Category: raising twins

Beady eyed old lady at crappy, greasy, gossiping waitress diner

“The last time I took you guys here, you were little babies. It was one of the first times I took you out to breakfast alone.” I say.

“We were babies” Jack says.

“Yes, and you were crawling and wouldn’t stay still. I tried to put you in high chairs and everyone was looking at us.” I say.

We sit in a far back corner, Alan sits down first. Fiona, Jack, and I all sit on the booth side. Alan keeps telling the babies to be quieter, and reminding me I’m talking loud too. I eat my Huevos Mexicana, cut up Jacks pancakes, get more syrup for the kids. The waitress is standing at a table across from us, there’s mirrors lining both walls, so I can see her face too. She’s telling two men at the tables all about her x-mas.

“Oh, now listen to this, she said she was coming” the waitress says.

“Mmm mm” one man at the booth says, engaged in what the waitress is telling him.

“I was surprised, I mean I know she knows she should just quit because her days here are numbered. Well then, she calls me at 3:00 and tells me she’s not coming. How rude was that? I’ve got the tables set all the food ready, then my aunt calls and asks if they can “Stop By”, the waitress does this in quotation marks. It’s supposed to be a work only thing. “You weren’t supposed to be here for another hour I tell them”, the waitress says.  Later in her story she says they didn’t end up eating dinner till 9:00 and the people didn’t leave until 11:00, and she wanted to kick them out way earlier. The guys sitting at the booth with omelets and hash browns getting cold on their plate because the waitress is telling them this big long story participate slightly, but finally when the waitress leaves they start finishing their breakfast. I hear the whole conversation and I’m all the way on the other side of the room. A couple is sitting beside us, reading the paper. They never make eye contact when I look their way after Jack and Fiona do something super loud, crazy, whiny, annoying, something three-and-a-half-year old’s do. I catch the old man look over several times and ever so slightly shake his head in disapproval. It was most prominent when I ordered a second helping of syrup for my already out of control twins. It was a very noticeable shake. What ever I think, he’ll get over it. Cranky old guy. I know they just want to enjoy a quiet breakfast but so do I. I say to Alan they should have a kid’s section and a non-kids section in restaurants.  

The old lady and man are done, they fold up their San Francisco Chronicles and leave them on the table at Egg Woods. The lady leans in towards me, she leads with “They are really cute kids, she inserts this into her monologue several times. She says, “But you’re really loud and that makes the kids talk loud”. She tells me how that’s the same thing she told her daughter in law, that she was so loud, that she yells all the time and her daughter in law needed to quiet down. She told me her daughter in law had a set of twins as well and one other kid. I said, “She probably has to yell so she can be heard in her house”. The old lady just looked at me. Then I told her, knowing that it’s true, I do have a loud talking voice, and I’ve been told before. Alan tells me to hush constantly, he says you’re talking too loud. Still I responded defensively by saying, which is true, “My daughter has hearing loss, our house is really loud to compensate for that.” She leaned away, didn’t say anything else after my rebuttal.

I started to get mad. I should have said, “Did I ask you your opinion?”  or “I’m sure you do some super annoying thing that someone wants to tell you about”. But I didn’t, just smiled. I started to think about how loud all the other people talked, what about the waitress? I even heard her say the best part of her night when her family was there was when the little kids locked them selves in the dog carrier, she said she wanted to leave them there for the rest of the night. Kids are annoying. I’m annoyed, I was so fucken annoyed by my kids all day. They drive me bananas. When we got home, Jack pooped out side and I just hear him say he wants to smell Fiona’s butt “All Day Long” No ones perfect. But I would never do that to someone, a stranger, tell them something negative about themselves in front of the woman’s husband and kids! Beady eyed old lady at crappy, greasy, gossiping waitress diner.

I tell my daughter I’m crazy

I was so glad when I looked at the clock and it was 5:18 am, I thought for sure it was going to say 3am or 4am. I got 6 hours of sleep, not ideal but not horrible. I’ve been in a state of mania; my studio is covered from wall to wall with work in progress, I can’t stop painting. I have moments of panic about how much money I’ve spent on publishing my book, Nap Time Paintings; Motherhood through the Eyes of an Artist. My savings is gone and I still need to frame works for my show. But the biggest driver in my mania is to make. I have this idea in my mind of what I want my paintings to be, particularly my grouping. I keep going too far on 90% of them. I pass through the sweet spots. I should leave them I say to myself. But then I push the envelope one more time. Adding detail, taking away detail, adding more color, lessening color. Obsession.

