This past Sunday was our 12 year anniversary. We didn't get to celebrate or mark the occasion in any way on account of the whole, "Our Lives Are Crazy Because We Have Three Kids, Two Of Whom Are 5 Month Old Twins" thing we're trying on for size over here.
Our neighbours were nice enough to invite the Big Yam over on Friday for a pajamas/pizza/movie party with some of the other rugrats and so, faced with a night (well, 2 hours) with "only" the babies with us, we had big plans to go out to eat at a nice restaurant and have some one-on-one time (technically, two-on-two). I was all heart set on going to Kingyo Izakaya because I've been craving Japanese food and I love izakayas and I also knew that the place was spacious enough for two babies not to be a big deal there (unlike Guu), but I left things too last minute and they were all booked up. I tried a few other restaurants but in the end, I had been so into the idea of re-trying Kingyo that anything else didn't measure up and all the ideal candidates were booked up solid anyway. So we got takeout from Pizzeria Libretto and moved the coffee table (currently a landing spot for cloth diapers and cloth diapering accoutrements) into the living room and lit candles and ate pizza to the melodious sounds of two wailing babies. It was fun? Maybe?
I had been dealing with maybe 2 or 3 nights with interrupted sleep, totalling only 5 hours or so and when we went to bed, I was spiralling into a massive, sleep-deprived, existential crisis depression/mortality moment. I felt a huge ball of anxiety in the middle of my chest and was basically unburdening myself to the Dotytron to the tune of such cheery and romantic numbers as: "What's the point? We're all going to get cancer and die anyway." "I don't want to die young." "What's the meaning of living." "I'm scared of dying." It was pretty grim. The Dotytron was trying his best - really, he should have gotten a medal of valour for how hard he was trying to diffuse the situation, "Well, worrying about dying isn't productive," etc., etc., but I was not to be dissuaded! (I had also made the mistake during the day of clicking on a Facebook thing of this photo essay this guy took of his partner who died from breast cancer.) Me: "I've been feeling like this for a long time. Maybe I'm having depression? Should I go see a therapist?" The Dotytron, "Seeing as how this is the first I've heard of this, I'm pretty sure you haven't felt like this in a long time, why don't you sleep on it."
So I did. He let me sleep in the next morning and I basically bounded out of bed with all Nietzschean thoughts dispelled, replaced with thoughts of croissants and soft-scrambled eggs.
The long and short of this is: SLEEP DEPRIVATION IS FOR REAL, PEOPLE. IT IS NO JOKE.
I mean, I also told the Dotytron (patronizingly) that "precautious" is not a word and that, "I think you mean 'precocious.'"
In all seriousness though, I wasn't at my best all Friday. I made the ill-advised and overly ambitious decision to pack up all three kids and take them to the Royal Agricultural Fair - in the words of famed prostitute-with-the-heart-of-gold Vivian from Pretty Woman when she returns triumphantly to the Beverly Hills boutique with cash in hand and is told that the salespeople don't get commission: "Big mistake. Big mistake. Huge." So - little sleep the previous nights + 3 kids + Royal Winter Fair = s**tshow of epic proportions. It's loud! It's busy! It's expensive! It's full of dirty livestock that are vectors of disease! There's nowhere to sit and it's not all that kid friendly! It was the worst.
So we stayed for about an hour and a half and returned home defeated (me) and buzzing with funnel-cake-derived energy (the Big Yam). Then I did something I'm not proud of, and that haunted me for the rest of the weekend, and still kind of does today. The Big Yam was all up in my face all day and was ornery and fractious. I was finally spent, staring at the clock and waiting for the Dotytron to come home and relieve me. I finally had a bit of quiet time and was lying with the Great Gazoo on the couch, breathing in his sweet baby smell and trying to catnap and the Big Yam (who also has a cold) was just ON ME. Climbing all over me, trying to poke at his little brother, kicking, being gross. I repeatedly told him not to and tried to distract him, discipline him, get him to stop, but he wouldn't. And after one too many times, I said, "STOP. IT." and shoved him off of me and he stumbled off the couch. I felt (feel) awful about it. I mean, I'm an adult. He's a kid. It's not up to him to learn to control his anger, it's up to me. I gave myself a hard time about it all day and still replay in my head the image of him half-falling/stumbling off the couch and his accompanying cry of distress. I've got a lot of self-disgust for that moment.
My deadbeat dad was a physical disciplinarian. So were some of the nannies I had when I was younger. I've always thought, "well, I turned out okay" and while we never incorporate physical discipline into our parenting style, I don't necessarily think the odd spank is worthy of a call to CAS. I know how I felt when I pushed him off of me though, and I know that for me, the general ickiness of that feeling is enough to make me want to try to never give in to that impulse. For us, it just feels wrong. There have been times when we've had to physically restrain the Big Yam when he's in time out and lashing out at us, and even that feels wrong. I get it. Believe me, I do. There are times when the Big Yam is so aggravating that I want to lay him out (and there are times when I've whispered or muttered as much under my breath), but the Dotytron articulated it best - when you use physical force against a child, the "ickiness" you feel comes from how unfair it is. You can easily physically outpower them - it's not an exchange that's happening on equal footing. I think for me, it's also taking the easy way out and I don't really think it accomplishes anything. No eff the Big Yam can be willful and aggravating and easily frustrated - those are all traits he gets from me. It troubles me that for all that I tell myself that I'm a reasonably mature, rational being, that I can allow a 3 year old soul to get me riled up to the point where I am capable of entertaining that degree of control loss.
