Friday, July 28, 2006

Shout Out to All the Mommies of Multiples Doing the Breastfeeding Shuffle

Emmie over at Better Make it a Double is doing a great thing for Moms of Multiples. She is collecting stories and experiences from mothers who've breastfed their multiples to share with moms who are considering it or who may be having problems with it. In her words:

Let's keep it along the lines of "this is what worked for us", and leave the heated debates for some other forum. There is certainly something to be said for peer-reviewed research, statistics, and science. But there is also something to be said for stories, experiences, and perspectives...

If you didn’t breastfeed, for whatever reason, this is not intended to make anyone feel bad or dredge up all that stuff.

I think this is a great idea, Emmie, because as a mother of multiples, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the babies, overwhelmed with the care two (or more) at a time requires, and encouragement and a Village of real people who have done this difficult stuff (and lived to tell the tale!) to turn to in one's darkest hour--well it is hard to express how much that means.

Here are the links to her featured Breastfeeding Multiples sections (also featured in my new sidebar section!):

Encouragement for Breastfeeding Moms of Multiples

Breastfeeding Multiples: The Early Months

Breastfeeding Older Infant and Toddler Multiples

Breastfeeding Multiples While Working

Higher Order Multiples: Breastfeeding Triplets and More

Breastfeeding Twins and Supply Issues

I will be trying to add some of my stories from those early days as well (I have to dust off the sleep deprived haze first, but I know I have them in my memory bank somewhere).

Once again, thanks Emmie for putting this together!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Overheard at the Lunch Table...

Eighty-Eight Fingers: (In one of his Quieter moments a la PB&J sandwich) Farts really loud--twice.

Mommy MacBoudica: EEEEW! What do you say EEF?

EEF: (Laughs) Tehehehe! I farted two times!

MM: Nooooooo...

EEF: Excuse me.

(Dramatic pause while EEF nibbles on PB&J and contemplates life.)

EEF: (Thoughtful tone) Mommy, my dinky doesn't make any noise.

MM: (Stunned silence. At a loss for words.)

EEF: Mommy! My dinky doesn't make any noise!

MM: (Realizing EEF requires acknowledgment for his newly discovered philosophy that while his ass makes wonderful noises, as of yet his penis does not--just wait a few years, kid!) Well, that's a relief!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Look , Pa! It's Twins!

I am writing more of my favorite memories as a way to keep my mind off of all of this.

Today's memory is brought to you by the letter T, as in Two babies, as in Twins.

In my last post I explained that Hubz and I did not know I was pregnant with twins when we married, only that we were pregnant, which, despite what the rest of the world might have thought and the Rule Book for New Relationships may have said, we considered wonderful, and maybe a little frightening. However, as I described in my last post, we were confident in the strength of our relationship despite its newness.

I had a regularly scheduled doctor's appointment the morning of the day we went on our honeymoon at a [touristy vacation spot] here in [Midwest state]. The doctor scolded me for gaining too much weight. I wasn't overly concerned about that. I had always bulked up to gargantuan proportions with my pregnancies, no matter how well I tried to eat. Then she busted out the tape measure. Seems I was measuring at about 20 weeks when I was barely sixteen. Maybe I was wrong about the LMP? I was soon scheduled for an ultrasound for Monday, the day after our weekend getaway to make sure we had the right due date or who knows? you may have some twins in there, ha ha ha. My LMP was a little goofy, kind of light and spotty, so maybe it was a fluke or something. Who cares. Time to celebrate! Time for the honeymoon!

Some truly heroic family members took The Girl and Eighty-Eight Fingers off our hands for two whole days. We had a great time, even though I had to stop at my fav store Walmart out in Hicksville and pick up some sensible shoes to walk around in because my sandals were KILLING my feet! I remember one of those honeymoon nights, Hubz and I were lying in bed snuggling (sorry, you aren't getting all the hot details here) and there was a thump-fest going on in my uterus. I mean, there was movement, and lots of it all over the place like a tornado in my abdomen, quite unlike either of my last two pregnancies (and EEF was a wild-child in-utero). Come to think of it, I had been feeling movement for several weeks by that time. Everyone knows that is Too Early to Feel Movement. So maybe it was the wrong due date. We would be having a Christmas or New Year's baby instead, so what.

But I wasn't so sure.

So I said to my new Hubz, "You know, there is quite a bit of movement here on this side and this side at the same time...maybe we are having twins?"

To which he confidently replied (and laughed at me--laughed!),"Naw, there is no way we're having twins. You're just farther along than you thought."

Famous Last Words.

