photography practice, bad sleep

I’ve been taking pictures, practicing. Today I took my camera with me when we went to the park, and played around with depth of field, slight exposure compensations, etc. It was fun. And now I have more pictures to sort and edit in all my spare time. hmmm. Worth it, though.

I’ve been in a bad pattern of staying up too late this week, and last night it was rather spectacularly too late. Consequently, by the time I got home at 7 pm, having taken care of kids from 9 am to 2:30 pm, and then taught from 3:15 to 6:30 pm, I was social-interaction-ed out, super tired, and not in the mood for loud noises or whining. And of course, getting the twins down was quite challenging. Emily woke Joanna up a bunch of times with the impressive volume and shrill tone of her screaming. Eventually we won, but it took some concerted effort on both our parts.

So now, Potter and then, hopefully, bed. I am hoping that because I’m so tired I’ll be able to get back into a better sleep cycle. I haven’t screwed it up this badly in quite a long time. Ah well. Chug chug, and all that.


Sleep training, parenting class, new words, communication, love

We’re doing another modified round of sleep training. The basic idea is that instead of spending a long time, sometimes hours, soothing the twins until they’re asleep or just about there, we’re soothing them and then putting them down and leaving the room until they are worked up again and/or out of their beds. Then we go back in, pick them up, (well, really it’s Emily, so at least for now it’s “her”, not “them”) shh and reassure her, put her back down, and leave again. Lather, rinse, repeat. This afternoon it took 45 minutes. It was literally a matter of seconds between when she stopped crying and Joanna woke up. It was something like a miracle, really, that Joanna’s waking sounds didn’t awaken Emily again. I took Joanna into our room and she was wonderfully willing to just snuggle with me while I vegged for a while, so I did get some very appreciated down time while Emily slept. Tonight it only took 20 minutes to get Emily down for the last time, so I am feeling pretty relieved.

At last night’s parenting class there was a lot of good modeling just in the conversation and relaying of information about how to talk to kids, how to encourage them while also holding solid boundaries. That helped a lot tonight. Instead of just repeating the mantra, “It’s time to relax and go to sleep,” as I have done several billion times before, I started to say to Emily, “I’m sorry this is hard, I hear that you’re sad, I know you can do this, I know you can calm down.” I was able to stay more calm myself, I think because I was empathizing with her rather than just telling her what she had to do. And she calmed much faster this way. And walking out of the room helped me to feel that I was doing something proactive and not just being trapped in the room by Emily’s emotions. Walking back into the room when she got upset helped me to feel that I was taking care of her and not just ignoring her emotions. So, progress for her and progress for me.

I thank all that is good for the parenting class, and for the wonderful resources we have.

Joanna said please today! Well, ok, she said, “Peee” very quietly, but she did it! And when she shared a toy with Emily this afternoon, Emily said, “Sank oo”. This brings happy tears to my eyes. Not because my two-year-olds are uttering politeness words, but because we are communicating! And they are communicating with each other. We talked with the parenting class leader last night about the trouble I’ve been having on nights when Ted isn’t there, and in the conversation I was reminded that just because the twins aren’t saying a lot doesn’t mean that we can’t communicate with them, doesn’t mean they don’t understand and can’t indicate that at least to some level. It was a good reminder. It helped me today.

Love leads us into profound vulnerability, through challenge and conflict, fear and anger. We risk because we love. But the rewards of communicating with love, being open to feeling love and willingness through the hard emotions, are enormous. Love is not safety, but when we communicate lovingly, we can help ourselves and those we love take greater risks because we have a solid foundation of trust and security. Words matter. I am turning myself upside down and inside out because I love my children, but perhaps even more importantly, because I choose to love myself enough to hold myself to the highest standard I can, to challenge myself, to choose compassion first.

And oh, this path is hard!

water play, old friends, parenting class

We spent this morning with my friend C at the house where she’s nannying. They’ve got access to a pool and beach, and the day was hot, so it was a good place to be. Hanging around with my kids in/near water is not relaxing, due to the required constant vigilance, and the attempt to balance needs between the older one and the younger two. But with two adults and another kid with whom Hazel gets along very well, we had a good time. Toward the end of our time there Emily discovered a fun new game, which was throwing herself into my arms as I sat on the step in the pool below her. Joanna got into the action too, and I thought how great it was to be able to catch and hold the twins, to have that total trust and joy and physical bond. It will change as they get bigger, so it’s nice when I remember to cherish it now.

They fell asleep on the way back so I took a circuitous route to give them a full nap. When I got back I ran in to get water and let the cats out, and we spent a few minutes lolling about on the tree lawn, petting the kitties, and continuing to enjoy summer.

Soon after my nanny J arrived I had a fairly long conversation with my friend who’s in a tough place right now. I’ve been writing him letters lately, since communication is one of the things we (my friends and I) can do to support him. The act of doing so brings up echoes of the past, from the time in my twenties when I wrote him letters by hand when we lived in different states but before I had a computer. It’s an interesting process, updating one’s knowledge of someone known for so long, refreshing the relationship and weaving the present day elements of new relationships, different circumstances, new skills into the deep familiarity one might have with the person. It’s a reminder both that you never completely know another person and surprises are always possible, and that some connections endure despite differences, distance, and change.

