I was talking to my little sister Amy, and mentioned that our grandmother, Nana, had given birth to all her children at home. The story she told me, was that she would do the housework until the pains got too great, then she’d go lie down and have the baby, put it in a shoe-box with cotton, (I’m guessing cotton cloth here) and then go back to work. She said, “I was hanging the laundry, felt the baby coming. So I went inside, had the baby and put it in a shoe-box with some cotton. After, I went back outside and finished hanging up the laundry.” She was a tiny woman, maybe a little over 5′ tall. She says all her babies were small, and that they were all born with no problem , with very short labors. Continue reading
You’d think that an author, someone who uses words to work with, would take care that her children spoke perfectly. The truth is, I believe words are for communication, and that can take many forms. One thing that bothers me about the system of teaching kids a foreign language is the sheer lack of fun in it. It’s boring, exacting, and forgettable – whereas language should be fun, forgiving, and most of all – for communicating.
So, my kids learned to talk, but when they made mistakes – if they were cute and made me laugh – I didn’t correct them. They’d learn soon enough a grasshopper wasn’t really called a Hopper Grass.
Here are some of their best words:
Blankety. (Blanket. But blankety is more fun, has more syllables, and can go on like blankety-blankety-blank.)
Splastic. (Who can resist this word? It’s far better than plastic. So we had splastic bags for ages.)
Hopper Grass. (When they found out it was grasshopper, I tried to tell them no, it was really hopper grass. But real words will prevail.)
Tuc-Tuc-peller. (Propeller. The hovercraft we took to go to England and back every summer had huge propellers on the back. They started up with a loud ‘Tuc-tuc-tuc!’ The boys called propellers tuc-tuc-pellers for ages. Well, I never wanted to correct them! lol)
Oh lick lips – (Olympics, Alex & Sebi style).
Bahsketti – spaghetti, what else?
N’guh-guh – this African sounding word was my daughter’s word for ‘bread’, and she would only use it, completely ignoring any attempts to get her to say ‘bread’. Bread was ‘N’guh-guh.’
Ada and Ada – my daughter’s names for her twin brothers. She called them Ada and Ada. The neighbor boy, Arnaud, was ‘Arnaud’, painstakingly sounded out, and she would call Carol ‘Carol’, and Marielle was ‘Marielle’, so she knew people had names. But for a long time, the twins were Ada and Ada.
as yesterday, so we showed up yesterday and were told it was today. Far better than showing up tomorrow and having to reschedule another appointment!
I also hit some golf balls today, and started giving my daughter golf lessons. And for the million-th time I thought how privileged I am, and how lucky I am to be able to get braces for my daughter and be able to play golf.
Alex and Sebi – just out of the hospital. Two months old. They weigh 4 lbs each. You can see where their hair was shaved off for the intravenous needles. Alex (on the left) is slightly bigger than Sebi.
And massage therapy is good, the babies loved that, and carrying them around in the kangaroo carriers was nice for them. Since they had a bottle every 3 hours around the clock, and finally by the time they were 7 months old, it had become every 5 hours, they got a lot of interaction and stimulation. We would take turns getting up for the 5 am bottle, and take turns going to bed at 11 and skipping the midnight bottle, so someone always got at least 7 hours sleep every night. (Usually my husband because he was playing polo, and you can’t play when you’re falling asleep on the horse…) So my sister, Sophie, or Andrea, me (or whoever else was around) would get up at 4:30 to get the bottles ready and then two of us would feed the babies at 5 am, and we’d put them in their kangaroos, and we’d go for long walks in the English countryside.
Here is Alex’s footprint from the hospital. I put it next to a ruler (centimetres) and my business card, so you can get an idea of how big it was.
Happy Birthday to my Sister Julie!!
Julie is my little sister, and no matter how old we get, she’ll always be fifteen months younger than me. I miss her SO much. We used to be this close (holds up hand with fingers twisted together.) We always shared a room. When I left home, it was like cutting off part of my body and leaving it behind. (Good thing she liked to travel, and she would come visit me in Europe).
She and I are completely different. She’s very serious and I can’t do serious unless I’m actually crying about something. She’s nice – I’m really not nice. She’s got a dimple, and I’ve always been really jealous of that dimple. She went as far as to give her dimple to her son – really it’s the cutest dimple you ever saw. She’s also the perfect person. As a child, she never got scolded and never got into trouble. I swear – she had this little halo above her head, and everyone saw it. (It’s still there, honest. I bet Lee and Nick see it all the time, right?) She never got into trouble or did anything stupid…except this one time. (Big Grin Here.)
