Category Archives: Parenting

Expressions and Impressions

It’s July in Kansas.  It’s hot.  It’s sticky.  It’s Kansas.  The girls, however, struggle to realize that once you move from the air-conditioned comfort of the house to the sticky, bug-ridden backyard–well, it gets miserable fast.  Nevertheless, throughout dinner last night Nora randomly exclaimed “BACK-YARD! BACK-YARD!”  Tessa chimed in, “PARK! PARK!”.  So we had to figure out something to do.

So, we settled on going to the bookstore at a nearby mall.  They love the kids section there and we can read books and play with the “CHOO CHOO TRAIN! CHOO CHOO TRAIN! CHOO CHOO TRAIN!”  ok ok ok…

Not only was the bookstore a great success but to top it off there was outdoor live music.  There were a lot of people there.  Mostly sitting in chairs, relaxing and taking in the music.  The girls really love music.  They were doing their routine of swaying and crooning back and forth, back and forth.  They really get into the music.  Sometimes I think it’s a fine balance to allow children to enjoy participating in an experience while not eclipsing the performance itself.  We stand to the side, out of the way, but close enough that that the kids can see and experience the joy of music.  Seeing one child singing and dancing is enough to draw a few smiles and approving glances, but seeing two little kids who are spitting images of each other (no matter how much I try to make them look like their own person) really starts to draw a crowd.  And so, a crowd started to gather.

Then some young woman, about my age, came up and asked if she could take some pictures of them.


My best guess is that she was on staff at the mall or from one of the radio station sponsors and was getting pictures for marketing materials.  So, sure.  Take some pictures.  I’m proud.  The girls are cute.

So we continue to croon on and then another woman comes up to me and asks me if we go to the Oak Park farmer’s market.  Again–huh?

We did once.  I thought about blogging about the market, but it was rather uneventful.  Just a way to pass the time on a beautiful Saturday morning.  We pushed our way through the crowded market with the girls in our arms.  I remember that we stopped for just a moment to smell some pretty flowers at one stand.  “Fluwers!” Nora exclaimed.  Both girls scrunched up their noses and gave a loud snort of the various bouquets.   About 10 steps away from that stand a man called out to me, “Ma’am! Here are some flowers for your girls!” He handed me a neat, tight assortment of tiny flowers in an old glass bottle.  I thought it was strange that he went so far out of his way to give away flowers that he was selling at the market.  We pushed on and at the end of the market there were a couple of guys playing guitars and we stopped for a bit to sing and sway and sing and sway.  The girls made friends with a couple of other kids and they all started hopping, skipping and dancing to the music.   At one point one of the singers acknowledged Nora and Tessa and their enthusiastic participation.  I think performers appreciate it when they see such uninhibited joy coming from someone who is clearly enjoying the performance.  Later we had some lunch and packed up to go home.  It was fun, but rather uneventful.

“Is that Nora and Tessa?” the woman at the mall asked me.  “I remember them from the market–they were dancing at the market!  They were so fun to watch.”

Wow.  Seriously?  You remember my kids (and their names) who were dancing for 30 minutes at a market that we went to one time a month ago?  So, now not only do have we have an audience and a photographer, but we have groupies.


As a fond parent, I sometimes worry that I might overthink the impact of my children on the greater community.  Of course I think they are cute and fun to watch and they fill my life with such sheer happiness with their sense of humor and pure spirits.  But I try to adjust my view of the girls through my mommy-colored glasses and not exhault them.  While they are the world to me, I understand that my love and amazement of them is compounded by the fact that they are my kids.  I know that there are many people who love and admire the girls, but my mommy ego sometimes explodes upon the realization that complete strangers are giving them flowers, taking their picture and remembering them from momentary, and seemingly uneventful, episodes in time.  Sometimes I am struck by the impression that Nora and Tessa do make on other people.  While the initial allure of the girls may be their twinage, it is their explosive and engaging personalities that draw people in and make a lasting impression.  Their uninhibited song and dance and giggles and flirty glances at people around them bring those people joy and happiness.

And, for that reason, I am struck with awe and pride that I get to share in their lives.  To me they are wonderful.  But to others, they are also wonderful.  And for that, I give thanks.