This evening we had the second of our parenting classes. This week I want to remember to explain to Hazel that everyone gets to a place where they can’t process, that they flip their lid emotionally and neurologically, and that it’s a good idea to take a break and come back to the conversation once everyone’s calmed down. And I want to tell her that I am going to start taking a quick break when I feel like I’ve flipped my lid, so I’m not trying to problem-solve at a time I can’t really do it.

Each class so far has offered some really good take-aways. I’m so, so glad Ted and I are doing this together.

I have slept poorly the last few nights, so here’s hoping for a better one. I can feel my body fighting something. And Ted and I have agreed to get back to the no sugar/Paleo diet. We’ve slid pretty far, and we want to give ourselves the best chance for good health as we move into the school year and all of its new challenges.

swimming pool fun, walking, good friends, drooling cats

It was a gorgeous summer day today, so I got out the kiddie pool for the twins after they napped this afternoon. Very soon they had taken everything off and were stomping around in the water buck nekkid, giggling like fiends. And then they decided it would be fun to climb up and down our back stairs, which are a bit rickety and definitely not enclosed. This weekend’s project will be attaching more 2×4’s so they have something to hold on to, and maybe stapling some strong wire mesh to the outside, too. Then it’ll be fine for them to go stomping up and down the stairs, and Ted and I won’t be risking a heart attack every time.

I had a chiro appointment this evening, to which I took a Car2Go. Then I decided to walk home from it, about a 20 minute walk. Times have changed. I prefer to walk over driving now, and while that’s often not currently practical, I am glad that I prefer movement to couch-potato-dom.

And on the way home I had a good conversation with my friend D. It is such a gift to have friends who know you well, who tell the truth, who understand, who support you, who pull no punches, who love you.

My gift in the moment is a loving cat, though what I just said to her was, “Ok, you can sit *here*, and you can drool on the pillow.” Hmmmmmm

transitions, milestones, relationships

This afternoon we had the second to last parenting group meeting. We’ll miss our group, but are glad that they will continue after their official meetings are over. We have some prep to do for the last meeting, so we can do the fun last meeting things, including making little posters with all the babies’ footprints on them.

I’m writing this while listening to Prokofiev’s first string quartet. It’s one of the three we’re prepping for our spring concert. I like it more and more as I hear it again, play it again, practice it more.

This afternoon was the second to last time that our nanny L will work her regular Sunday shift for us. She has gotten a close-to full-time position at a job that’s more related to her schooling, and can’t work the weekend hours for us any more. I will miss her so much! Emily has just started saying her name, and marches around the house enunciating it very clearly, whether L is here or not. She’s worked for us since before Hazel’s first birthday. This is the way it goes: people come in and out of your life, and I can accept that, but it will be a big shift. We hope she’ll still be able to do the occasional shift. And we hope to keep in touch. The kids’ first and second birthday parties have always been just us, a couple close friends, and the women who have given them such loving care. That is their world at first, and a tender, intimate one we are so grateful to have been able to give them.

Ted and I spent some time this evening brainstorming about how to manage the upcoming fall transition, to kindergarten for Hazel, to an earlier schedule for all of us. The way it appears that it will work out will give him a bit more time every day at work, which is good. It will mean an earlier wake-up for us, but not too bad. We have been gradually moving the kids’ bedtime back so that they’ll get enough sleep. It will be interesting to see how Hazel does, and if she’ll need a short late-afternoon nap to cope with all-day kindergarten five days a week.

Joanna is starting to talk more, and to move more independently. Hazel made little beds for each of them out of beach towels, and Joanna climbed on and off of the couch in the living room so that her big sister could tuck her up in one of them. When the beds were constructed on the kitchen floor, Hazel made Joanna into a little beach towel burrito; only her happily smiling face was visible. Huge cute factor.

My friend S came over for breakfast this morning, and we had a good conversation, partly about helping out a mutual friend who’s in a bad place right now. In thinking about that friend and pondering our long history, I thought today that our connection has endured all these years despite political and communication style differences because of one fundamental thing we share: that is, that he loves deeply and so do I. It was so great to see S today that I thought it would be lovely to have a regular Sunday potluck brunch. We’re going to set that up. Weaving friendship into family feels great.

A victory of epic proportions

Today I realized that, for the first time in my life that I can remember, it has become more important to me to be the person I am than to be thin. I am letting go, in stages, of shame. I claim myself, my emotional, expressive, round, creative, messy, dimpled, philosophical self. This is a victory whose proportions I can’t fully see, let alone describe completely. I am glad to be me.

bad bedtime, feelings, the gifts of love

It took me two hours to get Emily to sleep. I’m feeling a bit too shredded to think of anything to write.

I will say, I am continuing to think about the way in which relationships and emotions are different, and how that can impact how I relate to the people in my life. It is a big task, to separate my feelings from my actions, so that I don’t shame or blame myself or anyone else when in the grip of some internal response to something.

And tonight I’m thinking of my loved ones. Everyone’s got struggles. Some days are harder than others. Reach out and tell the people you love that you love them. You never know when a few lines in a letter might make someone’s life a bit easier to bear, might help them pick up that burden again and keep plodding along, might bring them a spot of brightness, a smile, the rejuvenation of tears.

And thanks to Ted for the hour I had this evening to talk to a friend and have a nice meal.