Time and The Senator

by Michael Kintner

This week Hayden and Delaney turned 2 1/2. Forty years ago this week was my last week working for Senator Ted Kennedy in Washington.

Last week, Delaney and Hayden (with considerable help from Mommy) made cupcakes for my 60th birthday. Last week, I assigned my high school class a paper on Woodstock, which was 40 years ago.

Time has been on my mind, if not on my side.

Two-and-a-half means a lot. Hayden now tells me his is a Boy, even a "BIG boy." The twins now do "BIG jumps" into the swimming pool, going underwater. Two-and-a-half makes a BIG difference in school and camp placement.

The 60th birthday was no big deal. Several age-related emails and cards arrived from friends and relatives. Since I don't feel 60, I laughed. The caricatures don't mean much.

The death of Senator Kennedy does make me feel old... and sad. It is an end of an era. I have now lived to see John, Bobby and Ted pass on.

Senator Edward Kennedy was one of the most effective and respected U.S. senators. He got things done in an institution that is known for inaction, delay and worthless pontificating.

Senator Ted Kennedy fought hard against inequality and senseless wars like Vietnam and Iran. He was a champion for the poor, for minorities, and for the powerless.

Yes, he made mistakes in his life, even tragic ones. Opponents used these mistakes to vilify him.

Yet, the reality is that Senator Kennedy worked his way back to become the true conscience of the Senate. We can honor him by passing healthcare reform, with a public option.

He often called healthcare reform "the cause of my life."

I'm reflecting on this and wondering: what will be the cause of Delaney and Hayden's lives?

Only time will tell.


Sunrise, Sunset

There' s a moment in the morning that sets the mood of the whole day, kind of like the first sip of coffee.

It's the moment when I look up and actually notice the Caribbean sea in front of me.

I can go for an hour, maybe more, without focusing on the ocean waves and expanse of blue that surround our house. So caught up in the first diaper changes ("change me pants"), first sippy cups of milk ("me more Nup"), first showings of Baby Einstein or Elmo ("me EV on"). First amazing gulps of Dunkin Donuts Hazelnut after a short night's sleep. All these things distract me from really looking out the windows.

But then there' s point when I do, and I breathe deeply.

This is so beautiful. This is mine.

If only I could keep repeating that moment throughout the day, like pouring another cup of joe and inhaling its steamy motivation. But the moment's fleeting. Stuff gets in the way. And time goes by and soon it's dun-det, with the sun going down behind us. We can actually watch it drop and be submerged by the water.

And I breathe deeply, because it's nighty-night time. Another day done. Hopefully lived well, or at least well-intentioned.

Buenos noches.


Like Mice

Mike bought me a treadmill last Saturday. Belated 40th birthday present.

(Not in the same category as a blender or toaster gift. I really wanted this.)

It was delivered early Tuesday morning.

(Who would want/need a treadmill when you have year-round tropical weather and a pool and beach at your doorstep? Easy answer: air conditioning, satellite TV plus gorgeous views out the floor-to-ceiling windows while watching speed and incline and hundreds of calories burned.)

"Loco," said Mike to the two burly guys providing Roatan's version of white glove delivery. "She es Loco." They all chuckled and nodded vigorously. Private guy joke. Loco gringo lady wants to go round and round on a treadmill.

They might be right.

It's after dark on Thursday, and I still haven't used it.

I got close this evening: I had a plan. Mike would come home from his new job as high school director in Sandy Bay, and I'd get in 30 minutes right before Delaney and Hayden's dinner.

It had been a rough day. No babysitter. Mike away. 9am call from our Realtor, saying clients are coming unexpectedly. Rush to clean house AND supervise two toddlers simultaneously. Sweep one room, only to see flower petals, play dough and cracker crumbs covering the next room. No nap. Big mess of a malfunctioning diaper, all over both cribs, an hour before house-hunters are to arrive. Desperate trip to market for baby wipes and milk, ending with broken bottle of red wine at the check-out. I cry and admit I can't control my kids. Realtor cancels unexpected visit.