Yes.  We are still here.  This blog is still alive.  It has just been crazy. Too crazy.  And the thoughts and the memories slip away and things change before I can post them…So, let’s get back on track. 

The girls turned 18-months-old on Valentine’s Day.  I love that.  It just seems so fitting that the two people who have their arms wrapped tightly around my heart have a 1/2 birthday on V-Day.  They are so sweet.

Right around Valentine’s Day we had a LOT of people asking us how many words they say.  As if I have the time (or the thought) to sit down and COUNT their vocabulary.  So, I started counting and here’s what we came up with as of 18 months.  And, in full disclosure, the girls have always seemed to progress through milestones at the same time or within a week or so apart.  Variances are otherwise noted herein (god–do I sound like a lawyer or what?).

I divided their vocabulary into three categories: words they can actually say, signs that they can make and animal noises (or object sounds).  I’m sure I missed some, but here’s the bulk in no particular order:


Toe (this is their favorite song thanks to Cassie and Mackenzie!), Snow (they scream with enthusiam as it falls and falls and falls out our window), No (no comment) , Yes (mostly nodding, but they do say it when prompted), Nora (Both girls can say “Nora”, although Tessa has it down to an art-form.  Tess says, “Nora” ALL THE TIME.  She clearly knows that it’s her sister’s name, but she also uses it arbitrarily in other contexts.  It’s odd.  Nora can also say her name, but she calls herself, “Nor Nor”.   I think that’s adorable…)

Tessa (Again, both girls can say this although sometimes it sounds like “Da Da”, so you have to pay attention.  For awhile it sounded like Tessa was calling herself “NoraTet-Ta”, but I think I figured it out.  It’s goes like this:

Me: Tessa, what’s her name? [pointing at Nora]

Tessa: Norrr-A.

Me: Good.  What’s YOUR name? [pointing at Tessa]

Tessa: NoraTeta.

Me: No, you’re Tessa.

Tessa: No-you’re-Teta.

Get it?  NoraTeta and No-you’re-Teta.  I thought she was confused that her name was Nora also so I kept correcting her telling her “no, you’re Tessa,” so she’d repeat me saying “No-you’re Tessa”.  Oh geez.)…Now she just says “Tet-Ta”.

Shoes (sounds like “chews”), Barbara, Da-da, Ma-ma (although it’s usually in triplicate “Ma Ma Ma”)…


Baby (OBSESSED WITH THE BABIES LATELY), Elmo (with variations of Mo and Melmo), Big Bird (although they can only say Elmo and Big Bird, the can identify every single Sesame Street character by pointing.  We have these old books that have all the old characters and they know and LOVE all of them), Down, More, Oranges (Tessa only once said this, and she totally over enunciated it–which was hilarious), Ball, Pa (for paci), Go (they repeat this a million times when Grammy comes over because they think they get to “go” somewhere with Grammy), Bye bye, Balloon (although it sounds more like “Baoon”), Cracker (with a “gra-crack-car” being a variation on graham cracker), Pa Pa (for Papi Jerry), Cheese (for the food and the smile)…


Go dog go (their all-time favorite book thanks to Alex and Jacob), Zebra (Tessa only), Nite nite (mostly Nora), Coat (with a silent “t” for coat),  Water (really, wa-wa)…


 Dora (Tessa says this clearly and distinctly from “Nora”, and I think Nora calls her more like “Doe”).


Cat (all time favorite animal), Dog, Duck, Cow, Sheep, Snake, Rooster (this one is hilarious “ca-ca-doogle-do”), Witch (they’ve got a cackle down), Horse


Bear/tiger, Fish face (fishes make faces, not sounds, sillies!), Elephant (we got a hand gesture down for the nose on this, too)…


 Owl, Frog (we do a side-to-side tongue thing, not “ribbit” because that’s what our books says), Monkey (with arm-pit scratching effects), Cookie monster (we can put away cookies like that dude), Seal (arf! arf!), Car, Burr (cold), Airplane (with sign), Microwave (boop boop boop boop boop! as they play on their toy microwave in their toy kitchen–also a variation on elevator buttons–I desperately wish I had a picture of them playing with their microwave).


