Thursday, August 25, 2011

Busy little bees

We went to Switzerland this past weekend. Which was fun! But not really a vacation, as traveling with twins is never a vacation, I've found, unless you have tons of family who want nothing more than to entertain your babies, change their diapers, and feed them in the middle of the night. And also make sure they don't get into trouble in places that aren't baby-proofed.

But anyway, we stayed with a colleague of my husband in Lausanne, and it was lovely, although hot (who knew that it ever gets hot in Switzerland, the land of snowy mountains?). We went for a hike, in which I destroyed my heels by not using hiking boots (smart!). The kids swam in a fountain, got carried up a long steep hike in the Swiss Alps, saw cows with giant Swiss cowbells, ate Swiss cheese, and explored Lausanne. On our last evening, a few hours before we were going to start our 5-hour night-time drive back to Italy, we noticed that Turtle was more tired than usual and lethargic, and then we noticed he was really hot. We gave him medicine, packed everyone into the car, and began our long drive back ... fun! Both babies woke every time we slowed for a toll plaza or traffic. I had to sit in the back and soothe them, so I got very little sleep. Turtle's fever rose and fell for a few days, but seems to have broken now, thank goodness. I also feel a molar coming in, so I'm hoping the two were connected.

Turtle and Tadpole are really big for their age, but growing much more slowly now. Turtle has a decent amount of hair. Sadly, Tadpole doesn't, but what she has indicates that she may be curly. They're both pretty blond, which is weird since hubby and I are quite dark, but apparently he was a blondie when he was a baby, too. I STILL can't really tell what color their eyes are.

They're obviously starting to understand some English and Italian, and they babble a lot. Turtle, when asked in Italian what sound the cow makes, will say "booooooooo", and if he sees or hears a dog he says "bow bow". They both wave when they hear someone say "ciao". Tadpole says Mama constantly, but doesn't seem to know what it means.

Tadpole is still quite the athlete. She climbs everything, and runs everywhere. It's hard to keep up with her. Turtle, on the other hand, is slower, studies everything, and is sweet. Lately he has quite the temper and is quick to start screaming when he doesn't get what he wants.

I've found in the last few months that feeding children is really frustrating. Since we're sort of on vacation here in Italy, I've been pretty lax about things, and they've eaten a lot of ice cream (at least once per day), juice, cookies, etc. I don't know if that's making them not want to eat their normal meals, but it's been tough. Also, they seem to change their minds almost daily about what they like and don't like. For a few weeks, they ate tomatoes like they were going out of style - yesterday, tomatoes were disgusting. It's frustrating and hard to deal with, and requires a lot of patience, which is sometimes in short supply.

Sleep and napping has been rough, too. Tadpole is back to getting up 2-3 times per night if not more. They go to bed quite late here, like all the babies we've seen - 10:30 pm. This morning they slept until almost 9, but sometimes they're up at 7 or 7:30, and naptime has been all over the place. I think they're sort of transitioning to one nap, but not at the same rate, and keeping them synchronized, especially out of their home environment, has been impossible.

I have a lot of stuff in mind for when we get home - we're going to start a toddler play-group at the local nursery school, once a week. I also want to do diaper daredevils, which is a tumbling/gymnastics class. In addition, I plan to join a gym that has a pool, a Master's swim team, and two hours of free day care. I'm hoping once I get their naps straightened out that we can go in the mornings so I can swim. It's something I'm REALLY looking forward to.

This weekend, we leave for the east coast of Italy to stay with my brother-in-law, his girlfriend, and their collective 5 kids at a sort of campground (they have cabins). I'm both looking forward to it (fun with cousins, hopefully beautiful views, nice swimming) and dreading it (sleeping in a cabin with two babies, cooking all our own meals, 5-6 hour drive each way). Either way, I'm sure we'll have a good time and we can leave when we can't take any more.

How're y'alls summers going?

Friday, August 12, 2011

No pics (sorry!) but job advice needed

I was planning to post pics, but my husband just told me that he moved the pictures off the SD card onto his computer and will get me copies ... sometime. Who knows when? I really wanted to post pictures of the kids here, but alas, they are not available to me. Sigh.

Moving on ...

I'm trying to figure out what I want to do with my life when Tadpole and Turtle start school. How does one go through that process when one isn't strongly drawn to any particular field? Or how does one recognize that one is drawn to a particular field when it's not terribly obvious? Help!

When I was younger, I always wanted to teach. Well, I cycled through a bunch of different career ideas, both realistic and not, but teaching was usually always on the list. And then ... I don't know what happened. Actually, I remember a few things that happened, one of which was a summer teaching internship program into which I was accepted and which my mother begged me not to go to because my father was ill. She basically tried to put my life on hold for about 8 years because my father was not well and it might be my last Christmas/birthday/summer with him (etc.), although in reality it was because she didn't want me to leave her. (Now she's claiming that SHE'S not well and doing the same thing - nice!) Anyway, I agreed to stay home and work concessions in a movie theater instead of having a career-building internship, and I often wonder, what if?