Fast forward to Monday. EEF is with us in the ultrasound room struggling to break free of Daddy's strong arms and wreak havoc on the hospital, maybe bring it down around our ears because, you know, he's good at that sort of thing. My bladder aches so bad I want to cry. I am squeezing my pelvic floor muscles with a ferocious determination and a vice-like grip to avoid my overfull bladder bursting onto the ultrasound table and flooding the tech, the room and the whole damn hospital. I really want to die, the pain is that bad. Hubz isn't having too much fun with mega-squirming EEF either, but it's only a half hour right? The tech fires up the machine and lubes up my belly. She runs the probe across my abdomen and I am looking at the machine rubbing my eyes...Do I need glasses--Am I seeing double??? The Hubz's jaw drops to the floor with an audible thunk and the tech, running the probe back and forth across my belly says, " might be interested to know there are two of them in there. This is going to take some time to get all the proper measurements."


Bladder. Pain. My life flashes before my eyes. Some... time...??? Did she just say some time???

EEF starts to cry, "WANT DOWN!" The hospital walls quake. Small, hairline cracks began to snake across the floor. The ultrasound monitor shattered.

Hubz reels his jaw off the floor and tries to calm the writhing, wriggling EEF.

And I have to pee. I just found out we were having twins and all I could think of was relieving myself in a long, fast-flowing stream in the toilet just ten feet to my right. Finally, the tech took pity on me and let me have at the bathroom. Thank you Jesus! You never saw a pregnant chick move as fast, leaping off the table in a blur like a live Nascar race. I don't think I even closed the door. I have never been so relieved in all my life. Twins, phaw, that is nothing compared to the, um, emptiness I felt.

Friday, July 21, 2006

But did she eat the rampant elephant?

In honor of our anniversary, this is the story of the day we married.

We did not marry because I was pregnant. Rather, the pregnancy created an excuse for a immediate marriage. We already knew we would spend our lives together, weaving our two families into a rich and complex tapestry. Because of the immediacy of the wedding (and a severe lack of funds), we decided to forego the lavish large wedding for a simple, intimate courthouse ceremony with just our children and ourselves in attendance.

We were married on my Grandmother's birthday, July 25, three years ago in a courthouse in the state to the south of us right over the border. I packed my overlarge three month pregnant body (I did not know it was twins at that time) into the romantic rose colored, flowy maternity dress I lovingly picked out for this occasion, finagled my hair into an updo and decorated it with Baby's Breath. I stuffed my already somewhat swollen feet into some cute heels (bad idea!) and supervised the "Getting Ready" of the three preteens and the little whirling dervish Eighty-Eight Fingers. Teeth brushed, new Dress Clothes (mostly khaki shorts and collared tees) donned, hair if not combed, then at least smoothed into some semblance of flatness (them, not me--my updo added at least three inches to my hight, which, coupled with my heels made me look the Amazon, for sure!), we all awaited the arrival of the (not officially) Hubz (he had to teach summer school that morning). As soon as he arrived, we crammed all the children into the Ark, descended the power windows because the Ark has no AC, and sped down the highway to our glorious future together, the wind pulling and yanking and wreaking havoc on my painstakingly arranged updo. Of course it was hotter than blazes that day, the hottest day of the summer so far. And I was pregnant, windblown, and a little uncomfortable during that trip. But none of that mattered when we finally arrived in the Wedding Town. I perched on the edge of my seat eagerly searching for the street the courthouse was on. I think we only drove past the street once. Then we circled the courthouse itself probably three times to find the best place to park. We found a spot outside that would require a good two blocks walk to get to the entrance. Two blocks walk. Pregnant (with twins). In heels. In the heat. By the time we got to the entrance, I was ready for a LONG nap and for a leg amputation. So of course I was a little testy with the security people when they confiscated my small perfume bottle from my purse, because, obviously, I was smuggling it in to spray some biological weapon into the face of the judge that married us. Oh, and they scanned EEF's stroller twice--they had his number as a potential terrorist, even though he was only eighteen months old!

After those ordeals, driving and security, our small wedding road trip was the best day ever. We managed to navigate the procedure to register and acquire a judge and room rather quickly. That Friday evening the courthouse halls were filled with brightly dressed brides and large happy families ready to join in matrimonial bliss. The judge was really a cool guy, even if I can't now remember his name, and the bailiff took pictures with our digital camera during the ceremony after a brief instructional lesson. The Big Kids all flashed many pictures with their own cameras, and the judge and bailiff struck poses for them. With all the flashes and shutter clicks, I felt a true Hollywood princess. Okay, not really. But you get the idea. I felt so real, so whole , so absolutely alive after the ceremony! I had married my dream guy. My life, aching legs and all, was perfect.

