Thursday, October 29, 2009

Double blessings


Stranger: Are they twins?
Me: Yes, they are.
Stranger: I'm so sorry for you.
Me: I'm not. I feel very blessed.

The saying "double blessings" sounds so cliche, but it's so true. Every baby is a blessing, more babies = more blessings. I know that for many people a baby seems to be more of a curse than a blessing and that breaks my heart. I know babies are expensive to raise and take a lot of time and energy to care for them. I know that a lot of parents simply don't have the resources and let's not forget the poor young women who accidentally get pregnant when they are alone and sometimes just children themselves.

Nevertheless, children are blessings from God. That means people are blessings from God. We've all heard the saying "he thinks he's God's gift to the world." Well, why can't he/she be just that? We all have the ability to be God's gift to the world if we give to the world.

It doesn't take much. One woman today helped me out to the car with my shopping. I was at a store that doesn't allow shopping carts out of the store and it would have been very difficult to cart my purchases to my car while pushing the double stroller. It took this woman all of about 2 minutes to help me but she made a big impact.

Today we ordered William's glasses. They were expensive at $250, but really, can we put a price on William's vision? The Rx was at about 4.5, which means he is very farsighted. He really needs these glasses and since we are treating his vision problems so early, he has a chance of actually achieving good vision by the time his vision stops developing. So, this $250 might seem like a bargain when you really think about it. I was thinking of all of the research and education that went into getting William his glasses, the many years of humans studying the eyes and figuring out how to help the vision of others. Over the next week or so there will be more people involved in making William's glasses just right. The lenses need crafting, then they need to be put into the frames (how they do that really amazes me). It boggles my mind to think of all the many people throughout time and throughout the world that had an influence on William getting his glasses, even if that influence was tiny and without any mind to how they would be helping my little boy.

Everyone has an impact on this world and on others in most everything that we do. We have an impact on others in our jobs, the way we drive in traffic, even in the way we carry ourselves when out and about running errands. We can be blessings or curses, but thankfully the vast majority of people choose to bless the earth and bless others with their lives even if they don't realize it. Like I said, it doesn't take much. A smile or kind word can work miracles.

With the world as it is today we are always reminded about our carbon footprint. We all have a carbon footprint no matter what. It's the price of being alive. Lately, as we become more and more aware of it, guilt of just living can become immense. While I strongly believe in being eco-friendly, we should also be happy to be alive and rejoice in our time here and rejoice in the others that are also alive with us.

What is the opposite of a carbon footprint? An "oxygen" footprint? I Googled this and found an interesting blog post that says the opposite of a carbon footprint is "God's footprint." While I actually disagree with a lot of what is written in that blog post, she does make some interesting points. Mostly, what I take from that post is that in addition to a carbon footprint, which we can't help but leave, we can also leave a positive footprint (or God footprint in a sense).

So, I guess it leads me back to blessings and how the twins are a double blessing and yes, I believe they are God's gift to the world, just as each and every one of us is. What we do with this gift is our choice, but I believe that we are meant to leave goodness and light in our wake. We are meant to give of ourselves, give our love and spread positive energy the best that we can. I know it's not so easy sometimes, maybe a lot of the time. We all get bogged down by troubles big and small. Trying to look past the troubles is sometimes difficult, but humans are so amazing and optimistic because that's exactly what people tend to do. We still can find ways to give of ourselves even when we think we have nothing to give, even when we don't even realize we are giving.

That's how the human race has survived and evolved. Think about it.

Isn't it amazing that performing even a small kindness for a stranger can impact generations? Isn't it even more amazing how far our reach is over time and space?

Thank you for reading this. Thank you for being alive.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The good news is...

The doctor was able to squeeze William in for an appointment this evening. He did a full examination including a Bruckner Test. The white glow in William's eye is not due to something really nasty. What a relief! It's still not a good sign, but it's nothing catastrophic. Essentially, his vision is very poor and he's using only one eye to fix on what he sees. He needs glasses asap so we'll go get them ordered tomorrow and hope we get them soon. The pediatric ophthalmologist wants to see him back in 8 weeks to see if the glasses help him to use both of his eyes and also help him to be able to focus. Apparently, the poor guy sees blurry and double all the time.



I urge all of you with small children to consider getting their eyes checked. Vision problems can be greatly improved if treatment (in William's case, glasses and possibly more patching and maybe surgery) is given while their vision is still developing. We all want to do the best for our children, right?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

William's eyes


From the moment William was born, we could tell he looked at us differently than other babies. He had a way of looking you that made you feel as though he could see your soul. He would just stare. Sometimes, when he was just weeks old, he would stare at me and smile and coo. It was the sweetest thing. He looked full of love and sweetness.

Even then I could tell that his eyes were misaligned. It wasn't severe, but it was noticeable. Through the first few months I kept reading in various places, including the informational sheets sent home with me from the pediatrician's office, that a cross-eyed look can be normal in infancy. I reminded myself of this often and waited for it to get better. Instead of getting better it got suddenly worse right at about his first birthday.

I brought this to our pediatrician's attention at his well-baby appointment. She made a referral to the ophthalmology department. We saw the ophthalmologist a little over a week ago. At the time, I just mentioned that he seemed to be cross-eyed from birth but that more recently it seemed to have gotten much more prominent and that William seems to be bothered by it, often shaking his head, bumping into things, and hitting the side of his face with his hand and rubbing his left eye a lot. He's also crying a lot more than he used to. Actually, he has always been such a happy baby, but the last few weeks he has difficulty in the afternoons and is often inconsolable.

After a thorough examination I was told that William's left eye is very weak, that he is very farsighted in the +3 to +4 range, and that we should start patching his right eye a few hours a day and soon get him glasses and plan on corrective surgery to align the left eye.

A few days ago I noticed in some photos that his left eye shows leukocoria. I just learned that word recently, because of this issue. It means "white pupil." I recalled an article I read about this when I was pregnant. I wrote to the ophthalmologist about it and he said he saw the white glow, but didn't see anything bad in his examination. We can't get in to see the pediatric ophthalmologist until November 13th. Right now that seems like forever away.

I've learned that leukocoria is never normal and by what I've found, it's usually an indication of a health problem. Dave and I are doing some research on the matter to present, with photographs of it, to our pediatrician at our appointment on Tuesday. Hopefully we can get some peace of mind on this matter soon.

Biting!

The boys discovered their teeth not long after they grew them. The first tooth came it a little before 7 months. The second tooth soon followed. These were their bottom front incisors. The top front incisors came a couple of weeks later. The next teeth on top came at about 10 months and the next two bottom teeth came in at 12 months. Right now they are both showing signs of more teeth coming in, perhaps their top first molars.

It was at about 10 months that William discovered that his teeth could be a powerful tool. I was watching them fighting over a toy, yet again, when William got a look on his face and it was almost as if a light bulb appeared over his head. He leaned over and bit Ronan on the arm so quickly I couldn't imagine Ronan even felt it. Within seconds Ronan was screaming and he had deep teeth marks in his bicep. Ronan dropped the toy and William scuttled off with it and a big grin to match.

That was the beginning of the biting war. Most of the time William is to blame. Most of the time I don't even have to see it to know what happened. They seem to have a tell-tale grunt when they bite and a tell-tale scream when they are bitten. Ronan gets a few good licks in now and then, but William really does damage. I didn't get their 1-year photos done at Sears because I didn't want Ronan photographed in the studio with big dark bruises and a few small cuts on his left cheek.

For awhile time-outs worked but then the boys started laughing at me. They laugh at me when I say my most stern "NO!" They laugh at me when I try to show disappointment. They laugh when I show shock or dismay. They think most everything I do is funny, and that in itself is funny. Still, I'm at my wits end how to resolve this biting issue.

