Artist: Daddy!
John: Yes *Artist*?
Artist: Push play!
John: You want me to push play on your video?
Artist: Yes, push play, boos coos.
John: Ok, just a minute, and I'll push play on your blues clues video.
Artist: K. *three second pause** DADDY!
J: Yes, *Artist*?
Artist: Have Question!
J: You have a question?
Artist: Yes.
J: What is it?
Artist: Push play on boos coos movie, peeze.

Changes ahead

When I began this blog, it was a way to let distant family read cute stories about the boys--things that were worth sharing, but not really something you would take the time to call four or five people (or more!) and tell them about. But the internet is forever, and with the boys' recent diagnoses, the blog has become much more personal--and has information that a teenage boy may not want a classmate to be able to google and find. So I'm going to make some changes to the blog. Nothing (I don't think) will be deleted, but I will be systematically removing the boys' names from the posts. I will also be creating a new blog soon. Actually, I've already created it, I just haven't quite organized exactly how it's going to be differentiated from this one. My brain isn't working as well as I'd like :D

I think, though, that this blog will continue to be focused on the boys and stories about them, and the other will be focused more on their triumphs and struggles, as well as ours. Right now, it's hard to think clearly, and everything is still a little shaky in my head. But these things I know for sure:

1. My boys are more than their diagnoses. There is no way a label or a test or a piece of paper can explain who they are, any more than saying they are blondes would define them. Their respective diagnoses are what they have, not who they are. And they are descriptors, NOT excuses.
2. I love my boys, and I will move heaven and earth to help them reach their full potential.
3. I may not be the mom they need. I am the mom they HAVE, and I will work towards becoming the mom they need. (Thanks again, Tabitha, for this life lesson. Even if you don't remember it :D )

So, there are changes ahead. Massive changes. But the changes for the blog should be minor :D

To Kahlil Joseph

Too many years ago to count, I acted in a show you directed. I pulled from the depths of my soul to give you everything I had to bring your character to life. And the notes you gave after the performance, while Cindy and I were sobbing in exhaustion in each others' arms, with our friends who had watched the performance-most also crying- gathered around us, were, "ok, good, but if you could just give me more . . ."

Thank you. My children need me to find reserves of strength I didn't know I had, and energy to help them when I thought I was running on empty. YOU taught me that there's always more to give, even (perhaps especially) when you think there's not.

Forget Kindergarten--Everything I need to know I learned in the theatre.
I cried tonight.

It caught me utterly and completely by surprise, and yet there was no surprise at all. Actually, I wanted to cry so badly last week that I scheduled a time for it. I promised myself that if I could just get through the morning, and get the twins to therapy, and then get them to preschool, I could cry for a solid 90 minutes, and still have time to pull myself together before I picked them up. But then I remembered I had to go to the bank and the pharmacy, which still left me about an hour for my waterworks. And then the school called, and Fighter had a fever, so I picked both of the twins up and brought them home and made snacks and got Superhero off the bus, and it passed.

I wanted to cry for so many reasons. The utter exhaustion from being everyone’s everything. The fear and confusion of not knowing what my boys need, but being completely certain I’m not giving it to them. The unfairness of my non-smoking, non-drinking mother battling cancer, the frustration of not being able to find the house that could be our home, the worry, concern, and anger as I watch my husband struggle, more than a year later, with an injury caused by the negligence of a system that doesn’t even care enough to apologize. And so much more.

But I didn’t cry. I pulled myself together and I picked up my boys and we went on with our lives.

Tonight, though, there was no going forward. Because today, we got the preliminary results from the evaluations we’ve been waiting on for months. My creative, intelligent Superhero has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, as well as (most likely) Asperger’s Syndrome. My little Fighter is Autistic. And my beautiful, loving Artist needs to have an MRI and CT scan to confirm a brain abnormality.

These are the same three little boys I had yesterday, last week, last month, last year. And yet the task of raising them suddenly seems so daunting, so impossible, that I don’t even know how to breathe.

How can I do this? They need so much, and they need it from me, and I just don’t know if I have it to give. And that’s not even touching on the overwhelming guilt—what on earth did I do to my children? Three children with such amazing challenges: how could that NOT, at least in some ways, be MY fault?

And so I put my children to bed, made sure they were asleep, and then I cried. I cried not in mourning for the children I don’t have, but in agony for the amazing children I DO have, and the mother they need that I’m not sure I can be. I cried in fear for a marriage already shaken by the stress of the last few years—can it possibly stand more? I cried for my mother, who I am sure is frightened and angry and frustrated in her own right, and whose only daughter is so caught up in her own world that she has little to offer. I cried because I don’t know what the future holds, but I suspect I simply am not up to confronting it.

And I cried because sometimes, there is just nothing else you can do.

Tonight, I cried.

Tomorrow, I will pull myself together and gather my boys into my arms, and we will go on with our lives.

Because sometimes, there is just nothing else you can do.

Super Powers

While driving to the pediatrician today (to find out that Fighter most likely does NOT have an ear infection, YEAH!), Fighter suddenly started clapping his hands excitedly and then began signing and saying 'Flower! Flower!'

We were passing a graveyard.

One of Fighter's superpowers is the ability to look at things in a completely different way than the norm. I love him for it, and I'm so glad he shares his views with me!

Mother's Day

One of the joys of public school that I had given little thought to until this year is the receipt of multiple handmade gifts for holidays. Christmas resulted in an absolute treasure trove of painted, glued, and glittered projects, all but the latter earning a hallowed spot in my Christmas decorations for future years (sorry, but I have an aversion to glitter, especially when it's falling off all over everything). There were a handful of items for Valentine's day, and today, Superhero came home with my Mother's day gifts.

I got a flower planted in a Dixie cup (I didn't have the heart to tell Superhero that even if it were some sort of uber plant that would grow in the dessert, it still wouldn't survive my brown thumb for more than a few weeks). I also received a silhouette--a project I've been wanting to do for a while now, and the laminated one is just impetus to make the pretty ones I bought the supplies for before Christmas. My beautiful, hand colored and written Mother's day card, says:

Dear Mom,

I love u mommy bekuls u love me oh i theink u r such a grat cook

Love *Superhero*

There are some things a six year old just can't put into words, so I decided to interpret this as 'I love you for all you are and all you do.' I honestly have no idea where the great cook came from, since he rarely eats anything I actually cook, so I can only presume that he was both hungry and dreaming about my canned ravioli skilz.

Then came both the sweetest and funniest gift of all. A xeroxed Mad Libs type page, where Superhero filled in the blanks. I giggled and laughed uproariously, and was surprised when Superhero looked over and said 'Mommy, are you crying?'--surprised to find that I was :P

My Special Mother

My mother is the most wonderful mom in the whole world!!

She's as pretty as a picture . She weighs about 10.20 pounds and she's 100 feet tall.

Her favorite color is purple.

Her favorite food is carrots w/ranch dressing.

In the good old days when Mom was a little girl, she used to play with dolls.

Her mother always made her watch tv.

I think Mom looks funny when she gets out of the bed.

My favorite outfit on her is a purple wedding dress.

I know she's angry when she grounds me.

I wish Mom would play video games and go to the playground with me everyday.

Love, *Superhero*

For the record, I do not own and have never owned a purple wedding dress--our best guess is he's referring to a burgundy nightgown I have. I can't stand ranch dressing. And I weigh a BIT more than 10.20 pounds, though I can see how 5'7" might be mistaken for 100 feet tall when you're six.

Bibbity Bobbity Boo

Superhero is spending the weekend with my parents, so we took the twins out with us yesterday and today. Yesterday, we were house hunting, and today we were house hunting and going to yard sales (one of our favorite pass times!).

We took the boys to a sale at a church for lunch--in our area, almost every church sale has two things in common: extremely low prices and hot dogs :D So we had hot dogs for lunch. Fighter sat at the table, without complaint, and ate his lunch. He sat in a regular chair. He did not scream or throw food, make a mess, or even get up and run around. In fact, Artist got bored with lunch and ran off, with John going after him, while Fighter continued to eat. He chatted easily with the people nearby, asked me repeatedly for each item ("cookie pease" "chip pease" "water pease"), and said thank you after nearly every bite. It was such an enjoyable time that I didn't realize until we were leaving the significance of it--this is the first time that Fighter has eaten a 'typical' family meal with us, without being strapped into a high chair, without throwing food, without screaming or yelling or being otherwise inappropriate. The first time EVER.