After the ceremony, we found the records room where Hubz completed the transaction for our licenses, the Big Kids snapped ridiculous pictures of the chandelier and each other's nostrils, and I sat and rested my poor aching legs. Those heels were killing me, what the...??? Then we piled everyone back in the Ark and drove the few miles to the closest Rainforest Cafe to celebrate our union. We all ordered fruity exotic virgin drinks and I inhaled all the food in the entire restaurant. The waitresses finally just brought me a trough. For dinner and for dessert. The rain storm and elephants coming alive right behind EEF's head terrified him. We all laughed. Then we all drove home in a hot car with full bellies and full hearts.

And that was it. One of the best days of my life, despite some minor physical discomforts.

I see the day we were married as a metaphor for our life together. Some small inconveniences and minor discomforts but overall, the Big Picture, is perfect. The small imperfections add to the richness and fullness of the whole. I wouldn't trade my life for all the winning lottery tickets in the world.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Monkey Brain Soup

My mind is like a thick murky soup right now. I have all sorts of posts sloshing around in it, but no time to write. Even if I had the time, honestly, the emotions necessary to produce anything other than Wow, the Cat is not so fat anymore! just aren't accessible. Those emotions are on lock down due to too much Stuff Going On.

The final (hopefully) hearing in the custody dispute is Monday and there is a whole truck load of emotional baggage that goes along with that. I am still trying to potty train the Fellers with some small success. The twins are two: that is a trying age anyway--the crying, the screeching like nails down a chalkboard, the science experiments. Then there is the constant nagging over my fears for Eighty-Eight Fingers. Not to mention his constant antics! There is this possible job that I may be starting--that is again an emotional ball of yarn, my ambivalence over it. And of course, everyone's all-time- favorite stressor, family drama.

So I will probably be an emotional basket case until sometime Monday. After that I will have all sorts of great Bolg topics to untangle for you. I promise. Until then I will sit and cuddle with my little guys (there is such comfort in the soft warmth of them--so soothing to breath in the fresh scent of Newness at the tops of their fuzzy heads--the new haircuts that remind me of peaches), hug and kiss the Hubz, and hope like hell everything works itself out somehow so we can actually enjoy our anniversary on Tuesday.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

When Eighty-Eight Fingers Almost Burned Down the House

Yesterday seemed like a typical morning as I was awakened by the soft snorts and chortles of the Fellers from across the room (yes, the Fellers our in our room--not out of choice, only our house is that small--a blog for another day) and the too hot and bright summer sun shined in around the cracks in my shabby curtains. Time to get up--Ready or not! I rolled out of bed and ushered the troops toward the door. Then I opened the door , and ZOOOOOM! The cat sped past my door down the hall nearly singing my toes off my feet, Eighty-Eight Fingers trailing mere inches behind.

"STOP!" I yell in my early morning, froggy, pre-coffee voice. "Were you chasing kitties?" I begin the interrogation in a tone sure to instill the terror necessary for EEF to produce the correct response...

He looked at me, face devoid of expression, and shook his blond buzz-cut head slowly back and forth, even though he obviously was. Guess I will have to work on that terror instilling voice--put that on the list.

And then I smelled it...SMOKE!!! I smelled SMOKE!! What the…?!? We have three smoke alarms in our <1000 square foot home and none of them was blaring, BUT I SMELLED SMOKE!

Quick scan of the living room--no smoke.

Leap to the kitchen/dining room where the smell was more intense. This room was obviously the source, but where? Where was it coming from?

It took me all of two point five seconds for my caffeine-deprived brain to register that the power light was on the toaster oven. One, possibly two forceful strides took me across to the far side of the room where the offending toaster oven was burning up all of the stray crumbs in its catch-pan into shrivelly little charcoal pieces (shut up! That is the absolute last place I clean) and almost burning the miscellaneous stuff on the counter around it. I opened the door and reclosed it because that usually shuts the thing off. What the...???It didn't work. The light wouldn't go off. It was necessary to repeat this process several times to convince my sluggish brain cells that opening the door and reclosing it was not the solution, so for now just open it and leave it open.

You see, EEF has a tendency to be very quiet and very sneaky in the morning, waking up before any human has a right to going on various search and destroy missions so that it is truly amazing that he is almost five and this house is still standing. I have considered surgically affixing a bell to him...

Time to question EEF. Cue terror inducing tone, "Did you touch the toaster oven??!?"

From EEF: Mute, lying, headshake.


