Thursday, March 29, 2012

Funny Little Things

The girls do and say funny things all the time. If my Mommy brain wasn't cluttered already with mental Post-It notes, I'd blog about them every day. Unfortunately, I can't always remember them all. Today, I'm making an attempt to record a few of these moments, so when the twins are both melting down at glass-shattering volumes, I can look back and smile.

Moment #1: People ask me all the time if Avery and Alexa have their own secret twin language that only they understand. The quick answer is not really. When they were little, they would pull up on their cribs and babble back and forth at each other.

It wasn't structured like a true conversation. Avery: "Babble, babble, babble." (Pause) Lexie: "Babble, babble, babbble." They both babbled at the same time. It was very cute... and also a sign of what is likely to come when they start wanting to talk to boys on the phone. Argh.

But, now, Lexie has developed her own unique word that she uses at mealtime. As best I can tell, it's pronounced "DAY-der." I have no idea what "day-der" means or if I'm even pronouncing it correctly. Whenever I ask Lexie what she's talking about, all she does is say it louder and giggle. "DAY-DER!"

When I consulted with Avery to see if she knew what "day-der" meant, she responded by asking her sister, "What 'day-der' mean, Wex?" The answer? Boiterous laughter from both girls.
I sense "day-der" might be a term created to tease and drive Mommy crazy. One of these days, I'll find out its true definition. It will probably be something ridiculous and totally unrelated to eating like "tool box" or "lithium battery."

Moment #2: The twins love providing commentary about the scenery they see on our car rides home from daycare, church, the store or any other place outside of our neighborhood. Their most recent obsession is discussing in great detail the series of water towers that we pass on our route home.

As soon as we get on I-40, Avery will exclaim, "Mommy, we're almost to blue water tower!" The blue water tower is located alongside U.S. 264 at the Hodge Road exit. That's a good 10 minutes from the Gorman Road on ramp to I-40. That's 10 minutes that the anticipation builds in my backseat to see the giant white and blue cylinder that juts high above the treeline.

To Avery and Lexie, the blue water tower is the most exciting inanimate object ever built. As soon as we curve around the bypass and it comes into view, Avery shouts, "Wexie, wook! Blue water tower!" Lexie usually responds with, "It say 'Knightdale!'"

Yes, in fact, it does say "Knightdale," the name of our town.

After we pass it, the girls lament that it is "back there" and then turn their focus to the second water tower on the ride home, the huge white one at the entrance to our neighborhood.

"It say Wokbridge," states Avery. Rockbridge is the name of our 'hood. "Not home yet," says Lexie.

We've trained them that when they see the white water tower, they're almost home. That way, if they ever get lost in the woods and don't have MacGyver to lead them home with duct tape and twigs, they can at least look up and get their bearings. It's much better than what I told myself as a kid: "Follow the creek. It will lead you home." Yeah, right.

Once we pull into the garage, the twins demand to go on the deck, so they can point to the water tower some more. Perhaps, this means they have a future in water studies? Or, maybe bad architecture? Not sure yet.

Moment #3: It's crass, I know. But, it's still funny to our juvenile senses of humor. Whenever Avery or Lexie passes gas, they scream, "(Name) TOOT!" Then, they explode into laughter.

Sometimes, their farts really are manly, which makes the exclamations all the more hilarious. I will take it as a sign that they're eating a sufficient amount of vegetables and hope they don't do it in during the quiet pauses at church.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Food Fight!

This blog post is supposed to be about eating. Somehow, though, I think it's going to end up being about tantrums. Just a warning.

For weeks, I've wanted to write about how well the twins eat. When I say they will consume anything, that is not a lie. For instance, Lexie ate cat food Sunday. (Disclaimer: I didn't serve it to her on one of her colorful Ikea plates, I swear. She grabbed it out of Stella's food bowl in the kitchen and started crunching it until Avery told on her. At that point, I made her spit it out and launched into a thorough explanation of how cat food really is just for cats. At least, it wasn't cat poop.)

The girls eat all the things you'd expect little kids to devour: chicken nuggets, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, fish sticks and mashed potatoes. But, they also love more diverse stuff like avocado, black olives, cauliflower, peas, lima beans, cherry tomatoes, black beans, blueberries, kiwi, plums, wild rice, casseroles and that polenta-based dinner in a bag from Trader Joe's.

I'm fairly certain I didn't eat "ah-cado" as they call it until I was in my mid-20s. Yes, I realize I lived a sheltered life before then. But, seriously, are you surprised? This is coming from a girl who would only eat three rotating packed lunches - peanut butter crackers, cheese crackers or soup in a Thermos - until she was in middle school.