It was the last day of school, the day I graduated highschool, she and I went to a bar downtown and got PLASTERED. We honestly never drank. (I always get sick when I drink, and Julie is, well, serious, lol) But that was a Special day. No more School ever for me EVAH. So we hit Sparkys on the waterfront and ordered screwdrivers until we couldn’t see straight. And then we had a problem – how to get home. Without our mom knowing just how PLASTERED we were. After discussing it very…seriously, we decided to ask our gym teacher to give us a lift home. (This is NOT something I’d suggest anyone do, because my gym teacher was celebrating the end of the year, and his fiancé had just dumped him, so he had been in the bar drinking for longer than Julie and I & he was really in bad shape.) But, he agreed to drive us home – whereverthehellthat was.
I ended up shifting for him, and since I was PLASTERED we drove home in Second gear all the way – which was probably the safest thing to do.
“Over there!” Julie yelled, when we saw our road. The gym teacher drove the car to the side of the road and let us out. Then he waved goodbye and drove on. Unfortunately he forgot to turn back to the road so he went into a ditch. It wasn’t very deep, and the car stalled, so he just waved out the window and passed out. Julie and I started walking back to the house.
About halfway there, I thought I heard a car coming behind us. “Off the road sister!” I yelled, and shoved her into the grass. And I jumped after her. Unfortunately, it was a very small verge over a rather steep cliff, and we fell down it. About ten feet, I’d say. We landed in a heap. We looked up to the road where there were no cars passing. “Thanks a lot, Jenn,” she said.
“Watch that last step!” I joked.
We managed to get back up and stagger to the house. Our back stairs were cement. They went straight then zigged to the right.
Just before we headed down, Julie said to me “Watch that last step!” in a really sarcastic voice. Well, I got going down them, missed the step and the zig to the right, and cracked my chin on the wall. Julie says the reason I don’t remember the rest is because I was knocked out, just like a boxer who got an uppercut to the chin. I went down like a ton of…Bricks. I still have the scar on my chin.
She got me to bed and the next day we both had the worst headaches. I had to go to work & was in sheer misery all day long, and I haven’t gotten Plastered since the day I graduated high school.
Julie was a good influence on me most of the time. She really did try to talk me out of all the idiotic things I did as a teenager. She was my Jimminy Cricket.
And I’m writing this story for her on her birthday! (It’s the only one where she does something stupid – honest, the rest of the time she was PERFECT!)
I LOVE YA SIS!!!
It’s Jan. 23rd, and 20 years ago today, the twins were born. They were born at 6 mos – three months premature. They looked like miniature old men, and were about the size of my hand, with tiny little stick legs and wrinkled skin everywhere.
They were tough and hung in there, and finally got out of the hospital after two full months of treatment and care. They weighed 4lbs each when they got out of the hospital.
We flew to England right away, and stayed there for three months, living with a family near Bath in the Cotswalds while my husband played polo. Then we went to Deauville for a month, and then to Paris for two months, then to the US, Argentina, England again…and so on for nearly ten years.
The twins were regular little globe-trotters, packing their own bags and makeing sure they had their stuffed animals with them. One day Alex looked at me and said, “Mommy, I’m known all over the world!” Yes, especially after the time he lost his first tooth in the middle of an important polo final and had most of the spectators looking for it in the grass, while the announcer told everyone to please keep an eye out for Alex’s tooth!
Sebi was always a clown, and people still tell me about things he said to them when he was little (to my friend Julia who lives in London – “I love your island. England is so nice.” and “Now I’m a dead chicken” – when she had to carry him upstairs to his bed because he was too tired to walk.)
They made travelling more fun, as I got to look at the world through children’s eyes, and more scary too, as in the day I had to drive forty miles through the Argentine Pampa looking for the doctor’s office to put stitches in Alex’s head. (He got hit by a polo mallet – guess who didn’t look behind him when he swung it! Yes, Sebi!)
We never saw snow or fog, being mostly in places with warm climates, so the first time they stepped outside on a foggy day they started rubbing their eyes and asking me what was wrign with their eyes. And when the leaves fell off the trees and vines in Bordeaux, they thought all the trees and vines were dying and cried. They had never experienced fall, winter, then spring. When we settled down, they were impressed with our new hotel (the apartment building) and thrilled to have their own beds.
We could finally have a dog, and we adopted a black Lab and named her Fudge. She slept with Alex every night until she died age eleven. We moved a lot – polo still pulling us this way and that – but the twins managed to change schools and houses with no trouble.
And now they’re in college, away from home, and it’s wonderful that they’ve grown so, and sad for me that they’ve left home. But I’m awfully proud of them! Happy Birthday Alex and Sebi!