From me, with the tone, only now a touch of shrillness: "Were you chasing kitties and touching the toaster oven??!!??" to which EEF dutifully answered with that headshake of his, because, you know, it really is possible for the toaster oven to turn itself from toast to cook (which, I later discovered after adequate cups of coffee, was the reason it wouldn't shut off) and for the lazy cats to just decide all of a sudden to run around like demons possessed. Sure. That's all possible. NOT!

Me: "EEF, you are going to bed until you tell me the truth. I know you touched the toaster oven and chased the cats and I know that you are telling me lies right now so you won't get in trouble. But you know what? I don't like lies. Lie to me and you will get in bigger trouble. Last chance--did you touch the toaster oven and chase the kitties? (Headshake) Okay, you will go to bed, then, until you are ready to tell me the truth."

Have I mentioned how stubborn EEF is? It took almost an hour and five visits from me for him to finally admit the error of his ways. Ugh! He is almost five and he still has no filter, no voice in his head telling him This isn't a good idea. He just keeps getting into things, wreaking havoc on things, and now we can add almost burning the house down to his list. Sometimes, I think he is more challenging to raise than all of the others put together. Then I remember The Girl and her pre-teen tantrums (bad, just BAD) and I think, well maybe this isn't so bad. Maybe I can do this. Yeah right.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A Celebration of Her Life....

....The title of the pamphlet they handed me at the door.

Thursday night I attended a memorial service for an amazing woman, my dad’s cousin (I have no idea how that relates to me) Pat.

At first glance, she may not seem so amazing. She was a stay-at-home-mother who left her career to do so. A career that she had before women had careers, much less agonized about leaving them, then returned to it after her children were grown. Her hands cradled and soothed and disciplined five children. She taught them to love music, to fill their lives with it, made it her legacy. One of her grandsons sang Ave Maria at the service in a voice worthy of that song. So far that seems fairly ordinary.

I did not know her well, but I wish I had known her better. She was my father’s cousin, although she was almost twenty years older than him. I met her at some family gatherings, Christmas and birthdays, over the course of ten years when my father rediscovered that side of his family after his second divorce. She should have been one of those relatives you need to be reintroduced to every Christmas. But she wasn’t. There was something remarkable about her, something bright about her spirit, so that you always remembered her. It was almost like she was more alive than most of us because she was always living out loud. Her life was full of her hobbies and loves including singing, guitar, stories, golfing, argument (she loved a good debate), and family (even those of us extended family hanger’s-on). Her home, the gathering place most Christmases, reflected her soul, an open concept tri-level on a large open lot, filled with her artwork and cross stitch projects, where the kitchen and dining area were at the heart. That was how she was amazing and extraordinary—in her zest for life, her celebration of it.

By the log in book at the service was written a favorite saying of hers, words she lived by:

It is not for us to deliver to God a pristine vessel that we cared for and pampered, unmarred by life. Rather, I will return to Him in a body well-used and worn, a margarita in one hand and a song on my lips, telling a joke and dancing, asking where the party is.

Who was she? A mother, a wife, a grandmother, a business woman, a musician, an artist, an athlete, a friend, a fighter. Intelligent and strong. Full of life and not afraid to live it to its fullest.

Unfortunately, about nine years ago, about the time my own family was expanding, she and her husband had retired to Arizona. I had not seen her or most of that side of my family in about five years, since the last Christmas gathering. Our families had drifted apart. Her children (who had been important, visible Adults in my life ten years ago—that was Dad’s family) remembered me as little more than a pony-tailed awkward girl grown into a shy, quiet and just as awkward single teen aged mother, my daughter a little toddler spit-fire. And I remembered the young man who sang such a beautiful rendition of Ave Maria as a little ruffian, tearing around the house with my brother (my half-brother, actually, who is eight years younger than me). The time gap was strange, eerie, and shocking, and I felt almost as if we were all transported out of time briefly. I felt like I was seeing myself through their eyes, a stranger, this woman grown whose huge family they had never even heard of was tucked away at home, like they were now strangers to me.

I looked around the room and saw the women of our family, women of our blood and those who married in. We are all so different, unique at first glance: different ages, different careers, different paths in this life. Yet, there was a similarity in spirit of the women gathered there, a similarity to Pat. We are strong, intelligent women. We live out loud. We are mothers and friends and wives and artists and fighters.

Once again she had brought us all together, if not under her roof, then in the memory of her love for us all.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Interview With A M'ampire

Because of certain haps here at Abode McBoudica, I have been forced to hit the pavement, as in a job search. I foolishly started on this mission the old fashioned way the other day, dressing up (a fiasco in and of itself--the Fellers knew I was up to something and Were Not Happy!) and approaching my desired work venues in person, resume in hand. Since only second shift work will do (child care, you know) all my professional experience is basically useless. I am looking at retail, people, retail. Something I have zero experience in.

