New Exhibits at the Children’s Museum

Yesterday afternoon I asked Angelica to come an hour early so I could take Jack and Ben to the Children’s Museum. They were both off school for Lincoln’s birthday.

I wanted to check out the two new exhibits – Unboxed and Tinkering Lab.

I loved the idea of Unboxed: Adventures in Cardboard. Everyone always jokes how kids like the cardboard box that the gifts come in better than the gifts themselves, so why not a exhibit full of cardboard boxes? It’s very clever.

Unboxed

Unboxed

I loved the way you could draw on, cut, break down or build up anything in the room. The possibilities were mind blowing. Jack and Ben spent a lot of time crawling in cardboard linked forts, zooming the wooden cars up and down cardboard ramps, coloring, cutting and taping.

The chalk wall in the tinkering lab.

The chalk wall in the tinkering lab.

We also checked out the Tinkering Lab. I wasn’t sure what to make of this. My first thought, which proves I’ve been married to a lawyer for some time now, was – LAWSUIT! Hammers, nails, sharp saws all open and available for kids to play with? It’s a mother’s worst nightmare. I set Ben to work on the chalkboard walls. That kept him busy for about 10 minutes while I carefully supervised Jack’s stressful hammering. But Ben wanted to hammer too! I was able to hammer lightly with his hand on the hammer, then distracted him with wood, corks and some glue. Finally I suggested we get the hell out of there.

Does this make you as nervous as it did for me?

Does this make you as nervous as it did for me?

Final Creation

Final Creation

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Potty Regression Update

I thought it was going to be quite a struggle.

I know if Jack had regressed it would have been a huge problem. I would have had to cajole, threaten, bribe for days before I found out the root of the problem. And the root would have been something like the fact that Jack only likes to poop while wearing his green socks.

But Ben is not Jack.

All Ben required was a bit of gentle reminding that pooping happens on the potty. And he was back in business. Or should I say back to doing business correctly?

In & Out. (Pooping while eating a muffin.)

In & Out. (Pooping while eating a muffin.)

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Monster Truck Jam, again

Bounty Hunter stuck in an awkward position.

Bounty Hunter stuck in an awkward position.

Jack asked once again this year if he could take some friends to the Monster Truck Jam as one of his birthday presents.

This time he invited his buddies from school, Timmy and Kaden.

Although I couldn’t go, I heard the highlights. Apparently the first truck out, Bounty Hunter, got stuck on his hind wheels, facing straight up and they had no idea how to get him down.

The other highlight I heard was a Ben story. I’m sure if you are an avid reader of this blog, your not surprised there was a Ben incident.

It’s very loud at Monster Truck Jams, so you need ear plugs. Adam brought wax plugs for all. When they arrived he handed them out to everyone then went back to Ben and asked if he could shape them into his ears. No, he couldn’t. Why? Because Ben had already eaten them. Wax ear plugs are non toxic, by the way. In case you also live with a kid who thinks he’s a billy goat and eats everything in his path. Gum, sand from the beach, snow that has been trudged over, and now ear plug wax.

Ben's can't eat these ear covers!

Ben’s can’t eat these ear covers!

Kaden, Jack and Timmy

Kaden, Jack and Timmy

Later that evening I hitched a ride with my friend Laurie.

In Laurie's car. Josephine sandwiched by the twins.

In Laurie’s car. Josephine sandwiched by the twins.

I took the twins to their first play space. My friend Cindy had her son’s birthday at Wonder Works in Oak Park. It’s a cute little place, but it made me happy that I don’t have any older kids in the house right now that I feel the need to take places like this. It’s really quite difficult to do. Even with all my girlfriends being so helpful by holding a baby or two. So much easier to keep the twins in their own basement all day where the only people they have to contend with is each other.

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Laurie and Cindy help hold the twins.

Jack and Mimi entertain Aaron

Jackie and Mimi entertain Aaron

Even Logan, soon to be big brother, helps out.

Even Logan, soon to be big brother, helps out.

I was ecstatic when Adam and the older boys showed up. In fact I was so ready for his help that I was standing at the door, a twin on each hip when he arrived. With all my girlfriends and husband there, I was able to eat the yummy, SPICY chili and homemade cookies and cuddle my favorite snuggle bunny…

Hugga Hugga with Ben

Hugga Hugga with Ben

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Management

It’s true I managed a team of about 25 people in Shanghai. However, I never felt like I was making a difference, that I was using any of my ‘management skills’ to better the company. I didn’t have control over most of who was hired, that was left to the Chinese manager under me. I also didn’t control when wine shipments arrived or how much we ordered. My idea to come up with an ordering system based on past numbers plus new business was shot down. I’ve realized now that I was essentially a figure head for both staff and customers to complain to.

But since we’ve had four kids I’ve actually been had a chance an management again. Not just the daily running of things, but also on someone to help me. A staff member, if you must.

I don’t think I’ve completely figured out what good management is as far as keeping my kids in line. I know I could do a much better job of keeping the fridge inventory up. But I think I realized something about staff members. It’s about hiring good people. If you do that, you barely have to manage at all.

Yesterday after the twin’s 9 month check up I rushed down the stairs to find this…

Angelica getting wrestled by Jack and Ben

I left Angelica with the older boys so Adam and I could take the twins to the appointment. I felt rushed on the way home. Sam cried the entire time and by the time we slugged our way through the slushy mess of snow/rain/traffic both twins had fallen asleep. We were late to serve the older boys dinner.

Every night Angelica feeds the babies so I can sit and have dinner with the others.

Hearing them in a fit of giggles downstairs put me at ease. Angelica didn’t just sit them in front of the TV. She engaged them. She did Jack’s homework. She put dinner in the oven. She cleaned up the basement toys. Later I found out that she did the laundry and dishes too! How did she do it all? Maybe I should be taking lessons from her?