That said, I'm glad the girls don't have particular palates. Getting them to dine on the recommended five fruits and five veggies a day is no major task. I've often thought that if Geof and I would eat more like Avery and Lexie we'd be a lot healthier. Unfortunately, Geof likes hamburgers and french fries too much to strictly follow their diet.

The family dining experience has been going great. When we'd sit down at the dinner table, they'd say, "We all eat together!" or "Thank you, Mommy, for making biscuits" without any prodding. The girls would clean their plates, and as a reward, they could have one pink and one white iced animal cookie. You know, the ones from the dollar bin at Target. I thought we had a good mealtime routine down.

Until last week.

I'm not sure if it's Avery's recent infection or the fact that we've likely done something to upset the toddler version of Karma, but something has caused the twins, especially Avery, to become defiant little monkeys. The times when they are most likely to put up a fight are at mealtime and bedtime. You'll know, because you'll hear "NOOOOOOOO!" echoing in stereo from our house.

Avery who was once a role model for 2-year-old eaters everywhere will now kick, scream and contort her body in any way possible to avoid sitting in her chair. Even when I've made exactly what she's requested to eat. Her protests aren't just vocal. The other day, she snatched up two fistfulls of noodles and tossed them on the kitchen floor. My reaction probably looked a lot like a volcanic eruption.

This is another reason why I believe Avery will spend the majority of her younger years in Time Out.

Lexie has not shown resistance to quite that degree, but she usually does exactly what big sis does. So, I'm sure it's coming soon. Last night, she refused to eat her gnocchi, but at least, she didn't throw it at me.

Clearly, doctors and child development experts call this stage the Terrible 2s for a reason. But, when you have the Terrible 2s times two, it's more stressful and requires more restraint to keep yourself from booking a one-way ticket to a tropical island.

I know the girls are testing their limits and exerting their individuality. Okay, great. But, if they could just do it at a lower decibel level and not include physical actions that require me to mop the floor, it would be much appreciated.

Until this stage passes, I guess I'll just pray for patience and know that any avocados they don't eat just means more for Mommy and Daddy!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dear Dara: An advice column

Before we had Avery and Lexie, my childrearing skills were pretty much non-existent. I had only babysat a few times, and those kids were old enough to put on their own pajamas and brush their own teeth. I had zero real-life knowledge of what to do with an infant. In fact, I had never even changed a diaper! This just spells Mom of the Year in the making, doesn't it?

Two years later, I still don't claim to know it all, but I have learned a lot from the good things I've tried and the mistakes I've made along the journey.

Last night is a good example. I dropped a bunch of the girls' chewable vitamins on the floor and said "Crap!" I didn't even realize I'd uttered the word until I asked Lexie if she wanted the purple hippo vitamin or the orange lion vitamin. She responded, "No. I want cwap." Not making the connection, I said, "What?" Lexie repeated, "I want cwap one." Inside my head, I said, "Oh, @#$%..." and made up a big lie to cover my tracks. "It's not 'crap'," I said. "It's clap. There's a kind of lion called a clapper. Do you want a clapper?" Giggles. "Yes, Mommy! Cwapper!"

Yes, I do realize this fib will haunt me for days if not longer. But, that's better than having a two-year-old requesting a crap-flavored vitamin, isn't it? I firmly believe in this case the ends justified the means. Or, it was the best my panicked mommy brain could come up with at the time.

I'm going to share random insights like these with a fellow mommy from our childbirth class at Rex Hospital. She emailed recently to announce that she's expecting boy-boy twins and wanted my advice. Knowing that she already has a 2-year-old boy, my first thought was (no surprise) "holy crap!"

We're having lunch on Friday, and I've been pondering what exactly to tell her to prepare her for the whirlwind that is twins. Here's what I've come up with so far:

1.  There's a reason our family motto is "Twice the fun, twice the crazy!" There will no longer be such a thing as a normal day at your house once you have twins, so don't expect it. Wake up each morning with the mindset that you are up for anything, and you'll never get frustrated. Or threaten to sell your kids on eBay.

2. Always allow yourself an extra hour to get to any appointment. Remember, you're having twins, so you have to do everything twice. It sounds easy. Until you actually do it. At our house, we're trying to potty train. The star chart is up, and Avery and Lexie can earn stars for trying, going, flushing and washing hands. Smart, right? Not if you're about to leave for church on a Sunday morning. A last-minute trip to the bathroom means two last-minute trips to the bathroom, because one will not allow the other to out-star her. That's two turns on the potty, two races down the hallway to catch bare-bottomed babes and force them to put on new diapers, two fights over putting their shoes back on and two negotiations over where the stars will go on the star charts. After all this, we're certain to miss the entire beginning of the service. If you ever wondered why the twins go to the nursery at church, it's because Mommy and Daddy are exhausted.