My coffee is too weak, I wish it were stronger. I don’t have any more beans ground, everyone is sleeping in my house. I don’t want to wake them. They all need the rest. Yesterday I took Jack and Fiona to Oakland, we met up with their uncle Danny. We went to coffee, scootered around Lake Merritt to Fairy Land (a theme park where everything is based off fairytales and perfectly sized for three-and-a-half-year old’s.)  Then we went to visit the Fourth Wall Gallery. The babies were so tired, I brought them into the Gallery complex barefoot. The floor was filthy, their feet dark hands getting there as they pulled each other on their backs down the long hallway. “Handprints” echoed from inside another gallery. It wasn’t long before we got kicked out. A note on my dash, “Ticket or Tow?”. I parked in front of a garage of a business that wasn’t open. Busted all the way around. Jack and Fiona fell asleep the moment I dropped off Danny and got on the freeway.

I gave Jack and Fiona baths and we hung out in their room for a while. Jack went upstairs to raid the cereal boxes and play. Fiona and I played with stuffies, then colored. Then I said, “I’ll be right back”. I went to my studio to check my paintings from the night before. I had to do one thing, then another. Fiona comes in and wants to paint. Jack comes down and wants to ride his scooter, I open the garage and move my car down the driveway so there’s more room to ride. I paint, Fiona starts painting, then goes and scooters with Jack. I paint. I can hear them playing and check on them every few minutes.  Fiona’s back in painting with me, Jack spends time alone in the garage practicing his bunny hops on his scooter before going back upstairs. I start going crazy painting, experimenting, getting ideas. Fiona works too. I’m a mess, my studio is a mess. There’s so much work in progress I can’t even walk. Fiona’s area is just as bad. I’ve corrupted her. She works on several pieces at a time and is just as messy with her paint as I am. I tell her I’m crazy several times during our painting sessions.

As Nap Time paintings have ended, since there’s no naptimes, a new time slot has opened, having the babies near my studio riding scooters in the driveway or in my studio creating. It’s more hectic than my Nap Time slot, but it’s still time to create. I think I will go to my studio now, until Jack and Fiona wake up.

THE MOST effective educators children have, or will ever have, Parents.

“I’m going to get the mat, it’s in my room” I say. Fiona repeats “The mat” several times. She doesn’t have her hearing aids in. I try to sign “I’m going to get the mat” to her. I don’t know the sign for mat, but I know the signs for “I’m going to get”, it works. She understands and stops saying mat. (It’s a bath mat, this clarification I will make next time). This is another example, why I want Fiona and my whole family to know sign. It’s moments like these that will come up over and over again. I realize something else at the same time, how much impact I  have with my daughter at home; reconfirming my commitment to be fluent in sign language and to use it all the time at home. We had a meeting and visit to one of the programs in the San Rafael Public school system yesterday. It was really great and I really like this woman that we are talking to, it felt so good to have a deep conversation with someone about education, I learned so much, and one thing I learned is the San Rafael School district does their homework! They care about the kids in their programs and take placement seriously. They shared Fiona’s evaluations and audiogram with a specialist for the deaf and hard of hearing, this lady is apparently one of the top experts in this field, which is pretty cool. She feels strongly that Fiona should be mainstreamed as soon as possible. I guess I can say this, Fiona is amazing! She doesn’t fit into any special program the district has to offer (but she will continue to get one on one speech and language support through her life at school). She gets to attend the special school that I wanted her to go to,  for five months, but then I am encouraged to sign her up for a regular preschool. I was told that right now she needs to hear language from peers, as much as possible. The good news is I learned the whole process is super fluid and we will re-evaluate and can change direction if needed.

