Don’t Say A Word


Tonight we’ll be celebrating Sam’s birthday by ordering pizza and watching TV. Doesn’t sound like much of a celebration, does it? That’s because it’s not. It’s what we do every Tuesday.

I’ve been ‘celebrating’ Sam’s birthday with him since he was 17, and I can’t remember him ever giving a flying fart about the day he was welcomed into the world – not even when he turned 21. It’s just not his thing. Parties thrown in his honor make him terribly uncomfortable, gifts are always too much and when people sing Happy Birthday to him he sort of starts glancing around as if he’s looking for the nearest exit.

So in theory we do not celebrate his birthday, because that’s the way he likes it. In practice, Sam has been receiving gifts from family and friends since early November, and this will probably continue well into February. The trick is to give him things he doesn’t view as presents, downplay your ‘random act of kindness’ as much as you can and not mentioning his birthday.

Currently, Sam:
1. Has new tires on his truck because his parents got a ‘good deal’,
2. Will be going to a concert because one of his sisters had ‘an extra ticket’,
3. Received a CD one of my brothers ‘got for free and already had’,
4. Will be going to a basketball game because one of my other brothers ‘would be in town anyway and wanted to go’.

As for me, I booked us a weekend away in a fancy hotel 135 miles down the road because ‘I desperately need a weekend away’. Which is also why my brother Raven ‘happens’ to be in town – he’ll be taking care of Cole and Sadie, while my in-laws take the babies. Oddly enough nobody was brave enough to commit themselves to taking all four of our minions for the weekend. Imagine that.

So, all in all, it looks like Sam will be celebrating his 25th in style. Basketball on Friday and spending Saturday and Sunday in a city that he loves. Not bad, right?

Now let’s hope he isn’t on to us.


I’m Mine and You’re Yours

We adopted our tomcat Julian a couple of months ago from our local animal shelter, a little surprised by the state he was in – which was perfect. No fleas, no ticks, no sneezing or runny eyes, nothing. This little man was in perfect health. We figured he just got lucky, took him home and didn’t think much more of it.

Until this morning, when I received a call from the shelter saying they had been contacted by people who saw Julian’s picture on the website and claimed he was theirs. Apparently they had moved house and during all the commotion that comes with it, Julian bolted. They found his collar down the street and feared that the neighbor’s somewhat cat aggressive dog had him for lunch (no, really. This was their theory).

Still, they kept a lookout for their beloved furry friend, and surprise! There he was, looking all sorts of gorgeous in his shelter mug shot. They contacted the shelter, who contacted me, and I said that they were more than welcome to come by to take a look at Jules. I did ask them to bring a picture, just in case they were simply crazy people who had their hearts set on a cat that was already adopted and were scamming to get their dirty claws on him.

… That happens, right? No? Well whatever, it does in my head.

As I waited, I wondered how I was going to break the news to Sadie if Julian was indeed these people’s cat. Because yes, if that was the case, I would absolutely give him back to them. After all it was obvious Julian had been well cared for and accidents happen. Dogs jump the fence and cats slip out – we’ve all been there.

Anyhoodle, long story short – Julian was indeed their cat. No doubt about it. His owners let us know they would cover all the costs we had made if we would consider giving him back to them, but that they fully understood that my kids had grown attached to him and by now, we had had him longer than they ever did. Basically, they were the most well-adjusted, lovely people I have met in a long time.

So we gave Julian back. And I needn’t have worried about Sadie. Because after explaining it turned out that Julian already had a home and that he would be going back, she shrugged and said okay.

‘Okay? Are you sure? You’re not going to miss your kitty?’ I asked, bewildered. Because Sadie adores Julian and Luna (our other cat). She brushes them and feeds them her dinner when she thinks we’re not looking.

‘Nawt my kitty. Shoolian is Shoolian’s.’

‘Julian is what?’

‘Shoolian’s! Belongs to Shoolian!’

‘Julian belongs to Julian?’

‘Yes! And Sadie’s Sadie’s!’

‘We all belong to ourselves?’


Oh, there’s that pride again. Amazing, the things children realize. Julian was never property, he had always belonged to himself. We just got to take care of him and enjoy his company for a while. And now he will bring joy to his other family.

Bon voyage, Julian. We wish you well.

Life On Pause

The night I was discharged from the hospital and arrived home with all my personal stuff, gifts, balloons and flowers but without my babies, I broke down a little. From the get-go, I knew this would most likely be the case. All the birth stories I read about women having twins seemed to ‘end’ this way – mom got to go home, but the babies didn’t… or at least not just yet. I knew this would be the case for me when I delivered my girls a day short of 32 weeks. They might be doing Awesome and Great (which they are), but the hospital isn’t going to let them go just yet. And I learned that knowing that something is going to happen a certain way doesn’t automatically mean that you prepared for it. Big, big difference there.