I feel bad for Fighter that life seems so much more difficult for him than it is for the average child. But I am so grateful that his exceptionality allows me to appreciate the joys of a quiet lunch in a church basement--an experience I would have given little to no value to until today, when it's significance suddenly rivaled the Royal Wedding. Fighter's special brand of magic can elevate the mundane to the extraordinary, and I am a lucky, lucky woman to be able to share that magic.

The Best Advice . . .

Artist threw a toy in the air and it hit him on the head.
Artist: OW!
Fighter: Ok?
Artist: Yeah.
Fighter: Do?
Artist: throw toy, hit head.
Fighter: No throw. No Ow.
Artist: Oh, thank you bubby.

The funniest part is that Artist's gratitude was sincere--he seemed sincerely, amazingly grateful that Fighter gave him the life-changing advice of not throwing toys into the air and letting them land on his head. And you know what? Maybe it IS life changing. Perhaps we'd all be better off if we had learned early on to recognize that what we are about to do is an incredibly BAD idea.

We love you, Nana

Fighter is a very insistent child. I've seen him repeat 'HELLO' firmly to a stranger a half dozen times before they responded to him, adamant that they were NOT going to move on with their lives without acknowledging his existence.

So his new game--taught to him by his Nana at Superhero's tee ball game a few weeks ago--always starts the same way: Fighter will sign and say "I" repeatedly until the victi-err, participant of his choice repeats "I" back to him. Next is the signing and statement of "Love", also repeated by the participant, followed by "YOU!"--and then munching (picture an adult pretending to munch a child's neck. Fighter usually substitutes his own arm. And frequently, there is real munching.) This has become his favorite game, played in repetitions lasting as long as fifteen minutes, multiple times a day with anyone he can corner. And of course, we're very happy to participate. A three word sentence with clear understanding is HUGE progress for Fighter, so it's a real pleasure for the adults in his life to play along with him.

Today, while playing the I love you game, John smiled and said "Say 'Thank you Nana.'". Now, every parent finds themselves asking their kids to parrot them, with phrases like "Say I'll see you soon, Grandpa" or "What do we say when our friend gives us a birthday gift?" rolling off our tongues almost without thought. But with Fighter, it really is habit that makes us make our requests, as he has never repeated anything we've asked him to. So imagine our shock when he looked at his daddy, beaming with excitement, and said "Thank you Nana!" He has been working SO HARD lately, and the progress he's making is astounding. And while I know that our work (our including me, John, his school staff, and his therapists) is contributing to it, for these two particular breakthroughs, we have Nana to thank.

Raising an exceptional child is exhausting in the best of circumstances. Raising THREE exceptional children is overwhelming. Raising three exceptional children while dealing with work related injuries, sick family members, community activities, and a full-time university course load is--to be honest, I'm not sure there is a word for it. Having an extended family that not only helps out, but actively works to discover the best ways to help our boys is a blessing so large that there isn't a word for that, either. We are blessed to have our boys, and our blessings are multiplied by parents willing to go the extra mile for their grandchildren.

I'm a cat person

We love our Gilley, but she's about 14 years old--not exactly a 'kids' pet. Superhero has wanted a puppy for a while, but we just don't have the time or energy to devote to another living creature. So, I bought a FurReal puppy at the thrift store yesterday. Now, I know it's not a real dog, but it is cute, and the boys love it. Or at least, Superhero and Fighter love it. Fighter asked where his 'DOG' was just before he closed his eyes to go to sleep, and it was the first thing he asked for this morning. Artist, on the other hand . . .

Me: So, what should we name your puppy? (talking to both Artist & Fighter)
Artist: No name puppy.
Me: The puppy needs a name.
Artist: ME no name puppy. Bubby (Fighter) do it. Bubby puppy.
Me: It's not just Bubby's puppy. It's for all of you to share.
Artist: NO. Bubby puppy. *Artist* want kitty cat.
Me: You want a cat?
Artist: Yes, *Artist want kitty cat. *Artist* pet kitty cat, and hug, and squeeze, and kiss. *Artist* LOVE kitty cat. *Artist* no love puppy--Bubby love puppy.

So I guess I'm looking for a FurReal cat now :P

Someone grows.

We had an IEP meeting today. For the uninitiated, that's an Individualized Education Plan here in WV--the plan for dealing with an exceptional child's exceptionalities. I had one forever ago. The state of West Virginia considered me 'gifted' long before the ultimate gift of my sons was given to me. But it turns out that an IEP for a child whose most difficult request was to be allowed to take classes formerly reserved for upperclassmen is MUCH different than an IEP for children who are developmentally delayed.

I was really, really worried about this meeting, to the point that I put it off for at least a month longer than I should have. John even asked his dad (a combination education expert and worried grandfather) to come down and go with me. We requested this meeting, mostly because I wanted to integrate some things from their occupational, physical, and speech therapists into their curriculum, but also because we had some concerns about the class itself. The meeting needed to be held, things needed to be said, and yet I dreaded it. What if they didn't listen to me? What if I didn't do a good job advocating for my children? What if, rather than improve the situation, I angered the people who spend unsupervised time with my nonverbal little boys? How could I strike the right balance of advocating for them while still keeping them safe?

Turns out, I worried needlessly. While I may not have been born to parent special needs children, I most certainly have a talent for advocating for those who can not advocate for themselves. I was nervous and afraid--and more than once looked to my father in law for strength and support--but I did not, as I had feared, fold, or even back down. I was honest and bold, polite but argumentative. I asked why they had not yet had the evaluations we requested months ago, how the classroom aides were trained, why my children were being taken into 'typical' classrooms, and on and on. I asked why the classes I had observed did not have as much support from the 'support staff' as I would like, and I asked how they were going to restructure the class to meet my sons' needs. In other words, I was an advocate for my sons, and though I wish I had done a little more, I would give myself a strong B for today's meeting.

Which isn't to say that the meeting was all about me being a buzzing fly and forcing them to either swat me or let me out :P. I learned a lot. For example, I learned that the school system considers the therapy my children are getting a 'medical' intervention, and therefore do not believe it automatically follows that they need those interventions in an educational setting. I learned that there are support systems already in place--but that finding them can be an adventure all it's own. I learned that a parent requesting an official meeting scares the bejesus out of people--which leads me to suspect that I have more power than they would like me to believe.

Most importantly though, I was reminded that like it or not, I am my sons' advocate. It's my job to make sure they have what they need, and if I can't give them what they need, then it's my job to find someone who can. If I don't know what they need, it's my job to find someone who can figure it out. It is my JOB to take care of them--and my JOY to watch them grow. And somehow, along the way, I grow, too.

The force is strong in this one . . .

Superhero: (entering room with two light sabers) I am a dark Jedi. I have come to attack you. I am DARTH MAKULA!
John: Darth Dracula? oooh, that's--
Superhero: NO, Darth MAKULA! I have come to attack you.
John: Makula? What's that?
Superhero: It's my NAME. I LIKE it. It's very strong. And now I'm going to attack you, Jedi!

Undead bunnies?

Superhero: Mommy, when is Easter?
Me: Well, this is still March, but it will be April on Friday, and Easter is near the end of April this year, so about a month.
Superhero: I like Easter. Easter is when the Easter bunny rises from the dead and hides Easter eggs.
*stunned silence*
Superheo: Really, my teacher told me that.
Me: Superhero, are you sure you didn't misunder--
Superhero: NO, Mommy, I'm sure, I was LISTENING!! She said the Easter bunny rises from the dead and hides all the Easter eggs for all the boys and girls to find!
Hubby: I don't care if that's what she said or not. That is AWESOME.

Oh, if only the world were perfect . . .