I was so happy after the meeting. Our family had a great day, we had sushi, Jack and Fiona were well behaved in the restaurant. We got smoothies, watched Caillou together, Jack and Fiona rode their bikes around in circles in the living room, Fiona and I drew together, I love that. We sat on the floor and pet Billy, Fiona said how much she loved Billy, “I love her ears, her whiskers, her paws are so cute”. I realized Fiona was petting Billy where I put her tick medicine. “We need to go wash our hands” I say. Fiona and I go to the bathroom and wash our hands, but there’s no towel.  We go to the kitchen, “Get a towel out of the drawer” I say. Fiona repeats back, but she’s saying Door. I say Door and Drawer several times, but I can’t figure out how to explain the different sound, it’s so subtle. I go to the living room, “Jack say Drawer” Then I ask him to say “Door”. He does, I have confirmation, Jack understands the differences in the two words, Fiona does not. I grab a piece of paper, (My visits to the different school programs have served me well) I draw a drawer and write the word, I draw a door, and write door. I show Fiona. We walk to the front door, then back to the kitchen. We examine the two, she practices saying both words.  Then I take it further, there’s a back door, a front door, a bathroom door, ect. She starts showing me, pointing at doors around the house, running back to the drawers in the kitchen. I throw out the word Cabinet Door, but decide to save this for next time. I didn’t’ use the signs, I will add them next time. I realized something else at this moment, I am Fiona’s teacher. School is supplemental. Which also made me realize if I’m doing sign at home, and practicing with Fiona she’ll learn it. Will a teacher in a mainstream school know when Fiona doesn’t understand things because she’s not hearing properly? I don’t know. But could she thrive under the advice I received yesterday? That she needs to be around kids that have lots of language as opposed to kids who also are deaf or hard of hearing that do not use very much language? It makes sense, but it also makes sense that I need to keep up my end of the deal. I am her ultimate teacher. I want her to grow up with “Total Communication” this means oral and sign. In the fall, if she’s mainstreamed she will be getting the oral at school and the Total Communication part at home. It’s exciting Fiona is doing so well, and the other exciting part is Jack and Fiona can go to school together. Jack has been very upset lately knowing they were to be separated soon!

Aww! I can relax now, (well except for finding a preschool program!). I feel a sense of relief. Selfishly I feel proud of Fiona for doing so well and glad that Jack and Fiona will be chugging along together in their education journey, that there won’t be as much distance, I won’t need to put on two totally different hats, one rearing a typically developed child, one rearing a child with special needs. It’s going to save me a lot of energy. Today is my day off, I have a babysitter! I get to work in my studio. I’m so happy. I do have a MAJOR mess in the house though, toys everywhere, laundry needs to be put away. Grocery shopping needs to be done, I need to take Billy to the vet to get her splint off. Ugh, I guess I don’t have much time for my studio!

Merry Christmas

Why did they leave these stupid, delicious, star shaped, yogurt covered, white with red and green frosting, pretzels here? I should have double checked to make sure my brother and his girlfriend took them for their treacherous, tedious, drive down south. I would die if I had to drive to LA with Jack and Fiona today, Christmas eve, (for some) but traffic doesn’t care what holiday someone celebrates. The stores don’t care, craziness infiltrates every corner of life this time of the year. There’s no avoiding it. But there is avoiding the roads, that is what I choose. It just sucks that I can’t see all the people I love.  I feel more connected to the people I love dead and alive today. Right now, And myself. It’s almost time to put the babies to bed for a nap. But will they go to sleep? They are so excited and so spoiled. But still sweet and love giving presents too. They may not want to sleep. They’ve been singing “Santa Claus is coming to town” constantly. Jack rocks out (Rock and Roll baby) Fiona sings Santa Claus is Not coming to town”, and Alan and I argue about what to tell the babies about Santa, Is he coming or not? I think Jack and Fiona already know that adults give presents, Santa is pretend, but Alan thinks we can fool them and I’m always the one to let it slip. It’s pretty funny. The luxuries. Christmas is all about indulging. Last night the waiter asks us if we want a bucket. I thought he meant something to throw up in, but he meant to say a booster seat. All is good.  Babies definitely not taking a nap, “Mickey Mouse Once Upon Christmas” again!