When I arrived home and sat down on my bed, I had a lot of mixed feelings. On the one hand, I was happy to be back in my safe place, with my own bed and shower with decent water pressure. I get to fall asleep next to my husband and tuck in my two other kids and kiss them goodnight before I do. On the other, my babies are now a 25 minutes away by car, instead of an elevator ride and a few steps.

I know they are where they need to be right now – in their safe place, with an amazing NICU staff who will be there to take care of them when we’re not. These nurses, these amazing women, have been able to answer all my questions in a language that I can understand, and I have no doubt that they will look after my girls and make sure they have everything they need. I trust them. But still…

… I want them home.

The next couple of days will probably feel like our lives are on hold, driving to and from the hospital and settling into a routine we’ll break out of the moment we do get to take our beautiful girls home.

Let’s hope I’ve stopped crying before that day comes.


Today, I’m full of love.

Full of love for my two brand new girls, who announced themselves with a ROAR that immediately let me know that yes, they were out and yes, they were more than fine. I’m in love with Claire’s chubby cheeks and Jane’s big eyes. With their fingers and their toes, their noses and the sounds they make. I’m so in love with both of them that it breaks my heart every time I have to leave them. I’d trade in my comfy hospital bed in a heartbeat and sleep on the NICU floor if they’d let me.

Of love for Cole, who – with only minimal supervision from my mother – dressed himself and his sister this morning, combed her hair and helped her brush her teeth, all because that way Sam could have a few extra minutes of sleep.

Of love for Sadie, who somehow totally gets what most adults don’t – that these two girls are not ‘just’ The Twins. They are CLAIRE and they are JANE and they EACH deserve a drawing, because they are two people, y’all!

Of love for my father, who arrived in his pajamas. For my mother, who shows her love by harassing the hospital staff with questions. For my twin brother, who said everything without saying a word.

Of love for my parents-in-law, who can’t stop crying their happy tears.

Of love for my amazing gang of sisters-in-law, who bring me everything I need without me even having to ask for it, and for being the crazy, silly, loving aunts that they are.

Of love for my normally oh-so-tough brother No. 2, who demanded I put Claire and Jane on the phone so he could listen to them.

Of love for brother No. 3, who filled my hotel room with flowers even though he’s countries away.

And brother No. 4 & 5, for the video messages they made.

Love, love, love.


Hello x2!

I had a whole post thought out for yesterday, but this happened instead!

Albeit being born much earlier than we had hoped for, both girls are doing really well. They’re getting some extra love and care from this hospital’s amazing NICU staff, who are all very pleased with their weight and breathing. I’m completely in love with my two beautiful girls, and will absolutely give a more detailed update when I have the time and energy. Everyone who has been rooting for us: thank you for calming our nerves and having nothing but faith in me. I love y’all!


Last Wednesday at my weekly appointment, my OB/GYN asked me if I had made up my mind yet about what I wanted to do about birth control after the twins are born. She knows this pregnancy was unplanned, so it’s been a topic we’ve been revisiting for weeks now. My answer hadn’t changed.

‘I really don’t know.’ I told her.

Because I don’t. I’ve lost my faith in birth control. I lost it the minute I got pregnant straight through the Depo shot, which I was told was The Safest Option. Virtually no chance of getting pregnant, they said. You have a better chance of winning the lottery, they said. They even said that when I did wanted to have children, it could take up to a whole year before I would be able to conceive. I told them I could live with that.

Yet here I am, a very pregnant non-lottery winner. And they ask me what gamble I want to take next? Apart from neutering my husband (oh relax, I wouldn’t do it myself. I’d have the vet do it!) and Abstinence (which to Sam sounded even less appealing than being neutered), I don’t see a way to not get pregnant again. Except maybe using all forms of birth control known to mankind simultaneously… Which, my doc informed me, was not an option.

So she whipped out her chart. ‘Let’s have a look.’

‘Just give me three things I can use on top of one another.’ I pleaded.

‘Two.’ She haggled.

‘Fine. I just don’t want to get pregnant again.’

The moment I heard the words come out of my mouth, I felt bad. ‘Not that any of them are unwanted, though. Just…’

‘Just that four in one year is enough.’

Four in one year is enough.

Right before my 24th birthday last March, Sam and I first started talking about maybe having children in two years. Or three. Maybe four. Would six be pushing it?

We weren’t ready yet, we thought. We lived in a very small split level studio smack in the middle of Amsterdam’s Red Light District, because it was all we could afford at the time. Sam had to travel for work a lot, and his second job involved working nights. I was still in school. We. Weren’t. Ready.