Artist & Superhero stayed with mom yesterday while John & I took Fighter with us house hunting. We discovered very quickly that Fighter LOVES being an 'only child'. Our boys don't get to have both parents to themselves very often--we endeavor to make sure they all get one on one time on a regular basis, but it's pretty difficult to arrange time with both of us. We've also discovered that the boys enjoy it different amounts--Superhero likes it, but also likes time to himself, Artist enjoys it for just a few minutes then starts asking where his brothers are. Fighter, though, just blossomed with both of us at his beck and call. He's been working so hard lately, and making amazing progress. We're going to have to figure out a way to give him more of the 'only child' time he enjoys so much.

Hungy boy

A few days ago, Fighter looked at me, rubbed his belly, and said 'Hungy, mama, hungy!" This is the first time in his 3.5 years that Fighter has TOLD us he needed something. Some times, it's the little things. But more often, those little things are HUGE--you just need to look at them from the right angle.

Vegetarians take care of animals . . .

Superhero: So that's what sushi is! It's raw fish!
Me: Not all sushi is raw, and not all of it is fish. Aunt Tabitha likes some sushi, and she's a vegetarian.
Superhero: Aunt Tabitha is a vegetarian?
Me: Yes, and so is Zara.
Superhero: Zara is a vegetarian? She is an animal doctor?
Me: That's a veterinarian. A Vegetarian doesn't eat meat.
Superhero: Oh, THAT kind of vegetarian! I wondered what an animal doctor had to do with sushi . . .

2010—A Year in Review

This update has been a long time coming. Sorry about that :D I remember when I was at Concord, some dear friends who had young children were lamenting that they never remembered to take pictures or videos of their children, and then said “We’re too busy living our life to worry about documenting it.” I didn’t really understand at the time, but I do now :D
2010 was an interesting year. As always, we had lots of illness and insanity at the beginning of the year, but things started to settle down a bit as spring arrived. By about April, I had begun to talk to our pediatrician about the twins’ now clearly evident speech delay, and he had raised concerns about Fighter’s focus and decreased sensitivity to pain. Less than six months from their third birthday, though, was really too late for Birth to Three services, so we began looking into other options. Superhero started playing tee ball, and LOVED it. Artist cried every game because we wouldn’t let him play, too: D John continued to work on his Masters in Counseling. And I went back to school at Marshall—I am enrolled full time in their Business Management program.
Then in May, John was hurt at work. He was breaking up a fight and ended up being attacked by one of the students, resulting in damage to his spinal column. He finished out the school year, but it was clearly evident that he was not up to par. He wasn’t even able to practice tee ball with Superhero in the backyard. As summer came and went, his condition didn’t improve, and his mood clearly worsened. We had planned a trip to Canada the year before, so we went, but it was probably the most stressful trip of my entire life. Worst of all, John had been looking forward to taking our boys to Canada literally since before they were born, and he was in so much pain while we were there that there was no real connection. While the boys and I both enjoyed our first trip to Canada and Niagara Falls (and I have to admit I’m more than a little pleased that they visited another country before they started kindergarten!), it was still nowhere near the trip it would have been before John was injured.
When we returned, John and I had a long talk about the trip and his injuries, and finally decided to get an attorney to handle the logistics of what were now clearly going to be battles with worker’s comp. It was a great decision, but we’ve still got a battle ahead of us.
As fall arrived, John became almost despondent when it became clear he wouldn’t be able to return to work on time. It was horribly tough on him—John has worked steadily since he was a teenager, and teaching isn’t just what he does, it’s who he IS. But we muddled through, and it was nice to have him around for some of the tough decisions that were coming. Superhero started kindergarten and community soccer, and suddenly I was a soccer mom: D John handled most of tee ball season, since a large portion of it was before he was hurt, but soccer was almost entirely me. I think Superhero enjoyed the time with mom, but of course it was still hard when daddy couldn’t be there or couldn’t help out. Around the same time, we took the twins for a speech screening, and were more than a little shocked when after just a few minutes we were told that they needed a LOT more than just some speech therapy. Soon, we were caught in a whirlwind of testing and opinions (with a bout of croup thrown in in the middle—THAT’S an experience I could go the rest of my life without repeating!), and suddenly, decisions had to be made. We decided on Cincinnati Children’s hospital for a complete developmental workup—while they have one of the better developmental teams on the East Coast, they also have a LONG waiting list, so that appointment will happen this summer. In the meantime, the twins are in a special needs preschool class (two years before we had planned to send them to school). We have also begun occupational and speech therapies at a pediatric therapy center, and Fighter will be having physical therapy for a few months at the same center. And in a few weeks, they’ll have an evaluation at a clinic that specializes in behavioral therapy, a treatment that has a proven track record with children with sensory issues.
And the question I invariably get at this point in the story is ‘So what’s wrong with them?’ My answer? “ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IS WRONG WITH THEM—THEY’RE NOT BROKEN!” :D They are, however, developmentally delayed, especially in speech and attention span. Fighter almost certainly and Artist & Superhero quite probably have a sensory disorder—whether that means autism or something else entirely remains to be seen. What does that mean? Well, it means they process the world differently than the average child. They’re exceptional, which of course I knew before they were even conceived: D :D :D While it’s awesome that Fighter loves the feel of the sun on his face and the wind in his hair to such a degree that a sunny spring day has him standing outside with his eyes closed, his head tossed back, and a look of pure joy on his face, it is not so awesome that he sees no reason why he can’t run around a busy parking lot. And while his world is a beautiful one, without the ability to communicate there’s no room for anyone else in it. It’s incredible that Superhero can read on the level of someone three times his age and that his reasoning skills put mine to shame, but if he doesn’t learn to think before he acts, it won’t make a difference. And Artist is highly intelligent, but no one knows it because he has difficulties communicating his thoughts, and he’s a sweet kid, but he hides it very well with his frustration-fuelled tantrums. Fighter’s issues are the most extreme, but the other two need a little extra guidance, too. Our goal with therapy is not to teach them conformity or to make them ‘just like other kids’, but rather to help them figure out what they need to do to function in the world they live in. Our goal is not to limit them with labels and diagnoses, but rather to set them free with the skills and coping mechanisms they need to follow their dreams wherever they may take them—as long as they don’t take them into the path of oncoming traffic: D
We’re making substantial progress, too. We’re working with a team of educators and counselors at Superhero’s school to help him channel his excess energies in appropriate ways. Artist will be seeing a hearing specialist soon to make sure his hearing is ok before we do some intensive speech therapy. And Fighter is responding so well, both at school and at therapy, that it’s almost like he’s a different child. John is back at work—though that is honestly less because he was ready to return and more because our bank account was empty. John, also, has shown a significant amount of improvement over the past couple of months, and we’re very hopeful that a new treatment he’ll be having soon (epidural steroids—they’re going to inject steroids directly into his spinal column) will give him some much-needed pain relief.
It was pointed out to me after my last update that my ‘family updates’ rarely include an update on ME, so I’m giving myself my own paragraph : D As I mentioned, I went back to school this year, and while I’m still quite amazed that I’m studying business management, I’m truly enjoying it. I also, thanks to Tabitha Black and her quiet belief in me, learned to knit (though I haven’t touched my knitting needles in months now  ). And I took the Wilton Basics cake decorating class (again with Tabitha)—I wasn’t exactly a stellar student, but it did get me out of the house for a few hours a week for a month or so :D I don’t sleep enough, and when I get sick, I’m sick for days because I’ve spent so much time burning the candle at both ends that I have nothing left. I am a wife, mother, student, friend, daughter, blogger, therapist, chauffeur, personal secretary to four people, advocate, keeper of the family calendar, the family accountant, and on and on, and I’m still trying to figure out how to balance all of that AND get the sleep I need :P. I am learning who I am, and who I am not. I have discovered that I’m not the person I thought I was, but I’m a lot like the person I always WISHED I was. How’s that for awesome? When I was pregnant with Superhero, my biggest fear was that he would be damaged in some way, and that I would be unable to cope with a child who did not meet my expectations. I remember whispering to John late at night, in the dark (as if such thoughts couldn’t even be allowed to exist in a normal voice or by the light of day) “What if there’s something wrong with it? What if I can’t love it?” Funnily enough, it turns out that ‘it’ was the wrong descriptor—the words I should have used were ‘him’ and more importantly ‘mine’. It also turns out that ‘wrong’ doesn’t mean ‘broken’. Sometimes, all it means is ‘unique’ And it also somehow turns out that somewhere between the parasite who cracks your ribs and the screaming banshee who poops on your brand-new pants, the love appears. I was worried that I wouldn’t have the fortitude to love my child if s/he wasn’t perfect. Turns out, I was wrong on both counts—first, my boys ARE perfect, even with some of the issues I was so afraid of, and second, I’d love them fiercely even if they weren’t. They’re so easy to love that it doesn’t take any effort at all—I’d actually have to work at NOT loving them! What DOES take effort is caring for them and giving them what they need, and I constantly feel like they need more than I give. Luckily, in the midst of one of my worst I’m-such-not-the-mom-he-needs panic attacks, in stepped Tabitha with the advice that has become my mantra:
“You may not be the mom he needs, but you’re the mom he’s got, so suck it up.”
And she was right, as usual :D I’m impatient and demanding, I don’t always consider the effect of what I’m going to say before I say it. I can be flighty, I always take on too much, and I often get overwhelmed. But no one, ever, anywhere will love these boys more than I do. No matter what else I am, I am their MOTHER, and I always will be. So I’ve (almost) stopped wasting time beating myself up about not being the mom they need, and instead put my energies towards BECOMING the mom they need. Most importantly, though, I’ve found that happiness is no longer a goal for the future—it’s here. In the middle of the laundry and the tantrums, the worry and the stress, the bills and the never-ending housework, I’ve found my happiness. Even on bad days, my heart is filled with such joy, such peace, that it is absolutely indescribable.
And so, here we are. 2010 was an amazing year, both in good ways and in not so good ways. But overall we are living, growing, thriving. The road isn’t always smooth, and I’m not sure exactly what the destination is, but we, as a family, are enjoying our journey together. Someday in the not too distant future, I will quietly stand back as my babies take the first tottering steps onto their own roads, without a destination in sight. It is my hope and fervent prayer that I will have taught them by example that it is the journey that matters, and to enjoy each and every step-even the stumbles-along the way. In the meantime, I will enjoy having their hands in mine, tottering along on my own path, exuberant in the knowledge that whatever else we all are, we are a family, we share a joyous love, and we are incredibly, amazingly blessed to have each other.

