Friday, July 31, 2009

End of July Summer Report

I can't believe June and July are over. Summer is so precious. How does it go so fast? We are a summer lovin' family. Last summer is kinda a blur (having a newborn baby kinda cramped our summer style). So we have been bound and determined to make this summer count. And for real, we've taken summer to a whole new level around here. Big happenings in the most simple of summer-time things.

K & O have taken tree climbing to a whole new level. It is C-R-A-Z-Y. They have discovered two new trees to climb on our property-- in which they can get very, very high. The question I had when I first saw this (that is, after asking myself, 'Is it really ok to let them do this?') was, yelling up to them way up there, "How the heck did you guys get up into the tree in the first place?" "We climbed up," they nonchalantly said. "Well, yes, but how on earth did you get up to that first branch???" At which point they simply scurried down and showed me. As if it was nothing to just jump way higher than you are tall, grab a branch with your bare hands, and pull your whole body up via a sort of chin-up-flip-type-maneuver. Which I probably wouldn't have believed unless I had seen it right there in front of me with my own two eyes.
And the trampoline jumping, too, is at a whole new level. Meera is IN on the action.
And the obsession (K & O's obsession) with the lawnmowing guys... that, too, is at an all time high. It is the highlight of K & O's week: Thursday afternoons = LAWNMOWING. They dictate their love notes to me, and then they shuffle out quickly to leave them by the weedwackers so that when the mowing ends and the weedwacking begins, their heroes will find their little treats. Iced tea one week, oatmeal cookies another, chicken sandwiches yet another. Seriously, I keep saying to Braydon, we need to give these guys big tips (the little snacks just don't cut it)-- the stuff they put up with-- really, it is quite something. (I can only imagine the stories these guys tell at the bar after they leave our house on Thursday afternoons)
And playdates... playdates... they are louder than ever. The most recent, with friends from school, another set of twins the same age as K & O (playdates with two sets of twins the same age are even crazier than C-R-A-Z-Y).... sort of took the volume to, yes, a whole new level. I seriously thought I was slightly deaf for a few hours after this one.
But other things have sort of bombed. Like our tomato plants. It is pathetic. And most pathetic is the boys' eagerness to watch the tomatoes grow (or not grow, as the case may be). They check them every day (sometimes many times a day). So far we've eaten exactly one tomato, and it is looking like that might be it for the summer. Mostly, the plants -- Kyle's (on right), Owen's (on left), and Meera's (in the middle) -- are just plain pathetic... although, admittedly, Meera's is doing by far the best (maybe because I'm in charge of watering that one so it doesn't get watered 100 times a day like the other two do??!)...
And there has been some summertime drama. Like the other day, when our cat brought a squirrel into the house through a door that somebody (i.e., K and/or O) had left open, and then cornered the squirrel into a corner in the kitchen behind the cookbook shelf. Now that was some drama. 4 out of 5 of us were right up front to view that drama unfold. I was the one shrieking and screaming and standing several feet back.
I'll end this with a pic of The Boys of Summer...
...and The Girl of Summer...
Here's hoping that August doesn't fly by...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

this is
HAITI
WEEK
on the J-M Family Blog!

In Union There Is Power

In all honesty, this is something I have thought of --I'm pretty sure-- at least once every single day since January 31, 2005 (the day we flew to Haiti and united with our boys forever). The motto that appears on the Haitian flag, "L'Union Fait La Force," translated into English is, "Strength Through Unity," or, as many people say it, "In Union There Is Power."

I feel like these five words got branded into my brain on January 31, 2005; they so perfectly state so much of how I observe my two boys. I'm going to jot down here a few of my brief thoughts on this. But believe me when I say, I could write a lengthy book on this topic.