On that first bite a funny thing happened. I tried to get a photo of the bite and just as Ronan noticed the camera, he stopped crying and smiled to pose for the photo the very instant it was taken!

I think that shows how used to being photographed they are. hehe

Friday, October 23, 2009

One year old!!! And walking!

I know I'm a month late in posting this, but as you can imagine, keeping up with twin toddlers keeps me busy! Yes, I said toddlers. They started being able to walk across a room the very week of their birthday.

Walking was something that they worked up to. Most people I know seem to know the very day their baby or babies started walking. Both William and Ronan practiced it for about 4 months. They would take a few steps on their own at about 10 months, but didn't really show any inclination toward taking walking to the next level. They got really good and fast at crawling. They loved walking along furniture and from one piece of furniture to the next, but if we practiced walking with them, using their hands to hold them up, they got bored quickly and dropped to their hands and knees, especially William.

Even after they proved they could walk, they still chose crawling as their main mode of transportation for about another month. William got the jist of it just a few days before Ronan did, but they were always pretty much on the same page. Now they both walk all over the place and look so cute! "They look like little baby zombies!" Dave said of their walking style. We got them penguin costumes for Halloween. Their walk is a lot like a penguin walk. Although, I am tempted to dress them as zombies for a little Halloween video. I'll only get this one opportunity. hehe

We had 3 birthday parties in all. Dave had to be in the UK on their actual birthday so we held a little family party, just the 4 of us, before he left. We had some cake and presents on Sunday, September 20th. We gave them a crawling tunnel and some wooden block puzzles. They love wooden block puzzles and are getting very good at them.

On Wednesday, their actual birthday, I invited a few friends over and their children. Heather, Gavin, Tanner, Carmen, Maya, Rachel, Karen, Elena, Fiona, Ashley, Stephanie, and Avery were all in attendance. We had cake and had our own little party. I put some ball-pit balls into the boys' little blowup paddling pool in the family room and we had our own little ball pit, though 250 balls really doesn't go very far toward filling that pool. The kids really loved it just the same. I should take this opportunity to mention a special group of women with whom I have bonded with over the last year and a half. They are my fellow twin mommies I met on a website geared toward helping women maintain healthy pregnancies. This particular website had forums for people to communicate with others who are due around the same time. I met 7 other women all expecting twins at the same time I was! We posted to each other on a daily basis, sharing our experiences, hopes, and fears. We went through some similar ups and downs and supported each other through them as well as our own unique individual ups and downs. Now all of our twins, all 4 girls and 12 boys, are one-year-old and we are all still in frequent contact. There were a couple of twin mommies who joined us for a little while. We remember them, though we don't hear from them. Anyway, this group of gals and I pitched in for a couple of birthday onesies. We call them the "traveling onesies" and we sent them to each other, photographing our children in them then sending the onesies to the next family. You'll see them in some of the photos.

On Saturday, October 2nd, we had the big party at my mom's house. In attendance were Graeme, Ashley, Roger, Rumna, Dolly, Keith, Steve, Jack, Chris, Molly, Bev, Betsy, and I hate to admit there were a couple of people whose names I can't recall right now. It's late and my mind isn't so clear at the moment.

We had a lovely time at all 3 parties and we are certain that the boys officially love parties, especially parties for them.
Some photos:














The boys earned their wings!

We took our first family trip in August. We went to Salt Lake City and then to Las Vegas. This trip was taken for many reasons. We wanted to introduce the boys to my large extended family in Utah. I have many aunts and uncles and hundreds of cousins. You'd be amazed by the size and even more amazed by the closeness and love we share. My high school reunion also happened to coincide with a family gathering so it seemed like fate that we take the trip that particular weekend, the weekend of August 15th. To add to that fate, a good friend of mine who lives in New York was going to be vacationing in Vegas that week and with Southwest Airlines flight schedules, it worked out well to book a series of one-way tickets with a stop in Vegas before returning home.

We borrowed some Go-Go-Babyz from a good friend of ours who has twins that are 7 months older than William and Ronan. They were very handy, indeed! They allowed us to wheel the boys in their car seats right to the gate and on the plane. It did feel funny to be pulling the boys in this manner as if they were luggage.

We really enjoyed the trip even though it was a whirlwind visit. We managed to visit with many family members individually and in groups. It was also very nice to see many of the people I knew in high school. I actually didn't realize I had missed so many people from 20 years ago. Yes, 20 years ago! It was really nice to be back in touch with them. Also, through the fantastic wonders of the internet, there are a lot of us all in touch every day now, mostly through Facebook.

While in Vegas we saw the MGM lions, the Siren Song show at TI, walked around a lot, ate at a few buffets, stayed in a fancy suite at the Venetian (thank you, Dave!), and took a tour through Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum.

Here are some photos of our trip presented in no particular order:














Dorothea Lange

I meant to post this months ago in the wake of Daniel's passing. He helped me write this piece on his mother, but I never had the courage to show it to him. I wish I had. Another dear friend of mine helped me to write it and I just learned that his wife just passed on. When he broke the news to my mother he said, "She's moved on to join Daniel. What an awkward pair they make!" Well, I can't verify the exact words he said, but it was very close to that.

Here is the paper (forgive the formatting, this blogger editor isn't easy):