After Adam put the older boys to bed he came downstairs and sat next to me on the couch. I told him of all the wonderful things I came back home to.

He replied, “Gee, what are you going to do without her?”

I hope we don’t have to find out for a long time.

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9 Month Check Up

They love to follow each other around. Here they are watching Patricia vacuum.

We took the twins to their 9 month check up today. I thought it was going to be an easy, uneventful visit. Surprisingly there was a shot. Also surprising, Aaron measured bigger than Sam in every respect. Even more surprising, Sam’s ear infection is back. Or maybe it never fully left. I think the poor guy has been fighting it for over a month now. They gave us the next level up in antibiotics. Let’s hope this one works.

Here is how their measurements came out:

Sam’s height was 28½ inches, weight 20 lbs. 9 oz., head circumference 44.8 cm.

Aaron was 28¾ inches long, 20 lbs. 13 oz. for weight, and a head circumference of 45.3 cm.

This month I thought a lot about quitting breast feeding. I remember when the older boys were about 8 months old wanting to be done, but the thought of switching to bottles and formula was too daunting. With the twins I’m already on bottles and formula so it doesn’t seem as scary. I’ve also noticed they feed much more on bottles than the breast, and my production is down more than it was a few months ago. Oh, and the clogged milk ducts! So many of them this time around! I’m still slugging through it, getting out as much as I can by pumping and breast feeding them to sleep most naps and night feeds. Right now I’m just trying to push through to the one year mark, no matter how little I produce. I’m sad whenever I think of giving up that part of their childhood. Once it’s over, they stop being babies in my eyes.

Also, since we’ve come back from Florida, I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to analyze these little two. I am looking for clues to what their personalities are and how they relate to each other.

I thought for a while that Sam was the tough one. He’s got these strong, meaty fingers and was the first to crawl and stand. Aaron seems so delicate. But Sam cries more often. Like if Aaron steals his toys. Now if Sam steals Aaron’s toys, Aaron will hold onto it as fiercely as he can but if he loses to Sam, he lets him have it and moves on. No crying. No hard feelings. Aaron can also take a fall without noticing it as much.

Sam uses his two hands like chopsticks to pick up food

I used to say that Aaron was more social because he laughs at all Jack’s jokes while Sam sometimes fails to notice. But Sam is the one who will follow me around the house and asked to be held all the time, getting on his knees and puffing his chest out at me with his arms in the air. Aaron is much more independent in that respect. So I’m not sure who is more social.

It seems like Aaron his an inner peace that dictates everything he does. Aaron sleeps better and longer. When he wakes he hangs out in his crib until I arrive, cooing or just eating a sock that he’s taken off his foot. Sam announces each waking with a roaring scream. He’s impatiently waiting, standing at the front of the crib for the bedroom door to open.

Aaron prefers a full fist, one handed grab and shove.

Aaron’s inner calm is also shown when he eats. He eats calmly and afterwards can sit in the chair quietly and happily. Sam is more conflicted. Sam’s eating always ends in crying.

I love how different their eating styles are too. Sam carefully puts a piece of food between his two straightened forefingers and brings it to his mouth. Aaron quickly grabs with his whole fist then thrusts it in his mouth.

People always say twins are opposites. I wonder if it’s because they are born at the same time, you naturally compare them and try to find the differences. Or maybe over time twins themselves want to differentiate themselves and become opposites.

I guess we’ll never know which came first, the chicken or the two eggs.

They have started to laugh together at their own inside jokes.

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Potty Training Regression

For the past 4 days Ben has pooped somewhere that was not the toilet. Three days in his underwear which was all pretty nasty to clean, even though I just threw the underwear out immediately without trying to save it. The fourth time was tonight, in the bathtub.

I have no idea why it’s occurring, the internet tells me that these things happen when kids are stressed or go through changes in their lives. Common examples given were house change, new siblings, new school or pregnancy. I’m pretty sure it’s none of these things. Please god don’t tell me I’m pregnant again!

I’m just going to throw everything I can at it and hope to fix the problem. The star chart, the candy bribe, the forced sitting on the potty a few times a day.

I’m also going to try my hardest to figure out why. If I know the root of the problem, maybe this whole thing can go away before I, I mean he, eats an entire bag of Costco sized M & Ms like the first time we, I mean he, potty trained.

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Finally

We missed the first snow of the year while we were in Florida and for a while I was worried the boys wouldn’t get a chance to sled this winter. Luckily my worries were for naught.

Adam takes the older boys sledding in Oz Park

Meanwhile, as it seems to be the trend on the weekends, I stay at home in my jammies with the twins. Winter coupled with the twins feeding and napping schedule means there are many weekends where there is no need to change into real clothes.

At home with the twins. Heating grates are fascinating.

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Playing Super Mom

This morning the weather forecast said it was 2°F but feels like -13°F.

A feeling of dread filled the bottom of my belly when I checked it this morning. Adam took the car to the suburbs today for an 8am meeting. I had to get Ben to school by myself.

I considered not bringing him, but since Jack had the day off that would mean juggling all 4 kids until Angelica showed up. Bundling up and walking over was definitely less work.

I even texted another mom friend to see if she could swing by on her way to drop her kid off and pick up Ben. She never responded to my text.

In the end I’m glad she didn’t. It gave me the change to play supermom. The thing about four kids is everything is such an effort, and so much work. You often wonder if you can handle it. And if you push yourself, you’ll see most times you can. And breaking through those barriers makes you proud. Proud that you can achieve what seemed impossible. Proud that your kids can too.

Jack, my side kick, helps push Ben’s stroller

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