Facebook updates

Thanks to a Facebook app, I was able to review most of my status updates for the year, and decided to recopy most of the ones pertaining to the boys for this blog. Enjoy :D

March 2010

Superhero: Look at my picture mommy!
Me: Very Nice. What is it?
Superhero: It's a dead talking shoe monster. And these are the ants it ate--this one is a big leaf cutter ant and this one is a small usual ant.
Me: So, he ate the ants? Is that why he died?
Superhero: No, he's a stinky shoe monster. Soap and water killed him. And now he's all dead.

Things I never dreamed I'd hear myself say: "Please stop putting banana in your eye. I promise, it's not going to hurt any less the fourth time."

Superhero: I wish I had a jet pack like this one (points to his giant Buzz Armstrong)
John: I'll see if I can find you one. Maybe a nicer one.
Me: WHAT did you just tell him?
John: What? He broke his Buzz Armstrong and wants a new one, right?
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a perfect example of the dangers of not listening to your children.

April 2010

Woman at store: Are they twins?
Me: Yes (internally: No, I just wanted to be ironic by dressing them in identical blue outfits.)
her: How sweet! A boy and a girl!
Me: Two Boys.
Her: Are you sure?
Me: *flabbergasted murmurings in the affirmative*
Her: That one looks like a girl.

May 2010

Dear Fighter: That new textbook cost more than a four month supply of diapers for you and your brother. Go near it with that crayon again, and you'd better be prepared to use the potty. Love & kisses, Mommy.

Superhero was sobbing a few minutes ago because he couldn't figure out how to fly. When John pointed out that he didn't have a wishing stone, he switched his focus to that, and is now begging his daddy to tell him where and how to get a wishing stone. I love my life.

June 2010

Is really close to instating the 'don't touch your brother, ever, no matter what' rule.

is finding it difficult to study with Fighter on her lap, but it's even harder to put him down.

July 2010

Call from front desk in the middle of the night--are we missing a child? As it turns out, the answer was yes, yes we ARE missing a child. We'll be right down to collect him.

Superhero: Daddy, I'm sucking on my toes but I can't put my foot in my mouth. It's too big.
John: It's ok. Your mouth will grow, and in a few years you'll be putting your foot in your mouth all the time.

Superhero: Can I watch the Zoboomafoo about humans please?
Me: What are humans?
Superhero: You know, humans are like me, and you, and daddy.
Me: What about your brothers?
Superhero: I skipped them because they're not humans. They're brothers.

Me: Superhero should have been asleep hours ago. Why was he crying?
John: He stuck his fingers in Artist's mouth, and Artist bit him.
Me: Wow, that's shocking.
John: Was to Superhero apparently.
me: Why'd he stick his fingers in Artist's mouth in the first place?
John: I don't know, I didn't ask. I just told them both to go to sleep.
I couldn't make this stuff up.

August 2010

broke a nail AND taught Fighter a new word. yes, those two events WERE connected. Welcome back, Monday, welcome back.

Superhero: Mommy, I don't think I like these squishy round things with the yellow stuff on them.
Me: That's cheesy potatoes, and you don't know if you like it because you've never tried it. You know the rule, three bites.
Superhero (1st bite) YUCK! I told you I didn't like it.
Me: Two more bites.
Superhero (2nd bite) Yuck YUCK YUCK! (3rd bite) MmmmMmmmmmMm. You're right mommy. The third bite made the squishy potatoes taste yummy.

Kindergarten orientation this morning. Mommy filled out lots of paperwork while Superhero and most of his class discussed shapes and colors, wrote their names, drew pictures, and apparently had a grand time, since Superhero didn't want to leave when it was time. I'm glad they're easing me in to this, though--I didn't cry yet, but it's coming :D

is taking Fighter for an X-ray to make sure he didn't break his leg. Life is never dull around here.

Dear sons: 1. Saturdays are for sleeping in. 2. Seven thirty is NOT sleeping in. Learn these two rules now, or I promise they will come back to bite you in ten years when you're a teenager. Love & Kisses, Mom

September 2010

I love how excited Artist & Fighter get when they hear the word 'crayons'. Fighter claps his hands and Artist babbles excitedly until I give them the paper and the crayons . Artist then carefully examines his color choices to decide which he wants to use first. Fighter examines his selection to decide which will be most tasty.

Artist: Knock knock
John: Who's there?
Artist: CHEESE!!!
John: Cheese who?
Artist (a little confused): Cheese say knock knock?

6am. That's the time all THREE boys decided to get up this morning. On a SUNDAY!! I'm beginning to think my children have no sense of self preservation.

Superhero: You know what I don't have? Night vision. I think I need a scope and goggles. I think I should talk to Nana about that. She likes buying me cool stuff.

Yesterday, I thought Superhero was exaggerating his 'illness' so that he could stay home from school. This morning, he threw up in my bed. Guess that showed me.

The 'little bug' morphed. We're off to the pediatrician.

No strep or meningitis, some other random virus. Superhero feels horrid, the twins are feeling bad, and John & I both have that look people get when they see the tornado coming.

Superhero(watching TV) Mom, I want that thing on the commercial for my birthday.
Me: That thing? (commercial change)
Superhero: Yeah, and that thing too. Actually, I want all the commercials' things I've seen this morning.
Me: ALL of them?
Superhero: Yes. *COUGH* Mommy, I feel SO sick . . . .
I think my munchkin knows how to manipulate me.

October 2010
Superhero, on the phone with my mother:

Guess what musical instrument I'm playing? *plays it* I'll give you a hint. It's metal, two pieces, and it's shaped kind of like a triangle, but one vertex is disconnected.
A vertex is a corner or point on a triange, rectangle, or square.
He's not even six yet!