The Unknown Dorothea
She was born Dorothea Nutzhorn in Hoboken, New Jersey, on 26th May, 1895. Her father was German and had abandoned the family when she was young. Her mother worked as a librarian while her grandmother worked as a seamstress. According to Rondal Partridge, Dorothea’s photography assistant, good friend and “adopted” son, “her grandmother was a vicious drunk.” With her mother busy working and her grandmother working and drinking, Dorothea raised her younger brother Martin. She contracted polio at the age of seven which left her foot shriveled up; she was left with a permanent limp as a result. She believed this crippling helped to make her who she was and put her more in touch with the world. It was her upbringing that taught Dorothea to hold her head high no matter what happened. She once said that she had discovered a way of becoming invisible. She would just hold her head high and nobody would notice her. She later assumed her mother’s maiden name, Lange.
Her family wanted her to become a teacher; she wanted to become a photographer. She didn’t own a camera, but this was what she wanted to do. Her career began in San Francisco in the 1920s. She belonged to the California Camera Club where a friend convinced her that she had something special with her work. She opened a studio and took portraits on commission. During this time she married artist Maynard Dixon and had two sons. She traveled the American Southwest with Dixon taking photographs while he painted. For a short time the family lived in Taos, New Mexico where Dixon produced many paintings depicting the Native Americans of the area.
In the 1930s she felt that her portrait work, while she thought it was good, wasn’t where she wanted to focus her attentions. She wanted to do more than photograph just the people that paid her. In the early 1930s she went to the streets in search of inspiration. She photographed what others wanted to avoid: breadlines, waterfront strikes and the people affected most by the Great Depression.
In 1935 she worked for the California and Federal Resettlement Administrations, which led to her working for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) led by Roy Stryker. (Profotos) It was while she was doing this work that she fell in love with her second husband, Paul Taylor, Chairman of the Economics Department of the University of California. Paul was in charge of her team with the FSA. “Paul Taylor was an explorer, not of seas and continents, but of nearly unnoticed social events as they began to take form.” (Kerr, Dorothea Lange Fellowship)
Paul first came in contact with Dorothea's photographs in the summer of 1934, when he saw her picture of a strike orator in a local art gallery. (Dorothea Lange Fellowship) At this time she was still a studio photographer but had been following her instincts and exploring her real passion, documenting the events on the streets, photographing people in their true nature instead of in the sterile confines of a studio. Friends and family described their relationship as “a great love affair.” Paul and Dorothea were true soul-mates. Even the best soul-mates have differences, as did Dorothea and Paul. Paul was involved in politics, spoke seldom and softly and approached everything with careful thought and precision. Dorothea lived in the moment. She was gregarious, always moving and reacting quickly. She wasn’t interested in politics, she was interested in people. (Dorothea Lange Fellowship) She was also a perfectionist. “She kept the cleanest, best arranged house. There were never any ashes in her fireplace though she lit the fire often. You never saw how she did it.” (Partridge)
Her most famous photograph, “Migrant Mother” was taken while working for the FSA. Her photos, coupled with Taylor’s essays and captions, provided evidence of the urgent need of government assistance for displaced Americans. This photo has been reproduced in many forms, including a United States Postage Stamp.
Just as she held her head high, she kept her photographic standards high. Later in life, after she had achieved a name in photography, she charged $200 for a portrait. At the time Ansel Adams was charging $40 and Imogen Cunningham was charging $20. Dorothea got $200 per portrait because she priced her standards high. (Partridge) It was this pride that led her to get fired by Stryker. Stryker wanted her to submit her negatives to be developed by what Partridge called “darkroom junkies.” Dorothea wanted to do her own work, which resulted in her holding back some negatives; she wanted to keep her standards at the highest level. Though she had her disagreements with Stryker, she still spoke fondly of him, calling him a “genius.”
While World War II brought an end to her work with the FSA, it opened up new possibilities and sent her in new directions. Hired by the War Relocation Authority, Lange documented the forced relocation of Japanese-Americans to internment camps. In 1940 she was the first woman to receive a Guggenheim fellowship, though illness prevented her from completing the grant to travel the country photographing the American people. (Dorothea Lange Fellowship)
By this time she was already sick with stomach problems combined with a chronic fatigue which resulted from her childhood bout with polio. Later, doctors discovered that she had cancer of the esophagus. Lange battled the cancer for ten years following the diagnosis. By 1954 she became so limited that she couldn’t go on magazine assignments that took her out into the field. She still always kept her camera around her neck but as she couldn’t go out, she began to photograph her family and her own domain. “She built up quite a body of work in that way,” said her son, Daniel Dixon. She was an extremely family-oriented person. She had high expectations of her children but when her grandchildren came along she spared them the pressure she often imposed on her sons.
“It’s important to understand why she got ill,” says Partridge. Dorothea took responsibility for the brother she raised. Affectionately referred to as her “monkey,” Martin was “a warm, friendly fuzzy dog.” (Partridge) At one point Martin was fixing up Dorothea’s house in San Francisco when a friend of his offered to pay him a substantial sum of money to fix up his house. Martin accepted the job knowing that the money he was being paid had been stolen by his friend. When the police asked Martin about the money, he confessed that he knew the money was stolen and for his part, he went to jail for a year. “This caused such an upset in Dorothea that her stomach acid flowed and eroded her throat, which led to the cancer,” says Partridge.
Regardless of her illness or in spite of it, in 1954 she went to Southeast Asia on a long-term trip that included the countries of Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines among others. Taylor was doing work with the governments of these countries. He was working for the Ford Foundation, hired to work on land reform. Taylor and Lange traveled on diplomatic passports. They enjoyed all the privileges of being an elite traveler. All necessities were provided by the Ford Foundation and the various governments of the countries they visited. Though ill she was as comfortable abroad as she would have been at home. “She went with no assignments, she went just on her own, not understanding the culture or language, just guided by her sense of vision, what she saw,” says Dixon, “The work she produced during this time was, in my opinion, the most evocative of her career.” She often asked herself, “what in the world am I doing here with a camera?” What she was doing was trying to find understanding through the camera. (Dixon)
Prior to taking the trip she consulted a doctor to see about traveling with her health condition. The doctor said, “What difference does it make whether you die here or there? Go!” (Dixon) During the next several years they traveled from Asia to the Middle East to Egypt, then from Egypt they went to India, Nepal and Pakistan. From there they went through Russia and Europe by way of Volkswagon before returning home to the United States. (Dixon) Dorothea spoke fondly of her years spent abroad. She said that living in Asia and the Middle East gave her a “third eye” in her head. She saw things in a different perspective. (Smithsonian Archives of American Art)
The trips to Asia, Middle East and Europe produced the last major body of work she completed. When she returned she continued to photograph her life at home around Berkeley. This work at home was a conclusion to the work she began prior to her travels just after falling ill.
In 1953 she was asked to put together a body of work for a major one-woman exhibition at the New York Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). It took her almost two years to look through all the work that she’d done and put it into some kind of order; to arrange it so that it showed some development of her as a photographer. (Dixon)
Dorothea died on October 11, 1965 just a few weeks prior to the opening of her exhibit at the MOMA. When the exhibit opened her family received a message from President Lyndon B. Johnson in recognition of her work. Her husband, Paul Taylor, donated the bulk of her collection to the Oakland Museum of California where it remains. The collection consists of over 25,000 negatives and more than 6,000 prints. (Profotos)
Lange’s compassion for people and dedication to her worked marked her as not just one of the “greats” of photography, but according to Partridge, she was the greatest photographer of the 20th century. “Other photographers used photography selfishly as a method of self-expression, their work was inward looking. Dorothea’s work was outward looking; it was about poverty and society. This is where she did something and made a difference.” (Partridge)
Recently, the photograph Dorothea considered her “most famed photograph” sold at auction for $882,000, breaking the record for this type of work. The photograph, “White Angel Breadline” and was taken on her first day out on the streets in San Francisco in the early 1930s. It was “instinct” that told her to take that photo. (Dixon; Smithsonian Archives of American Art)
According to those that knew her, she had the most insightful eyes one would ever know. She saw and heard everything. In her last days, Dorothea said what a pleasure it was to take a picture and to see that what you have done is "true." (Dorothea Lange Fellowship)




(All photos courtesy of Daniel and Dixie Dixon)

Breaking the silence

If you're reading this, then I must thank you for coming back after my long absence. It has been difficult to write for many reasons. There is so much I wanted to write here that I was overwhelmed and buried by the weight of it all. The boys are taking more and more of my time and energy, not that I'm complaining, it's just the fact of it. I truly love it. Every day they teach me how truly wonderful family is and what a blessing it is to have children. I feel so extremely blessed!

I have a lot of posts to catch up on so I'll try to be brief with them while hoping not to leave anything pertinent out. We have a crisis on our hands at the moment and we could use the support and prayers from friends and family. I'll get to that in one of the upcoming posts.

Thanks for coming back!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The obituary we wish we could have printed

My sister wrote a lovely obituary, which combined statements from several sources and included exerpts from many of Daniel's writings. Since we couldn't afford to publish it in the newspaper, I wanted to include it here.


The obituary that was printed in the Monterey Herald on Sunday, may be found here.


***



Daniel is traveling tonight on a plane
I can see the red tail lights heading for Spain
Oh and I can see Daniel waving goodbye
God it looks like Daniel, must be the clouds in my eyes.

Daniel Rhodes Dixon—connoisseur of that which is most beautiful in life—closed his eyes last Thursday, in what was one of the few peaceful events of his restless life. The scion of two celebrated Californians, photographer Dorothea Lange and painter Maynard Dixon, Daniel was 84.

Daniel did not like standard obituaries. He found them "lifeless" and "without heartbeat." As a journalist for the Monterey County Post, in a display of his own genius, Mr. Dixon displayed witty self-deprecation in preparing his own obituary, wherein he quoted his famed mother, the late photographer, as describing her (first) son as "irregular."

