Monthly Archives

November 2011

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PreSchool Alternative in NYC?

I am firmly in denial that I have to start thinking of preschool in solid terms.  I mean, I *think* about it.  I practically obsess about it in my head; running the numbers and thinking of the gains and what does it all really mean for what price.  Oh, I think about it a lot.
But I haven’t actually done anything about it.  Like, put my name on a list anywhere.  


Forget about preschool for a moment–what I should have done is put my kid’s names down on a list for PreK.  I should have done that when they were born.  You know, for PreK. 
PreK is when the free stuff starts in NYC.  But only some elementary schools have PreK and not all are good.  So, you can imagine the competition (actually you probably can’t imagine unless you are living here with kids.  It’s freeking insane and besides rent, it’s pretty much all people talk about).


However, we are lesbians with twins.  No one would ever, ever, ever admit it–but I know for a fact that we will get bumped up those lists because of the ‘diversity’ factor.  True story.
That doesn’t mean I should keep procrastinating, but it does make me feel a teensy bit better knowing that finally I’ve got the edge on the straight white couple.


OK, back to preschool.  The cost is insane.  I don’t know how much preschool costs average around the country and beyond (do tell!) but here in NYC, the average cost is roughly $1500-$2000 per MONTH.
Ahem, times two for twins.  Although some are generous with a 5% sibling discount.  Five percent, yee haw.
The highest priced preschool in NYC is $30K.  For a 3 year old to finger paint? Seriously??


Let’s assume we get a spot for two kids in a (cough) reasonably priced preschool in our neighborhood.  Just your average 1/2 day program.  
I still can’t go back to work full time because of the drop off and pick up times.  Or, if I did go back to work full time, I would still have to pay for a nanny.
It kills me either way because for ‘what’ I do workwise (for those of you who have been reading awhile I am most decidedly NOT the career-driven one of this couple) does not make me much money.
Going back into the workforce gives me a lot of anxiety.  I don’t even know what I’m going to do next. But that bit of panic is all for another post.


We could keep them out of preschool until they turn 4 and can go to (free) PreK.  There are plenty of classes and activities to keep them busy and happy.  This city is full of possibilities and learning opportunities–many of them for free.  It would be a lot of work and I would really have to buckle down with my planning and scheduling, but a homeschool preschool could be a possibility.


The other option–one which we will know more about in April–is living abroad for a year and renting out our (furnished) apartment.  Chicken has the strong possibility of being able to work remotely and so we would keep her income, plus the rent from our apartment and we would live in a moderately priced country (Costa Rica?  Argentina? Thailand? Malaysia?) with a great alternative preschool.
This is one of the reasons we choose where we are going in Costa Rica this winter–the awesome Waldorf preschool ($160/month) and the low cost of living.  The ability for the boys (and us) to learn another language is also HIGH on my list.  
I would prefer that language be Spanish as it’s the most beneficial (or maybe Chinese) but I also wouldn’t pass up a year in Thailand if that presented itself.


So that’s where we are.  Homeschooling or leaving the country.
How did this happen?

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Happy

Just in the last week or so, Grunter’s speech has been making leaps and bounds.  W2 seems to be taking it all in and will say something (or try) if you ask/prompt him, but he is not as verbal as Grunter (even though he started off being more so).
Being able to pet the cat is their goal of the day.  I swear we lift them out of the crib and they chime “cat!” We have a rather shy and skittish cat who is not too keen on letting them near.  Lately the boys (especially Grunter) have learned to be quiet, calm, gentle and slow and then….maybe…..he can get near enough the cat for a quick stroke of fur.
This past weekend, while I was sick in bed most of the day, the cat was laying on me when Grunter came to nurse.  He approached very slowly and the cat let him not only pet, but HUG him.  While his head was resting on the cat’s belly, I asked him if he heard the noise the cat was making?  He smiled and said ‘Si’ (they don’t say ‘yes’) and I said, he’s purring.  He makes that sound because he’s happy.  
Clear as a bell Grunter said “Happy!” and his whole face lit up with a smile.
Now he goes about his day and randomly will tell us he’s happy.  Today I saw him ‘clapping’ the hands of one of his dolls and saying “happy!”


