Difficult Questions

A few weeks ago, while we were at C’s physiotherapy session M wrapped her arms around me and said “Why are C and B different?” I couldn’t think of a quick answer, but M is nothing if not persistent. “Why are they different????? WHY???” I can’t remember what I muttered, but I didn’t do a very good job since we were in a session with three therapists, and two cranky babies. When I tried to return to it later that evening she seemed to have forgotten.

I’ve been open with the kids about C’s brain injury. We tell them that part of her brain that helps her move got hurt. It’s possible that her cognition or vision or other things are affected as well, but we don’t know that, and so we haven’t gone there yet. To me she seems as intellectually aware as any other baby, and that’s how I treat her and wish her to be treated. Sometimes I wonder if I am too open, as P happily blathers about it with random strangers. Other times it comes up in a nice way – like we watch a show called Signing Time. I explained to the kids that the lead little girl’s sister also has an “owie” on her brain like C, and that she appears in lots of the segments. M was very pleased by that. Sometimes I wonder if “owie” is an appropriate way to describe it, but it is an injury and I’m not sure it’s useful to get overly technical.

Last night as M was brushing her teeth, and I was putting one of the twins down, I heard her ask “When will C’s owie get better?” Then I overheard a very calm, patient and lovely explanation of neuroplasticity, aimed at a four-year old. The broken part won’t heal over. Other parts of her brain may try to take over what the injured part would have done, but they might not do quite as good a job. P came up from the bath spluttering “NEVER?” “But won’t skin grow over it?” asked M. “How big is the part that’s hurt? Show me on my hands.” The truth is we don’t really know, and J never saw the scans, but I think he went with “thumb.” Probably more, but thumb is good.

“You mean she might never run as fast as I do?” Probably not. “Even whens she’s SIX?” We hope she’ll walk by then, but maybe she’ll need a walker, or even a wheelchair if we’re going far. But she might be very good at other things. Then later, M putting on her pyjamas, she was singing, “But I want a wheelchair. I want to be the one in the wheelchair.”

These are the questions adults don’t ask – but kids get right to the heart of the matter. These are surreal conversations, and they are difficult ones. But they are very healing in their own way.

The Juggle

You know, I don’t write in here as much as I should, but it’s not for lack of things to say. There are always flowers growing, things I contemplate knitting, adventures with the kids, sadness, happiness, the whole gamut.

It’s just that there is so little time. I get home at 4:30 and make dinner, feed them, do C’s exercises, try to stop B from eating Lego, watch the older kids bicker or make potty jokes, yell too much, maybe drive someone to soccer. After they’re down there are dozens of dishes to do, e-mails to therapists, school forms or camp forms to be filled out, plants to be watered and maybe, just maybe half an episode of Orange is the New Black.

It’s a juggle. I often feel like I don’t have the patience for my older kids that I wish I did. A trip to the beach or the aquarium would be such a breeze with the two, but when you add two infants it feels more like trek in the Himalayas. Storytime is often drowned out by tears of a baby going to sleep. The babies are easier in some ways because it’s impossible to get mad at a baby. I know this time is temporary, but C will always need me a little more and I’m still figuring out what that will look like and mean for the other three. They do love each other a lot though. All four of them have these interesting little relationships with each of the others, and I’m grateful for that because there’s only so much of me to go around.

Racing Somewhere

I was driving home the other day and I got a bit turned around on the way home. My new office is a longer commute than I’m used to, and involves crossing a bridge. I ended up taking a wrong turn, finding traffic, heading over an unfamiliar bridge and not knowing exactly where I was. My cell phone was dead and I was on my way to pick P up from swimming. Suddenly I felt a panic – I was late. And what if no one could reach me? And what if something had happened? I cursed every stop light and raced there as quickly as I could.

When I pulled up, the scene was calm. P was not yet out of the change room and certainly hadn’t noticed my tardiness. I enveloped him in a bear hug. I leaned down to talk to him at his level. I indulged his desire to linger at the nearby library, even though the girls were waiting for me at home. We took out books even though he hadn’t returned the last ones.