Admitting as much in his autobiographical obituary, Mr. Dixon also pictured his school days persona as "an incorrigible truant who dropped out of school in the tenth grade to become a wandering delinquent...who once stole and pawned his mother's cameras."

"Even the military couldn't keep him in line…. 9 of his 12 months were spent in the stockade... he rose to the rank of private before the Army finally capitulated, allowing him to escape with an honorable discharge. Mr. Dixon then returned to the streets. Most of his days were spent in public libraries, where he was able to keep warm."

While "staying warm," he indeed received a de facto education that served him well in later years.

Daniel's life and career were marked by excellence. Mr. Dixon's career ranged from writing articles for such publications as Pageant, Life and Look Magazines to advertising products and services for agencies that included Doyle Dane Burnbach and BBD & O, later rising to creative director at both McCann Erickson and Ogilvy &Mather by the 1980s.

Among prize-winning campaigns he directed were the famed Volkswagen ads of the early to mid-60s, the billboards and TV spots which defined the bug as a charming and reliable, if eccentric, companion.

Daniel's constant companion was the English language. While courting his first wife, Mia, Daniel began writing light verse, a diversion which he continued throughout the course of his life. Indeed, to his final days he maintained a remarkable acuity of mind.

"I've seen psychiatrists in hordesBut never found a free one In view of which these few, brief words: I'd rather be than see one."

Encouraged by numerous friends, he submitted a portfolio of his freelance work to two advertising agencies. To his amazement, both of them offered him a job.
And later…

The winter's breath
Denudes the trees.
Can this be death?
I freeze. I freeze.

Naked the root and bare the limb;
Withered the fruit when days are dim.
The stones are cold
The stars are chill;
I'm growing old
But love you still.

These leaves that swirl
From branch to bough
Oh, lovely girl,
Where are you now?

During Mr. Dixon's career, he also wrote articles for such publications as Pageant, Life and Look Magazines, as well as later for the Monterey County Post.

Directing his creative talents into politics, Mr. Dixon helped shape campaigns for the House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, mayor of New York and Chicago, and President of the United States.

In recognition of his genius, Mr. Dixon humorously boasted, again in his self-written obit, that he "was probably the only man ever to be offered and to turn down the job of picture editor for Playboy Magazine."

In later years, he traveled the world giving presentations and interviews about his parents' lives and work. Among his publications, Mr. Dixon wrote a memoir of his father called The Thunderbird Remembered.

Interestingly, the nonpareil qualities he so aptly illustrates of his progenitors are unique descriptions of Daniel himself. While his father was a painter with pigments, Daniel was a painter with words.

“Looking where my father looked, I couldn't see what he was able to see. I just saw a desert, but he saw a creation – colors and contours and values and relationships that remained invisible to me until his sketches disclosed them.”

It is precisely this that made Daniel's words so brilliant—his ability to bring to light the poignance of the small things—the contours, values, and colors of life and relationships.

As he described his own views of views of his mother, he called them "perhaps blurred by emotion, but unclouded by scholarship."

Among his favorite pursuits were cooking, of which he wrote, "Beats writing...Nobody dares tell you when it's lousy."

Aside from cooking, communication was his main forte. He had a unique ability with words and used them in a courting nature. He didn't like drinking water and when asked why, he replied, "because it makes me feel bilious."

Daniel loved books. Among his favorite poems, he kept this one tacked upon the wall:

The silver swan, who living had no note,
As death approached, unlocked her silent throat.
Leaning her breast against the reedy shore,
Thus sung her first and last, and sung no more.

Farewell all joys. Oh death, come close thine eyes,
More geese than swans now live, more fools than wise.
--Orlando Gibbon, early 1600s

He also rejoiced in the company of his ukulele, which he believed had a mind and heart of its own. He was as married to the ukulele as he was to his wife, and played it proudly, entertaining all who were so fortunate to hear with his Hawaiian ditties "guaranteed to induce groans of dismay." He was certain that his old comrade would miss him when he was gone. His last work, the capstone of his life as a littérateur, is a book on the ukulele, recently completed and now in the editing process.

In listing his surviving family members, whom he categorized as "certified eccentrics," Mr. Dixon described his wife as "his greatest joy and comfort in or out of this world." In his own words, "He is only temporarily separated from his wife Dixie. Mr. Dixon did not know whether or not he believed in God, but he did believe that this marriage would last forever, even after death."

Daniel is also survived by his daughter, screenwriter Leslie Dixon of San Francisco and Beverly Hills; a younger brother John who lives in Orinda; his grandson Thomas, three stepchildren, 9 step-grandchildren, a niece, and two nephews.

At the request of Daniel, no memorial services will be held. A smile upon his memory may be given in a moment of quiet reflection upon his words:

"From somewhere out yonder, Mr. Dixon says 'Hello!' Nobody there ever says goodbye."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Daniel


Daniel is traveling tonight on a plane
I can see the red tail lights heading for Spain
Oh and I can see Daniel waving goodbye
God it looks like Daniel, must be the clouds in my eyes.

"Daniel" - Elton John


We lost another very dear family member and the boys lost another grandfather. Though the boys still have two grandfathers (my father and grandfather), Daniel, so far, was the only grandfather the boys have ever met. Daniel was there to meet the boys in the hospital when they were first born. He spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with them. Though he loved both boys dearly, he had a special fondness for William, because William had a special fondness for him. When he was just a day old, William seemingly loved staring at Daniel. William smiled every time he saw him, smiled and squealed in delight, even when he was just weeks old. At Christmas Daniel said he was sad that he wouldn't get to see William grow up, to see the man he would become. At Daniel's bedside on Wednesday night I asked Daniel to be William's special guardian angel, and to watch over him.

***

Last Tuesday morning my mom called me to tell me that her husband Daniel was in the ER with a brain-bleed. She said he'll have some tests and then will be admitted to the ICU. I knew it must be bad.

I'm not so portable now with the boys. It took me about 24 hours to get everything ready for the 80-mile trip, packing for at least a 3-day stay and hoping for the best. When I arrived I was trying to tell myself I was there to help support Daniel through a recovery and rehabilitation process. When I saw him, I put on my best smile and told him my theory on time, that all he has to do is let time keep ticking and soon enough he'll be back home again. When I said "back home" I knew, deep down, that it wasn't going to happen.

He was beautiful lying in that bed, though I could tell he was absolutely miserable. He couldn't speak and anyone who knew Daniel, knew that aside from cooking, communication was his main forte. He had an amazing talent with words. He didn't like drinking water and when asked why, he replied, "because it makes me feel bilious." Among the words he taught me, "virago" is my favorite.

He lived life with a flair nobody could match except for my mother. The two were/are a perfect pair (I hate speaking in the past-tense of anyone who has passed on since I believe they are still with us, just in a different form). The inability to communicate was killing him.

They had to tie him down because he kept pulling out all the tubes and needles they had hooked all over him. This was Daniel's worst nightmare. I could see it in his eyes. His eyes were telling me that he was glad to see me, but that he was embarrassed at being seen that way. His eyes were saying, "please, don't let me live like this!" He struggled against the wrist straps and tried to get comfortable in the bed, though it seemed it was his own skin that was his enemy this time, not the hospital, not the tubes, and not the bed. It seemed that he was stuck in an uncooperative shell.

The doctor said he was beyond comprehension but none of us who saw him believed it. When he was squirming I asked if he was itchy. He nodded and hummed his assent. I rubbed his feet, first the left and then the right, but he pulled his right foot away. I asked if that made him uncomfortable and he again hummed his agreement. I put a pillow under his left leg and he relaxed a little and I asked if that was better. He nodded. Yes, he was able to understand and he had some ability of communicating. He was also able to squeeze hands, gently, in answer to some questions.