Milk, Eat, Cookie (we get a little sound with this, “cuk”, but not really a word), All done (we do say “ah dun” with this), Dirty (so cute), More (ok, we say this CLEARLY, but it is a prominent sign), Diaper, Bath (Nora says “Ba” with this), Bed (Nora now says “nite nite”), Hug, Baby (we can say this, but we furiously sign for it, too), Sick, Help, Airplane, Book, Cold, Car, Please (we can say “peas”), Thank you, Clap (for good job), Brushing teeth, Wipe-nose (we scrunch up our nose and blow)…

Share (I made this sign up because we need a sign for it).

So, it was a pretty good vocabulary of words/signs/sounds for 18 months… 

But since February 14th, we’ve really seen an explosion of annunciations of new words.  They can repeat a lot of words when asked.  New words that they’ve never said before.  More than I can list.  Some require prompting, some are spontaneous.  It’s incredible to see them on the verge of something new, something exciting, something liberating.  I was really pleased with the signs that they knew before they were verbal.  I remember seeing the relief in Tessa’s face when she signed “milk” the first time and I handed her the cup of milk.  It was this expression of “Oh, lady, you totally know what I want.  Eureka!”  The animal sounds starting coming along and I would just make their sounds into sentences.  Nora would “meow” and I’d say, “Do you see a kitty-cat?  Kitty-cats say ‘meow.’ ” And then the words started to flow.

It’s fun.  And I’m so proud of them.  The next ride is about to begin… 

Mid-Winter Cleaning

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately.  I’ve been overwhelmingly busy at work.  The holidays, and all of the parties and food and stuff, seem to be upon me before I realize it.  I have not had much time to write, and, therefore, it all just starts getting crammed in my head and I need it out.  I need a break, a vacation.  I try to rest, but I always seem to have something pulling at me.  And so this weekend I sat down to make a list.

The other day I came upon an old list.  A really old list.  A list of stuff to do, things to buy, stuff to clean and organize.  I love lists.  Chad–not so big on the lists, but he understands my need to list.  It is the genesis of organization for me.  If I have a list, I know what needs to get done and then I can cross stuff off my list when its done.  It feels good. 

Just after having the girls, I remember writing a friend, a fellow mother of twins about how hard everyday was.  Those first few months are tough.  The three hour patterns of feedings, diaper changes, crying, rocking and trying to get some rest before starting it all over again and again–it starts to take a toll and it’s hard to do much in between for yourself or the house, much less think about anything outside of the four walls of your home.  And so I mentioned to my friend how hard it was.  And she said, it’s not that the work is hard, so much as it is constant.  She was right.  It is the constant-ness that makes it so exhausting.  It’s the same stuff over and over and over again.  Every day. Every week.  Every month.   It’s the laundry, the food, the clean-up, the naps, the tears, the games, the challenges.  Winter brings its own set of obstacles with the snow, the icy roads, the cold and the feeling of the inability to escape the constant work that needs to get done.  And then for me to work full time–work hard–on top of all this.  It’s a lot. 

Then, the other night Chad and I went to see a movie.  A break from the kids, from the holidays, from the rush.  The previews forecasted a new movie called The Bucket List.  The idea is that these two old guys are late into their life and they make a list of the things they want to do before they kick the “bucket”, thus–the Bucket List.  Love this idea.  Chad and I haven’t really had the chance to travel in the past few years since we moved here from Chicago, got pregnant, took another bar exam, had to work, had two babies, am raising two babies…so I thought it’d be fun to make a list of the things we still want to do as the girls get older, as we get more comfortable with our resources.  I mentioned this to Chad on the way home and he said, “We can do that, but I’ve already done everything I want to do on my ‘list’.  I married you.  We had the girls.  I’m set.”

As I look into the long stretch of 2008, I start to think of the things that need to go on a list, things that go beyond the everyday chores that need to get done.  And I get overwhelmed.  Because I am tired.  And when I come across an old list, a list that has been completed long ago, I think of all the energy that went into completing the tasks on that list and how the things on that list don’t matter to me anymore.  And I look at my new list and think, does this stuff matter?  Do I care enough to devote the little energy I have on the couple of days that I have off from work to do these things amongst taking care of the girls, and the feedings and washing and cleaning and holiday stuff?  What I like about lists is the organization it gives me–the tasks are concrete and achievable, and the satisfaction of crossing it off.  But when my list is constant, bottomless, perpetual, the list does not serve its purpose for me.  And when I see an old, useless list, I begin to realize that I need to remove myself from these burdensome feelings.  I need to break free of the lists. 