Simpatico/Sympatico

“We are all connected, there is no me without you”. I feel a great excitement about the show in which I am a collaborator; Titled: Simpatico, showing with Carl Heyward, we will display solo works as well as collaborative pieces, at the Fourth Wall Gallery, Susan Aulik’s place. The energy generated by being involved in this project has been amazing. “From the efforts of one with another emerges entity, THE THIRD MIND” Carl Heyward. I found out we would get the opportunity to participate in a show at the Fourth Wall Gallery last year. It was before the San Francisco International DADA show, which GAP, Global Arts Project, was highly involved in, creating visual work, as well as a performance piece. We also were coming off a show at Room Gallery; a beautiful show. I was disappointed that not one of my works sold, only one artist sold work, even though each piece in the show was stellar. I started feeling disillusioned by all the effort and money it takes to have shows, and couldn’t understand why nobody buys work?  I went to the Fourth Street Gallery on a first Friday, opening night. I brought my babies, brother, and his girlfriend. We ate Ethiopian food first, super yummy! We walked down Telegraph Avenue to 25Th street, it was dark out, it was the first time I brought the babies to Oakland; My old stomping ground. I couldn’t believe the change that had taken place on that block, First Fridays: Food Trucks, cool earrings to buy, people, lots of people, there were lots of cops too. On the corners and around the perimeters. When I saw the Galleries I was in Shock. I had heard of Vessel, someone I knew had shown there, but I never made it by; It was a friend of my mom and I’s, my mom had just died, I was really sad. I lived on 19Th and Union in West Oakland for a while. I had an awesome studio in an old warehouse: Dark, lots of old machinery and old office stuff laying around. We’d get stoned and go down there and look at stuff. (We lost our space when a developer came and built fancy, expensive lofts: Circa 1999. We were pissed)  I remember nights at the Stork Club where my best friends band, The Kirby Grips used to play. We’d dress up in boots and skirts, dance, get drunk, and ride our bikes home, looking down every street for the pack of wild pitbulls. As I walk down the hall towards the Fourth Wall Gallery there are shiny, pretty paintings on the white walls, bright lights, I peer into the other Galleries, some I go in, investigate further. Pricing is high here, except for a craftsman who makes cool political found art stuff, I can’t remember his name (Bad reporting here) The Fourth Wall Gallery is Gorgeous and Susan Aulik is an inspiring woman and has a deep connection with painting, being an artist, and being a supporter and soldier for the arts communities’. I feel fortunate to have met her! When I left Oakland that night I felt a bunch of emotional feelings. The way things had changed was both amazing and wonderful and I also felt there was still a disconnect. Art is so expensive, most people don’t have $4000 to spend on a piece of art. Susan, Carl, and I agreed we wanted more people to be able to own art, make art assessable for more people. But the question is, How low do you go? I proposed a sliding scale. But I’m crazy. We’re also going to have a big sale in December with lots of other artists! The ways the past merges with the present and informs the future is crazy. I don’t know why but that sentence just made me think of Diarrhea. When one person gets it you know it’s gonna make the rounds! Why would I even think of something like that? I better get down to the studio before Jack and Fiona wake up. I probably have an hour left.

Taking Time

First course: Edamame and cherry tomatoes, next chicken soup and cheese pizza. Jack and Fiona work on taking the peas out of the edamame shells and taking sips of soup, “mmmm” they like it, I fire up another pan on the stove, chop some garlic, add it to the pan, avocado oil, then the broccolini, it smells so good. I sear it, tossing it so the garlic doesn’t burn. I take the pan off the stove and slide the broccolini onto a large plate in front of Jack and Fiona. Steam rises up, I taste it first, “MMMM it’s SO good” I say. Jack and Fiona want to try it, we wait letting it cool a bit, then I hand them each a large stalk of broccolini. They ravage it, eating the tops first and moving down to the crunchy, garlicky, stalks. “More” they say. I share all the dark green deliciousness with them, everything but the seared pieces of garlic which I ravage myself. When Jack and Fiona are finished eating, (for now) they go play outside with Alan. I throw on a few chicken breakfast sausages, the Applegate farms they love, because I have a feeling they aren’t done eating yet! When the sausages are done they both inhale all the pieces I put on their plates. We sit outside and relax in the late summer air, it’s absolutely beautiful this evening. Fiona tells me she wants corn. “You want corn on the cob?” I ask. “Yes” she says. I sit for a few minutes and she starts crying, “Corn on the cobb, corn on the cobb” I get up and put the corn in boiling water. Fiona follows me to the kitchen, “Blue Blue, Tiny” she cries. I hold Fiona’s hand and we go downstairs to find Tiny. I realize in this moment that when they say, “mommy get it (blue blue)” they might want time alone with me. A quiet moment to spend together, to tell me something or show me something, without competition from their twin.