The boys and I spent the next few hours in the ICU waiting room while my mom and some family friends took turns visiting Daniel. We went to my mom's house at around 7 o'clock for the boys' dinner, bath, and bed, which is their normal night routine but started quite late. I heard my phone beeping when I was in the middle of giving them bottles and struggling with them to get them to drink; they were very confused by the different surroundings and upset of their schedule. I tried to let it go but curiosity and fear got the best of me. I took a break and checked my phone. It was a text from my mom, "Daniel's not going to make it. My phone battery is going and I need my charger." I called her immediately and fearing losing the last of her battery I simply asked, "where is your charger" knowing that we'll cover the rest when I got to the hospital.

I gathered the boys up as quickly as possible, grabbed the nearest 2 blankets, their bottles, my mom's phone charger and the diaper bag and was out the door. I was severely unprepared for the night ahead, unprepared in every way.

I was at the hospital about 20 minutes later and arrived at the same time that my mom and Daniel's dear friend Steve Mortensen arrived. He helped me with the boys and we went straight to the ICU where we all spent the rest of the night. My mom was there to hold Daniel's hand and we were there to hold hers.

I said my farewell to Daniel and spent the rest of the night in the ICU waiting room. The boys fell asleep around 10 on the baby blankets we spread on the floor. At some point a nurse sent me a couple of warm blankets to put on the boys. The a/c was on and I was freezing, but I wanted the boys to be warm so I shivered in a chair while I hoped the boys slept comfortably on the floor. Ronan kept scooching forward off the blankets and slept a lot of the night curled up under a chair. I kept readjusting the blankets so he could stay warm. Around 2am I couldn't handle it any longer so I laid down on the floor next to the boys and fell asleep with them. At around 3am a very kind orderly brought me a lot of blankets and a couple of pillows. William woke at his usual 4am time to nurse but it wasn't enough. I'd gone all day without pumping and my blouse was drenched with milk. Fortunately I was wearing a blouse with a paisley print and it wasn't noticeable, though I certainly felt it. After that night I haven't been producing much milk at all. I don't know if this may have led to the end of breastmilk for the boys. While pumping the other night my left breast bled as much as it milked, leaving what was in the jar a bright pink.

At around 6 or 7am Daniel stopped breathing 7 times. He stopped for a good few minutes each time, each time turning a little blue, each time convincing my mom that it was over, then he'd start breathing again. Each death tore her up a little more. She stayed right there with him through the night and morning, leaving only twice to go to the bathroom. The last time, at around 10:15 Thursday morning, he stopped breathing and she told him not to breathe again, to go on and that everything would be fine. Daniel moved on.

I took the boys back to the house at about 8am to get them dressed and fed. I was getting ready to go back to the hospital when I heard Daniel's voice greet me. I turned around quickly and saw nobody there. This was at about 10:30. I got the call about 10 minutes later that Daniel had passed on.

Dave came down that day and we spent the rest of the weekend doing what we could for my mom. The boys were amazing and they helped us all through our grief, reminding us that life continues. Their constant need to have their schedule kept, feedings done at the right times, diapers changed, naps taken, and cuddles given, kept us busy and gave us joy when we would have otherwise been breaking.

Daniel was loved by hundreds, perhaps thousands. As the son of two brilliant and famous artists, Dorothea Lange and Maynard Dixon, he traveled the world giving presentations and interviews about his parents' lives and work. He was a successful writer and in advertising. He was as married to the ukulele as he was to my mother, and played it proudly entertaining us with his cute songs. His last work, a book on the ukulele, was recently finished and he was starting the editing and rewriting process. When my mom called the ambulance for him last week, he didn't want to go to the hospital because he had an important memo to write. My mom finished the memo for him later that day. His daughter, Leslie, my mom, I, and many of his friends are determined to see his ukulele project through to fruition.

He and my mom married 13 years ago. Their marriage was a perfect fusion of talent and love. They met at the Mission Ranch, which is owned by Clint Eastwood. To hear Daniel tell the tale, you'd believe that the earth shook when it happened so that all the world could feel it. Daniel so believed this was one of the earth's most notable historic moments that he once asked Clint Eastwood if he could put engraved plates on the bottoms of two barstools at the bar to commemorate the event. "Daniel Dixon met Dixie Dixon right here on _____, 1994."

When Dave and I were married in 2003 Daniel asked what the wedding color scheme was. I told him light blue and lavender. He came very well dressed in a grey suit with a light blue shirt and lavender tie. He knew something I didn't. I was still living in a fantasy where I believed my dad would actually make it to the event since my dad actually flew in and was staying in a local hotel. The wedding was to start at 4pm. At 4:15 the wedding planners told me he and his wife and boys were here and that they pinned flowers on them and we were ready to go. I asked where he was, they described him to me and I realized that wasn't my father. To this day I don't know who accidentally got pinned with the flowers. At 4:30 my dad called to tell me he was lost. I tried to give him directions to the wedding but he said he still had to go to his hotel to get on his suit. We only had the wedding venue until 5pm. I started to shake and cry. Our photographer who later became our dear friend, Jack Wasserbach was there for me. He took the phone from me and got my mom. Jack, my mom, and friends were there to console me and help me redo my makeup so we could go on with the wedding without my father. Daniel knew this would happen, though he hoped it wouldn't. He was ready and proud to walk me down the aisle in my father's stead. Thank you, Daniel. I love you!

We love you, Daniel, and miss you terribly! Rest in peace, dear father.


Tempus fugit.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day of morbidity

When not doing a media blackout, I like to tune in to the news in the morning to see if the world has ended overnight and if so, for whom. Today it ended for a couple of people in interesting ways.

The first report I saw was of the Continental flight with a dead pilot. When I tuned in, the plane was still in flight and was about to land, being flown by the copilot. I wonder if they informed the passengers of the situation. "May I have your attention, passengers? This is the copilot. Your esteemed pilot kicked the bucket this morning and we need to make a landing to get his corpse taken off before he stiffens up and can't be easily removed from the cockpit." Okay, maybe not like that. All due respect to the dearly departed pilot and his family. Hearing of his passing has hit me with some sadness, even though I never met him.

The next story was about a recent tornado. They showed some excellent coverage of the tornado near Aurora, Nebraska. It was taken by A. J. Fable, filming while driving into the mess. At one point Fable said, "...literally in front of my eyes look at this!" and "I'm literally 400 yards away from it!" He said, "This is truly incredible!" The news reporter then said, "and it is with incredible sadness that I report this gentleman's death from the tornado." Okay, so I'm paraphrasing but I was blown away (pun intended). Again, I was struck with a mixture of emotions: sadness for the guy's loss and sad for his family, but also it tickled my sick side that enjoys a good morbid laugh. It just seemed somewhat absurd; this guy driving into a tornado so excited about the footage he was getting, then him dying, then the news broadcasting this incredible footage and having to report the man's death. On one hand, it's a great homage to the man that they show this film that he "literally" died for, on the other, I wonder if he'll be put up for a Darwin Award.

*Edited to add: I have been searching for an article about Fable's death and can't find anything, which leads me to wonder if the reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated. Perhaps the news clip I saw this morning was in error. I know what I saw, I had Dave come and see it, too, and we blipped it back on the Tivo a few times. What I say I saw I saw, he saw she saw we saw seasaw and all that.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A test of faith

I've recently learned, again, one of the many lessons that parenthood is meant to teach me. This lesson is one of faith. I've had many lessons about faith in my life, which leads me to believe that faith is one of those things you can never know enough about and never have enough of. Faith also ranks up there among the most important lessons in life, if not the most important.