I get as far as finding my sneakers and the treadmill key. Then an invasion of enormous black ants. Literally. Swarming the entryway in grotesque pulsing lines and heading for the living room. 30 minutes of sweeping and spraying and cajoling ants and children away from the front door, back back back where you came from.

Senor Gomez, our gardener, says the ants mean that it's going to rain.

There's not a cloud in the sky.

I prep dinner and then try again while Mike and babies take a shower. I turn the fan onto high. Phone rings, right while I'm finding my perfect indulgent exercise-motivating TV channel. 20-minute conversation, mostly on the other side. Cardio not in the cards.

Dinner time.

Delaney devours her hamburger. Hayden is up and down and all around. He pulls on the tablecloth, bringing beef and broccoli hailing down.

Forget the treadmill, time for that glass of wine.

If only it hadn't spilled all over the floor of Eldon's.

I love them, at the end of the day. It's from dawn to dusk that makes me Loco.


Shoot Me Now

As I washed my face this morning, I glanced out of my right eye to see a lizard on my hairspray, peering at me curiously from above the words "super bounce and hold."

Having just returned from New England vacation, I'm feeling overrun with tropical critters and lizards. This one was perilously close to my toothbrush.

But while lizards in the bathroom are old news, there's much to report on summer advances.

Hayden has learned two new songs.

Tinkle Tinkle SCAR, he sings. Tinkle Tinkle SCAR.

Over and over.

Until he switches to: I want to be-e a MA-CHO man. ("Me Boy," he tells us. "Big Guy.")

Delaney has learned how to somersault. Anywhere she can. Watch out, we'll be in a parking lot and she'll drop and roll. Super bounce and hold.

She has also taken up gambling, heading to the Crab Races at Bay Island Beach Resort as often as she can. She always names her first crab "Daddy."

And she's started dressing herself. Bro's green Croc's, baby doll dress, and sunbonnet. Of course, this is when she isn't UNdressing herself. In other people's houses. And restaurants. And airports.

In a magic moment one afternoon, during a times-two tantrum over the Fantastic Clean & Shine bottle, both kids figured out how to pull a nozzle. This quickly became a favorite new game, requiring the purchase of many different sized bottles. They spray anything and anyone.

Shoot me now.

Then they both learned, simultaneously, to crawl out of their cribs. In under 30 seconds. Completely silently.

Then open the door.

HELL-O! they said in delighted unison as they stood at the foot of our bed. They're here... Mike and I said to each other, helpless and sleepy, as we pulled four more arms and legs into bed with us.

We quickly converted their cribs to toddler beds (as if crawling out of a crib was any more dangerous than being two-and-a-half, loose, alone, in a bedroom/bathroom suite with second-floor balcony, with a partner-in-crime). Then we hastily embarked on a vigorous re-training program.

With sleep-guru and lifesaver Dr. Weissbluth's blessing, and encouragement from more than a few friends who've been there before, we've begun locking them in their room.

I know, horrible. But better than the handcuffs offered by Pauline. (Not sure why she has them lying around, but this is a family blog, so we'll let it alone.)

My Dickensian move comes after one so-called snoozy last week when the little darlings re-arranged the furniture, escaped to the balcony, narrowly escaped falling over into the pool, opened their bathroom door, filled the bathtub with water and pink bubbles (for Hayden), turned on the separate shower (for Delaney), pulled down all the clothes hanging in the closet, and started singing "Home, home on the range...." which is how I walked in on them.

Now we recite our sleep rules and perform other multi-faceted and odd rituals, then pull the door firmly shut behind us. I stand there on the other side holding the doorknob for as long as it takes. The first couple of nights Delaney went through the roof, hysterical. Crying and yelling. tugging on the handle. Breaking my heart.

Now she's more relaxed and strategic. She tries the door and says, "Aynee. Door not working. You try!"

At which point another 27 pounds runs across the room. Then, sadly, from Hayden (you can almost hear him shaking his head in the dark): "No work, Laney. Own beds. Now. Bedtime."

At least somebody gets it.

Some of the time.