Tonight as I was leaving their bedroom Grunter yelled out “Mommy”.  He has only started calling me Mommy and Chicken Mama in the past few weeks.  Something clicked and he knows which one of us gets which name.  Since that lightbulb went off–I hear Mommy! all day long.  This can be good and bad!
But it’s usual for him to want me to come back just one more time….
He stood up in his crib and reached out to hug and kiss me in the darkness.  Then I asked W2 if he wanted to give me another hug and kiss goodnight.  He replied by moving his face over to the crib slats and making giggly kissy noises.  I responded by kneeling down and kissing them both through the crib slats which they think is hysterical (and it’s beyond cute).
Then they both blew my kisses and sang out “ciao! night night!”


These are the moments that I live for.  During the first year, which was so very dark and difficult–these were the days I was waiting for.  Well worth the wait.

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Ditching the Stroller

Chicken and I made a big leap today.  We took our first ever ‘trip’ with the twins without using a stroller, carrier, monkey backpack ‘leash’, etc.  Nothing!  A backpack with some diapers, wipes and snacks was all we took.
How liberating!


A friend of ours just had open heart surgery and we wanted to go visit her.  Both of us were actually wondering at the same time if we should take strollers/carriers and laughed when we realized we were both thinking the same thing–let’s just do it.
These days the boys want to walk more and more.  I still take them to the grocery store with me once a week and they are great in the stroller–but for the last two weeks they get restless towards the end and I am hearing “out! out!”  This is when the matchbox cars quickly come out.


If I give them the option of going to the park (playground) or going on a walk–they will usually choose the walk.
They are both very good at listening and obeying the ‘rules’.  If I say “no”, W2 will almost always stop but Grunter is mischievous and will gleefully run squealing.  This sometimes upsets W2 (who may end up being the tattler!).  Anyway, I give them a lot of freedom around our neighborhood because it’s largely car-free in the park area and safe for them to walk and explore–as long as they stay ‘near’.
However, when we head out of this area and near the streets/cars I always stop and give them a little talk about where we are going and how they absolutely have to hold Mommy’s/Mama’s hand and that this is very, very important.
Now, they will both hold tightly to my hands and we can go on a walk together.  It’s awesome.  It took a lot of work over the past 6 months to get to this stage but we’ve been seeing real progress for the past 3 months.
Whoop Whoop loves to shake his index finger at a car and say “No!” And I reply, “that’s right, we don’t touch cars and we don’t go near them.”


So, today we thought they were ready.  And they were.  They behaved so well in the taxi and in the hospital, even waiting in the queue for the taxi home they were patient and nice.  The afternoon was such a success we decided to do something really crazy and went out to an early dinner.  The last time we tried dinner was in Florida in March!  It was such a disaster (even at 5:30pm) that we have just stuck to breakfast.  I know it helped tremendously that today they were tired from all of the walking.  


We have one family-friendly restaurant in our neighborhood (there are a few others, but not many…) and we had ‘dinner’ at 4:50!  They ate a variety of food we doubt they would have touched at home (who knew they were such big fans of trout almondine?) and we–for the first time ever–actually ate out without inhaling our plates at lightening speed.  I even had time to drink a great Belgian beer!  Total success.


This gives me all kinds of hope for the months ahead–especially our month in Costa Rica.  I love this age and I kind of want it to last forever, but I know each stage will probably be my new favorite.


Today Grunter was helping me unload all of the groceries from the bottom of the stroller.  They have both been doing this for 3 or 4 months–such good helpers!  But today, I heard Grunter saying the same thing over and over as he would put something on the kitchen counter (how did he get to be so tall already?!) and finally I realized that each time he was saying “Helpful”.  Melt.  Yes darling boy, you are so helpful!  How I savor these wonderful everyday moments.  

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Uh Oh

I missed blogging 2 days.  No prizes for me.
This afternoon I left the house for the first time since Friday morning.
Puffer got a little sick.  Not fever-puking-haggard sick.  Just achey, yucky, tired, stuffy, snotty sick.
I knew that if I could just Rest, that my body could *probably* fight it off.


It probably didn’t help that I took the twins to the Zoo Friday morning and totally exhausted myself.
But I’d promised them and it was a gorgeous (if a bit nippy) fall day and I couldn’t really deal with hearing “Ba Ba?” all day long. Even after we fed the sheep and looked at the pony, I heard “Ba Ba?  Nay Nay?” through the rest of the zoo.  Whoop Whoop loves his sheep and horses.
What I didn’t know was that Grunter knows how to say “Baboon!” and knows that it is a type of monkey.
That is so cool.