Of course, old and crotchety as I am, I am picky about where I will work. If I am giving up family time, it should at least be at a cool place, not selling batteries or greeting cards. No, the work snob McBoudica will only work at bookstores with other nerds. Okay, maybe home improvement stores would suffice.

Anyway, back to the actual physical submission of said resumes--what was I thinking??? That is so yesterday, which I discovered all to soon. After being turned away without even the chance to buy a vowel on the job application (literally all dressed up and no place to go--all that effort for nothing!), I came home and hit the 'net. Online aps are So Much Better! Now I can fill in all sorts of ridiculous information (such as last/current position: Home, Manager: Me, Manager Title: Me, Position: SAHM, Rate of pay: $0, Duties: Um, do you have much memory? I have to get out my scroll...).

And the Online Personality Evaluations! Are those fun to complete with screaming children milling at one's feet (I become easily frustrated when interrupted in completing a task: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree).

Surprisingly, I actually got a call back from one of these joints for an interview--a big chain home improvement store (not the bookstore, damn! Maybe that is for the best--I would spend too much of my time reading the merchandise). Like I know anything about retail or home improvement! So, today, I will blow dry my hair into some semblance of civility and dig through the buried, dusty and moth-bitten Dress Clothes somewhere in the never disturbed closets. I will bring my dusting wand to ward off the cobwebs that most assuredly have formed there and do my best to become acceptably presentable. I will go to the interview and lie through my teeth about how excited I am to sell paint or tomato plants or whatever. I will pretend I am not terrified of leaving the roost.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Sorry to bum out all of my faithful readers, but I am really feeling down lately. Maybe it could have something to do with my world as I know it caving in on me this week. And the whole issue is something I absolutely can't write about, not here. I can only say it involves a huge, drawn out, overly emotional, and extremely stressful custody battle over my fifteen year old stepson. One could describe it as an emotional rollercoaster, except, this one seems to only be going down--at terminal velocity.Because of this proceeding, we currently have strangers pawing through our lives, prying open all the cracks. I don't feel hopeful. I don't feel much at all. Just drained, worn out, used up. Everyone is showing the strain; we all have short fuses, even the Fellers, poor babes. Now there is only the waiting, the eternal, endless, skin crawling waiting for the final hearing in a couple weeks. We could use a dash of good luck right about now; unfortunately, there appears to be a drought of luck here at Abode McBoudica.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Much Anticipated Vacation blog

What vacation would ever be complete without the little misadventures that burden us in our quest for fun and "escape"? It seems my vacation was fraught with these. Below is a list of highlights from our trip to the wilderness with twins, Eighty-Eight Fingers and Big J, the teen boy, to my in-law's mobile trailer campsite.

1) We have a HUGE eight-seater station wagon that is absolutely necessary to fit all the bodies in this family (never mind the luggage). The Hubz took the behemoth in for an oil change two days before the trip where the nervous pimply clerk informed him in a squeaky stress-cracked voice that they would be unable to perform the oil change due to a dent in the oil pan and some huge leak from a broken gasket. It appears the wagon has been doing some off-roading in its spare time (you know, because it is so huge and guzzles so much gas it basically sits in the garage most of the time unless it is absolutely necessary to haul it out). My theory is that the thing has been sneaking out at night, riding the curb to visit the cute minivan down the street. Anyway, no time or money to fix the beast means that we crammed the little boys in the sedan with us, while my stepson, 15-year-old Big J, rode up with Grandpa. Actually, that was fine with me because the sedan has working air conditioning and it was hotter than heck the day we drove up.

2) Before we realized the behemoth vacation mobile was disabled, we had decided to do something about our luggage dilemma. The beast is big enough for all of our butts but our luggage usually has to be squeezed in with a shoehorn. Driving 3 1/2 hours with compacted luggage in your leg space is so not fun, so we decided to purchase one of those cargo bags for the top of the beast, which, conveniently, has a luggage rack. I found an acceptable specimen at Target online that said most stores stocked it. So I called the two closest stores. We live in a big city. The stores were in the inner city. Evidently there is not much call for rugged travel/luggage equipment in the city, or the stores don't sell it because people don't buy it because they would just as soon steal it off the neighbor's car. In any event, at the two city stores I called, the first one did not even know what I was talking about and the second one transferred me to three departments and had me on hold for fifteen minutes before they realized they did not stock it at their store. So I called the suburban store. Sure enough, they had multitudinous cargo packs in various styles in stock. The Hubz picked one up before taking the beast in for its unsuccessful and fateful oil change. So now we have a lovely cargo pack that we did not even take out of the box (no luggage rack on the sedan).

