It’s still pitch black outside and I’m curled on my (most comfortable) right side when I am awakened by my husband’s voice speaking quietly to Elliot, who has apparently tried to crawl into bed with us. “Elliot, go take off your diaper and jammie pants and bring me a new diaper.” I’m always supremely grateful to be allowed to pretend unconsciousness during these night-time dramas and to have a husband who steps up most of the time the children need anything. This time I’m aware enough to listen to Elliot’s bare feet padding obediently away from our room and to lay there listening to bumps and thuds as he does as bidden, or at least that’s what we are hoping. Sure enough, he comes back into our room a few minutes later toting a fresh diaper which Paul applies and then snuggles in next to us. I stay with my back turned stubbornly away, hoping to fall back asleep without my toddler practically climbing down my shirt, until I realize it must be closer to morning than I think. The clock glows 7:02 and I’m surprised Paul isn’t in the shower yet readying for a day at the office.
Once I turn over, my tiny two-year-old wraps his skinny arms around my neck, kisses my face and murmurs quietly but excitedly about how he wants chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. Soon all three of us are up and Paul is stepping into the shower while Elliot, just in a diaper and socks, cuddles with me. Eden wakes up and beats Elliot into the shower with Daddy. I begin to prepare Paul a breakfast to go, of 2 Trim Healthy pancakes, Greek yogurt mixed with a splash of cream and truvia, and our own hand-picked frozen blueberries. One after another, my two mocha children shiver out of the bathroom, cloaked in white towels, dark hair slick against their heads. I break to dress Elliot and instruct Eden to dress in the clothes we left neatly folded on her rocking chair last night.
Elliot has changed his mind and now wants Trader Joe’s Fruity O’s for breakfast. (I’m not a fan, simply because it’s not nourishing in the slightest, but hey, he’s getting loads of amazing raw milk at least) As I pour him a bowl Eden shares her breakfast request of an over-easy egg with homemade toast to dip in the yolk. I don’t plan to be a short order cook forever but with just the two babies, I don’t find it ridiculous to occasionally oblige their whims. Paul comes out of our room in a cloud of cologne and dressed in his cranberry-colored button-down shirt and slacks. He asks if the pancakes are his and grimaces to see them on a plate rather than packed up. I explain that the steam coming off of them will make them mushy when covered but fold two pancakes into a rectangular glass container with a plastic lid. I cap the yogurt and berry mixture and add it to the packed pancakes and full water bottle in a plastic bag to take with him. He kisses us goodbye and step out the door for the day.
After I quickly fry up Eden’s breakfast I begin my own. Remembering how much steady energy I had the day before and attributing it to the full scoop of protein powder I had added to my mango kefir smoothie, I poured 1 cup of 1% cottage cheese, 1 cup of frozen blueberries, about a tsp. of cream, and a scoop of vanilla protein powder into my vita-mix container. Blending until it was pudding-smooth I pour it into a bowl and begin to eat. It isn’t very good, not nearly sweet or blueberry-ish enough. Not that I have much time to focus on my failed breakfast though. Predictably Eden begins to complain about an overly full belly once she finishes a quarter of her toast and the yolk. I have her fold the remaining floppy white in half and lay it atop her butter-soaked toast. Fortunately for me that seems to solve the problem and she finishes within minutes. Throughout meal-time though, Elliot is determined to be a nuisance. Between escaping from the counter numerous times and poking Eden, making her howl, and whining incessantly about NOT wanting any cereal, I am kept juggling discipline and spoonfuls of soggy cereal into his mouth.
After breakfast I launch into a semi-consistent rhythm of my shower, Eden’s chores of room-cleaning, putting away silverware, and getting out the vacuum. Elliot’s little tasks usually consist of picking up discarded laundry, putting his socks and shoes on, emptying 2 garbage cans, and throwing the odd container into the recycling bin with a resounding and pleasing crash. I make my bed, something I really don’t do every day, but since I am focused and energetic and want to set a good example, it gets done. I pick up clothes, start prepping for making Fresh Milk Bread,(recipe soon!) and spend too much time on Face book, researching costs of plastic totes and Aura Cacia air fresheners, before my children climb on me and demand to see the photo of Elliot nursing. I don’t find it but spend several minutes perusing a collection of photos from 2011 when my babies were really babies and so much more dependent than they are now. Eden is quite discontent with the still shots, she’s been hoping for videos and before long she is off to her room to play shopping.
Elliot follows her and begins to torment her with hurling all contents from her purse to the floor. More discipline ensues and I take photos in between instructive sessions with both babes. Eden needs just as much guidance with her propensity to over dramatize each situation and capitalize on attention with her ear-splitting abilities. After I set the dough down for the first hour and half-long rising, I call the children into the dining room to do “schoolwork”. They come racing. With Eden on my right and Elliot on my left we begin with a stack of Kumon Preschool workbooks and a newly-replenished marker box.