They call the wallabies “Abby” and animals sound a lot like “Elmo”.
Now, my kids have watched Sesame Street exactly 3 times, but we were gifted two SS books (an ABC and a counting one) and yeah, the kids love them.  It doesn’t matter that they’ve barely ever glimpsed Elmo on the screen–that one look was all it took.  There is something about Elmo.  What IS it?
So, all night Friday the boys are saying “Elmo Elmo” and I’m wracking my brain trying to figure out where they have seen Elmo that day.
It doesn’t hit me until the next day (when they are still saying it) that I realize they are saying “Animal”.
Ah Ha.


Saturday, for the first time in almost 22 months, Chicken took the boys by herself for (almost) the entire day.  I stayed in bed.  Sweet, sweet rest.  Now, it would’ve been much better had I been in a private bedroom with the door closed rather than smack in the middle of the living room, but the boys were outside a majority of the day and short of curling up in their crib–that’s as good as it gets around here.
(I actually did think of putting one of their crib mattresses on the floor and sleeping in there…)
I was quite sad when the boys left in the afternoon and questioned “Mommy?” and heard Chicken say, “No, Mommy doesn’t feel good, she’s staying here” and then hearing Grunter’s sweet little voice say “Mommy.  Night Night.”


I woke up today feeling better, but not good.  Chicken’s brother was in town for the weekend (formerly of Paris now in London) and he came over and they all played outside while I slept some more.  Only I didn’t sleep.  Restless from so much REST, I got up and made banana muffins and a quiche.
Finally this afternoon I was able to summon enough energy to take the kids to the park.  I missed them!
Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be back to new which is great since I’m going to have a long day ahead of me either way.  Thankfully the weather here is still holding steady at beautiful fall weather so we can go out and about.


I’m working on compiling all of the idea I got from the comments sections.  Wow!  There were some really great ideas and already I’ve started tweaking our mornings and have had great success!
Also….we’re reconsidering on the play kitchen.  I think that having the boys paint/draw at the kitchen table (it’s a vintage/retro diner type with a formica top that wipes clean) and using the extra space for a kitchen instead of an art table might be a better use of space.


Next up!  I’m going to try to tap into my crafty side and make some felt animals…..that can’t be too hard, right?  And I’m looking for the best reusable sandwich bags as I’m trying to ditch most of our plastic/ziplocs, etc.


Hope you all had a great weekend.

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Negatize

Chicken came home today and asked me if I’d done any work to monetize my blog.
“No, I went online shopping.  I negatized at Z.appos.”


However, I added up all the baby stuff I’ve sold and it’s well over $500 (what I can remember and what I kept track of anyway), but you know–then I bought shoes.
Chicken needed new boots for winter and so did the boys and me?  Well, my feet grew juuuuust enough during pregnancy that I’m neither a 7 (my old size), nor a 7.5.
Last week I cleaned out 1/2 my shoes and dropped them off at G.oodwill.
It’s so freaking annoying.  But I can’t afford to replace my entire shoe collection due to a bit of tight-foot-ness, so I’m just going to suck it up with the rest.
Instead I bought some really awesome wool slippers.  I can’t wait for them to arrive.
Maybe if my feet are comfortable, I’ll motivate to educate myself on how to monetize.

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Cute

I went to bed without blogging. Oops. Not feeling well and fighting off a cold.
This morning W2 was hugging Grunter while he nursed.

I hope the boys are as cute today as they were last Friday when I took this photo.
We had a big painting party in the park with 6 other friends. My boys were the messiest. I threw away those sweatpants. Totally ruined. They had so much paint on them their skin was painted underneath.
Messy Fun!



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Packing Up the Baby Stuff

One advantage of living in a small space is that you can’t really hold on to the stuff you don’t use/need.  Well, I guess you can, but you’ll be on Hoarders.
As the twins have outgrown things–bouncers, clothing, carriers–I’ve sold it as fast as I could either on my Twin Mom’s Club classifieds or on CL.
It’s always a little bittersweet, but mostly I’m glad to have more free space (especially the bouncer/swing plastic crap!).
This past weekend, I started gathering toys.  So many (too many) toys.  I put them all in a big box, took away most of the other toys and waited to see if they would play with them.  Eh, not so much.
These weren’t even their baby toys, but nevertheless these almost-2-year-olds are over and done with H.aba blocks and activity cubes.  I catalogued and boxed up all of the toys that I’ll now try to sell.
And I was sad.
Actually, I couldn’t part with them all.  We aren’t having anymore children, but I keep a few small things from each stage that I just can’t bear to sell/donate.


Now that they are entering the “pretend play” (shopping cart filled with food, farm and animals, airplane and people) and want “things that GO” (trains, cars, scooters, trikes), or things they can build (Duplos and soon, Legos) I’m a little lost with what toys will get me through the dark, cold winter (113 days til the beach!).