Earlier, Artist had a screaming fit because he broke a nail. Literally. Then Fighter climbed up on top of a shelf in their room and threatened to jump if John left the room (it was nap time). So come clean--who snuck an extra Monday into my week?

just said "Superhero, put down those swords and finish your homework right now!" For real.

Me: Artist, do you want pancakes or eggs for breakfast?
Artist: Pizza!
me: Artist, you cannot have pizza for breakfast. You are not a frat boy. Do you wa--
Artist:(in full meltdown mode) Artist frat boy! Artist frat boy! Artist Pizza! Artist Pizza! Pizz-- (changes from meltdown to supersweet) Peeeeeeese pizza Mama?

Superhero: Daddy, next time I want ribs, please cut them into even smaller pieces. My mouth is so tiny and my teeth are so small that I need little food, see? *opens mouth so wide it looks like he's swallowing his own head*

November 2010

An HOUR past bedtime, and Artist just fell into a flat wall and got the worst, bleeding black eye I have ever seen in my life! Life around here is many things, but it is never, EVER dull!

Me: Superhero, what's this piece of paper in your backpack?
Superhero: That's an invitation to R's birthday party.
Me: Who is April? Her name is on this, too.
Superhero: April is a month. R's birthday is in April, so I made her say she would have her party at Billy Bob's and invite me. That's the contract I made her sign.

Artist: Mama, mama, mama, mama, mama, mama
me: Yes Artist?
Artist: doin'?
Me: Slicing this bread I baked.
Artist: K. *2 second pause, repeat series. 5 times*
Me: Artist, Mommy really likes having you in the kitchen, but saying Mama, mama over and over annoys me a little.
Artist: K. *2 second pause* Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy . . .

Superhero: Sky diving is easy.
me: Did you just say "sky diving is easy"?
Superhero: Yes. Really, mom, it's the landing that's hard.

December 2010

John (to Artist): You look cool.
Artist: I am cool

said with the gravity of a legal proclamation:
"Artist, PeePee is serious business."

Superhero: Pretend this backpack I'm wearing is a jetpack. And these bug glasses are training goggles. And that this xylophone hammer is a light saber. And that I have clothes on.

My wonderful Artist just decided to have a tantrum on the stairs. Now he's crying because his head hurts (he banged it on the stairs) and his very sensitive daddy is saying "Yeah, I bet that does hurt. Maybe next time you'll think it through."

Popcorn popped. Cute ChristmasjJammies on (everyone who isn't old enough to drive, anyway). Everyone settled. Lights off. Operation Family Movie Night: How To Train Your Dragon edition can commence! (and yes, I DID get outvoted on movie choice)

Just overheard this bedtime story: There once were three little boys. Their Daddy gave them a bath and put their pajamas on them, read them a story and sang them a song, and told them it was time to go to sleep. But the boys didn't go to sleep; they kept playing and playing even though Daddy told them several times to go to sleep. Then a monster ate them. Good Night!

Artist: Knock knock.
Me: Who's there?
Artist: Poopy
Me: Poopy who?
Artist: Poopy STINKY!! *pause* That funny, mommy. That funny. You laugh now.

Me: Did you guys just put a spaceship on my Christmas tree?
John: It's a Star Wars X-Wing Fighter.
Me: Awesome. 'cause nothing says Christmas like a Star Wars X-wing glider made of multi-colored, metallic pipe cleaners.
Superhero: It's also a puppy.
John: Oh, yeah, it's also a puppy.

Superhero: Mom, I want epic monkey.
Me: What is that?
Superhero: It's a video game about a monkey with a gun.
Me: The video game is epic MICKEY, it's a mouse with a paint brush.
Superhero: Can I have my game instead? Yours sounds boring.

Me: Superhero, I thought I told you to let your brother nap?
Superhero: I did. He woke up all by himself
Me: It doesn't count as waking up by himself if you're hitting him over the head with a light saber.
Superhero: Oh, well how was I supposed to know that. Nobody told me!

Me: Superhero?
Superhero: Yes mommy?
Me: It's time to get up for school
Superhero: mommy, why do I have to get up in the middle of the night? Can't school wait 'til morning?

Superhero: Hey, on Wednesday, I won't have school tomorrow!
This is technically true, as he doesn't have school on Thursday, but it took me a while to puzzle that one out. He's like a little mini sphinx. Only human (sort of).

The irony of living in my house it that you find yourself saying things like 'Stop reading that book and colour RIGHT NOW!"

Slept thought my alarm and woke up to Superhero saying 'Mommy, I think I heard my bus go by." Then realized I couldn't just dress him and put him in the car, because no one would be here with the twins. Then I realized the van was nearly out of gas ($3.09 a gallon!!))). I miss my husband :(


I always get reflective around this time of year. After all, my boys are fall babies--the twins were three on September 1st, and Superhero will be 6 on October 28. In addition, the new school year starts, so in our household, there are two 'beginnings' to each year--one on January first, one in late August.

The day we found out we were having twins, I cried in despair. We had only found out a few weeks before that I was pregnant, and even then only because I had an ear infection. I hoped that the constant nausea and vertigo were left over from the ear infection, but when the ultrasound confirmed twins, I knew it was only going to get worse, and I had no idea how I was going to survive it :D. But survive it I did, along with the exhaustion, the extremely low blood pressure (so low during the first trimester and the beginning of the second that I literally fainted lying down. On more than one occasion), and the constant nagging from my husband to eat something. And then came the second part of the pregnancy--the exhaustion, constant contractions, the HUGE belly (I wore the same maternity outfit to my 5-month checkup with the twins that I wore to the hospital when Superhero was born--and he was almost three weeks late!), the slowly rising blood pressure--I survived that, too. And then I survived three months of visits to hospice to visit with my grandmother with two newborns and a three year old in tow. I survived the next six months, when the twins were diagnosed with severe acid reflux and were two steps from failure to thrive. And at some point, I stopped surviving and starting enjoying. I don't know if it was because they were my second birth, or because I had Superhero to share it with, or if it was because Superhero's birth was so traumatic, or if I was just a little older and wiser, but I enjoyed their babyhood so much more than I did Superhero's. Every milestone was a cause for celebration, and every day I smiled, laughed, or cried over some amazing thing they had done. And yet I worried, particularly, for some reason, about Artist. The boys had twin to twin transfusion--a mild case, just enough that Fighter needed some fluids as soon as he was born and oxygen for the first ten or twelve hours. Artist had been the recipient twin, Fighter the donor twin, but I purposely did NO research those first few months, preferring to just follow our pediatrician's suggestions and enjoy my healthy boys. But there was something otherworldly about Artist, and it terrified me. John and I talked about it a few times, and we both felt it--this unnamed fear in relation to Artist. Then one day his lips turned blue, for no apparent reason. We were terrified, and yet somehow just had this 'this is it' feeling. We were sure that this was the reason we had that odd feeling in relation to him.

In the two and a half years since, Artist has seen a virtual platoon of specialists. We have ruled out everything 'life limiting'. At this point, all we know is that it is something circulatory, it's aggravated by cold, and Fighter has similar attacks (though less frequently and less severe). Most importantly though, Artist has lost that 'disconnected' affect, and is a normal (if trying) three year old. He's slightly speech delayed, has physical abilities and strength to rival Superhero's, and is the most dramatic little demon I have EVER met. While I am concerned about his speech delay, I am no longer sitting up all night worrying about him.

That worry has been transferred to Fighter. My Fighter is an amazing little boy. His laughter is almost maniacal--when he laughs, it's because he is enjoying something so totally, so completely, that there is room for nothing else but sheer joy. He loves to sing, and will frequently copy the rhythm and cadence of a song he has heard perfectly. But he rarely talks to me. He will sometimes play with each of his brothers, but for the most part, if all three are in the same room Superhero and Artist are playing together and Fighter is off by himself. He is an amazingly loving little boy who will spend half an hour at a time just giving kisses. But he clearly does not experience the world the same way his brothers do. He rarely responds when spoken to, occasionally refuses to meet the eyes of whomever is speaking, and gets overwhelmed very easily in noisy or chaotic situations. And every single thing he touches MUST go in his mouth. He is now the source of most of my worry.

