Thursday, May 31, 2012

We Have a Tooth!

Ezra's first tooth popped through this evening.

Just being honest it actually feels pretty creepy.


I Know Where I'm Goin'. . .

Don't you wanna come too?

Here's what we've been dealing with in Delhi.

It's currently 7:25 AM and it's already hot, hot, hot! So, we're packing our bags today and tomorrow and heading to France on the way back to the US. Here's a preview of the weather in beautiful, Vichy, France.
We're in the middle of making lists (which I'll share, of course) and taking inventory of our supplies so we can replenish our stocks while we're in the US and bring good things back to Delhi in the fall. Preparing to travel with the twins always gets me a little nervous, and the stress level mounts as the lists get longer of things to pack, but we'll have some great music playing to help us get the work done (or, as Chad says, we'll be playing some shoulder shimmying songs).

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Same, Same, but Different

It didn't occur to me until after I showered this morning, the extent to which my kids have become my life.  My skin is ridiculously finicky, and, if you haven't heard, the weather in India is phenomenally hot. And so as part of my morning toilette, I usually use some kind of lotion for the dry skin and some kind of powder in a vain attempt to keep some body parts dry. This morning, though, we were out of the regular products (vaseline intensive care and gold bond) and so, without giving it a second thought, I reachers for the nearest thing: Johnson and Johnson's baby powder (the brand name and the irony of what I was using it for is not lost on me) and Aveeno baby lotion. I continued with my morning routine, and it wasn't until about five minutes later that I thought about how things have changed over the last six months. And, how millions of parents--fathers and mothers all over the world--probably do the same thing without batting an eye. In our house, baby things are everywhere, and we wouldn't want it any other way.
Cedric and Ezra a few weeks ago
I teach at an international school in India, and my students come from all over the world. Our families are frequent fliers and one popular trip on long weekends is to go to Bangkok, where they have a famous, or infamous, saying: "Same, same, but different." A jaunt over to the Urban Dictionary will give you a little more context for what situations this saying applies.

Every week I see at least one student, refreshed from recent travels with his or her family, returning to school with this mantra emblazoned on a T-shirt. And it's true. We are all remarkably the same. As a teacher, I find that parents want their children to be treated the same as every other student about two-thirds of the time. There is justice in equality. But, all parents also recognize that their children are individuals unlike any other. And about one-third of the time parents go about the business of advocating for the specialness of their children. My job as an educator is to walk the fine line between the fairness of standardization and the richness of individualization. I hope that I am successful at least most of the time.

My students are not unlike the families I read about on blogs about parenting and surrogacy. Same, same, but different. Every family comes into the world in its unique way, with diverse makeups and heritages. Ever since the outing of President Obama as a supporter of marriage equality, I've noticed an uptick in the conversation about LGBT families on social media sites. I was engaged in such a conversation with  several conservative evangelicals on Facebook a few days ago until I felt the need to start checking my blood pressure after typing each response. The point I was trying to make is that out beyond the debate about whether or not marriage can be "redefined," or whether the government has an interest in favoring heterosexual marriage, there is a bottom line that hits home for me in a way that it never did before my husband and I had children of our own. So, permit me the vanity of quoting myself from that Facebook conversation:

If I were unable to make health decisions for myself, I want my husband to be able to do that. I want the option of having to prepare only one set of tax returns for our family instead of being forced to file separately. If something should happen to me or my spouse, I want our children to be raised by the only other parent they've known. I want my spouse to inherit anything I may own after I die. I'd like to be able to use the FMLA if my spouse becomes sick. If my spouse were not a US citizen, I would want him to be able to become a US citizen. I'd like to be able to purchase auto insurance at the rate afforded other married couples. When we're older, I'd like access to my husband's medicaid or social security benefits. And finally, (although there are technically about 1390 other rights we are not afforded), if my husband is wrongfully killed, I'd like the ability to sue. 
Every family is different. And every family is the same. When we're out of gold bond, I reach for the baby powder, just like you would. When our kids grow up, we want them "to do justice, and love kindness," just like you do. Yes, our family came about in a way that is unique and exciting. So did yours.  Our differences are an illusion as much as our similarities are a starting point for empathy.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

What's A Day With Twins Like, v. 2.0

For some time now, our top blog post has been the first installment of "What's a Day with Twins Like." Probably, all of those expectant parents out there are furiously researching what life will be like once their multiple bundles of joy arrive. When I Google search that sentence, our blog is the second link on the page. Maybe that's why we're so popular!

So, I've decided to update now that our twins are a bit older and can do more stuff. Like I've said in previous posts, we're lucky to have a full time, in-home nanny who takes care of the kids while we're at work, so I'm going to write about a day when she's not here, and it's just two-on-two.