               “Um…..I hear something, it’s the ballerina song, ballerina, rina, rina” says Jack. We have a Russian Ballet playing on the TV, Jack and Fiona are dressed in tights and tutus. Fiona is under the table, she peeks her head up. Jack begins to tap the window with the magnetic key we use to open the child locks on the cabinets. “Not too hard Jack” I say. He hits it lighter and lighter until it’s just a tap. “Yes, that’s perfect” I say. Jack begins tapping it harder and harder again until I remind him again that it’s glass and will break. He walks over to the cabinet and tries to open it, but he gives up quickly. He throws the key on the floor. “Jack pick that up and put it on the shelf, it’s important.” I say. “this shelf right here?” Jack says. “Perfect!” I say. You’re being perfect today I say to myself. I feel proud, like I’ve accomplished something, as if I’ve done my job right so far. Jack and Fiona ate broccolini and Jack pooped in the toilet all by himself. A milestone.

 I hear the babies and Rosemary upstairs running and laughing, they are having so much fun. It’s Monday morning, my babysitter day. I’m trying to write in my room, I’ve been trying to write all weekend, but there’s never enough time and things are happening at a rapid pace. I’m thankful today for my break.  I’m not planning on doing much! Laundry, exercise, studio, writing, studying.  Now the babies have gone down to the park, all three in hats and sunglasses, they looked so cute. Rosemary is starting to warm up to me, she handed me a purple sage flower. I feel the need to cram English down her throat, I read books and try to use the techniques I’ve learned in my communication manuals from Early Start. I realized that Fiona and Rosemary are both in a similar situation. Both have to work extra hard to understand things in an English speaking hearing world.  On Friday, I went to Dominican University to talk about their credential program. It was amazing, but WAY out of my price range. I’ve decided that I won’t pursue getting into a program until next fall. I will use this year for studying and taking the CSET, and all the other preparations as well as volunteering. I have also begun to do more observation with Jack and Fiona, taking myself out of an emotional, stressed, place, to a learning space. Taking time to listen to them, teach by not imposing, child led life! It’s helped a lot; For example, I took care of the hitting in one week. Once I realized it was a form of communication, it wasn’t just “being bad” I was able to figure out how to handle it. I found that a lot of it had to do with getting my attention from the other twin. When Jack hits me it seems he just needs extra attention, even a cuddle can help. It is remarkable what effects the littlest tweaks in my parenting style can have on unwanted behaviors.

It makes me think about yesterday. Alan, Jack, Fiona, Billy, and I went on a hike to Lake Lagunitas. It’s a three-mile hike, rolling trails around the lake. We decided not to bring the back pack carriers or the stroller! Quite a gamble I thought, but Alan said having the backpacks just makes them want to be carried. I agreed and took the chance. I didn’t know it was going to be 95 degrees out!! But I did expect to take lots of breaks, so my head was in the right place. We stopped at a bench right by the lake and watched dragon flies and ate watermelon five minutes into the hike. It went like this the whole way, stopping under the trees where swarms of woodpeckers flew around pecking and singing. Stopping and gathering pinecones and sticks and dirt that was “popsicles and dinner”. We stopped by the creek and ate lunch, and changed poopy diapers. We stopped in the middle of the trail and sat, “Lets relax” Jack said. I followed along, reminding Alan not to keep telling the babies to “come on”, to let them rest and explore and play in the dirt. Toward the end of the hike, where the trail turned into a fire road and the shade from the trees was gone we carried them for a small stretch. I started to get scared, I was afraid they were overheating and over tired. We got to the final stretch and Jack wanted to walk naked and barefoot. I let him. “Are you sure? You might step on a rock” I said. “Yes, I’m sure” Jack said. I let him. I let him walk naked in the stream at the end of our hike, I put my feet in the cold water. Alan didn’t let Fiona, he took her straight to the car because he felt like we were running out of time, we had early dinner plans with family.

Everyone will be back from the park soon, it’s time to exercise and work in my studio for a while. It’s such a beautiful day. August is half way over and fall will be here soon. I love fall.