In this life we are meant to learn many things. We have challenges that push us in different directions, that guide us and shape us, make us who we are and who we are meant to become. Over the last few years I've faced many challenges. I've written about several of them right here. Time and time again I've come out at the end of these challenges feeling as if I had just run a marathon, so to speak. The TSA/DOL challenge was one that shook my entire world and pushed me to the ground crying and screaming, but with the help of my wonderful husband and the support of our friends and family, I was able to meet that challenge knowing that I didn't have to do it alone. The battle is still being fought, but I/we have won all the battles thus far.

Even with all other challenges, I've learned the most from my boys. The boys have given me the greatest lesson in faith, more than anything else. From trying to conceive them while keeping the faith that Dave and I would someday have a family, to pushing forward through a very rocky IVF cycle, then keeping the faith through the challenges of a twin pregnancy, it has all been about faith. I am reminded of faith every night when I put them in their cribs and want to check on them every hour, watch them to make sure they take breath after breath, that time will pass and they will grow and thrive, it's all about faith. I keep the faith when I have to leave one to attend to the other; have faith that the one left behind is in a safe place and will be just fine until I can be back with him again.

Faith is in the big things and in the little things. It is with faith that we allow our beloved cat, Tempest, to go out freely to play and do what cats will do, even though we know what dangers might be out there for him. We have faith that he'll return each night for a can of food and a cuddle. It is with faith that we say goodbye from telephone calls with our loved ones, having faith that we will speak to them again and have another chance to tell them we love them, even though we know full-well that sometimes we don't get that chance. It's with faith that we put off calling some loved ones because we are too tired or have other things to do, having faith that we can always call them later, even though sometimes we never get to make that call. Even when sometimes our faith fails us in some matters, we still pick ourselves up and push forward because faith is immeasurable and immense.

Every day in every way, it all comes down to faith.

Tempus fugit

Ben Franklin once said, "nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." I believe in one other certainty, the passage of time. Today a friend of mine asked me how I got through the weeks without Dave when the boys were just infants requiring round-the-clock attention. She asked how I felt right before he left each time, if I was afraid or freaked out. What I remember about those days, a blur even though they were just a few months ago, was thinking that time will pass no matter what and that all I had to do was go through the motions and the time will take care of the rest.

When Halie died in the fire and my brother was in the burn ICU, letting time take over was of comfort to me. Just watching the clock pass even 15 seconds was a comfort to me because it was a reminder that no matter what, time passes and all I have to do was push forward and let time carry me.

Since the boys were born it amazes me at how time seems to have picked me up and carried me so swiftly, so smoothly. The last eight months have just flown by and I feel like before I know it the boys will be 5, 10, 16, 18, 21... my little baby boys will be men before I know it. I've heard having children ages a person, maybe that's so, but I believe that having children puts one in another dimension where time suddenly passes much faster. I discovered it as soon as the boys were born and wrote about it in my post, "Baby time."

Time is an amazing thing because you can't hold it, you can't store it, you can't own it, and we're fooling ourselves if we think we can "buy time." Time owns us and when it is done with us, it lets us go. Through the years people come in and out of our lives, people are born and they die, and through it all time passes and will continue to pass no matter what happens or where we are.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Baby food

I've started making them their baby food and have really enjoyed it. It can be time-consuming, though, and it comes with the cost of other things not getting done. I'm trying to get a handle on everything, but we're so behind in housework and other tasks. We're catching up, though, very slowly.

I'm delighted about Oakmont Market opening within walking distance. I've gone there a few times to buy produce for the baby food. I recently bought some cherimoyas. Until the market opened I'd never heard of this fruit, but I saw it there and thought it was somewhat unattractive and had no idea what it was. On Friday, The Doctors aired an episode with advice for new mothers. I'd only seen one other episode of this program, one on the swine flu, and thought it was interesting so I set it to record this particular episode on the Tivo. While I scanned fast through most of it, I was particularly interested in a spot with a woman who has a website for making baby food. She was demonstrating how to make a delicious dish with cherimoyas!

Everything I read about cherimoyas said to wait until they were soft to the touch. The ones I purchased over the weekend were hard at the time. They were hard yesterday, too. I tested them this evening and they were very soft so I knew they had to be used right away. I cut one in half and it sliced like butter. Dave and I tasted it and it was lovely. It was a little like a soft pineapple. I scooped out the seeds and made a puree. It was gorgeous and creamy! After putting that into an ice cube tray for preserving, I made the recipe with adding a peach. Oh, that was superb! I have very lucky babies!!

I also have some avocados to serve to the boys for their dinner tomorrow night. I love giving them avocados. The avocados are so good for them!

Normally, I don't really care for cooking and there isn't much food that really excites me. Making the baby food, though, has given me an incentive and an interest in food preparation and even tasting new things. I'm excited to introduce the boys to a variety of great foods.

I've only just figured out how to try to make time for pureeing the baby food, choosing the right fruits and vegetables, and making dishes the boys will like, but it seems William is moving on to bigger and better things. Ever since he was about 5 months old he's wanted to eat whatever we eat. We've indulged him here and there, offering little pieces of some finger foods.

Now that he has a pretty good pincer grasp I've been giving him some puffed wheat with every meal. He loves being in better control of his own eating. However, that meant that Ronan watched him and then wanted to do the same. Ronan still has some difficulty with more solid foods and hasn't made it very far into food textures beyond puree. Still, he wanted to try. To his credit, within a week he's making great progress with the puffed wheat.

William, however, seems to be getting bored with pureed food and wants to move more and more to finger foods. I offered them some cantaloupe pieces with their breakfast this morning and that's all William would eat. He wouldn't eat the banana mush I made for them. So, that will be the next thing I work on, making them some wholesome and safe finger foods, or perhaps more finger foods for William and continue the puree for Ronan while still offering the finger foods to Ronan so that he can have the practice.

Mealtimes are definitely getting more interesting, and actually a little less messy... for now.

Swimming

I took them in the pool again today. This was their 2nd time in the big pool. We took them in just over a week ago for the first time. We took a video, but I don't think Dave wants it shown here. I put it on Facebook, though, if you have an account there.

William shows pretty much no fear of the water and he's already figured out how to paddle with his feet to move around while in the floaty ring. I took him out of the ring and he made it clear through his paddling and reaching he was going for the side. I took him to the side and he reached out and held on, then tried to climb up. Later, I dunked him under the water for a brief split second a few times and he actually liked that, too, though I think it confused him a little. He giggles wildly when I blow bubbles in the water. He's such a little water baby!

Ronan likes the pool but seems like he doesn't quite know what to think of it just yet. He smiles and explores, but doesn't get all excited the way William does. When I take him out of the floaty ring he clings to me and shows a healthy and natural fear of the water, unlike William. I dunked him for a split second, too, but he wasn't so happy about it. He didn't cry, but he grabbed tighter onto me and I just didn't have the heart to proceed further in any water explorations or experiments.

Both boys seemed intent on trying to drink the water.

Monday, May 25, 2009

8 months old!

It's nearly summer and we're really enjoying the sunshine! We've been out and about a lot, at least when everyone is well. The boys seem to be in one of those cycles where they are well for about a week and then get colds for about 2 weeks. They came down with a cold a few days ago so we're back in the snot season.

We put them in the pool for the first time last weekend. They loved it! William giggled almost incessantly from the moment we put him in until we took him out. We have all the gear: cloth swim diapers, sunscreened swim shirts, swim shorts, sun-shading hats, sunglasses, waterproof sunscreen, and floaties. We also got them a little blow-up pool for some mild splashing, though they haven't used that, yet. I got one big enough for me to get into it with them. We're very cautious with these little guys when it comes to water.

Within minutes of putting William in his floaty he was paddling his legs and figuring out how to be mobile in the pool. I think we may have some natural swimmers!