Cedric and Ezra wake up at about 6:00 AM. Really, they're little alarm clocks masquerading as infants; you could set a watch to them. Since I'm more of a morning person, I get up with them and we do a diaper change/feeding straight away while Chad attempts to sleep through any of our morning noise. After eating, the twins go in their bouncy seats and chew on whatever their favorite toy-du-jour is while I get some breakfast, water the plants on the balcony and throw in a load of laundry. After that, I usually, put them in their cribs for some twin time. They pass toys back and forth and chew on anything else they can get their hands on. We do diaper changes and read a book or two, do some baby stretches and sing for a while. By that time, Chad is usually up and the twins are ready for nap number one, which starts at about 8:00 and goes until 9:30ish.

At 9:30, we repeat the diaper changes and usually have an outfit change from all the slobber from the chewing. Then, by 10:00 we're ready for bottle number two. We each feed one baby, and when we're done we go on a walk around our apartment area, or we'll walk to the grocery store if we're doing any baking. We're usually in by 11:00 and the boys are ready to sit on the balcony and listen to the birds, or watch while someone folds clothes and starts more laundry.

After a short nap that hopefully starts around 12:30, and goes until past 1:00, they eat again any time between 1:30 and 2:00. This is the fussy time of the day, so we really try to have an activity planned, or have someplace to go or something to see. Lately, we've enjoyed the pool on weekends because it's so hot in the afternoon. Sometimes we'll split up and one twin will go with one dad, and the other with the other dad. Usually both boys are ready for their last nap by 4:30, and they sleep until 5:30.

Then, it's wake up time for the last bottle before bed at 6:00 PM. Right after that bottle, we take Jyoti on a walk in the neighborhood, and get back to the house around 7:00 in time for a diaper change, some naked time to let their skin breath and then some reading time or bath time (every 3rd night) before we put on pajamas and head to bead between 7:30-8:00. Chad throws in some laundry, while I make dinner. We eat at around 8:00 PM, and enjoy having an adult meal together.

I usually head to bed at about 9:30 so I can be fresh for the morning shift, and Chad stuffs diapers and relaxes until the boys have a nighttime bottle at 10:00 PM. They're back in bed with double-stuffed g-diapers by 10:30 and Chad comes to bed. They boys sleep soundly until 4:30 AM, when I usually have to get up and put a pacifier in Cedric's mouth. He goes right back to sleep, though, and they both wake up with big smiles at 6:00.

Here are some things that keep us sane:
1. Splitting the workload: no one parent should have to do all of the domestic duties. Chad is a pro at stuffing diapers; whereas, I take care of making the solution for their baby wipes.

2. The day is organized around the feedings: There are 4 hours in between feedings when we have some activity time, and then a nap.

3. Clean as you go: Cedric and Ezra both love just watching me clean the kitchen, prepare food, or fold laundry. They usually don't even need a toy, they just love to be observant. So, rather than letting the chores pile up, I can get things done while they sit and watch or play.

4. The twins eat at the same time: This is essential. When one is hungry, we also feed the other. We'd have gone insane long ago if they were on two different eating schedules.

I hope this is helpful to anyone trying to figure out what their routine will be like with twins. I highly recommend the book Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, which talks about a structured routine with infants.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Will We Ever Leave?

All joking aside, nights like tonight make me ask, "will we ever leave India?" Tonight we had our end-of-the-year party where the whole school gets together and says goodbye to those that are moving on. It is one of the saddest events of the year and it is hard to keep a dry eye. None of our inner circle is leaving, but it was really hard to see those that are leaving give their going away speeches. There are definitely hard days in Delhi. There are days when I say, "Take me to the airport I'm leaving"; and then there are days when I say I can't imagine ever leaving. It is nights like tonight that remind me of why we keep coming back. The sense community, the adopted expat family, the genuine sense of belonging, and the open bar are what keeps us coming back each year. I have never met anyone that is leaving this place angry. Everyone leaves happy and with gratitude in their heart.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Six Months

A few days ago the boys crossed six months. This post has been a work in progress due to the end of the year crunch. This morning as I sat on the edge of the bed looking at my iPhone calendar it hit me that we are up and out of here in 15 days. Upon further investigation I realized that I am operating three calendars (iPhone, iPad, computer) and they were not synced with each other. My first agenda item today was to get all of my devices talking to one another so that we show up to the right place at the right time. Mission accomplished.

Starting Tuesday we have been attempting rice cereal with the boys. It has turned into our nightly comedy event after the family walk each night. Occasionally one of them will get a spoonful down the hatch, but mostly it just ends up everywhere except. Last night in protest Ezra took his spoon from my hand and tossed it across the room. Turns out Jyoti is a fan of rice cereal. I expect her new home to be under the table waiting for treats to fall from the sky.
We are looking forward to getting out of Delhi for awhile, but we have a ton of things to do before we can go. Procrastinating is bad this time of year because the heat only gets worse. Every year we say lets not wait until it is so hot next year to do all of our running around, but of course we waited until it was 110 degrees to head to the market to get Jyoti a summer supply of food and treats last weekend.