Kyle and Owen are a force, especially when united. There is no stopping them-- this is most definitely true in terms of very naughty behavior (man, once they get started, they just don't quit with the antics and tussles and bad bad bad behavior; wow can they get into some trouble together), and I, being their mother, see this almost everyday. There are times when I want to pull my hair out (each of them alone can provoke that reaction in me, for sure, but together... watch out... Mama can go from zero to sixty in no time flat). I still get very nervous when they are suddenly quiet in the presence of each other. It usually means that they are up to no good. This was true when they were 2, and it is just as true today. And yes, they've done some pretty serious damage together... some of which has left permanent scars on our house (think WATER DAMAGE), on our cars (think DEEP EXTERIOR SCRATCHES), and on our psyches (think MOMMY --and sometimes even Papi-- MELTDOWNS). Yes, when it comes to their mischief, "In Union There Is Power."

But "In Union There Is Power" means so much more with them too--- Together they are a force to be reckoned with. Don't even try to cross one of them because you'll get both of them right back at ya. They don't fool around when it comes to defending one another. They've got each other's backs non-stop, round-the-clock, day-in-and-day-out, always. Everywhere, from on the playground to in the family room, and everywhere in between. They are each over 50 pounds right now. But believe me, together they are well more than 100 pounds of full-blown bone and muscle coming at you fast and furious if they think you might be in their way.

And "In Union There Is Power" means a lot in terms of their disposition too. They are unbelievably happy and they are fully engaged in life. They have an incredible zest for living, and they live their lives to the very, very fullest (overflowing fullest of full). They laugh together like you wouldn't believe. And they play together harder than you can imagine. Have you ever heard of a set of twins who shares a full-blown full-time imaginary friend? (June is alive and kicking folks, she has never left). That's just one tiny example of the life-world that is their own. It is bigger than big, that life-world of theirs. "In Union There Is Power"... a power that goes beyond the norms of what you'd normally expect to see from two five year old boys. It is a happy twinship, a tornado of energy and gusto, a double torpedo of GUMPTION and wild-and-crazy ACTION. They do have their calm moments. And they share traits in common that defy their action-oriented-exuberance (they are both extraordinarily affectionate and cuddly and kissy and loving, and just deeply compassionately and empathetically caring). But what comes through the most, especially at first glance, is the powerful dynamic ENERGY of their union.

I truly believe that the fact that they had each other is what carried them through the storms of their early months. No, they weren't held (not much at all), and yes, that's led to some pretty serious stuff that we're coping with to this day and probably always will be. But they could feel each other's bodies, and they could sense each other's presence, and they knew their togetherness (I'm sure of it), even as infants. No, they weren't in (by any stretch of the imagination) healthy circumstances. But they were together in the thick heat and humidity, they were together amidst the gunshots and the tension and the crises, they were together in the bottom of that dingy portacrib every hour of every day and night. They were grasping for each other's hands and touching and feeling each other's selves through the commotion and the chaos and the desolation and the blankness that was their early life. This was one of the first things we noticed about them-- their constant need to regularly hold each other's hands. They'd reach out for one another, as 8 month olds, and grab hands. Sometimes they'd hold tight for long stretches of time. Other times they grab hold and then twirl and interlace their fingers around each other's, rubbing each other's hands and fingers and fingernails. They needed to do this regularly (and it was so clear all the reasons why) for the first few weeks we were with them.

Gradually that grasping for each other started to fade. And in its place came two sets of matching gleeful, sparkling, mischievous eyes that would catch each other's looks and communicate with nothing but a glance. And off and running they'd be-- toddling all over the house, and then scootering all over the driveway, and now bike-riding all over the neighborhood. "In Union There Is Power." "Strength Through Unity." Their union has always been their power and their strength. The power to transcend. The power to heal. The power to live. The power to rise above. It is a power that should serve them well their whole lives through (even if, at times, it can make their mommy come close to the edge of a nervous breakdown!!!).