And yet they both--all three--are the source of an amazing amount of joy. Even on the worst days--the days when Superhero has talked back and been defiant all day, when Artist has thrown a dozen tantrums, when Fighter has climbed, chewed, or written on every single object he has come in contact with--even on those days, I feel so joyous, so blessed to be their mom. Artist's smiles light up a room, Fighter's kisses are gifts from above, and Superhero's reasoning skills are the most amazing I've ever seen. It's difficult for me to remember my life before them, and impossible to imagine a future without them. My life is so much fuller, so much more joyful, with them in it. The sky is prettier when Artist points it out, flowers smell better when Superhero shoves them under my nose, and the wind is more amazing when I see Fighter close his eyes, toss his head back, and smile in enjoyment. It's an amazing life I live, and I am the luckiest mom in the world.

What's on the menu?

I just gave the boys lunch. It wasn't something I serve them often, and the twins have probably had this particular dish less than a dozen times in their entire lives, so I wasn't surprised when Artist looked at his food, then looked at me questioningly and waited to be told what it was. After I told him, he immediately starting fussing and crying and saying "NO NO NO!" Artist's more than a little dramatic, so I calmly said, "What's wrong honey?" His reply?

"Woof Woof NOT yummy. Woof Woof NOT Yummy. NO NO NO!" Then he started blowing on his lunch to cool it down.

Next time, I'm serving frankfurters and buns instead of Hot Dogs.

Niagara Falls

We took the boys to see Niagara Falls. Artist didn't seem to care one way or the other. Superhero was ecstatic, as he had been looking forward to this for a few weeks now, since Daddy showed him pictures online. But Fighter--my Fighter was in heaven. He stared at the falls, with a patented Fighter smile that is a private expression of joy, and is somehow both closed off in such a way that you feel like you're somehow invading his privacy by looking at him and simultaneously so joyful that he almost seems to glow with it, and you have difficulty looking away. He tilted his face to the sky, closed his eyes, and held out his hands to feel the spray. After fifteen minutes or so of just enjoying the sight and the feel of the falls, Fighter seemed to come back from wherever his area of inner peace lives long enough to hold out his wet hand to me and say 'water'. He then leaned forward, put his wet hand against my cheek, and smiled as he gave me a kiss, like he was thanking me for sharing this new, wonderful thing with him. Recently, Fighter frightens me more than my other children, with his firm refusal to talk much, his random and sudden weight loss, and a myriad of other tiny things. But there are also moments when I am convinced he feels things more deeply than the other two, and I struggle to remind myself daily of his sensitivity without labeling him as a 'sensitive' child.

This parenting thing? Not for the weak of heart.

The truth, or the whole truth?

Last week, while visiting John's grandmother, she took Superhero to visit the grave of one of her pets that had died since our last visit (for the record, I wasn't consulted first, and I'm not sure what my reaction would have been if I *Had* been asked. Sometimes, I'm glad the decision is taken out of my hands--reduces my second guessing and anguish immensely). This week, one of my aunts died. So Superhero has been asking us lots of tough questions about death and dying. Once again, some of our basic parenting philosophies were called into question, specifically our beliefs that you should be as honest with your children as possible, and what I call the Jim Lile rule--never answer more question than the child has asked. The second part is generally the easiest--just remind yourself to answer exactly what you've been asked, get a clarification of the question before answering if you're not sure how much the child wants to know, and give the child lots of open air after your short explanation, because if they want more details, they'll ask for them. Surprisingly, I'm finding the first half more difficult. I never dreamed I would WANT to lie to my children, but I find that my instinct is to protect them at all costs, even from the harsh realities of the world. I was in a funk for weeks after having to explain to Superhero a few years ago that there were people in the world who would hurt him--for the first three years of his life, it honestly never occurred to him that every single person in the world wouldn't want to love and care for him, and as his mother, it was horrifying to me that *I* was the one who took that belief in the inherent goodness of the world and the people in it away from him. I had a similar dilemma when talking about death this week. Especially when he said 'I'm glad I'm never going to die,' and after a gently delivered statement that all living things die, and therefore he was going to die at some point, it was agonizing to hear 'but mommy, I don't want to die!!'. I'm ashamed to admit that I chickened out a little--rather than delivering the 'None of use knows how much time we have, so we should make sure every day that we have lived a life we can be proud of, rather than waiting until some point in the future to do all those things we want to do' which is a basic tenant of my own life, I simply explained to him how old and sick the people he knew who had died were, and reassured him with a child's belief in the infinite nature of time. In his reality, the 57 years my aunt lived and the nearly-90 years John's grandfather lived before dying is such an incredibly long length of time that he didn't have to be concerned with dying, as a nearly-six year old would take two days past forever to be 90. I didn't LIE to him, exactly, I just left out the possibility of illness or accident or one of the other things that keep me up at night with the knowledge that they exist, they could hurt or kill my children, and there's really very little I can do to protect them. The truth, but not the WHOLE truth. So, I followed both tenants--I told him the truth, without answering a single bit more of the questions than he had asked. And yet I worry. I have built an insulated world for my children, a world where the news is read on laptops so that they won't overhear more than I want them to, a world where they are safe and protected. A world where death is an 'other' event, effecting their lives only marginally. A world where I tell them the truth, always--but rarely the whole truth. I tell myself that I am giving age-appropriate answers, but in reality, I'm not just protecting them, I'm protecting myself. The truth is important, but it's also harsh and often painful. While life is about fear and pain, and the measure of a person is how they deal with all the harsh realities of the world, I still hate to see my children hurting or frightened. And so I tell them the truth, and I leave the whole truth to be discovered at some point in the child-time-version of the future. I guess only time will tell if the truth is the best course of action, even though it leaves out a world of knowledge, or if the whole truth would have been a better choice.

Sleep is overrated

Artist has decided he's a frat boy in training. Even if I get him to sleep at a reasonable hour, he gets back up sometime between midnight and one, and stays up until four or five. Even worse, he wants to be downstairs, and if we try to keep him in his room or ours, he throws a tantrum that wakes his brothers, so we have THREE cranky boys up in the middle of the night. He does this no matter how much or little sleep we allow him to have during the day, whether he gets up early or sleeps in late, whether we've had an action packed day or a laid back day. I am exhausted, John's having trouble sleeping even without the demon-like screeching in the middle of the night, and the wear is even starting to show on the other two boys, though you'd never know it with Fighter's continued desire to greet the sun with a smile as soon as possible after it appears. I know that conventional wisdom says a child begins to have difficulties sleeping just as they're about to have a major advancement (in Artist's case, I'm hoping for a language explosion) but I honestly don't know how much more of this our family can bear!

Hold the slime, please

John: What would you like for dinner little man?
Superhero: ooooh, spaghettios!! (not ten minutes after I read aloud a spaghettios recall notice)
John: Dinner is real food. How about steak?
Superhero: Can I have that slimy steak that I like?
John: What?
Superhero: You know, that slimy steak, with the slime all over it? The kind I like?
Me: You mean 'salisbury steak', Superhero?
Superhero: Yeah, salzberry, you know, with the brown slime all over it. I want that kind.

A Jedi you are not

It's been a fun--but crazy--weekend. We visited with our nieces and nephew--it was our nephew's 6th birthday, one of our nieces was two a few weeks ago, and the other is brand new, not yet two weeks old. The boys had a blast at the party and visiting, and I of course tried to get over my 'baby-itis' by monopolizing the newborn as much as possible. But after the party and the traveling (which included a side trip to visit great grandma on the way home) we decided today should be spent doing absolutely nothing. So we lazed about the house all day. I've done a couple of quizzes and some discussions, as well as some reading for school (yes, that IS a day off for me--I'm trying to get far enough ahead that I don't have to worry while we're on vacation), but otherwise, nothing. So now we're settling down for the evening. Superhero has asked his daddy several times if he can have video game time, and daddy keeps saying he can, and keeps playing his own video game (some medieval role playing thing that is too complex for Superhero). This went on for about an hour, until Superhero finally sighed in that world-weary way that only a five year old can get away with, looked up at his daddy and said "Daddy, you're SO not a Jedi." In Superhero's world of late, there is no greater insult!