Mommyville

(Fionas’ IEP. Having no childcare with twins.) It’s 2:25 Friday afternoon. I just heard Jack say “mama” shit! I just put them down for their nap, sat down to write and poured myself a glass of wine. Finally, a break. Maybe he’ll go back to sleep. This week went by so fast. I think the babies are already used to being with me all the time. With the lack of naps lately and no childcare we’re hardly ever apart. I didn’t have time for the studio this week. I know how much of a luxury it is to be able to afford help a few times a week. I can also respect my hard work and dedication to the studio. It is almost impossible to find the time these days without the help. So all my “advice” or “judgement about” other moms not keeping up with their own “stuff” has been thrown out the window. The only solution I see now is hitting the studio at night after the babies are asleep, but I’m too tired. The other option I’ve been contemplating is sharing my studio with the babies, setting up a corner for them. I just think they are still too young. They put too much stuff in their mouths. I think that can happen next year. I’m patient. I can wait.

  

Fiona had her IEP today, it’s a progress report given every six months to children in the Early Intervention program. She is doing really well, her language is developing, she is a great listener, and is really good about wearing her hearing aids. It’s so crazy because, not only do I need to be so aware and present because I have two two year olds, but one has hearing loss, which gives me an added consideration. I need to make sure she understands the questions that I ask and not just let Jack answer everything, because he will! I can never be on parenting auto-pilot, I have to be constantly on guard, engaged, managing, aware, at all times, on both levels. Dealing with twins and having a child with hearing loss. It’s intense. But they are great, I love them so much. We get along so well and have so much fun. I went to the Zoo with a dear friend of mine yesterday, she was with me every step of the way through all the years of infertility. Every time we talked on the phone for ten years she would ask, “Are you pregnant?” Once I said yes. But then I had the awful miscarriage. I used to get mad at her for asking me all the time and encouraging me to keep trying, to do anything and everything. Yesterday we were talking, it was her birthday, we had just found out Prince died. We were hit by the facts of “Life’s so short” She said “Aren’t you glad you did it?” (did everything possible to have the babies) I said, “Yes” and I am. Lots of women would tell me through the years not to have kids. “It is too much work” or “You won’t be able to be an artist” or “they grow up and don’t like you anymore” It is a lot of work, it is hard to get in the studio without help, and they may hate me when they grow up, (but I doubt it, we’re like three peas in a pod) but it’s all so worth it. There were lots of parents who said that too, that it was all worth it. And they were right.

  

It sounds like Jack went back to sleep! I’m stoked. When we were at the Zoo yesterday we went into the petting Zoo. They have goats, chickens, ducks, a donkey, a pig, horses, I love it there. We love it there. Fiona and Jack wanted to brush the goats, so they got their brushes. The first goat that came by us was Snickers, he was a white goat with long curled horns, short, with a big round belly. I started petting him and Jack and Fiona started brushing him. Then another goat came out with brown fur and blue eyes, Jack looked at her and got a little scared. The brown goat came around and all the sudden both goats’ faces were right by Jacks face, he got really scared and had me pick him up. I could only imagine what was going through his mind. I think he thought there were twenty goats all around his face! It was pretty funny. We went into the insect exhibit which was really cool. I thought they would be too young, but it was right up their ally. Before we went in I told them what insects they knew, “Potato bugs, caterpillars, spiders, ants, flies, bees” Wow, I thought, that’s a lot of insects! That might be our first stop next time we go to the Zoo!

  

  
There are so many things to do with little kids. It’s so funny, since I haven’t had child care one thing is for sure, Jack and Fiona are wiped out by the end of the day. They’ve been going to bed by 6:30 or 7:00! I make sure I keep them active, we spend most of our time outdoors getting dirty. The other thing they’ve had to do is go grocery shopping with me. That really tires them out. And there’s the nap factor. They take way less naps when I’m with them. Not by my choice!!! I think they just don’t want to miss out on any fun. Now they’ve been sleeping for an hour and a half, the question is should I wake them up so they’ll go to bed early? Or let them sleep risking a nine o’clock bedtime?  MMM! I feel good though, even though I had brutal insomnia last night. I’m feeling OK.

  

They’re awake now!