Eden begins with number tracing and Elliot pastes and places stickers on worksheets. They devour the attention and soak up the concepts. Elliot is now able to focus for about 45 minutes at a time, just on schoolwork but I watch him closely since it’s about 11 o’clock and he’ll be getting sleepy. Eden sails through a book on mazes, the number books, and a brightly-colored alphabet worksheet. She gets stumped with her phonics. I can’t quite figure why reading a sentence of the easiest words and matching it to a picture is so frustrating for her. She begins to gaze into the distance and collapses with angst when I push her. I find the only solution is to praise her every move for a bit until she is encouraged enough to carry on to the next dreaded line. After several long minutes, she seems to grasp that this isn’t THAT overwhelming and she finishes in happy spirits.
I get up and slice a ginger gold apple for a snack/meal for Elliot; he crunches into it and is delighted with my suggestion to dip it in peanut butter. When I can’t find any, I pull out a jar of Biscoff spread, one of his favorite things in the world and he consumes several heaping spoonfuls of the “cookie-on-a-spoon”. I also feed him butter-slathered curly pasta and he eats half the plate before pushing back his chair. As Eden continues with a cutting and pasting project, Elliot washes his face and hands and is diapered for naptime. He only begins to weep a bit as I tuck him in, declaring that he didn’t get to finish his schoolwork and asking about Daddy.
After finishing her workbooks and putting every trace of marker and paper away, Eden and I eat leftovers for lunch. She eats vigorously, spooning pork and star-shaped pasta into her mouth. Since she and I are both quiet, I ask her what she is thinking about. She says “Oh nothing.” And then immediately launches into her memory of a fantasy where she can ride a super-fast lion everywhere while we drive in our mini-van, her pet lion leaping over buildings faster than we could drive.
Nap-time comes for Eden and she willingly lies down. I sink into my favorite rocking chair, laptop in hands and type away at a blogging project until I hear the outer door creak open and my husband strides in, smiling. It’s always good to have him home earlier in the day! We sit and I continue to work while Paul eats lunch. He’s happy to be eating his “diet regimen” of 2 Trim Healthy meals per day. He asks if he can have the CarbSmart Breyers ice cream and grins like an overjoyed boy when I say, yes, that’s on plan”. Suddenly I am scared witless by a shrill yell and a tiny shirtless boy comes flying out of the kitchen towards Paul. He decided to sneak up on his daddy but I took the shriek as a near death experience. After I calm down, Paul reminds me that it’s nearly time to leave for our ultrasound appointment.
As excited as I am to finally see our baby (I’ve been longing for this day for months now) I find it difficult to untangle myself from a productive flow of words. Eden wakes up and I have further motivation to get up myself. Soon we are headed to the office and upon arrival I am handed a few papers to sign. Typically, I feel annoyed and paranoid at having to write personal information down for unknown eyes to read. Eden and Elliot pile on their daddies lap for story time in the brief few minutes before we are called into the ultrasound room by a blonde, still-faced woman. As the ultrasound progresses Paul and I ask a stream of inquisitive questions regarding what the lady is looking at and soon she seems to engage with us in a warmer manner. She answers all our questions and is perfectly respectful of our wish to know the gender. She will be the only human on earth to know the sex of our child until his/her birth.
Eden and Elliot look on with quiet curiosity as the spine, brain, and heart are pointed out as the ultrasound is slid expertly down and across my slick, bare belly. We are told that this is the most cooperative baby she’s had all week, with the baby obligingly flipping and turning just so to get the optimum measurements and picture. Paul and I are grateful to hear that the cord and placenta looks extremely healthy and I am especially delighted to hear that the baby has distinctly long limbs. We also get a 3-D stream of video and a few quite clear shots of the face. The baby looks like my side of the family, Paul and I both seeing the baby strongly favor my dad, and even my sister, Hali. By the end of the session, the lady has shared her disappointment at her inability to have more than one child, with one lost son, miscarriages and infertility. I am impressed and softened at her heart decision in channeling that pent-up nurture and love towards her patients.
We leave, several still-shots of our unborn baby in hand, me full of questions at what this baby’s personality might be, how much it will weigh at birth, whether it really is a boy, because, my gosh! It sure doesn’t look like a girl to me! At this point I’d be completely shocked if it was a girl but thrilled anyway because I do hope for more tiny darling girl-babies to adore. Paul suggests we go out for coffee since we are already out as a family. I love his attention on us, and I rarely say no to a fresh-brewed decaf in hipster, local coffee shops.