The milestones are being reached nearly daily and the boys are filling our lives with joy and laughter, though they keep us so busy!


MilestoneWilliamRonan
Smile3 weeks5 weeks
Laugh*2 months3 months
Giggle*4 months3 months
Squeal2 months3 months
Roll front to back7 weeks5 months
Roll back to front11 weeks5 months
Grab spoon to feed self4.5 months5 months
Drink from sippy cup unassisted6.5 months6 months
Scooting8 weeks6 months
Lunges5.5 months7 months
Crawling6-7 monthsTBD
Pull to stand with our hands3 months4 months
Pull to stand on own7 months8 months
Jabbering with consonants6 months5 months
First wordsTBD7.5 months (Yum!)
Reach to be picked upTBD6 months
WaveTBD6 months
Sit without support7 months7 months
Stands holding onto something3 months6 months
Put self into sitting position7 months8 months
Stands unsupported for a couple secondsTBD8 months
Pincer grasp8 months8 months
Gesture to indicate what he wants7 months6 months
Eats with fingers7 months8 months

*William laughed without giggling first and still does it most of the time. It's a strange gasping/squealing laugh and sometimes he laughs in a sort of silent way. Ronan's first laugh was more of a squeal. Giggling is a serious laugh from them when it's beyond the squeal.

They're each about 18-19 pounds and will probably outgrow their infant car seats in a couple of months. We're looking to buy some convertible seats for them. With them being mobile we really need to get more of the house baby-proofed. We've been more in the fire-fighting mode since they were born, taking care of things as the need arises. Now there is a need to give them access to more of the house.

William is our comedian. He has been making his own form of jokes since he was about 6 months old. He makes me laugh so much and he laughs along. The other day he was joking with Ronan, tickling him and doing silly things to make Ronan laugh. Ronan was giggling up a storm, then William was giggling at Ronan's giggling. It was the cutest thing to see. I tried to get a video of it, but the camera battery was dead. William used to be quite ahead of Ronan on many physical milestones but Ronan is quickly catching up. Ronan sees William doing something then he works really hard at it so he can do it, too. William loves seeing people, animals, and things. He laughs so much and has turned into a very cuddly little guy. He often reaches out to hold Ronan's hand and he sometimes looks at people with such love in his eyes as his voice gets soft and he sighs in adoration. It's so heartwarming!

Ronan is our communicator. A couple of weeks ago I discovered that Ronan was, indeed, saying "yum!" with great gusto every time I presented him with food. It helps that I've been saying "yum" to him with food for months. On Wednesday morning he looked at me and said, "mama!" Since then he's said it several times. When I gave him his bottle on Friday he said, "baba!" and proceeded to say that several times since during feedings. Yesterday morning when Dave came into the room we both distinctly heard Ronan say, "Daddeeee!" Just like with the other words, he spent the rest of the day saying, "Daddy." While most of the time he just says "mamamamama," "bababababa," "gagagaga," and "dadadada," it seems that "yum," "mama," and "daddy" are his first real words as he seems to be saying them with real intent and purpose. Ronan loves music and seems to be starting an ability to keep rhythm. I caught him pounding his feet on the ground to the beat of some music the other day. Ronan's favorite activity is jumping. He jumps in the exersaucer and the doorway jumper and bounces in his stroller or on our laps. He bounces when he's happy. Sometimes he falls asleep in the doorway jumper and when I go to take him out he starts jumping again as if he never missed a beat! Ronan's favorite toy is a little bunny from Ikea. William's favorite toy is Ronan.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cough cough OINK!

I'm sorry for the lack of posts. We've been ill. Actually, we were all recovered before the whole swine flu scare. It all started with Ronan developing a high fever just before Easter. He suffered from that illness for about a week, the poor guy. Just as he recovered, William's temperature shot up. At the same time, so did mine.

It's really hard caring for sick twins while sick yourself. I was trying to avoid medication because I'm still breastfeeding and pumping. It got too difficult, though, and I was no good to the boys feeling the way I did. I ended up taking Theraflu. I would pump prior to taking the medication then wait 6-8 hours before pumping, then take it again after pumping. I guess it's a good thing my supply is down.

They aren't breastfeeding much, just early in the morning. The milk I pump goes into their bottles mixed with formula. I used to be loathe to do that, being concerned about wasting any, but when I started producing so little I started doing it and discovered something amazing. It takes away all the foam from the formula!!

Foam, you ask? We use the Kirkland formula. The boys love it. We tried many different brands in the beginning and fortunately, it turns out the boys like the less expensive Kirkland better than most anything else so that's what they get. Unfortunately, it tends to be the foamiest formula we've tried and it's annoying. It makes it tough to decipher how much they've had from the bottle when there is all that foam. Well, no problem anymore now that I discovered the foam antidote. I just add 1-3 ounces of breastmilk and bye-bye foam! It's great! It's reason enough to keep lactating, though the antibodies is the best reason of all.

Now we have the swine flu in our county and it leaves me wishing I could be supermom and provide 100% breastmilk for the boys. Well, they're 7 months old and I am doing what I can. We aren't panicking about it, just being cautious. We're going to continue to go about our usual plans. We'll go to the library on Friday morning, just as planned. There is an infant program there that is a lot of fun. I bet attendance will be down, though.

William now has 2 teeth! He popped the first one out not long after Ronan got sick. In fact, we thought he was coming down with the same thing because his temperature went up a little, but not nearly as high as Ronan's. He also was drooling a lot and a bit snotty so we were sure he was sick, but it only lasted a day and didn't get nearly as bad as we expected. Within a couple of days the tooth was very obvious. After that he did get ill and did get it pretty bad. It was tough to fight his 103 degree temperature during our mini heatwave when the temperatures creeped up to around 100 degrees.

He recovered after a few days but then the last few days he has been really cranky and needy. Night before last Dave said he thought William felt hot and sure enough, he had a low-grade fever. I saw his 2nd tooth the very next day.

Ronan should be popping a tooth soon, I think. He seems to be close.

This morning William figured out how to pull himself all the way up in his crib and stand in it! He also figured out how to use the crib as a teether. Now that he can pull himself up to standing there is no stopping him. He wants to do it at every opportunity. Ronan has been watching him all day and this afternoon he started trying to do it, but lacks the strength and skill. William's been working on this for several weeks. Ronan just started to try today so he has some work to do.

William has also been crawling, fully crawling for a couple of weeks now. For several weeks he did his own modified crawl where he would crawl a few steps, rock a bit, then lunge forward. He got around really well that way so I started to wonder if he'd ever fully crawl at all or just move straight to trying to walk. Now that he pulls himself to standing a lot he now wants to practice walking.

They get along really well, too, for the most part. William keeps trying to crawl over Ronan and they have even fallen asleep a few times one on top of the other - William always on top. Funny, because William was "bottom bunk" in the womb. He's actually started to obey me when I say, "William get off of your brother!" William is so busy and into everything, I find myself saying, "no William," "Stop it, William," "get off your brother, William" a lot!

William just loves his brother. He often reaches out to him to hold his hand while in the high chairs and in their stroller. Ronan obliges him. They smile at each other when they are together. They cry when I separate them.

It's so fun watching these little guys grow and discover new things!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter!


We went to see the Easter Bunny on Thursday afternoon. We didn't go to Big Nasty Mall (aka Westfield, aka Valley Fair - why do they keep changing mall names?). We went to Vallco this time, which is being changed to Cupertino Square.

Mr. Cottontail's helpers were so friendly and took several shots in an effort to get one where the boys were smiling. William and Ronan, however, were just wondering who the heck the big furry one was with the big ears. They were even more dumbfounded when Mommy put ears on them.