If I'm being completely honest, when I think back on times where I'm in the discipline spiral where I allow the Big Yam to goad me and I get into the 3rd or 4th "this is your last warning!" or start getting into the irrational spiral of "I'M GOING TO TAKE EVERYTHING YOU POSSESS AWAY ONE BY ONE!" or even reactionary shouty, that also feels icky. Ultimately, I don't think that mode of being is effective, models good behavior, or has the desired result. We just end up feeding on each other's heightened energies to the point where we're both in an unreachable, intractable place. If I were to really examine the effective modes of discipline, I would say that - ignoring, rationalizing, staying calm, fireside chats, and the odd time out with appropriate displays of hugs and affection interspersed when needed are the ones that yield the best results.
I can't undo what happened last Friday. I can feel guilty about it and I will, but that's not productive either. What is useful is trying to remember the icky feeling and channelling that into better control, so that I can curb reactionary irrationalism in myself at the same time as I'm trying to teach my kids to do the same.
The long and short of it still is, though: SLEEP DEPRIVATION IS FOR REAL, PEOPLE. IT IS NO JOKE.
Saturday we had a lovely visit with R & R and baby M who has the longest lashes of any baby I've ever seen and who is in that babbling stage that I find so hilarious. Sunday we our actual anniversary and we celebrated with a Friendsgiving dinner with Supper Club and the Discerning Coyote and GF who somehow ended up meeting some Markhamites through their design work and now we have friends in common. There were 18 people there? It was a combined effort that yielded much in the way of deliciousness. So good to see all those folks.
The best was that our friends R & P, brought their son D who is 4 months older than the Big Yam. He and the Big Yam were "sharing" the iPad most of the evening on the couch while we sat around the table and ate. At one point, we went around and everyone said what they were thankful for. We all sat silent while D's mom explained the question, and watched as he thought of a response. "What are you thankful for, D? What do you love?" He thought for a long moment, then his eyes brightened, he pointed at the Big Yam, and said, "COLON!" LOL!!! Never not funny! He a) thought the Big Yam's name was Colin, and then, b) called him Colon instead. So good!
Here are some random snaps to make up the rest of the post:
Great Gazoo looking increasingly like a weird, old man and Prof. Gantok looking like a plumped up chubalub
Just chillin' - I feel like this is a window into their future selves - Prof. Gantok will be the fat, protective one and keep tabs on his nebbishy twin brother
Epic train track times
5 month pics. Getting pretty upset that next month they'll be 6 months old! NOT ALLOWED TO HAPPEN!
Prof. Gantok's current thing is making a fist and staring intently at it for minutes on end. It's pretty darned cute. Junior revolutionary.
When you raise a girl on mostly non-suburban white people food, she ends up with cravings for Campbell's soup can recipe tuna noodle casserole
Venison stew with venison hearts and a sunchoke/yukon mash
I had my friends from the old Canoe days over and made them a delicate squash, sage, bacon & cheddar quiche and a really bitter kale salad. Hot tip that I learned from my cook friend: late season kale tends to be kind of tough and bitter, so if you want to use it in a salad, you should massage the cut leaves with lemon and garlic to help macerate them a bit and break down.
A freezer meal of frozen chorizo, bean & corn chilaquiles mix with some leftover pozole - served without eggs and with pozole fixin's: shredded cabbage, sliced radish, guacamole, broken tostadas
I made these to go with a mat leave ladies lunch I hosted yesterday - they're brown butter almond-hazelnut financiers. SO. FREAKIN. GOOD. I'm obsessed!!! They're like a cross between a chewy macaroon and a nut cookie, but all jumped up with the caramel notes from brown butter.
Will post the recipe below.
Brown Butter Financiers
makes approximately 40
adapted from Bon Appetit
12 T. unsalted butter
1 c. sliced almonds, toasted in the oven until lightly golden (or, what I did: 1/2 c. almonds, toasted and 1/2 c. hazelnuts, toasted and skinned, or 1 c. hazelnuts, toasted and skinned)
1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
5 large egg whites
1/2 t. salt
- put the butter in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the foam subsides and butter smells nutty and is a deep golden brown (do not let burn!) Take off the heat and set aside, stirring and scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan
- process the nuts with the flour in a food processor until finely ground. Add the confectioner's sugar and pulse until the sugar is evenly incorporated.
- whisk the egg whites to loosen in a bowl and stir in the nut mixture, then fold (I just stirred) in the browned butter and salt
- spray two mini-muffin tins with cooking spray. Put a heaping tablespoon of dough in each mini muffin cup and bake the financiers in a preheated 375F oven 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then remove from the pan to finish cooling on a plate or rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
You could also fold in some berries or chopped fresh cherries into the batter, but I prefer them straight up like this.