3) Because I didn't have a decent swimming suit (all of mine were either faded, shredded or missing parts) I decided to buy one. Because I don't like to shop in the malls, don't have much time for it, I do a lot of my shopping online. I found a clearance sale (the Scots again, with the clearance sales) Victoria's Secret tankini that I thought would be nice, cover up the twin skin, but be a little sexy at the same time. The photo showed that it had ties on the sides that I thought were there for decoration. I did not realize that the sides actually tied closed. Okay, fine, not much I could do about it now. I was stuck with it and the suit really was cute. So, at the appropriate time, I donned the suit, double knotting the ties and hoped for the best. I never imagined that my little Boompas would be so ambivalent (afraid yet loving) of the water that he would feel compelled to cling to me and rake my sides with his monkey toes, untying my double knotted suit in the water while I did not have hands free to retie it because I was holding him ! Thank goodness Hubz was nearby to tie it back up--in three knots this time! Then there were the numerous times Boompas pulled at the revealing halter top to reveal a little more, which he found hilarious, although I was less than amused. So pool time was an unintentional strip tease for me. Yea! Next time I get a suit, it is going to be a full piece with locks, skirts, buckles and many bolts of spandex fabric. Something like a Muslim woman would wear swimming aught to suffice.

3) My twins never cease to amaze me. Just when I think I know them...Taking them to a new place with new experiences, a novel situation, revealed that Stink really is a fearless barbarian (in a good happy-go-lucky sort of way) while Boompas, for all his superhero play, is more reserved, less likely to try new things, while more likely to need his base, his mamma, for support. While Stink jumped repeatedly into the water at the pool without barely a second's pause, Boompas clung to someone, usually me with both hands despite his special flotation suit. Another example of Stink's fearlessness, the trailer is on a cul-de-sac in a very wild, secluded area. There were only maybe three other campsites on the cul-de-sac, while the other lots lacked any development. So for fun, occasionally, we would Take a Walk Around the Circle. Stink pranced exuberantly around the circle, while Boompas wanted go around, but only if someone would carry him. Also, Boompas was much more likely to want to stay in the trailer and watch a movie. The Outdoors was a little too big and scary for him. Finally, Boompas was ready to go Home, asked repeatedly for it, during the last day and a half.

As an aside, those floatation suits are incredible! They are one piece suits with floatation foam pieces sown into the top. Although they make the kids look like multi-colored mutant sumo wrestlers, they are terrific at keeping the kids above the water in a convenient one-piece device that does not require inflation, attachment (except putting the suit on, easy enough), or memory of additional parts/pieces. It makes it really easy for a mom of twins to hold both the rascals safely from time to time when they both must have Mommy and no one else will do without either drowning.

4) Stink discovered fireworks are Hot and now understands why he should Not Touch Them. Every night, before Feller Bedtime, Big J would conduct a fireworks show. During one of these performances, Hubz and Big J lit sparklers, which Stink, who ran wild during the performances while I held Boompas (again, scared but awed). One of the sparks fell on the ground and did not extinguish right away, so Stink dashed out to grab it fast as a shot and tried to pick it up before anyone could do anything. He burnt his fingers a little, but after Magic Mommy Kisses, he was good to go.

5) Stink fell out of bed three out of four nights, waking everyone up with his screaming in the process. One night, he fell out of bed twice.

6) Eighty-Eight Fingers was in his element. He thoroughly enjoyed total freedom and the ability to spin like a top, whirring from activity to activity all day every day.

7) Potty training kids during long trips=many wet pants and pit stops.

Thank god we had the in laws with us, otherwise I don't think the vacation would have been possible. Because three wild Fellers in the wilderness is A LOT of work. My step MIL loves cooking. She cooked dinner every night and they cleaned up the campsite after we left. Overall, everyone had fun. But I needed a whole day to recover from my vacation and wipe the grime off the Fellers afterward.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Why he didn't know

Okay, still stalling on the vacation blog. I'll get there someday.

Also, that you all for your support and kind words over the issue with my daughter's father.

I have to revisit this whole dynamic with The Girl's father. I was not completely honest in my last post. Well, okay, I was honest, but did not tell the complete story as to why my daughter did not know her father for the first ten years of her life. It is a story I have mixed feelings about sharing. It is a story about a difficult decision I made fourteen years ago, one that I have struggled with, one that has weighed on my conscience. But it is a story that needs telling if only to understand me.

