Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Eve

It won't be that bad, I think. Everyone else had their kids' pictures taken with Santa ages ago. I'm sure I'm the only mother left who waited until Christmas Eve. And that way I can give the boys' nanny a ride to the Metro, and she can leave early. It'll be nice for everyone.

That is what I'm thinking as I pack the kids up and drive everyone to the mall, which of course is a madhouse, and I realize too late that I'm an idiot. We enter through the garage on an upper level and have to take the elevator downstairs. It is a huge glass elevator, and the boys love it. Primo begs to hold my hand, the way he usually does when something scares him a little but he's trying to be a trooper about it, like when I'm grinding coffee in the kitchen.

We reach Santa and the line is long, long, long. I try to prep the boys on the sidelines before we get in line, pointing out how other kids are sitting on Santa's lap and how much fun this will be. Santa notices us and waves obligingly. The boys ignore him completely. A woman comes by with picture samples and they are overpriced, of course, but the background and the poses also look slightly creepy to me.

What do you want to do? I ask the boys. Do you want to go see Santa?

Quiero el ascensor de cristal, they respond in unison.

So we go for a ride in the glass elevator again, and they are silent and filled with wonder. We head over to a pretzel shack and split a pretzel. They are amazed to see a pretzel that big. We hang out on a bench and eat it, and they marvel at the lights and decorations hanging in the atrium. Mira todas las luces, says Primo. Estrella, Secondo says softly, and points at a glittery star. The fact that my boy is pointing at things and naming them of his own volition is such a huge deal that it makes me want to cry, right there in the food court at the mall on Christmas Eve. I'm completely relaxed and at peace, even as throngs of people surround me. Even the trip back to the car in the plain parking elevator is fun.

And the only thing we bought was that pretzel.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Banana Leaves

Fourteen packages of them. Four days left before Christmas. You Latinas know what that means.

I am going into the kitchen early tomorrow morning with the family recipe my tía L gave me when I was eighteen. And we will have tamales for dinner on Nochebuena!

[The banana leaves are conveniently pre-washed and even pre-steamed. It totally feels like I'm cheating.]

Friday, December 19, 2008


I know that we’re supposed to pick our battles with our children. That when we do, we’re supposed to win every time. That some things are best not turned into battles in the first place. And I try to remember that, but some things just drive me batshit crazy.

With Secondo, one of them is eating with utensils. Or not eating with utensils. It drives me crazy that he often flat-out refuses to. That he will grab a handfuls of oatmeal and gleefully squish gobs of it between his fingers with obvious enjoyment and then wipe his hands on his shirt. That I’ve occasionally caught his overly-motherly Salvadoran nanny feeding him in order to prevent messes from happening, even though I’ve asked her not to. That my friend with the toddler who eats soup without spilling a drop makes comments about children needing to learn table manners and then glances pointedly at my kids. I tell myself not to get so frustrated about the whole thing, which is getting harder the older they get, because there are some things they should just be able to do by now, dammit, and it all ties in to my expectations for Secondo and my constant worry about what behavior is just your average three-year-old behavior and what isn’t. Because some of it isn’t. The autism, it always lurks, and it can mess with my mind.

I sit with Secondo and snatch his bowl of food away as he lunges at it with his hands. Con la cuchara, I remind him. Con la cuchara, he repeats, and takes a spoonful. Then he lunges with his hands again, and he’s really, really fast.

Tonight I take a different tack, something I’ve tried before, so it’s not exactly new. I will be positive, I will not let my frustration show. The boys are eating spaghetti, and Secondo takes a bite with the fork. ¡Excelente! I yell, and he looks at me and giggles. I’ve never been quite this enthusiastic, and I've obviously hit upon the right word. ¡Excelente! he repeats. Then takes another bite. ¡Excelente! I squeal, and this time I clap my hands and praise him profusely. Now Primo is laughing and wants in on it, too, so when he takes a bite: ¡Excelente!

And we are all having so much fun and laughing so hard that I don’t notice when Secondo grabs a handful of spaghetti, like a flash. I grab the bowl. It goes flying. There is spaghetti everywhere. I put my head in my hands and take a deep breath. Several seconds go by.

No tan excelente, Primo observes, finally, breaking the silence. His tone is sober.

Not so excellent, indeed. But at least now I am laughing as I clean up the spaghetti.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Look! A Picture!

Kind of. Don't ask me why I'm so unwilling to post pictures of my boys on my blog but then submit them to other blogs. But I submitted a picture of Secondo to Faces of Autism. Here's the link, if anyone wants to take a peek.

I wrote in my blogroll post that I look at those pictures and see nothing but joy, but that's not entirely true. I look beyond the smiling faces and see families who have struggled, just as we are struggling. I see a tremendous amount of love.

