The day began & filled quickly with omens, I just didn’t heed the call until too late.

For the past 16 months, everything that was in a cabinet, on a ledge, hanging from hooks, or inside a drawer was safe & secure from the 20 baby fingers lurking about. The kiddos weren’t much of a threat to anything other than what was on the floor, but in the last few days the new, bigger-better-faster version of Max & Manu was unleashed when their ability to stand-up, pull open, turn knobs, and flick switches seemed to explode in a learning curve that climbed faster than a rocket.

It started slowly with Manu maneuvering the toilet brush from its socket. There she sat like a queen holding her scepter with that 6 tooth grin across her face. Lord knows what she had done with that brush so I threw her in the tub and swabbed her mouth out with germicidal potions & brew.

I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it!
I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it!

Then, as I was baby-safeing the bathroom, I hear a *SMASH!* come from Max’s bedroom followed by a terrifying scream from baby’s mouth. I run in and there on the floor see that Max has pulled over the halogen floor lamp, the glass shattered, leaving black carbon dust everywhere and little baby sitting there looking at me like, “What did you do to me?”

I sweep Monsieur up in my arms, Pierre pronounces the light kaput, and I say, “At least he didn’t break the really expensive, beautiful floor lamp in the living room!”.
 

Jackpot! The 1st drawer Max learned to open : (
Jackpot! The 1st drawer Max learned to open : (

Max doesn’t have time to be bothered with the clean-up. He jumps to all fours and sprints out of the room faster than I can say, “Max, I’m adding that light to your tab”. My little man crawls with such speed that he can go from one end of the house to the other faster than I can walk it. If I want to stop him, I’ve got to break into a run, or at least a convincing ‘woggle’.

Then, a few hours later, “Manu! what is that sticking out of your mouth”, I say walking towards her until I see she’s dislodged one of the electrical outlet safety plugs and is using it as a pacifier. That gizmo took her all of 2 hours to prove useless.

Tastes like Chicken
Tastes like Chicken

 
In other rooms, there is no less of a fracas raised when they gain access. In the dining area, if you don’t belt them to their high chairs, they stand up and rock the solid-wooden chair off its legs, while banging on the tray with their cups so loud that I think there’s a drum hidden inside. Yes, little baby is a force to behold. Yet baby doesn’t think all this connivery and hootspa is enough. No, they are just warming up their engine.

What else little baby Manu? What else fire-eating Max?

Wahhh, she never lets me help separate the knives!
Wahhh, she never lets me help separate the knives!

Let’s move on to the kitchen… where my kiddos are quickly replacing several of the appliances I was so fond of.
~ Manu now substitutes as my paper-shredder. She’ll turn any magazine or paper into confetti fit for your Christmas tree trimmings.
~ Need your dog’s food stirred to mix the hard stuff with the wet? Let Max use his crafty digits to kneed, pulp, mush and smack all that nasty smelly stuff into a big mess. Pius wont mind, but he would like you, Max to please stop chasing after him, pulling his tail, and trying to grab his eyeballs out of his head. Yeah, Max is a little OCD with all things Pius.
 

You missed a spot Max.
You missed a spot Max.

But wait, that’s not all. You say your white carpet isn’t quite dirty enough? Let Max help you out by dragging a dirty mop across the unforgiving fibers. This is called intuitive painting in Max-land.

Next, say a prayer for the plants, they’ve all been put to rest. And yes, we were so wise as to recently install those child gates, but once your child has known 16 months of precious freedom, there’s no going back. Having your children stand at the gate shaking & rattling the bars while screaming isn’t really a solution either, ya know.
 

Maman, our crime does not fit this horrid punishment!
Maman, our crime does not fit this horrid punishment!

So, the sun is going down and I’m staring at a treacherous mess spread around the house while glancing at that bottle of wine in the corner. I smile thinking, “Gee, it’s not so ba…” when *SMASH!*, I hear a a crash of thunder come from the next room.

Did you get the earlier foreshadowing? Yes, there on the ground, lay that lovely floor lamp P & I love(d) so much. Max had weazeled his way up, over, around the chairs and tables that it was hidden behind, got to shaking it so hard, it slid into the table, toppled, dropped and lay crying in death on the floor — or maybe that’s Max I’m hearing.