And he was happy to see me. But he didt have that overwhelming joy that young children get. When I peppered him with questions about the day, he said “Can we talk later? I’m trying to read.” All of a sudden my small boy is gone, and I’ve got a kid. A delightful kid, but a kid. And I realized maybe that’s what I was racing toward. Maybe that’s where the panic came from – this feeling that I needed to get there as soon as possible. When you’re in the moment, their babyhood seems to last forever, but you blink and suddenly it’s over.

New Stuff

Whoa, am I ever overdue for a post. I went back to work last week. For a long time my banner has been just a slogan, since I haven’t really been doing much lawyering stuff. I’m back! But I am no longer in private practice. I’ve got a new position which is quite a shift for me. And along with adjusting back to the work schedule, I’m meeting new people, learning a new job and getting the kids used to a new caregiver. And surprisingly, I’m really enjoying it so far. I’m especially enjoying the “home by five” aspect. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you’re home by five! Peeing alone is also a nice perk.

2014 Socks

It feels a little silly sometimes to have a post about my feelings about my child’s disability, and then in the next post to be all “Lalala, I love socks!” But I think that’s what I was meant about life being a bit absurd. That’s just the funny thing about parenting – one minute you’re crying with a specialist and discussing your daughters’ delays and necessary therapies. The next you’re laughing your head off at your son’s kindergarten artwork, or wishing desperately they’d go to sleep so you can take a break and surf the ‘Net for handbags.


So yes, more socks. My first pair of 2014, which means I’m a little behind on my 12 pairs in 12 months schedule. But these have a generous cuff, and I’m planning a few ankle socks so hopefully there is still time to catch up. It’s the Churchmouse Basic Sock pattern. One problem I have with sock patterns is they’re often too wide for my feet, even when I knit tighter than the gauge suggests. I think I’ll reduce the overall number of stitches next time. My feet are pretty normal width too, maybe even on the wider side. Hasn’t stopped me from wearing them nearly daily though. The yarn contains cashmere, so they’re deliciously squishy under boots. The yarn was an impulse buy at Knit City, but the seller also sells on Etsy.

Surviving Life with Four Kids

I’m not usually big on advice posts. I actually abhor the advice culture that seems to permeate women’s and parenting magazines. Ever notice how men’s magazines aren’t constantly offering tips and hints on how to do ordinary tasks?

Still, I think I have figured out a few principles for surviving life with four, two of whom are twins.

Number one: I never plan to do anything that takes longer than seven minutes. There is a high chance that at least once every seven minutes some child will interrupt me. However, if I am thirty seconds into a task when it happens, I am probably safe to let that child cry, whine, or wait for at least six minutes until I finish whatever it is I am doing – be it showering, handling raw meat, boiling eggs, or having a Facebook conversation with my friend which will likely be the sole adult interaction of my day.

If I absolutely must do anything takes longer than seven minutes, I break it into seven minute parts. Also, if I get longer than seven minutes… bonus! Sometimes if I am very lucky I might get an hour or even 90 minutes during which all my children are asleep or at least reasonably content. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does I am astoundingly productive. Or sometimes I just watch episodes of 30 Rock and knit. Like I said, it doesn’t happen often so I take advantage.

Also, I go to places where there are people around. I love my afternoons picking up P from school, even though it often means I wake the twins from a nap. That’s because there are usually moms there who are happy to hold a twin, point out if my toddler is about to leap off the jungle gym, or just chat to.

Also, I had to throw out all the advice that applied the first two times – Never wake a sleeping baby, sleep when baby sleeps etc. etc. I wake the girls to go to Mother Goose because it keeps me sane to get out of the house. Although I always napped with P when he was tiny, I have accomplished “sleeping when the baby sleeps” approximately twice in the six months since they have been home.

I often think “to each according to their need.” It’s impossible to slice your time evenly among four. If you are a happy relaxed baby and your sister is a bit higher needs and requires tons of physical interaction, you might find yourself woken from quite a few naps to go to medical appointments, and sitting in that bouncy chair through a lot of showers. I can’t feel guilty over this or try to keep score. When we do get “alone time” occasionally, it’s that much more special.

And last but not least, I get my groceries delivered. And I really wish I’d thought of doing it about 10 months ago instead of just six weeks ago. Worth every cent of the $8 charge.