Oh, Canada!

Those of you who know our boys well (or even just chat with me sometimes and end up listening to me worry) know that our twins are speech delayed. The jury is still out on whether or not it's at a level that is worrisome, and we are certain it is within the range of 'usual' for twins, but it's become a fact of life around here that Superhero talks enough for all three boys, Artist chatters sometimes and uses sign language most of the time, and Fighter sings a lot but rarely utters a real word. Today, we had to run some errands to get ready for our trip to Canada in a few weeks. Superhero has been asking us almost daily for MONTHS now if it was time to go to Canada yet, and we've talked about it quite a bit due to the need for passports and other arrangements necessary for transporting two two year olds, a five year old, and all their assorted necessities 1400 miles each way to an unairconditioned cabin with a HUGE body of water nearby, but of course we assumed the twins were oblivious.
Today, we took them to buy their fishing poles (I insisted they have those crappy cartoon character things with the plastic plug so they can cast and reel in without risk of catching a real fish) and Artist surprised me by saying 'sponge bob fish!' when choosing his reel (no, he doesn't watch that show, but he does watch Superhero play the sponge bob game on his V-smile and the XBox). But the true gem came when John and I were chatting about all those last-minute things that come up before a trip of this size, when suddenly from the back seat, so clearly I thought it was Superhero at first, Fighter yelled "CANADA!". Instantly, the stress of planning, the work of packing and organizing, the nightmare of a drive that is ahead of us are all worth it. My Fighter has some powerful magic--with a single word, he can completely change his mother's perspective.

My IQ is called into question.

Last night, after fighting with statistics until my brain was mush, I stumbled upstairs to what should have been three sleeping boys. Superhero was asleep. Artist and Fighter had both climbed into their crib (they haven't slept in it in weeks--usually one sleeps on a small cot while the other shares Superhero's bed. They take turns on some schedule I can't crack, but it seems to be a pretty even split). They were lying on opposite ends of the crib with their feet occasionally touching, both curved around so that they could see each other, chattering away in their private language. Both were completely naked, their pajamas in a pile on the floor right beside their diapers. I came into the room and asked them what was going on (no matter what you may imagine, I wasn't the least bit upset. First, I'm used to their nudist lifestyle. Second, as much as I wish otherwise, since it's probably not good for them to be so indulged, I have a LOT of difficulty being angry with them when they are clearly happily and contentedly enjoying being twins.) Fighter, of course, immediately smiled happily at me, mumbled 'Ov oooo mama' around his thumb, then pulled his blanket up by his face and waited to see what I would do. Artist, on the other hand, stood up with a challenging squeal and waited for the question he seemed to know was coming. "Why are the two of you naked?" Artist then excitedly explained to me, using words, syllables, gestures, sign language, and I believe a little bit of song, that he had pooped in his diaper, so he took it off, and since he took off his clothes, Fighter wanted to be 'no diapie' too, and then they were playing and got sleepy. I stood there, staring on my mostly nonverbal child, utterly shocked at how much detail he had managed to communicate to me. Artist, apparently, understood my silence to be confusion, so he then repeated his story, more slowly, more loudly, and with more emphatic gestures than the first time--you know, exactly as you would see a person trying to explain something to another who did not speak the same language. Or, of course, someone of lesser intelligence than yourself. I may be the mommy, but I think most days *I* learn the most.

My Blessed Life

I had an epiphany standing in my kitchen today. I had just finished a marketing quiz and put the twins down for a nap (they, of course, were not sleeping). Superhero had decided to pick at his lunch after not eating any breakfast--he informed me he doesn't like food today (I suspect this is due to the fact that he has eaten like a baby elephant for the past week--even growth spurts need a break). I was cleaning up the twins' lunch mess, doing some laundry, loading the dishwasher, and thinking how much I wish my mommy-job had BREAKS. Then I stopped and thought, "What would I be willing to trade for breaks?" Tantrums and messes, of course, but no negotiator would go for THAT deal. So only the good stuff. Hugs, kisses, smiles? A sticky hand reaching up for me with delight written on an upturned, grubby face? A new word, the excitement in the eyes of one of my sons as he discovered something new? The sound of laughter on one of those unique times when they play peacefully together rather than play the 'that's MY toy' game? No, thank you. I don't sleep much, personal style is a thing of the past, and the work never ends. But I wouldn't trade one "uv ooo mama" for a week at the best spa, a vacation in the most beautiful location, the most expensive jewelry. So, the next time you see me exhausted, mismatched, and stressed to the max, just remember that it's a temporary condition, and under the tangled hair and broken fingernails is the happiest, most blessed mommy in the world.

Ninja Toddlers ... or Toddler Ninjas?

Superhero: Where are *Artist* & *Fighter*?

Me: Umm, sleeping.

Superhero: No, they've been gone for an hour.

That's preschooler time-I had just checked on them 10 minutes before, and I THOUGHT they were finally going to sleep. They had to walk right by my open door to get to the stairs-they did so silently. I found them in the bathroom downstairs. Two of daddy's credit cards were in the toilet, some cash and a handful of receipts in the tub, his mostly-empty wallet had been discarded on the floor. Both the twins were in the tub, too, water running, pajamas soaked. I guess my little ninjas like bathtime.
I haven't posted in WAY too long. To be honest, I forgot this blog existed! The boys are doing well--growing, laughing, making us crazy, and generally making life worth living. We just had spring break, and it's back to school for Daddy and Superhero tomorrow. We're all sad to see it end--it was a great week. We spent Easter with my parents, Nana & Papaw came for an overnight visit on Thursday (and Nana gave all three boys haircuts!), and Grandma and Papaw Ellison came to visit Saturday. Oh, and we went shopping with Great-grandma Barton the day before Easter. As usual, though, none of the visits were long enough, and we're all sad that we didn't get to visit with the cousins. And now it's off to bed with the HOPE that we'll all get up on time in the morning!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Just put the boys in their room for morning playtime. Artist kept pointing out the window at the snow, then pointing to the TV, and jabbering with a syllable in there somewhere that sounded like 'ow man'. So I asked 'Do you want to watch Frosty the Snowman?' First he cheered and clapped for me because I figured it out, then he proceeded to hum a toddler version of the Frosty song while DOING A PERFECT IMITATION OF THE FROSTY DANCE--the part he does during the 'down through the village' portion of the song. He even held an imaginary broom while he did it! There are days I wish I had 24 hour nanny cam on the boys, just to catch moments like that.

December 19, 2009

Family movie night--Patrick Stewart's 'A Christmas Carol'. Five minutes in, Fighter had bit and pulled Artist's hair at least a dozen times and we separated them. Twenty minutes in, Superhero and Fighter were both sleeping, with Artist curled up on Daddy's lap trying to watch the movie. Fifteen minutes later, Artist fell asleep, too, so John & I watched the rest of the movie with the boys sleeping around us. It was very peaceful.

December 18, 2009

Today was Superhero's preschool Christmas party. I had originally intended not to go, because I didn't want to expose the twins to a preschool class full of germs (they're not 100% healthy yet). I just couldn't leave, though, especially knowing the class was doing a performance. It was a nightmare--Fighter, especially, was incredibly poorly behaved, and at one point I just put the twins (in their stroller) in a room across the hall from the classroom and closed the door so that I and the other parents could hear the preschool performance. I was glad I had stayed, though, when it came time for Superhero to see Santa. He had talked about nothing else all week, but once the time came for him to sit on Santa's lap, he was horribly nervous. There were a handful of other children uninterested in sitting on Santa's lap, so I didn't really think anything of it. I kept trying to talk to Superhero about what was going on, until finally, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said "Mommy, I'm just afraid Santa knows how naughty I've been." I was heartbroken--Superhero's behavior has been rather ... exceptional lately, but John and I have ALWAYS been very careful to separate his BEHAVIOR from HIM--in other words, we never tell him he's been 'bad', but rather focus on inappropriate behavior that needs to change. Worse, another little boy overheard and spoke up, saying something to the effect that Superhero should be worried, because he was always bad. I tried to tell Superhero then and there (along with the other little boy, whose mother seemed a bit annoyed that I dared to call him down for his rudeness) that he was a good child, with a good heart, and while he sometimes behaved inappropriately, that was ok, because he was still learning how to be the person he wanted to be. However, I think Santa had more impact--he talked to Superhero quietly for about five minutes (after a minute or two, even managing to get Superhero onto his lap). I didn't hear the entire conversation, but I heard enough to know that Santa told Superhero he understood how hard it was to be five, and how hard it was to be a big brother, with your little brothers always looking up to you and expecting you to do the right thing, and that no one could do the right thing all the time, but it was important that we try our best in all things. I am so sad that Superhero seems to have inherited my own overactive sense of guilt, and ticked off that the biggest thing he seems to have learned from preschool is how 'bad' he is. He has the body of an eight year old, the brain of a ten year old, and the emotions of a barely five year old--it cannot be a fun combination :(

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I tried to get the boys to tell Daddy happy birthday today. None of them would. The twins just ignored me, while Superhero explained to me that we needed a decorations, presents, and a cake first. Superhero eventually told his Daddy happy birthday (while I was out of the room--he's quite possibly more stubborn than I am), and later he wrote daddy a happy birthday note--it was even mostly legible.