I have to say that this is the first year that Douglas and I have not been completely exhausted with Delhi in May. It could be that this is the first year we have lived in the bubble and can remain fairly unexposed the the sights and sounds of Delhi, it could be that we have lived here for four years now and this is just our life, and it might be that we have two beautiful children to come home to every day. Regardless of the reason we are truly enjoying life to the fullest every day.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Officially Hot

Not me... Delhi. The extended forecast is calling for 105 and sunshine everyday. Lets all find a pool and not move!

I have to fill everyone in about my birthday. Since it was my 30th Douglas wanted to make it very special, and he beyond succeeded. He told me that he got me a gift for every decade and I requested that they be spread out all day long.

My morning started by walking into my office and finding a gift on my desk. A nice big family picture from our trip to Goa. I smile at it every time I go into my office. Then around lunch time a order confirmation for a new pair of Oakley sunglasses arrived. I forgot my favorite sunglasses in a hotel in Rome a few years ago, and now I will finally have a replacement pair when I get back to the states in a few weeks. The grand finale of gifts was a new flat screen tv to replace the old thing we were using in our bedroom. Each gift had a card. The first one was "a gift that will make any 30yr old smile" the second "a gift to remember your 20's" and lastly "a gift any 10 year old would want in their bedroom." Douglas knows me very well.

Since my birthday was on a Thursday we decided that we would go out to dinner sans children on Friday. While Douglas was getting ready I was talking to our housekeeper, and she asked me for money to pay the grocery man because she used all the money "to pay for the cake that is at your surprise birthday party." I was totally in shock as I had no idea that Douglas was planning anything like this, but since I am not a good actor I went to tell him the gig was up and I knew everything. He was very mad that the surprise was ruined, but it turned out to be a great birthday party with fun had by all.

Today we took the boys to the doctor for their six month checkup. It is really hard to believe they are already six months old. All in all the doctor is happy with their progress, and the boys are not happy with their doctor for sticking their legs with needles today.

We also went across town to visit our friends from Delhi Baby. If you go all the way back to March 2011 you will find a post about meeting them the first time they were in Delhi with their first newborn. They were the first people we met in the blogging world all while we were waiting for the results of our transfer.

Tomorrow we are planning to experiment with solid food for the first time. We will definitely be getting this on video. Only three more weeks until France and four more weeks until America!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Seriously, I'm Not Doing Anything Wrong

Things are really heating up here in Delhi. For me, the heat is a signal of two things. First, the upcoming close of another academic year. Second, the deadline by which we have to use our personal leave time at school. Somehow, I made it to the end of the year holding on to two of my three personal days. So, Chad and I made plans on Monday to have an "adult day." We had the nanny come in late so we could spend the morning with the kids, and then we went to the mall for lunch, movie and a massage. All three were wonderfully relaxing. I have really tried to maintain a low-stress feeling ever since the babies have been born (well, actually since long before that), and I think that taking an afternoon away for yourself and your spouse is helpful.

The heat, which feels like the a permanent hair dryer blowing on you, has also signaled that it is time to start spending at least a portion of our weekends at the pool. So, Sunday morning we headed for breakfast right across the street from our apartment, and then went to the pool right after. The pool where we are members is almost entirely expats, and feels a lot like any country club in the suburbs of any American city. So, I was surprised when a man approached me while I was reading next to the twins, who were asleep. I knew he was coming towards me to tell me something. He had that look on his face that he was going to offer some unsolicited advice, and I was thinking "Please not here. I'm at the pool, trying to relax, and SERIOUSLY, I'm not doing anything wrong. They're asleep!" I have definitely had enough of people offering their expertise about parenting for no other reason than that I am a male and am in close proximity to children. And I know I'm not alone in having that feeling (read this too!). 

So, I inhaled and held my breath for a second, waiting for his words--whatever they would be--to hit me. 

But, then he surprised me. As he reached down and picked up his pre-school age daughter, he said, "I hope you have a camera, because that really deserves a picture." 

As I exhaled, I smiled at him. Then, I thanked him for his kind words and looked at Cedric and Ezra before I went back to my reading. 

I think we all cringe at the idea of "doing it wrong." And with parenting, I'm sure there are many ways to screw up your child, parenting--so far-- seems to me like an out beyond experience. For an explanation of that, I turn to my good friends in the women's world music ensemble, Libana and to Rumi:

Our beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
 there is a field.  I'll meet you there.

(The song Out Beyond is used with permission and is performed by Libana on their album Turning: Songs of  Earth Reverence and Peace, which is available on iTunes. I plan on doing an upcoming post about another album of Libana's which has become one of our favorites in the nursery). 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Happy Birthday To You!

Happy birthday to my partner, husband and friend; the best papa our twins could have; and to a person that everyone loves to be around.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Big 3-0

Tonight at midnight I start a new decade. I've been feeling indifferent about turning thirty. I have a great husband, two wonderful children, amazing friends, a beautiful home, I am happy, and I am healthy. What more could anyone want?

I remember when I thought thirty was ancient, the good news it doesn't hurt as bad as I envisioned.