I think about Chad’s “bucket list”.  About its blankness, it’s freeness.  The void of Chad’s list is the very satisfaction in itself.  It does not need to exist because it is complete.

So, as I think about 2008 I try to imagine the feeling completeness, of satisfaction, of a life without lists.  And I resolve to embrace that feeling.  To give thanks for what I have.  To take some satisfaction in winging it and letting some things go.  To relax.  To enjoy.  To give thanks for all of the help and good health that we have. 

And while I cannot let go of my lists, I can make them shorter; I can prioritize what needs to be on that list and what doesn’t matter–what won’t matter–so I can focus my energies on the things that matter the most right now.

Happy New Year.

Bright Ideas and Yogurt

On Sundays, I’m home alone with the girls from the moment they wake up until Daddy gets home from church around 1:00 or 1:30–if there’s no after-church meetings or anything.  About every other week I manage to get the girls up and ready to get to church around 10:30 for some fellowship and then to the nursery during service.  So, I feed the girls at least two meals by myself on Sundays–breakfast and lunch.  It’s no big deal.  Actually, it’s pretty easy and fun and the girls are pretty good about eating most things.  We’ve figured out what they like and don’t like and are always trying new things and just trying to take it slow.  Mealtimes are busy and it is sometimes exhausting to be fetching the milk, making the meals, warming the food, picking up everything that gets chucked to the ground, helping with spoons, making something else cause they’re still hungry and/or refused to eat what you just spent 20 minutes making, retrieving the sippy cups from the floor again, trying not to cry over spilled milk, brushing teeth after every meal, general entertainment during mealtime consisting of songs, dancing, disappearing acts, and pretending like Mommy actually gets to eat too during mealtime, etc., etc.

So, a couple of Sundays ago, we got through a good breakfast and the girls were asking for more! more! more!  So, I open the fridge and think–“Hey! How about some yummy yogurt!”  Oh…the girls were so excited.  So, I dished it up, handed them each a spoon and here’s what happened…



Say Cheese, Tess!

Love you, Nora!



It took me a long time to clean up.  We’re not usually this messy.  But the smiles were worth it.  We love yogurt–just not the clean-up.

Our Children

The evolution of my love for Nora and Tessa is expansive.  And although I have loved them from the very first flutter in my belly, as the girls grow and their personalities begin to blossom my fascination with every moment of their being magnifies.

Adjusting to being a parent in my mind has been more difficult in some respects than any other change I have encountered in my life.  I say “in some respects” because there is a certain degree of necessity that kicks in upon giving birth that doesn’t seem to give you much time to think about anything because your so busy doing all the time.  But the adjustment to thinking about myself as a mother–as a parent–is a leap that is unparalleled.  It’s difficult to know what to expect, how you will feel, how you will react, whether you are doing the right thing for your child, your children

I guess I am sometimes struck by how different my love is for them as opposed to what I thought it would be like.  Although I have always instinctively loved Nora and Tessa, I didn’t expect automatically to fall deeply and passionately in love with them.  How can you fall in love with the idea of something?  How can I love someone that I don’t know?  So, I knew my love would be a process–the mulling over of each quiet moment with a baby snuggled in my arms, the moments when my heart aches over bumped noggin or a fever, the hilarious moments when their is laughter for just the sake of laughter.

When we bought this house exactly two years ago we make some updates, painted, put in new carpet–we made it our home.  It feels like my home.  It’s mine. 

But, when we had the girls, almost a year ago, they didn’t feel like mine.  Even though they are our very own flesh and blood.  Even though we make every decision for them, about them, with the thought of them in our hearts.  Even though they are are on my mind every morning and the very last sweet moment of every night…


I have realized that they are not mine.  Rather they are passing through–through us, with us, along side us.  They are here to join us on this ride.  And as my love for them grows in each moment of each day, so does the realization that they are mine, but they are not. 

I am still learning from Nora and Tessa, but this much I know is true, as so perfectly articulated by Bill Staines’ Child of Mine…

You have the hands that will open up the doors
You have the hopes this world is waiting for
You are my own, but you are so much more
You are tomorrow on the wing,

Child of mine.

I love you Nora.  I love you Tessa.