Would it surprise you to learn I wasn't always the fire breathing feminist I am today? That is actually an affliction I nourished over the course of many long years. It all started like this...Imagine a girl, sixteen, and enjoying her last real summer vacation. September would bring her senior year in high school. Her whole life is before her, her childhood in ashes, wasted in a bog of dysfunction that was her past. I am not going to repeat the whole song and dance that was my miserable childhood here. Let me just say my childhood, what little there was of it, sucked. The sixteen year old girl I was considered herself grown, mature beyond her years, never quite fitting in, an outcast. Lonely. Sure, by that time I had moved in with my father, but I was still a screwed up, lonely kid dumb enough to fall for some older guy's advances while I was wandering around in the dark comfort of the night, stumbled upon a party where a twenty year old neighbor seduced me and, well, nine and a half months later my daughter was born.

I had thought myself an outcast before! Let me tell you, being a pregnant high school senior does nothing to improve one's social status. I was shunned. The school system actually tried to entice me to go to their special preggo girl's school, but I was too academically advanced and they did not offer the college prep courses that I needed. So I went to high school, heard all the whore jokes and rumors, endured the stares and chuckles and nasty words for six months as my body ballooned and swelled. In my solitude, I had lot and lots of time to think.

Since I was in a bit of a predicament, a young single pregnant girl with no job (I cleaned offices part time for minimum wage and they would not hold my job for me), what would I do? I knew I could not abort. As dire as my situation was, the second--okay maybe some time the night I told my dad I was pregnant and he gave me a big hug and told me he would support me no matter what I did-- soon after I found out I was pregnant, I felt this overwhelming connection and love and, strangely, surprisingly, joy. I could not terminate the pregnancy, nor adopt out the baby. So I offered up my life, my skills, my talents, all I was (as lowly as that was at the time) to that child. I lived for her, for the idea of her, for the warmth and love I felt from her yet unborn body inside me. She needed me, but not nearly as much as I needed her. She was and has been my everything, my salvation. Because of this complex relationship and my strong bond to her yet unborn self (she was my salvation, I her protector to preserve that salvation) I was selfish of her love.

And so I thought of people I knew, other single mothers. I observed their situations. Fighting with ex's. Ex's who were less than men, drunk and belligerent and bitter. Ex's who continuously threatened to take the mothers to court, to try to take their children to make their lives difficult not because they really wanted the children, but merely to harass. Ex's who promised to see their kids, and stood the kids up again and again. Ex's who did not provide. I compared what little I knew of the father to these men. He drank, from what I could tell. He seemed a little wild. I wondered...

So I thought and observed and discussed my thoughts and observations with my father. And I decided over some time==I chose a difficult path--to not actively pursue The Girl's father. Would it be so bad that he was not in her life, messing with her head and her heart, as I guessed he would? Not only that (here is why I feel guilty for my decision) I was terrified to share my daughter, my salvation, the perfect being that my body had grown over the course of nine and a half uncomfortable grueling months, with a virtual stranger. I did have to give his name to the county so I could get insurance for my daughter (there is another story altogether--talk about being a non-person!)--let them find him. But I would not do the footwork.

And I didn't. It took the system ten years, but they finally did it. They found him. And in my guilt (for not providing the girl with an adequate father, sometimes thinking maybe she really needed one, you must know how one questions and double guesses oneself) and mixed feelings about my decision over the course of the last ten years, I waived past child support and agreed that he would pay only half of the statutory monthly amount he owed. And I encouraged her to develop a relationship with him.

This has not been the first time he has hurt her feelings (although he has not been nearly so cruel in the past) and I have given him a pass, did not want to interfere in their budding relationship. But I am her protector, and at this I must draw the line. Anyway, I am feeling a little bit validated. I am feeling like that tough decision I let that little girl make all those years ago was the right decision.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Fireworks and Drama

I just survived a vacation of keeping three small boys alive and not completely encrusted in grime or lost somewhere in the deep dark wilderness! I have had a blog planned in my head about that vacation, of my twins and some remarkable discoveries about their personalities this trip has illuminated. But, alas, I have returned to Drama and Issues that must be dealt with.

The Drama involves my daughter. As I have mentioned before, she is thirteen. I had her when I was very young, three months after graduating early from high school. Her father and I lost touch before I discovered I was pregnant, and she and her father only recently (when she was ten) met each other. He lives in a different state, so they do not have an opportunity to spend much time with each other to get acquainted. Mostly, they have talked on the phone with a few weeks of summer visits thrown in. Their relationship has been tenuous, at best.

Honestly, my poor adolescent judgment of character and lack of sound decision-making skills is all too evident in the man that is her father. The woman I am today would never have dreamed of copulating with that man. I was really a stupid kid, and he is my penance for that stupidity. He is kind of rough around the edges, the kind of guy who is allergic to education and "book learning" and who thinks of tattoos as fine art.