Max cries and cries, and papa Pierre sits with him giving him his first lesson in things that are off limits. Pierre is firm, calm, repeating the words, “Cassé, Tombé” (fallen, broken). Max cries yet continues to sit listening. It was amazing to see our little baby seem to grasp, feel, and show a kind of sorry or understanding. Even more telling is while Pierre repairs the lamp, Max crawls over to him and sits quietly watching until papa finishes. Max rarely sits still while holding his attention so calmly. He was engaged.

Show the electronic, and he will come
Show the electronic, and he will come

Now when Max goes near things that are breakable, we repeat the words in a low, serious voice and use sign language for “No”. Max turns, looks at us and curls into a ball on the floor and whimpers as if to say, “Okay, I know, I’m not going there”. We pick him up and show the object to him so he doesn’t feel punished, all the while telling him “Careful”. We show him by example.

It’s funny, this same kind of lesson is how the kiddos learned to be kind to Pius. Now they pet him gently, or just sit and watch him. Amazing. Communicate with your child, show example, and already I am so touched, my heart strings pulled at, that such a young mind can grasp and communicate such mature interactions. Wow wow wow.

The Buddha hand… “I work in mysterious ways”
The Buddha hand… “I work in mysterious ways”
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Take out the mono candle! It’s Max & Emmanuelle’s first Birthday today!!

They’re one year old. One year! and oh what a year it was….

Emmanuelle ma fille
Emmanuelle ma fille

A year ago today at 10am I was hearing the first cries of baby Max and Manu. As soon as they were delivered into this world, their high pitch mewls came in rapid succession like a baby bird fallen from her nest. Panicking. And me, lying on a hard bed with a side of spinal tap, listening to the scurry and the unruffled voices of doctors & pre-term specialists buzzing around me. Fear, joy, and clarity-disparity were all along for the ride and for a long moment I stared up to the ceiling, simultaneously feeling everything and feeling nothing. Thinking of the decisions that had brought me to this pinpoint moment.
 
 

Everyday is naked day!
Everyday is naked day!

A year later, as in right now, I’m sitting with Max, Manu & Frenchy-baby-daddy-Pierre opening presents and telling the kiddos they are no longer infants but bona fide toddlers. “You’re a little man, Max. You are my petite mademoiselle, Emmanuelle”. They laugh and caw looking at us, waving back to us with their little hands having no idea what it means, just that it connects us. Max is carefully turning everything in his hands and in between his fingers. Emmanuelle along side him, insisting all graspable matter around her bend to her will (or just make alot of noise).

They of course are less interested in presents than their wrapping and all the noise and mayhem they can generate. Shred all that paper, chew it up and spit it out. Pound the crap out of all things tangible. Oooo, those batteries taste scads better than the boring pacifier. You get the idea… Babies for bedlam, in a wonder world where entropy reigns.
 

Stand back mere mortal, this one is....
“Stand back mere mortal, this present is….”

 
I can barely remember what life felt like without them. Like they were always meant to be here, it just took awhile to get around to laying the gateway for their arrival. Prior there was always something I told myself I needed to do first - a list that can be never ending. I felt locked into a lifestyle whose universe centered around the “me”. I wanted to let go in order to step outside it, but that’s a hard sword to lay down…
 

Whats on the inside is
“OMG! We’re being attacked by a sheep head!”

 
Traveling for 3 years throughout the 3rd World was indeed getting out, but returning to life in the US was bittersweet. I experienced things I will never be able to convey and in re-entering the life I had left, I became more an observer than participant. But it was my solo travel to Thailand & India living in different monasteries for meditation practice that really brought me into the present. This changed several things - some of it very painful.
 

Wonder twin powers activate. Shape of a baby!
“Wonder twin powers activate. Shape of a baby!”

 
I realized I needed to end certain friendships due to their unhealthy and negative nature and evaluate assumed ways in my thinking that either no longer served purpose or no longer held truth. Dynamics within my family needed to shift as well.

Community and creating a family became important, but I think I was afraid of committing to growing kids until one day Pierre bluntly says, “You aren’t serious about having kids, and you are going to wake up one day and realize it’s too late. You need to get serious if you want kiddos.” That little phrase worked wonders because 2 moths later I was pregnant with twins.

All that to say it was quite a journey that brought me to my children and they to me. It’s always astounding how common childbirth is, but how unique, how mystical the experience can be to each human being.