We don’t have much room inside and I get them outside twice a day to play in the park.  But there are going to be so many days we just can’t be outside at all unless it’s to fiercely bundle up and walk to the indoor play space or to someone’s house for a playdate.


I believe my FIL is going to buy them an art table like this:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/toys-games-super-art-table/12607993
I need ideas for art supplies and things we can do around the house.


We thought about a play kitchen, but honestly the only place we could put it is in their bedroom and there is NO way they would stay back there and ‘pretend’ to cook when what they really want is to be under my feet while I am cooking!  I’ve learned to just set them up with kitchen things and cook fast.
The idea of a train table is enticing, but there is a big store about a 10 minute walk from our place that has a huge Tho.mas the Train table set up in the toy section and we go play with it a couple of times a week.  Why buy it when we can go there??


Those of you with 2-3 year old’s, tell me–what worked for you and what do you wish you’d not bought?
The grandparents are asking for Holiday gift ideas and I’d like to be prepared.
And Chicken has the logic of “Oh, we just got rid of a bunch of toys–let’s buy more, more, more!” and I’m all like, “NO!”
Anything without batteries and along the lines of Montessori would be great!


Thanks!

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Home Study Questions for Second Parent Adoption

I’d like to start off by saying I’m pissed that we have to do this at all for us to be a “legal” family.  We procrastinated the adoption for a long, long time.  Partially because we are already legally married and Chicken is listed on the birth certificate, but mostly because we hired a lawyer that has made so many mistakes it’s ridiculous.  She’s so careless I have no idea how she gets through the day.
Anyway.

We’ve finally gotten to the home study portion of the adoption which means we’re almost done!  Last week the social worker came over and spent 2 hours with us.  Good God.  I can’t even believe that she wanted our entire life stories from BIRTH to present.  WTF?!
Now you know that I am not really a private person, but I was pissed that we had to go through all of these questions–to be so judged.
Today, I get an email from the social worker and I must say….I’m a bit in disbelief.

These questions…is this NORMAL for a home study??   Did anyone else have to go through all of this??
And the kicker?  The social worker is a pregnant lesbian I’ve previously met on several occasions.  Someone else is going to be coming to her house and doing the same damn thing.
It’s so messed up on so many levels.

Emai:

Hope this email finds you and the boys well. I have completed my first drafts of the home studies and have some follow up questions.
 
What is your actual address?
 
Documents: I am looking for a letter from the Cryobank and also, egg donor letter. Does Stupid Lawyer have these? We need to find out. I will write to her but please also investigate.
 
Do you call each other wife, spouse, partner. Do you go by Ms. or Mrs.? I assume Ms. but you never know.
 
Chicken:
 
I need current info on your parents. How old are they, still working, retired? interests, hobbies, how often see twins, are they coming to Costa Rica? Relationship with Puffer and boys.
 
Puffer:
 
What did you get your B.A. in?
What was your job at XXX?
2007-09 you were a marketing manager for whom, I know it was an on line non profit.
How long has your mother been married to stepfather, confirm 22 years?
Your mother met the twins after their birth and again in 2010. When?
Are your mother and step father coming to Costa Rica?
Did your brother meet the boys on Mother’s Day 2011?
Does your father know the twins were born?
Confirm you were in counseling in college and did you do any therapy since?
 
Boys:
 
I know Puffer is the birth mother. Do you consider Chicken to be the bio mother? Or the egg donor? I know that technically, she is an egg donor, but it seems significant that she is biologically related to the boys. Can you comment on this.
 
At birth, were boys born early, what did they weigh, were they healty? Which was born first?
 
I met the boys, but it was hard for me in the short visit to distinguish them apart yet. How is Grunter different from W2 in temperment, character? How are they different and alike? Play, language, etc.
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Church on the Down Low

We went to church today.  No, my blog hasn’t been hijacked.


I am, for lack of a label, somewhat agnostic, a bit Buddhist and more ‘spiritual’ than anything else.
Chicken has been getting close to the idea of God being your higher power for quite a few years now.
We both grew up “in the church”; she in a quite liberal Methodist where the idea of hell was never really preached about and me in a very conservative Southern Baptist where you are reminded of hell constantly.
While neither of us believe that Jesus is the actual son of God, we do both agree that he was a great (misunderstood) man in his day who had that ‘certain something’.  Was he a prophet?  I dunno.  I guess it depends on your definition.  To me, I believe he was a great leader–much like Ghandi and MLK.


