some progress, though it feels imperceptible. It is amazing how long it takes to do anything. Nonetheless, we now have Hazel’s room almost completely sorted, three hooks mounted for the girls’ towels in the bathroom, and our room halfway done. We have to notice the positives. It’s really easy for us to brush them off and get really down about all there is still to do.

We fed the babies pureed cauliflower. We’re hoping that the combination of earlier feeding and fiber will help produce a better night without crying every hour and a 4 am nursing that lasts an hour. We’re all tired!

And then our friend came over for dinner. We had a lovely time talking. He’s in the thick of dealing with estate stuff after his dad’s passing, a pretty gigantic task. He’s going to be tackling his dad’s house, starting with an attic full of decades’ worth of stuff. It’s nice to see him sitting with the babies and playing with Hazel. It’s good to be with the new generation when grieving the passing of a loved one, I think.

And now, I might even make my lights-out commitment to my doc this evening. I’m almost done with this post, and I have eight minutes to spare. How about that!

Swimming lessons, teaching methods, food, and bathtime

Today’s swim lesson went really well. Hazel didn’t cling to me, and was willing to try pushing off from the wall both forwards and backwards. Plus, she blew in the water a couple of times, and didn’t get freaked out when her head got wet. Progress! Her teacher has been telling me how he handles things in the next level up (Hazel is aging out of the current toddler level classes, and in the next level parents are not in the water with their kids), and I’m still hemming and hawing about whether I think it’ll work for her or not. He says he persists until the kid will try whatever it is he’s teaching them. He’ll “just make it awkward by staring at them” (his words) until they give it a go. And then he says they’re almost always happy that they did. He says he doesn’t force kids, but he doesn’t let them get out of trying. This goes against how we usually handle things with Hazel, which it to let her do whatever it is when she’s ready, but with some encouragement along the way. Certainly, we have laid some pretty firm lines at times, with positive results. For example, she’s now going to sleep on her own 99% of the time, and with no problem. In fact, when either Ted or I are lying down with her, she’ll very often tell us that the 20 minutes is up and it’s time for us to leave.

Nevertheless, I’m not convinced this in-the-face approach is right for Hazel. She has made progress every session, but she’s not doing all the things he wants her to do yet, and I get the feeling he’s looking forward to getting me out of the pool so he can push her into the skills he’s teaching. I’m currently inclined to do a few private sessions with someone who’s got a more laid-back attitude and see what happens before we try the next level of classes. Of course, I’ll also be curious to see where we are when this set of classes is done. And at that time I can ask Hazel what she wants. She might then feel fine about getting into the pool without me. We’ll have to wait and see.

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Tonight we went to a recently opened Pho place near our house. We made it most of the way through dinner before the twins got tired of it. Ted took them outside for a walk while Hazel finished up. After Hazel was in bed, I pureed some of the pho (ride noodle soup) and we fed the twins. We were amazed by how much they ate. Feeding the babies together at night is turning into a nice together time for Ted and me. We like nurturing the babies together, and we can talk while we do it, as well as marvel together at how wonderful we think they are and how much we love them. When Hazel is around she won’t let us do much of that without jumping in between us and the babies, so we cherish this opportunity to have an uninterrupted love-fest with Emily and Joanna.

Afterwards, we gave them baths, because it was time and because even with bibs mealtimes can be quite messy. Before bath, we decided to try something I’d read about as a remedy for cradle cap. That is, I rubbed olive oil into Emily’s scalp, and we let it sit there for twenty minutes or so. Then, I gently rubbed the top of her head with a soft toothbrush during bath, and then washed her hair as usual. It seems to have had a positive effect without any difficulty, so we’ll probably try it one more time to see if it’ll completely rid her of the cradle cap. It’s not something there’s any medical need to remove, which is why we’ve not really worried about it. But it does cause her hair to stick to her head in clumps, so if getting rid of it is easy and painless, it’s worth a try.

Ted brought down clean clothes for them to wear after bath. In a sign that they have indeed been growing, Joanna now fits into a onesie I bought when Hazel was a baby and in which we’ve both been waiting to dress her sisters. It says, “My Dad’s A Geek”, and has been a source of amusement for us, family and friends.

Baby food and car repair

I’m so glad we got our Vitamix! The babies had pureed stew for lunch, and then a mixture of apples, blueberries, and a bit of red bell pepper pureed for dinner. Feeding two babies is enough of an effort that I’m happy to be able to make the creation of their food as simple as possible.

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So, we’ve been getting mold developing in our car. For a while we thought it was because Hazel and her carpooling friend kept lowering the window on the way home from school. But today we had a guy come out to the house to check it out, and it turns out that there’s a useless seal on the driver’s side door. Also, there’s a gap where I dented the car right by the reflector near the back of the car. Water has been getting in there and running under the carpet down past the seat and onto the floor behind the driver’s seat. I started stressing out, thinking about how expensive body work is. We can’t possibly afford to buy a new car. However, Ted has worked on old cars some, and thinks we can just take out the old carpet, caulk around the reflector, buy new seals and carpet, and get the car thoroughly cleaned. Here’s hoping it will work out! It was a bit shocking to see how bad it had gotten under the carpet in the back. But I like my basic Ford Escort. I hope to keep it around a while longer. It’s pretty fun to drive, and is very useful for transporting lumber, furniture, and other larger items. But it’s not a behemoth, and gets reasonable gas mileage. Fingers crossed!

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Tomorrow is another swim lesson for Hazel. We’ll go out for lunch afterwards and have more Mommy/Hazel time together. I’m looking forward to it.

Bedtime, Downton Abbey, and Internet Connections

So, I made an agreement with my doctor today that I’d turn the lights off at 11:15 pm every night for the next month until I see her again. So what am I doing up writing a blog post at midnight? DOWNTON ABBEY, that’s what! Argh! Nooooooooo! and all the rest of the too-invested-in-this-show reactions. We forgot that the season ender would be long, and we couldn’t bear to turn it off and walk away. So here I am.

Anyway, I made calzones for the first time ever today. They are delish! Kale and ricotta, gf pizza dough. I suspect they will become a new standard favorite. I might try adding turkey bacon next time. I offered Hazel the mixing bowl to lick out when I was done. Consequently, she had a bath tonight to wash her hair, which was decorated with ricotta.

We fed the twins a pretty substantial amount of food today. They had applesauce and egg for lunch, and pureed stew for dinner. Joanna was conked at bedtime tonight, and we’re hoping that as they eat more they’ll also sleep more. Watching Ted feed the babies is heart-achy in the good way. I love watching him nurture them.

I posted a bunch of photos yesterday. When we had Hazel I vowed that I’d keep up on our pictures, and have more or less done so. This is one aspect of connectivity that I deeply appreciate. Our kids’ extended family can have a much greater feel for their daily lives, and see them growing up despite big distances than they could have twenty years ago. Connection is why I post our pictures, why I post updates on Facebook, and why I write this blog. Thanks for reading!