I’m still reeling a bit from an incident this afternoon where M was nearly hit by a car. Have you ever seen your life flash before your eyes? I haven’t, but I did see hers flash before me today. We were walking through our neighbourhood. P rides his bike so I was a few paces ahead with him and one of the girls in my arm, and we crossed the street at a T-intersection. M was behind with another adult pushing a stroller. The stroller got stuck navigating some weird vegetation on the boulevard. Margot had been hanging onto the stroller, but got off. By the time the other adult had freed it, Margot was just slightly ahead, and it had been about ten or fifteen seconds since P and I had crossed. In that time, a car approached.

I looked back to see Margot on the verge of stepping out into the road, and I SCREAMED. Like most three-year olds, M’s instinct when you tell her to do something is to do the opposite. She didn’t see, the car and didn’t understand why I was yelling. I watched her expression in that two seconds or so, and I knew she was debating whether to bolt toward me or do as I said. Just two days earlier, she had refused to wait on the sidewalk while I got one of the girls out of the minivan, and had kept trying to come in the road even after I told her to wait. This time, she listened to me and hung back. Despite my scream, and the fact that I stepped back into the road with a baby in my arms, the car didn’t slow down until he had already passed.

These days more than ever I am acutely aware of how life can change in an instant. It didn’t for us, thank goodness, except maybe to make sure I am more vigilant.


I wonder if future generations will look back on Pinterest and think we all had impeccably organised homes and ate lavish delicious meals with home churned butter. I have a confession – I love the sew, but there are many, many imperfections in what I do. Same with my knitting. And I’m quite okay with that. All that sewing/knitting time? It’s my selfish time. It’s my thinking time. I don’t do it because I feel this obligation to have the perfect product. It’s more like meditation.

The food Pinterests are the ones that really baffle me. Do people with families really have time to dip a hundred strawberries in yoghurt and freeze them for a snack? They don’t do what I do and plunk the unwashed carton in front of their children? If the kids want yoghurt, can’t they just eat it with a spoon?

I do like to cook when I have time. But I never have time, so it’s mostly the same, simple, homely meals again and again. And yes, I mean homely, not homey. Lunch is even worse. Someone is always crying at lunch time, and the big kids are often at school or preschool. The word lunch is probably a misnomer since it’s often three by the time I eat. I am always hopeful that there will be some miracle and the babies will nap at the same time. And to be fair, they sometimes do but I always overestimate how much time I have, so I spend a few minutes on the ‘Net, pick up 47 pieces of Lego, and by then one of them is up again and I’m limited to food options that can be eaten with one hand, or prepared with a foot on the bouncy chair. I should make a list of what I’ve eaten for lunch in the past week. Monday: Mini-cupcakes – four to be exact. Tuesday: Almonds and Beef jerky. Wednesday: I think I forgot to eat lunch that day. Thursday: Kraft dinner my mother made me. Friday: Goat cheese and crackers which wouldn’t be so bad except I also inhaled half a box of Peak Freans. At least the almonds and beef jerky is kind of Paleo, right?

Ode to Joy

I love finding random child-eye view pictures on my camera.

Child-Eye View

I finally finished my linen Gemini, (a free pattern) just in time to enjoy it for summer. 100% linen is not that much fun to knit with – it has no give, and slips off the needles constantly, which was especially annoying when I was doing the sleeves on double-pointed needles.  It’s sort of like knitting with a piece of twine.  Since I’m never able to knit for more than a few minutes at a time due to constant interruptions, I was constantly putting it down and losing stitches and having to pick them up. I also wish I’d use a stretchier cast-off at the bottom.  It’s also very hard to get the gauge consistent when you’re knitting with something that has no give at all, although I’ve decided that lends it a “rustic” air.  Ultimately, I think the pain and suffering made me a better knitter, and I love the end result.  I will knit with linen again… some day!

Blocking the Gemini

I had a few trying moments this week. For one thing, leaving the house with two seems like a monumental task. Neither loves being on their back, which means that whoever is in the stroller is always crying, or considering it. Even a trip to the coffee shop three blocks away requires significant planning and several tours around the block until whoever’s in the stroller falls asleep. Once there, I have about 7 minutes to order and scarf it down before she wakes again. On the other hand, strapping one to my chest is super-easy as they both love it. So last night after a day of being house-bound, three children and I went for a long, lingering walk around the neighbourhood, Peter wearing his Parsley Pants.