First though, we swing by his work to pick up his laptop. The coffee shop isn’t its normally lively scene. Most of the customers are absorbed by their phones and laptops. While coffee shops are an excellent place to relax and study I am particularly disturbed to see an adolescent boy sitting by his father who is tapping away at a laptop. The boy himself had an iPad propped up in front of him but was staring at his phone. Our children launch themselves into their hot chocolate while Paul and I sip from unsweetened but cream-swirled iced coffees. They also rapidly munch a cookie split between them into crumbs. Soon we are walking together out of the coffee shop but not before my two sugar-jacked kiddies began to make a hilarious (to them) game out of banging into each other’s butt.
We make a quick and inviting stop at a local grocer/co-op down the sidewalk through the fickle grey breeze. I swoon over sugar pumpkins and dark, curly kale bundles while the children beg for mini Western NY grapes. I fill up paper sacks with some needed spices and we end up leaving not too much poorer but I do snag an 85% Alter Eco chocolate bar first.
On the drive home, I begin to tremble with hunger, the kind of hunger I’d had in the first trimester, surprising me as I’d eaten a brimming bowl of sausage vegetable soup and two squares of dark chocolate for lunch. As soon as we were home, I begin to think about supper. I decide that I’ll make a fresh veggie tray with homemade ranch dip, fry up some organic chicken dumplings I’d randomly picked up the in the prepared foods section of the grocery store, and wash some red grapes. I realize I have to please three toddlers with this meal as 3-year-old Barak; a neighbor’s son will be staying with us overnight.
His dad arrives, Barak in hand and my children go nuts as Barak shyly enters. They scoot off to play while I prepare supper and Paul tries to crash for a five-minute nap. Since I find myself incompetent to fix supper on a trembly stomach I fork-whisk 4 eggs and 3 yolks and pour it into a butter-swimming skillet for a super-quick bowl of scrambled eggs. In a few minutes I am back in my rocker for a food break, eating my absolutely luscious and glistening scrambles, and replying to a couple messages. Indignant howls and chaos erupts in the kid’s room. I can visualize the scene. Eden had foraged a “shopping bag” and Elliot was obviously terrorizing her by tearing it to bits, pulling it away from her and wrecking her grand set-up. Barak alternately joined in the howling and was being as easily provoked as Eden.
Paul storms out of the bedroom, sees me rocking away with my bowl of goods, and assumes that I am a lax parent. I excuse myself wearily after he deals with both of our children for the same offenses I run across the rest of the day. Eden gets punished for the over-kill drama and Elliot for being a bully. Supper is soon again progressing and within minutes I have Eden carrying plates and trays to the table while I finish sautéing the dumplings. Supper looks fresh and kid-friendly, Paul likes the presentation. I join the other four at the table with a big bowl of mesclun greens drenched with oil and vinegar. I ask the blessing and watch Elliot adorably squeeze his eyes shut for the prayer. Eden and Paul enjoy their supper but the two end up needing to be prodded to eat their one dumpling apiece. They both end up earning a treat of an airplane gummy, though, upon finishing. I practice discipline myself in choking down my over-salted greens, trying to balance the saltiness with big chunks of cucumber and green pepper.
Clean-up for supper begins after I spend a few moments leaning my head on Paul’s chest, regrouping from the day. It takes me a bit over a half-hour to finish dishes, counters, floor, and food wrap-up. The children race around in rowdy joy until I tell Eden that after their room is clean they can watch a movie together. Eden mobilizes the younger boys and alternately orders or cajoles them into picking up with her. Paul helps corral the kiddies even though he has already begun his second round of work he’s brought home. As the children settle into The Lion King, I slip into jersey pants and tank top. A few more squares of new chocolate in hand, I again savor long minutes of uninterrupted work and fruity dark chocolate. Movie over, the troops are again bursting with obnoxious energy that once again is roped into dressing in jammies. Elliot has a hoot flashing us all and wiggling around naked, laughing hysterically. I decide to lead all three in a couple minutes of rapid-fire jumping jacks, high knees, and squats, from my chair. Paul retracts his initial decision to not read a bedtime story and has the kiddies climb around him for a quick book about an old-time song-and-dance act. He plays them a clip from YouTube on the subject afterwards, to my admiring amusement.
However this becomes MORE videos, after Paul plays them some Lord of the Dance this leads to a thunderous copy-cat performance. This prompts me to herd them to their respective beds for a quick bedtime prayer. I diaper Barak for his bed on the couch and snap the lights off. Paul and I begin yet again, both able to work and breathe before the next day begins. We decide to watch Downton Abbey and drink beer and a glass of dry Malbec together before bed. We are blessed to have eaten, to be protected from the elements, to await our child, and most of all, to live in a love-warmed home. Thanks.