Artist discovered a bag with a couple of wrapped presents in my mom's closet. He walked around for five minutes with it slung over his shoulder, saying 'O, O, O. O, O, O'.

Fighter has a new method for getting his snuggles--he just walks around making kissing sounds until someone comments on it, then runs to them with arms spread wide so he can give the kisses to them.


It's been a horrible six weeks or so. At the beginning of November, all three boys were sick. It wasn't severe, so we didn't go to the pediatrician, though we did call them several times. By mid-November they were better, then John got horribly sick around Thanksgiving--a viral upper respiratory infection that he's still not completely over. Then Superhero & Artist started coughing and running a fever, so we called the pediatrician. After we walked through the doors, Fighter started coughing a bit, too, and running a low grade fever. He had the mildest symptoms, but was the sickest of the three--While Artist & Superhero seemed to be coming down with a cold, Fighter had an ear infection and had lost over four pounds in a month (he had also grown an inch in that time frame). So, Artist got steroids to strengthen his lungs, all three were given Mucinex DM for their cough, and Fighter got antibiotics for his infection, an iron supplement, and Pediasure to help get his weight up. Fighter and Superhero seemed to recover well from that, but Artist kept getting more and more congested. Last Monday, I woke up with a raging fever and a sore throat--I had sinusitis AND strep throat. The next morning, John had to take off from work to take Artist to the pediatrician again--his lungs were MOSTLY clear, so she suggested we switch to a decongestant (instead of Mucinex) and use a nebulizer. He used the nebulizer that afternoon and evening. Tuesday at midnight, he was having trouble breathing, so I gave him a nebulizer treatment. John gave him another at 4:30. at 6:30, I woke up to his extremely labored breathing, so after it took me ten minutes to wake him, I gave him another nebulizer treatment while John called the pediatrician. He was in respiratory distress, and got another breathing treatment as soon as the medical staff arrived at the office, went to the hospital for blood tests and x-rays, then got another breathing treatment at ten, along with a steroid shot. Wednesday night, Superhero spiked a fever, and both he and Fighter started coughing. Thursday morning, Superhero added a sore throat to his list of complaints. So the wonderful pediatrician saw Artist to check on his breathing, then prescribed some Orapred and antibiotics for the other two, as well. I'm pretty sure we've paid for a pharmacist's kids' next college semester, but everyone is finally on the mend. Fingers crossed.
We set up a small TV in the boys' room last night, to help keep the sick kidlets entertained today. They are currently watching Lion King II: Simba's Pride, which Superhero, at least, has watched dozens of times before. I heard some sniffling, so I went in to see who had added a runny nose to their list of symptoms, only to see Superhero with tears in his eyes! He looked up at me with all the sincerity a five year old can have and said, "Mommy, it's so sad! Nala loves Kovu so much, but she can't find him anywhere!" Like I said, he's seen this movie dozens of times, so I KNOW it's the illness/fever talking. So how horrible is it that I now have tears in MY eyes because I can't stop laughing at him? Seeing a five year old boy watching a Disney movie looking like the stereotype of a middle aged woman watching a chick flick is just triggering my sick sense of humor today . . . .
I was reading Cinderella to Superhero, when I had to go downstairs and check the laundry. While I was gone, John finished the story, so when I came back, I asked Superhero to tell me about it.

Superhero: No, I don't want to tell you about it.
Me: But then I won't know how the story ends.
Superhero: Well, I guess you'll just have to wait for the movie.

Friday, November 6, 2009. 7:30 AM

Me: Good Morning, *Superhero*.
Superhero: Good Morning, Mommy. I had a mysterious dream last night.
Me: A Mysterious dream, huh? Maybe you could tell me about it after breakfast.
Superhero: Nah, I'm really not feeling breakfast this morning.
Me: Well, you need breakfast so you have energy for school.
Superhero: Now that I think about it, I'm not feeling school, either. I think I'm feeling stay-home-and-play-xbox today.

Superhero had a great day at school today :D He enjoyed being class helper, and there were NO behavior problems, WOOHOO!!
Artist has taken to climbing into bed with Superhero at night. Superhero seems to like this, much to my surprise--and pleasure. I've been putting off changing the crib into a toddler bed because even though Artist is climbing out of it, Fighter seems to not only still like his crib, but NEED the security of it. Artist sleeping with Superhero may be the perfect solution.
Trick or Treat, October 29

Superhero: Not interested AT ALL!! As in, after our first house, he asked to just go to the park and play. He was afraid of everything all night, including decorations he loved last year and adults in costumes. He did, however, complain that the man dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow did not have a hook--according to Superhero, all pirates should have a hook. His favorite treat all night was an apple. Costume: Spiderman, sans mask.

Artist: LOVED it, but got ticked off that we wouldn't let him eat the candy right away. He marched up to each house, said 'Tick Teet', watched the person put the candy in his bucket, smiled like he won the lottery and said 'ank oo', then turned, took two steps, sat down and tried to get the candy out and eat it. At every single house (is it any wonder we hit less than two dozen houses?). By the end of the night, I finally gave up and let him and Fighter split a tiny, tiny, bite sized piece of chocolate. He was pacified. Costume: Superman.

Fighter: Enjoyed being outside and walking or riding in the stroller (his legs got tired pretty quickly). Didn't care about the candy, wouldn't attempt 'trick or treat' or 'thank you' under any circumstances, and twice tried to give the candy back. His favorite house had a tent set up by the sidewalk with a tween or young teen dressed in a ski mask with a giant plastic knife inside, jumping out at passers-by. This TERRIFIED Superhero. Fighter, on the other hand, insisted on getting out of the stroller to check it out. The kid jumped out at him and yelled, then was immediately horrified that he had just 'scared' a toddler. Until, that is, Fighter laughed hysterically, jerked away from me, attacked the kid inside the tent and tried to take his knife. My favorite moment of the night came a few houses later, when Fighter looked up at a dog with a Halloween kerchief, reached for him, and very plainly said 'Doggy'. Fighter doesn't even attempt to talk often, so hearing him say a real word is always a pleasure. Fighter managed to get the microscopic piece of chocolate I gave him ALL over his costume. As in, I ended up soaking the blasted thing with Shout before washing it. I'm still not sure how he managed to make such a mess with such a tiny, tiny piece of chocolate, but he is a talented mess maker. Costume: Batman.

Riddle me this

Superhero has been struggling with riddles and knock knock jokes for a while, but it seems his gift for his fifth birthday was finally figuring them out. Wednesday evening, October 28--

Superhero: Knock Knock
Christal: Who's there?
Superhero: Alvin
Christal: Alvin who?
Superhero: Alvin workin' on the railroad, all the live long day!

The Barton Boys

It occurred to me this morning that a blog would be the perfect spot to post those 'quick tidbits' that are interesting, but not interesting enough for an entire email or even a phone call. So, here it is--unimportant and yet utterly important anecdotes, facts, and other stuff about our beautiful sons. Enjoy.