In fairness to him, what a shock for him to discover out of the blue that he has a ten year old daughter! I do empathise with that. And to be fair, he does try, usually, to attempt a some kind of relationship with her. But last night he really did some damage that I don't think The Girl will ever forgive--understandably so.

This past week, instead of taking a trip with us (me, Hubz, the Fellers and Big J) The Girl elected to visit with her father who was staying with relatives nearby. To make a long story short, she mostly had a good time hanging out with some girl cousins her age (poor girl is stuck in a family with an over-abundance of boys), shopping, pillow fights, playing with her younger half-brothers. The trouble didn't actually begin until tonight at about eight o'clock, four hours after her aunt dropped her off at home.

While browsing an online book catalogue, eagerly anticipating my vacation blog and sorting details in my mind, I received a strange and terse phonecall from my daughter's father. He did not ask for her. Instead he asked--no, told!-- me to search her bags. Huh? For money that some people, including her little brother, think might have gone missing. What? The? F***?

Okay, I have a real problem with that, arbitrarily searching my daughter's bags at a time in her life when privacy is of utmost importance and respecting her as the young woman she is. Also, I don't think I need to mention how adverse I am to being told what to do by a guy who is only now talking to me because of a cruel trick of fate fourteen years ago decided that the sperm he deposited in me met up with an ovum that happened to actually adhere to the uterine wall and-- voila--life!

Furthermore, I know my daughter. She is not a thief. I know, I know. We all want to think the best of little Johnny and Jenny. They are all perfect and can do no wrong, yet there are still murderers and crooks and politicians. But, seriously, I know my daughter. It was just she and I for so many years. I don't know exactly how to explain it, but the girl is just. not. a thief. She may have a smart mouth from time to time, and try her hand at manipulation. Sometimes she is too demanding. But, damn it, she doesn't steal. She is a hard worker, earns what she gets and is proud of that. And it really pisses me off this sperm-depositing, tattoo-infested person is accusing her, and apparently convicting her, of something so wrong without any real evidence or specific details of what was supposedly stolen, when and where.

I told him I would "have a word" with her and call him back. About ten minutes later, he called back and I told him I discovered no evidence of The Girl stealing. He told me (again with the orders!) to put her on. He then proceeded to scream and swear at her how she had to "send back all the money she jacked from everyone, and he would not speak with her again until she did so". Um. Not. Cool. So not cool. Color me unimpressed.

Anyway, instead of composing my charming vacation blog, I composed an e-mail to said sperm-depositor. I have been cutting him slack the last three years because of the whole shocking I Have a Ten Year Old Daughter!? thing, but now, after this BS, I am done with that. You have another kid, dude, deal already. Here it is. Read it and weep!

[Father of The Girl],

This whole Missing Money situation sounds kind of contrived to me. There are several things that reek of bullshit about your hypothesis that The Girl is a thief.

First: I have had a few different families staying with me over the course of the last several years. Never once has anyone ever complained that they or their children were missing things or money. Neither has she ever stolen anything from her step- brothers or me. And she has had great opportunity, as this is a small house and very chaotic. In addition, none of her friends' parents has ever accused her of stealing any of her friends' things when she has been at their houses. In fact, her friends' parents always make it a point to tell me what a sweet, well-mannered, polite and delightful girl she is and she is welcomed any time, even over to girls' houses whose parents don't allow other kids over. She is a VERY trustworthy girl.

Second: The Girl is a straight A student, has perfect attendance and is involved in several extracurricular activities. She is a hard working, good girl, not the type of person who would steal.

Third: The Girl is a wanna-be vegetarian, PETA member, and seriously involved in human rights and environmental concerns. It does not seem likely that such a budding bleeding heart would steal money, especially from her little brother.

Fourth: This whole situation is just ridiculous in that no one knows how much money he or she had to begin with, when he or she had it, where he or she lost it. There is a serious lack of specific details and evidence that The Girl stole the money, if indeed any money was even stolen at all. It seems as if everyone is hopping rather eagerly on this bandwagon to blame The Girl, who is the very last person I would ever suspect of stealing.

Another thing: I don't care what you think The Girl may or may not have done. I don't care if you think being her father gives you the right, because you are so wrong there. It is completely unacceptable to scream and swear at her like you did on the phone tonight. That is called verbal and emotional abuse, and I will not have my daughter subjected to that kind of treatment. Don't EVER do that again.


One Seriously Pissed Off Mother

Anyway, how was your Holiday?



The Girl's father did call late last night to apologize, but by then the damage was already done.