"In Union There Is Power"... I swear, I see it everyday. That Haitian spirit. Times two. Big time. The power of it is a whole much larger than the sum of the parts. In union there is power.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Synchronized Blogging!!! Rollings In Haiti & J-Ms in USA

This is a first for us! SYNCHRONIZED BLOGGING! I must admit, this has been very fun to plan and implement... synchronized blogging!!! who would have thought it?!!... here's the deal...

So, Rollings In Haiti is a blog that I read regularly. Chris and Leslie Rolling are the in-country Directors of Clean Water for Haiti. This is an amazing organization and I encourage you to check it out!!! A couple of weeks ago Leslie did "Food Week" on her blog. One of the posts she did was about Steak Au Poive. CHECK IT OUT BY CLICKING HERE. If you read the comments to her post you'll see my comment there about pomme frites. So... there they are in Haiti and here we are in the U.S. and they've got the Steak Au Poive and we've got the Pomme Frites. All I could think about was how much we'd love to get together and have dinner with Chris and Leslie while Olivia, Kyle, and Owen (our 3 little Haitian Sensations) ran around together playing in one or the other of our yards (and Meera would be sleeping, of course, cuz she's still sleeping about 75% of her life these days). Anyway..... Leslie and I got to thinking.... we can't get together for dinner (at least not right now), but we could both make it, and then both blog together about it. The J-M's would be trying out the Steak Au Poive for the first time, and the Rolling's would be trying out the Pomme Frites for the first time. And our little brainchild --Synchronized Blogging: Haiti/US Style! -- was born. We were so excited to think that we might have coined a new cool blogging term. But I googled it and it turns out, sadly, that others have done it before us. Oh well. It was fun anyway. So...
Here's the story...
On their end... click here...
and...
On this end...
WHAT A NIGHT IT WAS!!!!!...
Saturday night was our special night. We put Meera to bed at her usual 6:00 and we got to it. We told the boys that we were having a "special Haitian dinner" and explained that this was something that would be an "extremely special treat in Haiti" and that "actually very few people in the whole world ever get to eat such a special meal" and that "we are so lucky" etc. etc. etc. They were way into it. Totally interested, totally curious about it, totally totally into the whole deal. The additional excitement for them was that they got to stay up really, really late (a rare, rare treat!).

Owen was my Right Hand Man in the kitchen while Kyle helped Braydon create the atmosphere (i.e., set the table and pour the wine and light the candles!)...
The au poive sauce was amazing..............
Leslie's Steak Au Poive was heavenly!!!!!!!!!! And the boys were very impressed that we made "french fries" at home (I had never made them for them at home before and they had always thought that french fries were a special treat for when we go to restaurants). Kyle announced they were the "best french fries ever!" And they both ate up their steak (and the broccoli, which they used to mop up all that scrumptious au poive sauce... literally, they used the broccoli like little mops!). I chose broccoli as the side because it just seemed like the perfect choice. And, really, it was! The whole meal came together magically good...
We followed Leslie's recipe precisely and I wouldn't change a thing. I highly recommend it (go to her blog for the recipe). Braydon said it was one of his top ten meals I've ever made... which, seriously, is HUGE. Huge. Like, really, really huge (because I've made him some pretty darn fabulous meals, especially pre-K&O). It got a big A+ from all four of the J-M's that partook of it. We will definitely be making this many times in the future. For dessert we had pound cake with fresh berries and whipped cream (I know, I know, I know, Rollings, this is so unfair--- our ability to easily get these berries and your inability to get these berries at all... oh how I wish we could send some down to you by the caseloads!!!!!!!)
After the feast the boys had a heavenly summer night catching fireflies...

...and playing in the yard with flashlights...
...and generally enjoying the darkness and specialness that was that night...
...including a late night (i.e., 9:30 p.m. which is waaaaaaay past their usual 6:30 p.m. bedtime) swim in the pool in the pitch dark.
It was a really wonderful night to remember here. Definitely a highlight of our summer. Thanks Rollings In Haiti! We love you and can't wait for the day we'll have dinner in real life!