Yes you are, God said, here, have two!

And he was right. We got our shit together, we settled down (which, I’ve learned since then, is not a bad thing), we got excited. And somehow, after all that growing up, relocating and organizing, we ended up being able to give two more beautiful children a home the moment it became clear that they needed one. Today, I have no doubt in my mind that this is how it was always meant to be.

But I also know that this is it. This is my family.

So yes, birth control. I went home with folders and flyers and I Still. Don’t. Know.

If anyone has the answer, do tell.

Things I’ve Learned Today

  • Sea food is only for Dolphins.
  • I’m a liar, because sharks DO TO make a sound. They go DAH DUM, DAH DUM, DAH DUM (cue my husband spitting out his coffee back in his cup because he was laughing too hard to swallow it, which was malignant (magnificent))
  • At weddings, you eat toast.
  • Pregnant women can’t wear shoes with laces. It’s forbidden by law.
  • Chicken is made out of chicken.
  • In this house, we have Sam Meat and Rhye Meat. Sam meat is very delicious. Rhye meat is meat that you keep chewing, but will never go away (thanks, bud).
  • Sadie is two, and therefore the oldest she has been in her entire life. Can’t poke holes in that logic.
  • Men have to shave. Their foreheads, too. Because they look like Bert from Sesame street if they don’t.
  • When you’re all grown up, you only grow sideways. And fur.
  • ‘Yia Yia teaches bullies to behave themselves!’ (She fosters pitbulls)
  • Old and wrinkly people are old and wrinkly because they fall asleep in the tub and stay in too long.

… And it’s only 7am.

Meet My Husband, ‘Snorts Like Horse’

Can I take a moment here and ask ye people of the world to please not attempt giving your children Native American names? You’re keeping my husband very busy saving all of you from your poor choices, and he has a day job. And a family. We need him at home, and we need his money… You know, for Dairy Queen.

Just today, an intervention was once again needed when he overheard a pregnant lady announcing the title of her unborn son during our hospital tour.

‘Tseeveyo,’ she explained with a somewhat smug smile. ‘It means spirit warrior in Cherokee!’

Cue the ooh’s and ah’s from bystanders. And what is possibly the loudest snort in history from my husband.

‘Actually, Tseeveyo is a horrible ogre who rips children out of their homes when they’re bad.’ He said with only the slightest of sneers. ‘And it’s Hopi.’

I’ll bet you ten bucks that the little guy will be named John or Dennis after that.

Play Me A Lovesong

My husband has an exceptional memory when it comes to music. He might not always remember his own mother’s birthday, or where he parked the truck, but there isn’t a song he can’t play after listening to it a couple of times. And once he does, they stay in his repertoire for all eternity and beyond. So when he picked up his guitar today and started playing some songs just for fun, he soon required an audience of two kids sitting at his feet.

‘What should I play next?’ He asked them when a song was done.

‘Elephants!’ Sadie screamed all excited.

Sam bit his lip. ‘I don’t think I know any songs about elephants.’

‘Oh, then… Rhye!’

‘Cause, you know, close enough.

‘Okay I got one.’ He smiled after thinking about it for a while. And this is the song he played:


Well, at least it’s an honest one. I’ve done a lot of these things after all… Like backing up his truck into the bayou.

That, and in a weird way it’s actually a very sweet song.

Family Ties

When my phone rings at seven in the morning, it’s usually one of two people – My mother, who gets up at 6 in the morning regardless of what day it is and thinks the rest of the world does too, or my brother  Rhett who doesn’t believe in time zones. When our phone rang this morning I hoped it was my brother.

So of course, it was my mother.

‘You didn’t tell your great auntie Mildred that you were pregnant?’
‘My great auntie who?’
‘Mildred! Your uncle Caleb’s mother.’
‘I have an uncle Caleb?’
‘Honestly Rhye, sometimes I wonder if you’re even part of this family.’

I often wonder the very same thing.

In my defense, I have a very large family. They all live in far away, exotic places like… Germany (okay, so maybe not the MOST exotic of places, but whatever). After a long, long conversation with my mother, I learned that Mildred was indeed the mother of Caleb, and Caleb was my aunt Josephine’s third and fifth husband. Don’t ask. My aunt Josephine, in turn, isn’t really an aunt at all. She was my grandmother’s cleaning lady. And my mother expects me to keep up with this stuff. Not only that, but she expects me to call all 1257 members of my clan with news. Regardless on whether I’ve ever even met these people.

I can tell you right now that’s never going to happen.

But perhaps I can send great auntie Mildred my blog url.