When I remind myself to live with full awareness, I am a much nicer person.  Having children has made me more aware of how I treat people, the things I say, the tone I say it, my critiques and praises.  I do want my children to grow up to be good, kind boys and men.  Don’t we all?  I know that I need to model the behavior.
I don’t need to go to church to make this happen.  It’s not about that.


But.  For a long time now (before pregnancy) Chicken and I have talked about being a part of a spiritual community**.  One where we are not judged and we agree somewhat with the message.  Mostly, because of my upbringing, Christianity scares me senseless.  I’ve heard and seen so much hatred and bigotry spewed that it’s made me believe, “Wow, if that’s what Jesus would do this world is in deep shit.”  I distrust organized religion.  Wars break out over which God is the right God.
I think that God is what you make of him/her.  He is just that–yours.  He is the Jews and the Christians and the Buddhists and the Muslims and the Hindus.  He is the same God.  No need to fight….


And Jesus….who ever he really was….he preached love.  And forgiveness.  And some seriously awesome life lessons.
I mean….if we really all lived our lives based on love….how beautiful and peaceful would this world be?


So we found this church.  It’s one of those new kinds of churchs with a live rock band on the stage and you meet in an auditorium and it’s filled with hundreds of (mostly) white 20-30 somethings.  You know, the kind of church where the volunteers hand out gum and granola bars on street corners and slip you a little card about how cool their church is?  Their non-churchy church.  Just come as you are.  Jesus love you.


We’ve talked about going to this non-churchy (me:  “It could be a cult.”) church, so this morning we decided to just GO.  It’s fairly near our place, the times worked with the kids schedule and why yes, they did have excellent child care facilities.


I admit I walked in completely skeptical.  I can’t even remember the last time I willingly went to a church service, but I’m guessing more than 20+ years ago.  I am sure that I gave everyone a bit of my “I don’t trust you Jesus freak” look.  Except that these people really were pretty cool.  And nice.  And real.  But still, they were at church!  Uh….but so was I.  Hmmm.
There were free bagels and coffee and tea and really nice people.  That is so suspicious!!
We went straight up to the child care to check things out and spend some time before going to the service.  I honestly thought the boys would flip out and I’d pack them up and say “See!  We weren’t meant to go to church!”  Except that they loved it and didn’t cry when we left and didn’t freak out while we were gone for one hour and 20 minutes and W2 didn’t even really notice when we came back he was having so much FUN.  Free child care on a Sunday morning.  And bagels?  Hmmmm.


The service opened with live music and the words were projected on a screen at the stage if you wanted to have a sing-a-long.  The musicians were very talented but the words did freak me out.  I seriously thought about leaving when the lead singer did that ‘thing’ where you sway and put your hand up as you sing (reaching to God?).  That shit is just freaky to me.
But I stayed.  And the (preacher?) was young.  And had a great message and said (mostly) things that I could agree with.  The message was–overwhelmingly–about love.  And I can’t deny that sitting there for an hour listening to him speak made me remind myself to live my life with more awareness.


That can’t be a bad thing.
Having a community of nice people who accept you and your family with open arms, that can’t be a bad thing, right?
I don’t know.  We’ll give it another shot next week and see how we feel.


I know one thing for sure:  I cannot tell my mother!!!  Oh, the confusion this would cause that poor woman. (Who AM I?)
For now, my church-going is on the down low.


**For the record, the Unitarians were our first choice, but the church is too far and the service too late for the kid’s schedule.  Ditto the MCC (gay church). This one worked.  We’ll see if it keeps working.








  

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Tea Time

Every morning the boys watch with great interest as we make ourselves a very elaborate double shot latte.*
When I’m done steaming my milk and dusting it with cinnamon, they get to dip a finger in and taste.
They know these little cups are special because the mommies use them.



So, for the last week, we’ve started evening “tea time”.
After dinner, we bring out the cups with ‘tea’ (water) and practice drinking. I don’t care if the get themselves and everything wet because it’s the end of the day anyway.

Grunter got the hang of it quickly but W2 feels the need to tongue everything. Needs work.

Eventually they will get it. I’d love to travel without any special cups, spoons, etc. It’s possible in 4 months, right? We won’t have a D/W and in the humid conditions…those straws…could be pretty yucky.

When did you transition to only an open cup? How long did it take?

**Before I was pregnant a very bitter woman told us to sell our espresso machine because once we had a baby we would never have the time to make ‘fancy’ coffee again. Well, we have made them for 21 months. Our love of good espresso is that strong.**

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