There was no waiting and the others who were there for photos were all so friendly. There was a cute little girl about 4-years-old there with her grandmother. William really liked her and enjoyed holding her hand. Ronan was just really super tired and he was wondering why he couldn't just nap. Prior to seeing Peter Cottontail we were at Sears having portraits taken.

Nick, the Sears photographer, was baffled by our William, who would not allow him to position him for the photos. When Nick tried to get William to sit, William stiffened up like a board with his elbows jutting out behind him so that he would end up lying propped up on elbows, but very unnaturally so with his legs so taught and in line with his tightened stomach. This boys is strong!!

We did manage to get a few good shots at Sears and there will be many more. I signed up for their super saver program which grants us free sittings any time we want, provided they are open, and a free 8x10 with every sitting. We intend to take full advantage of this. Obviously, they're hoping to sell me a lot of photos with those sittings, but I figure with free 8x10 photos, we can just keep going back. I can bring others, too, so if any of you want some photos just let me know.

Of course, the Sears photos aren't nearly as nice as the ones by my good friends Monterey Jack and Heather Hunt.

Later that night, just as I was about to go to bed, I heard Ronan over the baby monitor. He was coughing and sounded like he was struggling to breathe. I checked on him and he was burning up. His temperature was just shy of 103. I used an aspirator to clear his breathing passageways and then put some saline in his nostrils. Because he is so young and the temperature was so high, I held off giving him Tylenol (he'd never had it before, nor had he ever been otherwise medicated). I called the advice nurse at Kaiser who told me he had to go to the ER. We finally were seen by a doctor at about 2:30am and they gave him some Tylenol then sent us home about an hour later.

The Tylenol helps but we have to keep up the dosage or his fever goes back up. It was 103 again this morning, the poor little guy.

William may have had a touch of it, or maybe something else. His temperature was 101 last night but is just shy of 100 this morning. Both are of good temperament through all of this.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Cute "ee" words

When we want to make something sound cute, give a nickname, or shorten a word for fun, we often add the "ee" sound at the end. For example, children get the "ee" sound applied to the end of their names or a version of their names. That's how I became Lizzy, which I prefer much better than "Liz." Besides, my name is spelled "Elisabeth" so it should be "Lis" but few people recognize that, in which case maybe I'm really "Lissy." I really don't know why so many people insist on calling me "Liz," though. That name just doesn't suit me. But I digress. Back to my subject. Boys named Robert become "Bobby" or "Robby." Some people ask me if our William is a "Willy" or a "Billy." Nope, he's "Wiggles."

Sometimes we apply the cutesy sound to normal words, like "cutesy." They do this a lot in Britain. They say "cozzy" or "swimming cozzy" for "swimming costume," or as we Americans would say, "swimsuit."

Other words are just made with that "ee" sound at the end, but they sound cute, too. Words such as "monkey," "bibliography," and "lobotomy" all have their charm. The word "economy" even starts and ends with that "ee" sound, though for some reason that word isn't as much fun, especially not lately. Maybe using the "ee" as a sandwich is like a double negative, the "ee" at the beginning cancels out the cute "ee" at the end.

That's why I find it funny that the word "body" sounds cute, especially when combined with the word "dead." I know it's a bit perverse. That's why it's funny. There's another word, "funny." Funny honey. Sweetie.

Other funny cute "ee" words:
Floozy
Hairy
Meaty
Testy
Testes
Menses
Tiny
Smeggy
Jiggly
Wiggly
Rinky dinky
Flimsy
Sticky
Nippy
Flossy
Glossy
Sloppy
Bossy
Needy
Frenzy
Mini
Nitty gritty
Stinky
Smelly
Okey dokey
Smokey

And my personal favorite, "zombie."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Stupid carpet cleaners!

That's the last time I use that service. They didn't show up! They didn't even call.

Monday, March 23, 2009

6 months old today!

Where has the time gone? I have to say, though, that while it has been hard work, really hard work, I've really truly enjoyed it and am looking forward to dedicating the rest of my life to being the best mother I can. I'm so happy they've come into my life. I feel so blessed.

Dave was fantastic this weekend! I think I reached another exhaustion peak and I hate to admit that I was not very pleasant to be around Saturday morning. Dave took over care of the boys for the afternoon and early evening and let me nap and he didn't disturb me once to wake me. He let me wake when I was ready. When I did get up, he had things so well together and was giving the boys their dinner of baby food.

Bless his heart!

After we got the boys to bed and had some dinner, he finished fixing my laptop. I have a new keyboard and mouse and all the dust has been cleaned out. It runs like new again! Last night he made us a lovely steak dinner, something we haven't enjoyed at home in ages.

I really feel so blessed. My cup runneth over!

I also feel terrible. I'm way behind on thank-you notes for the generous gifts we've received for our boys. We still also haven't sent out any formal birth announcements, yet. That was partly due to not having any time but also because Dave and I can't agree on what to send. I'm sad about this, because I really want to put a formal birth announcement in their baby books, another task I haven't touched.

There are many regrets and I know they are petty, but I still have them. For instance, I never got hand prints from when they were born. I have no idea how tiny their hands were. I did get some foot prints; well, at least the hospital did that for me.

I never finished crocheting them blankets. I never finished crocheting the blanket I was making for my friend Sheri's baby, who is now 9 months old. I never finished crocheting them booties and now they're probably too big for booties. In fact, I haven't really made my boys anything. I've made things for so many other babies, but nothing for my own. My hands were swollen and sore in pregnancy, and I was so tired, that all of that went by the wayside when I actually had time to do it. Now there just isn't the time. My house is a tip. There isn't much time for cleaning.

We're getting better at finding the time, though, and the boys are getting better at growing up. They are playing together more and more, and they enjoy each others' company. It's adorable when they hold hands, which is another thing I haven't managed to photograph. We can't seem to remove them from each others' company without getting cries. They are also starting to make it difficult to comfort one without comforting the other.

As you may have seen in an earlier post, William is almost crawling! Ronan has been rolling for a few weeks but he wants so badly to be as mobile as William so he exhausts himself on his tummy then cries to get me or Dave to go roll him back over. All weekend Dave and I would say, "it's your turn to flip the Roni."

Last week I finally found the time and courage to go see a dentist. I have a great fear of dentistry but I also have a bad crown that was never right. It gets food stuck under it and causes me some pain and a great deal of irritation. I want it fixed but don't want to go through the process of getting it fixed. I shouldn't have delayed it so long. I fear I may need a root canal. So finally, last week I walked into the dentist's office that is at the mall near my house and made myself an appointment. They were so nice and the receptionist even offered to watch the boys for me while I had my cleaning! I went the next morning with the boys and had the appointment. It went really well and I really like this dentist. Unfortunately, I have a cavity in the tooth next to the one with the crown, a result of that food getting stuck under the crown. Fortunately, he can take care of it when I get the crown fixed.

My appointment to get the crown and cavity fixed is Friday morning. Ugh! I'm really not looking forward to this.

Back to the boys and their 1/2 birthday. I'm so excited they are 6 months old and they are doing so well! I'm a little sad that the time is passing so quickly and I see many opportunities flying away. There is no better application of "stop and smell the roses" than with the growth of a baby. Blink and you might miss something precious.

My aunt told me in those first weeks, "enjoy every moment because they grow up so fast." I remind myself of her words every time they are both screaming, every time they wake me in the middle of the night, every time they blow out a diaper, every time I get covered in baby puke, every time I get a smile, every giggle, every gurgle, every pinch, every squeeze, every cuddle...
You get the idea.
I sure love these little fellas!



(Photos taken at 4 1/2 months by Heather Hunt)