But mostly, I do see the joy, and that's why I love that blog. Because I think that most people don't think the words "autism" and "joy" go together. But they do. Go see.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Look! A Blogroll!

[Edited to add: The blogroll on the left looks pretty puny. I'll add more blogs as I think of them.]

All the posting I did this November seems to have jump-started the impulse to blog again. Even though I've been blogging for a year, I sure have been lackadaisical about it, and now I'm remembering how fun it is when I actually do it instead of thinking, "Oh, I should update my blog. Or I could wait another week. Or month."

So, in the spirit of getting my act together already, here is my blogroll. I keep tabs on many blogs via Google Reader, even though I'm constantly adding and deleting. These blogs, however, I've been following since the beginning, and deserve special mention. In alphabetical order, except for the first one, here's my short list:

Snickollet. I clicked on a random link one day and freaked the hell out when I realized my old friend was a rock-star blogger. All I can say is this: Even if I didn't know her in real life, I would be such a fangirl. To those of you who come here from her blog, she's an even more amazing person than you already think she is. To those of you who arrived via somewhere else, if you click on that link, you will not stop until you've read her entire archives.

KAL at Autism Twins. Because I can so relate to mothers of twins, but especially to mothers of twin boys. Because reading her blog makes me feel like I'm not alone. Because her boys are as cute as all get-out. And they happen to have autism.

Carrie at Bilingual in the Boonies. Because as a businesswoman, I think I could stand to take a few lessons from her. Because I wish I'd found her Los Pollitos onesies when my boys were still small enough to wear them. But mostly because she has an entire blog category devoted to dulce de leche. And because thanks to her, I was spared the disillusionment of finding out that dulce de leche Pop Tarts feel like regret. Carrie, thank you.

Christine at Day Sixty-Seven. Because I feel like I could have written her first few posts, just not as well. Because this post explains exactly what I'm feeling right now.

Faces of Autism, which is exactly what you think it is. I'm trying to find the right picture of Secondo to send in. I look at the faces of the kids on this blog and I see nothing but joy, which is as I think it should be.

Latin Baby Book Club. It's as if I thought to myself, "I wish I could find a group of great women who shared my passion for children's books in Spanish and could recommend new books." Then, poof! This blog appeared.

Stimey at Stimeyland. Another mom of boys, one of whom is autistic. When Secondo licked the chairs at his big appointment, I was thinking of this post. And this post about growing up with a brother with special needs made me cry and made me feel so positive about the boys my toddlers will become.

Karen at Teaching and Learning Spanish. Because she's constantly on the lookout for Spanish-language resources, and I've learned a lot from her. Soon, I will introduce my boys to Pocoyo!

The Local Dialect
. Through this blog, I get to visit China. Also, baby Dylan is one of the most adorable babies I've ever seen.

Thank you, ladies. Others may come and go. But I'm keeping you all on my blogroll.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Turkey Soup

I got home from work today and after reading a few stories with the boys, headed straight for the kitchen. I don't usually cook when I get home, because it's virtually impossible. The boys are demanding and pull me every which way if I try to get anything done in the kitchen, so we either have something in the Crock Pot or something ready to go in the oven, or P cooks while I take care of baths and bedtime.

Today, though, I was bound and determined to make my mother's turkey soup. The carcass from our Thanksgiving turkey had been waiting in the refrigerator for a week and I didn't want it to wait any longer, and we had no Plan B for dinner. It doesn't require that much prep work, so I snuck into the kitchen while the boys were distracted with their toys and got to work.

A few minutes later I was dicing a potato, completely lost in thought, when I realized something. The music on the CD player had stopped. It was completely quiet. The kind of quiet that makes you deeply uneasy when you have three-year-old twin boys. I dropped the chef's knife and ran into the living room.

Secondo was on the couch, Primo in the armchair. Both were peacefully reading a book. Secondo looked up when I appeared in the doorway. "Mi semana," he offered softly, by way of explanation. "My Week!" Primo chimed in.

I went back into the kitchen. They went back to their books. I could not believe what had just happened.

And the soup was absolutely delicious.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Fax Is a Four-Letter Word

Primo is obsessed with the fax machine in my office. I keep the door closed, but he knows it's in there. Fax. Fax. Mama va a mandar un fax, he says as he points at the door. Vamos a escribir fax, he says, and then spells it out on the board with magnets. Fax, fax, fax.

Which is why, after he perfectly intoned a certain four-letter word I uttered in frustration yesterday when he and Secondo were working my last nerve, I tried mightily to convince him that what he'd heard Mama say was fax.

No dice.

I'm so embarrassed. And also, I need to start using faux swear words.