3.  Get a whistle and a striped shirt, because you're about to become an all-star referee. A friend who's a twin once told me that twins love hard and fight hard. No truer words have ever been spoken. I have broken up fights that rival WWE matches over something as silly as a sock. "Mine!" "No, mine!" I firmly believe that Avery, our more dominant little girl, will spend the bulk of her younger years in Time Out. Lexie will continue crying over spilled milk, juice or anything else she finds offending until she starts wearing mascara and it runs all down her face. (She's not much for getting dirty.)

On the flip side, though, they share an incredible bond that can best be explained by actions, not words. They hold each other's hand, share with one another without me even asking and get concerned when "sissy" isn't in the same room. If you ask Avery who her best friend is, she'll say "Wexie." If you ask Lexie the same question, she'll reply, "Avwey." Makes your heart melt, doesn't it?

Geof and I have concluded that although there are many, many challenges with raising multiples, there are even more amazing moments that we wouldn't trade for the world. Plus, what would we do with all that spare time if we'd only had one kid? Psch... too easy! :)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mommy's Other Name

Avery and Lexie call me "Mommy." No surprise there. It's what most little kids call their mother. But, it didn't occur to me until last week that they might know I have a legal name, too.

This realization came in the playroom at our house one evening just before "night night." Lexie walked over to me, held up a domino and said, "I have Deeeemi!"

I looked at her with a slightly confused expression on my face. "What?" I asked, thinking that surely she had not just said my last name.

Lexie put the domino up to her ear just like a cell phone and exclaimed, "I talking to Dara Deeeeeemi!"

Geof and I immediately looked at each other and started laughing. This was incredibly funny to us, because we've never had a conversation to explain that Daddy is Geof and Mommy is Dara. What was the point? We always refer to each other by our parental names. And, seriously, the twins are only two years old. It's not like they're going to be filling out medical forms or school permission slips yet. Why would they need to know?

Well, somehow, Lexie figured it out, and our laughter made Avery want to join in the name game fun. Monkey see, monkey do! They both took turns shouting "I want to talk to Deeeeeemi!" in between rounds of loud giggles.

After pondering the source of this outburst, I finally came to the conclusion that they must have paid attention when I was on call for NCDOT recently during two major incidents: a rockslide in the North Carolina mountains and a snow storm that blanketed many parts of the state. (Yes, I realize natural disasters seem to eerily coincide with when I'm on call. Awesome. Watch out for hurricane season!) I spent a lot of time during those weekends talking to reporters - including the one working with Geof - on the phone. The girls who desperately wanted me to stop working and play "destroy the house" with them must have overhead me and replicated the professional way in which I greeted the callers.

If anything, they deserve props for actually pronouncing my name correctly. Ninety percent of the adult population can't seem to master it, so clearly, they're going to be genuises if they can manage it at age 2. I mean, really, it's only eight letters combined. And, it doesn't sound anything at all like "Darin" or "Daria." For the record, I'm also not related to Demi Moore as some have inquired in the past. Sigh...

I thought this whole "Dara Demi" obsession would end that night when we tucked the girls in, and they drifted off to dreamland. Nope. It's an every night thing. Except now it's shifted into song.

The girls aren't really able to do a thorough job brushing their teeth on their own, so we let them try first and then we help them complete the task. They won't hand over their toothbrushes unless we sing them a song. It started with singing "Happy Birthday" to Dora and Elmo, the characters on their brushes. But, this week, that changed.

"Mommy, sing Demi song," requested Lexie.

Oh great, I thought. I had no idea what "Demi song" was, but I definitely knew that if I didn't make one up soon, Lexie and Avery would not let me bat clean-up during the evening brushing routine.

The things I do for good dental hygiene.

I made up a horrendous song that goes like this: "Daaaara Deeeeemi. She-eeee-eee love-uh-uhvs you! Daaaaara Deeeemi. She-eeee-eee is your Mommy, too-ooo."

Of course, they loved it. Now, they demand that I sing it every night during teeth brushing time. My worst fear is that I'm going to forget the words and the off-pitch tune, and the girls' teeth will decay and fall out, because they will except no musical substitutions.

So far, I've managed to file it away in my Mommy brain with the other silly songs I've created about Thomas the Train and Pooh Bear (which Avery adamantly refers to as "Cooh Bear.") I may not be the next Scotty McCreery, but at least, my kids' chompers are clean.

I'm looking forward to trading the first/last name interest for a consistant "Mommy." I like it better. And, I've never heard anyone mispronounce it.