Pierre and I, we made 2 amazing little people. I can’t believe our fortune on this one. Our kiddos laugh and smile sun up to sun down unless tired or hungry. They go to bed with little effort, they are healthy and beautiful and really full of such marked personality. I pull them into my arms, I smell their skin and melt when their little arms and hands clutch at my shoulders, their legs kicking with delight to be held. I burn this into my memory and into my flesh. It is so primal, so animal.

So Happy Birthday Max, Bon Anniversaire Emmanuelle. And thank you Pierre for helping stir, pour and mix the pot, er petri dish and bring the kiddos into our lives. You’re a fantastic father.

2
2 months: “I have never known life without you”
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We dusted off some old videos: Max & Manu in their crib at 3 months and 6 months. So old, so old… They are almost 10-month old now!


 

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Max & Manu trained for 4 months for my birthday present. Thank you kiddos!

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Here is what happens at home when Merritt goes into town on a Saturday afternoon…

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Although we will be moving north to Sebastopol very soon, Pierre and I are making the most of our 3 room housey in the hood. The bedroom now doubles as the kiddos room & storage room, the office doubles as both our offices & the play room, and the kitchen is now the living room, the doggie bedroom & default everything else room.

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double dutch
double dutch

We learn to make the most of it all. Pierre comes up with the ultimate feeding machine to make late night feeds flow: Make head rests in the crib, and feed the kiddos at the same time with double bottle action. We save approximately 1 hour 30 minutes a day with this new-fangle method (click images for a better look).

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The family that sleeps together…
The family that sleeps together…

 
 
Even Kangaroo Care can be pruned to a one-chest hay ride.

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The streets provide an exercise in ease as Pierre shows how to handle two babies (and a dog & bag of groceries) at once. He becomes an amusement park ride, as the kids swing and sway to the beat of his to and fro.

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Even when we can’t physically hold them, our kiddos follow us everywhere, even inside the bathroom to watch Pierre get his hair cut. Pius is the most intrigued because he thinks that camera I’m holding is a chicken tendon snack. Yum.

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merritt-twin-hold-blog.jpgThere is one frontier I haven’t quite made it into in terms of doubling things up. That’s the tandem breast feed. Also known as “The football hold”, and you know how I hate sport references. It just feels too animal, too much like the body being a host for little larva. Its just.. too.. weird. I’m diggin’ everything else about the double-baby-momma experience though. Pierre & I often say to the other, “Thank you for ‘the babies’”. Our pride, meow.

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Lest one accuse us of neglecting the joys of bonding one on one with our kiddos, I give you Manu to set the record straight. She looks like a baby Mao, an enlightened Buddha, a leader of the people. I can almost hear her say it now, Power to the people!

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Pierre and I begin to notice scratches on Max and Manu. We have ideas of where the blood trails are coming from, and so begin the elimination of possibilities.

Are they scratching themselves in their sleep? We bind them in a papoose, and still the scratches appear.

max_manu_fight6.jpg
max_manu_fight.jpg

We put them on opposite sides in the crib, but still, injury prevails.

One day, we hang out over their bed and watch (they have little awareness of us or them as independent selves at this point so why hide?), and see that even while bound up in their swaddles they squirm like a worm to the center of the crib, and wriggle their arms out with a fury it seems to meet and connect with the other.

max_manu_fight21.jpg
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But with no real control over their alien limbs, and flailing to explore the space around them, they wind up flinging-flapping and pummeling one another.

Here is the play by play. ‘Real love’, one says to thee, ‘is how your brain relates to the pleasure in pain’.

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Tomorrow is Father’s Day, my first Father’s Day.

Look at what the storks brought me exactly a month ago…

Merritt took the picture but when she saw it on her screen, she immediately sent my mom a copy. It’s true: it’s so cute that it’s difficult to tell if I posed for Father’s Day or for Mother’s Day.

I think the storks were drunk
I think the storks were drunk

 

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Looking at the pictures of Max and Manu from 2 days ago, some readers found them curiously similar - more than brother and sister should be - and they started to wonder if the whole “twins” thing wasn’t just a scam, if we hadn’t made it all up and photoshopped two siblings out of a single image from some obscure reason, like a double ration of food-stamps or something.

Merritt and I could not stand this abject suspicion anymore. So, taking the risk of incubator cross-contamination, we instructed the nurses to place Manu in Max’s fishbowl. It’s the first time they meet, so you people of little faith, watch this video. This is the proof!


 

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