I’m constantly on the hunt for a very easy, basic pant pattern. The Sandbox Pants Pattern is pretty good. And the Field Trip Cargo Pants are a big hit here, but highly involved. Japanese pattern books have some great easy pants patterns too. How do the Parsley Pants compare? Well, I do like the infinite number of options all of which are explained in some detail in the 55 (!!) page pattern. Also, the shape is quite a universally appealing one. I was surprised at how small they were. I cut out a size 6 for my not-quite-six year old, and they weren’t quite as flared as I expected. I also wrongly assumed that I’d have quite a big margin on the hem, given that P is of pretty average height, but there was zero room to spare. I’ll cut out a size up next time.

I opted for the knee patches in a fun Michael Miller print.  I cut out a slightly smaller size knee pad and left the edges raw as I thought that would be cute after a few washings.  I also did the flat front option, and French seams for extra sturdiness.  (Not sure if she covers French seams in the pattern – that was just me.)

Parsley Pants

And in between the insanity and stolen crafty moments, there are moments of joy. Cora started smiling. Not just a little smile too, but a big giant series of smiles. She’s about six weeks from her due date, so it was right on cue, but when you’ve been waiting four months for a real smile, it’s pretty dramatic. I could almost here that enormous swell of Ode to Joy playing in the background as she thought about it, and slowly, slowly built up to this enormous grin. (At about 5:06 in that link, though the whole scene is worth watching!)

Musings on Pink

So my new strategy for surviving twin-parenthood is divide and conquer. I had to take Miss M to a birthday party this weekend. I took one twin (B), and J stayed home with P and C. I remember when I thought taking out two children was tough… (I might have even impossible when M was a tiny tot). Now it seems like a breeze.

I have not updated much about my Miss M recently, despite the fact that she turned three recently. Unfortunately, her actual birthday was overshadowed by her two sisters still being in hospital and general chaos of life. We celebrated with pizza and a cupcake, and since she is three, she thought that was amazing.

Sense of Style

M, despite my efforts to transform her into a tomboy, has gravitated towards all things pink. I took her to her party today wearing a pink dress, with her (pink) dolly in hand, and her own bright pink purse. I swore up and down that my daughter wouldn’t be the “pink” child. In pictures of her before age one, she rarely wears the colour. When she started to show more girly tendencies, I tried to persuade her that purple was her favourite colour. Purple at least has some sort of ’70s nostalgia to it, unlike pink, a colour which never had much prominence during my childhood. I knew, just knew, that even though other mothers claimed it “just happened” that the “pink obsession” wouldn’t happen to us. As with many things in parenting, I am eating my words. Today she spent 15 minutes rooting through her underwear drawer because she wanted to wear pink skivvies and none of her cute boy briefs would do. I had a pedicure done recently and I wasn’t home for two minutes before she honed in on my pink toes: “Where you get dat colour? I want dat polish!” And Grandma tells me she had her trash packed away in a pink shopping bag – Miss M noticed right away: “I yike your garbage Grandma!”

Here she is choosing between the pink diaper bag and the pink doctor’s set in the pink section of Toys’R’Us. I encouraged her towards the cars section, but she wasn’t having any of it. So I pushed for the doctor’s set, which at least had some aspirational quality to it, and she can be seen making notes about Dolly’s various ailments on the pink notepad.

Pink Choices

At least the twins can still be persuaded to wear other colours:


Although Bea is showing an affinity for pink hats:

Sleepy Bea

P is very boyish, but he still defies gender stereotypes – what a super lovey dovey dude he is. He is so maternal, always kissing and wanting to hold the babies. “Does Bea want skin-to-skin?” he asked me today.

Big Brother Cuddles

Not much in twin news. For the first week since we’ve been home, we have no medical appointments for the twins (knock-on-wood!) this week. So far we’ve had numerous paediatrician visits, immunisations, a lengthy hearing test (for B), breastfeeding consults, appointments with early intervention and physiotherapy. Until next week, a bit of a break.