In the meantime, I got a law degree, but could not find a decent job and bounced around from one meaningless job to another, which after a couple years paid decently well but found me dying inside from shuffling papers in a cubicle to support over-regulated government programs in which I did not really believe. (BTW, there is no underlying political message here, and I'm quite surprised I wrote that last sentence, but there you have it.)

So anyway, now my kids are two years away from preschool, and I know that if I want to make a major change in my career, the time to start is now. I'm looking into a teaching credential/master's program in the town where I live, and I can apply this fall for the following year, which means I'd start teaching the year the kids go to school. I used to think I wanted to teach high school, but I'm no longer sure. Having young children has really brought out my love for seeing them learn basic things at an early age. I also have to have classroom experience, which I don't have, and I have retake all the exams because I'm sure my scores are too old now.

I don't need to worry too much about income because my husband has things covered, so pay is not a huge issue for me, but job availability in general might be. My town is small and from what I've heard teaching positions can be difficult to find. I might be willing to commute, but not too far, and there aren't a lot of places that are super close. Also, I'm nervous about the idea of having a classroom full of children. I'm not that experience with handling large groups of kids.

I guess the thing is that I've put a lot of time and energy into things that in the past have not worked out for me (like a law degree), and I've decided in the past (when I was studying for the bar exam for the second time) that I didn't want to go forward with a teaching credential that would take another two years of my life and have nothing to show for it in the end because I wouldn't like teaching. I just want a job that I look forward to going to most of the time, and that doesn't feel like it's crushing my soul.

So ... this goes for those of you who love your jobs, or who switched careers, or who teach. Give me your thoughts, please!

If you love your job, why? Is it the people you work with? The work you do? Did you always know that was the job you wanted?

If you switched careers, why? Did you hate your prior career, or just not find it fulfilling? Or did you realize later on that what you really wanted to do was something else?

If you teach, please tell me your thoughts, the pros and cons. Is it something worth doing in your mid-thirties if you have to start from scratch? What do you love and hate about your job?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hello from jetlag ... er, Italy

Yeah. I know, it happens every time. Jetlag. I HATE it. It's 3:30 in the morning here. We have a baby sleeping in our room. We started with Turtle, but we woke him up every time we moved, so now we are sleeping with Tadpole, who unfortunately wakes ME up because she's such a fussy sleeper. And once I am awake in the middle of the night in a time zone 9 hours off, well, good luck getting back to sleep!

The trip here went pretty well, in my opinion. Not quite as good as I had hoped, but much better than the worst I was expecting. Apparently after a month of cold rainy weather, we brought the warm weather with us, as we've had two beautiful days of sunshine and warmth.

The first day here, I went crazy eating delicious food and gelato and wine, and I paid with some terrible stomach-aches, and now I am taking it easy. I've been working on getting the kids back on some sort of routine, but it's been a bit tough with the jetlag. Little kids here stay up much later than I am used to in the US, so the usual routine we had at home will probably not work here. I'm still trying to figure out how we're going to handle it.

Our evenings after dinner are spent at a cool little open-air cafe/bar that is built in the original entrance of the 19th century stone fort that surrounds the (much older) town. The cafe has a jukebox, a big dance area, tables and chairs, ice cream of all sorts, food, drinks, and nice porch-swing-type seating here and there. I'll try to take a picture and post it. The kids of the town spend the evenings playing songs on the jukebox and running around or dancing. Tadpole and Turtle are having a great time chasing the other kids and hanging out with my husband's extensive family, and it's a nice break for us to have lots of free entertainment for the kids.

I'm surrounded by lots of people in really great shape (and a few who aren't) as well as plenty of exercise opportunities and lots of babysitters, so I'm hoping to really get some hiking, biking, and running in my schedule for the next month. Today, my husband's aunt dropped off her 9-year-old daughter with me and my husband's cousin and the kids so she could go on a 2-hour run. How awesome to be surrounded by family and able to do something like that spontaneously! Tonight after Tadpole fell asleep on my shoulder at the cafe, we brought the kids home, put them to bed, and asked my MIL to stay with them while we walked the two minutes back to have another drink before going to bed. The kids are spending so much time with grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and even more extended family, it's a beautiful thing.

Plus I'm really hoping that being immersed in Italian at this point in their lives will help offset the fact that I am an English-speaking stay-at-home-mom in an English-speaking country. I don't know a lot about raising bilingual children, and while it helps that I am almost fluent, I still don't speak to them regularly in Italian in the US, and they don't see their father that many hours per day, plus we speak to each other in English. I think we'll have to change a few things in the future (Italian should probably be our family language rather than English).

Anyway, a lot to think about and a lot to write about, and hopefully I'll start taking some pictures and posting them, as it is a really beautiful green summer here. Cheers!